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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.
  • BE SURE TO ANSWER EVERY QUESTION.
  • 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

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

Mar 26 2016

English Lessons Houston – Passing the TOEFL Integrated Speaking Tasks

Passing the TOEFL Integrated Speaking Tasks

from Worldwide English in Houston, Texas

 

TOEFL int speakingAre 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 speaking test.  In this lesson, I will give you some hints to help you do very well in the Speaking test so that your score on this test will improve.

There are six tasks on the TOEFL Speaking test.

There are four integrated speaking tasks on the TOEFL test: two of the tasks have reading, listening and speaking.   For each task, you have 45 seconds to read, you have 30 seconds to prepare your answer and write notes, and 60 seconds to speak.  There is one speaking task that is about two students talking, or a counselor or professor talking to a student.  The other integrated speaking test is a university lecture.  You may not understand the content of the lecture, but there is enough information so that you will be able to answer the question.

In this lesson, we will look an an integrated speaking task that has reading, listening and speaking.  For these tasks you have 45 seconds to read, 30 seconds to prepare your answer and 60 seconds to speak. TOEFL int speaking 3

Here is an example of the reading, listening and speaking task:

  • The reading is an announcement about a work/study program for students. (45 seconds to read)
  • The listening part is about two students discussing the announcement. (you may take notes)
  • Here is the speaking assignment:

One student wants to be in the work/study program.  What are the requirements necessary and what are the advantages of the program?

Before you start, it’s good to know that:

  • The purpose of the reading is to give you a chance to read the vocabulary used before you listen to a conversation or lecture. It helps you to recognize the vocabulary when you hear it.
  • Usually, you need the information from both the reading and  listening parts in order to answer the question in the speaking part.
  • In this example, you are asked to talk about the requirements and the advantages of the work/study program. You have one minute to do this.

TOEFL int speaking 2Sample answer:

Introduction:

There are requirements and advantages for students in the work/study program.

Requirements

One requirement is that a student must be enrolled full-time in the university.  Also, students must be able to prove that they have a financial need and must fill out paperwork about their finances. Students can apply if they have a lot or just a little financial need.  Not all students qualify to participate in the work/study program because they do not need financial help.

Advantages:

One advantage of the work/study program is that students can earn up to $3,000 per year.  This will help students with their educational expenses. Also, the work/study program can give students valuable job experience in their major area of study.

Conclusion:

For these reasons, the work/study program can be very helpful for students who have financial needs.

Now, let’s put it all together:

There are requirements and advantages for students in the work/study program.    One requirement is that a student must be enrolled full-time in the university.  Also, students must be able to prove that they have a financial need and must fill out paperwork about their finances. Students can apply if they have a lot or just a little financial need.  Not all students qualify to participate in the work/study program because they do not need financial help.

One advantage of the work/study program is that students can earn up to $3,000 per year.  This will help students with their educational expenses. Also, the work/study program can give students valuable job experience in their major area of study.  For these reasons, the work/study program can be very helpful for students who have financial needs.

Time:  58 seconds

TOEFL int speaking 4

More helpful hints:

  • In these integrated speaking tasks, you have more time available to answer. So you can give more details.
  • Be sure to speak slowly so that the listener understands what you are saying.
  • Remember to include your introduction and conclusion. This shows the listener that you are organized.
  • Use transition words. This also shows the listener that you are able to organize your thoughts.
  • If you are listening to a lecture and you don’t understand the topic, don’t worry. Just take notes and look back to the reading to help you answer the question.  Some of the lectures are about topics that you’ve never seen before.  That’s okay because you can still answer the question if you take good notes and organize your answer.

If you are in Houston, Texas please call us for private English lessons.  For more information, visit Worldwide English or write to julie@englishlessons-houston.com

Copyright©2016 by The Worldwide English Company.  All rights reserved.

Business English Lessons

Mar 22 2016

Passing the TOEFL: Independent Speaking Tasks

English Lessons Houston  –  Passing the TOEFL: Independent Speaking Tasks
TEOFL speaking 1

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 speaking test.  In this lesson, I will give you some hints to help you do very well on the “Independent Tasks”,  so that your score on this test will improve.

There are six tasks on the TOEFL Speaking test.

There are two independent speaking tasks on the TOEFL test.  For each task, you have 15 seconds to think about your answer and write notes and 45 seconds to speak your answer. The first one is a personal preference task, which means there is a question that allows you to choose from your experience.

Examples:

  • Name a skill you have learned and why it is important to you.
  • Describe a class you have taken and why that class was important for you.
  • Describe a teacher you had and how that teacher influenced you.

The second independent speaking task is a personal choice task, which means you are to choose between two things and talk about one of them.

Examples:

  • Some students like to work on group projects and other students prefer to work alone. Which kinds of projects produce more learning and why?
  • Some people work for a business and some people work in their own business. Which would you prefer to do and why?

If you feel very nervous when you are speaking into the microphone, it is good to follow a pattern that will help you to feel more calm.  Here is the pattern you should follow to give a successful answer.

TOEFL speaking 4
Sample speaking task:  Name a hobby you have and why it is important to you.

1) Give an introductory sentence.

My favorite hobby is cooking for my friends and family.

2)  Give detail #1.

I enjoy cooking because it helps me to learn about other cultures.  Cooking recipes for Indian, Mexican or Chinese food helps me to understand the diets of other people around the world.

3)  Give detail #2.

Also, cooking is a social activity because, when I cook for my friends or my family, we all get together and talk and laugh and enjoy good food.

4)  If you have time, give detail #3.

Furthermore, cooking is a creative process because it gives me a chance to try different techniques, spices and flavors.  I like to try different dishes from all over the world. 

5)  Give a concluding sentence that is similar to your introductory sentence.

