How do you Approach TOEFL Prep?

THERE ARE THREE WAYS TO APPROACH YOUR TOEFL PREP

1. Do nothing. Walk into the exam room and just “roll with it”. If your English is pretty good, you might actually be surprised at the result, especially if you have some prior experience with standardized exams.

Downside: potential waste of time (4 hours) and money ($200). Strategy: take no TOEFL prep course.

2. Do everything. This might sound good on the surface: “I’m doing everything I can to get a high TOEFL score!” That type of motivation should be commended. This approach involves trying to consume as much information as possible about the test, and practicing hard.

Downside: if you are buying multiple resources, this could get expensive, but most importantly, it could be overwhelming.

3. Do one thing. One thing – like taking a highly structured course – suits some learners who appreciate optimizing their time and resources.

Downside: by limiting yourself to one program, you rely on one point of view and one set of advice.

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TOEFL Test Designers Have a Secret

BREAKTHROUGH YOUR LISTENING PROBLEMS

A great way to understand TOEFL Listening conversations, like anything complex, is to break it down into smaller parts. And we can do that with TOEFL conversations. In fact, it’s a thing – it’s called ‘discourse analysis’. 

That’s when interactions between people can be analyzed. We can do some analysis of our own here with TOEFL conversations. That’s because, even though these interactions try to appear genuine, of course they’re not, right?

Here’s a secret: TOEFL “conversations” are actually scripted by test designers at ETS and performed by voice actors.

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No TOEFL Score, No US Visa, No Thanks

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”

How to Build TOEFL Vocab Skills…and Feed the World?

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! 

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Are You ‘Here’ or ‘Present’?

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? 

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