ISA members during the summer of 1994, and Jacqueline McLellan of Calgary, Canada, discussed the possibility of creating a new set of oral English examinations. These examinations would emphasize expressive and fluent communication in English and not simply the acquisition of grammar and vocabulary.

The exams were used for the first time in Argentina in October 1994 and in Uruguay in 2004. The first examiners were Jacqueline McLellan and Ruth Toner Murdoch. Grant Paterson joined the Examining Board in 2002 and helped further to develop and to refine the syllabus.

The International Schools Association (ISA) offers Oral English Examinations on a one to one basis with a visiting examiner. This series of examinations offers Elementary (8 year olds), Primary (10 year olds), Intermediate (13 year olds) and Advanced (15 – 16 year olds) levels.

They are intended for students who are not fully bilingual in English but who have a reasonably good level of fluency and understanding. Many of those who take the examinations use English as a language of instruction in some subjects, combining oral communication skills, comprehension, and oral reading.

Through the speaking of poetry, through relating their own experiences, as well as by learning correct formatting for more formal public speaking situations, the students gain many valuable skills. Self confidence, maturity, correct pronunciation and vocal technique will all be strengthened through this experience.

It is hoped that schools interested in improving their students’ oral communication skills will decide to implement these examinations which have been carefully designed to test students’ oral capacity. The examiners are teachers, trained in the art of oratory, whose mother tongue is English and who create a warm and confident atmosphere to make the students feel at ease.

These oral exams have been taken in Argentina for over seven years and now other countries are becoming more and more interested in them. If you would like to learn more about them and how to enrol please contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


These examinations are geared to developing oral communication in English. Through the narration of literature, through relating their own experiences, through learning how to organize more formal presentations, as well as learning ease of impromptu speaking, candidates will gain many valuable skills. Candidates will build self-confidence and learn fluency, effective delivery techniques, and artistic expression of ideas. Personality, confidence, correct pronunciation, and vocal technique will be strengthened through this experience.

ISA provides an examination syllabus and a consultant that guides schools in the correct use of the ISO exam.

“Language is the road map of a culture. It tells you where its people come from and where they are going”

Rita Mae Brown


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