With the emphasis on test scores today to get into American universities, it is easy to understand why many teachers feel the need to “teach to the test” instead of focusing on truly learning English. However, in terms of language acquisition, it is not possible to memorize a set of questions and answers in order to be successful on the TOEFL exam. Despite having a finite set of words, language has an infinite amount of possible combinations. What is required is a full-bodied understanding and ability to use the language.
The best approach to studying for the TOEFL is to build basic fluency in English and engage daily with English-speakers. The amount of vocabulary and grammatical structures that you will encounter in everyday conversations and authentic materials such as newspapers, TV shows, sales ads, paperwork and so on will build your fluency much faster than memorizing canned language from a textbook. To be successful on the TOEFL – you need to be successful in English. Focus on a balance of accuracy and fluency!
In the sports world – it is no different. Our ESL partner has had the pleasure of working with a variety of professional athletes from the LPGA, MLB, MLS, and even WWE. In one of our recent baseball ESL programs, we were able to display the progress of the students to the whole world when they were interviewed by a local newscast.
The students started at the beginner level and needed English for daily life and practice. Their instructor incorporated activities that engaged the whole learner – speaking, listening, reading, writing and cultural competence. By practicing dialogues that the students would have in their everyday interactions with English speakers, these players grew leaps and bounds in a matter of months!
They were equipped and encouraged to continue their English practice outside of the classroom every day. The players are now capable of interviewing live with reporters. They can talk with coaches, teammates, and fans. They can not only get around town, but they are set up for success and can pursue their dreams!
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