TOEFL Newsletter

New Resources for a New Year


The TOEFL® team is constantly enhancing our offerings to become a better partner to score users around the world. In this edition, we feature some of our most recent enhancements, including the new security measures we are using to help make sure the scores you receive are up to our standards and more information about the research behind the TOEFL® test.

We hope you'll find these stories interesting and informative — and we welcome any feedback. If you enjoy receiving our newsletter, we encourage you to spread the word to your friends and colleagues by having them join the TOEFL mailing list.

We wish you all the best in this upcoming year.

Eileen Tyson
Executive Director of Global Client Relations, ETS

10 Things We Are Talking About Right Now

  1. We take score reporting seriously. If you have a concern about an applicant's TOEFL scores, please fill out the TOEFL iBT® Score Inquiry Form (PDF) and send to
  2. Not only are TOEFL® scores good in Australia for post-study work visas, but did you know that New Zealand also accepts TOEFL scores for skilled migration?
  3. At U.S. community colleges, support for international students is key, as international enrollment has been strengthening in recent years.
  4. For International Education Week, we asked our TOEFL Facebook® community to help create a special TOEFL-inspired chalk mural showing what degrees or careers they were pursuing with the help of the TOEFL test.
  5. How is the current U.S. political climate impacting international enrollment? A new survey from the ETS TOEFL program explores this question.
  6. To continue to meet the needs of test takers in locations where internet service is unreliable, we have launched the revised TOEFL® Paper-delivered Test (PDF), a new paper-and-pencil test that is more closely aligned to the TOEFL iBT test. The new test has replaced the TOEFL Paper-based Test (TOEFL PBT). Use this helpful chart to compare the 3 university-level TOEFL tests.
  7. U.S. higher education institutions hosted a record-breaking 1.08 million international students in 2016–17, according to a new Open Doors report. This marks the second consecutive year in which the United States hosted more than 1 million international students.
  8. TOEFL experts will be attending many conferences all over the world in the upcoming months. View dates and locations for upcoming TOEFL conferences. If you will be attending, stop by and say hello!
  9. The TOEFL® Search Service helps you find the right international students for your undergraduate, graduate, and English-language programs. It provides current, targeted mailing lists of prospective students to support your recruitment efforts. And it gives you access to a database of over 1 million prospects from over 180 countries. Watch this short video to learn more.
  10. Security Matters: A new biometric security feature is now being used in all TOEFL test centers in China.
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Feature of the Month: Meet John Norris

John Norris is the Senior Research Director of the Center for English Language Learning and Assessment at ETS, where he manages research on English-language teaching, learning, and assessment. He works closely with the ETS Research division on all tests in the TOEFL® Family of Assessments.

A language learner and teacher at heart, John received a B.A. in Modern Languages (German) from Texas A&M University prior to teaching English in Germany, Brazil, and Hawai'i. He then earned a master's in ESL and a Ph.D. in Second Language Acquisition at the University of Hawai'i, where he also worked as a professor from 2004–2012. Prior to joining ETS, he was a professor at Georgetown University, where he was founding director of the Assessment and Evaluation Language Resource Center.

John's teaching, research, and publications focus on language education (task-based language teaching, in particular), assessment, program evaluation, and research methods. His most recent book, Second Language Educational Experiences for Adult Learners, co-authored by John Davis and Veronika Timpe-Laughlin, tackles the subject of how to design second-language education for adult learners. In addition to English, John speaks and conducts research in German, Portuguese, and Spanish, and he is currently learning Japanese.

John has been an avid soccer player for many years and currently devotes his spare time to surfing, training for marathons, and cultivating vegetables in his garden.

Here are a few selected publications by John:

  • Norris, J. M., Davis, J., & Timpe-Laughlin, V. (2017). Second Language Educational Experiences for Adult Learners. London, UK: Routledge.
  • Norris, J. M. (2016). "Language Program Evaluation." The Modern Language Journal, 100(s), 169–189. [Special Issue "Celebrating the MLJ's centenary"] DOI: 10.1111/modl.12307.
  • Norris, J. M., & Davis, J. (Eds.) (2015). Student Learning Outcomes Assessment in College Foreign Language Programs. Honolulu, HI: National Foreign Language Resource Center.
  • Norris, J. M., Ross, S., & Schoonen, R. (Eds.). (2015). "Improving and extending quantitative reasoning in second language research." Currents in Language Learning, Volume 2. Cambridge: Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Norris, J. M., Davis, J., Sinicrope, C., & Watanabe, Y. (Eds.) (2009). Toward Useful Program Evaluation in College Foreign Language Education. Honolulu, HI: National Foreign Language Resource Center.
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Security Matters: New Biometric Security Feature Now Being Used in China

We are excited to announce that the TOEFL® program is now using facial recognition software to verify test takers' identities in China. This new biometric security feature was built and implemented in cooperation with China's National Education Examinations Authority (NEEA).

