2019年8月よりTOEFL iBT本試験が変更されることがETSから公式発表されました

主な変更は試験時間が約4時間から約3時間半へと短縮されることです。セクション毎の変更は以下の通りです:

  • Reading – 各パッセージの設問数が減少
  • Listening – 講義の本数が減少
  • Speaking – タスクの数が減少
  • Writing – 変更なし

詳細は以下の通りです(変更箇所は赤字で表記):

セクション

2019年7月31日以前

2019年8月1日以降

Reading パッセージ3–4本
各パッセージ12–14設問
60–80分
パッセージ3–4本
各パッセージ10設問
54–72分
Listening 講義4–6本、各6設問
会話2–3本、各5設問
60–90分
講義3–4本、各6設問
会話2–3本、各5設問
41–57分
Speaking タスク6問
・Independentタスク2問
・Integratedタスク4問
20分
タスク4問
・Independentタスク1問
・Integratedタスク3問
17分
Writing タスク2問
・Integratedタスク1問
・Independentタスク1問
50分
(変更なし)

 

*Speakingタスクは以下のように呼称が変わります:

Before After
タスク1(Ind) (削除)
タスク2(Ind) タスク1(Ind)
タスク3(Int) タスク2(Int)
タスク4(Int) タスク3(Int)
タスク5(Int) (削除)
タスク6(Int) タスク4(Int)

 

変更しない点:

  • リーディングとリスニングのquestionタイプに変更なし
  • ライティングとスピーキングの新しいタイプのタスクはなし
  • ライティングとスピーキングの採点基準に変更なし
  • ライティングとスピーキングの採点方法に変更なし
  • 試験全体のスコアに変更なし(満点120点。各セクション30点満点)
  • 問題の難易度に変更なし
  • 測られるスキルに変更なし

学習教材:

ETSは今後数か月かけて、公式ガイドなどの学習教材を改訂する予定です。しかし、8月以降の本試験で、まったく新しいquestionタイプの設問やタスクが出題されるわけではありません。ETSが発表しているとおり、ETS刊行のこれまでの教材で十分に受験準備学習ができます。

アゴス・ジャパンでは、クラス内で配布するハンドアウト類で若干の工夫が加わることもありますが、基本的に、これまで使用してきたアゴス・オリジナルのマニュアル類とETSの出版物(Official Guideなど)を継続使用して、試験対策のご指導をいたします。

まとめ:

今回の本試験の変更で、受験者が学習方法を変える必要はまったくありません。各人が目標スコアを達成するまでの期間に影響が出るものでもありません。また、TOEFLスコアを受け付ける大学や大学院側でも、今後も同じ合格基準を維持する見込みです。

本試験の総時間が短縮され、特にリーディングとリスニングの試験時間が短くなることで、一部の受験者はより集中力を維持し易いと感じるかもしれません。しかし、問題の内容や難易度に変わりはありません。

同様に、スピーキングではタスク数が減少するので、より取り組み易く感じる受験者もいるかもしれません。しかし、これは同時に、高スコアを出せる回答(レスポンス)をする機会が減少することをも意味します。

参考:

以下のサイトもご参照ください:

アゴスのウェブサイト内のブログ ”Instruction News” (TOEFL News);https://www.agos.co.jp/blog/instructor/category/toefl-news/

ETSの発表;
https://www.ets.org/toefl/better_test_experience
https://www.ets.org/s/toefl/pdf/faqs_shorter_toefl_ibt_test.pdf

(アゴス・ジャパン教務部)

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® Listeningセクションの変更点(′19年8月以降)

今年8/1以降のフォーマット変更に伴い、R・L・Sの各セクションがどのように変わるのか、受験者の皆さんは関心を寄せておられることと思います。

Speakingセクションの変更点に関しては、先日加藤講師がETSに問い合わせて公式回答を得て、本ブログにUPしてくれました。https://www.agos.co.jp/blog/instructor/2019/05/30/toefl-ibt-speakingchange/

Listeningセクションの変更点について、私から情報をお伝えします。Conversationの出題数は変わらず、Lectureの出題数が減ることで全体の問題数が少なくなりセクションの割り当て時間が短くなることが発表されています。

