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"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more

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Discussion Details

Title: Role of TOEFL Exam in Language Learning
Submitter: P J
Description: It would be very helpful if anyone can provide answers to questions on the
role of the TOEFL exam in actual language learning.

I am asking because the university where I teach includes the TOEFL as 20%
of their final class grade, and also requires a score of 550 on the TOEFL
to graduate. Both of which, it seems to me, is severely wrongheaded.
Language is organic and complex, not something to be measured by an
arbitrary grid. At most, it seems to me, the TOEFL is a standardized
indicator of proficiency in understanding a highly contextualized language
use, and it is not that good an indicator either.

1. What percentage score increase in the TOEFL is reasonable to expect per
each hour of class time studying English?

2. How is the TOEFL accurate and useful, in any way, toward improving
language learning? In other words: how effective is teaching to the TOEFL
in increasing language knowledge/capacity?

3. Is it wise to include a TOEFL score as part of a student's grade? Does
it motivate them in the right ways and actually achieve good results?

4. What are the most effective ways (techniques, activities, emphasis,
etc) to teach to the TOEFL so as to have students achieve the highest
possible score increase over a 15 week (75 hour) English class?

Thoughts? Links? Research?

Many thanks,

Date Posted: 10-Aug-2009
Linguistic Field(s): Applied Linguistics
LL Issue: 20.2738
Posted: 10-Aug-2009

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