The majority of overseas students come to Australia to study English at any approved English school. English courses can be done either at private English schools, Universities or Vocational schools.
Depending on what you want to learn and your future goals there are many courses to choose from that can help you achieve your objective. Initially English studies start with General English courses which leads to courses that help with skills for a Vocational school or University, these courses are called English for Academic Purposes (EAP). Some schools have special designed courses called English for Specific Purposes (ESP) and Examination Preparation Courses to prepare students for exams like IELTS or Cambridge
General English courses are for students of all English levels (from beginners to advanced) to improve general proficiency .
The courses cover the four main skills: reading, writing, listening, and speaking. Some schools also have extra conversation and grammar classes.
Most schools have a placement test on the first day. The test will cover some of the four main skills to see what level of English you have. Based on the test results, students will be placed you in the correct class with other students of the same level.
General English classes normally start every Monday. Other start dates will depend on the school and the season.
Courses can be either 20 or 25 hours per week. This means the student will have 20 or 25 hours of face-to-face contact with their teacher every week. Some schools have extra self-study hours where you can do further study with some teacher assistance.
Attendance is calculated based on the days that you go to class at your school. If you are on a student visa, part of your visa condition states you need a minimum of 80% attendance when you finish your course.
Once you have finished your course, you will receive a certificate from the school that shows the highest level of English that you have achieved. It will also show your length of study and your attendance.
English for Academic Purposes(EAP)
English for Academic Purposes is a preparation course. It is designed for students interested in studying Vocational and training courses(VET) or University courses in Australia.
Most of the English schools in Australia have EAP courses. Students will be automatically accepted if they have successfully completed the EAP course and will not need to undertake the IELTS exam.
If you choose to do the EAP module, you have to show your commitment with your studies. It is extremely important that you don’t skip any class as you will learn skills that will help with your further studies. The basic skills are essay & report writing and presentation skills.
In order to be accepted at Vocational schools, the candidate have to show that has successfully completed the EAP 2 or a minimum of 5.5 on General IELTS.
For Universities, the candidate need a minimum of EAP 3 or 6.0 on Academic IELTS.
English for Specific Purposes(ESP)
ESP – English for Specific Purposes: This term refers to the teaching of a specific genre of mostly technical English for students with specific goals, careers or fields of study. Examples include English for Business & Management, aviation or tourism (for hotel and tourism professionals).
Examination Preparation Courses
There are a few examination tests available to evaluate the English language proficiency. The most popular exams are IELTS, Cambridge, TOEFL and TOEIC.
IELTS stands for ‘International English Language Testing System’. The IELTS exam is internationally recognized as an assessment of English language. It is recognized in Australia, New Zealand, USA, United Kingdom by immigration authorities, professional companies and universities.
The IELTS exam evaluate the level of English language and the results can be used when applying to any Vocational schools, TAFE, and Universities. It is required when applying for an Australian permanent resident visa.
IELTS preparation courses at language schools in Australia usually start every month. IELTS exams are held every month at official IELTS testing centre. Bookings need to be made in advance to secure a place. Visit www.ielts.org to find the closest official IELTS testing centre.
The exam consists of four ‘bands’: reading, writing, listening and speaking. Each band is marked from 1 to 9 with an overall band score at the end. The overall band shows the level of English that you have reached.
IELTS is available in two formats – General Training IELTS and Academic IELTS.
General Training IELTS
The General Training format focuses on general survival skills in broad social and workplace contexts. It evaluate the day-to-day English language skills emphasizing vocabulary in a work environment or everyday life.
It is mostly used for work or study at a vocational level. General IELTS is also used for Immigration purposes in Australia.
The Academic format is, broadly speaking, for those who want to study or train in an university.
The Academic Reading and Writing modules evaluate if you are ready to study at an undergraduate or postgraduate level. University studies require an excellent English level as you need to write lots of assignments and read books or papers.
Therefore, if you want to study at any University, this is the format you will need to take. The minimum overall mark to be accepted by Universities ranges between 6.5 to 7.5.
The Cambridge exams evaluate the English language ability. It is recognized around the world by employers, universities and government organizations, especially in Europe.
The length of the course is ten (10) or twelve (12) weeks.
The Cambridge exam had held 5 parts: reading comprehension, writing skills, grammar, listening and speaking. The exams are held either three times a year (FCE & CAE) or twice a year (CPE).
Below are information about Cambridge exams of different levels of knowledge.
PET (Preliminary English Test)
Intermediate level of English. You should be able to understand written and spoken English in everyday work, travel and study situations. The exam is accepted by employers as reflecting your English ability.
FCE (First Certificate in English)
Upper Intermediate level of English. This is the most popular of all the Cambridge exams. This is the exam you should sit if you want to use English in a work or study environment.
CAE (Certificate in Advanced English)
Advanced level of English. Ideal for students needing to use English in a professional way (work or social purposes). You should be able to write and speak confidently on many complex issues.
CPE (Certificate of Proficiency in English)
Cambridge’s most advanced exam. For students that have close to native speaker level of English. This course is for students who would like to enter university or another place of higher education.
TOEFL stands for “Test of English as a Foreign Language”. It evaluates English proficiency for those pursuing academic studies
The TOEFL measures the test taker’s ability to function in an English-speaking academic environment. The target test taker for the TOEFL is a candidate for higher education in an English-speaking country.
TOEFL is primary used for: English language programs/schools, especially for academic-track students. Placement test. Assessment of progress from beginning to end of course. Measurement of program effectiveness. Exit test and measurement of readiness for academic programs.
TOEFL stands for “Test of English for International Communication”. It evaluates English proficiency for the global workplace
The TOEIC measures the ability to function in a general work environment. This test is used in non academic settings as a measure of the ability of a current or potential employee to communicate effectively in English in a variety of business settings and situations.
TOEFL is primary used for corporations to make decisions about recruiting, promoting, and deploying employees overseas. To determine readiness to participate in technical training conducted in English. To demonstrate learning progress in corporate training.
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