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Teaching Tips for the TOEIC®

Lin Lougheed, author of Longman Preparation Series for the TOEIC®

The most important teaching tip is to let the ones who need the most work DO the most work – your students. Let them research, plan, and prepare activities.

Learning a language is about making and testing assumptions – assumptions about what words mean in a particular context. When your students walk home, they see familiar landmarks that help them get to their destination. If they are in unfamiliar territory, it may take them longer to get where they are going. Similarly, with English, students need experience in a lot of different contexts so they feel comfortable navigating their way through unfamiliar territory. This is especially important when they take a test. The context is very narrow so they must try to put it in a familiar setting. When they feel comfortable in a setting, they will do well.

The activities below introduce students to new contexts that will help them expand their comfort level when they encounter a new context. They will be able to make assumptions about what they are reading and hearing. They will test these assumptions based on past experiences. These assumptions will help them understand the new context and score well on the TOEIC®.

Students will do this work on their own and share the results whenever you have a spare five minutes in class. The preparation is done outside of class and then shared with partners (one or two) in class.



In Part 1 of the TOEIC®, students need to be able to quickly identify objects, situations, and activities in photos. The context of these photos can be about anything. Ask your students to find photos from magazines or the Internet or ones that they took themselves. These photos should show scenes both with and without people.

Have students work in pairs to name objects in a photo, then use the words to make sentences describing the photo.

Have students describe the actions of a person in a photo in as many ways as possible. For example, a photo of a man in a restaurant might result in these sentences: The man is having dinner. The man is holding a fork. The man is looking at the plate. The man is sitting at the table. The man is eating a hamburger.

Have students find several photos that show a similar scene, for example, people boarding a train. One student says sentences describing one of the photos while the partner (or the rest of the class) guesses which is the correct photo.


In Part 2 of the TOEIC®, students have to identify the best response to a question or statement. Have the students write five or more Part 2-type questions or statements outside of class; in class have students work in pairs to come up with a list of possible responses. For example, if a question is "Where can I find the manager's office?" responses might include, "It's on the second floor," "At the end of the hall," "Next to the elevator," "It's in the building across the street," "I'm not sure where it is." This will help students make assumptions and anticipate appropriate responses in Part 2.

PARTS 3 and 4

In Parts 3 and 4 of the TOEIC®, students listen to a conversation or a talk and answer comprehension questions. The more conversations they are exposed to, the better they will be able to make assumptions. Have each student write a conversation about a situation that might be found in Part 3, for example, "Discuss a broken photocopier," "Invite a friend to play golf," or "Make hotel reservations." They can use the book, the photos from the above Part 1 activities, or their imagination to come up with these topics. Tell each student to create outside of class a 3- or 4-line dialogue and write questions that begin with Who, What, When, Where, and Why. In class, have each student share the conversation with a partner. Then have the partner answer the wh- questions about the dialogue. This will help them expand their ability to make assumptions about conversations in Part 3.


Have the students do a similar activity as above with Part 4-type topics such as a weather report, an announcement at a train station, or introducing a speaker.


To help students prepare for the reading section of the TOEIC®, have them look in business magazines or at business news sites on the Internet for articles. After they have found an article, have them write five comprehension questions about the article and choose five new vocabulary words to learn. Ask them to write a definition and sample sentence for each chosen word. In class, have the students work in small groups or with their partners to ask their comprehension questions and teach their vocabulary words to each other.

On the TOEIC®, students will see several different types of reading material in addition to articles, such as ads, charts and graphs, business letters, and business emails. Samples of all these types of materials can be found online and used to help the students develop assumptions in a variety of contexts.

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