Jane Birkenhead, January 19 2024

Are TOEFL Lessons Worth the Money?

If you're wondering if private TOEFL lessons are really worth the investment, or if you're worried about the cost of paying for them, then I hope this article will address some of your concerns. 

I've arranged this article into 4 separate sections to hopefully answer all your questions:

If you have any other questions about TOEFL lessons, then please contact me.

1. What do private TOEFL lessons cost?

I’ve always believed in being open about what I charge for lessons.

🟢 My rate is USD $60 for a 60 minute lesson. 
🟢 I offer discounts for lesson packages. 

Lessons with an experienced TOEFL teacher can range from about $45 to $85 for a 60 minute lesson. Some teachers only offer 45 minute or 55 minute lessons so their rates seem cheaper. 

Other teachers keep their rates hidden, and only reveal what they are going to charge when you are most of the way through their application process. This is a neat marketing trick, but not very helpful when you want to compare costs.

Other teachers charge upwards of $150 for specialist services such as an individual score review. Again, this is nice marketing but experienced TOEFL teachers will do this as anyway during lesson packages.

Notice that I quoted rates for experienced teachers. I’m sure you’ve searched and found classes where teachers charge $20 per hour but I can guarantee that these teachers will not have the knowledge and experience to get you through TOEFL. 

I can also guarantee that teachers whose lesson rates are at the higher end of the scale that I quoted above, will be working for you outside lesson hours as well by checking homework, giving feedback and planning constructive lessons for you. 

I've heard of other teachers who rush away at the end of each lesson, who don't give any feedback between lessons, and who rely on practicing the same things over and over again in lessons. There's an old saying, "You get what you pay for." And in exam preparation, this is certainly true.

2. Exams or lessons?

In the United States, the cost of taking the TOEFL exam is $255 plus sales tax. Of course, the total cost will include other costs like gas and parking, as well as your time.

I’ve known students who take the exam every 2 weeks, even if they haven’t made any improvement, just to “try”. That’s more than $500 every 4 weeks! 

Imagine if you invested that $500 in private TOEFL lessons instead. You could have nearly 10 lessons or 600 minutes of instruction. You'd get personalized feedback, targeted homework, correction of fossilized errors, skill building exercises to do, exam strategy advice and all sorts of other things. 

That level of intense instruction could make a BIG difference to your score. By pausing the exam-taking cycle, and investing in lessons, you've got more chance of improving and reaching your target scores sooner.

3. Current salary vs future salary

When you're considering whether private TOEFL lessons are worth the investment, you should think about your future salary potential as well. 

For example, let’s say that your current salary is $50k but this will rise to $120k when you’ve got your TOEFL scores. That’s a $70k per year difference. That means that your salary deficit per year is $70k ($120k - $50k = $70k). 

Here is a chart showing different salary deficits.

So doesn’t it make sense to spend as little time as possible getting your TOEFL scores, then move ahead and put yourself in a position to earn a higher salary? In this case, money spent on private TOEFL lessons seems likes a very wise investment.

4. Other questions about lessons

- Are there Flexible Payment Options?

Yes. It can be scary when you calculate a lesson package and see that it will cost a few hundred dollars. For this reason, I give all of my students the option to pay for lessons in instalments. 

I don’t charge any extra for this and we can work out the instalment timings so they are convenient for you. Here's an example of how this would work for a 10 lesson package.

There is no reason for me to charge extra as it takes just a couple of minutes to create additional invoices. Some popular language schools charge hundreds of dollars extra (on top of already incredibly expensive instruction) to allow students to pay in instalments. I think that's outrageous!

- Are lessons value for money?

Yes. I recognize that TOEFL lessons are a big investment so, for that reason, I try to give my students as much value for their money as I can.

These are some of the ways I add value onto my lessons:

🟢 I don't put limits on the amount of homework you do. I want you to study as much as you're able. I encourage you to try new and different things, and to share everything with me. That way, I can see how you're progressing and I can tailor your lessons so they exactly meet your needs.

🟢 I give incredibly detailed feedback for all work that you share with me. I don't just make inline corrections to your essays but I fully explain your errors and provide additional resources so you can check any grammar and vocabulary points you're unsure of. 

🟢 I listen to every speaking response carefully, sometimes as much as 4 or 5 times to be sure I've understood everything. 

🟢 I make sure you get a full 60 minutes in each lesson and I don't rush away at the end. I plan my schedule carefully so that I can give each student my undivided attention for the time that they're with me.

🟢 I'm available to answer your questions between lessons. I want you to be studying in the best way possible so I encourage you to reach out to me with any concerns that you have. 

- Are private lessons better than group lessons?

I think that group lessons can really help students to understand the requirements and learn some strategies for the exam. I think - depending on the teacher - they can also offer a good place to practice and get some feedback. Many students do really well with just group lessons.

But, I think 

then private lessons are more effective and will allow you to achieve your target scores sooner.

Further Questions?

If you have any questions about anything written here, or you have any questions that I haven't answered, then please contact me. 

Written by

Jane Birkenhead

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