Occupational English Test at the Academy of English Oldenburg
We interviewed Dr. John Goodyear, Director of Studies at the Academy of English, one of the OET test venues in Germany.
Please introduce yourself and tell us how long you have been a test venue for OET?
I am Dr. John Goodyear, Director of Studies of the Academy of English in Oldenburg, Germany. Part of my job description is to extend teaching, learning and testing provisions for our adult learners, particularly for practitioners in the medical sector. To that end, we decided to submit a formal application to the Cambridge Boxhill Examination Board in Melbourne, Australia in mid-2013 to become a test venue for the Occupational English Test (OET), an internationally renowned, high-stakes examination for practitioners in the medical sector. After approval, we delivered our first sitting in November 2013 and have, therefore, been a test venue for over two years now.
What appeals to you about being an OET test venue?
The Academy of English has long pursued an internationalisation strategy, one that seeks to widen the institution’s recognition beyond the city limits of Oldenburg. Possessing OET test venue status is part of that wider agenda and has already born fruit. Not only do we get local candidates coming to do the OET in Oldenburg, but we have individuals flying in from as far afield as Turkey, even the Caribbean to do the test. In that respect, we help international candidates meet their international goals.
Can you tell us more about OET and the advantages?
Designed by Professor Tim McNamara in the 1980s, the Occupational English Test (OET) meets the demand of the health care sector to provide an accurate assessment of a candidate’s abilities to communicate effectively in the English language. Candidates’ four key language areas are put to the test: listening, reading, writing and speaking (taken in that order in the examination itself).
One of the principle advantages of this high-stakes test is the fact that it is available in twelve different professions: dentistry, dietetics, medicine, nursing, occupational therapy, optometry, pharmacy, physiotherapy, podiatry, radiography, speech pathology, and veterinary science. Medical professionals can choose the test most reflective of their specialist area and have their English language skills certified in that area, something that standardised, generic English language tests on the market are not able to do.
Why should people take OET?
Given the rigorous nature of the test, a whole range of international health authorities and bodies accept the OET, particularly in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore. Any medical professional contemplating relocation to these countries for work purposes or for postgraduate medical study would be best served by doing the OET. The test, however, should not just be regarded as a passport to enter other countries’ health systems; it fulfills a much broader remit than that. The OET provides both learners and teachers authentic health care scenarios which medical professions are likely to encounter, even working in their native countries where English may be used as a default language to treat patients or to deliver medical presentations. The OET and the preparation leading up to the test can provide medical professionals those language skills to cope with English-language situations that might arise in their everyday work, particularly as patients are now drawn from a wider range of international backgrounds and countries than, say, two decades ago.
How should candidates prepare for the OET?
The OET is a challenging test and candidates should not go to a test sitting unprepared; instead, they should visit the OET preparation portal.
Face-to-face OET preparation courses with trainers who are both medically qualified and also practicing teachers are well worth the investment. The Academy of English and its Medical English Department under the leadership of Dr. (med) Alecia Banfield provides students with specialist tailor-made courses to equip them with the necessary language skills to pass the OET. For further information, contact the Academy of English.