The Test of English as a Foreign Languagae (TOEFL) is the standardized test by which the English-language skills of non-native speakers are evaluated. The test is required by most colleges and some employers to make sure students and employees are capable of handling the linguistic challenges of cultural immersion. The test is designed by the Center for Applied Linguistics and administered by the Educational Testing Service.
1. Based in Washington, D.C., the Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL) is a nonprofit organization committed to researching the relationship between language and culture. Founded in 1959, its first director was Charles A. Ferguson (1921-1998), who had administered similar programs in the Middle East and taught as a professor at Harvard University. Ferguson guided the center to develop practical solutions for the applied language and literacy concerns of international and national governments.
2. One of Ferguson’s earliest projects was to develop a test that would quantify the command of the language that ESL (English-as-a-Second-Language) students and government employees had. Ferguson and fellow applied linguistics researchers developed the TOEFL test for the first five years of the CAL. In 1964, the first official TOEFL test was taken at the center.
3. Since the late 1960s, the TOEFL test has been administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS), an international standardized-testing organization. According to ETS, between 1964 and 2008, 24 million people, largely international students, have taken the test. Introduced in 2005, the Internet-based test has replaced the computer-based and paper-based formats, with the computer-based results ruled no longer valid as of 2006.
4. Since the early 1970s, the 15-member TOEFL board has dealt with specific problems regarding the organization. This board is comprised of educators and government and industry representatives who are involved in international education. A board of 12 language specialists form the TOEFL Committee of Examiners, which addresses any concerns with the test’s content and methodology, keeping the test valid.
Composition of Test
5. Since 1998, the paper test has been made up of 30 listening-based questions, 40 “written-expression” questions, 50 reading-comprehension questions, and a 300-word essay. The Internet-based test includes four sections: answering questions on a 700-word passage and questions on 30 minutes of an audio sample, as well as six speaking and written-composition tasks. The Internet-based test has also implemented tables and other formats into the test.
When applying to schools and for jobs, international students and businesspeople must often take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) to prove their proficiency. The test has been around for nearly half a century, taking several different forms before arriving at the version test-takers see today. Knowing the history of TOEFL can help students understand the nature of the test, how it is scored, and how their score compares to those of past test-takers.
1. Paper-Based Test
From 1964 until 1998, test-takers took the TOEFL paper-based test, which was given like a traditional exam. This test was originally based on discrete-point testing, which tests one particular area of language knowledge per question and extrapolates a score that gives an overall view of the student’s level. The paper-based test was scored from 310 to 677. However, as linguistic models changed, the Educational Testing Service (ETS), which administers the TOEFL, decided to change the test format as well.
Started in 1998, the computer-based TOEFL test kept some discrete-point questions, but also tested vocabulary and other skills directly. The computer-based test worked on an adaptive model: the questions a student saw depended on his answers to the first question in a given section. If he got the first few questions wrong, he would receive easier questions and thus a lower score. The computer-based test was scored on a scale of 0 to 300 points.
In 2005, ETS began to phase out the computer-based test in favor of the current Internet-based test. This test contains no discrete-point questions and is not adaptive: all students see the same questions, regardless of whether or not they answer the first questions correctly. The TOEFL Internet-based test appeared first in the United States, Canada, France, Germany and Italy in 2005, before gradually spreading to other parts of the world in 2006. It is scored on a scale of 0 to 120.
Today, the TOEFL is broken down into four sections, designed to measure the test-taker’s skills in reading, listening, writing and speaking. Each section is scored on a scale of 0 to 30, for a maximum total of 120 points. The paper-based test is still available in some parts of the world; however, the Internet-based test is much more common and more widely accepted.
The Test of English as a Foreign Language, or TOEFL (pronounced /ˈtoʊfəl/ TOH-fəl), evaluates the ability of an individual to use and understand English in an academic setting. It sometimes is an admission requirement for non-native English speakers at many English-speaking colleges and universities. Additionally, institutions such as government agencies, licensing bodies, businesses, or scholarship programs may require this test. A TOEFL score is valid for two years and then will no longer be officially reported since a candidate’s language proficiency could have significantly changed since the date of the test. Colleges and universities usually consider only the most recent TOEFL score.
The TOEFL test is a registered trademark of Educational Testing Service (ETS) and is administered worldwide. The test was first administered in 1964 and has since been taken by more than 23 million students. The test was originally developed at the Center for Applied Linguistics under the direction of Stanford University applied linguistics professor Dr. Charles A. Ferguson.
Policies governing the TOEFL program are formulated with advice from a 16-member board. Board members are affiliated with undergraduate and graduate schools, 2-year institutions and public or private agencies with an interest in international education. Other members are specialists in the field of English as a foreign or second language.
The TOEFL Committee of Examiners is composed of 12 specialists in linguistics, language testing, teaching or research. Its main responsibility is to advise on TOEFL test content. The committee helps ensure the test is a valid measure of English language proficiency reflecting current trends and methodologies.
TOEFL stands for Test Of English as a Foreign Language. The TOEFL was introduced in the 1960ies by ETS — Educational Testing Services. Now, almost 800,000 people take the TOEFL exam every year worldwide.
You probably know that a growing number of universities and colleges offer courses and academic study programs in English so if you want to enrol in one of them you must have a good command of the English language. This is where the TOEFLcomes into play. It is the most widely used academic English proficiency test in the world. Thousands of colleges and universities use the TOEFL to test and evaluate the English language competency of their students and academic personnel.
In addition, many government agencies, sponsoring institutions and other authorities require TOEFL scores.
The TOEFL test measures English language proficiency in these three disciplines: reading, listening and writing. In most regions of the world you can take the TOEFL on a computer.