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20 Questions to Ask Before You Choose a TOEFL Course

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Joined: 01 Oct 2009
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 24, 2010 6:43 pm    Post subject: 20 Questions to Ask Before You Choose a TOEFL Course Reply with quote

Before you sign up for a TOEFL course or hire a TOEFL teacher, make sure you ask these 20 questions to be sure you are getting the best help possible.

1. What are the teachers’ nationalities
If you are not familiar with the American accent, you will have to practice a lot, since most of the voices in the test have American or Canadian accents, and a teacher with such an accent will be best for you. Nevertheless, there are some Australian and British accents too, thus, if these pose a bigger problem for you, you better get a teacher who speaks them.

2. Is the school a TOEFL test centre?
It’d be great if you could take the test at your school because it will show the school is serious about teaching TOEFL; it will save you travel time, and will help your confidence by being in a familiar environment.

3. How many TOEFL students does the school get yearly and how many students are there in total?
The more TOEFL students, the better the school teaches TOEFL.

4. Does the school offer self-study materials one can borrow to prepare for the test?
It is always better if you can find such a school; it shows they are well-prepared to help in every way.

5. Is the TOEFL examination mentioned in the school’s website, pamphlets, and signs?
All these tell you the school is serious about teaching TOEFL.

6. Is there a TOEFL class currently active or will they put you on a waiting list?
A waiting list is not convenient because it tells you the school doesn’t normally teach TOEFL and you may be delayed by their schedules.

7. Have the teachers written TOEFL books or materials?
This will not happen often, but it would be awesome if you could learn from such a person.

8. How much experience do the teachers have teaching TOEFL?
You want to find a teacher with over a year of experience preparing students to take the test; the more experience, the better they understand the exam.

9. If the teachers have no TOEFL experience, have they at least taught for other international examinations?
These are similar to TOEFL, thus you will know they have a bit of understanding about what you need.

10. For how long has the school been teaching TOEFL?
A good TOEFL school will have several years of experience teaching it; a year won’t do to understand the test well.

11. Do they only use English in class?
You must practice your English listening intensively, thus, you should prefer an English-only class.

12. Do you have to pass a test to enter the TOEFL class?
If this is not a requirement, your class may be full of students of different levels, and it will be difficult for the teacher to give the information every single student needs. TOEFL students should be separated by levels, according to their knowledge.

13. How long is the course and will all the students remain for the same length of time?
There are courses that last a month and are devoted to training for the test, thus, the students attending are taking the exam in a month, while other courses help you raise your English level in a year’s period in order to do much better in the test.

14. Does the course include as much language development as exam training and tips, and how much of each?
If you plan to take the exam soon, more training and tips will be good, however, if you need to study more to perfect your skills, you will require more language development.

15. If there is a textbook, how many hours of study does it take to complete?
Sometimes, one-month courses are not enough to complete the book, which is a waste of money. If this is your case, look for a school that offers photocopied materials included in the course’s cost.

16. How often are the TOEFL classes?
It is best to study one hour, twice a week, than two hours once a week, because you will remember the language better for the next class.

17. Is there a discount if you take a Business ESL class along with the TOEFL class?
If you have TOEFL classes only once a week, you should sign up for other classes to reinforce the language.

18. Are the TOEFL students really motivated to take the test?
In some cases, students are forced to take these classes even if they are not interested in taking the test, making the class lose focus and motivation. You want a class where students are eager to take the test.

19. If you don’t improve your TOEFL score by “x” amount, does the school give you a free course or a refund?
This is not the rule, because how much self-study you do is more important than the class itself, however, if you can find a school that offers it, this shows the school is serious and confident about its teachers’ capacity to teach TOEFL, and the teachers will most certainly make you study hard.

20. Does the school offer TOEFL practice online?
This saves students a lot of money, makes practice more interesting, and you can study from anywhere, even without your textbook.

Rachel Clarkson
Rachel Clarkson is an English teacher at LCI English ESL Programs and blogger at the ESL Blog.
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