Learn English

By Kevin Branigan

English is the world's preeminent language of politics and trade. Many thousands of international students visit Ireland every year to enroll in top quality English language schools, which offer a wide range of internationally recognised qualifications to suit every academic, personal or professional need.

Ireland has one of the youngest populations in Europe and an impressive tradition of learning, and has become an important destination for international students looking to improve their English language skills. The combination of a regulated high-quality education system, stable economy, beautiful landscape and vibrant cultural scene, means that almost 100,000 international students each year come to Ireland to take English language classes.
There are many course options: from absolute beginners' programmes to classes designed to improve the English language skills of those who already posses a good level of proficiency. Specialised English courses are also available that teach the specific vocabulary of particular professions such as Healthcare and Business. Courses are available for young and old learners, and through group or one-to-one formats.

International students generally learn English for two reasons: on the one hand to gain admittance to a university or college programme at an Irish or other English speaking institution; and on the other, to develop English language skills that will improve career prospects.
Many students come to Ireland and enrol in an English language course prior to an undergraduate or postgraduate programme whilst other students join the Irish school system at Leaving Certificate level, with the aim of entering university afterwards. Irish universities have stringent admission requirements for international students. Candidates must be able to demonstrate in advance that they have the necessary proficiency in English to play a full part in their college programme. Requirements and accepted English language qualifications can vary a good deal from one course to another, so it is highly recommended you contacting the International Office or Admissions Office of the institution in question for further information.
Irish English language schools offer preparation programmes for the major international English language examinations such as the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), the Test of English for International Communication (TOIEC), the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), and the Cambridge ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) examinations; and for two awards recently developed in Ireland: the Test of Interactive English (TIE) and the English Test for Academic and Professional Purposes (ETAPP).
Schools will usually register the student with the examining body automatically, but individual candidates can also apply to take an exam independently.
These qualifications all relate to the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR). Valid all over Europe, the CEFR provides a basis for the mutual recognition of language competence, thus facilitating educational and occupational mobility. It is increasingly used in the reform of national curricula and by international consortia for the comparison of language certificates.

Guide to English Language Certification
An important aim of ACELS (see the Certification section) is to develop English language exams in an Irish context, and the TIE and ETAPP examinations are a result of this remit.
TIE is designed for learners of every level of ability to improve their English, and is unique in that the student decides the exam content. Students are required to carry out three tasks in preparation: a short project on a subject of interest to you; read a book of your choice that is suitable to your level of ability; and follow a news story in the media. TIE involves written and spoken tests.
ETAPP was created in 2007 for international students seeking to apply for a course in an Irish third level institution, or those looking to work in a professional role in Ireland. ETAPP is similar in content and objective to long-established international examinations such as IELTS and TOEFL, and comprises four separate tests of Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking.
IELTS covers all four language skills - reading, writing, listening and speaking, and is accepted by more than 6,000 universities, immigration authorities, and professional bodies around the world, including all higher education institutions in Ireland. The IELTS seeks to test English as it is used in real life, using methods such as speaking modules that are carried out face-to-face with an examiner, and the use of different national and regional accents in testing. In 2008 over one million people took IELTS worldwide. The test is provided up to four times in a month in over 125 countries, and results are made available just 13 calendar days after the test.
TOEFL was first introduced in 1964 and is accepted by institutions in 130 countries worldwide. Almost 20 million students have taken the test, which is available in IBT (Internet-based Test) and PBT (Paper-based Test) formats. The TOEFL tests all four language skills that are important for effective communication: Speaking, Listening, Reading, and Writing.
TOEIC measures the ability of workers to use English in business, commerce and industry. The qualification is also recognised by colleges and governments around the world. Around three million - mainly in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan - take the test every year. The TOEIC is a paper-based, multiple-choice exam that utilises audio, visual and written materials.
University of Cambridge ESOL Certificates are internationally recognised exams that are suitable for anyone seeking to improve their English, apply to a college course, find a good job, or simply travel abroad. Learners can choose from a selection of Cambridge exams that certify English level proficiency at different levels of ability. Around 1.75 million learners in more than 150 countries take Cambridge ESOL examinations each year.

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