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Adult English Lessons / TOEIC Classes

How to Teach How to Take the TOEIC Class

Teaching the TOEIC test can be intimidating. There are many different types of questions that require a lot of knowledge to answer. Many teachers can feel overwhelmed and have trouble deciding where to start. In this article we will show you some basic ideas on how you can teach your TOEIC test classes.


Different Goals

As with most standardized test there are two different approaches to teaching for the TOEIC test. One approach is to teach how to take the test. This means that you teach strategies and tactics that can help you do well on the test. These tactics and strategies are unrelated to the English you need to do well the test.

The second approach is to teach the actual English related skills needed to do well on the test. So this includes various vocabulary, grammar, listening practice and other related skills. So which approach should you use in your TOEIC classes? Well that depends on many different factors. Let’s take a look.

If you have a student that already has a high level of English ability then more often than not it’s best to teach the tactics and strategies of the TOEIC test. The student already has a good understanding of grammar and vocabulary. They already have decent listening skills. They need an introduction to the TOEIC test. They need to know how to most efficiently take the TOEIC test. They need to learn about various tricks and traps that they may encounter on the TOEIC test. If you have a student who does not have a lot of experience studying English and has a low level of English ability then you probably want to start teaching basic business vocabulary and grammar.

For most teachers it’s not a clear-cut decision. More often than not you’re going to be teaching a TOEIC class that uses both approaches. Some classes you will be teaching tactics and strategies and in other classes you will be teaching vocabulary and grammar skills. Once you get a little experience teaching the TOEIC test you’ll find it easier to decide what approach and what skills your students need to learn.


Different types of lessons you will make

As we discussed, there are different approaches to teaching the TOEIC test. This means that there are many different types of classes. Each class focuses on a different skill needed for the test. We are going to separate these different classes into two basic groups. The first group is classes that help you teach the various tactics and strategies needed to do well on the test. The second group will be the more traditional classes that focus on grammar, vocabulary and listening skills.

Let’s take a look at some of the classes that you will have when teaching strategies and tactics for the TOEIC test.


Introducing a Section

One of the most basic but important steps in teaching students how to take the TOEIC test is to introduce them to the various sections of the TOEIC test. The TOEIC test is divided into seven different sections. Three of those sections make up the reading test and four of those sections make up the listening test. Obviously each section’s questions are different from the others and it’s important for students to learn how to recognize these questions and more importantly how to find the information needed to answer these questions. This process starts with you simply introducing the section and giving the students some basic information about the section. For example, you can tell the students how many questions there are, how long they have to finish it and what skills the section will test the students on.


Looking at different types of questions in a section

In this lesson the focus is on the various different questions in a section of the TOEIC test. Most of the sections of the TOEIC test will have 2 to 4 different types of questions. For example, in the last section of the test students will see various short reading passages. This section is called the short reading section. Generally all of the questions can be separated into the following groups, vocabulary questions, detail questions, general questions, inference questions and double passage questions. In this class the teacher will introduce the student to the different types of questions they will see. The teacher will also instruct the student on how to find the information needed to answer those various questions.


Plan for the Section

This class will teach the student the most efficient way to go about answering questions on the TOEIC test. The TOEIC test is a difficult test and it is very time-consuming and if you simply answer the questions in order by following the TOEIC test directions you more than likely will not do very well and not have enough time to finish the entire test. There are methods to doing different sections that can make answering the questions easier and also help save time so that the student can complete the entire test under the allotted time. Let’s use the previous example that we talked about, the short reading section. Most students who are new to the TOEIC test will start to read the short reading passage from the beginning to the end before they even take a look at the questions. Then they will read the first question and attempt to answer it by going to the beginning of the short reading passage again and slowly reading until they find the information that they need. This is extremely inefficient. A much more efficient way would be to “skim” the short reading passage to get a general idea of what it is about, do the vocabulary questions first followed by the detail questions and last the general and inference questions. It’s much easier to find the information needed to answer the vocabulary and detail questions. You can scan the short reading looking for keywords and then read the two or three sentences before and after the keyword. Vocabulary questions are even easier. The vocabulary questions usually tell you which line to look at so you don’t have to go searching through all of the text to answer the question. Once the student has finished all the detail questions and the vocabulary questions they have already read most of the short reading passage. By this time they will be able to answer the general and inference questions without having to go back and read the entire short reading passage. This is a much more efficient way to do the short reading section. This is what you will teach to your students in this type of class.


