The TOEFL, Test of English as a Foreign Language, is a standardized test required to enter most universities in the United States. It measures how well a potential student can combine reading, listening, speaking and writing skills to perform academic tasks successfully at college level.
Each university program requires a different score in order to apply. For example, the University of Texas at Dallas requires a minimum score of 80 whereas Southern Methodist University requires a minimum or 90 with specific minimum sub-score requirements.
The exam is intense, taking anywhere from three to four hours to complete. It is not enough to just know English to take the TOEFL, it is necessary to prepare for the type of questions and the imposed time restrictions. Excel English Institute has a class from Monday to Thursday from 9am to 1:30 pm solely dedicated to helping students achieve success on the TOEFL.
TOEFL Student Highlight – Francilia Silva
Francilia Silva is one of our TOEFL students who went on to take the TOEFL exam and scored well above the requirements of the university of her choice. We interviewed her a while back to ask her about her future goals, her activities in the Dallas area, and her experience at Excel Institute.
She decided to take intensive English language courses for two main reasons. First, English is required as a qualification for many jobs around the world, so she wants to have a competitive advantage in the job market when she returns to her home in Brazil. Second, she is preparing to apply for a PhD program and eventually become a professor.
In her free time, Francilia enjoys going to parks and being outside. She loves hanging out in Dallas’ parks. “Living in the US has made me discover that I love hiking, ” she adds. “It is something that I really like to do for fun.” The three words she used to describe herself were as having faith, persistence, and friendships. “The best part of life is that everyone is a world in that they are unique, interesting and sometimes funny.”
“Studying in Excel has a lot of advantages, but there is something special for me which is how they make us feel like part of a family. For example, there is a warm welcome for everybody, a monthly party, extra-curricular activities, and such a good relationship with the coordinators. They are always open to talk,” Francilia says.
The most difficult part of learning English for Francilia is that English is like a rhythmic language whereas her native Portuguese is a syllable timed language. “So, it is very difficult to get this rhythmic language to sound more fluent,” she explains.
As far as the TOEFL exam, she said her preparation classes at Excel were good because she had an excellent teacher and several practice tests. “TOEFL seems to be tough for most students,” she says. “However, it is all about dedication and having good practice activities. My tip is to first find a university that you want to go to. It is important to know how much you need to make on the test. Then analyze your level of English. It was good for me to start with advanced level courses in Excel and then take the TOEFL class. Finally, start your preparation with great enthusiasm to work hard, In the end, all your effort will be worth it.”
TOEFL Teacher Highlight – Maria Donovan
Maria Donovan is our dedicated TOEFL teacher here at Excel Institute. She was born and raised in Ireland, moved to Brazil as a young adult, and then came to the US. She is an Irish – Brazilian – American.
Her favorite part about teaching at Excel is the fact that she learns something new from her students every day, thanks to the richness and variety of ideas that diversity brings to the classroom.
Maria wants to help non-English speakers get back into their professions and catch up on their lives. When she moved to Brazil, she didn’t speak Portuguese, so her life came to a stop. Not being able to work or participate in normal life was horrible.
In her opinion, the most challenging aspect of learning English is transferring the language from the classroom to the real world where people speak so fast, use slang, etc.
To new students she says, “Come on! Don’t Wait! We can help you reach your goals, and you’ll find a great support system here and you’ll make some lifelong friends.”
When Maria is not teaching, she enjoys being outside in her yard working on her flower garden or at the park during the Spring and Fall seasons. She loves picnics and barbecues. During the summer and winter, she heads indoors to the mall, restaurants, or movie theaters. She also loves reading a good book.