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Monday, May 31, 2010


What kind of TOEFL SP progress should you expect? I am posting some details from 17 students who started working with me in January and February (with their permission). If you are motivated and work hard, I think anyone can make the kind of progress my 2010 students have made so far.

I omitted only 2 students from this list. One hasn't taken TOEFL yet, so there is no objective measure of his effort. The other didn't take TOEFL because he doesn't need it, but heard that my classes were the best way to improve his English speaking in general.

In order to maintain anonymity, I have used the masculine pronouns (he, his) in all the descriptions, though several of these students were women.
  1. Started at SP22/T93, but SP was not consistent. Works at an international company. He has very good LS skills and is a very strategic student. Scored SP22 consistently, despite imperfect pronunciation (lisp), and got T104 in about 15 weeks.
  2. 2010 applicant looking to pick up a few points on TOEFL SP. Started at SP22/T97. I don’t recommend that people join my class looking to pick up points quickly because it usually takes 3-6 months to get up to SP23-24 consistently, but he wanted to try. Got SP24/T101 and quit after 5 weeks in order to finish his application essays for the third round. Accepted to a top ten program! Congratulations!
  3. Government company, started at SP17/T80. Good speed, random intonation patterns at first, but greatly improved with shadowing practice. Scored SP23 consistently by March, and got T104 in May. [Edit June 26: got T106 and is enjoying his GMAT journey!]
  4. Government company, started at SP17/T85. Clear, deep, masculine voice. 12 weeks to SP24, and 14 weeks to SP24/T103. If you have a voice like this guy, it’s possible to get a consistent SP23-24 score even if your strategies aren’t always perfect. [Edit 6/29: picked up a point to T104.]
  5. No TOEFL at start, but has a clear voice. He didn’t like the competitive classroom environment at first, but got used to it. His first TOEFL was SP17/T76 in February, up to SP20/80 in April. The major problem is the listening part of the INT tasks, not IND SP (and the RD/LS sections of TOEFL).
  6. International Japanese company, SP17/91 at start. Speaks too fast, which hurts pronunciation, but managed SP22/T98 after 14 weeks. Should get SP23-24 if he slows down.
  7. Domestic Japanese company, so no chances to speak English. SP15/T76 at start. Very slow at first, but voice was clear and intonation got much better. Speed improved a little bit, but not a lot. Developed efficient summarizing skills, which is very hard to do. Kudos! SP23 in 14 weeks, SP24/T95 in 16 weeks. Donald is impressed!
  8. Government company, clear voice, strategically very clever. SP17/T77 at start. Worked very hard at recycling and got SP23/T97 in 12 weeks.
  9. International company, SP19/T68 to start. Very clear voice. Improved to SP24/T75 in 12 weeks. T84 in May. SP isn’t his problem. SP score was higher than RD/WR.
  10. This student has been here 20 weeks and has improved a lot from a low base. Current best is S19/T66, but SP is the highest section score. When his workload gets lighter, he will have more time to focus on TOEFL and should make good progress.
  11. Very slow speaker, SP14/T64 at start. Quit job and prepare for TOEFL and GMAT full-time. SP22/T70 in 6 weeks. Left after 10 weeks for the USA.
  12. Slow voice, but good intonation at start, SP18/T83. Very inspiring student! SP23/T93 in 9 weeks.
  13. Slow speaker at first, SP18/T81. Very hard worker and strong strategically, got SP22/T100 in 9 weeks.
  14. Gov. employee, slow speaker at first, SP15/T71. He needed T80 for sponsorship by his ministry. Left after 10 weeks with SP19/T81!
  15. Inspiration Man! Good speaker with bad “template” strategies. SP17/T86, up to SP19/T92 in 6 weeks and SP22/T106 in 9 weeks. Woo hoo! Have fun studying GMAT, dude!
  16. Gov. worker, SP17/T75 at start. Too busy to practice a lot, but he got S19/T83 and qualified for government sponsorship.
  17. This one shows the value of practice. Very slow speaker at start, SP11/T58. My class was too hard at first, but he worked very hard and got up to SP19/T79 in 9 weeks, and SP20/T86 in 11 weeks.

As always, please compare my students' results to students in any other TOEFL preparation program!