The examination of the test of English as a foreign language (TOEFL): Evident disparities between world englishes and standard English

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Author: Caroline Kim

Issue: Fall Issue, 2017

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While many English Language Learners (ELLs) embark on a path towards higher education in universities centered around Standardized English, they must undergo rigorous training to prepare for these demanding TOEFL exams. Students that have been exposed to World Englishes, or lingua francas, for communicative purposes are now asked to abandon these English varieties to assume the elevated importance of the Standardized form of English implemented across universities around the world. This paper analyzes the juxtaposition and negotiation of these languages as learners are often encumbered with not only linguistic barriers but cultural hindrances that contribute to identity displacement. As language is deeply entrenched in one’s cultural background, it is necessary to reflect on how these English proficiency exams negate the learner’s L1 along with the unique qualities that they strongly identify with.