Evidence of English language proficiency

Dear Sir,

Recently, the Government of Bermuda has introduced a new standard of qualifying for work in Bermuda for speakers of other languages.

While I agree that persons that serve with the public, especially waiters, etc, should be able to take orders correctly and communicate important bits of information, I do have issues with the testing standards that were chosen.

First, let us keep in mind that there are quite a number of jobs that Bermudians do not prefer to do.

As a matter of fact, it is that way in lots of places around the world. Therefore, the foreign workforce is here to do the jobs that we cannot or will not do for the most part.

Many of these jobs do not require a high level of education. Some do require special skill sets. Some are very tedious and difficult, and don’t pay well, with long hours or even mandatory holiday work.

There are at least two types of tests that are being enforced, the first being the Test of English as a Foreign Language at university level and the second being the International English Language Testing System.

Some may be aware of the TOEFL. This is used by both Canadian and American universities for determining if potential students from foreign countries can study in English.

This is a great way for students to find out what they may need work on in order to complete a university course in a language (English) that is not their mother tongue.

This will save time and money, as they may not be capable of this task. At least they know up front what is required and can either quit or take separate English studies and try again.

My problem is, why are we testing persons that don’t speak English as a first language as we do university students? Have we reached the point where only the best of the best will be allowed to work here?

All you need to do is go to YouTube and type in “TOEFL speaking test, listening test, writing test”. There you will find lots of examples of what our friendly Indian waiter is up against.

I took some of the tests, having aced my GCE many years ago, and struggled to pass.

I would like to throw out the challenge for all members of the Government, as well as anyone else that has the stamina to take this four to five-hour exam. I would like to challenge you to also post your results.

Understand that this test is for potential university students. So please tell me where is the fairness in giving this test to our underpaid and overworked guest workers?

Some of these people don’t have a solid educational background, but they will work like heck and never let you down.

This is another overreaction of a response that is only going to fly in the face of those that are in power. I would like to see a more simplistic test that is fair and shows that the guest worker can communicate at a primary level.

Writing in English should be required only if they need to write to an English-speaking person.

So going back to my Indian waiter, if I order barbecue chicken and he writes “beer q chosen”, as long as he and the chef know what I want and then deliver it, I don’t need to see his notepad. Get it?

Yes, he needs to get my order right, I get that, but the result is absolutely unnecessary and discriminatory.

The second test is the IELTS, which is a little more reasonable in my humble opinion but still too difficult.

I know someone who completed their studies in nursing assistance. They were very excited to return to our beautiful island and find work.

What a disappointment it was for them and their Bermudian spouse after spending all that money to study abroad only to be told that they cannot work until passing one of these exams.

I myself worked in the field of geriatrics in Britain and there were many foreign nationals there.

We were all given a basic ten-minute test with one key question, asking why you wanted to do this type of work. Next was a background check, followed by a bit of training.

I don’t seem to recall having many university-level conversations with the seniors that I took care of.

I do remember working hard to care for them and being unable to find out if they needed extra care or minimal. The foreign workers there seemed to nail it as well.

I hate to admit it but I think Britain got it right on that one, although I do believe Bermuda has it right on lots of other things.

So here is my Bermudian mate’s wife, having taken and passed the course in English, being told that she cannot work here with seniors because she is not good enough until she proves that she is ready for university.

OMG! What have we become ... other world or a callous world?

Come on, Progressive Labour Party, someone please fix this nonsense. Take my challenge and post your results here.

Good luck!



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Published Jan 18, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated Jan 17, 2020 at 10:23 pm)

Evidence of English language proficiency

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