Studying for TOEFL iBT in online lessons has lots of benefits. You can save time and money by not traveling to a school. You also have access to a huge number of teachers who can guide you.
But there is also a downside. Because the trend of online education is still relatively new, there is no organization that maintains industry standards. Everything is up to you, the student, to decide.
We think you are right to be careful about how you choose your TOEFL speaking teacher. If you don’t make a wise decision at the beginning, you might waste your time studying with someone who may not be able to help you meet your goals.
We’ve compiled a list of the most important questions to answer about any teacher you are considering studying with. Use them to help you determine whether or not you are likely to get the quality of TOEFL iBT help that you hope for.
Question #1: Where is your teacher when they teach?
Some TOEFL speaking teachers are simply too relaxed about where they teach you. There are two places that we think your TOEFL speaking teacher should never use as a regular place to teach from: cafes and bedrooms.
Sure, sometimes, the internet goes down and anyone can end up in a cafe. Sometimes. Like, once every 4 or 5 months. However, if your teacher is consistently teaching from a cafe, you are in an unproductive environment. Especially when you need speaking 26+, there is a high chance that you also need accent reduction or pronunciation practice. It is part of your teacher’s job to know and provide the right conditions so that you can hear and understand the subtle differences. If you have to filter out people who are talking in the background, or forks and plates clinking on dishes, how much do you really learn about your teacher’s English?
Sometimes a teacher has to use a bedroom for teaching. That said, you should never KNOW that the location is a bedroom. You should never see the bed, and far less, an unmade bed covered in rumpled and messy sheets and blankets. Why? First, it’s distracting. (Again, if your eyes are wandering around, you can’t focus on learning as easily.) Second, it’s appallingly unprofessional. How would you feel if your doctor, pharmacist, physical therapist had a session with you and allowed you to see this part of their home?
Question #2: Is your TOEFL speaking teacher distracted or unfocused?
During TOEFL speaking lessons, your teacher should be focused on one thing: you and your English. After all, the graders who are trained by ETS (the company who writes TOEFL iBT) will be listening to you very carefully! You should expect no less from your teacher.
Here are some clues that your TOEFL speaking teacher is distracted:
- When you hear notifications going off on your teacher’s phone or computer.
- When you can see that your teachers’ eyes are moving all over their room or their computer screen but not closely following your conversation.
- When you realize you make errors but your teacher never corrects them.
- When your teacher arrives late and leaves early.
- When your teacher does not provide meaningful feedback on your homework.
- When your lessons jump around from topic to topic and you do not understand the relationship of concepts, or how studying a topic is connected to improving your TOEFL iBT score
Again, it is reasonable for these things to happen occasionally. But if they happen regularly, these are signs that your teacher is mentally disorganized. This is a problematic mindset for a teacher who specializes in exam preparation. You need to be certain that your speaking teacher notices and helps you identify the errors in your grammar, accent and vocabulary — because when you repeat those very errors, this is the reason that your TOEFL iBT speaking score stays stuck at 23-24, exam after exam.
Question #3: Are there too many schedule changes?
Your situation with TOEFL iBT is a serious event in your life! Your TOEFL speaking teacher is one of the people who you rely on for all kinds of help. A major factor in students’ success with scoring 26+ on TOEFL speaking is a consistent study plan and regular practice.
So if your teacher is constantly rescheduling, he or she doesn’t appreciate the stress and pressure that you feel. And again, if they don’t know this, what ELSE don’t they know about the TOEFL iBT speaking exam?
During a professional enrollment process, you share your upcoming schedule and the school or teacher shares the teacher’s availability with you. During this phase, you should be warned about when the teacher might be unavailable for normal lessons. You should receive a proposal with days and times for every lesson–rather than leaving some of them open to a future decision. When you pay for lessons, you are right to expect that you are reserving those particular days and times.
Just like anyone else, of course teachers can get sick or have personal emergencies that force them to reschedule. Plans can change. Everyone needs to time to relax. However, you cannot have a teacher who is constantly sick or always needs to reschedule your lessons.
Where To Find Professional TOEFL Speaking Teachers
If you think that your teacher may not be giving you the best level of service, we invite you to learn more about the teachers in English Success Academy’s team.
We pride ourselves on:
- our dedication to you, the student
- our high quality of communication and teamwork
- our professional work spaces
- our competitive pricing
- our knowledge of the TOEFL iBT exam
Our teachers are trained by Jaime Miller in English Success Academy’s exclusive training programs.