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Importance of English Language Proficiency Essay (Critical Writing)

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Updated: Nov 18th, 2020


The title of the article under analysis, “Evidence of English Language Proficiency and Academic Achievement of non-English-Speaking Background Students”, contains enough clear information for the reader to get an idea of the project. First, it specifies the main focus, non-English-speaking background students (NESB), and the necessity to investigate their academic achievements that lead to English language proficiency. Regarding the fact that the article aims at examining the appropriateness of the ELP requirements and their possibilities to ensure students’ academic progress (Oliver, Vandergford & Grote, 2012), it is possible to say that the title is specific and concise. It conveys the main aspects of the study and provides the reader with a clear indication of the project.

Still, there is one little remark that could be given. In the title, no specifications on the country are given. It is hard to guess if the study touches upon the achievements of all NESB students in general or focuses on a certain group of people.


The abstract goes right under the title of the article and the names of the authors. It begins with a brief background of the chosen topic and indicates that many NESB students face certain difficulties in their education. In the abstract, the authors admit that English language proficiency (ELP) is crucial for NESB students. Still, the goals of the projects are not clearly explained in this part of the article. It is mentioned that a large-scale quantitative study is used to analyze the information on 5675 undergraduate students during a certain period (three years). The results of the study are mentioned (standardized tests are defined as the best evidence), and the conclusions explain why this solution is the best option in this case.

No attention at all is paid to the significance of the study and the importance of the work done on this project. Another shortage of the abstract is connected with the list of keywords given. Though the authors indicate that Australian NESB students are the participants of the study, no “Australia” keyword is given.


The authors develop three paragraphs under the section called “Introduction”. Taking into consideration the context, it is possible to say that this section has its strong and weak points. On the one hand, Oliver et al. (2012) begin their article with several general facts about international and domestic NESB students in Australia and support their ideas with statistics taken from Australian Education International in 2009. The chosen source was not old in the period when the article was written. Therefore, it is possible to say that recent data is used in the study. A powerful background is introduced in the introductory part, and the reader could learn the financial and social benefits of NESB students in the Australian education system. Besides, the importance of English language competency and proficiency in Australian universities is discussed in terms of IELTS and TOEFL (Oliver et al., 2012).

On the other hand, no information about the theories and definitions are given in this section. The authors aim at describing the current state of affairs not explaining the terms crucial in the study. Besides, the aim of the study is not mentioned in the introduction but properly developed after a specific literature review and before the description of the methods. It is said that the study aims at exploring the sufficiency of the ELP requirements for NESB students and answering the questions that may ensure the academic progress of NESB students.

Literature Review

The authors do not create the section with the title “Literature Review”. Therefore, the literature review is contained as a part of the introduction. There are several paragraphs with clear topics and explanations. In the article, the sources from different decades are used. For example, the investigations and theories of Graham developed in 1987 help to define the nature of IELTS and TOEFL and their possibility to define ELP. Academic performance is discussed in terms of Phakiti’s and Andrade’s research conducted in the 2000s. ELP scores are properly investigated by Dooey and Coley in the 1990s. Though some sources cannot be defined as recent, they help to clarify the main requirements for NESB students, who want to promote their academic success.

There are several direct quotes taken from the IELTS Handbook 2007. However, the authors try to avoid using direct quotes and paraphrase the material giving appropriate in-text citations. In general, no evident gaps and contradictions are observed in the paragraphs where the authors investigate past studies and connect them with the present study.


As soon as the goal of the study is developed, the methodology section is identified. The methodology begins with clear explanations of the choice of students. It is an overview of the student cohort between 2006 and 2008. However, not much information about the sampling or research methods is given in the section. The authors indicate the number of English-speaking and NESB students and develop the large-scale study as it was mentioned in the abstract.

No demographic information is given. The authors state that 30,9191 students entered the universities between 2006-2008. 11.97% were excluded because of being identified as offshore, 20.85% were defined as NESB students, and 57.76% were English-speaking students. The sample size seems to be adequate for the method chosen in the article. Ethical considerations are not necessary for this kind of work. Besides, the authors do not describe the ways they used for gathering data and the limitations that could be discussed in the methodology. Therefore, the methodology is not the strongest part of the article.


The goal of the analysis is to measure the academic achievements of students. Weighted Average Marks (WAMs) are chosen as the method for the analysis. Instead of measuring the mean, WAM scores are calculated regarding the credit points in each unit and the produced value (Oliver et al., 2012).

ELP and similar factors are compared, and those achieving 50% or more are included. The results meet the purposes of the study. Several tables are the main visuals of the study which are properly described and introduced. It is easy to observe and compare the results and correlations.


Discussion and conclusion are introduced as the final section of the study. The discussion relates directly to the study because it explores the relations between IELTS and TOEFL scores and explains the minimal level of correlations (Oliver et al., 2012). Besides, there is a clear link to the literature used before. The results support previous evidence and study.

No certain limitations are defined by the authors. However, it is suggested to focus on comprehensive data for further research on ELP and its role in academic success. Though the suggestions are not specific, they are logical and relevant because they underline the role of policymakers and administrators in decision-making processes that occur in universities.


Oliver, R., Vanderford, S., & Grote, E. (2012). Evidence of English language proficiency and academic achievement of non-English-speaking background students. Higher Education Research & Development, 31(4), 541-555.

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