How to Write a TOEFL Essay

 

 

About TOEFL Writing

 

Original Essay

 

I want to refresh my memory and experiences about how Chinese-speaking students, as I once was a long time ago, could learn to write a persuasive essay to face the challenge of the TWE--test of written English, up to the levels of TOEFL, TOEIC, or IELTS.

My first conviction is that reading constantly and extensively is a never-failing step toward writing. Both reading and writing well can be done almost by self-study. There is no shame at all if we are Chinese-conscious in reading or writing English. This could not be possibly avoided. I even go as far as to believe that no native teachers of English are absolutely needed because they are mostly in lack of cultural awareness needed to do the trick. Of course, it's quite another story with learning to listen and to speak. Foreign trainers always help in overcoming the fear of "losing face."

Then, talking about the TWE, it's just a test of English composition of 30 or 40 minutes; but it requires a number of years of preparation in both reading and writing, if necessarily all alone. Once in the battle field, try to be more defensive than offensive. Test takers will meet the No. 1 enemy: time limit. Don't plan a long essay which you can't complete in time. In my opinion, just plan for 4 paragraphs which as a whole are well focused, well supported, well organized, and well packaged.

1)Answer the question of a given topic by focusing a thesis,
2)Organize specific reasons to support the thesis,
3)Organize specific examples to support the thesis,
4)Conclude with a summary of mainpoints and re-state the thesis.

To follow this suggestion, it's important to plan your essay in advance. Do not write straight away, but plan before you begin, by jotting down briefly the mainpoints, supporting reasons and examples. Write clear and simple sentences to express your meaning in simple words. Stay focused on the thesis of your essay. Finally, re-read your essay before the time limit.

The 4-paragraph format is also a traditional Chinese writing form--start, continue, turn and conclude. There is no co-incidence, though.


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Corrected Version

 

Taking a walk down memory lane, I recall vividly the challenges I once faced as a Chinese-speaking student in my attempt to write a persuasive essay at the levels of

TOEFL, TOEIC or IELTS.

 

I was convinced beyond doubt that constant and extensive reading never fails to enhance our writing skills. Unlike interactive activities like conversation, both reading and writing skills can be accomplished without the need of a facilitator. The fact that we sometimes struggle to break away from the Chinese mindset even as we read or write

English essays should not impede our efforts to make progress. I would even suggest that native teachers of English, for their lack of cultural awareness and sensitivities,

may not be the best choice for students as a facilitator. On the other hand, speaking and listening skills are best learned with the help of a foreign teacher. Students tend

to be less self-conscious when interacting with foreign teachers than with their own peers.

 

Years of hard work and diligence go into the preparation of TWE and the moment of truth is revealed in the 30 minutes it takes to complete the test. Time is the essence and proper planning will be crucial to your success. Do not try to accomplish more than what you possibly can within the given time. In my opinion, a four paragraph essay that is well focused and substantiated is valued more than a lengthy essay that rambles on without a clear direction.

 

1) Address the subject in question with a clear focus on your hypothesis.

2 and 3) Provide specific arguments with particular case studies to substantiate your hypothesis.

4) Conclude with a summary of the main points and reiterate your hypothesis.

 

Advance planning is the key to success. Visualize your main points, supporting arguments and case studies and have them jotted down. Do not use bombastic words if

you cannot fit them into your essay elegantly. Stay focused and review what you have wriiten before submission time.

 

The four paragraph approach to essay writing is also commonly found in Chinese essays, and it shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone.

 

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Explanations

 

I want to refresh my memory and experiences about how Chinese-speaking students, as I once was a long time ago, could learn to write a persuasive essay to face the challenge of the TWE--test of written English, up to the levels of TOEFL, TOEIC, or IELTS.

Perfect paragraph with no grammatical errors. Nevertheless, note the following suggestions:

1) "Refresh my memory" is great, but "Taking a walk down memory lane" has a nostalgic feel.

2) "Vivid memories" is a visual recall of past events that has had a deep impression.

My first conviction (1) is that reading constantly and extensively is a never-failing step toward writing. Both reading and writing well can be done almost by self-study. There is no shame (2) at all if we are Chinese-conscious (3) in reading or writing English. This could not be possibly avoided. I even go as far as to believe that no native teachers of English are absolutely needed because they are mostly in lack of cultural awareness needed to do the trick (4) . Of course, it's quite another story with learning to listen and to speak. Foreign trainers always help in overcoming the fear of "losing face."

(1) I think "conviction" is better used in matters of a more serious nature.

eg: He was obssessed by his religious convictions.

(2) "Shame" would be too strong a word to use. Perhaps "embarrassment" would be a better choice of words.

(3) "A Chinese mindset" would better describe the manner of thinking here, which is basically about how we are accustomed to think.

(4) "Trick" would be a misplaced word here. Perhaps "... needed to accomplish a task" would be preferrable.

(5) "Losing face" is fine, within the Chinese context. Understand that the concept of "losing face" may be something that other cultures may fail to understand. Personally, I always believe we should write with an international audience in mind.
Then, talking about the TWE, it's just a test of English composition of 30 or 40 minutes; but it requires a number of years of preparation in both reading and writing, if necessarily all alone. Once in the battle field,(1)  try to be more defensive than offensive. Test takers will meet the No. 1 enemy: time limit. (2) Don't plan a long essay which you can't complete in time. In my opinion, just plan for 4 paragraphs which as a whole are well focused, well supported (3), well organized, and well packaged.

(1) Not wrong, but to draw an analogy between a matter of academic pursuit and doing battle in the battle field may be a little far fetched.

(2) To characterize "Time" as an enemy would be both fatalistic and unhelpful.

(3) "Supported" is great, but "Substantiate" is better.
1)Answer the question of a given topic by focusing a thesis, (1)
2)Organize specific reasons to support the thesis,
3)Organize specific examples to support the thesis,
4)Conclude with a summary of mainpoints and re-state the thesis.

(1) A "Thesis" or otherwise known as a "dissertation" would be a formal academic undertaking, usually supported by irrefutable evidence. A "hypothesis" would refer to an "assumption" or "conjecture" and is more appropriate when an opinion is based more on a personal belief.
To follow this suggestion, it's important to plan your essay in advance. Do not write straight away, but plan before you begin, by jotting down briefly the mainpoints, supporting reasons and examples. Write clear and simple sentences to express your meaning in simple words. Stay focused on the thesis of your essay. Finally, re-read your essay before the time limit.

The 4-paragraph format is also a traditional Chinese writing form--start, continue, turn and conclude. There is no co-incidence, though.

 
       
 

 

 


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