Tips for passing TfL’s English Language Test for Drivers
With Transport For London announcing this summer that private hire drivers to have to pass English speaking listening, reading and writing test, WeFlex thought it would be a good idea to look at the latest updates on the new rule, and put together some tips on how Uber Partner’s can prepare for the tests.
From October 1st 2016, new driver’s and licensees renewing their license from non-English speaking countries, will be need to meet a new English Language level. Applicants must have a valid English language certificate with a B1 level of English on the Common European Framework (CEFR) as part of their new or renewal license application. Those from following countries listed do not need to take the test: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, New Zealand, Republic of Ireland, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, United Kingdom and USA.
Uber challenging TfL on the English test rules
Uber have won the right to take TfL to court over the new rules, as there are currently no exemptions in place for some drivers in relation to the test. However, they are not allowed to argue that reading and writing skills should be removed from the English test requirement. Whilst Uber have said it supports spoken English skills, the exam goes beyond requirements for British citizenship as well as rules for public sector workers. Unfortunately, while Uber’s permission to challenge TfL’s regulations could ease the requirements of the language test, it is unlikely that the rule will be reversed altogether.
Although the process may be time-consuming, having the B1 English language qualification is hugely beneficial for the working in the UK in general. So, we have created some top tips on how to prepare for the test.
What does the test include?
Listening English language test
Extended writing task
Listening Test Tips
If you missed the question, ask them to repeat it
Do not answer a different question
Don’t give one word answers, try to expand
If you are renewing your licence, and are still driving in the meantime, why not practice on customers and have a chat with them
Listen to the radio and see what you can and can’t pick up – this is a great place for you to start revising
Listening to an English learning CD in the car means you can learn on the go! With busy schedules, try listening and speaking with the CD whilst you are on your way to pick up your next customer
Speaking Test Tips
In order to show you speak English well, you need to be able to speak fluently and without too much hesitation
Avoid saying words like ‘Erm’,’Umm’ and ‘Hmm’
If you need to pause, take a deep breath and recollect your thoughts
Give a relevant answer and make comments about what has been said
Ask your interviewer questions
Make sure you know the events you choose to talk about really well
Example events that you could talk about includes: things you plan to do in the future or what you like doing in your free time
Written Test Tips
You may have to write a short essay. Sample papers for the exams include questions like, “Write an essay (100-130 words) for your teacher about a festival in a country you know.”
Another reads: “A friend in another town is going to study at your college and wants to know about the college rules. Write a letter to your friend (100-130 words).”
Practice writing the answers then get someone with strong English language skills to look over it
Highlight or underline key words in the questions to make sure that you focus on what you have to do
Use paragraphs clearly and try to put one idea in each paragraph
To begin revision for the tests, why not try looking at the B1 Language Test resources online? Trinity College London are an exam board for the official B1 tests and have some helpful tips: https://www.trinitycollege.com/site/?id=3218. Also try Careers That Move, training and development pages for more advice: https://www.careersthatmove.co.uk/.
Good luck and just remember, the interviewer is not there to watch you fail – they just want to make sure you can communicate easily and with confidence to ensure the safety of travellers in London!