Test scores fall short of the mark
The position of English as the global lingua franca means that language tests are increasingly being used as gatekeeping tools. In the context of migration, the use of such tests can be capitalised for the education and labour markets.
Language assessments provide score-based information to certify an acceptable level of knowledge and skills, or a set of English-language standards for an intended purpose. One example is the Occupational English Test (OET), which is used to certify that overseas health professionals have the required level of English to listen, read, write and speak competently in a professional context. Those who achieve the required grade are assumed to be able to function successfully in their profession and granted permission to practise. Those who fail do not gain professional status. My colleagues and I are aware of many cases of truly excellent nurses working in a non-registered role in health and social care settings that require language skills, but who fail to pass the test with the required score (Davis and Pradeep, 2022). Such instances are reminders of how language assessment can reinforce systemic social inequalities.
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