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Friday, 19 September 2008

20 Practical Tips of Taking TOEFL

1. Familiarize yourself with the three TOEFL formats (Internet-based, Computer-based, Paper-based)

Make sure you find out which test you will be taking before you start studying for the TOEFL. Most of the types of questions are similar, although there are a few new questions that can only be answered on a computer. The iBT and CBT use visual stimuli and have a written portion.

2. Research TOEFL score requirements

If you take the TOEFL in order to apply to a specific school or program, find out what the requirements are for the schools you are interested in going to. Remember that the scores for the paper based test are different than the scores for the CBT and iBT. The average minimum score required is approximately 550 (paper test) or 215 (CBT) or 70 (iBT). Many universities expect you to achieve higher writing skills than speaking skills. TOEFL scores are only valid for two years.

3. Learn academic English

TOEFL is used for a different purpose than other ESL tests. The TOEFL measures your ability to succeed in an American university or college. You don't have to know about the business world as you do in the TOEIC test. Instead, you should concentrate on studying language that you would hear on campus and terms that you would hear in the classroom. You should read textbooks, encyclopaedias, journals and research articles rather than advertisements and resumes.

4. Use practice tests

The best way to prepare for the TOEFL is to practice doing the tests. Find a textbook that has exercises, vocabulary, practice tests, CDs, and explanatory answers. Work on the sections that you find most challenging. Don't just rely on one book. You might have a book that is much easier than the official TOEFL. Look for free samples on the Internet to supplement your textbook.

5. Find a mentor

A reliable native English teacher who knows a lot about the TOEFL is one of the best resources a student can have. You will have many questions that your textbook can't answer for you. If you cannot afford a teacher or a tutor, find a student who has studied for the test before.

6. Build up your stamina

The TOEFL test takes a long time to write. If you are taking the paper based test it will take you about 2.5 hours. The iBT and CBT are much longer. You can expect to be at the computer for 4 hours. Many students have an attention span of about two hours. Remind yourself that it is a long test a few days before test day. It is absolutely necessary that you get a good night's sleep before this test. You cannot afford to be tired.

7. Arrive prepared

If you arrive at the test center with all of the things you need, you will feel calm and ready. If you are writing the paper based test you should have a number of pencils, a pencil sharpener, and a few erasers that don't smudge. You will also need a pen to write the essay on the CBT if you choose not to type it. It is also important that your identification looks valid. If you have had problems with your ID before, make sure to bring a backup photo. Don't forget any paper work that ETS sends you to prove that you have registered.

8. Pace yourself

Wear a watch. This is especially important if you are taking the paper based test. Some exam rooms do not have clocks. The CBT has a clock on the screen, however, you should still wear a watch to make sure that you arrive on time! Watch your time very closely. You should never spend longer than a minute on one question. You will only have 30 minutes to write the essay at the end of the CBT. Spend at least 5 minutes planning your essay. Save at least 5 minutes to check your work.

9. Use the tutorials

On the CBT there are tutorials to help you understand how to answer the questions properly. Don't skip the tutorials. You get extra time to use them. They will help you to feel comfortable.

10. Learn about the CAT (computer adaptive testing)

The first two sections of the CBT are computer adaptive. That means that you will be given a few questions that are of medium difficulty. After you answer those questions, the computer will determine which questions to give you next. The first 10-15 questions in each part are extremely important. If you answer these correctly, your score will be much higher.

11. Answer every question

Never leave a question blank. Eliminate all of the answers you know are wrong and then make an educated guess. On the CBT, you cannot skip a question and go back to it. You have to answer a question and confirm that you are happy with your answer. You cannot change your answers, so double check to be sure. The reading section is not computer adaptive. You can skip or change questions, but only if you have extra time. You can always go back and change questions on the paper test, but students rarely have time to do this.

12. Secrets for the Listening section

Don't look back at a listening question after you have decided on an answer. You should always try to read ahead. If you know the questions before you hear the passage you will have a head start. In the TOEFL iBT you are allowed to take notes. This in not permitted for the paper and computer based TOEFL. On the real test you will only hear everything once. You have to train your ears to listen right the first time.

13. Secrets for the Structure section

This section has been eliminated for the TOEFL iBT. You do not need to study for this section unless you are taking an old version of the TOEFL. Many students say that this is the most difficult part of the TOEFL test. The important thing is that you can identify the parts of the sentence. Always make sure that every sentence has a subject and a verb. Look at the punctuation in the sentence. You should be able to recognize the structure (for example, prepositional phrase or noun clause) even if you don't understand what the sentence means.

