WHY IS THE US VISA PROCESS SO UNPREDICTABLE?
My Chinese student, who goes by Alex, WeChatted me the bad news from his home in Beijing. Alan had just applied for – and failed – his first American Student Visa interview. For Alan, student life at UMass Boston would have to wait. Is TOEFL training the best way to get a US Visa? Or should you bypass the test and try to apply directly to your target school? Continue reading “No TOEFL Score, No US Visa, No Thanks”
THIS POST IS FOR SERIOUS NERDS ONLY
In helping students prepare for the TOEFL, I’ve been playing around with a great vocabulary game at www.freerice.com, which has a very lofty and worthwhile goal. Welcome to TOEFL Training blog. TOEFL vocabulary lists abound – I have used a great one in Clear Strategies & Tactics that has over 2000 words taken from old TOEFL exams. But this tool is not only a great way to practice your vocabulary and build your English skills. It helps to make the world a better place and raises a very nerdy linguistics issue. Proceed with caution!
Continue reading “How to Build TOEFL Vocab Skills…and Feed the World?”
FOCUS YOUR MIND
Attendance in TOEFL training classes is a requirement in many EFL education programs. I know. I’ve taught hundreds of them. Teachers take roll calls to determine who is ‘present’, and thus, who is ‘absent’. “Juliet?” a teacher will call out. “Here!” Juliet will reply, and a tick is placed next to her name. She is ‘here’, in class, behind her desk, but is she really ‘present’? As Juliet knows, studying dry material is something that all university students need to get used to, right?
Continue reading “Are You ‘Here’ or ‘Present’?”
MEMORIZE THE TEMPLATE NOT THE ANSWER
I’ve conducted thousands of TOEFL Speaking classes with non-native English speakers over the years. A percentage have a belief that memorizing answers will give them an edge in the TOEFL Speaking Section. It won’t. Here’s how to improve TOEFL speaking.
(Oh, btw, test your TOEFL IQ now!).
Continue reading “Don’t Memorize! Instead Do this 1 THING to Improve TOEFL Speaking”
BEING POLITE IS A GOOD THING
English teachers everywhere are constantly assessing students’ English abilities. For the soon-to-be-assessed, like those taking TOEFL Speaking classes, this can be a trying time spent anticipating common questions and often memorizing long stretches of language. For the assessors, short evaluations can be dull and even frustrating.
Continue reading “4 Communication Strategies to Make You More Polite”
FOCUS ON THE PRODUCT NOT THE PROCESS
Korean freshmen are characterized by, among other things, a need for highly structured English language experiences. Particularly in TOEFL writing, students tend to be insufficiently educated about the structural and organizational features of an academic paragraph. The result is written work riddled with problems.
Continue reading “For Nerds and Teachers ONLY: English Paragraph Structure”
CREATE A ROBUST LEARNING ENVIRONMENT
A lot of what TOEFL Teachers do involves planning. With varying degrees of thoroughness, in-field instructors are constantly creating schemes and means to smooth classroom interactions and facilitate learning outcomes. Good teacher-devised learning plans, whether at the program level or the lesson level, are predictive, responsive, and adaptive.
Continue reading “3 Action Plans to Create a Better Learning Environment”
A SIX SENTENCE PARAGRAPH IS POWERFUL
Writing is the weakest skill because it is the most neglected skill in the classroom. Students know it; instructors know it. Any survey asking ESL students to rank their English skills always places the productive skill of writing at the very bottom of the list. Teachers and learners shirk the quill for a host of reasons.
Continue reading “The Sexy Six-Sentence Paragraph”
Should You Keep a Diary?
It wasn’t until after I boarded the 747 bound for South Korea in the fall of 2003 that I had ever considered keeping a diary. In fact, to be fair, it wasn’t my idea at all. In the airport moments, before we said our goodbyes, a family friend placed a little-wrapped box into my carryon.
Continue reading “Should You Keep a Diary?”
Why Do We Have English-Only Classrooms?
It is safe to say that the EFL teaching community has accepted the communicative approach to task-based English language learning. Theoretically, teacher-fronted classes that had a focus on explicit grammar instruction have been replaced by student-centered activity-based classes that are characterized by greater learner-learner interaction, more negotiation of meaning, and inductive absorption of language rules.
Continue reading “Why Do We Have English-Only Classrooms?”