Teaching the TOEFL iBT

I’m about halfway through my extra winter intensives class. I’m teaching a class of 13 students some of the strategies necessary to do well on the TOEFL iBT test.

That stands for “Test of English as a Foreign Language — Internet Based Test.” It’s a very important test for Korean students.
It features six question types:
1) Sentence Insertion — These questions give students a sentence and then ask them to insert it into the paragraph so that it makes sense. The insertion points are marked by an A, B, C and D.
2) Facts and Inference — This question type asks students about info contained in the paragraphs or asks them to make an educated guess about something based on the information.
3) Sentence Paraphrasing — Students are asked to choose the answer choice that “best states the vital information in the highlighted sentence.”
4) Reference — This question type provides a word (usually a pronoun) and asks students to identify the word(s) to which it refers.
5) Vocabulary — Students are asked for the closest meaning to highlighted words.
6) Summarizing and Categorizing — This question type is usually worth 2 or 3 points and asks students to identify the main points of the essay or place information into appropriate categories.
Based on class performance, it appears that the two toughest question types for my kids are “Vocabulary” and “Facts and Inference.”
I needed to get the kids motivated to study the vocab, so I’m spending a little more time on it by playing “Stump the Chump” (which one of my students has renamed “Chump Chump”). I divide the class into two groups, and each student asks the other team’s students to define a vocabulary word.
If the second team gets it correct, that’s a point for them. But if they miss it, the first team gets the point. The winning team members get an extra point on the vocabulary test.
So far, it appears to be working. During Saturday’s class, we went through 19 vocabulary words before one team finally edged the other. I certainly hope it will improve their chances for success.

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