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ETS’s Official TOEFL Course Online, Week 3: Listening


So I’ve been taking — and blogging about — the free official TOEFL course online from ETS and EdX. Week three covers TOEFL Listening. You can see my posts about the previous weeks here:

And now for….

ETS’s Official TOEFL Course Online, Week 3: Listening

Week 3 of this online course is all about the TOEFL Listening section. There are 13 modules in this unit. The first two modules look at the challenges of English Listening, and the structure of the TOEFL Listening section. The modules that follow this introduction focus on 6 TOEFL Listening question types: gist, detail, function, attitude, organization, connecting content, and inference. Finally, module 10 looks at scoring, modules 11 and 12 offer practice activities, and the module 13 reviews the current unit and previews next week’s coursework.

The Video Lectures

The first three video lectures are very general. Insook, the course’s TOEFL Listening instructor, gives an introductory talk on the challenges that test-takers typically face in TOEFL Listening. This is followed by a video lecture on general TOEFL Listening strategy — how to approach a TOEFL Listening task.

Next come the video lectures on the TOEFL Listening question types. Like the TOEFL Reading question type videos from the previous unit, the Week 3 videos are available on the Official TOEFL YouTube Channel. The Listneing video series concludes with a lecture on scoring for TOEFL Listening and a video review of the whole unit.

The Practice Questions

The TOEFL Listening question type videos all contain practice audio tracks and questions, taken either from the OG for the TOEFL, the first volume of Official TOEFL iBT Tests, or ETS’s TOEFL website.

This week’s TOEFL Listening Practice Test includes one of each kind of Listening Task: conversation audio with questions, class lecture audio with questions, and class discussion audio with questions. This constitutes half of a real TOEFL Listening section. The practice test prompts and questions are taken from TOEFL Practice Online. It’s great to see ETS giving away some TPO questions for free through this course. TPO itself is a useful but ridiculously overpriced ETS product.

As was the case with TOEFL Reading both the videos and the practice test for Listening include answer explanations.

Teacher and Student Interaction

As usual, teacher interaction in the class discussions has been pretty minimal. There are hundreds of posted student questions, and I’d estimate that slightly less than 10% of these get a reply from a course moderator. However, when the moderators do weigh in for this unit, their advice is pretty helpful. This week, instructors have been giving pretty good tips about how to listen for keywords, how to deal with different kinds of TOEFL Listening questions, and where to find good TOEFL Listening practice. The teachers also continue to give additional — and very complete — answer explanations for the practice questions.

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