Portuguese was the leading language in the 2023 US university entrance exam

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Portuguese was this year’s leading language in the National Examinations in World Languages (NEWL), which confers credits for access to US higher education, with a higher number of registrations than the other languages offered.

João Caixinha, the coordinator of Portuguese education in the United States of America (USA), told Lusa that 376 high school students from 26 schools across the country – including American schools and Portuguese community schools – took the NEWL Portuguese exam on April 26.

By registering the highest number of entries, Portuguese surpassed the other languages that make up the NEWL, namely Russian, Korean and Arabic.

“These figures demonstrate the growing interest in the exam and in valuing and certifying knowledge and proficiency in the Portuguese language. This is also the total number of students who have received certificates with final results, which translate into credits to present to American universities for access to higher education in 2023/2024,” according to an official statement.

A technical counting error by the American Councils for International Education (AC), which is the organization that developed these exams in several languages, had resulted in 577 students registering for the exam. However, after rectifying the data, it turned out that 409 had registered this year, and 376 actually took the exam.

The Coordination of Portuguese Education in the USA (CEPE-USA) considers that the final balance is “very positive”.

“According to data provided by AC to CEPE-USA, around 80% of these 376 students tested highly proficient in the NEWL Portuguese exam, which in practice translates into more advanced placement in Portuguese courses at American universities, i.e. these students who have now started higher education will have saved money on tuition fees, as they have entered intermediate and advanced Portuguese courses instead of beginning in beginner courses, thanks to the results obtained in this exam,” CEPE-USA pointed out.

Of the 376 students who took the exam, 186 are considered “heritage students – mainly Lusodescendants and Brazilians -“, with the Lusodescendants receiving scholarships from the Camões Institute and the Luso-American Development Foundation (FLAD), which paid for the exam fee (97 dollars, or around 90 euros).

According to João Caixinha, this year’s large turnout is the result of the work and investment that has been made over the last few years by organizations ranging from the Camões Institute to FLAD, the diplomatic and consular network in the USA, and the Portuguese Teaching Coordination team.

The NEWL exams assess the language skills – reading comprehension, listening comprehension, writing and speaking – of students from 9th grade – when they can take the exam to test their skills and knowledge – to 12th grade, when they can use the exam to gain access to higher education credits.

The NEWL Portuguese exam was created in 2017 and is recognized by the College Board’s Advanced Placement Program – which grants credits for access to higher education in the United States – and by North American universities.

Moti Shabi
Moti Shabi
Moti Shabi

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