In the listening and speaking sections of the TOEFL, students have to listen to academic lectures in English. After they listen to the lectures, they have to be able to remember facts, identify main ideas and supporting details, summarize, and use information from the lectures to answer questions.
That’s a problem for many students because they’re not familiar with academic English. But it doesn’t have to be a problem. Now there is a wonderful place for students to go to become familiar with academic English. It’s called iTunes U.
What is iTunes U?
iTunes U isn’t a real school. But it is an excellent source of good academic English. During the last few years, millions of people have become familiar with iPods and the iTunes Store. If you know how to find the iTunes Store, you are only a few steps from the door to iTunes U!
iTunes U is a special area inside the iTunes Store. When you enter iTunes U, you’ll find free academic lectures, interviews, and other kinds of class content from top U.S. colleges and universities, such as Stanford University, UC Berkeley, Duke University, and MIT.
If you have an iPod or other mp3 player, you can download lectures and other content from iTunes U and carry them with you wherever you go. If you don’t have an iPod, you can listen to them on your computer.
Watch the iTunes U video
The iTunes U video will introduce you to iTunes U and show you how to use it.
How to use iTunes U to prepare for the TOEFL
Here are some suggestions to help you use iTunes U to prepare for the TOEFL:
- Look for lectures that are easy to understand. When you are trying to improve your English, it’s important to read or listen to as much easy-to-understand English as possible. Remember this when you look for lectures and other material on iTunes U.
- One way to make sure the lectures are easy to understand is to listen to lectures about subjects you are already familiar with. For example, if you studied world history or general psychology in your own language, look for lectures about world history or general psychology. What you learned about these subjects in your own language will help you understand them in English.
- If you don’t understand part of a lecture, go back and listen to it again. When you read or listen again to something you don’t understand, it will often make sense (become understandable) the second or third time.
- If you find a lecture that is interesting, listen to it two or three times. Each time you listen, you will acquire (pick up or absorb) more English – more vocabulary, more ideas about grammar, more academic English.
A good place to start is with something I call Bite-sized academic English.
Some lectures include pictures or video that will help you understand more. And some professors give links to their web sites, where they have outlines and other information.
warren [at] successfulenglish [dot] com
Note: iTunes U is a registered trademark of Apple Computers.