Monday, February 14, 2005

ESL/TOEFL: FYI: Next Generation TOEFL

Next Generation TOEFL Update
There are some exciting upcoming changes to language tests administered by Educational Testing Service

The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL®) is undergoing some important changes. In order to meet the challenge of providing a more comprehensive assessment of an applicant’s ability to understand and use the English language in an academic environment, the “next generation” TOEFL® has been developed to assess all four language skills - listening, reading, writing, and speaking. The new test will be administered on fixed dates in a network of secure Internet-based test centers. While some questions in each of the sections will be similar to questions found on the current computer-based TOEFL® test (CBT), others will be new. The scoring system will change as well. Each of the four language skills will now be reported on a scale of 0 to 30, and there will also be a total score. In addition, the next generation TOEFL® will no longer have computer-adaptive sections; it will be a linear assessment test covering a full range of question difficulty. Note taking will be allowed on the new TOEFL® in order to better reflect real-life academic situations. The new TOEFL® will take approximately four hours to finish.
Starting in July 2004, students were introduced to this new version of the TOEFL® (iBT TOEFL®) on the Internet. Full-length tests will be unproctored (i.e.: not supervised), and the scores will be given to the examinee only. In September 2005, the iBT TOEFL® will begin to be administered at official ETS® test centers.
A very important change to the TOEFL® is the inclusion of a mandatory speaking component - the Academic Speaking Test. Your responses will be recorded on tape and then reviewed later and given a score. During the test you will be asked six questions, two of which will focus on familiar topics. The other four will ask about short conversations, lectures, and reading passages. Both the questions and the reading passages will be printed in the test book. The time you have to prepare your response and speak will be printed below each question. The preparation time begins as soon as the question is finished, and you will be told when to begin speaking.

The Reading and Listening sections will be fairly similar to those on the current TOEFL® CBT, although some new question types will be introduced. The Writing section, however, will now include two writing tasks instead of just one. There will be an integrated task (combining listening, reading, and writing) in addition to the current independent task, and typing will be required.
This integrated approach to language testing will help students prepare for success in the real academic environments they will be in when they begin their studies.
The test will first be administered in the United States on September 24, 2005. On October 22, the TOEFL iBT test will begin in Canada, France, Germany and Italy. The test will be introduced in the rest of the world in 2006.