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Eiken vs. TOEFL: Lectures

The Eiken exam is one of several TOEFL alternatives, accepted by some American universities. In Japan, Eiken scores are also needed for some jobs.

Eiken vs. TOEFL: Structure of the Lectures

The Step 1 Eiken is the advanced English version of the exam, commonly requested by employers and schools. The lectures on this version of the test are fairly unique. Step 1 Eiken lectures have a distinctly different structure than the lectures in TOEFL Listening.

Eiken Listening lectures are much shorter than TOEFL lectures. While a lecture in the TOEFL Listening Section is 4-5 minutes long, an Eiken lecture lasts between 90 seconds to two minutes.

This shorter structure is more predictable than the structure of a TOEFL lecture. A TOEFL lecture can be “read” like a complete academic essay, with multiple points and opening and closing thoughts. In contrast, an Eiken lecture is the equivalent of a two paragraph excerpt form a longer essay. The first “paragraph” of an Eiken lecture will give background information an academic topic. The second “paragraph” will look at the opinions and analysis of experts who have studied the topic.

The set of questions that follow an Eiken lecture are shorter too — just two questions per lecture. Additionally, there is a smaller range of question types. There are several different TOEFL Listening question types, but there are really only two types of Listening questions for Eiken lectures. The first question will always be a detail question, asking about a specific factual detail from the lecture. The second question will always be about the author’s attitude or apparent beliefs.

Eiken vs. TOEFL: Quality of Speech in the Lectures

The delivery of lectures in the TOEFL is slower-paced than most real professor’s lectures. And the acting isn’t exactly Oscar-worthy — it’s not the same as hearing a 100% realistic performance in a movie or in real life. Still, ETS’s goal with TOEFL Listening is to present a lecture similar to what you might hear on a campus.

In contrast, Eiken lectures don’t aim for realistic classroom speech at all. An Eiken lecture transcript looks exactly like a piece of academic writing, with the longer sentences and more complex vocabulary that you don’t normally find in speech. The lecture itself sounds like an audio book of a nonfiction piece of writing, or like a radio announcer’s reading of a pre-written news story.

Eiken vs. TOEFL: Which Lectures are Easier?

If you’re considering the Eiken as an alternative to the TOEFL, you may wonder which one will be easier for you. There’s no obvious answer. The Eiken lectures may be shorter, but the language is more complex. And the kinds of tricky false answers you see in the multiple choice selection are also different between the two tests. To feel out which test has easier lectures, you should go through lectures and question sets on both exams. In my next two posts on this subject, I’ll show you two mock Eiken lectures and two mock Eiken question sets. Stay tuned!

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