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Feb 19 2018

English Lessons Houston: Present Tense vs. Present Continuous

Hi Students!  Here is a lesson from English Lessons Houston on when to use the Present Tense and the Present Continuous Tense.

Present Simple Tense

Use the present simple tense

  1. To talk about routines

I usually read the paper in the morning.

I go to the gym every night.

  1. To talk about states

The Yellow River runs through China.

Canada borders the United States.

  1. To talk about things we think of as permanent

Brazil is part of South America.

A square has four sides.


  1. To talk about future time introduced by when, as soon as, after, if, etc.

When I speak with my boss tomorrow, I’ll tell him about the new project.

If I talk to my brother, I’ll invite him for dinner tonight.

  1. To talk about “timetable” events

My train leaves at 4:00 p.m.

I travel to Paris on Friday.

Common phrases used with the present simple tense are:  as a rule, generally speaking, on the whole, every day/week/month/year, once a week/day/year, most of the time, etc.

Present Continuous

Use the present continuous tense

  1. To talk about an action happening at the moment of speaking

Mr. Yu is giving his presentation to his colleagues.  

I am eating dinner with my family right now.

  1. To talk about things we think of as temporary

I am working in Houston for a few weeks.

I am living in an apartment until my house is finished.

  1. To talk about a project that is “ongoing” and unfinished

I am writing a book about American politics.

We are waiting for the bus to arrive.

  1. To talk about a gradual change or development

Because of global warming, sea levels are rising.

Due to the heavy rain, people are driving slowly on the streets.

  1. To talk about an appointment or an arrangement in the future.

I am traveling to Belgium on Thursday.

She is having lunch with her boss later today.

Common phrases used with the present continuous are currently, for the moment, at the moment, for the time being, tomorrow, right now, etc.


Students, I wish you great success.  If you would like to have SKYPE lessons or if you live in the Houston area and would like to have private lessons, please contact Worldwide English at julie@englishlessons-houston.com or give us a call at 713-993-6511.


Oct 06 2017

TOEFL Reading Practice

TOEFL Reading Test Practice for Inference Questions

English Lessons Houston


Hi Students!  Are you getting ready to take the TOEFL exam?  As you know, there are four sections in the exam:  Reading, Listening, Speaking and Writing.  In this lesson, we will study how to answer “inference” questions. The TOEFL Reading Test inference questions can be answered using the correct strategies.  Furthermore, you do not need to look for details.  If you are able to understand the main idea of the TOEFL reading passage, you can easily answer the inference questions.

The TOEFL test includes four types of questions on the Reading Test.  This lesson will give details and strategies  about how to answer inference questions.  As you know,  the word inference means that the answer is implied and not directly stated.  Furthermore, you need to think about the answer instead of finding it stated in the TOEFL reading passage.

Inference questions are the more difficult questions to answer in the Reading section of the TOEFL test.  To begin, the answer to these types of questions are not stated directly. Therefore, the answers are implied or understood.

TEOFL Reading for Inference 1


The TOEFL test will contain the following types of inference questions:

  • Which of the following can be inferred about…?
  • The passage implies that…
  • The author implies that…
  • The passage suggests that…
  • It is most probable that…
  • Which of the following can be inferred from the passage?
  • From the passage, it can be inferred that…
Strategy:  To answer inference questions on the TOEFL Reading test, you must think about the logical conclusions.

TOEFL Inference 2

Here’s an example from the TOEFL with answers.

Lie detectors are properly called emotion detectors. For this reason, their aim is to measure bodily changes that contradict what a person says.

  1. What can be inferred from the sentence?
  • Lie detectors record a person’s emotions.
  • Emotions can contradict what a person says.
  1. What cannot be inferred from the sentence?
  • People always say what they are feeling. (Bodily changes can contradict what a person says.)
  • Lie detectors cause changes in emotions.  (No.  Lie detectors measure or record bodily changes.)

