TOEFL iBT®午後3時開始の本試験!–by教務部

生徒さんのお一人から、先週土曜(8月24日)に「午後3時開始のTOEFL iBT®本試験を受験した」という情報がありました。そこで、当校の講師がプロメトリックに電話で確認をした結果、以下の情報を得ることができました。

・8/24(土)、9/21(土)に15:00 startの試験がある(あった)

・9/21(土)15:00 startは満席の状態

・10月以降は未定

・会場は、御茶ノ水ソラシティと中津のみ

・「15:00 startの試験」実施について容易に分かる方法はなく、
プロメトリックに確認するか、個人ページでまめに確認するしかない

・「15:00 startの試験」実施理由は、受験者の増加

・平日試験の予定は、とりあえず今年度中はなし

以上、ご参考まで。

The shorter TOEFL iBT ® TestのReading Passagesの長さは変わるの?― by 岡田徹也

皆さん、こんにちは。TOEFL/GMAT/GRE講師の岡田です。
本年8月1日より、TOEFL iBT® Testの試験時間が短縮されること、Reading SectionとListening Sectionの問題数が減ることがETSより発表されました。
そこで、Reading SectionのPassageの長さ、Listening SectionのLectureとConversationの長さに変更があるのかどうかをETSに問い合わせてみました。
ETSのGlobal Client RelationsのAssociate Directorという方から以下の回答を頂きましたので、共有します。

**************************
1. There is no change to the length of the Reading passages. The only change in this section is that there will be fewer questions (10 rather than 12-14) per passage.

2. There is no change in the length of the lectures in Listening. The only change in this
section is that test takers will listen to fewer lectures (3-4 rather than 4-6).

3. There is no change in the length of conversations in Listening.
**************************

Reading SectionのPassageの長さ、Listening SectionのLectureとConversationの長さに変更はないそうです。

また、8月の受験前にOfficial GuideなどでThe shorter TOEFL iBT ® Testの対策をしたい、と伝えたところ、

**************************
We don’t have a date yet for the publication of a new Official Guide. However, all existing test preparation materials can continue to be used as the shortened test has no new item types and the additional length of the practice tests can provide useful practice for test takers.
**************************

という回答でした。
残念ながら、8月までにOfficial Guideが改訂されることはなさそうですが、現在のOGで対策はできそうです。

TOEFL iBT® SpeakingセクションではTask 1と5がなくなります(本年8月から)- by 加藤正人

こんにちは。

先日教務部からのお知らせとして、本年8月1日以降に、TOEFL iBT®本試験の試験時間と問題数が削減されることをお知らせいたしました。

そこで、Speakingセクションに関して「Task 1と5がなくなる」という噂が関係者の間で飛び交っていたため、私から直接ETSにこの件を問い合わせてみました。
そうすると、ETSのGlobal Client RelationsのAssociate Directorという方から、「確かに、削除するのはTask 1と5である」という明確な返答が来ました。

以上、お知らせいたします。

TOEFL iBT®️本試験が変わります – by 教務部

本年8月1日より、TOEFL iBT®️本試験が以下の点で変わることが、ETSから公式発表されました:

 

(1)試験時間が短縮されます

現在4時間ほどの試験時間が3時間半ほどになります。

 

(2)問題数が減ります

下記がその内訳です:

Reading Section: 全部で3~4パッセージ出題される点は変わりませんが、1パッセージにつき12~14設問だったところが10設問になります。セクション全体の解答時間は54〜72分です。

Listening Section: 会話1本につき5設問、講義1本につき6設問の点は変わりませんが、講義が4~6本だったところが3~4本になります。(会話は2~3本のままです。)

Speaking Section: 全部で6タスクだったところが4タスクになります。その内訳は、Independent taskが2本から1本へ、Integrated taskは4本から3本へと減少します。

Writing Section: 変更なし。

 

以上ですが、より詳しくは下記のETSサイトをご参照ください:

https://www.ets.org/toefl/better_test_experience

 

 

 

Why background knowledge is vital for TOEFL®/IELTS success

Do you ever feel that your performance on the TOEFL® or IELTS test ‘depends on the topic’? If topics you know about and are interested in come up, you get a higher score, but when you get unfamiliar or boring topics, your score goes down.

