Annual test scores reveal top english language learners

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Of the 1.2 million candidates who took an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test in 2008, Afrikaans speakers achieved the highest average scores for listening, reading, writing and speaking English. German, Romanian, Tagalog, Yoruba and Ibo speakers also performed well across the four components of the world’s leading English language test for higher education and immigration.

 Afrikaans speakers scored an average of 7.28 across all four IELTS papers (listening, reading, writing and speaking).  This level indicates test-takers were sufficiently advanced to study linguistically challenging subjects such as medicine1. South Africans also demonstrated excellence in scoring highest on each of the four papers. Their average score of 8.33 on the speaking paper made them the only group to score 8 or above in any part of the IELTS Academic test.

There is no pass or fail in IELTS. Candidates are graded on their performance in the test, using scores from 1 to 9 for each part of the test – listening, reading, writing and speaking. This “band scoring” system covers the full range of ability from non-user to expert user. Results from the four parts are then combined to produce an overall band score.

The 2008 IELTS band scores also demonstrate a significant rise in the overall standards achieved by candidates.  Tagalog speakers from the Philippines topped the results in 2007 with an average score of 6.57.  In 2008, their average scores increased to 6.69 which took them to fifth place after Afrikaans, German, Romanian and Polish speakers.

In 2008, the highest ever number of people around the world chose to take an IELTS test, with three quarters seeking to prove their English language ability for academic purposes. IELTS continues to be the world’s leading English language test for higher education, immigration and recruitment, with over 6,000 organisations recognizing it in over 125 countries.

Pamela Baxter of IELTS said: “The continued growth in people taking IELTS around the world is being driven by the practical nature of our test. It is the best means of proving ability in relation to how language is used in the real world.   

“We expect the strong demand for IELTS will continue in 2009. The current global economic climate means an increasing number of people are considering the opportunities presented by studying or working abroad. As a result, we also expect to see the overall level of test scores rise and candidates from new countries beginning to enter the list of top performers.”