In order to perform well on the listening, speaking, writing, and reading areas of the TOEFL iBT, you will need to have a good knowledge of basic and academic vocabulary. For example, if you have studied vocabulary extensively, you will be more likely to recognize and note-take the main ideas and important points of TOEFL iBT listening passages. Furthermore, you will be able to come up with creative vocabulary words during the independent speaking and writing tasks, and you will be able to confidently speak and write during the integrated tasks. Particularly, with a strong vocabulary base, you will be less likely to plagiarize the reading passage during the integrated writing section. Finally, if you have advanced vocabulary skills, you will read faster, concentrate better, have higher comprehension, and answer questions more accurately. Do you need any more convincing in terms of how important vocabulary is to the TOEFL iBT?
Despite the advantages to having good vocabulary skills, many learners have considerable difficulty. These learners may not have spent enough time extensively reading and regularly studying vocabulary. Furthermore, since languages differ incredibly with their writing systems, these learners do not have a lot of positive language transfer from their languages to English. Additionally, these learners may not have a focused vocabulary studying routine. The end result? These learners are constantly learning and forgetting the words they study. Finally, when it is time for them to take the TOEFL iBT, they cannot remember the words they studied. As a result, their test-taking experience is unpleasant.
For you to succeed, you will need to take charge of your vocabulary study. First, get an academic vocabulary list of 1000-3000 words. Transfer one word from the list onto a 4 inch by 6 inch note-card. On the front of the note-card, write the word in large capital bold letters. On the opposite side of the note-card, write the definition, pronunciation, part of speech, synonyms, antonyms, and any other relevant information that will help you to remember the word. Repeat this process 1000-3000 times!
Second, as you study the note-cards, separate the note-cards into two stacks: words that you learn easily and words that you have difficulty learning. Concentrate on the stack of words that are more difficult and study them regularly: waiting in line somewhere, during your lunch break, during commercials of your favorite television show–you get the picture.
Third, make sure you get these words into your long-term memory. The suggestions that I am about to give you may very well make you remember these words until the day you die. Particularly the words that you are having difficulty remembering, find at least five opportunities to use/recognize the word in authentic speaking, listening, writing, and reading situations, and then you will have the word permanently placed in your memory.
1. Use the word in a conversation or formal presentation.
2. Hear and understand the word in a listening context such as radio, television, or TOEFL iBT audio materials.
3. Use the word in a writing assignment
4. Read and understand the word in an authentic reading passage such as a newspaper, magazine, textbook, or novel.
5. Use the word in any of the 1-4 contexts again.
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