Taking the TOSEL

Two months ago, my wonjangnim asked me to supervise the students who are going to take the TOSEL – Test of the Skills in the English Language. I’ve heard about it but I wasn’t sure how I was going to do the review.

The only English test I’ve taken was the SMU MATE, which is a requirement for non-native speakers for SMU TESOL applicants. It was weird how the instructions were in Korean when the test is for English skills. I thought that anyone taking an English test should be able to understand instructions in the same language. I didn’t know if I passed the test since I didn’t fully understand the directions on the test but that was two years ago and I’ve since received my certificate.

It is a known fact that Koreans take a lot of English tests. I’ve known several students who were taking sat prep and at the same time studying for TOEFL, which is a requirement if a native-speaker wants to study in the United States.

TOSEL is produced by EBS or Education Broadcasting System in Korea. I’ve been looking for information online but I couldn’t find any information in English. There are five levels that a test-taker has to choose from depending on his skills, grade or age: Starter, Basic, Junior, Intermediate and Advanced. Each level has nine ranks or 급 with 1급 being the highest. The number of questions and the weigh of each question depends on the level. There are 20 listening and speaking questions as well as 20 reading and writing questions for starter. There is no actual “speaking” nor “writing” in all tests.

When I started supervising the review, I was amazed at the scores that our students got with the practice tests. Most of them either ranked 1급 or 2급 when they normally have a hard time in our classes.

7 comments

  1. we had this every end of the month at Princeton but the KETs usually supervised the tests… too bad the academy was sold and even changed… memory na lang sya sa amin ng mga bata, haaay….

      1. oh yeah! ang hagwon naman eh school or academy. may bago na naman ako natutuhan. nakikinig po ako madalas dun sa learn korean section dun sa radio program nila ate regina. 😀

  2. i was s curious about the admin says that their students got high scores yet they have a hard time in their class..and there is no actual speaking test? do you mean the problem was the TOSEL books or how the teachers teach. actually, my korean boss was putting up a school business here in the Philippines and He wants to adopt the TOSEL course with our students. so Im reading the books and i think its ok..same as the other books we are using.

    1. Hi Min! English education is conducted differently in South Korea. Most classes use the GTM or grammar translation method especially if the teacher is Korean. They focus mostly on vocabulary and grammatical structure and perceptive skills. Not much class time is used on language production. That is why most Korean students do very well on English tests but they have a hard time speaking English.

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