With this new security feature, implemented in all TOEFL test centers in China in June 2017, the test taker's image is captured during the check-in process. The system performs facial recognition verification against any acceptable form of ID, including the Resident Identity Card.

A database of test takers and known imposters has been established and is continuing to grow. The image of the test taker captured at check-in is compared against this database during the check-in process, as well as on any occasions of reentry into the testing room.

The system is also being used for the GRE® program, and both programs are excited to have worked with NEEA to put this new security feature into production. "We believe it is a deterrent to potential imposters and will further ensure the validity of our test scores," says Jennifer Brown, Executive Director of the TOEFL Program.

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TOEFL® Research: At the Forefront of Language Assessment

The TOEFL® Research program continues to be at the forefront of building knowledge in the field of language assessment and second-language acquisition. As a leader in this field, the goals of TOEFL research are to:

  • improve language assessments and related products
  • assure that they meet professional standards
  • develop the foundation for future services and products

So what do these goals actually mean? We asked John Norris, Senior Research Director of the Center for English Language Learning and Assessment at ETS. He said, "For us within ELLA research, I think the bottom-line answer for why we do research on TOEFL and related assessments at ETS is this:

  • "Research on English-language assessments ensures that all test takers are given a fair opportunity to demonstrate what they actually can do with the language.
  • "Research also ensures that test score users are provided with maximally reliable information that can be trusted to indicate a learner's level of language ability.
  • "And research provides the foundation for assessments that can have a positive impact on how language teachers and learners around the world engage in language-learning endeavors."

To learn more about TOEFL research, watch this video or read about the TOEFL research program.

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Know Your TOEFL® Test

ETS recently announced the launch of a new TOEFL® test called the revised TOEFL® Paper-delivered Test that is offered in some areas with limited internet access. The revised test has 3 sections that have the same types of questions as the TOEFL iBT® test, but it is given on paper.

We've been getting some questions about what is changing and what isn't, so here's a handy table to understand the differences among the 3 university-level TOEFL tests.

Test Format Purpose Administered by Status Test Sections
TOEFL iBT® Test Computer High-stakes admissions ETS via secure test centers No change Reading, Listening, Speaking, Writing
Revised TOEFL® Paper-delivered Test Paper High-stakes admissions ETS via secure test centers Replaced TOEFL® Paper-based Test (TOEFL PBT) in October 2017 Reading, Listening, Writing
TOEFL ITP® Tests Paper Placement and progress Universities and other institutions No change Listening Comprehension, Structure and Written Expression, Reading Comprehension

Learn more about the revised TOEFL Paper-Delivered Test.

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Did You Know TOEFL® Scores Are Accepted in New Zealand?

Not only are TOEFL® scores accepted in Australia for post-study work visas, but did you know that New Zealand also accepts TOEFL scores for skilled migration?

Over the past year, qualifying to work in New Zealand has gotten easier. Since November 2016, applicants can submit a TOEFL iBT® score to prove English-language proficiency for the Skilled Migrant Category. Applicants will need to obtain a total score of 79 or greater on a TOEFL test taken within the last 2 years of the date they submit their application. For more information, please visit the Immigration New Zealand website.

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Propell® Workshops for the TOEFL iBT® Test Boost Teacher Confidence

This year, 2017, marks the 5th year that ETS has offered Propell® Workshops for the TOEFL iBT® Test to support English-language teaching around the world. In just 5 years, Propell Workshops have reached more than 15,000 English-language teachers in more than 25 countries.

These full-day professional development workshops use examples from the Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing sections of the TOEFL iBT test to provide instructional techniques and strategies for using the integrated-skills approach to teaching language. In a recent survey, 79 percent of participants stated they felt more confident in teaching English after participating in a workshop.

Find a Propell Workshop in your area.

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