Showing posts from November, 2011

TOEFL woes

Since November 2010, I've been tutoring one of my Korean students for the TOEFL exam. He's taken the exam a couple of times and has done quite well. The biggest problem he has is the speaking section.

This makes me think. I have no trouble to understand what he says, and I find his vocabulary to be quite extensive and flexible, I think he speaks very well. But I am usually speaking to him face-to-face, where I can see his body language--the expressions on his face, how he is sitting, where his arms and legs are positioned, how he's arranged his hands, etc. All of these visual clues are completely lost in the TOEFL speaking section, which is just a recording of the student's voice.

It's a real pity that the TOEFL can't be changed so that the speaking section is Skyped or videotaped. Psychologists say that 90% of communication is done non-verbally (without words), in body language. All this richness of context and imagination is missing in the TOEFL audio recordi…

Is it easy for foreign students to study at college or university in the US?

This is a very good question, with several answers.

Here are some positives (YES answers):
1.The US has more than 4,000 public and private colleges and universities, ranging from technical colleges (where students learn a trade such as mechanical repair or hair care) all the way up to advanced degrees at prestigious universities (getting a PhD from Harvard, Yale or Princeton). The choice and variety of college and university educational programs is enormous, giving students the chance to go to the university of their dreams.

2. Most colleges and universities will accept any student who fits their admission criteria (TOEFL and SAT exam scores, secondary school grades, academic recommendations, and leadership experience), regardless of the student's ethnic or racial background. In the US, it's illegal to discriminate on the basis of religion, gender, age, country of origin or physical abilities. At least theoretically, all applicants have the same chance at being admitted, regar…

Study abroad: SAT and TOEFL exams

Every year over half a million foreign students attend colleges and universities in the US. These students come from countries around the world. The top two countries sending students to the US are India and China. Here is a map indicating which countries students come from to attend college or university in the US:

Each of these students had to take at least two major standardized exams in order to be admitted to a US college or university: TOEFL and SAT. Both tests are developed and administered by the College Board, a company bases in New Jersey.

Here is the website for TOEFL:

Here is the website for SAT:

Both websites have free practice questions, along with test dates and locations, information on which tests are needed for particular college admissions and other useful information. They are a good starting point for ex…

Winter and TOEFL/SAT lessons

Today there was some kind of white substance on the cars in the street outside my flat here in Prague. Was it snow? Ice? Hard to say. The sidewalks were wet, it was not as cold as it has been, and the air is still full of smog (smoke + fog). The stuff stayed on the stationery cars and the trees all day.

So it must be winter. Dec. 21 is the official first day of winter by the Western world's calendars, and it's only Nov. 16. But the first snow always ushers in winter, as I see it.

In the next few days I will post information about the American English Language Institute's Winter 2011-12 offerings. If you are interested in tutoring in English, please look at what we offer. Our main focus is on TOEFL and SAT test preparation for secondary school students. We also can help people with writing for academic purposes (at school or university) and have a few openings for Beginner's English, for qualified people.

I hope the smog goes away soon, as it's hard to breathe the s…