Fri, May 26, 2006 - Page 8 News List

Letter: TOEFL scores declining

By Chang Sheng-en

Last Saturday, the Educational Testing Service (ETS) launched an Internet-based Test Of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) in Taiwan. But only 14 students took the new TOEFL test, setting a new low for Taiwanese students taking the test. This shows that it is necessary to reform the nation’s English education system if we are to keep abreast with the times.

Taiwan used to be known for its students’ high TOEFL scores. However, average scores have declined since the ETS changed its test format a few years ago to include essay-writing in all computer-based tests. With the oral test included in the new Internet-based test, average scores may decline even further.

The problem is, although an increasing number of students have realized the importance of listening and speaking, they are only familiar with daily conversation. Many are still unable to take part in class discussions or express their opinions clearly.

To solve this problem, students should seize every opportunity to practice outside the classroom. They should also adjust their learning style, and learn to express their opinions with confidence, which is especially difficult for those used to learning passively. Therefore, the guidance and encouragement of teachers is also important.

Hopefully, the new Internet-based test will serve as a turning point in Taiwan’s English education system.

Chang Sheng-en

University English lecturer

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