Assessment and Coaching Support for International Applicants and Graduate Students

Why We Created The B-Speak! English Program

International graduate students and applicants often struggle to express their ideas cohesively in both oral and written English. Graduate programs need an accurate tool for screening students’ proficiency in these areas. Faculty and staff may lack the tools – or the time – necessary to identify the student’s linguistic challenges.

TOEFL test scores do not completely reflect the readiness of the international applicants for the U.S. graduate business classroom, and although students may demonstrate a mastery of analytic tools, they may not be able to communicate in a convincing way. Once admitted, students with insufficient English skills encounter significant challenges in the classroom, socially and on the job market. 

The B-Speak! English Program Provides Support On Two Levels

SCREENING AND ASSESSMENT

B-Speak! assists graduate school teams in the screening and assessment of international students applying for admission as well as currently enrolled students needing support. Our highly-experienced ESL instructors administer our comprehensive, one-on-one Business English Skills Test (BEST), measuring each student’s oral and written skills. This is followed by a careful analysis of the results and a written assessment report with recommendations.

 
TRAINING/INSTRUCTION 

B-Speak! offers one-on-one video training for students that are flagged in the BEST assessment test or referred to us by leaders at our partner schools. After reviewing the assessments, our instructors develop customized lesson plans for each student, aligning the curriculum with our stated learning outcome of helping students to develop their 8 cognitive-oral skills. Program specifics will depend on the individual student’s assessment results and range in length from 10-50+ hours of instruction any time during the academic year or summer months. We can also adapt the course to different business school curriculums and desired outcomes.

B-Speak! student and coach.

The B-Speak! Method

 

The B-Speak! Business English Skills Test (BEST)

ORAL ASSESSMENT TEST:

The oral assessment test measures four areas of speech:

  • 8 cognitive tasks (describe, define, explain, sequence, choose, defend, solve, challenge)
  • language use (vocabulary usage, business terms, etc.)
  • grammar
  • pronunciation and intonation

 

Skilled ESL instructors conduct the B-Speak! BEST oral test in a 25-35 minute video interview. The student responds to 5-10 questions, which test the student’s mastery of the 8 cognitive-oral skills as well as their general preparedness for business/graduate school and career/life in the U.S.

 

Examples of oral assessment questions are:

Personalized English Language Coaching

 

  • Describe a company (in your native country) whose future looks especially bright. Tell me why you think this company will be successful.
  • As a manager, what are the steps you would take to motivate your team to meet the company’s sales targets?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of doing business online vs. in-person or brick and mortar?
  • How would you respond to an allegation that your CFO has “cooked the books”?

 

WRITING ASSESSMENT TEST

Following the oral assessment, the student is given 30 minutes to respond to a writing prompt.

Examples of writing prompts are:

  • What do you think has made Apple so successful?
  • Provide an example of an exemplary CEO in today’s business world. Provide at least two specific examples of qualities that makes him or her such an exceptional leader?
  • Should ethics play a role in business? Why or why not? Provide at least one specific example.

The writing sample is also graded holistically using our B-Write! Rubric which grades the writing on a scale of 1-4 points in four areas: idea development and support; organization; grammar and mechanics; purpose and audience.

 

How We Assess Students: Rubric & Course Recommendations

After the interview, the teacher completes the BEST test assessment form (see samples below). We rate the student’s overall performance on the following scale:

Score Rating Description
6 native speaker Response shows full command of English and is appropriate, accurate and fluent. Student shows complete understanding
5  

fluent non-native

speaker

Response is easy to understand. Oral skills differ little from what would be expected from a native speaker. Occasional unsystematic inaccuracies and inappropriate usage but does not interfere with comprehension. Accent causes no interference in comprehension.
4  

good

Response is generally easy to understand, thoughts are organized but student may need to work on elaboration and paraphrasing. Small targeted areas of grammar or pronunciation need refinement.  10-15 hours training recommended.
3 adequate Response shows some difficulty with more complex or unfamiliar topics. Some inaccuracies and inappropriate usage cause misunderstandings.  Pronunciation issues may be more pervasive throughout. 15-30 hours training recommended.
2 inadequate Response shows a partial command of the language but is not at the expected level of an MBA student. Sentence structure may be too simple for an academic or professional setting. Comprehension may be difficult because of pronunciation issues; 30+ hours intensive training recommended.
1 unacceptable Response is consistently difficult to understand; academic performance will likely be impaired by deficiencies in speaking skills; 50+ hours intensive training recommended.

 

Sample Assessments

Nattinee (Thailand), 1st year William & Mary/Mason

Nattinee’s BEST test

Nattinee’s Course Plan

 

Ray (China), Pre-1st year Georgetown/McDonough

Ray’s BEST test

Ray’s Course Plan

 

Anton (China), UVa/Darden waitlist

Anton’s BEST test (Assessment starts at 6:00)

 

Creating a Customized Course Plan

Each student receives a customized course plan, based on the results of the BEST test. As the course progresses, the plan is adapted to address emerging needs.

These sample lesson logs show the highly individualized nature of our B-Speak! courses:

Student from China, pre-1st-year at Babson/Olin – 30-hour course

Student from China, pre-1st year at Georgetown/McDonough – 30-hour course

Student from Taiwan, 2nd year at William & Mary/Mason – 10 hour course

 

Contact B-Speak!

Interested in finding out more about the ways in which B-Speak! can support international students in your graduate programs? Contact Us to start a conversation!