Case study: Progress in English learning of civil servants preparing for the EU presidency
English assessment goal: Measure the English proficiency progress of employees.
Participants: 600 employees of government ministries and institutions in two assessment rounds.
Duration: May 2014- October 2015
Holding the Presidency of the Council of the European Union is one of the most important and demanding tasks arising from EU membership. Each EU Member State holds the Presidency for six months on a rotating basis. During that time, national governmental representatives prepare and chair the meetings of permanent committees and those of around 200 working parties and committees that focus on specific areas. Naturally, a good command of the English language is a prerequisite for the successful handling of all these activities.
The Slovak Republic was selected to hold the Presidency from July 1st to December 31st, 2016. Two years before, preparation started. Selected civil servants from various departments and ministries started attending English language courses in order to improve their English language proficiency level. For the measurement of their progress in English, administrators used the English assessment for companies from Tracktest.
At the beginning of the course, students took the TrackTest English proficiency level test. Based on their results, they were assigned to English classes. In the end, they retook a test in order to measure the English language progress they achieved.
A key challenge of this project was organizing the assessment of employees with a heterogenous English proficiency (various levels from A2 to C2) in 12 different organizations located in the various parts of the capital city.
Project Start: Placement of students in the classes based on the entry test results
The administrator invited students to the English test via e-mail. They completed a test during their spare time in the office or at home. In the first week, almost 700 tests were completed. Thanks to the TrackTest automated rating system, the course administrators from the English language institute got the English test results immediately and were able to place students into the classes with no delay.
One class had a maximum of 12 students. Students with proficiency levels A2, B1, and B2 had 90-minute lessons twice a week. Proficient English users with C1-C2 levels attended 180-minute lessons once a week. Students took English lessons mostly on their own premises.
Project End: Exit exams and progress measurement
After 12 months of English tuition, civil servants had been invited via e-mail to take the TrackTest English proficiency test again.
The total improvement was impressive. After the completion of the English course, the students improved their English proficiency by 14 % on average, which is almost one CEFR level! The progress was noticeable across all governmental institutions.
Their average English proficiency level was at the lower C1 at the beginning. After the course, it was at the pass threshold for the C2 level. Progress was measured with the TTS score, a universal Tracktest score calculated across all the levels, with max. 1200 points.
Topic weaknesses analysis
Students ended the course with a relatively balanced profile, with no extreme weaknesses in any particular topic or grammar category.