TOEFL Inference 3

Finally, here are more strategies for the TOEFL Reading test Inference questions:

  • To begin,  remember to go beyond the information stated in the passage.
  • In addition, draw a conclusion or think about what is implied.  For example, what the author of the passage means or believes to be true but has not stated in the passage.
  • Remember that the answer to the questions will not be stated in words in the passage.
  • Finally, beware of answer choices that go beyond what you can logically infer from the passage.  Wong answer choices will often be too exaggerated or overstated to be precisely correct.


That’s our lesson on TOEFL Reading for Inference!

If you are in Houston, Texas please call us at Worldwide English for private English lessons.  At Worldwide English in Houston, we offer private lessons and SKYPE lessons to student living outside of Houston, worldwide! For your convenience, a qualified American tutor comes to your home or office to teach you English at the times that are convenient for you.

Copyright©2017 by The Worldwide English Company.  All rights reserved.

Oct 02 2017

TOEFL Test: Reading for Main Ideas

TOEFL Reading Main Idea:   Reading for Main Ideas

Private English Lessons Houston


Hi Students!  Are you getting ready to take the TOEFL exam? In this lesson, we will be practicing for the TOEFL Reading Test for the Main Idea.   As you know, there are four sections on the TOEFL exam:  Reading, Listening, Speaking and Writing.  In this lesson, we will study how to answer, “reading for main idea” questions. We will study and practice TOEFL Reading for Main Idea.

TOEFL Main Idea

One of the most frequently asked questions in the Reading Comprehension section of the TOEFL is about the main idea of the passage.  There is usually one of these questions for each reading passage.  The main idea is the most important idea in the passage or what the passage is about.  Each passage has main and subordinate, or less important, ideas.  The main idea is more general than the supporting ideas or details in the passage.  The main idea may be the first sentence in the paragraph, but this is not always the case.  The main idea may appear in the middle or toward the end.



Here are some examples of “main idea” questions:

What is the main idea of the passage?

  • The main topic of the passage is……
  • The primary idea of the passage is……
  • What does the passage mainly discuss?
  • What is the main idea expressed in the passage?
  • With what topic is the passage mainly concerned?

Sometimes the main idea of the passage is not clear because each paragraph has a main point.  In this case, find the common idea in these different points.

TOEFL Reading Main Idea

Now, let’s look at the types of answers that you will find in TOEFL “main idea” questions:

  1. Too general
  2. True but only a detail
  3. Incorrect
  4. Correct

Read this TOEFL passage and answer the main idea question.

  1. Americans have always been fascinated in their Presidents’ wives. Many First Ladies have been remembered because of the ways they have influenced their husbands and government policies. Other First Ladies have made the history books because of their own deeds.
  2. Bess Truman and Lady Bird Johnson sent signals during their husbands’ speeches. When Lady Bird Johnson thought her husband was talking too long, she wrote a note and sent it up to the platform. It read, “It’s time to stop!” And he did. Once Bess Truman didn’t like what her husband was saying on television, so she phoned him and said, “If you can’t talk more politely than that in public, you come right home.”
  3. Abigail Fillmore and Eliza Johnson taught their husbands, Millard Fillmore and Andrew Johnson, the thirteenth and seventeenth Presidents. A schoolteacher, Abigail eventually married her pupil, Millard. When Eliza Johnson married Andrew, he could not read or write, so she taught him herself.
  4. It was First Lady Helen Taft’s idea to plant the famous cherry trees in Washington, D. C. Each spring these blossoming trees attract thousands of visitors to the nation’s capital. Mrs. Taft also influenced the male members of her family and the White House staff in a strange way: she convinced them to shave off their beards!
  5. Shortly after President Woodrow Wilson suffered a stroke, Edith Wilson unofficially took over most of the duties of the Presidency until the end of her husband’s term. Earlier, during World War I, Mrs. Wilson had sheep brought onto the White House lawn to eat the grass. The sheep not only kept the lawn mowed, but provided wool for an auction sponsored by the First Lady. Almost $100,000 was raised for the Red Cross.
  6. Dolly Madison saw to it that a magnificent painting of George Washington was not destroyed during the War of 1812. As the British marched toward Washington, D. C., she remained behind to rescue the painting, even after the guards had left. The painting is the only object from the original White House that was not burned.
  7. One of the most famous First Ladies was Eleanor Roosevelt, the wife of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. She was active in political and social causes throughout her husband’s tenure in office. After his death, she became famous for her humanitarian work in the United Nations. She made life better for thousands of needy people around the world.