Tactics for the Section

In this class you will teach your students specific tactics and strategies for the TOEIC test. Some of these could be tactics for specific types of questions. For example, how to recognize whether a word is a verb, adjective, adverb or noun using suffixes. Some of the tactics could be for an entire section. For example, teaching students how to read the questions before listening to the recording for all of the listening sections. Generally I will teach tactics and strategies for one section at a time. Once I’ve gone through all four sections of the listening test, I’ll have another class that teaches tactics and strategies for the entire listening test. I will do the same for the reading test sections.


Traps in the section

In this type of lesson you will teach students the various traps that they will encounter in the TOEIC test. It is important for your students to learn how to recognize these. For example, in the first section of the TOEIC test you have to look at some photos and listen to four sentences. Then you have to choose the sentence that best matches the photo. Maybe the photo shows a woman who is working in the garden. One of the answer choices might say something like this, “a woman is walking in the garden”. This is a common trap that they use in the listening sections. They will have two words that have different meanings but sound very similar to each other in the answer choices. There are traps in the reading section of the test as well. Understanding these traps and understanding how to avoid them is important for your students.


Lesson Plan Template

There are many different ways that you can structure your lesson plan when you’re teaching tactics for the TOEIC test. In general it depends on what you’re teaching. You could be teaching about different questions in a certain section, you could be teaching different traps, or you could be teaching a specific way you want your students to answer questions. Once you get more experience teaching you will be able to create your lesson plans much easier. That being said many of you have no experience teaching the TOEIC test so you do need a starting point. Below I’m going to give you a very simple template that you can use with most of your total classes. Don’t forget that this is only a template and as you get more experience and you start to understand your students better you will want to change that template and your lesson plans. This is just meant as a starting point for beginning teachers.

Here is our template lesson plan. It’s a very simple plan. We will go over each point briefly here but if you want to learn more about how to create a lesson plan for your TOEIC class click here (insert child page link)


Introduction lesson Key Point

Explanation of Key Point

Class practice together

Students do Key Point related questions by themselves

Go over answers




This can be five minutes of pretty much anything. You talk about the weather. You talk about students’ weekends. You should do some easy simple small talk.


Introduction lesson Key Point

Here were going to introduce our lessons Key Point. We define our key point as the main objective of our lesson. That is, what we want to teach our students for that particular lesson. Here, we will explain what the lessons Key Point is and in what type of situation the students can use it. Here you want to show the students an example to all question where they can use the key point to answer the question.


Explanation of Key Point

In this step you want to explain the key point. Don’t forget that only an explanation is not enough. You need to explain and then show them examples.


Class practice together

Here you can practice the key point with various toy questions as a class or you can break the class into teams of two or three and have them do it in teams. Here it is essential to have the students practice what they just learned but with other people or with the teacher.


Students do Key Point related questions by themselves

Now the students have listened to the explanation and they practiced with the teacher and other students so we want them to do some TOEIC questions by themselves. Of course all of these so questions need to be related to the key point that you taught them earlier.


Go over answers

Here you want to go over the answers to the questions the students just did. Make sure that you give explanations for any questions the students got wrong. Do not simply give answers. You want to give the answers and explain to the students why they got wrong and how they can get that question right the next time.



Here you should review everything with the students one more time.



For any students studying for any standardized test it is important for them to do as many practice test questions as possible. This is true for the TOEIC test as well.  Make sure that your students are not resorting to their bad habits when they’re doing these practice questions. You need them to be using what you teach them in class when they do practice test questions. You also need them to be looking at all of the questions they get wrong and trying to understand why they got those questions wrong. Simply doing the questions and marking if they are right or wrong is not enough. A large amount of homework is essential for any student who wants to do well on the TOEIC test or any other test and it is important that they do these questions the right way.

As a teacher there will be some situations where you want the students to do some practice test questions in class. However, most of the time is it better to have the students do these questions as homework. If you have the students do too many practice questions in class then you are wasting valuable time where you could be teaching them various skills or strategies instead. They need you, the teacher, to help them with this. They do not need you to silently watch over them as they do 40 practice test questions.



Teaching the TOEIC test is not an easy thing and it can be even more difficult if you are an inexperienced teacher. Once you have taught the TOEIC test for a couple of years it will become much easier but until then you need to make sure to have a good series of textbooks to help you. When you do teach a TOEIC class you need to take it very seriously. Most of these students are relying on you to help them improve their TOEIC score. Many of the students need a good score to get a better job or to enter a university. This is a lot of responsibility for a teacher and I implore you to take it seriously.

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Randy League owns an English School in Japan and has been teaching English for 20 years. In his free time he trains MMA , plays video games and studies Japanese.

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