It is with great joy I report that today I received the equipment necessary to administer the TOEFL (many thanks to the help of Michael Capelli and the folks at Educational Testing Services)!
I began the process of registering the IF-Sertão, Campus Petrolina as a TOEFL site upon return to Brazil in February. Due to the unbelievable abundance of study-abroad scholarships such as Science Without Borders made possible by the Brazilian Federal Government, demand for the Test of English as a Foreign Language has sky rocketed. The test, accepted by higher learning institutions in over 180 countries, measures students’ English-language abilities and is often the make-it-or-break-it factor in winning the aforementioned scholarships. Unfortunately, earning a high score is far from the only barrier to taking the test and getting the grants.
If you look at the map, you will notice that Petrolina (the red dot in the sea of blue) is quite far from the coast, where nearly all of the major capital cities in the North East region of the country are. This means that until now, not only did students have to pay the already prohibitive cost of ~450 R (150-250 USD) just to register for the test, but they also had to pay for transportation to, and room and board in, expensive capital cities, the closest being 10 hours away (by bus).
Thus, one of my main goals for this year, in a two-pronged approach of 1-teaching English to students who don’t know English while 2-finding and facilitating the scholarship opportunities for those students who already have the language skills, was getting the TOEFL here to Petrolina, the hub of the NE interior. Every barrier eliminated is one step closer to making our students’ dreams of becoming world citizens come true.
With the arrival of headsets, microphones and web-cams, we are only a short time away from holding our first test, which I hope to set for mid-December.
Be on the lookout for upcoming posts for specifics about when to register!