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IU School of Continuing Studies

Last modified: Tuesday, July 13, 2004

New Indiana University online course helps international students prepare for TOEFL

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- International students who need to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) to gain admission to a U.S. college or university can ready themselves with Preparing for the TOEFL Written Essay, an online, noncredit course offered by the Indiana University School of Continuing Studies (SCS).

Developed by Bruce Leeds, adjunct assistant professor with the IU Center for English Language Training (CELT) and an official reader for the TOEFL Test of Written English, the course consists of 10 weekly lessons. For each lesson, students write essays in response to official TOEFL essay topics. CELT instructors read and score the essays, then provide individualized feedback on grammar, punctuation, word choice and style.

"There are many organizations that provide online practice questions and guides for the TOEFL," said Leeds, "but none allow students to interact with a real live instructor and receive personalized feedback. Indiana University is the first institution of higher education to offer such an opportunity online. Using the instructor's responses," he continued, "students can find patterns in their errors and improve their writing and test scores."

Leeds notes that the online format is well suited to Preparing for the TOEFL Written Essay. "Online courses -- regardless of the topic -- require a considerable amount of writing," he said, "so this course will provide students with plenty of written practice. And since it is noncredit, students don't have to worry about grades. Their focus can remain on improving their English language skills."

Judy Wertheim, SCS interim dean, noted that Preparing for the TOEFL Written Essay continues the IU School of Continuing Studies' long tradition of serving students outside the United States. "Through its distance education courses and degree programs," she said, "the School of Continuing Studies has reached out to students in dozens of countries."

Preparing for the TOEFL Written Essay is open to individuals worldwide. To take the course, students need only a modern PC or Macintosh computer with Internet access via modem or Ethernet. They must have e-mail. Essential software includes Microsoft Word and an up-to-date Web browser such as Internet Explorer (version 5 or higher) or Netscape Navigator (version 4.7x or higher).

The first 10-week section of the course begins July 26. Additional sections will be added to meet student demand. The course cost is $500. Registration information is available at,, and at 812-855-2292 or 800-334-1011 (toll free in the U.S.).