A qualitative study on preparing EFL students to take the TOEFL internet-based (iBT) test in the Ukrainian context
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- Master's theses (HF-IKS) 
The thesis at hand is a qualitative study that aimed at exploring methods and tasks used by teachers in Ukraine while preparing students to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language internet-based version (TOEFL iBT). The TOEFL test is a standardized test of English language proficiency for non-native English language speakers who intend to study in an academic environment, especially in the USA. In the thesis, general principles, education and management strategies used for classroom instruction were understood as methods, while classroom activities focused on developing particular skills and abilities were seen as tasks. The study addressed five research questions: how the teachers prepared students for the TOEFL iBT, why the teachers chose particular methods or tasks, what resources the teachers used for the test preparation and practice, how the students experienced the test preparation and practice, and finally, how the final results (received by the official test centre) corresponded with the teachers’/ students’ expectations. The research was performed as a case study in a Ukrainian language school. The data for the research was collected through the use of qualitative methods, namely interviews with three EFL teachers who were teaching the TOEFL iBT preparation course, and four students (one male and one female from two different classes) who were taking the course at the case study school. Additionally, five lesson observations, devoted to different stages of the TOEFL iBT preparation, were conducted in two different classes. The study showed that the TOEFL iBT preparation course at the case study school was primarily based on communicative language teaching, which was proved by the explicit use of skill-integration tasks, by the close connection of teaching materials to real life, and by frequent student interaction within the group (pair-work prevailing). Communicative language activities and games (vocabulary in particular) were also part of the classroom routine. The hypothesis that the preparation course at the case study school mostly consisted of teaching geared towards the test was confirmed by the dominant role of skill-based methods and tasks and by the emphasis on the explicit practice of the TOEFL iBT structure and useful strategies to achieve the best possible results on the test. The teachers chose particular methods and tasks on the grounds of the TOEFL iBT test requirements, the preparation materials that existed on the educational market at the time of the preparation course, the students’ language proficiency level, their needs and individual requests, the number of students in the class, and the length of the TOEFL iBT preparation course. Instead of using one single textbook for preparation, the teachers preferred to use a combination of paper (commercial books) and Internet (TOEFL iBT preparation websites, e-books, TOEFL iBT YouTube channels, and blogs) resources. The interviewed students expressed their general satisfaction with the TOEFL iBT preparation course. However, they also felt that some aspects of the course could have been changed, for example, the length of the course should have been extended and the number and language ability levels of the students in the class should have been considered more thoroughly when grouping the students. Generally, the correspondence between the final results received by the official test centre and the teachers’ and students’ expectations, appeared to be quite high. This could be explained by the fact that, during the preparation course, the teachers followed the TOEFL iBT score requirements and ETS raters’ guidelines to correctly determine students’ personal strengths and weaknesses. The thesis has contributed to the knowledge on the methodology and resources used for preparing students for the TOEFL iBT and, to the best of the researcher’s knowlegde, has contributed to a gap in the research in this field.
Master's thesis in Literacy