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  • A woman sat in front of a laptop, with a pen in hand and a paper on the desk. She is looking at the camera
    • English language testing

    International Certificate home testing: Benefits, rules and requirements

    By Pearson Languages

    Education has embraced remote and hybrid learning – and it looks like it’s here to stay as a more accessible option for students everywhere. For the same reasons, even higher-stakes English exams are proving it’s possible to throw off old-fashioned approaches and adapt to the changing needs and expectations of today’s test-takers. The Pearson English International Certificate is available online (as well as in paper-based format) and can be taken in a home environment. It has a number of benefits for both teachers and test takers.

    In this post, we will look at why testing from home is a good option and explore the rules and requirements for the online Pearson English International Certificate.

    5 benefits of remote language testing

    1. Flexibility to take the test anywhere

    One of the great things about taking the online International Certificate is that test-takers can do it from any private location with a reliable internet connection.

    While we offer the option to take the test in one of our authorized computer-based testing centers, we now also offer testing from home with the OnVue online proctoring system. Both delivery methods are backed by the same level of robust security, meaning International Certificate test results can be equally trusted regardless of where the test was taken.

    2. Fits into learners’ schedules

    The online International Certificate allows test-takers to schedule their 2-hour test at a time that fits into their timetable and is not restricted by location. This means that they don’t have to take time off work or education to take the test, or suffer the additional stress or inconvenience this can cause to their lives.

    Using just one system and one log-in, they register for the test, schedule it for whenever suits them and then, when the time comes, sign in to gain access to the online proctoring system.

    3. Easy-to-use testing platform

    The International Certificate is available through Pearson English Test Hub, the online assessment portal that brings teachers, test-takers and tests together in a single, user-friendly space.

    Test Hub is extremely straightforward to use for scheduling, taking tests and accessing results – while also delivering powerful, data-rich insights into test performance for both teachers and test-takers.

    Furthermore, we have clear resources showing new users how to navigate the platform, as well as online videos on our YouTube channel to help learners familiarize themselves with the online International Certificate format.

    Also available through Test Hub is the Readiness Test, which predicts readiness to pass the International Certificate, as well as the Level and Benchmark Tests – assessments that teachers find invaluable for placing new students in the right class and tracking their progress to proficiency.

    4. Quicker to mark and issue results

    All tests are scored using an AI system. This speeds up the turnaround time for results, making the whole process much more efficient than the paper-based exam.

    Governments trust Pearson’s world-leading scoring technology, businesses and universities globally and is powered by the expert input of thousands of skilled, experienced English teachers. Since 2022, the online International Certificate has been scored entirely using this system, bringing the score turnaround time to under 2 weeks – a fraction of the time taken to score the paper-based test.

    5. Accessible to all

    Running an assessment online means that many people from around the world can access it. So, this will allow people in some of the world's most remote areas to get a recognized English certificate and change their lives, as long as they meet the following requirements.

    Pearson English International Certificate requirements

    There are a number of requirements that test-takers need to be aware of when taking the exam from home. These include:

    • a computer - test-takers must have access to a computer or laptop for the test duration. We recommend using a personal rather than a work computer as the testing software uses a secure browser that restricts other programs from running. Therefore, firewalls or network settings on work computers may cause problems.
    • a government-issued ID - To sign in to the online testing system, test-takers must have their government-issued ID, such as a passport, identification card or driving license, ready to present.
    • internet access - As the test requires continuous audio and video streaming, test-takers need to maintain a good internet connection. Additionally, we recommend connecting to a hardwire ethernet cable. Alternatively, test-takers should ask others at home to avoid using the internet during the exam.
    • a headset - Test-takers need a wired headset to take the test, rather than a Bluetooth one. This needs to include a microphone. Make sure it is of good sound quality so that tasks can be completed effectively.
    • a webcam - Test-takers need a webcam as they’ll be monitored by our online proctoring system throughout. This is to ensure that they do not have help from another person, or their notes nearby.
    • a private testing space - Test-takers must ensure they have a quiet and comfortable location that is completely private while doing the test. The proctor must end the session if anyone appears – even momentarily – during the test. The candidate is the only person allowed to see and answer the test questions.