What is the main idea of this passage?

A. The humanitarian work of the First Ladies is critical in American government.
B. Dolly Madison was the most influential president’s wife.
C. Eleanor Roosevelt transformed the First Lady image.
D. The First Ladies are important figures in American culture.
E. The First Ladies are key supporters of the Presidents.

Hint:  Answers B and C are not correct.  They are true but are only details, not the main idea.

Answer A and E are not correct.  These are main points in paragraphs 2, 5 and 7, but not the main idea.

The correct answer is D.  All the paragraphs support the main idea that the First Ladies are important figures in American culture.

TOEFL Reading Main Idea

That’s our lesson on TOEFL Reading for Main Idea!

If you are in Houston, Texas please call us at Worldwide English for private English lessons.  We offer private lessons and SKYPE lessons to student living outside of Houston, worldwide!

Copyright©2017 by The Worldwide English Company.  All rights reserved.

Sep 27 2017

TOEFL Test Reading for Details

TOEFL Test Reading for Details


Hi Students!  Are you getting ready to take the TOEFL exam?  As you know, there are four sections in the exam:  Reading, Listening, Speaking and Writing.  In this lesson, we will study how to answer “detail” questions.  “Detail” questions ask you about specific information in the passage.

Here are important tips and strategies to answer detail questions.

  • Detail questions on the TOEFL usually begin with the words, “According to the passage….”

Example:  According to the passage, who often conducted education in the American South before the Civil War?

TOEFL Reading Details

  • To answer TOEFL detail questions, look for the key words used in the question.

Example:  According to the passage, the Harvard School of Business depended upon which groups for support and donations?

Note:  scan the passage for “The Harvard School of Business”.


Strategy:  Scan the passage, meaning move your eyes quickly over the passage, until you find the key word or words you are looking for.  For example, it can be a name, date or number.

  • Remember, that it is not necessary to read the whole passage again on the TOEFL Reading passages. Just find the key words.


  • Look for similar words, but not the exact same words as the question.

Example:  According to the passage, the Harvard School of Business depended upon which groups for support and donations?

Strategy:  Look for synonym for the words “support” and donations.  For example, Support may be assistance or help, and donations may be financial gifts.


TOEFL Reading Details

  • Detail questions on the TOEFL usually appear in the order of the information in the passage. Therefore,  the answer to the first detail question will be found near the beginning of the passage, and the answer to the second detail question will come after that.

  • If the question contains the words “not” or “except”, choose the answer that is not true or not mentioned in the passage.

Example:  According to the passage, all of the following were sometimes substituted for books EXCEPT

According to the passage, which of the following is NOT mentioned as something that is measured by a polygraph machine?

Strategy:  Remember that three of the answers are mentioned in the passage,  and the one that is NOT mentioned is the correct answer.  The three answers that are mentioned will be stated in different words, but will mean the same thing.

TOEFL Reading Details

Let’s look at a short passage and answer the detail question:

Cellular slime molds are extraordinary life forms that exhibit features of both fungi and protozoa, although often classed for convenience with fungi.  At one time, they were regarded as organisms of ambiguous taxonomic status, but more recent analysis of DNA sequences has shown that slime molds should be regarded as inhabiting their own separate kingdoms.


According to the passage, in the past slime molds were classified as

  1. unknown
  2. uncertain
  3. controversial
  4. unfamiliar


There is another word in the passage that means the same as “uncertain”.  That word is “ambiguous”.  If you know the meaning of the word ambiguous, you will know that the answer is B.  uncertain.   Further, the word “classified” in the question is “regarded” in the passage


That’s our lesson on TOEFL Reading for Details!

