How to Choose the Right English Certification for Your Career
English is the global language of business and having a certification in it can give you a competitive edge in your career. But with so many options available, it can be hard to know which certification is right for you. In this blog post, we’ll walk you through the different types of English certifications and help you choose the one that best fits your career goals.
Understanding the Different Types of English Certifications
First, it’s important to understand the different types of English certifications. There are two main categories: general English and business English. General English certifications, such as the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), test your overall proficiency in the language. These tests are used by governments, universities, and employers around the world to assess the language ability of non-native speakers.
Business English certifications are English language tests designed specifically for individuals in a business or corporate environment. These tests assess an individual’s ability to communicate effectively in English in a professional setting and measure their proficiency in key business-related language skills such as reading, writing, speaking, and listening.
There are several popular Business English certifications, including the BEC (Business English Certificate) exams, the BULATS (Business Language Testing Service) test, and the TOEIC (Test of English for International Communication). Each test has its own unique format, content, and requirements, so it is important to research each one and determine which one best fits your needs.
Consider Your Career Goals
Because of these differences in types of English certifications, the first step in choosing a certification is to consider your career goals. If you’re looking to work in a business or academic setting, a business English certification may be more useful. On the other hand, if you’re looking to study or work in an English-speaking country, a general English certification may be more appropriate. Additionally, if you’re planning to work in a specific industry, it’s a good idea to research which certifications are recognized and accepted within that industry.
Industry specific certifications
Unsure what certification are recognized in your line of work? Below we’ve gathered a list of some of the main industries that require specific English certifications that are recognized and accepted by industries and organizations worldwide:
Medical English certifications such as the International Medical English Language Test (IMELT) and the Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC) Medical.
Legal English certifications such as the Cambridge English: Legal (ILEC) and the Test of English for International Lawyers (TOEIL).
Financial English certifications such as the Cambridge English: Financial (ICFE) and the Test of English for Financial Services (TOEFS).
Aviation English certifications such as the Aviation English Language Testing System (AELTS) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
Maritime English certifications such as the Maritime English Test (MET) and the International Maritime English Language (IMEL).
English for Academic Purposes (EAP) certifications such as the Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic) and the Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) are recognized and accepted by universities and educational institutions worldwide for admission and placement purposes.
English for Hospitality certifications such as the English for Hotels and Tourism (EHT) and the Cambridge English: Hospitality (CEH).
Level of Difficulty
Another important factor to consider is the level of difficulty. Some certifications, such as the IELTS and TOEFL, are considered more difficult than others and may require more preparation. If you’re just starting to learn English, it may be best to start with a lower-level certification and work your way up. For example, Cambridge English: Key (KET) and Cambridge English: Preliminary (PET) are the entry-level certifications. These certifications are easier than IELTS and TOEFL and suitable for people who have basic knowledge of English.
English certifications come in a variety of levels, each catering to a different proficiency level. Here is a breakdown of some of the most popular certifications, arranged by difficulty:
- Cambridge English: Key (KET)
- Cambridge English: Preliminary (PET)
- International English Language Testing System (IELTS) – General Training
- Cambridge English: First (FCE)
- IELTS – General Training
- Oxford Test of English (OTE)
- Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) – iBT
- Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE)
- IELTS – Academic
- Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic)
- TOEFL – iBT
- Cambridge English: Proficiency (CPE)
- IELTS – Academic
- PTE Academic
- TOEFL – iBT
It is important to note that while these certifications are commonly recognized by employers and organizations worldwide, the acceptance and recognition of a specific certification may vary depending on the industry or country.
Cost and Time Limitations
The cost of English certifications can vary depending on the test and the location where you take it. Here is a rough estimate of the cost of some popular English certifications in euros:
- TOEFL: 190 – 220 euros
- IELTS: 180 – 220 euros
- Cambridge English: First (FCE): 190 – 220 euros
- Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE): 190 – 220 euros
- Cambridge English: Proficiency (CPE): 190 – 220 euros
- PTE Academic: 190 – 220 euros
- TOEIC: 140 – 160 euros
These prices may vary depending on the test center and country and some test centers may charge additional fees for administrative or other costs. It’s also worth mentioning that in addition to the cost of the test, you may also need to pay for preparation materials, such as study guides, classes or tutoring, which can add to the overall cost of obtaining an English certification.
