Online learning and self study are very popular with TOEFL students. ETS knows this, so they’ve made an official TOEFL course online. It’s called TOEFL Test Preparation: An Insider’s Guide. I’m taking this course, and will be reporting on my experiences week-by-week.
The Format of This Official TOEFL Course
This course is hosted by EdX, a popular MOOC website. A MOOC is a “massive open online course.” In format, MOOCs are kind of like the guided self-study that Magoosh offers. They are also somewhat like a regular classroom. Every MOOC has instructors who interact with students as time allows. Interaction is somewhat limited because MOOCs put no limit on enrollment. Hundreds and even thousands of students can enroll in a MOOCs. Generally, MOOCs are also offered free of charge. This official TOEFL MOOC is also free. But for an extra fee, students who pass the course may receive an official certificate of completion from ETS.
The course is 16 weeks long and is graded. There will be 21 quizzes (84% of the grade) and 4 tests (16% of the grade). In the week one announcements, they didn’t say whether the four tests will be full TOEFL practice tests. I’m hoping they will be, and I will let you know when I find out.
The Teachers of This Official TOEFL Course
All instructors for the EdX TOEFL course are employees of ETS. The teachers are people who help design the real TOEFL exam that you’ll see on test day. The course has six teachers. There is one specialist for each section of the TOEFL: Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing. And then there is a fifth teacher who specializes in test strategy and will be teaching students about the different question types and task types on the exam. Finally, there’s a sixth “host instructor.” This host gives general explanations about each unit of the course and is more of a tour guide than a teacher of content.
From what I can tell so far, the instructors primarily teach through pre-recorded videos. On the course’s discussion page, there are already several open discussions about the Reading and Listening Sections, and about other aspects of the test. But teacher responses have been minimal so far — less than 10 responses from teachers among more than 100 student posts. The students themselves are interacting a lot, giving each other links to good TOEFL study resources and creating additional online messaging groups. So far, the students of this course have made a Facebook group and a WhatsApp group. There is talk of starting a Skype group chat as well.
Week 1 Content for the Official TOEFL Course Online
For the most part, the course videos this week covered the information I just gave you — an overview of the course structure and an interview with the teachers. There was also a lot of information on the structure and content of the TOEFL. So far, the TOEFL information given has been very similar to the info you can find in the Official Guide to the TOEFL or on the ETS TOEFL website. There was just one quiz for this week, and the quiz focused on knowledge of the TOEFL’s structure and the way it’s administered.
Week 2: TOEFL Reading
Week 2 has just started. We’ll be learning about the TOEFL Reading Section. At the end of this week, I’ll write another post for you to tell you how it went.