If you are in Houston, Texas please call us at Worldwide English for private English lessons.  We offer private lessons and SKYPE lessons to student living outside of Houston, worldwide!  You can call and have a free consultation on SKYPE or in person.  We come to your home or office to give you private lessons.

Copyright©2017 by The Worldwide English Company.  All rights reserved.






Sep 17 2017

TOEFL Grammar PRACTICE -Reflexive Pronouns

TOEFL Practice for Grammar; Reflexive Pronouns

Private English Lessons Houston



He, She ,It -Himself/herself/itself



They – Themselves

The reflexive pronoun is used


  1. To emphasize the subject noun or pronoun it refers to and to emphasize the fact that the subject did the action alone.

He does the work himself.  OR   He himself does the work.

  1. As the object of a verb when the subject and object are the same.

They travel together to work to save themselves the high cost of gas.

  1. As the object of the preposition when the subject did the action alone.

My elderly father is unable to dress himself.

Complete the sentences with the correct reflexive pronoun.

  1. University students push ____________ to make better grades.
  2. To protect ________________ from a lawsuit, the doctor asks her patients to sign a release form.
  3. The professor rides his bike to and from his classes by _________________.
  4. A young baby penguin is not able to feed ______________.
  5. Unlike animals that live in cold weather and have heavy fur, we cannot protect _________ from the cold without wearing protective clothing.
  6. I enjoy going by ____________ to the beach on Saturdays.
  7. I know you can learn to play guitar by ____________ if you will lessons on YouTube.
  8. Students, I know you can find your way to your next class by _________________.


  1. Themselves – students is plural
  2. Herself – we know that the doctor is a female because of “her patients”
  3. Himself – because the professor rides “his bike”.
  4. Itself – because a penguin is an animal and the gender is not known.
  5. Ourselves – because “we cannot” is plural
  6. Myself – because “I enjoy”
  7. Yourself – because of “you” and “your” in the sentence. Note:  we don’t know if the speaker is talking to one person or more than one person, so “yourselves” would also be correct.
  8. Yourselves – because the teacher is talking directly to the “students”.

Please continue to practice with reflexive pronouns, because they will be on the TOEFL test.

If you would like SKYPE lessons or live in or near the Houston, Texas area, please contact Worldwide English for lessons at (713) 993-6511.


Good luck to you on your TOEFL Test!

Jun 29 2017

English Lessons Houston – Countable and Uncountable Nouns

Nouns – Countable and Uncountable


Hi Students!  Here is a lesson on countable and uncountable nouns.  Please study these so that you will understand the differences.


Countable nouns are the names of objects you can count. You can use a/an with countable nouns. Countable nouns also have plurals.


  • I would like to eat an orange
  • This material weighs three grams
  • I am familiar with a few cultures in Africa.
  • My wife wants to buy several acres in Arizona.
  • Last year, volunteers planted a million trees in California.


Uncountable nouns are the names of objects that you cannot count. They may represent mass nouns (such as oil), abstract ideas (such as leadership) or general words (food, etc.). We cannot use a/an with uncountable nouns and there in no plural form.


  • I need to buy some flour to make cookies.
  • Please cut the grass
  • The new iPhone features the latest
  • I would like to have some more
  • When there is rain, sometimes you can see lightning in the sky.

Countable and Uncountable

A bit of, a lot of, some, any, and the can be used with countable and uncountable nouns. Advice, equipment and information are uncountable nouns. We do not use these nouns with a/an, and they have no plurals.


  • I could give you a lot of advice on that topic for your interview.
  • Could you give me any information?
  • She brought some equipment with her.

You can use a countable noun before an uncountable noun if you want to quantify it.


  • Could we buy two bags of flour?
  • We need a new piece of information.

Some nouns have countable and uncountable forms with different meanings.


  • I love chocolate.

(uncountable – chocolate in general)

  • That store sells healthy chocolate.

(countable – varieties of chocolate)


  • She ordered a coffee.

(countable – referring to one cup of coffee)

  • Would he like to order coffee?

(uncountable – coffee in general)


  • There is no truth in those rumors.

