Posts Tagged ‘esl’

Technical problems with TOEFL iBT?

Thursday, November 15th, 2007

The TOEFL iBT was launched as a new generation of test, supplanting the old paper-based exam and its original online version. ETS has over 2600 test centres – where candidates take the TEOFL iBT using special computer suite Tom Ewing, the company’s spokesman, says that they have tested over 148,000 people using this method s far.

But there have been many reports of problems. In September, 150 test takers in China were unable to finish their writing tests after a server broke down at ETS’s Princeton, headquarters. Oops! The candidates were given a different test instead.

TOEFL iBT is also marketed for the speed with which takers get results. In the high-pressure environment of international universities, getting reliable results on time is crucial.

Last month The Washington Post reported that test takers in the US were having a lot of difficulty getting spots at test centres and that there were many last-minute cancellations of tests.

Ewing says that these are isolated problems. “When you completely redesign the world’s most popular English language assessment test and the testing network, there are going to be occasions when technical difficulties arise. They are, however, few and far between.” Hmmm… well, okay.

“The rate of candidates who show up on test days and are not able to test is running well below one half per cent. Sometimes it is because of local power outages or the local connectivity issues over which we have no control.”

These challenges show no sign of curbing ETS’s ambitions for the iBY version of TOEFL. Ewing says that 1600 new test centres are to open soon and that ETS is now accepting registrations in 112 countries, compared to 80 for the old online test.

“We now have the world’s largest testing network. We are on schedule for our rollout and continue to refine the process.”

What about your accent?

Sunday, November 11th, 2007

A lot of students worry about whether their accent will affect their score in the Speaking section of the TOEFL. Well, it’s like this. Everyone who speaks English has an accent. So, having an accent is not a problem.

What matters more than accent is clarity. Now clarity itself is composed of two elements.

The first element is that you must overcome any obvious mispronunciation. This means learning to say “yellow” and not “jello” if you’re a Spanish speaker. Or learning to say “rice” and not “lice” if you’re Japanese, for example. These are examples where the mistake actually produces a different word, and can cause confusion.

An example where a mistake due to accent does not produce another word is when Eastern Europeans say “Vas iz thiz?” instead of “What is this?” The meaning is still understandable, though there are errors due to the accent. This is less of a problem.

The second point is that you must speak as clearly and confidently as possible. Sometimes when students are nervous or forget the word they want to say, they try to mumble their way through. This is not a good idea, and doing so repeatedly could cause you to lose points because you are not communicating effectively. Better to find another word or explain what you mean as clearly as you can, in whatever accent you do have.

How to choose a TOEFL Exam Prep Centre

Friday, November 9th, 2007

A lot of students ask me about choosing a TOEFL Exam Prep Centre. Are these places even any good? Classes offered by specialized Exam or Test Preparation Centres are made up with just one purpose — to help you get the highest score on your TOEFL. So, are they the best places to prepare yourself for the TOEFL? Well, not always. You need to do some investigating before spending your time and money.
TOEFL preparation centres can vary quite a bit. Some are part of international chains and others are just local schools. They might have thousands of successful graduates or just a few. And how can you really trust what they claim, anyway? The teachers may be specialists or general ESL teachers. The schools may produce and sell their own books and materials or use existing test preparation books and software. They might offer some kind of guarantee, based on your success in the exam. It’s best to ask the school about all this stuff before signing up. Also, you should attend free sample classes, if possible.
Sometimes, test preparation centres offer really short and focused intensive workshops and seminars. These can be really helpful. These are usually held in the evenings or on weekends.
Most importantly, you need to remember that as a student, YOU are the consumer and you DESERVE to have high quality training. You are also the one responsible for making wise buying decisions.

Welcome to THE TOEFL BLOG!

Thursday, November 8th, 2007

Welcome to TOEFL Blog. I’ve been an ESL and TOEFL teacher for many years. On my main site, Good Luck TOEFL, I have a complete, step-by-step guide to the exam. On this blog, I’ll be collecting all kinds of interesting and useful information about the TOEFL exam, along with helpful study tools for it. If you have a useful TOEFL-related site or article that you think should be added here, please submit it to me through the link in the menu. Enjoy the site… and Good Luck!