For these reasons, cooking is a hobby that I really enjoy.

Okay, let’s put it all together:  TOEFL speaking 2

My favorite hobby is cooking for my friends and family.  I enjoy cooking because it helps me to learn about other cultures.  Cooking recipes for Indian, Mexican or Chinese food helps me to understand the diets of other people around the world.

Also, cooking is a social activity because, when I cook for my friends or my family, we all get together and talk and laugh and enjoy good food.

Furthermore, cooking is a creative process because it gives me a chance to try different techniques, spices and flavors.  Different flavors and spices give different results.

For these reasons, cooking is a hobby that I really enjoy.

Time:  44 seconds

  • It’s important to include an introductory sentence and a concluding sentence. This shows that you are able to organize your thinking.
  • Don’t speak more than two sentences for each detail you give. This is important!  If you say more than two sentences for each detail, you will not have enough time.
  • Keep it simple! Don’t try to say everything.  Just choose the main points.
  • Remember to take a breath when you begin, which will help you to be calm and you can think more clearly.

Let’s look now at the personal choice independent speaking task.

TOEFL speaking 3Sample task:  Some people work for a business and some people work in their own business.  Which would you prefer to do and why?

1) Give an introductory sentence.

I would prefer to work for a business rather than work in my own business. 

(Note:  It’s okay if your introductory sentence follows the same structure as the question.)

 

2)  Give detail #1.

Working for a company provides more security.   I can focus on my work while other employees take care of paying the company bills and marketing. 

3)  Give detail #2.

Also, working for a company can offer many benefits.  Employees receive paid vacations, sick days and health insurance.  These are important for families.

4)  If you have time, give detail #3.

Finally, there is less stress working for a business than working in your own business because a business owner must worry about all areas of the company and the company’s survival. 

5)  Give a concluding sentence that is similar to your introductory sentence.

For these reasons, I prefer working for a company.

Okay, let’s put it all together:sheep with headphones

I would prefer to work for a business rather than work in my own business.  Working for a company provides more security.  I can focus on my work while other employees take care of paying the company bills and marketing.

Also, working for a company can offer many benefits.  Employees receive paid vacations, sick days and health insurance.  These are important for families.

Finally, there is less stress working for a business than working in your own business because a business owner must worry about all areas of the company and the company’s survival.

For these reasons, I prefer working for a company.

Time:  42 seconds

This answer had three details but not too much information about each detail.  So I was able to say everything in 42 seconds.

Other helpful hints:

  • It’s fine to use transition words like first, second, moreover, in conclusion, etc. This shows the person who is listening that you are well-organized, and you will receive a higher score for this.
  • Talk at a steady pace, not too fast. And remember to breathe!  If you talk too fast, the listener may not understand what you are saying and this will hurt your score.  If you slow down, the listener will be more likely to understand what you are saying and you will get a better score.
  • Use words that you are familiar with. Don’t use words that you are not sure about.  Just keep it simple and this will help you to get a higher score.
  • The person who is scoring your test does not care how smart you are, so don’t try to sound like a genius. Organize your thoughts, speak plainly and simply, include an introduction and conclusion and two to three details and your score will be good.
  • Choose some independent speaking tasks from TOEFL books or practice tests. Prepare for 15 seconds and see if you can complete your answer in 45 seconds.  Try to talk for at least 40 seconds. Do this again and again!
  • The more you practice, the more relaxed you will feel when you take the real TOEFL test. Good luck.

Next time, we will look at the integrated speaking tasks of the TOEFL.

Worldwide English teaches private lessons to expats and their spouses in their home or office in the Houston, Texas area.  We can help you to prepare for the IELTS or TOEFL exams.

For more information, visit http://www.englishlessons-houston.com or write to julie@englishlessons-houston.com

Copyright©2016 by The Worldwide English Company.  All rights reserved.

Business English Lessons

Sep 29 2012

Free TOEFL Websites

Studying for the TOEFL  Part 1

 

Hello to everyone from Worldwide English in Houston, Texas, USA.  Did you know that there are some very good free TOEFL websites that you can go to get a lot of practice for the TOEFL test?

In this post, I will tell you about six good TOEFL websites that you can visit and learn from for free!

Test Magic is one of the most popular TOEFL websites.  One of the advantages of this website is that is allows practice for the TOEFL essay.  Not all websites offer this.  You can go to their Essay section and read hundreds of essays that were posted by students that received a score of 5.0, 5.5, or a perfect score of 6.0 

Unfortunately, they no longer offer free scoring of essays.  But if you are concerned about preparing for the TOEFL essay, this is the site for you!

Another free website is Learn4GoodThis is a good site for students from other countries.  There is information about the TOEFL in other languages besides English and there is a very good list of places to take the TOEFL test in locations around the world.  This site includes 11 short tests and some very good tips for writing the TOEFL essay.

Exam English is another free site for the TOEFL.  In my opinion, this site is not as good as the others, but you can register for the actual TOEFL test here and there are some very good tips and advice for taking the test.  There are several good practice tests that are created using the TOEFL test format.

TOEFL IBT Course has a lot of information and also offers translation to students in other languages.  On this site, there are a few practice tests and also TOEFL practice kits that they are selling for $5.00 each.  I have never looked at the kits so I am not sure if they are good or not, but $5 isn’t a lot of money, so you might want to try one.

 

ESL Lab has a section on TOEFL listening exercises that you might want to check out.   This is one of the most popular ESL websites – lots of great listening practice!  When you get to the website, go down to Listening Quizzes for Academic Purposes.

I wish you good luck when you take your TOEFL test.  Be sure to get lots of sleep the night before and have a good breakfast!

I’ll be back with other tips for the TOEFL in the next post!

 

Copyright©2012 by The Worldwide English Company.  All rights reserved.

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