This is the time of the year when students who want to study in the U.S. next fall (September) begin to worry about taking the TOEFL.
The TOEFL – Test of English as a Foreign Language – measures students’ ability to use academic English, the kind of English that is used in college and university classes. Almost all international students have to take the TOEFL before they can attend schools in the U.S. or other countries where classes are taught in English. More than one million students take the TOEFL every year.
When students talk to me about the TOEFL, I’m often surprised by how little they know about it. They know that there are four sections (parts) – reading, listening, speaking, writing – but not much more.
Check out (find information about) the TOEFL as soon as possible, before you begin to prepare for it.
On any test, it’s important for a student to know as much about the test as possible. If you do, you will be a better test taker. You can plan your preparation better, and you will know what to expect when you take the test. As a result, you will be more relaxed and more confident when you actually have to take the test.
Finding the Information
The Educational Testing Service (ETS) is the company that is responsible for the TOEFL. Their web site has a lot of information about the TOEFL and other tests, but it is not an easy site to navigate (to find where you need to go). Here are links to three pages on the ETS site that all students should look at when they begin to prepare for the TOEFL:
1. TOEFL iBT at a Glance – a four-page introduction to the TOEFL iBT (Internet-based Test). It briefly describes what’s new about the iBT and how it is different from the older paper-based TOEFL that many students are familiar with. It also contains answers to questions that students frequently ask.
2. The TOEFL iBT Tour – a video tour that introduces you to the TOEFL and shows you examples of each section of the test. Be sure to click on these links: Skills, Read, Listen, Write, Speak.
3. TOEFL iBT Tips – a long document – about 70 pages – that’s full of helpful information. You will find a description of each section of the test, with information about the specific skills (abilities) you need and the kinds of questions you will have to answer. There are also suggestions for how to improve your skills and prepare for the test. Rubrics (instructions for scoring) for speaking and writing will help you understand what you need to do to get good scores on those sections. Screenshots (pictures of the computer screen) show you what you will see when you take the test.
Do it now!
~Warren Ediger – student of many things, but especially language, learning/teaching, and technology; ESL teacher/tutor; musician; husband and father; creator of successfulenglish.com.
P.S. I want to thank Jeff, Lucy, and all of the members of the ESL Podcast family for the warm welcome you gave me after my first post. It’s a privilege and delight to be a part of this great family!