(uncountable – quality/state of being true)

  • The fundamental truths about food and digestion are simple to understand.

(countable – referring to facts/beliefs that are accurate)


Some nouns tend to be uncountable in general usage and are often used as countable nouns in more of a technical sense.


  • new radiation technologies
  • We produce music.

Often, the countable noun and its uncountable equivalent are completely different words.


  • We’ve got to make rolls before our guests arrive.


  • We’ve got to make bread before our guests arrive.



  • Lighting was spotted crossing the sky at 4 o’clock in the morning.


  • A flash of lightning was spotted crossing the sky at 4 o’clock in the morning.



Good luck with your practice of countable and uncountable nouns!


If you are in Houston and would like to have private English lessons in your home or office, please contact Julie at julie@englishlessons-houston.com  or call 713-993-6511.  We also offer SKYPE lessons.  There are many qualified American tutors at Worldwide English!

Jun 18 2017

English Lessons Houston – What is the Difference between Will and Going To?

Talking about the Future – Will vs. Going to

Hi Students!  Many of you ask me about when to use will and when to use going to, when you are talking about the future.  So, here are the rules for will and going to and I have given you some examples to help you understand the differences.

Here are the rules for using going to:

Use going to for intentions, plans and decisions that have been made before the moment of speaking.


  • I’m going to have lunch with my supervisor on Thursday.
  • Next week, I’m going to fly to Barcelona for a convention.
  • My colleagues are going to start the project on June 21st.
  • What are you going to do this weekend?
  • Today, I’m going to talk to you about the new budget for 2018.

Use going to when you are making a prediction based on present evidence.


  • My boss isn’t going to be happy when he hears about the delay in the shipment.
  • Our gross sales are going to be very good this year.
  • We have a lot of items to talk about on our agenda, so let’s get started.


Students, there are several rules for using the word will.  The first rule is the most important one.

 Here are the rules for using will:

*Use will for sudden or quick decisions made at the moment of speaking.


  • Will you help me finish this report?
  • I will call you back in a few minutes.
  • I’ll send you all the details in an e-mail.

Use will for arranged events that are not personal.

  • Our CEO will speak at a conference this afternoon.
  • The meeting will be at 3:00 p.m. today in the large conference room.
  • My flight to Japan will leave at 7:00 p.m. this evening.

Use will when you want to confirm something, like a call or a meeting.

  • So, you’ll contact me next Friday and let me know your decision?
  • Don’t worry, I won’t forget our meeting next Thursday.
  • Yes, I’ll do it right away.

Use will for predictions with the verbs think and expect.

  • I don’t think I will go to the basketball game tonight. I’m not feeling well.
  • I think our project budget will be very high this time.
  • I expect that she will leave the company at the end of the year.

I expect that these rules will help you to know when to use going to and when to use will to talking about the future.  Also, listen to how native English speakers use will and going to and that will help you a lot?  Good luck, students!


Students, I wish you great success.  If you would like to have SKYPE lessons or if you live in the Houston area and would like to have private lessons, please contact Worldwide English at julie@englishlessons-houston.com or give us a call at 713-993-6511.

Jun 14 2017

Business English – Phrases for Presentations

English Lessons Houston – Phrases for Presentations

Hi students of Business English!  Here is a lesson on transition words and phrases that you might use in your job, especially for presentations.  These phrases are common in the American business environment.  They will help your English speaking and writing to be more professional. When you use transitional words and phrases, your presentation will flow more smoothly.

To introduce a presentation or outline a structure:

I’ve divided my talk into…..

First of all, I’ll….

After that, I’ll…..

I’ll conclude with…..

Here’s an example of how to use these phrases:

I’ve divided my talk into three sections.  First of all, I will give you a current update on how the project is going so far.  After that, I’ll discuss the changes that the head office has suggested.  I’ll conclude with our timeline and will take questions and answers after that.

Beginning the presentation:

I’d like to start by saying…..

Example:   I’d like to start by saying that the project is running on time and the head office is very happy with the work we’ve done so far.