Well, a lot of students complain about this, so it seems that having some knowledge about the common TOEFL®/IELTS topics can affect your score. Of course, the makers of TOEFL®and the makers of IELTS would argue that you don’t need any specialist knowledge of any topic to perform  well in the tests. However, it certainly makes things quicker and easier and gives you more confidence if you know something about the topics in the test you’re taking.

In some cases, you can even answer questions without reading or listening. Here are a couple of examples of reading questions from the TOEFL® Official Guide (5th Edition) that I answered correctly without reading a word of the texts. Take a look at this one – can you get the correct answer?

Topic: Politics/History (from Practice Test 1, The Official Guide to the TOEFL® Test, Fifth Edition, p. 226)

3. The author mentions “bankers and investors” in the passage as an example of which of the following?

A. The Democratic Party’s main source of support

B. The people the Democrats claimed were unfairly becoming rich

C. The people most interested in a return to a simple agrarian republic

D. One of the groups in favor of Andrew Jackson’s presidency

If you know anything about US politics, and the history of the Democratic and Republican parties, you can assume that “bankers and investors” are unlikely to support the Democratic party. I don’t know anything about Andrew Jackson (I’m not American, so have never studied American presidents!), but I assume he’s a Democrat because it seems this question is focusing on the Democratic party. So this means A and D are unlikely to be correct. Using common sense, it’s pretty obvious that bankers would not support a return to a ‘simple agrarian republic’, so the correct answer must be B.

Now try this one:

Topic: Geography (from Practice Test 1, The Official Guide to the TOEFL® Test, Fifth Edition, p. 240)

6. According to paragraph 3, one cause of mountain formation is the

A. effect of climatic change on sea level

B. slowing down of volcanic activity

C. force of Earth’s crustal plates hitting each other

D. replacement of sedimentary rock with volcanic rock

I haven’t studied geography since I was 15, but I’m pretty sure that the only option that makes any sense is C.

Now of course, answering questions without reading/listening is not always possible, and you shouldn’t imagine that becoming an expert in a wide range of subject areas is guaranteed to get you a high score in TOEFL and IELTS. Your English study and test preparation are still absolutely essential.

However, increasing your background knowledge about the common TOEFL and IELTS topics can really help you to answer questions more quickly and give you more confidence. In the Speaking and Writing sections, you’ll be able to think of ideas and opinions much more quickly and easily to give better answers.

This is why our new Essential English course is topic-based – to help you  improve your English study and test skills while increasing your background knowledge. If you’d like more information, why not come to a free demonstration lesson of the Essential English course? I’d be happy to let you experience a lesson, and to answer any questions you have about English or test preparation.

You can register for a free demonstration lesson here on these dates in April:

Saturday 6th April, 14:30-16:00

Saturday 13th April, 15:00-16:30

Saturday 27th April, 15:00-16:30

*Before coming to the demonstration lesson, take a look at the following sentence – it has some common Japanese learner mistakes. Can you spot them?

‘Overtime working can have a bad effect to workers’ mental.’

After the demonstration lesson, I’ll explain what the mistakes are, and how to express this idea using natural, high level English.

See you soon!

Mike Thundercliffe, Manager Curriculum and Instruction, Agos Japan

For more information about English study, please visit the Essential English home page here.

How long does it take to improve your English?

This is the question everyone wants to know, but is extremely difficult to answer because there are so many variables. For example, your current level, your past experience of learning, how much time you have to study and practice, how stressed you are with your work, what family commitments you have etc., etc. However, let’s look at some rough guidelines.

Unfortunately, the makers of TOEFL and the makers of IELTS don’t provide any guidance on this. Probably, they don’t want to make promises they can’t keep (because of the variables I mentioned earlier). But we can use the CEFR level system to make some estimates (that’s the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, a system for assessing language levels. Wikipedia entry is here.)

One level of CEFR is approximately 20 points on the TOEFL, and about 1 band in IELTS. On average, to achieve that kind of improvement, it would take around 160-180 hours of guided study. That means learning in the classroom with a teacher on a structured program covering language development and four skills work, with additional self-study that is guided by the teacher.

So if you study English in class for 3 hours a week, and do 6 hours of guided self-study, then that’ll take about 4 to 5 months.

I’m not promising you can do that of course – again, there are too many variables  to guarantee anything. So to make that kind of progress in such a short time means you really have to work hard, not miss any lessons, do all the self-study, and be able to focus for the whole period of study.

