Hello friends :)
IELTS/TOEFL can be quite challenging for ESL learners. They are tough exams, require a lot of preparation, and most importantly require a lot of dedication from those who are taking these exams.
Many of you have been asking me to talk about IELTS and TOEFL. Well, friends… you asked and I have been working very hard to get you the best resources you deserve to improve your English fluency and proficiency, so that you can excel in the exams you need to take!
Today, I would like you to meet Jonathan who is an expert in the field of TOEFL. I have asked him a few questions to get you to think about your English fluency and proficiency journey….
This is a guest post from Jonathan Huggins. Jonathan is an avid language learner and teacher. He has been involved in the language acquisition process for over twenty years, having first learned Spanish in 1995, then French in 1997, and German in 1999. Recognizing that language learning was quite enjoyable, he began tutoring those languages to fellow American high school and university students. Later after obtaining a B.A. in French in 2002, he moved to Paris to study at the university there and also began teaching English as a foreign language at elementary schools and business English at multinational companies. After about 6 years in Paris, he moved to Mexico City and continued to teach business English freelance until switching to teaching exclusively online about a year ago after realizing that there is growing demand for exam preparation, such as for the TOEFL and IELTS. Follow Jonathan on Twitter, Instagram, Website and YouTube. He also has a rapidly growing Facebook Group! Join here!
Jonathan, can you tell us why learning a language is important?
Learning languages is important because it broadens our perspective on the world and makes us more tolerant and open-minded of foreign cultures and people. Being able to understand someone in their native language and to express yourself in theirs is an increasingly important skill to have, especially as the world is becoming more connected every day. There are countless ways to use your knowledge of a foreign language because it can be applied in all industries, not just in education.
Is English an important language to learn?
English, more than ever, is the world’s lingua franca, as learners from around the world not only use it to speak with native-speakers, but quite often they use it when it is a second language for both speakers. For example, many multinational companies make English their official language of communication in written documentation and in meetings, conference calls, and training videos to make it easier for everyone to have equal access to information. If for example, on the other hand, a large amount of information was in a particular language only spoken by a small number of people in the company, only those people could access it and they might have an unfair advantage. So basically, being able to read in English and understand spoken English, enables more people from around the world to have greater access to information that was previously not possible.
Do you think that grammar is important for TOEFL and how is grammar important for TOEFL or for learning English?
In terms of using correct grammar, it makes it easier for people to understand you quickly and clearly if you use a standard and recognizable form of English. Grammatical mistakes and structural influences from your native language in terms of syntax, phrasing, and literal translations can make it harder to decipher your message. In general though, it is not necessary to have perfect grammar because even native-speakers may make occasional mistakes when speaking or writing quickly, but it is important to keep the focus on clear communication. In the case of the TOEFL, ETS examiners recognize that nobody is perfect and even for the highest scores in the speaking and writing sections, there is some tolerance of grammatical mistakes provided they do not obscure proper communication and understanding of a test-taker’s message.
Let's talk about TOEFL….
Jonathan, what is TOEFL?
The TOEFL is an exam used to assess how well an English-learner can understand written and spoken English in a variety of academic texts, lectures and campus-related conversations, along with their ability to process, summarize, and comment on that information in their own speaking and writing. Several sections of the test combine multiple skills such as both reading and listening before speaking or writing. Most students take the exam before applying to American universities, but even some industries use the exam to assess an applicant’s level of English before being able to obtain a pharmaceutical license or nursing license, for example.
What is the differences between IELTS and TOEFL ?
The TOEFL and another exam that students often take is the IELTS, which is more widely-accepted in English-speaking countries such as England, Ireland, Canada, and Australia. The content is similar on both the TOEFL and IELTS, but the test format is slightly different. The speaking section of the IELTS is with a live examiner, whereas on the TOEFL iBT, a test-taker makes a recording on a computer without interacting with an examiner. The writing section of the IELTS is paper and pencil and requires students to use clear handwriting, and the TOEFL iBT on the other hand requires computer typing skills and familiarity with the QWERTY keyboard layout.
OK Jonathan… but who are you?
As both an avid language learner and teacher, I’ve been involved in the language acquisition process for over twenty years, having first learned Spanish in 1995, then French in 1997, and German in 1999. Recognizing that language learning was quite enjoyable, I began tutoring those languages to fellow American high school and university students. Later after obtaining a B.A. in French in 2002, I moved to Paris to study at the university there and also began teaching English as a foreign language at elementary schools and business English at multinational companies. After about 6 years in Paris, I moved to Mexico City and continued to teach business English freelance until switching to teaching exclusively online about a year ago after realizing that there is growing demand for exam preparation, such as for the TOEFL and IELTS.
For TOEFL preparation, lessons should mainly focus on providing feedback on speaking and writing, which is what most students need most before taking the exam to assess how well they will do. Although live lessons are on Skype, students are also encouraged to make additional recordings of themselves and to share their writing samples. Although, some emphasis is placed on correcting grammatical and vocabulary-related mistakes, a significant part of the coaching involves gaining confidence, organization, and test-taking strategies.
Many students have scored very well, achieving scores above 100 out of 120. Even one student achieved a 119, which was quite impressive. I do my best to boost students’ confidence and realize that high scores are possible if they believe in themselves and use the best strategies to stay focused and organized. It’s great to see students look and sound more confident, organized, and focused when preparing to do their best. Their courage and strength to take on such a challenging test really motivates me to give my best as their teacher and coach. Later, when I hear that the results they get on the exam allow them to apply to their top university picks, it’s very inspiring to know that I played a small part in helping them make that possible.