Planning to study in the United States? Don't underestimate
the importance of speaking English properly.
Experts say many international students begin their academic
programs in this country without a clear understanding of what's
expected of their English language skills.
These students believe they can learn the minimum amount of English
necessary to enter a school. And, after that, things will take
care of themselves.
Unfortunately, this approach can lead to great disappointment
Keep TOEFLŪ test in Perspective
Students often become obsessed with passing the TOEFLŪ
test (Test of
English as a Foreign Language)TM. They believe it plays some magical
role in the admissions process, and many schools indeed can contribute
to this misperception. These schools seem to imply that if a student
passes this test, they will do just fine in the classroom.
This simply isn't true.
Achieving the "minimum" TOEFLŪ score (60 - 70) may not be enough
to perform properly in the classroom. That test lasts about four
hours, but a college or university education can take four to
six years of a student's life.
The TOEFLŪ test, however, is a key element of the admissions process.
Language is Key to Success
Experts encourage students to not rely on the TOEFLŪ
test too much.
Instead of just cramming for the test, they encourage students
to concentrate on learning how to do the following in English:
- Take notes
- Paraphrase information
- Write essays
- Speak and understand "everyday" English
- Give oral presentations
- Understand computer applications in this language
- Have solid grammar skills
In fact, experts believe your academic success in this country
will depend on your ability to communicate in English, both in
writing and speaking. These are skills that may or may not be
reflected in your TOEFLŪ results.
Keep in mind that American professors will expect you to contribute
actively in classroom discussions. You will be judged by your
ability to process information and voice your own opinions. You'll
need to write term papers and essays. So the more comfortable
you feel expressing yourself in English, the better you'll perform
Also, your ability to make friends in this country will naturally
be strengthened with good English skills. In fact, your overall
experience in the US will be more pleasant and rewarding if
you can communicate in "everyday" English with those around you.
By learning English now, you can help save yourself headaches
down the road.
Remember there are lots of ways you can improve your English
before you enter a four-year program. Read more here
about English as a Second Language (ESL) Programs.