I’d like to start by saying that our supervisor, Mr. Chu, couldn’t attend the meeting today in person, but he will be joining us by teleconference.

Talking about the future or past in a presentation:

As I said earlier…..

Example:  As I said earlier, we will be adding three employees from our finance department to help us develop the budget.

I’ll return to ……… later

Example:  I’ll return to the discussion about the timeline later.

I’ll say more about ……. in a moment

Example:  I’ll say more about the McDermott  reorganization in a moment.

Just to digress for a moment…..  (digress means to change the subject)

Example:  Just to digress for a moment, I will explain the recent budge changes.

Going on to a new section of the presentation:

Ok, moving on……

Example:  Ok, moving on to the issues of transporting goods to Sudan.

Turning to……

Example:  Turning to the diagram of the well-flow over the past six months, I will explain the situation and how we will solve the issue.

That brings me to……

Example:  That brings me to my next section, which is the change in the deadline for the year-end reports.

Concluding a presentation:

And this is my key point……

Example:  And this is my key point, that the new equipment will increase production and enable us to meet our delivery dates.

To sum up…..

Example:  To sum up, I believe we can finish this project on time if each of you can work until 6:00 p.m. this week.

I’ll be happy to take any questions now.


Students, I wish you great success.  If you would like to have SKYPE lessons or if you live in the Houston area and would like to have private lessons, please contact Worldwide English at julie@englishlessons-houston.com or give us a call at 713-993-6511.


Jun 11 2017

Tipping in the USA

Here is a lesson on tipping in the USA from Worldwide English, a company that offers English lessons in the Houston area.


If you are living in the USA, you will need to understand the practice of tipping.  Sometimes it can be confusing.  Tipping in the USA is voluntary; that is, you do not have to leave a tip if you don’t want to.  Leaving a tip is a way of saying “thank you”.  The word tip is both a noun and a verb.

Here are examples of how to use the word “tip”.

As a noun:  It’s a good idea to give your waiter a tip.

I left a big tip for my waiter because he did a very good job.

As a verb:  In a restaurant, Americans usually leave a tip for the waiter.

At Starbucks, I sometimes leave a tip in the glass jar.

There is another meaning for the word tip.  Tip can also mean “extra information” or “advice” that is helpful.  But in this lesson, the word tip is a small amount of money that you leave as a “thank you” for service.

How much should you tip?

In a restaurant where you receive full service:

In most areas of the USA, 20% is considered acceptable for good service.  If you feel that you did not receive good service, for example, if your waiter was slow or rude, you can choose to leave less.

Here’s a tip on tipping in a restaurant:  Be careful not to tip on the “total”.  Look at the “subtotal”, which is the total before the tax is added.  That is the total that you should figure the tip on.

For example, If your total bill is $20.00, look at the total before the tax is added.  The actual amount of your food and drink might actually be $18.50, so you would pay 20% of 18.50, not 20% of $20.00.

Also, if the number of people in your party is more than five or six, the tip might already be added to your bill, so be sure to check and if so, you do not need to leave more.

At a restaurant where there is a buffet:

A restaurant that has a buffet, does not offer full service.  But the waiter will usually bring you a drink and remove your dishes when you are finished.  So the typical tip for service at a restaurant with a buffet would be about 10 %.

At a bar:

When you are service by a bartender or waiter, the usual tip is $1.00 for each drink that you order.



For a taxi driver:

The usual tip for a taxi driver is 15-20%.    





For a hotel (for the person that cleans your room):

The usual tip is $3.00 per person per night.  On the day you leave the hotel, you can leave the tip in your room and the maid will pick it up when he or she comes to clean the room.

For a valet that parks your car:

Most valet service is free, but the tip is usually $3.00-$5.00.

At the airport, for someone who helps you with your bags:

The usual tip is $1.00 for each bag.

For places that have a tip jar:

Many places, like Starbucks or small sandwich shops, have a tip jar near the cash register.  In this case, you are free to leave any amount, but most people leave $1.00 or less.

