It is compulsory for all students studying English on an International student visa to sit an externally assessed end-of-course examination at the end of their 25 weeks of English language classes. One of the recognised examinations is the Test of Interactive English (TIE). This is an ACELS examination which is provided by an Irish examinations body called Interactive English Language Testing (IELT).
The Test of Interactive English (TIE) is designed specifically to meet the needs of students coming to Ireland to learn and improve their English. It is intended for learners on either long or short courses, with the certificate issued within 10 working days of the test being taken.
TIE is designed to assess learners’ communicative and interactive skills in both predictable and spontaneous situations. It assesses the students’ level of language ability in speaking and writing, with the receptive skills (reading and listening) being tested indirectly through preparation for the test and through the skills required to interact effectively during the test.
TIE has been designed for all students over the age of 18 of all abilities and motivations following either long or short courses in language schools or other educational institutions. TIE is a learner-centred exam which is flexible, i.e. designed to recognise and accommodate the needs and interests of each learner whatever their level of English, age, cultural or educational background.
TIE is in two parts – the Oral Test (30 minutes per 2 candidates) and the Written Test (60 minutes). All the elements of both parts are compulsory and are designed to build upon learners’ background knowledge, provide relevant language development opportunities to suit the needs of each student, and reflect tasks with which they will be familiar from the English language classroom and their daily lives. Both parts of the test must be taken on the same day.
Preparing for the Test
In preparing for the test, the learners are required to carry out three standard, pre-specified tasks. These form the framework within which the learners select their own topics and materials, and decide how to develop each task. In addition, there are two spontaneous tasks in the test, which require the learners to respond in speaking and writing to unpredictable situations. Assessment is made according to how well each candidate performs in carrying these out.
TIE candidates are required to do the following preparation for the test:
- The candidate needs to carry out an investigation
- The candidate needs to read a book in English.
- The candidate needs to follow a news story
Each candidate is required to keep a logbook which they must bring with them to the test. This is a notebook in which candidates record the information about the three tasks (described above) they are required to prepare. Candidates are required to produce their logbook in the oral test and may refer to their book and newspaper article(s) in the written test. The logbook represents a record of each candidate’s learning during the process of preparation for the test. Although the logbook is not awarded a grade, the TIE certificate contains the following statement: ‘This award is supported by a logbook produced by the candidate in fulfilment of test requirements’.
BREAKDOWN OF SPEAKING AND WRITING
SPEAKING (30 minutes)
The test takes the form of a face-to-face interview between an examiner and two candidates. Candidates are assessed on their use of spoken English to answer short questions and present the material prepared for the exam. Each candidate has a long turn to present their investigation and either their book or news story. Candidates are also assessed on their ability to interact with their partner and the examiner
WRITING (60 minutes)
The first task requires candidates to write approximately 150 words on a familiar topic in the form of a narrative, description, or simple argumentation.
The second task requires candidates to write about their News Story or Book. They will be expected to write about 150 words giving a personal response or attitude to the story or book.
ASSESSMENT OF TIE
The TIE Scale of Assessment has been drawn up using the Council of Europe’s Common Framework Scale of Language Proficiency. The TIE Scale is made up of 6 basic levels and the addition of a + at B1, B2, and C1 allows for ten bands:
- Proficient User: C1, C1+, C2
- Independent User: B1, B1+, B2, B2+
- Basic User: A1, A2 and A2+
For more information on TIE please see the website www.ielt.ie