14. Secrets for the Reading section

Just like in the structure section, it is not important that you know every word in the reading section. Concentrate on the areas that the questions pertain to. Skim through the passage, read the questions, then read for more detail. The questions usually come in the order they appear in the passage. Anticipate the type of questions you will be asked in this section. At least 60 percent of the readings will have a main idea question. You will be asked at least two vocabulary questions from each reading. You will also be asked some detailed questions and some inference questions. You will not have time to reread a whole passage.

15. Secrets for the Writing section

You will have 30 minutes to write the essay on the CBT. The paper based tests is sometimes accompanied by the TWE (Test of Written English). You will not have access to a spell check function on the CBT. The most important thing is to keep your writing simple and clear. Don't use vocabulary and punctuation that you are unsure of. You will not impress the reader. When you practice for this section, find a format that you are comfortable with. Use this format every time. Always leave time to review what you have written. Read your essay silently in your head.

16. Make your corrections clear

If you are taking the paper test, remember that a machine will be marking your test. Only one circle must be filled in. Fill it in all the way using a sharp dark pencil. If you erase something, make sure it is completely erased. Many students lose points for being sloppy with their pencils and erasers.

17. Dress in comfortable clothing

Dress in comfortable layers on test day. You never know whether or not the test room will be cold or warm. Wear your favourite shirt. When you feel comfortable you perform better! Don't wear tight clothing. You have to sit in one place for a long time.

18. Make sure to eat before the test

Four hours is a long time to go without a snack. You will not be allowed to bring any food or drinks into the test room with you. Eat a sensible meal before you take the test. Avoid too much caffeine as it will give you the shakes. Don't consume large amounts of sugar right before the test. You will get tired very quickly.

19. Refer to the official TOEFL website

The official TOEFL website ( has a number of helpful things that you can download for free. They will supply you with a list of writing topics for the essay. You can also find important information about test centers and test updates. Many of your questions can be answered here. You will also get hints about which resources are worth buying.

20. Scores

Scores for the iBT are available online 15 days after you take the test. For paper based and computer based TOEFL contact the test center and ask for a Score Report Request Form. You can choose four institutions where you want your score to be sent to free of charge. You should bring this information with you on test day. If you are taking the CBT you will know your Listening and Reading score. You won't find out your Structure/Writing score until you get this information in the mail. If you wait until after test day, you will be charged approximately 12 US dollars for each institution that you wish to receive your score.

Source :

Monday, 15 September 2008

Reading Tips to Improve Your Pronunciation

  • Choose a paragraph and read aloud.
  • Choose a paragraph and mark each sentence with a sound script (helpful pronunciation markup). This will help you read more naturally, and thus pronounce correctly.
  • Choose a few sentences from your reading material and highlight content words. Read these sentences focusing on accenting these content words, while quickly speaking over the structure words. For more information on this technique read this article on English as a time-stressed language.
  • Once you become comfortable reading a single paragraph aloud, read an entire page by reading a paragraph aloud and then reading one silently.
  • Choose some nursery rhymes to practice. They will help you with pronunciation through rhythm.
  • Read a short story or a few paragraphs to a friend who is also studying English. Compare the differences and discuss what might be the reasons for the differences.
  • Choose a paragraph, short article or newspaper story with new vocabulary. Use the Babylon dictionary or other online pronunciation resource to help you learn the correct pronunciation of these words.
  • Read a play with some friends. Each friend takes a different part. Start with short scenes. Once you are comfortable, read longer pieces together.

Source : Kenneth Beare

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

850 Basic Words in English

Below are Odgon's 850 basic words in English. Read through and see how many words you're familiar with. It'll basically tell you what level of English proficiency you're at now.

OPERATIONS - 100 words

come, get, give, go, keep, let, make, put, seem, take, be, do, have, say, see, send, may, will, about, across, after, against, among, at, before, between, by, down, from, in, off, on, over, through, to, under, up, with, as, for, of, till, than, a , the, all, any, every, little, much, no, other, some, such, that, this, I , he, you, who, and, because, but, or, if, though, while, how, when, where, why, again, ever, far, forward, here, near, now, out, still, then, there, together, well, almost, enough, even, not, only, quite, so, very, tomorrow, yesterday, north, south, east, west, please, yes .

