Communication skills with TOEFL or IELTS

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IELTS (pronounced: ‘eye-elts’) and TOEFL (pronounced ‘toe-full’) both test whether your English language skills are good enough for university study in English. TOEFL is preferred in the USA (so that’s what we focus on there), IELTS elsewhere. But what’s the best way to prepare for a language exam –any language exam? While test practice is certainly important close to the exam day, we believe that the best way to prepare early on is to improve your communication skills, especially in speaking (for which listening skills are also important). So this is what our native-speaker teachers concentrate on in these courses – and this means that they are also really useful for students who just want to improve their listening and speaking.

Language guide: for this course, we recommend at least these levels of English: 5.5 [IELTS] / 80 [TOEFL iBT] / B2 [CEF] / FCE.

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You, the exam and the power of communication

So what do we really mean by ‘communication’, and how can you improve your communicative skills? See how better speaking and listening in real-life situations are the key to success, exam or otherwise.

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It’s a wonderful world – learn to describe it

Talking about places can be really dull and unimaginative. But in this unit you’ll learn how to talk about the places you know with passion and conviction – and impress any examiner!

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You’ve got the look… and the personality

‘He’s got brown hair and blue eyes…’ No, that’s not what we’re practising here! Learn how to talk about people in their context, some famous, some less so. Can we relate personality to appearance? Talking about people is likely to feature at some point in any exam.

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Education is the key

These tests are very much geared to education, so being able to discuss this topic is a key skill to develop. Work on developing sophisticated ideas – and expressing them effectively. In both exams, you can expect to be handling situations in an academic context.

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‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’

Who is Jack? No one in particular, but this old English saying introduces the topic of sport and leisure. Universities in English-speaking countries expect students to have well-developed interests outside academic life – and to be able to talk about them. The exams reflect those expectations.

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Are you a technophobe or a technophile?

You’re probably the latter! But what are the implications of our reliance on technology? Learn how to discuss issues such as the influence of the internet and social media. Examiners will be impressed by candidates who express some original thoughts in this area.

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You are what you eat

Food is a good topic for general discussion. But don’t expect to be asked what you had for breakfast! Instead, you’ll be discussing issues such as changes in eating habits, strange diets, food and society… In every exam, having good ideas, well-expressed, is really important.

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Reality check

So how does all of this come together, and in what way are you now better prepared – perhaps to take the exam, perhaps just as a much more effective communicator? There will be a short test to see how you’re getting on – plus some lively communicative activities to finish off.