TOEFL: first step

There is only one month to go for my TOEFL exam and still much to improve.

I’m doing big efforts during last weeks in order to prepare the test. My goal is to get more than 100 and even more than 105. In any case, I will repeat it in summer if I don’t score at least 108.  It’s going to be hard to achieve that goal for the exam on March, but I’m doing my best.

Reading and Listening sections are quite simple and I get between 25 and 30 all the time. The goal is to make 28 in both, but there are always at least two questions that I do wrong. In order to improve these sections I do as follows. On the one hand, I read every day texts in English in forums, newspapers and blogs. Also, I used to read magazines such as The Economist or National Geographic (much harder) when I was in New York. On the other hand, the Listening is something I practice every day as there is a free TV channel here in Hong Kong called “Pearl”, which broadcasts in English many American TV Shows and a lot of movies. I like it a lot because before moving to HK I was afraid of not having any English speaking channels.

In the Writing section I always do quite well and I’m able to write good essays, although I need to improve it to get more than 25. In order to do that, I try to write as much as possible (blog, in forums or doing TOEFL tests).

The Speaking section is, without a doubt, the worst part. It is very difficult because many reasons. First of all, there is too short time to prepare the answers (about 15 seconds) and if you don’t find good ideas during that time then you are screwed up. Second, you have to start speaking right away and presenting the ideas with correct sentences, good pronunciation and grammar. My problem is that if I didn’t find good ideas during the preparation, then I have to find them while I’m speaking. As a result, I don’t pay much attention to the sentences I’m saying (thus bad grammar, bad pronunciation, etc.). And the worst scenario is when many times I get totally stuck in the middle of the speech, or when saying a sentence I suddenly realize that I don’t know how to say a word in English and then I don’t know how to continue.

Knowing that this section is my main weakness, I’m working hard to improve it. First, even if at work I speak a lot French, at home my wife is helping me and we speak in English as much as possible. Second, I try to read aloud some time every day. But this is not all, because I’ve found through Internet a web page offering 30 minutes English lessons for 9 euro. Yesterday I did a trial lesson with an American teacher and I was quite satisfied in how the guy helped me. I think I will get more lessons so he can help me with this TOEFL section.


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