A Guide to the Pearson Assessment Suite
Are you stuck on which English exam or test to offer your students? You’re not alone – there are lots of different assessments to choose from and it’s often hard to see how they are different and why you should select one over another.

We’re bringing it all together in this handy guide to help you decide which English language assessment is right for your students.

Find out more about the following exams below:

English Benchmark
Pearson Test of English Young Learners (PTE Young Learners)
Pearson Test of English General (PTE General)
Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic)
Versant Tests
Placement test
Progress test
EExams for Young Learners
Language exams can be quite daunting for your younger students, especially if they’re taking them for the first time. That’s why we think it’s important to ensure what they have to do is interesting, fun, and motivating.

English Benchmark and PTE Young Learners exams are designed with this in mind, so let’s take a closer look at them both.

EEnglish Benchmark
WWho is the exam for?
This assessment is aimed at young learners who are aged between 6 and 13, and who have Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) levels between pre-A1 and B1.

English Benchmark is a great tool for teachers who want a simple way to assess the English abilities of their classes at any stage of the year.

With individual reports produced quickly after completion, parents and teachers can quickly see where their children are on the Global Scale of English (GSE) or CEFR. This can help assess when they are ready for the next step, such as the PTE Young Learners exam.

WWhat does it test?
English Benchmark aims to assess a student’s competence in the four skills of speaking, listening, reading and writing (with the exception of Level 1, which does not test writing). It covers five different ability levels, with three tests per level.

What’s more, all assessment is done through the use of stress-free activities on tablets.

Defining English as an International Language
As Jenkins (2006) points out, attention to the term English as an International Language (EIL) is relatively new to the TESOL profession. She notes that in the 1991 anniversary of the TESOL Quarterly, almost no attention was given to the idea of World Englishes and at that time the term English as a Lingua Franca was not yet even coined. Yet by the 40th anniversary of the journal both terms were assigned a dedicated slot. Although on occasion the three terms – World Englishes, English as a Lingua Franca and English as an International Language – are used interchangeably, it is important to distinguish their different assumptions and focus.

World Englishes (WE) is often viewed in one of three perspectives (Bolton, 2004). The first is a broad definition, which includes all varieties of English spoken around the world, including Englishes spoken in what Kachru (1985) refers to as the Inner Circle (where English is spoken as a first language), the Outer Circle (where English is one of several official languages of the country) and the Expanding Circle (where English is required as a foreign language but has no special status as an official language). This definition of World Englishes is often used interchangeably with international English and global English (Jenkins, 2006). The second definition of World Englishes is a narrow definition that includes only those varieties of English spoken in what Kachru terms the outer circle, including such varieties as Nigerian English, Jamaican English and Malaysian English. This definition of World Englishes is at times also labelled as nativized, indigenized or institutionalized English. The third definition overlaps with the second view, but it emphasizes the pluricentric view of English in which equal respect is given to all varieties of English. However, it is important to note that all three perspectives share a view of the study of English as an investigation of the linguistic features that particular speakers typically employ.

What does such a perspective imply for pedagogy? In general, classrooms that focus on this perspective devote the majority of their curriculum to distinguishing the particular linguistic features of English spoken in specific areas of the world. These localized varieties are sometimes viewed as the target learning model or linguistic norm for the area, resulting in endonormative standards. Some also emphasize the fact that while these varieties differ in certain phonological, morphological, syntactic and semantic features, all should be accorded equal status and respect.

English as a Lingua Franca (ELF) has traditionally been defined as ‘interactions between members of two or more different linguacultures in English, for none of whom English is the mother tongue’ (House, 1999: 74). In other words, ELF is the study of the type of language that is used when second language speakers from different linguistic and cultural backgrounds interact. By definition, all first language speakers of English are excluded from the focus of ELF investigations. Jenkins (2006) argues quite strongly that the purpose of ELF research is essentially to document the features of interactions between second language speakers of English and in no way is meant to depict a particular variety of English that should become the standard for second language speakers. As she puts it:

The existence of ELF is not intended to imply that learners should aim for an English that is identical in all respects. ELF researchers do not believe any such monolithic variety of English does or ever will exist. Rather, they believe that anyone participating in international communication needs to be familiar with, and have in their linguistic repertoire for use, as and when appropriate, certain forms (phonological, lexicogrammatical, etc.) that are widely used and widely intelligible across groups of English speakers from different first language backgrounds. That is why accommodation is so highly valued in ELF research. At the same time, ELF does not at all discourage speakers from learning and using their local variety in local communicative contexts, regardless of whether this is an inner, outer, or expanding circle English (Jenkins, 2006: 161).

This perspective has several pedagogical implications. First, it focusses on both the features of second language speakers’ interactions but it also highlights the importance of developing strategies to remedy breakdowns in communication. It also encourages second language speakers to be bidialectal in their use of English, mastering both local and more international varieties of English. Hence, Singaporeans, for example, would be encouraged to master and use both Standard Singaporean English and Singlish and to use each when and where appropriate.

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