Other places that you can tip:

Your barber or hairdresser, restaurant delivery, tour guides.  A good rule for tipping is 10-15% of your bill.

There are several “tip calculator” apps that you can download to your mobile phone. This will make it easy for you to figure the amount you should tip.




If you’re interested in SKYPE or private classes, give us a call at Worldwide English (713) 953-6511 or visit us online at http://www.englishlessons-houston.com.    We are based in Houston, Texas teaching English worldwide.




Jan 24 2017

Passing the TOEFL Reading Test



Are you getting ready to take the TOEFL test?

As you know, there are four parts to the TOEFL test and one of those parts is a reading test.  In this lesson, I will give you some hints to help you do very well on the Reading portion of the test so that your score on this test will improve.

 Here are some facts you need to know:


Practice before the test!








  • The Reading section is Part 1 of the TOEFL test.
  • On the TOEFL IBT or PBT Reading Test, you will be able to skip some questions and come back and answer them later.
  • There are 3-5 reading passages, but usually 3.
  • You have 60-100 minutes for this test, but usually 60.
  • There are about 39-56 questions, but usually 39.
  • Most questions are worth 1 point and some questions are worth more than 1 point.
  • The questions test your ability to understand main idea, details, inference, sequence and vocabulary.
  • You do not need to know about the topics in the reading section before you take the test.
  • The reading test is challenging!

Study new vocabulary!

Here are some ways you can prepare:

  • Read academic material as much as possible. Choose topics that you are not familiar with.  Read passages that are about 700 words.  Science, psychology, medicine and behavioral sciences are good topics to choose from.
  • Practice reading faster to increase your reading speed. Use a timer and choose passages that are about 700 words.
  • Learn and practice “skimming”. Read the first line of each paragraph carefully.  Then quickly “skim” through the rest of the paragraph to pick up a few details and the main idea.  You don’t have to understand everything and you don’t have to understand every word.  When you answer the questions, you will go back to these paragraphs and read more carefully to find the answer.
  • Increase your advanced vocabulary. You may not see vocabulary words you have studied on the test, but knowing more vocabulary will help you to figure out the prefixes and suffixes of words and this will help you answer the vocabulary questions.

For example, if you know that anti- is a prefix that means “against something or not something” and you see the word “antisocial”, you will understand that this probably means not social, or someone who does not enjoy going out with friends or to parties.

  • Take as many TOEFL Practice Reading tests as you can. For the first two or three, just take your time.  And then use a timer to learn how to finish the entire test in the time given.  Keep practicing until you can finish in the amount of time given.
  • Increase your reading speed!

Here are some strategies to improve your TOEFL Reading test scores:

  • If you have 60 minutes to read three passages, divide your time into 16-18 minutes for each passage. That comes to about 38-54 minutes.  That will leave you 6-12 minutes to go back and look at your answers again and answer any questions that you skipped.
  • Don’t worry if you don’t have time to read the passage carefully before answering the questions. Most students don’t have time to do this.  As I wrote before, learning how to “skim” through the material is very important so that you will have time to answer the questions.
  • Don’t spend too much time on one question. Skip it and come back to it at the end of the test.
  • To answer questions about main idea, pay close attention to the first and last paragraph to answer this question.
  • To answer questions about details, read the numbered lines carefully that are given in the question. Then read the sentences before that and the sentences that come after that.  This will give you a better understanding of what the details are and will not take very much time.
  • To answer questions about phrases and vocabulary, again, ready the numbered lines but read before and after so that you will understand the context. Look at the prefix and the suffix of the word, if there is one.  Decide which answers are incorrect and then decide which one makes the most sense if this word or phrase is new to you.
  • Remember, “the easiest answer is usually the correct one”. Don’t overthink it!  In other words, don’t think too much about the answer – it usually causes you to get it wrong!
  • I have found that the first answer that students choose is usually the correct one.

If you are in Houston, Texas please call us for private English lessons to prepare for the TOEFL test.  For more information, visit http://www.englishlessons-houston.com or write to julie@englishlessons-houston.com

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