ETSからの新形式についてのリリースは以下の通りです。https://www.ets.org/toefl/better_test_experience

3–4 lectures, 6 questions each
2–3 conversations, 5 questions each
41–57 minutes

…ということは、採点されないダミーのセットがあることはこれまで通りですが、従来《Conversation→Lecture①→Lecture②》=1セットだった訳ですが、Lecture数が減らされることにより、この形以外のセットが出題されることが考えられます。そこで、8/1以降の本試験においては、ConversationとLectureがどのような順番で出題されるのか、ETSに問い合わせてみました。

ETSのGlobal Education DivisionのGlobal Client Relations担当の方から回答を頂きましたので、以下に共有します。

=========================================================

With the new shortened, there are five possible order combinations that a test taker might see in the Listening section:

 

①Conversation + lecture / conversation + lecture + lecture

②Conversation + lecture + lecture / conversation + lecture

③Conversation + lecture / conversation + lecture / conversation + lecture + lecture

④Conversation + lecture / conversation + lecture + lecture / conversation + lecture

⑤Conversation + lecture + lecture / conversation + lecture / conversation + lecture

 

In all cases, the test taker will only get one conversation that is followed by two lectures.  All other conversations will be matched with one lecture.

=========================================================

…という回答でしたので、我々アゴス教務部の予想通り、《Conversation→Lecture》というショートセットと《Conversation→Lecture①→Lecture②》というロングセットが混在することになります。

米田

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。

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

 

‘Coffee Chat’ Event – Speed Chatting: a great chance to practice speaking – by Mike Thundercliffe

Hi everyone, Mike here. I hope you’re not suffering too much from the summer heat, and found some time to relax during obon!

On August 06, we had our first student ‘coffee chat’ event based on the concept of ‘speed chatting’. This was a free event, and was designed to give Agos students some extra speaking practice in a relaxed environment. It was great to see everyone chatting confidently and having fun, and the teachers enjoyed it too!

What’s ‘speed chatting’?

Basically, the speed chatting format allows students to speak as much as possible, and to work with different students and teachers. It went like this:

  • We had three groups of four/five students, each with a native speaker teacher in the group (me, Danny Robinson and Jim Giguere joined this event).
  • A question (similar to TOEFL Independent Task 1 and 2, or IELTS Part 1 questions) was put up on the screen.
  • First of all, the students had a chance to listen to the teacher answering the question.
  • Then, each student spoke in turn.
  • After each student spoke, the teacher gave some detailed feedback.
  • Each student had the opportunity to talk about the same topic twice.
  • Then we mixed everyone up into new groups, and changed the topic.
  • We had tea, coffee and snacks throughout the two-hour event.

What did the students think?

Here’s some of the feedback from the participants:

  • “It was very helpful to get lots of feedback, and there were a lot of chances to listen as well. It was a very productive time!”
  • “It was a good chance to practice as I don’t have much opportunity to speak to native English speakers and get feedback.”
  • “This session helped me to find some things I didn’t know about, such as linking words and phrases together.”
  • “It was great! I hope this event takes place more frequently. The open, relaxed environment enabled me to join the conversation, and it helped me to build up my confidence.”
  • “By having this opportunity to speak casually, I was pleased that I could find my weakness. Now I know what I need to study more.”

 

 

Are we going to do it again?

Definitely! We are going to run the event on Friday 08 September at 19:00-21:00. The event is open to anyone who has already taken or is currently studying on a TOEFL Speaking Strategy/23 Toppa course, or IELTS Speaking Core/Advanced course. The maximum number of participants will be 16, so please register soon if you’re planning to attend. You can do that here:

Hope to see you there!

Mike

TOEFL iBT®: Campus Conversationのススメ — by 松園保則

皆さん、こんにちは。新しくなったブログでは初めて登場する、TOEFL/IELTS講師の松園です。

前のバージョンのブログでは、TOEFL iBT®の「アカデミック」なコンテンツを何度か書きました。久しぶりに書く今回のブログでは、角度を変えて「Campus Conversation」について触れてみたいと思います。

TOEFL iBT®は「アカデミックな題材」という印象が強く、TOEFL iBT®に関する話題の中で影を潜めているのが「Campus Conversation」です。Campus Conversationとは、The Official Guide to the TOEFL® Test Fourth Edition p. 14の“Conversations in an Academic Setting”に該当するもので、Listeningにおいて2~3題、Speakingにおいて2題(Task 3&5)登場します。

