e-FLT: Electronic Journal of Foreign Language Teaching
In recent years TOEFL has become one of the most popular high-stakes tests affecting not only what and how English language teachers teach but also what and how students learn (e.g. Johnson, Jordan, & Poehner, 2005; Alderson & Wall, 1993). The new 2006 TOEFL–iBT exam is on its way; yet, until now, information about the new test format and test preparation materials is scarce. Above and beyond interest in the test alone, the burning question is what demanded the revision of the current test, given that the latest computer-based TOEFL was introduced fairly recently worldwide. The paper elaborates on some of the major reasons that have promoted the current changes of the exam format emphasizing the realization of testing experts, researchers, ESL/EFL teachers, students, program administrators, and other end-users that to succeed in an academic environment in which English is the language of instruction, students need not only to understand English, but also to communicate effectively. Among these reasons is the growing awareness among all parties interested in the test results that if a test is aiming to be a test of English for academic purposes and a reliable instrument of language proficiency, it needs to capture the integrated nature of the use of skills in academic settings. The paper also discusses in greater detail the new revisions of the test format – that is, the inclusion of a new speaking section, the revision of the writing component, and the incorporation of note-taking throughout all sections of the test – in light of the theoretical considerations and research findings underpinning the modifications. The expected outcomes and implications of the test revisions are outlined with regard to a focus on communicative competence and the anticipated positive washback effect on the way English is taught in the future.
Original Publication Citation
Zareva, A. (2005). What is new in the new TOEFL-iBT 2006 test format? e-FLT: Electronic Journal of Foreign Language Teaching, 2(2), 45-57.
Zareva, Alla, "What Is New in the New TOEFL-iBT 2006 Test Format?" (2005). English Faculty Publications. 40.