What's my level?
January 10, 2019
There are a lot of misconceptions about level tests in English. One of the biggest is ‘higher level = better English speaker’. This is not always true. Let’s take a look at some myths and advantages of knowing your level.
Myth #1: Higher Level = Better Speaker
This is often not true. Students studying at higher levels should be able to handle more difficult topics and structures more fluently. However, I’ve encountered the opposite many times. I’ve coached pre-intermediate students who could speak a lot better than upper-intermediate students. This is because a lot of academies use level as a marketing tool. For example, you may have seen this advertisement before – “Study with us for 3 months and level-up your English”. The truth is simple. Improving English is far more important than leveling up. I’ve seen too many learners who have been level-up because the company wants to keep their business. For example:
Student A has been studying at Academy X for a year. He started in the pre-intermediate level. He is now in upper-intermediate, but his skills haven’t improved. He struggles to understand the lessons and cannot communicate well with his classmates. He has actually not improved since he started studying.
Student A would have been better off remaining at the pre-intermediate level to develop his skills. You can improve your skills without leveling up.
Myth #2: I need to level up to improve.
While it is important to learn and improve, leveling up won’t always help you. As a learner, you should focus on improving. I’ve seen some students stay in the same level for a long time. Those students were able to improve and learn a lot. If learning is your goal, then the name of your level should not matter.
Myth #3: If my partner is lower than me, I can’t improve.
In the real world, there are no levels. When we meet someone at work, on vacation, or at a global conference, we don’t ask them “What’s your English level?” People will have different strengths, weaknesses, and accents. Therefore, learning in a mixed level class will be more beneficial for you in real situations. You will learn to understand and communicate more efficiently.
Usefulness of Level Testing
Level test do have some advantages. They are a good way for you to see your strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, you can set your learning goals for improvement. Additionally, they can give you a good idea of where to start. While mix levels are good, you don’t want to start in a program that is too difficult or too easy. Your program should be challenging.
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