In the globalized world, English is not just a commonly used means of communication between people of different countries, but is also the most frequently used language on websites and social media. English also serves as the official language of international organizations, multinational companies and across service sectors that operate around the world, giving it more credence than its regional counterparts.
English for international study and career development
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English language in a globalized world
Parents in non-English speaking countries often wish their children to master the English language so that they are equipped to compete globally and not just at the local level. They know that in the fields of business, academics, science, computing, education, transportation, politics and entertainment, English is firmly established as the ‘de facto lingua franca.’
Studying abroad and pursuing international careers
Studying abroad at an English-speaking university is an excellent way for you to broaden your perspective and gain an advantage in the job market. Additionally, it will expand your network of friends, help you grow as a person and it will make you more marketable, as studying abroad will give you the opportunity to stand out. One study showed that 97% of students who studied abroad found a job within 12 months of graduation, compared to only 49% of college graduates without study abroad experience.
English is considered the global language of business. Given the outreach of English and the interaction of corporate teams across borders, it is often the preferred choice for email and telephone/Skype communication. An article in the Harvard Business Review observes that the need to coordinate tasks and work with customers, colleagues and partners worldwide, has accelerated the move toward using English as the official language of business no matter where companies are based. Therefore, being knowledgeable in the English language is key not only if you wish to relocate for study, but also if you plan to apply for jobs in international firms.
English for study abroad
You will encounter the English language in all facets of your study abroad experience, both inside and outside the classroom.
- Programme content: Course content is largely delivered through the medium of English for undergraduate, postgraduate and research level degrees. Online programmes designed to provide distance-course teaching deliver their online content in English to make sure that it appeals to the global audience.
- Medium of teaching and communication: Universities that are keen to attract international students will deliver teaching and communication in English, hence the requirement that students satisfy the minimum criteria in their knowledge and skill of the English language before being admitted to a course.
- Research: A lot of the research degrees adopt research methodologies that are imparted in English. Scholarly material promoted by universities or publishing houses are often published in English unless the topic concerns a specific language.
- Presentation and project delivery: When you are asked to present a topic during a course seminar or at a research forum, you have to be conversant in English not only for presentation but also to answer questions and receive feedback on your work.
- Networking and social interaction: Often universities organize events for course colleagues, alumni and faculty to interact on common topics of interest. So that you are up-to-speed with current affairs, you can communicate more effectively in English with a wide range of people and this can help you develop connections and make new friends.
If English is not your first language but you are interested in applying to a university where the language of instruction is in English, you are required to take an English language test, like the TOEFL iBT® test. Created by Educational Testing Service (ETS), the TOEFL iBT test is specifically designed to assess your ability to communicate in an English-speaking classroom, which can help lay the foundation for pursuing your study abroad aspirations. Prospective students should check university websites or contact the university staff directly to find out what minimum scores are required at the universities where they plan to apply. More than 10,000 institutions currently accept TOEFL scores worldwide.
The TOEFL iBT test is part of the TOEFL Family of Assessments, a suite of products trusted worldwide to assess every stage of English-language learning. Whether for admissions or for programme placement, advancement or exiting, the TOEFL Family of Assessments provides information academic institutions/teachers need to help make confident decisions. More information on the TOEFL tests can be found here.
English language for business and overseas job opportunities
Similar to study abroad, if you are applying for roles in international companies or for an overseas job opportunity, you are expected to have a certain level of English skills.
- Language requirement for international jobs: Most international jobs require English proficiency to ease communications across offices and for customer service roles. Further, if you work for international firms, you will have opportunities to represent your company or organization in external events where your English-speaking skills can be very useful in promoting your work and identifying new business opportunities. See an example of a success story from Japan here.
- Advancing your career: Whether you are just beginning your career or are looking to progress from your current position, English proficiency helps broaden opportunities. Employees with English language skills are important assets to an organization and a proficiency credential is often required during the job recruitment process. Actively looking for ways to improve your English language skills will prepare you for when a job opportunity arises.
- Job placements overseas: Because English is seen as the global language of business, English proficiency is essential when organizations are looking to place employees in overseas job assignments. Strong English language skills ensure that both you and the company succeed in these endeavors.
The TOEIC® tests, including the TOEIC Listening and Reading Test and the TOEIC Speaking and Writing Tests, also created by ETS, have been the global standard for measuring workplace English-language communication skills for more than 35 years. Used by nearly 14,000 organizations in 150 countries, the TOEIC tests help businesses build a more effective workforce, give job seekers and employees a competitive edge, and enable universities to better prepare students for