Today I came across a site about the Teastas Eorpach na Gaeilge (The European Certificate in Irish) or teg, which is the first and only examination system for adult learners of Irish. There will be six levels of exams from A1 (Beginner) to C2 (Advanced), though the Advanced ones are still being developed, and they test speaking, listening comprehension, reading comprehension and writing.

This test sounds similar to other language proficiency tests, such as IELTS (International English Language Testing System) and TEF (Test d’evaluation du Français), and provides proof of one’s Irish language abilities. The teg site, which is bilingual in Irish and English, provides detailed information about the exam, the syllabi, sample papers, and teaching materials.

If I was planning to search for a job in an Irish-speaking area or organisation, I’d consider taking the teg. For now, however, I’m content to continue my studies of Irish in a haphazard and relaxed way. I haven’t taken any other language proficiency tests and don’t plan to. Well, I did receive an assessment of a sort at the end on my Welsh course in Lampeter in June last year.

Such tests provide a snapshot of your language abilities at a particular point in time, and are usually taken after a lot of preparation. If the preparation involved last minute cramming, you might well forget much of it afterwards. I see learning a language more as a long term project, rather than something to cram and forget. Tests, qualifications and certificates can provide useful goals, though shouldn’t be seen as the end of your journey. There’s always more to learn.

Do you think such language tests are useful? Have you taken any, or do you plan to do so?

9 thoughts on “teg

  1. I think that proficiency tests are good as long as they are not the only tool used to measure. There are too many intangible aspects that can’t be measured by a test.

  2. “Such tests provide a snapshot of your language abilities at a particular point in time, and are usually taken after a lot of preparation. …Tests, qualifications and certificates can provide useful goals, though shouldn’t be seen as the end of your journey. There’s always more to learn.”

    *nods* I agree there.

    I am considering taking the Certificate of Proficiency in Estonian (Elementary Level) which is an exam designed generally for foreigners so they can get long-term work permits or prepare for citizenship.

    For me, I just wish to do it to be able to prove to myself and my girlfriend’s family that I can and to have something to put on my CV. It’s unlikely to make a (big) difference but you never know! 🙂 It would be nice to have something to show after my year in Estonia.

    I’ve have taken some language exams before but they were always in connection with school or university. So this will be a first.

  3. I have taken several Goethe German Proficiency tests. They are helpful in evaluating where I am at in the language. (And yes, I usually take them without any preparation the night before.) They can also be used if you are looking for a job.

  4. There are online German placement tests at the Goethe-Institut to determine which level (A1 – C2) you should take their course for. I got B2 without any special preparation.

    I have taken the National German High School Exam (level 2) and National Latin Exam (level 1, I think) and I didn’t cram for either. This year I think I will be taking level 3 for German and also an Ancient Greek Exam (the most basic level, I think). I don’t know if these are really proficency exams because you get a score for your specific level instead of being assigned a level based on your score. I found the online language proficiency tests on the Transparent Language site (mentioned in this blog Oct 30, 2006) pretty helpful, and I didn’t cram or even consider cramming for these tests.

    Overall, I think if you are really taking an exam to measure your proficiency you shouldn’t cram, but if you are taking the exam so you can get a job I can see why you might want to cram.

  5. I think that there is a case to be made for people taking such exams in their own language. Progression in many careers can involve an increasing amount of written communication e.g. reports, and ability to communicate coherently is rarely tested.

    I recall, many years ago, looking at some Cambridge Proficiency material to help some French friends who planned to take the exam. It seemed quite clear to me that many native Brits would not pass this exam without a great deal of preparation.

  6. I want to take a Welsh proficiency test someday if I have a chance, mostly for the fun of it.

  7. When I was teaching in grad school, I found oral proficiency interviews based on the ACTFL (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages) guidelines to give a pretty good idea of how the students would do in real life situations.

    I’ve only taken language tests in conjunction with schooling, not for certification. But were I to look for another job in the language industry or start my own business, I would definitely take tests at least for French and Spanish in order to have independent verification of my abilities.

    While it’s true that such tests are only a snapshot, and finer gradations can be iffy, a well constructed test should at least indicate fairly clearly whether a person can communicate well, passably, or just barely, which is useful information to have.

  8. … thank you for the information about the teg test.

    So now, if I ever pass that teg test – I can actually interview some smart person, and show em’ my art comic illustrations and short story writings. — like, well that’s nice, some bloke from Oregon State thinks he can produce a better 2D animation of some Irish tale, and make it look just as good…

    an attainable dream. After all, I know of some Graphic Company, called Monster Graphics that does business in Dublin, Ire… but tends to do commercial ads for the TnaG network.

    best I can do, is keep uploading more youtube videos, with irish subtitles to it.

  9. My Irish class has just got some info through on the TEG and we’re considering working towards it for those who are interested. I think it’s a worthwhile challenge but definitely requires a lot of commitment.

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