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TOEFL/IELTS English Lessons

How to improve advanced English writing and speaking - Test Prep 21 - Learn English with Steve Ford

Hello and welcome to my newest English lesson: How to improve advanced English writing and speaking. This video is for anyone who's been studying English for a long time and needs to brush up on(review) incorrect habits they may or might have developed. 

Complex sentence structure: Where is the subject?

Whether you're doing a high-level academic test in English or you simply need to correct some bad speaking habits, learning how to confidently use more complex sentences is very important for anyone who wants to master the English language. The main difficulty non-native and even native speakers find is that they get lost when trying to determine more complex subjects or objects in any given sentence. I give some tips on how to sort this out in my lesson.

Is it a question or a regular sentence?

A day doesn't go by when I hear the following mistake made by quite a few of my students: I don't know where is she going. I explain in detail why this is wrong in the video and if you make the same mistake, don't worry as you are not alone!

A lesser-known complex way of writing

This last tip I give is based on years of teaching advanced English. Using "that" at the beginning of a sentence is more common in writing than speaking, nevertheless, it's important to know how to use it correctly and I explain this in my lesson.

Video Quiz

There is a short quiz near the end of my lesson. If you ended up getting all the questions right, congrats! If you make a few mistakes, don't worry as with a little bit of review, you too can become a master of the English language.



How to pass the TOEFL Speaking - Learn English with Steve Ford - Test Prep 20

Hello everybody! Here are tips for any student preparing for the TOEFL speaking section. Is it easy? Is it hard? Well, let's just say that it's taken me many years to find ways to help my students boost their score. My latest success story was helping a student get into an MBA program at MIT. So read on to find out how we can crack the TOEFL speaking!

Paraphrase the question to boost your score

Too often students fall into the habit of repeating back the question word for word. You'll definitely boost your score if you can find a way to put the question in your own words.

Beware of Verb Tenses

Beyond the shadow of a doubt, the devil is in the details and when students are asked a question in a particular verb tense - as you will soon see in our lesson - you need to be on guard so as to use verb tenses along the same lines as the question.


You will hear in our lesson a student who has a relatively good level of fluency - but some issues with pronunciation - which went unchecked for an entire 13 TOEFL attempts before she contacted me. So let's cut to the chase and find out together how to crack the TOEFL speaking section!

TOEFL Speaking Tips - Learn English with Steve Ford - Test Prep 19

Hello everybody! Welcome to a brand new video lesson with optional closed captions to help anyone who needs to improve their fluency in English for the TOEFL or Job Interviews. Many people need to have the best level of English possible for academic and professional reasons. So in the video you are about to see I am going to cover some ways to categorize the areas of English that you need to improve on

Language Usage(grammar/word choice)

It's no secret that even the most advanced English speakers may be in need of polishing old habits related to grammar and choice of words. Up to a point, English may seem easy, however, when someone reaches a higher level of English, mistakes start to pop up. In my years of preparing people for the TOEFL, job interviews, University program applications and immigration,  I find people tend to make more mistakes under pressure. I recommend you record yourself so that you can believe it with your own ears. Common mistakes in grammar range from: incorrect usage of the present and past perfect, conditional sentences 1,2 and 3, prepositions and articles and so on. Word choice is equally essential to improving your English and widening your horizons beyond your scope of work or studies. For example, in a very formal business meeting or lecture, if someone doesn't hear what you said, he/she might say: "I beg your pardon?". The words would be different if you were talking to your letter carrier. They might say, "sorry? how's that? what?".


Do you know the story of Goldie Locks and the Three Bears? This little girl finds her way into the bear family's house and there are three beds for the mamma bear, papa bear and baby bear. One bed is too hard, one bed is too soft and the last one is just right. This is how advanced English speakers could be categorized. So some speak too fast, some speak too slowly and some speak just right. That is their "pace" of speaking. Pace can certainly improve when someone feels comfortable and it's possible to gain confidence by being sure of your pronunciation. It's important to remember that your pronunciation can get better. I see it every day with my one-to-one students. If you are having problems saying "simultaneously", I will spell it out the way you should say it:
"s + eye + mul+ TAY + nee + iss + lee." Done!

Topic Development

Some people are more left-brained and therefore logical. Staying on topic, developing a sequence of related ideas comes easily to such people. Others, on the other hand,  may be more right-brained and creative. Their ideas might be more colorful and fanciful while at the same time hard for others to follow. My advice to all of you is take what you have to say and try to learn to cut down on redundant ideas and overly descriptive phrases. It's hard to stay on topic, so when we break off on a tangent, we run the danger of going off topic. Topic development and overall speech making is certainly an art and one that we can all develop. Conversely, some may find the question they are asked too abstract and boring, in this case you need to learn to ad lib more. 

Enjoy the video and the quiz everyone!