Frequently Asked Questions
The Language Center has listed the most important questions about the Assessment. Is your question not on this list? The Student Desk employees will gladly help (tel. 2508).
Why an English Assessment?
As determined in the strategic plan 2006-2009, Tilburg University wants to grow into an international campus where international students, lecturers, and researchers feel welcome. By doing so, Tilburg University hopes to increase its appeal on the international market and become and international university that can compete with other Dutch and foreign universities. At an international campus, it is important for every employee to have some English skills (listening, reading, speaking, and writing). The Assessment has been developed to examine if every employee is at an appropriate level of English.
What level should I have?
Four different levels have been documented, related to the different types of positions, because not everybody needs to have the same proficiency level. We distinguish between academic staff, managerial staff, secretaries and administrative staff. Each group has a different assessment and different target level, yet even within these categories, there is variation between the levels. Together with your supervisor, you determine which level is necessary to do your work. This could therefore vary from person to person.
Does every employee have to take the Assessment?
Every employee will be confronted with English students and colleagues to some extent. A lecturer might need to teach in English, a front desk officer might have to give students directions in English, and supporting staff might need to write memos or minutes in English. Because everyone, in their own way, will increasingly be confronted with English, all Tilburg University employees will have to take the Assessment.
What happens if I am not at the appropriate level of English?
Tilburg University offers its staff the opportunity to work on their English during working hours. The Language Center offers a number of possibilities for you to improve your English and will also pay for this. You can choose a course or training that suits you best. There are individual tutorial sessions, but you can also take a course with a group of close colleagues. The Language Center website lists a number of possibilities. The basic principle is that every employee is given sufficient time and space to reach the appropriate level of English. Besides, it is also possible to take a course before you take the Assessment. In that case, the course will prepare you for the test.
Can I be exempt from taking an English course if I have no time or I am under too much time pressure?
Because there are different course options, a course or training can always be combined with work. A course can, for example, be spread over a longer period in order to combine it with periods of high work pressure. Together with your supervisor, you determine how to combine the English course with your regular activities. Together you agree on what work you can do during the course, or if certain duties will be (temporarily) taken over or put on hold.
Is there also a Dutch course for foreign employees?
There are a number of course options for foreign employees to work on their Dutch. Because Tilburg University's focus is on creating an international campus, foreign employees are not required to take any of these courses. However, they are stimulated to do so. Of course, foreign employees are also required to be sufficiently proficient in English.
What does the Assessment look like?
The Assessment is based on internationally recognised testing systems (Cambridge and IELTS) and involves all English skills: speaking, listening, reading, and writing. The Assessment is divided into two parts: half a day during which listening, writing, and reading are tested, and a 25-minute oral proficiency exam. There are different tests for academic, managerial, secretaries and administrative staff. On the Language Center website, you can find sample tests for each category. If you are taking the test, these are a very good way to prepare.
How do I register for the Assessment?
You can register for the Assessment on the Language Center website. However, your supervisor might want you to take the test together with your colleagues. Therefore, it is wise to check with your supervisor before you register.
Can I keep up my level of English with a course after the Assessment?
There are a number of possibilities to keep up your level of English. The most obvious way is in your everyday work. If English is sufficiently used there, keeping up your English comes naturally. You can also look for someone (for instance a colleague) with whom you speak English on a regular basis. Watching English programmes on the BBC, watching DVDs with English subtitles, or reading an English book are of course very useful. In addition, it is possible to take part in a so-called Speakeasy group or a course, but these options will not be free of charge.