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Hear from... English language students English test taker

Name: Santa Pumpura
Studies: Fulton Montgomery Commmunity College 

If you want to transfer to a different school, you will have to take an English test, like TOEFL. 

Some schools do not require the score, but most private schools do. You need to check with the schools you are applying to. I applied to 3 private schools and all of them required TOEFL.

Usually the requirement is to have a minimum score of 100 in the internet-based test (iBT), but it depends on your school.

Guess what, I got a 100!

I know that a lot of students prepare for weeks, possibly months for the test…well I just scheduled one Sunday to have the test on the following Saturday.

The pressure was huge! I bought one book that gave examples on what would be in the test and one book that had common words in the TOEFL test. I went over both of them and did the exercises on the CD that was included with the book.

The night before the test, I went to sleep at about 9pm to have a good night sleep. I thought I had put my alarm clock on, but I hadn't! The next morning, I had wanted to be at the testing center at 7.30am, but my cat woke me up at 7.24am 

I rushed to the testing centre, but I was really late (it is normally a 25-30 minute drive). I went to the lady that called everybody in and she asked me for my passport...OF COURSE I'd forgotten it.

I begged, but she did not accept my driving license. Top tip: NEVER FORGET YOUR PASSPORT!

I went home and came back, rushed in the room and started my test. I was full of adrenalin from driving, so my reading part was not in the level of my abilities.

What happens in the test?


First you have to do your reading part.

In the textbook that I was practicing, the text was not as hard as I was reading in the actual test. I wasted my time too much in trying to read and understand the text and I lost time. It looks like you have a lot of time, but you really don’t for reading. You have to read 3-4 passages. It takes ages.


When you are done with your reading part, you jump into the listening part. For me personally I did not find a problem, but one thing I did, I took notes for every keyword and wrote them down.

When you are doing the listening part, you don’t see the question they are going to ask you about the previously listened text and they do not repeat the tape. Writing the words helped me to back up my memory of the previously listened text. It is just safe to take notes.

After that you have a short break to do whatever you want to do.


When the free time is up, you start with the speaking part. It starts with some free topic speech, but then it changes to a lecture and then to a dialogue. Again when doing the lecture and dialogue part, take notes when they speak to have some back up information.

I did write down some key points that I wanted to mention while speaking. One thing to remember, after the beep (to stop) they still have a 2 second recording gap, so do not say anything like I did.

I failed in one speech and at the end I quietly said, "God damn it" - Oopss!


The last part was writing. You needed to write two essays. One free writing, the other about a problem addressed in the article. I would suggest not writing fancy words really, especially if you are not 100% sure that this is how you write it. They care more about the structure rather than the fancy words.

What did I learn?

You cannot bring anything in the room, and it takes you about 4 hours altogether. It started at 8.00am and lasted till 12.00pm. I do not suggest to do the studying the way I did it, please do prepare, because we all are different and some need more time than others.

If you have any questions about it, you can always seek help in your advisor's office. 

For more of these adventures, check out Santa Pumpura's blog



…an English language student

Name: Alina Woitscheck
From: Cologne, Germany

Hello. My Name is Alina and I’m from Cologne in Germany.

I learn English for 8 years now. English was always my favourite subject in school. Moreover, I like English very much, because most people in the world speak English. So it’s the easiest way to communicate with people all over the world.

On the one hand I think the grammar is very simple to learn, but on the other hand I think many people have problems with the sentence structure, because in other countries it’s completely different.

I would like to speak more English at my workplace. Also I would like to study in the UK or the USA. If I wanted to get better at English, I would try to get work experience in an English workplace again or I would do a language course in Germany. English teacher in China

Name: Owain Lloyd-Williams
Studied: English Literature
Graduated: 2009
Teaches in: Beijing, China

I’ve been doing this teaching job for a little over three years now, and it’s the type of job that if you want it to be, can be both refreshing and challenging each time you step into the classroom.

As I currently work for a private training centre, the bulk of the work is on the weekends, where I work 2 pretty intense days and then have most of the week off, except for a few evening classes scattered around the week. Despite the schedule being quite spread out and at ends with the standard Monday to Friday job, I get a fair amount of free time throughout the week which I spend doing other bits and bobs.

On average, I can be expected to teach around 20 hours a week, though this depends on the school’s weekly teaching schedule. Luckily, the school I work for provides a fixed salary so if I work less hours I’ll get the same pay, and any overtime is paid extra.

As my teaching schedule has the frequent habit of changing due to class cancellations, sick teachers and various other reasons, it’s difficult to pin down and describe a typical working week for me, though weekends never fail to be busy.

As I’ve chosen to live in what I like to call the 'trendy' part of the city, I pay the price with the long commute which means I have to get up at 6.30 on the weekends and embrace the Beijing transport system in all its wonder. Not fun, though I only have to do this twice a week usually.

After a quick coffee, I hop on a typically packed Chinese bus, which even at 7am on Sunday morning is packed full of people all off to somewhere or other, though I’m pretty sure it isn’t church.

After getting off, I then squeeze onto the Beijing subway, where I strategically try and figure out who might get off where so I can grab a seat. Once I arrive at school I’m met by colleagues as we wake ourselves up via McDonald’s breakfast and more coffee and start to gather our things to get ready for class. 

Everything kicks off at 8.30 as the students start to arrive, and on a normal full day we’d teach from then until 12.30, with 10 minute breaks after each hour.

Although most of the classes are quite long at 2 hours, time does fly when you’re teaching and lunch comes around pretty fast, where we’re given a chance to take a breather and gather ourselves for the second part of the day.

The day comes to an end at 6pm, and once the mess of flashcards, pens, folders and lesson plans thrown over the office table throughout the day is cleared up, we head down to the bar for a well deserved beer, which in the current Beijing heat couldn’t be more needed!

For more information about life as an English teacher, check out Owain Lloyd-Williams' blog