    The International Certificate testing rules

    There are a number of simple, yet critical rules to follow when taking the International Certificate test from home. These include:

    • minors need adult consent - Test-takers who are under 18, an adult must be present to show their ID and provide consent. Then they must leave the room for the test to begin.
    • test taker must remain in webcam view - The test is under 2 hours with one optional 10-minute break. Aside from this break, people taking the test must not stand up or leave their workspace.
    • remove watches - Test-takers must remove all watches and smart watches to be stored out of sight.
    • store personal items away - Test-takers must store all their personal items out of reach during the test. They can not use phones, books, pens, notes or whiteboards.
    • clear exam workspace - There shouldn’t be any clutter on the desk or workspace. The proctor will check that no prohibited items are in the room before beginning.
    • no handwritten notes allowed - Test-takers are not permitted to take handwritten notes during the test. They may use the notes feature in their browser to take notes.
  • A Young woman smiling and gesturing at her friend
    • Language hints and tips

    Improve your English without saying a word

    By Pearson Languages

    Communicating in English goes far beyond simply learning English vocabulary. In fact, there are many non-verbal strategies you can leverage to appear more confident as you improve your English. Below you’ll find three of the most important aspects of non-verbal communication to work on:

    Make eye contact when you speak in English

    When you’re talking to someone, it’s best to look them in the eye as much as possible. This shows that you are engaged in the conversation and listening intently when not speaking. Especially in loud environments, you may find your eyes drawn to someone’s lips as they talk. While it may help you better understand what they’re saying in a noisy place, like a restaurant, aim to maintain eye contact as much as you can (but do remember to take a quick break away once in a while so as to not stare too intently).

    Be mindful of body language

    What you’re doing with your hands and the facial expressions you make can say a lot—sometimes more than words! Not only should you be aware of the body language of who you’re talking with, but you also need to know what your body language is saying about you. Different cultures see hand gestures differently so it's good to be mindful of what gestures you make with your hands. If you want to appear open and friendly you may want to keep your arms open and avoid closed body language like crossing your arms.

    If someone is leaning away from you slightly, this may indicate they aren’t interested in the topic you’re speaking about. They may lean in closer if more interested in what you're talking about. If they smile a lot, this may mean they agree with you.

    Prepare yourself for English conversations you may have

    If you are planning to practice talking in English, it’s OK to prepare yourself for the conversation. Create a script for yourself to speak from that allows you to practice difficult terms and phrases. Not only will this give you real-time experience bettering your skills, but it will allow you to speak English with confidence.

    Either in work situations or casual conversations, there’s more than just English words being exchanged so remember to dedicate your full attention. It’s an excellent opportunity to practice and improve your English skills and you’re likely to learn more than just studying on your own.

  • A man sat a laptop, with his hands to his face looking comtemplative
    • Linguistics and culture

    How using jargon, idioms and colloquialism confuses English learners

    By Pearson Languages

    “How do I learn thee? Let me count the ways”

    Did you get it?

    To ‘get’ the title of this post, you must first recognize that it is based on the famous opening line from Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Sonnet 43, published in 1850. Then you need to understand that “thee” is an old form of the word “you”. Next, you need to appreciate the pun on the word “love”, which has been changed to “learn”. Lastly, you need to figure out the full meaning of the phrase, which likens the idea of learning English to the idea of love, or a labor of love (also an idiom), and the many different ways you can do it.

    That’s a lot of steps, but a fluent English speaker would likely pick it up. That’s because they've learned the language from childhood in an English-speaking country, probably studied some poetry at school and have absorbed this quote through news media, popular culture or at a wedding.

    Understanding jargon, idioms and colloquialism is one of the hardest parts of learning any new language. It’s only achieved by repeated exposure to – and immersion in – speech. In the Global Scale of English Learning Objectives for Adult Learners, listening to, and recognizing a wide range of idioms and colloquialisms doesn’t appear until 83, at the very upper edge of C1. For speaking, joining a conversation in progress with fluent speakers on complex topics comes in at 81. Reading idiomatic or non-standard language appears at 76, again within C1. It all adds up to a very sophisticated level of understanding.

    Yet jargon and idioms are huge parts of English. They are also constantly changing, and jargon morphs with new innovations, professional disciplines, and generations. 

    When an idiom is over-used, it becomes a cliché. Sometimes idioms stick out like a sore thumb because they’re unrelated to context – but not always.

    Even fluent English speakers don’t necessarily realize an idiom is an idiom. Take the phrase “I’ll call you tomorrow”. Most fluent English speakers would see that as a simple declarative sentence. The expression comes from the idea of “calling on” someone in person, or calling their name to get their attention, but a second-language English speaker may not immediately grasp the fact that it now involves a phone, and can be achieved over long distances.

    English is both complex and rich in figurative language; we know this. That’s one of its beauties and also a challenge of learning it. But at what point do these kinds of figurative language become incorrect?

    As Lennox Morrison recently explored, second-language English speakers now outnumber fluent English speakers globally, which means the balance is tipping. Fluent English speakers are doing business with, learning from and interacting with second-language English speakers more than ever. Billions of pounds in trade and countries’ fates can hinge on those written and spoken conversations; the stakes are high.

    Second-language English speakers find idioms and jargon difficult and therefore see far less need for them. Although sayings can be lovely, charming and fun, these linguistic devices mask meaning by their very nature. This makes language less efficient when not every participant in a conversation can decode them. The proportion of people who can’t is growing, which might affect what is considered to be “correct” in the coming decades and have implications for what is taught.

    Want to learn some idioms? Check out - Eerie English idioms and phrases

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