THINGS - 400 General words

account, act, addition, adjustment, advertisement, agreement, air, amount, amusement, animal, answer, apparatus, approval, argument, art, attack, attempt, attention, attraction, authority, back, balance, base, behavior, belief, birth, bit, bite, blood, blow, body, brass, bread, breath, brother, building, burn, burst, business, butter, canvas, care, cause, chalk, chance, change, cloth, coal, color, comfort, committee, company, comparison, competition, condition, connection, control, cook, copper, copy, cork, cotton, cough, country, cover, crack, credit, crime, crush, cry ,current, curve, damage, danger, daughter, day, death, debt, decision, degree, design, desire, destruction, detail, development, digestion, direction, discovery, discussion, disease, disgust, distance, distribution, division, doubt, drink, driving, dust, earth, edge, education, effect, end, error, event, example, exchange, existence, expansion, experience, expert, fact, fall, family, father, fear, feeling, fiction, field, fight, fire, flame, flight, flower, fold, food, force, form, friend, front, fruit, glass, gold, government, grain, grass, grip, group, growth, guide, harbor, harmony, hate, hearing, heat, help, history, hole, hope, hour, humor ice, idea, impulse, increase, industry, ink, insect, instrument, insurance, interest, invention, iron, jelly, join, journey, judge, jump, kick, kiss, knowledge, land, language, laugh, law, lead, learning, leather, letter, level, lift, light, limit, linen, liquid, list, look, loss, love, machine, man, manager, mark, market, mass, meal, measure, meat, meeting, memory, metal, middle, milk, mind, mine, minute, mist, money, month, morning ,mother, motion, mountain, move, music, name, nation, need, news, night, noise, note, number, observation, offer, oil, operation, opinion, order, organization, ornament, owner, page, pain, paint, paper, part, paste, payment, peace, person, place, plant, play, pleasure, point, poison, polish, porter, position, powder, power, price, print, process, produce, profit, property, prose, protest, pull, punishment, purpose, push, quality, question, rain, range, rate, ray, reaction, reading, reason, record, regret, relation, religion, representative, request, respect, rest, reward, rhythm, rice, river, road, roll, room, rub, rule, run, salt, sand, scale, science, sea seat, secretary, selection, self, sense, servant, sex, shade, shake, shame, shock, side, sign, silk, silver, sister, size, sky, sleep, slip, slope, smash, smell, smile, smoke, sneeze, snow, soap, society, son, song, sort, sound, soup, space stage start statement, steam, steel, step, stitch, stone, stop, story, stretch, structure substance sugar, suggestion, summer, support, surprise, swim, system, talk, taste, tax, teaching, tendency, test, theory, thing, thought, thunder, time, tin, top, touch, trade, transport, trick, trouble, turn, twist, unit, use, value, verse, vessel, view, voice, walk, war, wash, waste, water, wave, wax, way, weather, week, weight, wind, wine, winter, woman, wood, wool, word, work, wound, writing . year

THINGS - 200 Picturable word

sangle, ant, apple, arch, arm, army, baby, bag, ball, band, basin, basket, bath, bed, bee, bell, berry, bird, blade, board, boat, bone, book, boot, bottle, box, boy, brain, brake, branch, brick, bridge, brush, bucket, bulb, button, cake, camera, card, cart, carriage, cat, chain, cheese, chest, chin, church, circle, clock, cloud, coat, collar, comb, cord, cow, cup, curtain, cushion, dog, door, drain, drawer, dress, drop, ear, egg, engine, eye, face, farm, feather, finger, fish, flag, floor, fly, foot, fork, fowl, frame garden, girl, glove, goat, gun, hair, hammer, hand, hat, head, heart, hook, horn, horse, hospital, house, island, jewel, kettle, key, knee, knife, knot, leaf, leg, library, line, lip, lock, map, match, monkey, moon, mouth, muscle, nail, neck, needle, nerve, net, nose, nut, office, orange, oven, parcel, pen, pencil, picture, pig, pin, pipe, plane, plate, plough/plow, pocket, pot, potato, prison, pump, rail, rat, receipt, ring, rod, roof, root, sail, school, scissors, screw, seed, sheep, shelf, ship, shirt, shoe, skin, skirt, snake, sock, spade, sponge, spoon, spring, square, stamp, star, station, stem, stick, stocking, stomach, store, street, sun, table, tail, thread, throat, thumb, ticket, toe, tongue, tooth, town, train, tray, tree, trousers, umbrella, wall, watch, wheel, whip, whistle, window, wing, wire, worm .

