Oral computer test deems native English speaker not fluent enough

A native English speaker fails the oral component of a computerized English-language test needed for her visa

Published 5:47 PM, August 09, 2017

Updated 5:48 PM, August 09, 2017

This general view shows the central business district behind the iconic Opera House in Sydney on September 17, 2015. Peter Parks/AFP

This general view shows the central business district behind the iconic Opera House in Sydney on September 17, 2015. Peter Parks/AFP

SYDNEY, Australia – An Irish vet has failed an English-language oral exam required to secure an Australian visa after voice-recognition software deemed the level of fluency in her native tongue to be below par.

Equine vet Lucy Kennedy, who holds two degrees obtained in English, was required to complete several oral exercises as part of the electronic test for a skilled migrant visa, including reading sentences and describing images.

She scored highly in comprehension and writing but failed the oral component of the computerized test.

“It came as a bit of a shock,” she told 3AW radio Wednesday, August 9.

“It was the one exam in my life that I wasn’t nervous about going into, and then 5 days later I was told that my oral fluency wasn’t good enough.”

Exam administrator Pearson is one of several agencies that runs the test for the Australian government, Kennedy said, but is the only company using voice-recognition software.

“They claim that they have got the most unbiased scoring system because there is no human bias,” she said.

Veterinarian is an occupation that Australia deems eligible for a skilled visa application and the Irish doctor said there was a shortage of horse vets in Queensland state where she lives.

Kennedy, who is married to an Australian and expecting a child in a few weeks, said the company had offered her a re-sit, but time constraints meant she would instead apply for a spousal visa.

Pearson did not immediately respond to an Agence France-Presse request for comment. – Rappler.com