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Monthly Archives

September 2018

Skill Building for the TOEFL iBT

By | English Fluency, Speaking 26+, TOEFL iBT, TOEFL TIPS | No Comments

This week’s TOEFL Tip is about “Skill Building”.

I work with a lot of students who need high scores on the Speaking and Writing sections of the TOEFL iBT. The first question I ask them is what are your Reading and Listening scores?

Language is integrated!

Forget about your target scores for this exam. If you want to speak fluently, if you want to write well you need to have strong reading and listening skills. Yes, you need to expand your vocabulary. Yes, you need to understand the basics of English grammar, but what many students don’t realize is that one of the best ways to do this is by reading English texts and listening to native English speakers every day.

Careful! Just reading ANY text won’t help you on the TOEFL exam. Listening to the news or watching American sitcoms is not a good place to improve your vocabulary or speaking skills when you are preparing for an exam that tests your knowledge of campus situations and academic topics.

If you want to make the most of your time, dive into TOEFL material!

Use the Official Guide to the TOEFL iBT. Read TOEFL reading passages slowly to understand, don’t race against the clock to try to answer the questions. If you read a passage once and you don’t understand the majority of the text, go back and read it again! Learn how to analyze the texts paying attention to grammar, vocabulary and organization. when you listen to a campus conversation or lecture, don’t listen to find the answers, listen to understand! Listen to how the person is speaking! Use transcripts to improve your listening skills.

Once you have built these skills you will see a difference on the exam. Don’t stop building these skills because you have achieved your required score… keep going! Raising your Reading and Listening scores to 26+ will make the Speaking and Writing sections so much easier for you!

If you need help, get in touch!

I am trained TOEFL iBT Exam Preparation Specialist. I am a native English speaker with over 13 years experience teaching students from all over the world. I have helped many students reach their target scores of S26 and W24.

You can find me on Facebook at “Sierra Forest English Academy” or use the contact form below!

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Don't miss out on news about my group classes and workshops!

Are you ready to improve your English today? Say goodbye to difficult exams like the TOEFL iBT. Learn what has been holding you back from a high score. Improve your pronunciation and communicate better with your colleagues, supervisors, classmates and friends.

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TED-Ed “The benefits of a bilingual brain”

By | English Fluency, Multilingualism, Speaking 26+ | No Comments

Did you know that “knowing more than one language keeps your brain healthy, complex and actively engaged”?

I’m a native English speaker from the United States and speak Spanish fluently after living in Madrid for six years. I learned conversational Mandarin when I lived in Beijing and I can still order food, and talk (briefly) about my experience as a university teacher there – something I am very proud of!

Now I’m learning my third language here in France! It’s exhausting sometimes but I’m making progress!

If you are bilingual, trilingual or multilingual you are making your brain “more healthy, complex and actively engaged”! Watch this TED-Ed talk by Mia Nacamulli to learn more!

TED-Ed “The benefits of a bilingual brain”

Don't miss out on news about my group classes and workshops!

Are you ready to improve your English today? Say goodbye to difficult exams like the TOEFL iBT. Learn what has been holding you back from a high score. Improve your pronunciation and communicate better with your colleagues, supervisors, classmates and friends.

Sign up for my mailing list to be the first to know about group classes, online courses and workshops.


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A pharmacist from India got an S27 and W27

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

My TOEFL experience is just like a roller coaster journey. I started this journey in 2013 after I passed my FPGEE exam. Naturally, my confidence was high and I lived in the UK for ten years and also I am from India, where English is almost a second language. First, I thought TOEFL is an easy exam and people just exaggerated it . So the first time when I took this exam I prepared only for a week and I scored 22 in speaking. I thought if I can get 22 at my first attempt I will easily get 26 in my second attempt but that was my biggest mistake. I tried multiple time and worked hard, which had improved my scores in other areas like reading and listening but my speaking and writing hadn’t changed at all. I kept trying for a long time and worked very hard even though my scores hadn’t changed, finally I became a victim of frustration and disappointment. I started losing my confidence and by 2015 my confidence level was at the bottom and I quit. I wanted to become a pharmacist but TOEFL had almost shattered my dream and at one point I tried to join odd jobs at McDonalds and bakery shops. Also I enrolled in the medical transcript and pharmacy technician license course at La Guardia college. However, I wasn’t happy inside because I had a dream to work as a pharmacist in the US. So in 2016 December again I tried TOEFL and this time I found Jaime’s English classes and I contacted her. As a result she recommended me a teacher, whose name was Sierra.

Sierra was my 5th teacher, before her I tried four different teachers at Manhattan Elite prep class, Kaplan classes along with some private tutors. I had worked with different teachers even though the result was same and my speaking scores hadn’t gone beyond 23 or 24. So, when I met Sierra I thought she would do the same thing like my previous teachers did but I was wrong. Sierra was very strict about her homework policy and She never compromised with her homework. First I had a lot of problems and I made so many excuses to skip her homework but she was after me and made sure I do my homework within a time limit. She made a schedule for my daily study and homework and I started following that. The first few weeks were really terrible to follow the schedule but eventually I liked that and started following it. After some time my confidence level increased. Also I’ve noticed that Sierra has a unique quality sometimes she talks like a tough teacher, who doesn’t like a single mistake, sometimes she acts like a good friend, who knows your likes and dislikes and makes you happy and sometimes she acts like a mentor or a coach, who knows how to lift the confidence level in her students. She is the one who brought my confidence back and taught me to believe in myself. I wish I could have a teacher like Sierra for every test in my life.

Now that I finished the TOEFL I am going to India because my parents live there. I haven’t seen my parents for five years because I wanted to go back with success. When I came to the US I promised myself that I would become a pharmacist and get my certificate. Now I have passed this exam, I feel like a winner and I have fulfilled my promise. So I will go to my country and spend a couple of months with my family before I start my Pharmacy internship.

Don't miss out on news about my group classes and workshops!

Are you ready to improve your English today? Say goodbye to difficult exams like the TOEFL iBT. Learn what has been holding you back from a high score. Improve your pronunciation and communicate better with your colleagues, supervisors, classmates and friends.

Sign up for my mailing list to be the first to know about group classes, online courses and workshops.


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