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TOEFL/IELTS English Lessons

TOEFL speaking and how to pass it – Test Prep. 24 with Steve Ford


Hello Everyone! I have been very busy helping people pass their TOEFL and IELTS tests and I wanted to share some of the things I have noticed with my students this past year. There are a few things you should focus on to pass including.... 


Believe it or not, many students have told me that if they don't have an honest answer for one of the independent speaking question, they simply say, "I can't lie". While I understand and sympathize with anyone who thinks this way, please keep in mind that your objective here is to pass the test. You are not being tested on your ideas as much as the level of your English speaking. 


Quite often students will get a question which requires them to talk about a personal experience which they might have never actually had. One way to answer such a question is to talk about someone who actually had this experience or perhaps borrow an experience from something you've read in a book or seen in a movie.


Choosing from two options can be tricky and I am going to tell you why. What I notice is that sometimes students will be asked to choose from two options and say why they prefer the option they chose. Since this is a very short speaking answer (45 seconds), there really isn't enough time to COMPARE AND CONTRAST the positive and negative aspects of your choice. Furthermore, if you start talking about why you don't prefer one of the choices, you might end up running out of time before you start talking about why you prefer your choice.


Should you take notes during the TOEFL listening and speaking section? From my experience, even if you have a high level of English you probably wouldn't get higher than 23 on either section. Please remember that during the real test their will always be the distractions from other people sitting beside you and possible malfunctions of the computer you are using. Therefore, taking notes gives you a better chance to be able to follow something when you are under pressure. If you need more help, please contact me for private lessons.



How to Study for the TOEFL - Test Prep. 23 with Steve Ford


Hello Everyone! Here is a free English lesson to help anyone preparing for the TOEFL or IELTS tests. All of these tips are based on my personal experience teaching TOEFL over the past 20 years. 


The process of elimination on multiple choice questions is a topic of much controversy. Whether you are doing the reading or listening sections, you can most likely eliminate two answers from your choice. An important thing to remember is to try and choose the answer which is most likely linked to what you have read or heard. If you feel you made a bad choice, don't worry about it. You will ALWAYS get a few questions on each section which can be very subjective and are the most difficult to answer. The good news, however, is that these kinds of questions are only a few in number.


As you can see from the picture above, you will get some questions in the reading or listening which require you to organize information in charts and diagrams. These questions are more complex and if done correctly will give you 3 or 4 points. The reading section in particular is something that students quite often underestimate and I highly suggest everybody studying for the TOEFL or IELTS to get as much practice material as possible to make sure you are ready. Too often I get feedback from my private students who say the reading section was extremely long. 


During the TOEFL integrated speaking and the listening section, you will have the chance to take notes. note taking is a skill that is a must and what I see is students who either have developped a good strategy for taking notes or those who simply get lost in their notes. One important tip I can give you is that usually in the listening lectures, there is an introduction which leads the listener into the main points in the topic. If you can recognize what the intro. is, you can ignore it and focus on the main points and examples which will be asked about in the questions that follow.



How to pass the TOEFL Speaking - Test Prep 22 with Steve Ford


Hello Everyone! Here is a free English lesson to help anyone preparing to do a speaking examination in English. You will hear a real life example and my suggestions on how to make your speaking sound like a native speaker of English. I have organized my tips by category. They are.....


It doesn't matter what country my students come from. If you are a fairly advanced speaker of English, what you will start to notice as you advance is that English can be broken down into word equivalents used in different situations. So, if you are talking to your boss, you are going to choose certain kinds of words. However, if you're talking to your best friend, obviously your choice of words is going to be different. In the TOEFL independent speaking questions 1 and 2, you need to look for words that are used in daily speech such as phrasal verbs and idiomatic expressions.


A good pace in your speaking should be free of long pauses and um's and ah's. Self-confidence indirectly comes across through your ability to keep your speaking flowing at an even pace. Some students will need to slow down their speaking to be understood, while others may need to speed up. Pronunciation is becoming increasingly important to get a good score on a test like the TOEFL as well as for job interviews. Whether you want to focus on a standard American or British accent is entirely up to you and should not affect your score on both the TOEFL and IELTS exams. 


Something that I have heard from people who help develop the TOEFL test is the importance of being able to think abstractly in English. What do I mean by that? I mean that you are able to talk metaphorically about something. You will see examples of how the student in my lesson does this when talking about places he'd suggest tourists visit when coming to his country. In short, thinking abstractly in English demonstrates a high level ability to express ideas and concepts freely. 


Cohesiveness means that you are able to link your ideas in such a way that when you transition from one idea to the next, you are able to do it naturally. This is a talent because you need to organize what you are going to say in order to make sure it follows a certain line of thinking. Some people are pro's at this, while others may need to work harder to make sure they are ready to be tested on such an ability. I'll often hear from students practicing for the TOEFL speaking that halfway through, they get lost or stuck. Through constant training, I have helped many people get over this.