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TOEFL Tip #61: 3 Questions Every TOEFL Tutor Should Be Able to Answer

by Strictly English TOEFL Tutors on October 23, 2009

Strictly English has a list of 21 questions about the TOEFL iBT exam that we use when interviewing TOEFL tutors. If they cannot answer these questions correctly, then they don’t get the job!

If you’re looking for an iBT tutor, make sure he or she can answer at least these three questions below. If your tutor cannot answer these questions, then you might want someone who knows more about the test to be teaching you!

QUESTIONS:
1. Can I get a 25 out of 30 on the Speaking section of the iBT?
2. What section of the TOEFL iBT asks you questions that directly test your knowledge of Grammar?
3. On what part of the iBT are you most likely to use modals?

ANSWERS:
1. NO. TOEFL does not give a score of 25 on the Speaking.
2. NONE: There are NO grammar questions on the iBT.
3. Speaking Task 5. It is the only place where you talk about offering suggestions.

EXTRA NOTE: Make sure you see the tutor’s TOEFL SCORE. Even if he/she is a native English speaker, your tutor should have taken the TOEFL so that he/she knows exactly what you’ll experience on test day. Every Strictly English tutor has taken the TOEFL. This also means that we know exactly how the real test is different from what is taught in the books. Much of the information in the books is out of date because the books were published 3-5 years ago. TOEFL books should be updated at least every 2 years if not every year. If your tutor is not taking the test regularly, then he/she is relying on information in the books, which is usually old and out-of-date information.

TOEFL Tip #57: Study For TOEFL Topics In Your Native Language

by Strictly English TOEFL Tutors on August 23, 2009

Here is a Tweet from Twitter that I thought was interesting:

my TOEFL textbook is totally brutal. lotta words even I can’t understand in my mother tongue lol

Now, because TOEFL is a test of ENGLISH, I usually do not suggest that people study for it in their own language. You should immerse yourself in English as much as possible. But there is one time when I think using your own language is a good idea: to learn about common TOEFL topics.

This student above is finding it hard to understand the topics in his TOEFL book even in his own language. Therefore, studying the basics of biology, chemistry, American history, geology, art, psychology, etc. in your own language will make it easier for you to understand these topics in English. Once you are familiar with the idea of, for example, symbiosis in your native tongue, then reading and listening about it in English will be much easier.

GOOD LUCK!

TOEFL Tip # 53: Improving TOEFL Comprehension Via 360 Research

by Strictly English TOEFL Tutors on July 30, 2009

Since TOEFL is a Test of ENGLISH as a Second Language, you can greatly improve your TOEFL score by improving your English comprehension. One way to do that is to initiate a 360-review of an academically-oriented or politically-focused news story. 360-Research means looking at the story from all possible angles. For example, you could:

1. Read about the story in respected American news papers such as The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and The Huffington Post.

2. Read about the story in respected English-Language magazines, such as The Economist, The New Yorker, and Slate.com.

3. Listen to radio reports about the story on NPR.org or on respected radio shows like On Point, Talk of the Nation, Here and Now, or The Diane Rehm Show.

4. Watch videos about the story on youtube.com or on your local Public Television station.

5. Look up key ideas relevant to the story

6. Follow the story on Twitter.com

7. Read about the story in your own language.

This last point is very helpful. Because it is hard to understand the more subtle ideas in news stories, it is often good to read about the story first in your own language. That way you’ll understand the story, which will improve your comprehension of the story in English. Once you understand the story in your own language, then you’ll be able to focus on how the English is conveying the same idea. This is particularly helpful when the entire story focuses on one central idea or quotation. For example, do a search in your own language for Judge Sotomayor’s statement that “a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.” In Spanish, one blogger translated this as una latina inteligente podría tomar mejores decisiones que un hombre blanco que no ha tenido las mismas experiencias vitales”, and if you search the web in Spanish for “Sotomayor,” you’ll find every hit mentions “latina inteligente”. So when you read “wise latina” in English, you’ll quickly figure out that WISE must mean INTELIGENTE, since you’ve seen “latina inteligente” 20-30 times already.

