I was recently hired to evaluate a group of students at a university. The students needed to obtain a B1 placement score on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) in order to obtain their degree. The placement score was a requirement. No B1, no title. No title, no work.

Catch my drift?

Needless to say the pressure was on and most students were extremely nervous. Some of them even burst into tears during the exam and of course this made it even more difficult for them to do a good interview. While I was talking and trying to reassure them to be able to perform better they confessed this was not their first attempt at getting the mandatory result. For crying out loud, who is at fault here?

First of all, some of their degrees were in fields where English is definitely not a must in order to work. And even if I am the first apostle of Globish as the lingua franca of the world, and I preach to my students the fact that sooner or later English will come knocking on their door in one way or another, I still think it is unfair (to say the least) to prevent a person to get his/her title just because they lack having a specific English level. It seems arbitrary. More so when they have fulfilled all their other requirements.

I hated that day. Some of the students had tragic life stories and needed desperately to get decent employment. And while it can be argued that a person can get a job without a degree, having one definitely increases the odds (and most likely your salary).

Who was I to prevent that?

A mere teacher. Yes, call us the gatekeepers. But if we’re in the way of people getting their goals shouldn’t we be called the goalkeepers?