Sunday, October 3, 2010

TOEIC (토잌) : First hints on what to study. Really.

There is a saying in English (사자성어 처럼), which is pretty funny.  It goes "You can't live with it, you can't live without it."

"It" in this saying can be almost anything.  For example, here is just a partial list.

Today, I will address the TOEIC, which is still the most widely used test used throughout Korea, although there are a number of different test which have gained in popularity over the past few years.  Here are the facts about these tests.

1.  The scoring of these exams is HIGHLY RANDOM.  I have taught students in Korean corporations at the executive level who have gotten almost perfect scores on the verbal section, and their actual skill was poor.  In addition, I have also taught students who would have passed for almost native speakers who did not receive as high a score.  The key point is that you must not take it as an absolute measure of your ability.  There is great variability in the results.  It is sad, given that you need to have these certificates at Korean companies in your personnel files in order to determine whether or not you can advance in Korean companies.

2.  It is well known that there are a number sections to the TOEIC which I will broadly call:  Listening/Comprehension, Reading a passage, Describing a picture, Speaking, and Writing.  Let me make this easier for you, and reorganize this into 2 sections:  Listening/Comprehension and Reading are one group, and Describing a picutre/Speaking/Writing.  What does this mean?  It means that if you can read and listen to a conversation or passage, then those are using the same skills.  In addition, this means that if you Describe a picture CORRECTLY, then that will mean that you have also mastered the Speaking and Writing skills. 

3. What does this mean?  First, it means that you must study by Reading OUT LOUD into a voice recorder.  In future posts, I will give you some hints on this.  Second, it also means that you should be able to see a picture, organize your thoughts, and be able to speak about it in an organized manner.  If you are able to do this, then you will be able to write about it in the same organized way. 

4.  The trickiest part is to be able to answer questions spontaneously.  For that you need my help.  There is no substitute to being asked questions about random topics and then to be able to answer questions.  For that, you need an actual native speaker.  Please know that I have a very strong opinion about this.  A Korean person who has studied for a year at a university in an English-speaking country is NOT sufficient.  At the minimum, it will take a person that has studied at an English-speaking country from the age of approximately 13-14 through university. 

Please know that even if you have a teacher of this quality, that the testing of your TOEIC exam is still random, and you cannot control that.  As a result, scoring is highly subjective.  I will post more on the TOEIC and your preparation in the near future.

The point of this post is that if the course that you are taking, or the book that you have bought, or the advice that you have received, does not address the points in this blog entry, then you are being misled and wasting your time, and money. 

Good Luck


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