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Question to Mr Billy...!


Egyptian
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Hello, Egyptian. You asked me whether I'd taken the TOEFL. Yes, I've taken both the paper test and the computer test. I've also taken the GMAT, GRE, and SAT--I have to, that's an important part of my job. You also asked about my scores. To be honest, I don't feel comfortable talking about my scores. Sometimes students ask about a teacher's scores, and this means that the student doesn't trust the teacher. Since trust is a fundamental part of the relationship between the teacher and the student, I believe that trust should be earned not by merit of the teacher's test scores, but by how well the teacher works with the students. What do you think, Egyptian?? I'd like to hear your feedback. Erin
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Well said, very eloquent. Thanks for your feedback, it means a lot to me, really. The thing about the TOEFL is that it's really not very difficult in the scheme of things. A lot of people complain about the TOEFL all the time, say it's unfair, or whatever, and, while many of these complaints are valid, I don't think anyone can say that the level of English that TOEFL presents is really very high. Often people are reluctant to accept this, and, to be honest, I believe part of the reason is not dissatisfaction with the TOEFL itself but simple resentment toward the US and the hegemony many people believe it exerts over the rest of the world. In other words, I believe that many people somehow see the TOEFL as an extension of the US government and its policies and express their anger toward the latter by complaining about the TOEFL. Very political discussion, I know, and I know that I might be treading on dangerous ground here, but I do believe, both in life and in my style of teaching that honesty, openness, and candor can only benefit our ever-growing "global village," so I sometimes allow myself to share my opinions with my students, as long as we can all listen intelligently and respond in kind. Anyway, I believe that you've been wondering about the level of difficulty of the TOEFL. I find that the best way to show people the level of the TOEFL is to show them [b]similar tests in their own language for non-native speakers of their language[/b]. In other words, imagine a "Test of Arabic as a Foreign Language" that Americans would have to take to study in the fine universities of Cairo. If I showed you such a test, although one may not exist, I'm sure you'd laugh and say it was easy. There are several tests like this, made by ETS for the College Board (ETS makes all kinds of tests). Unfortunately, they do not have one for Arabic, but they do for about ten other languages, such as Korean, Mandarin, French, Spanish, etc. Without fail, every time I show these tests to native speakers of those languages, these people laugh! They invariably say something like "Oh! Hahahaha! So easy! You can't understand this? It's like a child's French/Hebrew/German!" I'm sure these people take a bit of pride in the difficulty level of their own languages, but the truth is that the level is really not that high. Finally, to be fair, the level of the TOEFL is said to be that of a high school graduate--not too difficult, but not too easy, either. Anyway, your writing is excellent, even elegant, by any standard. You seem to be a very educated, insightful, and reflective person, and I enjoy conversations with such people!! Thanks again for posting, Egyptian!! Erin
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Very nice reply, Egyptian--both diplomatic and eloquent. You obviously have a lot of important opinions about these matters. Anyway, like you, I'm not sure whether "test prep" is the best place to talk about politics, but I also know that I like to promote an atmosphere of openness and acceptance, especially when we have differing opinions. I have met so many people from all over the world in my job, and there's one thing I've realized: We are all more alike than we are different. All the people I've met from all the corners of the Earth share core beliefs: They love their families, they want to try their best, they want to learn, they want to treat their friends well, they feel happiness, sadness, jealousy, and anger. Of course, people and cultures have differences, but so many of them are ultimately superficial--clothing styles, skin color, languages, hair length, etc., all this stuff is ultimately unimportant "in the scheme of things." So, my point is that I try to promote openness and acceptance among my students and employees. I believe that if people share their ideas openly and honestly, they will see others they thought were so different as more similar to them than they'd realized. So, I might permit a bit of spirited political discussion, as long as its objective and fair. To be honest, I'm a little bit afraid that I might lose some visitors to this web site if I allow political discussions, but I feel I must at least try to promote understanding and acceptance in the world. That's for your thougtful feedback, Egyptian!! HTH!! Erin [center][b]Please[/b] post further questions here. Please [b]search[/b] this newsgroup for FAQs. TestMagic.com San Francisco, CA USA[/center]
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