Background and overview
In the current setting of global integration, English becomes one of the most widely spoken languages and is the key for the integration and development process. Thus, the presence of English in the education system, especially the undergraduate system, has become an essential need of every nation in training a skilled workforce for the international business environment.
At its national level, Vietnam has improved the English skills among the young generation through the National Languages Initiative 2020 which was approved by the Prime Minister in 2008. With the ambition that “until 2020 the majority of young Vietnamese who graduate from college and university have the ability to use foreign languages independently, and are confident in communicating, studying and working in the multilingual and multicultural environment”, the Project aims to: “…comprehensively renovate English training and learning methods in the education system…, make English skills an advantage of the Vietnamese workforce in the country’s process of industrialization and modernization…”. Along with that, the Project also states that training institutions must “renovate the examination and assessment methods in teaching foreign languages; …; improve the efficiency of examination and assessment of foreign language proficiency”.
VNU-HCM, the country’s leading university, has been a pioneer in implementing the National Language Initiative since 2010, doing research on the reality of teaching and learning English at universities, and suggesting the use of the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) as an international standard in teaching and learning as the objective of the National Language Initiative 2020.
In order to accomplish the National Language Initiative 2020 and the English Project of VNU-HCM, particularly in standardizing the assessment of students’ proficiency based on the CEFR, as well as building, developing and evaluating its intensive English programs, VNU-HCM with more than 60,000 students needs an independent institution that is responsible for assessing students’ English proficiency.
On 09/07/2013, VNU-HCM Director signed Decision No. 779/QD-DHQG-TCCB to establish VNU-HCM English Testing Center (VNU-ETC) to assess English proficiency for VNU-HCM with national metrics based on international standards, that is, to align the assessment of the English proficiency of VNU-HCM students and other students with international standards. VNU-ETC will improve its English testing service to catch up with other international testing organizations.