My students in the TOEFL writing class mostly bombed their test this semester. Bombed it. Fours and eights out of thirty, where the same students got a 17 or more last time. The damn practice test on which so much is pinned in my hagwon gave them two “Integrated” questions, notoriously difficult conceptually and to execute. I hate TOEFL.

After forcing them to write yet another five-paragraph “Integrated” essay on a Tuesday morning at 10:30 AM (on the totally-irrelevant consequences of the Tire Reef in Fort Lauderdale),  I asked them to stop early and tell me what they thought about the whole idea of TOEFL essays, and why. What follows may be a snapshot of the struggle for English TOEFL competency (which I’m certain is not the same as simple English competency…in fact the two may even be at odds…).

” I think TOEFL integrated essays are complexed because they must have both reading and listening.”

” I think TOEFL integrated essay are hard becausing…it’s hard to find informations of the lecture”

“I think TOEFL integrated essays are so difficult. because it is hard to understand the reading and. also. it is hard to listen the listening section.”

“I think TOEFL integrated essays are hard because lecture is very hard.”

” I think TOEFL integrated essays are harder than independent because I don’t have to think my opinion If I didn’t listen my listening passage, I have get bad score.”

“I think TOEFL integrated essay are E.A.S.Y. kind of because Coleen Teacher held a lot and gave many tips for TOEFL integrated essay.”

“I think TOEFL integrated essays are easy but difficult ones are really difficult, because even though it gives reasons it’s hard to relate if difficult.”

Given the grammatical struggles, I’m not surprised that their scores. Yet some manage to communicate the idea behind the linguistic confusion, which surely must count for something. I don’t truly see the point of teaching a college entrance exam to children. I can’t blame them for hating TOEFL tooth and nail. I know I do.

19 days left of teaching in Korea!

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