You should also consider the type of test format the certification uses. Some certifications are computer-based tests, while others are paper-based. Some certifications include a speaking test, while others don’t. If you’re not comfortable with one type of test format, you can consider another certification. It’s also worth noting that some certifications have the option to take the test online, which can be a more convenient option for some candidates.
To give you an overview of the different test forms, here are the most common English certifications and their formats:
- TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language): multiple-choice questions, essays and speaking tasks, testing reading, listening, speaking, and writing skills.
- IELTS (International English Language Testing System): multiple-choice questions, essays, and speaking tasks, testing reading, writing, speaking and listening skills.
- TOEIC (Test of English for International Communication): multiple-choice questions, testing listening and reading skills.
- Cambridge English exams (e.g. CAE, CPE, FCE): multiple-choice questions, essays, and speaking tasks, testing reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills.
- PTE (Pearson Test of English): computer-based test with multiple-choice questions, speaking, and writing tasks, testing reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills.
Each test measures English language proficiency in different ways and has a unique format, so it’s important to research which one is best for your goals and needs.
Preparation and Study Resources
Preparation and study resources are also an important factor to consider when choosing an English certification. Some certifications, such as the IELTS and TOEFL, have a wide range of preparation resources available, including official study guides, practice tests, and online preparation courses. Other certifications may have fewer resources available. It’s a good idea to research the preparation and study resources available for the certification you’re interested in to ensure that you have access to the materials you need to prepare effectively. Additionally, you may also want to consider if the certification has any authorized test centers or tutors that can provide guidance and support during your preparation.
Below are some tips on how to prepare for an English certification test – you can also check out our blogpost on how to prepare for an English language exam
- Familiarize yourself with the format: understand the structure of the test, the type of questions asked, and the type of tasks required (e.g. multiple-choice, writing essays, speaking tasks, etc.).
- Practice regularly: take practice tests and work on sample questions to get a feel for the test format and improve your skills.
- Improve language skills: focus on areas where you need improvement (e.g. grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, etc.) and practice regularly to improve.
- Take mock tests: take mock tests under realistic conditions to help you get used to the timing and format of the test.
- Get feedback: get feedback from a tutor or teacher on your performance to help you identify areas for improvement.
Examples of study resources
English certification test study resources include official test preparation materials, online courses, tutors, practice tests, study guides, online resources, and language exchange programs. These resources aim to help test-takers familiarize themselves with the test format, improve their English language skills, and increase their chances of success on the test. By combining different resources and consistent practice, individuals can maximize their preparation for the test.
When you are aiming for an English language certification, it is a good idea to utilize as many study resources as you have available, to prepare yourself for the various aspects of the test form. Some ideas for preparation materials are listed below:
Official test preparation materials
Official preparation materials are usually the most reliable and up-to-date resources for preparing for the test. These materials are usually created by the test provider and include practice tests, sample questions, and study guides that are specifically designed for the test.
Online courses can be a convenient and flexible way to prepare for the test. These courses typically include interactive lessons, practice tests, and feedback on your performance. Some online courses also offer live classes with a teacher, which can be helpful for getting personalized instruction.
Tutors or teachers
Hiring a tutor or teacher can provide you with personalized instruction and feedback on your language skills. A tutor or teacher can help you identify areas for improvement and provide you with targeted practice to improve your skills. See our blogpost on preparing for an English language exam for tips on how to find a tutor.
If you wish to find local English tutoring close to where you live, you can look up local offers online, for instance English classes in London, English lessons in Bristol, an English teacher in Edinburgh or an English tutor in Sheffield.
Practice tests are an important part of preparing for the test. They can help you get a feel for the format of the test, the type of questions asked, and the skills tested. Taking practice tests regularly can help you improve your skills and increase your confidence on test day.
There are many online resources available that can help you prepare for the test, including tutoring platforms, websites, apps, and forums. These resources can provide you with practice tests, sample questions, and other materials that can help you improve your language skills.
In conclusion, choosing the right English certification test is an important decision that can have a significant impact on your career. Whether you are a student seeking admission to an English-speaking university or a professional seeking to enhance your career prospects, there is a test that is right for you.
By considering your personal goals, professional requirements, and English language proficiency, you can determine which test best fits your needs. Researching each test, seeking advice from professionals in your field, and using official test preparation resources can help you make an informed decision.
Investing time and effort in preparing for an English certification test can demonstrate your commitment to English proficiency and increase your chances of success in your chosen career field. So, choose wisely and take the first step towards achieving your professional goals!