QUALITIES - 100 Generalable

acid, angry, automatic, beautiful, black, boiling, bright, broken, brown, cheap, chemical, chief, clean, clear, common, complex, conscious, cut, deep, dependent, early, elastic, electric, equal, fat, fertile, first, fixed, flat, free, frequent, full, general, good, great, grey/gray, hanging, happy, hard, healthy, high, hollow, important, kind, like, living, long, male, married, material, medical, military, natural, necessary, new, normal, open, parallel, past, physical, political, poor, possible, present, private, probable, quick, quiet, ready, red, regular, responsible, right, round, same, second, separate, serious, sharp, smooth, sticky, stiff, straight, strong, sudden, sweet, tall, thick, tight, tired, true, violent, waiting, warm, wet, wide, wise, yellow, young .

QUALITIES - 50 Opposites

awake, bad, bent, bitter, blue, certain, cold, complete, cruel, dark, dead, dear, delicate, different, dirty, dry, false, feeble, female, foolish, future, green, ill, last, late, left, loose, loud, low, mixed, narrow, old, opposite, public, rough, sad, safe, secret, short, shut, simple, slow, small, soft, solid, special, strange, thin, white, wrong .

Source :

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Tips To Improve Your Foreign Language (English Language) Skills

Learning a second language can be a daunting task. If you are lucky enough to have bilingual parents or attended a school that taught second languages, that's great. But what if you are older now and interested in learning a second language? The good news is there are many helpful tools for you to access.

Learning an additional language is beneficial in many ways. You can easily communicate in other language and express your thoughts, ideas and opinions in a different language. Some languages help in strengthening your interaction with others and you can increase your dealings and businesses to get better profit.

Foreign languages are not easy to learn. A person needs to work hard on vocabulary, grammar, and expressions to get the basics correctly. Here are some tips that help you to get learn a language faster and easily:

1. Spend More Time

To grasp a language in a perfect manner, you need to spend more time on the language. You need to read different books written in your preferred language. Listening to music and conversation in that particular language will help you to get correct pronunciation and usage. Take foreign language help if you face any difficulty. You can also practice it by conversing it with people.

2.Computer Programs

If you enjoy learning with multimedia programs on the computer, there are several different brands that you can use. Most combine visual flashcard-type lessons or video with the ability to practice speaking the language using a microphone. An excellent example is Rosetta Stone software. They use a total immersion method, which can be a little frustrating at first but if you stay with it, you will see your comprehension develop.

3. Travel Abroad

Taking up frequent trips to different countries of the world will help you to understand their practices and culture. You can see and understand their values, traditions and importance of language attached to it. Sometimes you may come across the native tongue of a particular area and learn few words.

4.On-Line Programs

There are many programs for learning a second language on-line. This gives you the advantage of being able to study from any computer and gives you immediate access. Rosetta Stone has an on-line version. There are also many language reference and dictionary websites.

5.Learn the Essence of the Languages

Languages are the essence of a persons existence. It is the perfect medium to share your mindset with others and gives you a chance to analysis others' thoughts and actions. It is difficult to survive without any language, so value it and learn it thoroughly.

6.Audio Programs

If you don't have a computer or prefer to learn while doing other things like sitting in rush hour traffic, an audio program may be best for you. I recommend the Pimsleur programs. They combine an instructor with native speakers that let you hear a word or phrase and then give you a chance to repeat it. In fact, you may get sick of repeating it but you will learn it.

7.Complete Immersion

By far, the best way to learn a language is by living in a country that speaks the language. Of course you will still need to use one or more of the above methods but if you can do it while living around people who speak the language, you will learn much faster and speak better. No matter how good the program or class is, it is not exactly the same as actually living the language. You may not be able to actually move to another country but if you can spend 2 weeks to a month studying there, it will be well worth it.

source :Johny Rider /

Saturday, 6 September 2008

5 Amateur Tips How to Increase Your Writing Skill

Let's start from the simple one.

1. Try to write in English
Why dont you try to write in English a simple sentence or shortmail such as your mail. I'm sure you can do this.

2. Just read anything in English
Newspaper, story, magazine or anything that you like. Learn how the writer arranged the sentence and paragraph. I'm sure you will get something. New vocabularies, how toarrange a good sentence etc etc

3. Prepare your dictionary and grammar book

When you write,always check and re-check again that you use the correct word. Also,check the grammar too. I always use word processor program (such as,MS Office or Open Office) to help me check the spelling and grammar.Trust me, it's much easier than doing it manually.

4. Try writing blog in English

If you like to write, why dont you try writing blog like me. You can write in free blogging software such us Blogger, Wordpress, Multiply etc. Or,microblogging such as Plurk, Twitter,Kronologer. Some of my friends did this. They just wrote their daily/hourly activity in short message like SMS. If i'm not mistaken a message should be not larger than 140 characters. Hmm...easy, isn't it? As far as I know, indonesianmicroblogger is just a few. So, they had to interract with other user who are foreigner and speak the same language, English. They said that their skill has improved than before.

