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Starting With the Basics: Advice for Easier English Language Learning

Last Updated - March 06, 2017

Sometimes the true experts in life are real people like you. That is definitely the case with the TOEFL® test. Scholarship winners know what it’s like to be where you are now because they started out in the same place not too long ago. They remember the excitement and anticipation that a journey abroad can bring. Whether you share a common dream destination with previous test takers or you set out for an adventure that is all your own, most students start at the very same spot: studying for the TOEFL® test. Take a look at these tips from scholarship winners on how they achieved test day success.

Study a little each day to help you reach your goals

When asked about their pace on preparing for the TOEFL® test, the scholarship winners’ answers were universal. They advise other students to take a slow, steady pace and focus on consistency. This means putting in a little studying time every day, instead of trying to cram everything in at once. Seon Mi Hong of Korea suggests, “If you are a beginner, you should study English for at least an hour every day.” Maybe you can schedule time on your personal calendar, so you will be more likely to keep the study date with yourself!

Try out the many free and official TOEFL® preparation resources

If you are like many test takers, you can use some guidance on the best way to learn how to speak, listen to, read and write a new language.  These scholarship winners emphasize seeking out

help through online resources, many of which are free. One benefit many of these resources offer is practice tests. Karanveer Mohan of India said, “I would advise test takers to solve at least two practice tests and identify and study thesections  that need more attention.”

Here are a few FREE study resources to help you get started:

  • TOEFL® MOOC – 6-week online prep course with lessons from the experts, insiders’ advice and tips and real test questions for practice. Learn more about the MOOC which starts January 25th.
  • TOEFL iBT® Interactive Sampler – Unlimited access to past TOEFL iBT ® questions from all foursections  of the test that you can download. Find out more about the sampler.
  • TOEFL iBT® Test Questions (PDF) – Free set of TOEFL iBT® questions used in previous tests, so you can become familiar with the types of questions and test content. Get the PDF.
  • TOEFL iBT® Quick Prep – Four Quick Prep Volumes, each including questions from all foursections  of the test. Learn more about Quick Prep.
  • TOEFL iBT® Test Prep Planner (PDF) – Eight-week planner that helps you set weekly practice goals and stay on track. Get the planner.

Past test takers have found that using these free preparation resources with a friend can be even more helpful. Study partners can quiz each other, share tips, read each other’s practice test responses and take turns providing motivation!

Keep up your studying energy by starting out slowly

According to the scholarship winners, it is important to remember to begin at a beginner’s level when learning English. That means understanding basic grammar, simple words and sentence structure before trying to tackle anything complex. The following are some suggestions from past test takers:important  to remember to begin at a beginner’s level when learning English. That means understanding basic grammar, simple words and sentence structure before trying to tackle anything complex. The following are some suggestions from past test takers:

  • Read children’sbooks : Middle school textbooks  were helpful to Dong Chan Kim of Korea. For Akshay Gupta of India, starting with even simplertextbooks  was a good strategy: “I would recommend starting out with very basic storybooks and poems in English, like Dr. Seuss....”
  • Enjoy fiction novels: Sneha Kangralkar and Prashasthi Prabhakar of India credit their success on the TOEFL® test Reading section to English-language fiction novels.
  • Talk to people: Prabhakar’s advice for speaking skills is simply to talk to people in English. She suggested that you “think and frame your sentence before saying it; this will help you a lot when you are trying to convey something, and will help prevent you from stammering or losing your train of thought while talking.”
  • Turn to music and movies: Listening to lyrics and watching movies with subtitles were also popular skill-building choices for scholarship winners. So, try tuning in to your favorite tunes orwatching  great films for fun ways to start prepping!

Prioritize vocabulary for all 4 test sections

Whether you’re working on your speaking skills or trying to improve your listening, reading or writing, the more words you know in English, the better. Memorizing the meaning of many vocabulary words will help you comprehend passages and create more interesting responses. That is why scholarship winners from all over India and across the world recommend making vocabulary a priority during preparation.

Creating flashcards is also a great technique for memorizing new words. You can make them the old-fashioned way with index cards and a pencil or pen. There are also flashcard applications that you can download to yoursmartphone  to help you study.

Pursue your dreams with the TOEFL® test

While you are busy studying for the TOEFL® test, remind yourself of why you are putting in the effort. Imagine the exciting adventures that await you in another country. Think about the new friends you’ll meet and picture the successful career that you know you can achieve. Every scholarship winner dreamed big andwatched  those dreams become a reality. Now you can, too — register for the TOEFL® test today!


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