But it is possible.

If you’d like more information about your English study, why not come to a free demonstration lesson – we can have a chat about English study after the class.

You can register for a free demonstration lesson here on these dates:

Saturday 30th March*, 15:00-16:30

Saturday 6th April, 14:30-16:00

*Before coming to this lesson, take a look at the following sentence – it has some common Japanese learner mistakes. Can you spot them?

‘Overtime working can have a bad effect to workers’ mental.’

After the demonstration lesson on March 30th, I’ll explain what the mistakes are, and how to express this idea using natural, high level English.

Hope to see you soon!

Mike Thundercliffe, Manager Curriculum and Instruction, Agos Japan

For more information about English study, please visit the Essential English home page here.

Why your English (probably) isn’t good enough to get 100 in TOEFL/7.0 in IELTS

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:

  1. ‘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.’
  2. ‘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

Why improving your English is key to increasingTOEFL and IELTS scores

Hi, this is Mike, and in this blog post I’m going to explain why improving your English is probably the key to improving your TOEFL or IELTS test scores, and to introduce a new course we’re developing to help you achieve your goals.

If you’re taking TOEFL or IELTS, you may have experience of ‘hitting a plateau’. This is when your score stops going up for an extended period of time. You keep practicing and taking the test, but your score just doesn’t change. It’s a very common problem, but why does it happen?

Basically, when this occurs it’s usually because you’ve reached your limit in terms of your English. It’s important to remember that TOEFL and IELTS are (very accurate) measures of your English level. So if your knowledge of English and ability to use it are too low, you’re not going to increase your test scores beyond your limit, even if your strategy is really good.

To help students overcome this issue, the Curriculum and Instruction team at Agos is currently developing and piloting a new course called ‘Essential English‘, which you can join from April 6th 2019.

We’re designing the course 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.

If this sounds like you, then check out the first in our series of videos about the course here. 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

 

TOEFL iBT ® Reading Sectionで安定的に28点以上取るために ― by 岡田徹也

皆さん、こんにちは。TOEFL/GMAT/GRE講師の岡田です。TOEFL iBT ®で100点突破を目指している方は多いと思いますが、Reading Sectionで安定的に28点以上が出せる力を身に付けることで100点突破の可能性は大いに高まります。私はReading Practice Advancedというクラス(安定的に28点以上のスコアを出すことを目的としたクラス)を担当することが多いので、今回は「Reading Sectionで28点以上を取るために鍵となること」についてお話ししたいと思います。

1. 時間配分
「時間との戦いを制する者がReadingを制する」と言っても過言ではありません。クラスの初日に課題分析をしていただくのですが、ほとんどの方が「時間配分が上手くいかないこと」を課題に挙げます。この課題克服のための一つの方法が、28点以上を取る人と同じようなペースで読み・解きする感覚(体内時計)を身に付けることです。例えば、クラスでは、私が実際に解いたペースとほぼ同じペースで問題にチャレンジする、という演習を行っています。初めてこの演習を行うと、ご自身が普段解いているペースと異なるため慌ててしまい実力が発揮できない方がいます。しかし、この練習を数回行っていくと28点以上を取る人のペースにも慣れ、多くの方はクラスの最終日には28点以上を取る人と同じような時間配分で読み・解きする感覚(体内時計)を身に付けています。なかなか独学で同じようなことをするのは難しいですが、一つの方法として、「10分経過の時点で7番目または8番目の問題を解いている」、「最後から2番目の問題(Insert Test Question)と最後の問題(Prose Summary Question/Fill in a Table Question)を残り3分で解く」という2点を意識しながら演習を行うと良いでしょう。