5. Always learn and learn

Last but not least, keep the spirit and your confidence. If you are not trust yourself, then who will? So, keep practice and practice.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Introduction of TOEFL

The Test of English as a Foreign Language (or TOEFLs, pronounced "toe-full" or sometimes "toy-ful") evaluates the potential success of an individual to use and understand Standard America English at a college level. It is required for non-native applicants at many English-speaking colleges and universities. Additionally, institutions such as government agencies, businesses, or scholarship programs may require this test. A TOEFL score is valid for two years and then is deleted from the official database. Colleges and universities usually consider only the most recent TOEFL score.

The TOEFL test is a registered trademark of Educational Testing Service (ETS) and is administered worldwide. The test was first administered in 1964 and has since been taken by nearly 20 million students.

Formats and Contents

A. Internet-Based Test

Since its introduction in late 2005, the Internet-Based test (iBT) has progressively replaced both the Computer Based (CBT) and Paper Based (PBT) ests. The iBT has been introduced in phases, with the United States, Canada, France,Germany, and Italy in 2005 and the rest of the world in 2006, with test centers added regularly.

Although the demand for test seats was very high, and candidates had to wait for months, it is now possible to take the test within one to four weeks in most countries. The four-hour test consists of four sections, each measuring mainly one of the basic language skills (although some tasks may require multiple skills) focusing on language used in an academic, higher-education environment. Note-taking is allowed during the iBT. The test cannot be taken more than once a week.

1. Reading
The reading section consists of 3–5 long passages and questions about the passages. The passages are on academic topics; they are the kind of material that might be found in an undergraduate university textbook. Students answer questions about main ideas, details, inferences, sentence restatements, sentence insertion, vocabulary, function and overall ideas. New types of questions in the iBT require paraphrasing, filling out tables, or completing summaries. Generally prior knowledge of the subject under discussion is not necessary to come to the correct answer, though a priori knowledge may help.

2. Listening
It consists of six long passages and questions about the passages. The passages consist of two student conversations and four academic lectures or discussions. The questions ask the students to determine main ideas, details, function, stance, inferences, and overall organization.

3. Speaking
It consists of six tasks, two independent tasks and four integrated tasks. In the two independent tasks, students must answer opinion questions about some aspect of academic life. In two integrated reading, listening, and speaking tasks, students must read a passage, listen to a passage, and speak about how the ideas in the two passages are related. In two integrated listening and speaking tasks, students must listen to long passages and then summarize and offer opinions on the information in the passages. Test takers are expected to convey information, explain ideas, and defend opinions clearly, coherently, and accurately.

4. Writing
The Writing Section consists of two tasks, one integrated task and one independent task. In the integrated task, students must read an academic passage, listen to an academic passage, and write about how the ideas in the two passages are related. In the independent task, students must write a personal essay.

3 passages and 39 questions 60 minutes

6 passages and 34 questions 50 minutes

6 tasks and 6 questions 20 minutes

2 tasks and 2 questions 55 minutes

It should be noted that at least one of the sections of the test will include extra, uncounted material. Educational Testing Service
includes extra material to try out material for future tests. If the test taker is given a longer section, he must work hard on all of the materials because he does not know which material counts and which material is extra. For example, if there are four reading passages instead of three, three of the passages will count and one of the passages will not be counted. It is possible that the uncounted passage could be any of the four passages

B. Paper-Based Test

In areas where the iBT and CBT are not available, a paper-based test (PBT) is given. Because test takers cannot register at the testing center on the test date, they must register in advance using the registration form provided in the Suplemental Paper TOEFL Bulletin. They should register in advance of the given deadlines to ensure a place because the test centers have limited seating and may fill up early. Tests are administered only several times each year.

The PBT tests essentially the same skills as the CBT, albeit with some differences, noticeably the number of questions (which is higher in the PBT) and the score scales. The test lasts 4 hours more or less. Students can take the test as many times as they wish. However, colleges and universities usually consider only the most recent score.

1. Listening (30-40 minutes)
It consists of three parts. The first one contains 30 questions about short conversations. The second part has 8 questions about longer conversations. The last part asks 12 questions about lectures or talks.

2. Structure and Written Expression (25 minutes)
This part has 15 exercises of completing sentences correctly and 25 exercises of identifying errors.

3. Reading Comprehension (55 minutes)
It has 50 questions about reading passages.

4. Writing (30 minutes)
One essay with 250-300 words in average

Source : wikipedia