Responding to growing demand for tools to assess English speaking and writing abilities, U.S.-based Education Testing Service said it will launch speaking and writing sections of the Test of English for International Communication here in December.

TOEIC currently has listening and reading sections to test English proficiency and is a major English qualification test in Japan. About 1.5 million people took TOEIC in fiscal 2005.

“As globalization continues to drive growth of English language use in the international workplace, the need for a productive skills measurement was encouraged by our score users,” Bhaskar Pant, managing director for the Asia-Pacific region at ETS, told a news conference in Tokyo. “We designed tests that would assess spoken and written English, the kinds of English used in the international workplace.”

The speaking test will assess pronunciation, intonation, grammar, vocabulary and content of the responses. Test candidates will be required to read a text aloud, describe a picture, respond to questions and express an opinion. The test has 11 questions and takes about 20 minutes.

The writing test consists of eight questions that require the candidate to describe a picture, respond to a written request and write an opinion essay.

Grammar, vocabulary and organization of the essay will be assessed in the 60-minute test.

The speaking and writing tests have a maximum score of 200 points and include a written evaluation. The two exams come as a set and cost 9,975 yen. People will be able to take the new tests once a month online.

The Institute for International Business Communication, the Japanese administrator of TOEIC, said it hopes 30,000 people take new tests.

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