Opinions & Features April 23, 2019 at 12:30 pm

In 2019, Africans are still forced to write English tests for UK and US university admissions

Fatiatu Inusah | Contributor

Fatiatu Inusah April 23, 2019 at 12:30 pm

April 23, 2019 at 12:30 pm | Opinions & Features

Sign for a language school

If English is not your first language, we will need to see evidence that you have a good standard of English before we send you an offer to study with us. You can fulfil the English language requirements for our undergraduate courses (including Graduate Diplomas) with one of the following awards or proficiency tests.

The following proficiency tests are accepted for all undergraduate courses, provided they have been awarded within the past three years:

• Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English.
• City & Guilds International ESOL 8984 Mastery award.
• (IELTS) International English Language Testing System: 6 overall, with 5.5 in each sub-test.
• Pearson Test of English, Academic: 54 overall, with 54 in Reading and Writing elements.
• University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate (UCLES) Business English Certificate, Level 3 only (BEC 3 award).
• (TOEFL) iBT Test of English as a Foreign Language: 87 overall, with 21+ in Reading and Writing sub-tests and 19+ in Speaking and Listening sub-tests.

This is the common instruction English-speaking Africans meet when they attempt to apply for admission as international students in the United States of America or the United Kingdom.

The above is a common instruction you would find among a good number of universities in the UK and US for international students who want to apply for admissions in these countries.

Students from Anglophone Africa are hardly exempted from writing these standardized English language tests to prove their English proficiency. It has been a hindrance for many students who want to apply for under/graduate studies in these places.

Is it fair to ask students who have been in contact with the English language through all the major phases of their education to take language tests to prove they are proficient in the language?

Last year, I sent an email to the graduate admissions office at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette to enquire whether I was exempted from writing English language tests because I was a Ghanaian student. To my dismay, there were no exemptions for Ghanaian students.

I met every other requirement except that I did not have a standard English test result to prove my proficiency in English. Not even a letter from my former university to prove my proficiency could suffice in that regard.

The University of Lafayette at Louisiana was not the first to disappoint me this way. I can count up to about ten universities in the US that I had to erase from my list of graduate schools because I had to write an English language test. I did not understand why I had to write such tests.

I am Ghanaian – a Ghanaian who has acquired all of her formal education in Ghana where the English language is the medium of teaching and instruction in all of our institutions. I found it extremely unfair that I had to go that length to prove that I am capable of reading and writing in English.

Ghanaian students are not the only ones affected by such requirements. Other English speaking African countries including Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Liberia and the Gambia suffer from this injunction. Many of the universities in the US and the UK make this a general criterion that all international students have to meet.

It is, however, unfair to include students from Anglophone Africa in the pool of international applicants who need to prove they are adept at the English language by writing these tests. Inasmuch as students from these countries are not native speakers of the English language, they have been forced to perfect the art of speaking and writing the English language since the colonial invasion and subjugation.

Nigeria, Sierra Leone, The Gambia and Ghana have been in contact with the English language for more than 400 years. It is not only the medium of teaching and instruction in schools but also the official language of communication in all of the administrative settings.

The English language arguably remains the only legacy of colonialism that former colonies of Britain still use without any reservations as it has served as lingua franca for a continent that has thousands of native languages which are not mutually intelligible.

Citizens of the aforementioned countries need a very good level of reading, writing and comprehension skills in the English language before they can acquire secondary and tertiary education in their native countries. For universities and tertiary institutions in Ghana, there is a required course in the English language that every student needs to pass before graduation.

Is it not then too much to ask of students from Anglophone African countries who have had at least about twelve years of active classroom instruction to still write English language tests to prove they are consummate in the English language before they gain admissions into a university in the UK or the US?

Conversations

Must Read