Frequently Asked Questions

about Private TOEFL Lessons

We know that you may have many questions about taking private TOEFL lessons.
See if we have the answers below.

How do lessons happen with ESA?

As you may know the TOEFL report says nothing about the types of mistakes a student makes. The only way to identify these mistakes is to analyze a student’s test performance. This is why before starting classes our teachers do a diagnostic analysis of all your English language skills in order to find a starting point and create an individual study plan. Our teachers are pretty much like doctors who examine your current condition before prescribing you any pills. After this analysis a student spends a few weeks in private lessons with a teacher (at least twice a week) practicing and strengthening different skills.

What kind of TOEFL iBT problems do ESA lessons fix?

  • We reduce your stress and make you feel more confident.
  • If you need better vocabulary or phrases , we’ll help you write and speak with it.
  • If you have habitual grammar errors, we’ll help you write and speak accurately.
  • If you need TOEFL iBT exam strategies, we’ll tell you lots so that you can find the ones that feel best for you.
  • If you need accent reduction, we’ll guide you to sound like a native-speaker — even in stressful conditions.


How long will it take to reach my target score?

The truth is that we can’t guarantee and promise you anything now because we don’t know you well. Your progress depends not only on us but on your skills and current language level. Our teachers can make preliminary assessments after a couple weeks of private lessons with you. Based on our experience, students can usually make good progress after a minimum of 6-10 weeks of studying in private lessons.

The only thing I’m 100% sure about is that we have already helped lots of students to reach their target scores and they were happy to leave their feedback on our website. You might have read those success stories here.

An Advanced Speaking score (S 26) demands weeks (10 -12-14 weeks sometimes) of consistent practice to make your brain feel comfortable with using new patterns of speaking.

Why is it also important to have high reading, listening and writing scores?

You may not realize it yet, but our teachers’ experience has proved that a strong foundation in reading, listening and writing is critical for achieving a Speaking score of 26 (which is an advanced score). It is so, so, so much easier to get an advanced speaking score if your other 3 scores (R L W) are also strong. Basically, you need to stabilize your scores in Reading, Listening and Writing so they are consistently at 25 or higher. If your R, L and W scores are lower it usually indicates that you make some grammar and vocabulary errors that will limit your “Language Use” score in TOEFL iBT’s Speaking Section.

Who is teaching currently?

Below are some of the teachers who we are currently connected to and recommend for lessons.

Please note that the hourly rates that you see below are not guaranteed and may change. You need to confirm each teacher’s hourly rate, because some of these teachers work independently from ESA and charge and collect money for their lessons without ESA. We try to keep this website updated, but it is possible that the rates may be slightly out of date.

What does a package of lessons with Jane Birkenhead include?

  • Diagnostic score analysis of your current proficiency
  • Lessons twice a week that are individually tailored to your needs
  • Personalised homework activities. You should allow around 4 – 6 hours for homework each week.
  • Review, feedback and encouragement and additional resources as required.
  • Bonus: While you study in private lessons, you have free access to the following programs created by Jaime Miller: Right Notes, 24+ Writing, Advanced Speaking Guide.
    • You also have the option to purchase digital access to Nancy Gallagher’s book, “Delta’s Key to TOEFL iBT”. We do not have permission to give it away for free.

How long does a lesson package last? What does it cost?

  • We advise that you commit to a lesson package of several weeks.
    • It’s very hard to make good, effective progress without reinforcement. Regular lessons give you this reinforcement and a chance to learn good, new habits. It normally takes 5 – 6 weeks for these new habits to become spontaneous. For this reason we usually recommend a lesson packages of 6 weeks to start with.
  • If your score analysis shows that you only need to focus on a specific precise area, then a shorter lesson package may be possible.
  • Lessons are either 60 minutes or 90 minutes long depending on your needs and Jane’s recommendations.
  • Lessons cost $75 per hour. This includes your study plan, homework review and feedback, email communication with Jane and free access to the ESA courses described above.

What are the benefits of a package of private lessons?

  • You meet regularly with a professional TOEFL exams prep coach
  • You follow an individual study plan designed specifically for you
  • You allow yourself enough time for consistent practice and repetition to help you overcome old errors
  • You work on all the different skills needed for TOEFL success
  • With guidance and support, you recover your confidence and boost your motivation
  • What will my study plan be?

    Your study plan is individual to you as it depends on the results of your score analysis. Jane will create it with you during your first few lessons and it will always be updated depending on your progress and your needs.

    What will I do in lessons? How will I study?

  • Lessons take place in a private Zoom video-conferencing room. You’ll have the ability to record your lesson, share your computer screen and use a digital whiteboard.
  • Lessons include all sorts of activities and exercises to help you become completely confident in reading, listening, speaking and writing. There will be extra vocabulary and grammar activities depending on your needs.
  • We’ll share homework and resources through DropBox.
  • What extra practice / homework sources do I need to buy?

    We provide all the materials you need so it’s not necessary to spend any extra money.

    Jane may occasionally recommend an additional resource to help you but it’s completely up to you to decide whether to buy it.

    However, if you already have some books and resources that’s certainly a benefit. We may incorporate some of those into lessons and homework activities.

    As your exam date gets closer, we recommend that you pay for a full practice test from the ETS website (Click here to take an official practice test from ETS) . About 90% of our students choose to take a practice test in the weeks leading up to their exam.

    We do have some full practice tests on our website, but the experience from ETS’s website is much more realistic.

