1 December 2015

Language centre sells English proficiency test to French university


In 2009, Centre for Internationalisation and Parallel Language Use developed a test to certify university lecturers' oral proficiency in English, which takes the specialised teaching at university level into account. The test, which is known as TOEPAS®, has been a great success at UCPH, where 400 lecturers have been certified, and the test has now been sold to a university in France.

The Test of Oral English Proficiency for Academic Staff is the full name for the certification, TOEPAS®, which University of Copenhagen’s Centre for Internationalisation and Parallel Language Use (CIP) has had on offer since 2009, and which has just been sold to Université de Nantes in France. 

Photo: University of CopenhagenTOEPAS® is tailored to university lecturers’ need for interaction in English and differs from many other types of certification systems by its emphasis on feedback and competence development of the participants:

“As well as being a test in English oral proficiency, TOEPAS® is also a competence development tool in which lecturers receive extensive feedback on their English competences, including a video recording of their certification session. In this way, the lecturers are given the opportunity to work on their English language proficiency, and the feedback also provides management with a valuable tool to determine which lecturers need more support,” explains postdoc Joyce Kling, who has conceived the certification method with colleagues from CIP.

Nantes to become TOEPAS testing centre for Western France

Since 2009, more than 400 lecturers from the University of Copenhagen have been through the TOEPAS® certification process, which was originally tailored specifically to UCPH lecturers – and primarily from the Faculty of Science where all MA programmes are taught in English. But the need for improvement and quality assurance of lecturers’ English competences is clearly something that most universities around the world place great emphasis on these days.

“At a conference, we were approached by Université de Nantes staff who were very interested in our certification method, and we have now entered into a licensing agreement with them so that they can use the TOEPAS® method. From the autumn semester 2015, the university in Nantes will serve as a TOEPAS® testing centre for Western France, and our job here at CIP will be to provide Nantes staff with feedback as they rate the French lecturers,” says associate professor Slobodanka Dimova from CIP.

Since CIP was approached by Nantes, other international universities have inquired about the TOEPAS® certification, e.g. Spanish universities.

Assistance from Tech Trans Unit

Given the nature of this international transaction, which is new for a unit such as CIP, the Centre reached out for assistance in drawing up a commercial contract and in handling the legal negotiations.

“At UCPH, we can, fortunately, seek assistance at the Tech Transfer Unit that helps researchers commercialize their knowledge. It was particularly helpful that we could confer with Tech Trans’ legal counsellors when we finalized the contract with Nantes. It would have been difficult to do that without any help. But now we feel that we are well-equipped to deal with negotiations in the future; it seems that TOEPAS® has generated so much attention that we will be entering into similar agreements with other international universities,” concludes Joyce Kling.


Postdoc Joyce Kling
Centre for Internationalisation and Parallel Language Use
Mail: joyce@hum.ku.dk
Phone: 35 32 81 69

Associate Professor Slobadanka Dimova
Centre for Internationalisation and Parallel Language Use
Mail: slobodanka.dimova@hum.ku.dk  
Phone: 35 32 81 73