English Fluency for TOEFL & Beyondzinkerz
While in the world of TOEFL test prep, the English language may feel like a series of (broken) rules, impossible spelling challenges and the need to pick out something familiar in endless written or spoken passages.
Of course learning a language is much more than that. In fact, in addition to the increased opportunities for learning, work and travel, many people are now mastering multiple languages at a high level just for the fun of it. These people call themselves polyglots, and I am taking some tips from their world to enhance TOEFL practice and test prep.
Make the English Connection
Kids are learning language everyday and they do it by having fun, playing with friends, and talking with those around them. While the long-held beliefs that language is best learned young are under question, one thing that is known is that language is a tool of connection.
If you’re connecting to the English you’re learning, there is a better chance it will sink in. We may not have the chance to go back to kindergarten to learn a language, but you can choose what you relate to most when supplementing our study plan.
Whether checking out academic level lectures on Coursera, or brushing up on your literature through Lit2Go (audiobooks) or OpenCulture (actually this site has everything: books, movies, courses — check it out), find what you like that will keep you interested.
Better yet, find a study buddy and share your lessons and interests while learning together.
Creating English Language Learning Habits to Take on TOEFL
One of the first rules found among many polyglots is consistency. Making learning into a habit, something done for at least 15–20 minutes a day is an important step in building on prior knowledge.
This is a great idea if there is no test date looming, but perhaps there is something that we can use when preparing for the TOEFL as well.
The point of the habit is to make the action automatic, without thought, and without the frequent procrastination accompanied with finding time to study! One polyglot recommended putting earphones by the door to remind them to put on their audiobook when on the go.
Others set a specific time, the first ten minutes of lunch break, or for early risers maybe right after breakfast, to designate a short time to go over new material.
The added benefit to these short bursts that are a regular part of your day is that the down time afterwards will help your mind reflect and recall the material when you’re sitting down to more more focused TOEFL practice later.
Talk, Talk, Talk
One thing that comes up over and over is that learning a language is not just study and recall, especially when it comes to speaking. To speak a foreign language you have to literally train your mouth to move in the way of making new and different sounds, even when it’s not the tricky ones (like the rolling “r”, which native English speakers can have such a hard time with).
Practice forming the sounds and words of a new language can help with pronunciation, speed, and comfort level, all important factors for the TOEFL exam. Even a little practice every day or a few times a week can make a difference.
Read English passages, homework, or TOEFL practice texts out loud, even if you have to go back to work on comprehension. And talk to yourself. That’s right, hold up your phone to look like there’s someone there, practice while making dinner, talk to your neighbor’s baby (or your own) in English using what you already know.
Spending time “sending your mouth to the gym” as one polyglot called it will help in speaking skills and confidence even when you don’t have a native speaker to converse with.
These are just few tips to enhance your TOEFL test preparation and study, but who knows, after the tackling TOEFL test you may just want to try these tips on all those other languages out there, just for fun!
Tell us below in the comment box which habits you have incorporated to improve fluency in English or another language you master.