私はアゴス渋谷校でTOEFL Listening関連のクラスを長年担当していますが、このCampus Conversationに対して苦手意識がある生徒さんが案外多いと日頃感じています。また、TOEFL対策において、講義形式の題材を優先してCampus Conversationを後回しにしている方も見かけます。講義形式に対する対策が大事なのは言うまでもありません。ただ、私としては、Campus Conversationを苦手とする方はもちろん、これから留学するかどうか悩んでいる方や、日常会話独特の言い回しをたくさん知りたい方などにも、Campus Conversationの題材を使った学習を強くオススメしたいと思っています。以下に、その理由をいくつか挙げてみます。

* * * * *

1. 生の会話の速度に慣れることができる
Campus Conversationでは、2人の登場人物がある話題について3分程度会話をし続けます。その速さは、(英語圏を中心とした)留学先で繰り広げられる会話の速さとだいたい同じくらいだと私は感じています。Listeningに不慣れな方でCampus Conversationの題材を初めて聞くと「とにかく速い!」という印象を持たれる可能性が高いでしょう。そういった題材の音声を聞いたり、音声を聞きながらその音声をまねて後を追うように発する(これは「シャドーイング」という練習法です)といった練習を繰り返すうちに、自然とCampus Conversationの速度にも慣れてきます。結果として、「生」の会話の速度に対して「速い!」という印象が薄らいでくることが期待できます。

2. 留学生活を疑似体験できる
Campus Conversationでは、大学生(または大学院生)を主人公とした、キャンパスライフに関する話題が数多く登場します。履修手続き、講義やディスカッションの準備、コンピューターラボの使い方、寮生活におけるトラブルなどがその典型例です。このような話題に多く触れることは、別の見方をすると「留学生活を疑似体験している」ことになります。TOEFL iBTを受ける方のほとんどは、「今後留学すると決めている方」や「この先留学を検討中の方」だと思いますから、Campus Conversationの題材を通じて、「自分が留学するとこんなことが起こるんだなぁ」、「こんな問題点が起こったらこう対処してみよう」といった発見に繋がり、モチベーションアップも期待できます。

ちなみに、TOEFL Listening Campus Conversationでは、抱えている問題点に対して話し相手の女性に呆れられる男子学生や、4年生なのに1年生の授業を履修していなかった男子学生などの「ダメ男子」がよく登場します(笑)。

3. 口語独特の言い回しを多く学べる
Campus Conversationでは、口語独特の言い回しがよく使われていて、中には読んでも意味がつかみにくく感じるものも登場します。例えば、The Official Guide to the TOEFL® Test Fourth Edition p. 144で以下のようなセリフが出て来ます。

Professor:
How far along have you gotten?

皆さん、これがどのような意味かわかりますか?

これは、学生があるレポートの相談をするために教授に会いに来た場面で使われています。その際、教授が学生に対して「(そのレポートは)どのくらい進んでいますか?」と聞いているのが、先ほどの文の意味です。なお、far alongは「(プロジェクトなどが)進んでいる」という意味の表現です。

このような表現に遭遇した場合、単に「へぇ、そうなんだぁ」と感じて終わるのではなく、自分の身体の中にすり込むかの如く何度も発してみましょう。そして、すり込んだ表現を皆さんが英語で話す時に積極的に使ってみましょう。すると、「あの時覚えた表現を自分が使えている!」といった喜びを感じられるはずです。

ちなみに、TOEFL iBT Listeningの過去問を分析する中で、”get the hang of(…のコツを掴む)“という表現に遭遇したことがあります。この表現は、私がイギリスの大学院に留学していた頃に、論文の指導教官に対して授業に関する相談をメールでやりとりしていた中で、自分が考えたアイデアに対して指導教官が”You’ve gotten the hang of them, Yasu!(ヤス、コツを掴んだわね!)と返答してくれた時に使われていた表現です。留学中に指導教官からいただいた表現に何年も経過した後にTOEFLの過去問で遭遇するというのは、この仕事をしているからこそ起こることなのだろうと感じています。

* * * * *

「生の会話の速度に慣れることができる」、「留学生活を疑似体験できる」、「口語独特の言い回しを学べる」といった良さを噛み締めながら、Campus Conversationの題材を是非ともフル活用していただきたいと願っています。