    How soon can I start studying?

    It depends on your availability and Jane’s schedule but we will get you into lessons as soon as we can.

    how do online TOEFL iBT lessons happen

    How do I pay for lessons?

    English Success Academy accepts two payment methods: credit card and PayPal. We do not accept Western Union or other forms of bank transfer.

    When and where do I pay for lessons?

    After you discuss your lesson package and unique situation with the Lesson Coordinator, you will be emailed a private link to pay. It is not possible to pay for lessons without communicating with the Lesson Coordinator.

    The Lesson Coordinator will also say a deadline for payment. Paying for your lesson package reserves your place in the teacher’s schedule. The only way to 100% reserve your space in the schedule is by paying. If you do not pay by that deadline, the Lesson Coordinator may offer the same time and day to another student.

    Can I pay in installments?

    It is possible to break your payment into two or three installments.
    We give you the lowest price when you pay in a single installment.

    Can I get a discount?

    We charge you the same lesson rate that we charge other students.
    This ensures that you get an equal amount of our energy, time and attention.

    What happens after I pay?

    After you pay for your lessons, we send you a series of emails that help you prepare your computer. At that point, we will also explain how to connect with your teacher via Zoom and email.

    We know that it’s a big step to commit to online TOEFL lessons. You’ll want to consult your partner and your family and they’ll probably have some questions.

    Investment in private online TOEFL lessons really does pay off – in faster progress, in paying less to ETS for exam registration fees and in real career results. This will benefit you AND your family! You’ll find a greater inner confidence and a renewed excitement for life.

    We have predicted a few of the important concerns people have about taking online lessons. Read on to find out ways to think about them and how to discuss them with your family.

    Private lessons for TOEFL are definitely an investment. But, if I want to fix my own unique problems with English then I really need to work with a tutor who knows how to do that.

    There aren’t any regulations or quality checks for schools or tutors that offer TOEFL lessons. Anyone can buy a few books, set themselves up as a teacher and give lessons but that doesn’t mean to say they know what they’re doing.

    Jane has been teaching TOEFL online for the past two and a half years. She’s taught more than 1,000 hours of lessons not to mention all the homework, lesson preparation and professional development that she’s done. She’s taken the exam herself and she knows every part of it inside out.

    She’s a full-time professional TOEFL teacher. In fact, she’s more than a teacher. She’s a mentor and a coach. You can see from her success stories that she really cares about her students. Just click here to start reading
    One of her students said,
    “You know, you’ve really opened my eyes and helped me realize that I do need a teacher to explain things to me. People asked me why I was paying this money but by paying $300 here and $300 there, that’s a waste of money. It’s better to pay money and work with someone who knows what they’re doing”

    I’ll have 2 lessons per week. Jane packs the lessons full of activities. And I’ll have around 4 – 6 hours of homework each week that Jane will give me feedback on.

    Jane works through English Success Academy so I’ll be given FREE ACCESS to their study courses and all the practice activities on their website as part of my study package.

    Also, Jane’s a specialist in vocabulary learning and she’s worked out all sorts of ways and resources to help students with that. She creates a lot of her own materials and if there’s anything that I’m not sure about, she’ll find a way to help explain it to me.

    Taking lessons and doing homework is going to take up quite a bit of my time so we will have to make some adjustments to our normal routine.

    But it’s a concentrated effort for the next few months while I get through the exam. Think of it as a temporary interruption then we can get on with the things we’ve always wanted to do.

    Also, it’s unhealthy to study all the time. If you focus intensely on something like language learning, then you also need to give your brain a chance to process what you’ve just been studying.

    Many people don’t understand this and study for 8 or 10 hours at a time but it’s actually counter-productive. That’s when you start making errors, getting frustrated and even depressed. Your rate of progress slows right down.

    So it’s best to study for a shorter period of time then to take a break and do something different like a physical activity.

    That means I will still have some time for those other things. In fact, I’ll probably enjoy them more because I’ll be happier and motivated about making progress in TOEFL.

    I haven’t made progress in the past because I haven’t completely understood where I’m making errors. I’ve got all those books and resources but I haven’t really used them because I don’t know where to start. It’s overwhelming. I’ve tried studying by myself but it’s hard to make progress without getting any feedback.

    Before I start studying with Jane, I’ll have a free 30-minute video consultation. She’ll assess my spoken English while we’re chatting and she’ll ask about my studying history. I’ll have a chance to ask any questions I have.

    Then she’ll give me some tasks to do before our first lesson so we can hit the ground running. She’ll analyze my strengths and weaknesses and from that, she’ll know exactly what to focus on in lessons.

    It’s all targeted especially for me so I won’t waste time going over things I already know how to do. That’s a huge benefit of private lessons.

    All the time, I’ll get detailed feedback on everything I do. That’ll help me to understand my errors and correct them. I’ll feel more in control of my progress and that will help me to feel motivated.

    Do you have more questions?

    If there are any other concerns or questions we didn’t cover here, please send a message to our Lesson Coordinator in the form below.

    We’ll get back to you asap.

    We are happy to address any partner’s (or mother’s, or brother’s, or supervisor’s) concerns, and give you our best, most honest answer about whether or not private TOEFL iBT lessons are right for you.

    • Please use the same email address whenever you contact us.

    Do you have any other unanswered questions?

    Please submit your question through a contact form below:

    • Please use the same email address whenever you contact us.