Tutor profile: Kayleigh Z.
How can I study for the TOEFL test beyond online practice tests? My scores aren't improving, and I'm looking for other ways to practice.
First, identify your weaknesses. Which of the four skills are the most difficult? Remember that reading, writing, speaking, and listening are linked, so try practicing more than one together. If one skill is hard or uncomfortable, supplement your studying with something you enjoy. Do you like movies? Watch one in English with subtitles for listening and reading practice. Are you having trouble with listening comprehension? You can practice using an audiobook or podcast. Listen, pause, rewind, and take notes. This method is also helpful for practicing pronunciation because you can do shadowing exercises. These are exercises where you speak aloud along with the text.
How can I make my writing more engaging? Looking over my work, I'm just using the same descriptive words over and over again. I'm having trouble thinking of more colorful language.
A thesaurus is your best friend! If there is a word you are thinking of that you have used one too many times or has the right sentiment but doesn't quite fit, turn to your trusty thesaurus. It will help your writing become more readable and imaginative.
Subject: English as a Second Language
Lots of English words sound or are spelled the same but have different meanings. How can I tell the difference?
It can be hard to tell! Especially if you don't have much information or context (what comes before or after). Let's consider this example sentence: "Can you go get the mail?" If you don't see it in writing, you might be confused. Do they mean 'mail': letters and packages, or 'male': a man? In this case, the article (the) is a big clue because it would be very unusual to say "the male" to refer to a man. If you hear: "Can you go get the mail? I'm expecting a letter." it becomes easier because you can be sure the person is talking about 'mail' as an object and not a male person. When listening to a foreign language, it can be easy to get stuck at the beginning of what someone is saying, but always try to listen until the end because you might hear some important context!