If you’re struggling to reach 100 in TOEFL or 7.0 in IELTS, there’s a strong possibility that it’s not just your strategy that you need to work on. You probably also need to improve your English.
Of course, you may have been lucky and had some great English teachers at school, or you may have had the opportunity to study abroad. But for most Japanese people, even if you went to good schools, your English probably didn’t get to a high enough level to achieve top scores in the TOEFL or IELTS tests. But why is that?
Well, there are two fundamental problems – how you studied, and what you studied.
At school, you probably had English lessons where the students were quite passive – a lot of listening to the teacher, a lot of grammar translation, and a lot of vocabulary tests. This means that you probably have a lot of knowledge of English, which is good, but TOEFL and IELTS are not just testing your knowledge. These tests assess how you can use English in realistic scenarios that you will encounter when you study abroad.
The range of English vocabulary and grammar you studied at school was probably also too narrow, too basic, and quite unnatural. Here’s a real example from a student showing some common problems:
‘My trip to Kyoto was good because I could enjoy various dishes.’
This sentence has several problems:
- ‘My trip to Kyoto was good.’ – this is not grammatically wrong, but it sounds a little unnatural. Native speakers are more likely to use a different expression, the word ‘good’ is very common and basic, and native speakers would usually use stronger language to express this idea, like this: ‘I had a fantastic time in Kyoto.’
- ‘because I could enjoy various dishes.’ – here, there is some direct translation from Japanese, ‘various’ is used wrongly, and ‘dishes’ sounds unnatural when used in this context. This is better: ‘mainly because of the great food.’
So this sounds much more natural and high level:
‘I had a fantastic time in Kyoto, mainly because of the great food.’
If you can already produce this kind of sentence, then you’re probably at the right level to get 100 in TOEFL or 7.0 in IELTS. If not, you might need to work on your English!
If this sounds like you, then check out the second in our series of videos about our new ‘Essential English‘ course here. You’ll find another useful example of how to change your English there.
You can join the Essential English course from April 6th 2019.
The course is specially for TOEFL and IELTS students who are currently scoring 70-89 (TOEFL), or 5.5-6.0 (IELTS) who need to improve their English. The classes are very active and lively – so you’ll get plenty of opportunity to use the language you’re learning, and get feedback from your teacher.
For more information, please visit the Essential English home page here. You can also register for a free demonstration lesson here on these dates:
Saturday 16th March, 14:30-16:00
Saturday 30th March, 15:00-16:30
Saturday 6th April, 14:30-16:00
Hope to see you soon!
Mike Thundercliffe, Manager Curriculum and Instruction, Agos Japan