Foreign students prepare for crucial English test

Allison Brookes

While high school students worry about achieving an acceptable ACT score, international students worry about passing the Test of English as a Foreign Language, better known as the TOEFL.

The TOEFL is given to international students who want to matriculate into Kent State to begin undergraduate or graduate studies.

Jo-Leigh Lyons, an English as a Second Language lecturer, explained that there is a paper based TOEFL and a version of the test known as the Internet-based TOEFL.

The paper test, which is given on campus twice a semester, includes three sections: listening comprehension, structure and written expression and reading.

The Internet test has to be taken at an authorized testing facility and has four parts that include listening, reading, speaking and writing.

“A lot of students take the TOEFL test in their home country before they actually apply for studies at Kent State,” Lyons said. “That’s so they can go directly into an undergraduate program.”

Lyons said the majority of the students struggle with the structure and written expression section of the TOEFL. Because of this, the Internet-based test elected to remove the grammar section. Instead, the students’ grammatical structures are evaluated within the context of speaking and writing.

If an ESL student fails to get a score of 525 on the written test, they will not be granted regular university undergraduate admission. However, if an ESL student receives a 480 or better, they may be granted conditional admission to take one undergraduate class. If they receive a 500, they may be allowed to take two.

This summer, there are less than 100 students preparing for the TOEFL. Those students are taking classes that help to build their skills and help them meet the needs of the test. The next testing date is July 27.

Not all students will pass the test on their first attempt. If that happens, the students can take the test the next time the university offers it, or go to take the Internet test at a testing facility.

ESL Director Klaus Gommlich said the students who do not pass the test on the first time are disappointed and need to be encouraged.

Ahmed Abbas, an ESL student from Saudi Arabia, didn’t pass the TOEFL on his first attempt. His score was a 475, which he said he is proud of.

“There is a big difference between my language and English, and one of these differences is that we write from right to left and English is from left to right,” Abbas said.

Abbas said he is OK with not passing the first time since English isn’t his native language. He is now concentrating on passing the TOEFL the next time.

“I will study and work harder and try to read as much as I can of vocabulary,” Abbas said.

Contact international reporter Allison Brookes at [email protected].