Students across the globe often aspire to study at an English-speaking university. It’s no wonder, since 1.5 billion people speak English. Maybe you’ve heard of the TOEFL before when thinking about studying the language. But what is the TOEFL? Why do so many students spend years preparing for it?
TOEFL stands for Test of English as a Foreign Language.
The TOEFL tests your ability to read, write, listen, and speak English as a non-native speaker.
This test is accepted by over 10,000 universities throughout the world. Most schools in the US, Canada, and Europe prefer the TOEFL over other options.
The TOEFL is made up of 4 sections and is most often taken on a computer. You’ll have a break between the first two sections to give your brain time to relax. Your combined score from each of these sections will give you the overall score that will help you study, work, or live abroad.
In the reading section, you’ll read three or four passages on several different academic topics. They won’t be restricted to your major or area of expertise. So instead of honing your specific skillset, it’s best to improve your overall reading and comprehension skills.
Each passage has between 12-14 questions. You have to balance comprehension and time management since you only get an hour for all of the sections.
The listening section is similar to the reading section but relies on hearing spoken language instead of seeing it written down. In this section, you’ll listen to several speakers and be asked questions on what they are talking about. Some of these clips have multiple speakers talking to each other.
You’ll have to review anywhere from 6-10 audio clips. Each clip has between 5-6 questions to test your understanding of what was said. Some of these clips may have accents since not all English speakers have the same dialect.
For the speaking section, you’ll have to speak for about a minute on a variety of topics. For the first two, you’ll express opinions on topics that are probably familiar to you. The other tasks will ask you to talk about the reading passage and audio clips.
The writing section requires you to write two essays. The first requires you to read a short passage and write a summary of what you’ve read. The second asks you to write an opinion on a question. During this time you have to plan, structure, and write out your response to both of these tasks.
The TOEFL is the best way to demonstrate your English fluency. Most universities require a specific TOEFL score before you can apply. If you don’t have a good understanding of the language, it’ll be difficult for you to understand your studies.
At many universities, the other students are native speakers. Courses at a university cover advanced subject material. You’ll be learning concepts that most English speakers don’t use in their day to day lives. Even with a good understanding of the language, native speakers can have difficulty understanding the course material. Colleges and universities want to make sure any trouble you have learning the course material isn’t because of a hard time understanding the language.
Other people learn English because it’s a highly demanded skill by global employers. The majority of global business exchanges are done in English. Being able to communicate in the same language instead of just relying on an interpreter reduces the chance of misunderstandings. It also helps those involved feel better connected to their business partner and feel like they are on equal footing.
International perspectives help enrich companies and expand into other markets. When a company can communicate with people across the globe, it’s easier for them to gain a larger audience and in turn create larger profits.
What is TOEFL preparation? There are dozens of ways to prepare for the test. You could go to an English as a Second Language (ESL) program and study for a few years in an immersion environment.
Not all students can study abroad before being accepted into a university. There are thousands of resources available online to help you learn English. From YouTube videos to hiring an online tutor, you can find a way to learn the language that works best for you.
You will most likely find the best success by studying in an immersion environment. That means you live, breathe, and speak nothing but English. When you study only in the language you are trying to learn, you avoid trying to translate from one language to another. This helps you get a better understanding of the language and is closer to how native speakers learn to speak English.
With a thought-out plan, you can prepare for and ace the TOEFL.