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, CEO and founder of Portugal Pulse, has led career that spans multiple continents and industries. Born in Paris and later immigrating to Tel Aviv, Israel, Moti's background uniquely positions him at the intersection of European and Middle Eastern cultures. He holds a Law License from Ono College, reflecting his multifaceted interests in law, media, technology, and culture.    Moti's love affair with Portugal began in 2016 when he founded EASY NATIONALITY, an immigration office focused on aiding the Sephardic community in the wake of Portugal's law of return for Sephardic Jews. This endeavor demonstrated his commitment to creating meaningful social and cultural bridges.    In 2018, he launched Hadshot Portugal, the first-ever news website about Portugal in Hebrew. Recognizing the importance of bringing Portuguese culture and news to a broader audience, Moti took the step of immigrating to Lisbon in 2023, where he founded both Portugal Pulse and Portugal France. These platforms aim to offer comprehensive coverage of Portuguese news, events, and culture to the English and French-speaking worlds, respectively.    Moti's vision extends beyond news dissemination. He aspires to be an ambassador for Portuguese culture and to strengthen the connections among Portuguese diaspora communities worldwide. In pursuit of this ambitious goal, Moti founded Aliança Portugueses in 2021. Through this initiative, he aims to bring together Portuguese communities, creating a network of individuals and organizations bound by their love for Portugal.

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