How I avoided taking the IELTS exam

A reader recently sent in a question regarding the necessity of taking the International English Language Testing System(IELTS) exam in connection to her family’s plan of migrating to Australia. Referring to the information on skilled migration from Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs website, it states that

Language assessment
The visa applicant may need to sit an IELTS test to demonstrate the English language ability of you/your spouse.

Note the words used, may need, meaning it may not be necessary in some cases. How would an applicant know if they need to take this exam before lodging their application?

In my case, I wanted to avoid the extra time, cost and effort that sitting an exam would require so I gathered all my other documents in an envelope and trudged to the Australian embassy in Makati. My intention was to prove that although I may not have an excellent grasp of the language, I am at least conversant in it. I mean, come on, every Filipino who has at least passed high school would have a passable grasp of the language. Well, turned out the lady behind the information desk wasn’t even interested in my other documentation nor is she inclined to have me prove to her that I don’t need to take the exam. In response to the question of how I could avoid taking the IELTS exam, she told me to get a letter from my university stating that the main language of instruction while I was studying there was English. I remember I was really incredulous so I asked again, I only need to produce this piece of paper from my school and I don’t have to sit this exam anymore? She looked at me like I’m some weird creature from outer space and said yes. Ok, end of discussion.

Still dubious that I could get this sort of certification from my university, I went there the following weekend and braced myself for more odd looks after asking for the letter from the registrar. Imagine my surprise when she calmly asked me how many copies I want, asked me to pay the cashier and told me to come back after a week. A week later and I went back to the registrar for my letter. Well, what do you know, I received an official looking letter with the university’s letterhead and seal, stating that English is indeed being used within the university as the main language of instruction.

When tht time came for me lodge my application, I included this letter to my other papers, thinking that I could always take the IELTS exam later if they so wish. True, going through this route may have delayed the processing of my application but I guess I thought it was a reasonable risk. Besides, the lady in the information desk assured me I won’t have any problems once I have this letter.

So, that’s the story of how I avoided taking the IELTS exam, the immigration department never asked me to take the exam. A word of caution though, if you plan on going through this same route, better check with the local Australian embassy if they still allow this. Remember that my experience was from 4 years ago and the rules may have already changed.

Published in: on April 28, 2005 at 12:33 am  Comments (4)  

To Speak Tagalog or English in Public?

We went to the post office this afternoon to submit some government forms. There were like five open counters and a single long queue of people that follow the first come, first served rule. That is, when a counter (whichever one) becomes available, the next one in the queue gets served in that counter. Anyway, that wasn’t really the important bit.

Raquel and I got a counter served by a caucasian lady. The counter beside her wasn’t “open for business,” so to speak, but was manned by a lady whom we both thought looked Filipino (or as we say back home, Filipina). We started to talk to the caucasian lady at the counter about our forms when the adjacent lady whispered to me, “Pilipino kayo? (Are you Filipinos?)” I responded that we were indeed Filipinos, in English.

This was when the dilemma started for me.

We were supposed to be talking to the caucasian lady at the counter in English but the Filipino lady was talking to us in Tagalog. So, do I reply to the Filipino lady in Tagalog or in English? If I conversed with her in English, the Filipino lady might think that we are so full of ourselves. However, if we talked to her in Tagalog, the caucasian lady might think that we are rude.

I mean, back in the Philippines, I dislike it when I have Chinese-Filipino acquaintances who suddenly talk in Fukien to each other even though they can speak perfect Tagalog and even though I was right there! I thought that was pretty rude of them since they know I don’t speak Fukien.

I do not want to be that which I dislike so I decided to talk to the Filipino lady in English even though she was talking to me in Tagalog. Well, most of the time, at least. I sneak in some Tagalog words here and there just so she wouldn’t think I’m *too* full of myself.

Anyway, I gave her my number. In Melbourne where we don’t know a lot of Filipinos yet, it’s always good to meet new Filipinos here.

Published in: on April 28, 2005 at 12:21 am  Comments (1)