Outcomes: English language and the transition to work or further study

Pamela Humphreys, Cate Gribble

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This paper is the third in a series for the national symposium Five years on: English Language Competence of International Students, 2013. It focuses on the English language outcomes of students with English as an Additional Language (EAL) and the impact that English language proficiency (ELP) has on subsequent study and employment. There is a widespread view among employers and professional bodies that international students are graduating without the English language competence and ‘soft skills’ required to successfully transition into the Australian labour market. Perceived deficiencies of ELP are impacting both Work Integrated Learning (WIL) and employment opportunities for EAL students. The paper articulates some of the challenges of defining the construct of ELP in academic and professional contexts in addition to the difficulty of setting an appropriate standard for exit. It also provides a critical assessment of exit testing as a means of evidencing ELP by graduation while considering some alternative practices that institutions might adopt. A number of key issues have been identified for further discussion: how we might conceptualise a definition
of the construct of ELP; the extent to which policy and practice might ensure the cumulative development of ELP by graduation; how exiting ELP might be evidenced; the setting of realistic exiting standards and how ELP might be better integrated into graduate attribute statements and related policy. Concerns also centre on improving the provision of integrated career education and access to Work Integrated Learning (WIL) experiences. Despite the heightened focus on exiting ELP in the research literature since the 2007 symposium, there is still a need for further research in key areas, including the validity of standardised tests for assessing graduating proficiency, the transition to further study and the ELP level needed for effective performance in vocational fields and trades.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFive years on
Subtitle of host publicationEnglish language competence of international students: outcomes report June 2013
Place of PublicationMelbourne, Victoria
PublisherInternational Education Association of Australia
Number of pages30
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013
Externally publishedYes


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