2. Question Types
ETSが公表しているQuestion Typesは10個ありますが、28点以上を安定的に取れる方は苦手なQuestion Typesというものがありません。「24点~26点は取ったことはあるが、なかなか28点を越えない」という方は、例えば、以下のような課題があることが多いと思われます。
・後半に出題されるFactual Information Questionsの正答率が低い
・Rhetorical Purpose Questionsで簡単に解答できる問題とそうでない問題がある
・Sentence Simplification Questionsでハイライト文が長いと正答率が低い
・Insert Text Questionsは正解を知った後で考えれば分かるのに、自力で解くとなかなか上手くいかない
・Prose Summary Questionsの正答率が安定しない
まずは苦手なQuestion Typesを把握することが大切ですが、ここでは課題克服のためのコツの一部をお話ししましょう。例えば、Prose Summary Questionsの正答率が安定しない方は「本文に記載がある些末な情報が書かれている肢」を選ぶ傾向にあります。本文に記載がある情報だと選びたくなりますよね。しかし、要約として「些末な情報」は不適切です。では、「些末な情報」と「要約として適切な情報」をどのように見分ければいいのでしょうか? 一つの方法としては、選択肢を見比べながらどちらが些末な情報かを考えます。Prose Summary Questionsには、「正解となる情報」と「それを具体的に説明している情報(本文に記載がある些末な情報)」の両方が選択肢になっている場合があります。

「Reading sectionで28点以上を取るために鍵となること」についてまだまだお話ししたいのですが、あまり長くなるのもどうかと思いますので(すでに長いかもしれませんが)、今回はこの辺りで失礼します。私のブログの内容が少しでも皆さんの目標達成にお役に立てたら嬉しいです。

Improve your Vocabulary for TOEFL and IELTS Speaking Tests – by Dan Bates

Hi everyone, I’m Dan and today I’m going to give you some advice on how to improve your vocabulary for your TOEFL and IELTS speaking tests.

I’ve noticed that many of mys students find it difficult to express themselves when it comes to talking about their feelings and emotions in English. All too often, my students will rely on ‘basic’ or neutral vocabulary to describe how they were feeling. For example, “I was happy/sad/tired/angry” or “It was fun/nice”. Using this ‘simple’ or ‘neutral’ vocabulary (in bold) limits your ability to truly express your feelings and can have a negative impact on your grades in TOEFL and IELTS. Only using simple vocabulary in your speaking test can limit your TOEFL score to a 2, or your IELTS Lexical Resource score to a 5.

However, talking about your feelings is an easy opportunity to use some more advanced vocabulary and boost your scores.

So, what should you do? First, learn some less common synonyms and phrases for emotions. I’ll get you started with the emotion ‘happy’.

Common/neutral word Less common word
happy delighted, ecstatic, chuffed (Brit. Informal)

These three adjectives are direct synonyms for ‘happy’, and can simply replace ‘happy’ when describing a joyous occasion. If you can use an idiomatic phrase too, the grader/examiner will definitely be impressed. Here’s an idiom for ‘happy’.

‘happy’ = ‘over the moon

You can also use some collocations using a modifier with the adjective, as below:

‘very happy’ = ‘deliriously happy

You can now express yourself with a number of words and phrases that are sure to catch the grader/examiner’s ear. The great thing about focusing on vocabulary for feelings and emotions is that they are very adaptable to a whole range of questions. It doesn’t matter what the topic of the question is, you can always talk about how the topic makes you feel. Here are some more examples:

Common/ neutral word

Less common word Idiom

Collocation

sad depressed

‘I was depressed when I didn’t get the job.’

down in the dumps

‘I was down in the dumps when I didn’t get the job.’

incredibly sad

‘I was incredibly sad when I didn’t get the job.’

tired exhausted

‘I was exhausted after the tennis match.’

dead on one’s feet

‘I was dead on my feet after the tennis match.’

completely drained

‘I was completely drained after the tennis match.’

angry furious

‘My dad was furious after I damaged his car.’

fly off the handle

‘My dad flew off the handle after I damaged his car.’

absolutely furious

‘My dad was absolutely furious after I damaged his car.’

So, go ahead and find some words, idiomatic phrases and collocations for the other feelings and emotions (you can start here: http://www.thesaurus.com/ )* and then practice using them to answer the following questions.

Speak for 30 to 45 seconds on the following topics:

  1. your happiest childhood memory
  2. your favourite pet
  3. a memorable day from high school
  4. a place you enjoy visiting

Record your speech on your phone then listen back to check you used the less common words and phrases in your answers. Practice until it becomes natural to use these words.

Finally, remember to take risks and do use these words when you take the exam. It’s better to use less-common words (even if you make some mistakes) than playing it safe and using simpler vocabulary. If you can start using these words more frequently, you’ll be ‘over the moon’ with the results!

*When you use a thesaurus, you should also check the synonyms in a dictionary to ensure you understand the nuances in meaning.