On October 2012 Home Office announced there will be big changes to The Knowledge of Language and Life in UK to meet requirements for Settlement and Citizenship applications which will come into effect on October 2013.
The Home Office did not fail to disappoint where once only the Life in the UK Test or the ESOL with Citizenship was accepted for applications they made it compulsory to do 2 tests – The Life in the UK Test and an English Speaking Test at B1 Level.
The B1 Test replaced the ESOL with Citizenship test. So what is B1? B1 is equivalent to Entry 3 Level or Intermediate level. Applicants before the changes were initially assessed and they had to study and progress one level which depending on candidates took 1 to 8 weeks. So if a candidates spoken English was weak they would improve their English to a basic Entry 1 level and that was sufficient to meet the requirements for their application. Candidates at B1 Level must be able to use past, present and future tenses accurately and describe events, people and places in detail and compare things. One exemption to avoid doing B1 Test is if you have a degree taught in English.
There are two categories of people that have been affected the most – Candidates with poor or basic level of English and near native English speakers who do not have a degree.
Even under the old rules people with poor spoken English tended to be women with young children who have family commitments and men on low paid salary working 6 days a week who found it difficult to attend regular classes because of lack of support even for a 4 week course. Now under the new Home Office rules the same candidates are required to do B1 test. How will they manage and cope? If their English is weak then it could take months to reach B1 level maybe years for people who are illiterate. What options do they have available? These tough changes has opened doors for new unaccredited centres to open and provide internal exams with a ‘guaranteed pass’ even though these candidates cannot put a simple sentence together. The Home Office have made the English test harder but before the rule changes centres had to be accredited but now they don’t – this decision by the Home Office has baffled a lot of people.
We get calls everyday from well spoken candidates whose spoken English is well above B1 level candidates who studied GCSE’s or A Levels and some attended university but could not graduate because of personal circumstances asking us why they have to do the B1 test. We can only reply that this is a requirement from Home Office and unless an ESOL B1 certificate or above from the ‘Approved List of Test Provider’ or which is on Ofqual Register can be submitted with their application – their application will be refused. Why Home Office did not consider this group of candidates I’am not sure.
The bottom line is unless you have a degree taught in English you will have to do the B1 test whether you can speak like a native speaker or cannot speak English at all. We conduct the B1 Test at our centre and provide training 6 days a week so if you would like a free assessment or book a B1 Test please call us on 0208 594 0036 or book online: http://londonpioneer.co.uk/booking-tests/
Very little can be done to overturn Home Office decisions – We have been querying and challenging their decision to make B1 test compulsory for over a year and we were not part of the consultation before they made their decision. Centres and Awarding Bodies we work with should have a say and our opinions should be taken into account when making decisions about tests for applications and what impact it would have.
At the moment most people have to do the B1 Test and Life in the UK Test and London Pioneer College (LPC) is an approved centre to conduct B1 Tests. LPC also provides training from basic level to advanced level so call us for a free consultation, assessment and advice.
Blog by Mohammed Rahman