As an adult learner, one of the joys of learning a language can be that you are not pressured to constantly pass tests and exams, as can be the case at school. On the other hand, some of our clients are motivated by the thought of gaining a qualification, or would like to be able to show their employer that they are improving their skills. What then? Should they consider taking a GCSE or A Level examination?
On the whole we would not recommend a GCSE or an A Level for an adult candidate, especially those in a business setting. This is because those courses are designed to best fit the interests and abilities of the teenage student. They can be of little relevance to the adult learner, who does not have any need to explain why they like or dislike their school uniform, or that their favourite subject is science because it is interesting.
For learners of English, the Cambridge Certificates offer an obvious, internationally-recognised qualification which is available at different levels. Those wishing to study at a British University or to work in the NHS will require the IELTS (International English Language Testing System) qualification instead.
What about learners of German and French, we hear you ponder? The Institut Français offers examinations for adults. However, under the rules of the Institut these are time-limited and are not widely available in this country.
With regard to German, the Goethe Institut provide a well-recognised set of graded qualifications, both for teenage and adult learners. These range from A1 to C2 on the Common European Framework (roughly speaking from introducing yourself and asking for things in shops, up to writing essays on topics of current relevance). One major advantage of these qualifications is that they are offered in many different countries and so a student is able to study in one location and take the exam elsewhere. Our students have taken exams in both London and Hamburg, depending on availability and business requirement.
If you are considering taking a qualification we recommend speaking to your tutor to ensure that the course will be relevant to your interests and requirements and, where possible, that it will be portable from one country or territory to the next.