Jane Birkenhead, July 12 2023

Vocabulary for TOEFL Reading

I see far too many posts on Facebook and Instagram where students ask for help with TOEFL reading and the comments fill up with advice about “learning vocabulary”. Please be aware that learning vocabulary is only a tiny part of the overall solution. You’ve got to understand how that vocabulary works in context.

If you learn lots of nouns and verbs in isolation, then that’s probably going to be a bigger cause of frustration because you’re not looking at the bigger picture. 

Instead, there are 2 areas that I suggest you focus on to make faster progress. 

1. Spend time making sure you really understand the meaning of Function Word Phrases

These are phrases that use: 

…in combination

2. Make sure you are familiar with Advanced Grammar Structures such as: 

As you can see, it’s a lot more than just “learning vocabulary”. 

If you don’t know what any of these terms mean or you're confused about using them, then ask someone to help you. You’ll make much faster progress than struggling alone.

Written by

Jane Birkenhead

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