Here are some links to get you started for a more recent story: The Arrest of Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

NEW YORK TIMES

BOSTON GLOBE

THE HUFFINGTON POST

THE NEW YORKER

Slate.com

Talk of the Nation

PBS: (click on the STREAMING VIDEO link)

Youtube

RELEVANT LINKS:

Definition of racial profiling.

article about racial profiling.

Definition of 911 calls.

Definition of sensitivity training.

Article on how diversity training doesn’t work.

JAPANESE ARTICLES

Do this once a week on a new topic, and your English will improve much more quickly!

GOOD LUCK!

TOEFL Tip #52: Praise For Online Tutoring

by Strictly English TOEFL Tutors on July 23, 2009

The following two quotations come from this article:

The Sloan report, based on a poll of academic leaders, says that students generally appear to be at least as satisfied with their on-line classes as they are with traditional ones. In fact, the comprehension is better in a virtual class than in an in-person class.

Test preps like GRE and GMAT are intensive studies. In such deep studies, a wholesale classroom treatment can not be as effective as the one-to-one online tutoring. Many who have been gullible victims of the public-meeting type of classroom tutorials with over fifty students and  with no chance to clarify their doubts, will understand the difference between mass teaching and private coaching.

So don’t be afraid to sign up for online tutoring!

TOEFL Tip #49: Strictly English Will Launch TOEFL Videos July 15th!

by Strictly English TOEFL Tutors on July 8, 2009

Strictly English has been working on a series of HOW TO videos about the TOEFL test. For example:
How to sign up at ETS.
How to register for the TOEFL.
How to View your TOEFL results online.

We will also be making videos that will help you improve your TOEFL English!

TOEFL Tip #39: Test Taker’s Feedback

by Strictly English TOEFL Tutors on June 14, 2009

Hi Jon!
Sorry for taking so long to get back to you!

I did my exam ok and I feel quite comfortable with what I have done!

To be honest, the it was a little bit tougher than I thought. The reading I did well. I knew most of the words so I’m quite happy with that! The listening was faster and longer than I expected! The speaking section, I think I did better than ever, I tried to remember what you told me about “pace myself, take a short breath between sentences ..” I felt really calm and seemed not to be nervous at all. So, I answered all the 6 questions quite well. Thank you for that.

Writing was a little bit rushed, I was running out of time but still finished everything, including proof-reading! I wrote quite a lot, about > 350 words for the second essay.

Again, thanks for your help during the time I practiced. you have been a great help for me.! God blesses you!
Hope you are having a nice weekend!

TOEFL Tip #31: Student Questions Are TOEFL Questions

by Strictly English TOEFL Tutors on April 9, 2009

In the Listening Section of the TOEFL, there is a class discussion in which the teacher and some students talk about an academic topic. If a student asks a question during the class discussion, there is a strong likelihood that TOEFL will ask you the same, or a similar, question on the test. So be extra attentive when listening to student questions on the test.

TOEFL Tip #27: Types Of Listening

by Strictly English TOEFL Tutors on April 3, 2009

There are three types of listenings on the Listening Section of the TOEFL:


Conversations.
Class Discussions.
Academic Lectures.

Each of these types of listenings have a particular focus and require different strategies.

TOEFL Tip #22: Tricky Main Ideas

by Strictly English TOEFL Tutors on March 3, 2009

Often the listening section tricks you into thinking that the first thing mentioned in the lecture is what the lecture is about. Very often: THIS IS NOT THE CASE.  Many times, the lecture begins with a summary of the last class’s topic or of the reading homework that the students did the night before. Then the lecture transitions to “today’s topic” which is often in opposition to the previous class or the homework.  You must learn to identify when this transition occurs or else you’ll mistakenly think that the beginning of the lecture announces the topic of the lecture.

TOEFL Tip #14: Podcasts Can Help With Listening

by Strictly English TOEFL Tutors on January 10, 2009

iTunes has a great FREE podcast if you want to practice listening. it’s called ESL Podcast

What I suggest you do is download some of the episodes to your iTunes.  Then click on the little “i” button in the DESCRIPTION column. That will open up a window in which you will find the transcript of the listening.
Play the listening and read aloud the transcript at the same time you’re listening. Try to match your voice to the speaker’s voice. This will help you to learn how to speak with a more natural rhythm in English!
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