Tuesday 17 November 2009

The Society for Testing English  Proficiency
British Council

Agreement on joint operation of the IELTS English language proficiency test 
-Raising the level of English language proficiency nationwide-

The Society for Testing English Proficiency (STEP), and British Council, the United Kingdom's official organization for educational  opportunities and cultural relations, have signed an alliance agreement to operate  jointly the  Japan delivery of IELTS, the world’s most recognized English language proficiency test. STEP and British Council believe that by combining STEP’s nearly 50 years of experience in administering tests in Japan with IELTS, the global leader among English proficiency tests, that Japan’s English language testing environment will be considerably improved. 

IELTS (International English Language Testing System) is used to evaluate English proficiency for overseas study or relocation and has the world’s highest number of test takers. Since its launch 20 years ago, IELTS has focused on evaluating interactive communication skills by testing each of the four skills: speaking, listening, reading and writing. IELTS is employed in more than 120 countries including the UK, the USA, Australia, and New Zealand because of its reliability as an accurate measure of English proficiency. Having exceeded 1.4 million test-takers annually, IELTS is the global leader both in quality and popularity.

Under the terms of the alliance, STEP will assume promotional activities, receipt of applications and administration of the IELTS test while British Council will jointly manage the test and contribute its expertise. Through this alliance, STEP will utilize its experience and domestic network to improve convenience significantly for test takers. The alliance means improved availability and an increased number of test centres, acceptance of a wider variety of payment methods, and enhanced provision of IELTS information. The alliance will go into effect in April 2010. However, registrations will be accepted prior to this in January 2010. 

Regarding the alliance, Jason  James, Japan  Representative for British Council, said “STEP’s experience and network are unrivalled in Japan. Through our alliance with STEP, an organization whose mission is to raise the level of practical English proficiency, we will have the opportunity to further deepen awareness of IELTS in Japan and to improve convenience dramatically for test takers by increasing the availability of the test in each region, and by diversifying payment options.  We hope that IELTS will be the basis of success for Japanese people in a world that demands English skills, and we aim to raise test-takers confidence in their English ability through our strong support and superior evaluations of English proficiency.

STEP Senior Executive Director Fumio Domyo said that “STEP, a long-term contributor to raising the English language proficiency of Japanese people, is pleased to form an alliance to jointly provide IELTS, an internationally accepted test  recognized as being highly practical  due  to its one-on-one speaking and other components. By providing this test to even more Japanese people, we hope to increase overseas study opportunities and add to the number of Japanese people who can use English with confidence in an international environment.   

IELTS is the International English Language Testing System, an English language test designed to evaluate ability to communicate in English for education, immigration and professional accreditation. 
About 6,000 educational organisations in 120 countries including the UK, USA, Australia and New Zealand recognise IELTS as a reliable indicator of true-to-life ability to  communicate in English.  IELTS is the world’s leading English language test with the largest number of test-takers. In 2009 the number of candidates exceeded 1.4 million. IELTS is jointly managed by British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia and the University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations (Cambridge ESOL) in more than 125 countries. 

About The Society for Testing English Proficiency (STEP)
The Society for Testing English Proficiency (STEP) was established in April 1963 for the purpose of popularizing and advancing practical English language ability in Japan. STEP produces and administers the EIKEN Test in Practical English Proficiency, Japan’s most widely administered English assessment, with over 80 million examinees since 1963. STEP also offers Junior STEP, a series of listening activities designed to encourage English learning among children, and the jointly-branded STEP BULATS, a test of English for the workplace. 
Homepage: www.eiken.or.jp

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