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Health Technologies English Language Requirement

All health care workers (native and non-native US English speakers alike) are expected to use clear communication skills in the workplace. Students whose native language is not US English are expected to demonstrate "near-native" US English language abilities. There are three options to choose from to confirm this ability if you have attended school in another country and/or English is not the primary language spoken at home:

  1. Take the COMPASS ESL listening test and have a personal interview with the EFL coordinator to assess your speaking skills, or
  2. Submit TOEFL iBT scores, meeting a minimum score, or
  3. Complete EFL courses in the areas of listening/speaking with a score of 80 percent or higher and have a personal interview with the EFL coordinator.

All students should submit an English Language Requirement form, signed by the EFL coordinator, to Admissions and Enrollment Services to verify how how the English language requirement has been met.

Students meeting the following criteria must comply with this revised requirement.

  1. Students who apply to a Health Technologies program on or after November 10, 2014 or
  2. Students who applied to a Health Technologies program before November 10, 2014, but have not yet met the previous English language requirement. The details of the testing options to meet the English language requirement are listed below. Students who are required to test must choose one option.

Option 1

Take the ACCUPLACER ESL Listening test (or the COMPASS ESL Listening test if this was all that was offered at the time of testing) and schedule a personal interview with the EFL coordinator for assessment of speaking skills

Students must score at least 91 on either the ACCUPLACER ESL Listening Test or COMPASS ESL Listening test.

The ACCUPLACER ESL Listening Test is given on campus in the Phail Wynn, Jr. Student Services Center on specific published dates. There is no fee for the ACCUPLACER ESL Listening test. Information about the ACCUPLACER ESL Listening test can be found in the College Board Accuplacer Program Manual and in the Accuplacer Sample Questions for Students.

TOEFL, COMPASS, ASSET, ACCUPLACER, SAT, and ACT scores may be used for placement within five years from the date taken. If test scores are older than five years, students must retest unless continuously enrolled. Continuously enrolled is defined as not missing three or more consecutive semesters of enrollment in courses.

Students must have a personal interview with the EFL Coordinator who will have the student answer twenty questions and assess sounds, intonations, and sentence structure on a scale of 1-5 for each question. Each interview will be recorded for reference or review.

Below is an explanation of how students will be assessed and what each rating means:

  1. Response was not understandable due to intonations, improper pronunciation of words, and/or sentence structure as it pertains to US English.
  2. Response was partially able to be understood, but more than 10 words or meanings could not be comprehended due to intonations, improper pronunciation of words, and/or sentence structure as it pertains to US English.
  3. Response was understandable, but there were more than five words or meanings that could not be comprehended due to intonations, improper pronunciation of words, and/or sentence structure and inhibited some meaning as it pertains to US English.
  4. Response was understandable, but fewer than five words were mispronounced or sentence structure had errors but did not inhibit meaning of the sentence as it pertains to US English.
  5. Response was understandable and any errors in pronunciation, sentence structure, and proper intonation did not inhibit the meaning of the sentence as it pertains to US English.

TStudents must score a 70 or above on the interview to receive a passing score on the personal interview.

The speaking assessment is by appointment with the EFL Coordinator Paula Wilder. Students should email her at wilderp@durhamtech.edu to schedule an appointment. The assessment will take approximately 15–20 minutes. To prepare for the assessments, students may practice online at Phonetics: The Sounds of American English.

Students may also access a sample speaking test with recorded responses.

As with the COMPASS, ASSET, ACCUPLACER, SAT, and ACT, these speaking scores may be used for placement within five years from the date taken. If test scores are older than five years, students must retest unless continuously enrolled. Continuously enrolled is defined as not missing three or more consecutive semesters of enrollment in courses.

After taking the speaking test and the listening test, students must have the English Language Requirement form signed by the EFL coordinator and submit this form to Admissions and Enrollment Services to verify how the English language requirement has been met.

Option 2

Take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), iBT version. Students must earn at least the following minimum scores on the TOEFL iBT:

  • Listening – 22
  • Speaking – 26

Please note that the TOEFL iBT is not administered on the Durham Tech campus. Students must make their own arrangements to take the TOEFL iBT. Practice questions, test information, dates, and testing sites are located at www.ets.org/toefl. There is a fee to take the TOEFL iBT.

When registering for the test, students should indicate that test results be sent to Durham Technical Community College, ID# DI 5172. Photocopies of TOEFL Score Reports are not valid.

TOEFL, COMPASS, ASSET, ACCUPLACER, SAT, and ACT scores may be used for placement within five years from the date taken. If test scores are older than five years, students must retest unless continuously enrolled. Continuously enrolled is defined as not missing three or more consecutive semesters of enrollment in courses. After students test scores have been submitted to Durham Tech, students must have the English Language Requirement form signed by the EFL coordinator and submit this form to the Admissions office to verify how the English language requirement has been met.

