The use of standardized english exams in the internationalization of english as a global language

  • Wilber Romero Villarroel
  • Sara Camacho Estrada
Palabras clave: Language internationalization, English culture internationalization, English Exams, Standardization of International English Exams. Global Language.


Have you heard of the ITEP/TOEIC/TSE/BULLATS/TOEFL/CELTA/DELTA exams? Among many others, these exams are currently being promoted not only by educative institutions, but by a large number of local governments and even international relationship instances (Bunce, 2016). On this regard, it is imperative to wonder and analyze how the idea of taking language exams became into fashion and at what moment in history it became into a necessity, a requirement, or as synonym of social and academic status. On such basis this study aims at determining how the implementation of English international tests have contributed in the spread of English globally.

The spread of the English language globally has occurred because of different factors. Clyne (2008) regards the demographic aspect as an important element for the growth and rapid evolution of this language. The effect of the use of the English language has reached almost all the areas of human domain such as the educational. The spread in this area has determined the future of many countries.

On the field of education, a standardized visible system is clearly set. Most of the books and material used to teach English are based on the Common European Framework. This framework stablishes the standardization of teaching contents and methodologies which are later used and applied into exams to evaluate students´ English language proficiency around the world.

CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning) programs have been implemented in schools in many countries of the world like Asia, Australia and Europe. “In recent years, LAC and CLIL are gaining intense attention particularly in context where English is learnt as a foreign language or as an international language” (Lin, 2016, p.1). Lin regards this implementation to the desire of countries like the Asian for becoming modern and take part in the development of a global economy.

When comparing English with other languages it can be said that it is the pioneer in standardizing a language. According to Mulcaster (as cited by Crystal, 2003, p. 73) the English language had no competence internationally. If we take a look at other languages trying to do the same, it can be seen that they have not become as successful as English.   It does not matter if those systems are better, they simply have not been able to reach that level of internationalization. The important fact here is that those countries in these case languages do not have the economic, political power, and the influence that The United States has.

According to Sharifian (2010, p.192) the English language dominance originated along the colonialism period. Phillipson (as cited in Sharifian, 2010) explains that “many elites in society have strong links with the inner circle because they have been educated in inner circle countries”. The inner circle is referred to countries where the English language is spoken as a mother tongue.

To conclude, this essay presents an analysis of the way standardized exams have contributed widely to the internationalization of English around the world. This standardized examination system has influenced in many aspects like education, negotiation, culture, ideology and public policy.  It will present an overview about every aspect mentioned as well as the causes and effects of these factors which have influence in a positive and negative way in society. Besides, there will be presented examples in a general way about percentages of people who have taken standardized exams and how it has contributed to the expansion of English around the world.

Cómo citar
Romero Villarroel, W., & Camacho Estrada, S. (2018). The use of standardized english exams in the internationalization of english as a global language. Ciencia Digital, 2(2), 484-497.