Be Prepared! What You Need to Know About the TOEFL/IELTS Test Preparation

English Corner cc_2.0

Are you a non-native English speaker thinking about taking the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or the IELTS (International English Language Testing System) preparation course? Course instructor Sarka Faltinova shares with us answers to frequently asked questions about what one can look forward to from the TOEFL/IELTS preparation class.

First off, what is the difference between the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) and IELTS (International English Language Testing System)?

The TOEFL is only accepted by organizations and higher education institutions in North America. It's internet based. That means there is no personal interaction with the student and the test examiner. The test is recorded and only American English is used.

The IELTS, on the other hand, is accepted worldwide, not just in North America. It is a paper-based examination that also has speaking as well as listening sections. For the speaking part, the examiner asks questions and for the listening part, the test-taker is expected to be able to understand different varieties of English spoken with different accents.

How does someone determine which test is best for their needs?

Both tests have been created for the same purpose, to test if our international students are ready to study academic subjects in English on a college level. 

TOEFL has been around forever and most are only familiar with it, not the IELTS.  Students should check into their options.  Some people have been practicing TOEFL style only, as there are many study guides available in book stores and libraries with countless practice tests.

Those students who have been struggling with TOEFL, and can’t quite reach the required score, should try IELTS.  

I personally wouldn’t take any of those tests without preparation, either in-class or self-study.  One has to become familiar with the type of tasks found in the tests in order to succeed.

What are some advantages and disadvantages of online test preparation versus an in-person class such as yours?

Online preparation will give you practice tests, but no real interaction with classmates and teachers.  This interaction/communication is another way of practicing your developing listening and speaking skills.  In addition, you are actively challenged to use and apply grammar points as well as useful expressions such as collocations, synonyms and academic words. This is beneficial because there is an immediate feedback opportunity combined with “teaching moments” which can only pop up in-person and be addressed at that very moment. Another advantage of taking a class is that we discuss different studying techniques and how to tackle different test tasks.  

From your experience, is there any one method that’s best when it comes to learning a new language?

Only practice, practice, practice—and do not try to figure out why these grammar rules have been created, just accept them and apply them! Sometimes they don’t make any sense and that’s just how it works. One thing is absolutely true about learning languages; “If you don’t use it, you will lose it.“

What are some common challenges you see students encountering when it comes to preparing for the TOEFL abd IELTS tests? Do you have suggestions for how best to overcome them?

Time, time, time... Each test task has a certain time limit - reading, writing and speaking and that requires a lot of practice not just in class but also while doing homework.  Always give yourself a time limit.  As I have already mentioned, in our class we talk about different techniques that help with this type of time management.

What can students expect to learn if they take your TOEFL/IELTS Preparation class?

In this class we integrate all 4 language skills (reading, writing, speaking and listening) and focus on their improvement through test-taking techniques, strategies and tips. Students can look forward to expanding their vocabulary bank by adding new colloquial expressions and academic words. In the class we integrate full-length practice tests to simulate a test-taking atmosphere.

All in all, we work hard and also have a lot of fun.

Learn more about Continuing Education's class for TOEFL/IELTS Test Preparation.

Photo #2 Credit English Corner cc_2.0

Posted on: March 31st, 2015 at 12:15:26

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