Option 3

If a student does not achieve the required score on the ACCUPLACER ESL/Personal Interview or TOEFL iBT tests or if the student opts not to take a listening/speaking test, then the student may enroll in one or more of the curriculum EFL courses designed to improve academic speaking and listening proficiency. If the student is not currently enrolled or does not have reading and writing placement test scores, then the student will have to take the placement test for reading and writing to be placed into the correct EFL courses. If a student places below curriculum level in reading or writing, then the student would take the appropriate level EFL reading and writing courses based on their scores. In addition, EFL 055 English for Special Purposes and/or EFL 064 Listening/Speaking would be required to meet the listening/speaking requirement for the Health Technologies English Language Requirement. In some cases, students may be encouraged or required to take both courses, depending on their level of speaking and listening.

NOTE: The student must achieve a grade of 80 percent or higher in the required courses to meet the language requirement for application to a Health Technologies program. At the completion of the required courses, the student must have a final assessment by the EFL coordinator, who then completes the English Language Requirement form. The student must submit this form to Admissions and Enrollment Services. The Health Technologies department is then informed that the student has met the English language proficiency requirement.

Important note for students entering the Associate Degree Nursing (ADN) or Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) programs:
Students applying to enter a nursing program must provide documentation annually regarding how they meet the English language requirement was met with EACH competitive admissions application. Students must meet the applicable version as defined in this procedure. For information about the competitive admissions process, please visit the ADN program or the LPN program pages.


Frequently Asked Questions about the English Language Requirement

Who must meet the English language requirement?

All students enrolling in a Health Technologies program (Associate Degree Nursing, Clinical Trials Research Associate, Dental Laboratory Technology, Health Information Technology, Medical Assisting, Occupational Therapy Assistant, Opticianry, Pharmacy Technology, Practical Nursing, Respiratory Therapy, and Surgical Technology) must meet this requirement. "Enrolling" means being accepted to the program and beginning the sequence of program-specific courses as outlined in the plan of study.

All students enrolling in a Health Technologies program must complete an English Language Requirement form to verify how the English language requirement has been met. Please see the form for complete information.

If you are uncertain as to whether you must meet the English language requirement, email EFL Coordinator Paula Wilder.

When should I take the tests (e.g., the speaking test, ACCUPLACER ESL or the TOEFL iBT)?

Most Health Technologies programs require completion of additional ACCUPLACER tests (for reading, writing, and mathematics). You should take these tests around the same time as you take the other placement tests. In other words, you should take these tests as soon as possible following submission of your Durham Tech application (see more information about limited enrollment into Health Technologies programs). You must achieve the required scores before you can be admitted to the program's core courses.

Why must my English skills meet these requirements?

All health care workers (native and non-native US English speakers alike) are expected to use clear communication skills. Students whose native language is not US English are expected to demonstrate "near-native" US English language abilities.

Is there a way to appeal my testing requirement?

No. We have found that students who meet the required test scores are more successful in the Health Technology programs. Demonstrating US English language proficiency on these standardized tests or completion of the EFL courses is the only approved way for non-U.S English speakers to meet the English language requirement.

What if I do not earn the required scores on the tests?

Students who do not meet the required scores on the tests must meet with the Center for the Global Learner to make a plan. Contact Paula Wilder. Students may be advised to complete EFL 055 and/or EFL 064 or other EFL courses. Once students complete these courses and other required or recommended courses and score 80 percent or higher in the courses, they should complete the final interview with the EFL coordinator. Once the coordinator has completed the English Language Proficiency form, the student will be able to apply for admission into a Health Technologies program.

Where can I find information about the testing dates?

ACCUPLACER ESL Listening test is administered at Durham Tech. Test dates can be found on the Testing Schedule web page.

Information about the TOEFL, including testing dates, may be found at www.toefl.com. Please note that the TOEFL iBT is not administered on the Durham Tech campus.

What additional resources are available to help me improve my English language proficiency?

The resources below may assist you in polishing you English language skills:

  1. Enroll in a Durham Tech course. All of these courses focus on all four language learning areas: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Each course has its own main emphasis, which is indicated by the name of the course.
    • Credit (register via WebAdvisor):
      • EFL 050 English for Academic Purposes – 5 credit hours
      • EFL 055 English for Specific Purposes – 3 credit hours
      • EFL 071 Level 1 Reading – 5 credit hours
      • EFL 091 Level 1 Writing – 5 credit hours
      • EFL 074 Level 4 Reading – 5 credit hours
      • EFL 094 Level 4 Writing – 5 credit hours
    • Continuing Education (non-credit – register in White 58). Review the Beyond Basic ESL course offerings such as Accent Reduction, Advanced Guided Conversation, or TOEFL Preparation.
  2. Purchase or borrow from a library a TOEFL preparation textbook or pronunciation improvement materials.
  3. Practice using such websites as ESLgold, Arlyn Freed’s ESL/EFL Listening Resources, or Randall's ESL Cyber Listening Lab
  4. Consult with Paula Wilder for additional resources.