Tag Archives: TOEFL

TOEFL site released in Portuguese

TOEFL site released in Portuguese

As of January of this year, the TOEFL website on ets.org has been released in Portuguese! This is the seventh language option to be released on the site. We still recommend practicing your skills by reading as much in English as possible, but this Portuguese version will help with some of the more complicated questions you might have about the TOEFL.

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Upcoming TOEFL Tests in Petrolina

Please see the following dates and times for the upcoming TOEFL tests:

12-Jan-2013 09:00
18-Jan-2013 12:00
02-Feb-2013 09:00
15-Feb-2013 12:00
02-Mar-2013 09:00
08-Mar-2013 12:00

All seats were used during our last two TOEFL tests– so sign up ASAP by going to ets.org and registering.

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TOEFL Test 1- Success

The first TOEFL test in Petrolina was administered on Saturday, October 27, 2012.   It was a total success!

Be on the look-out for more dates to be set in December 2012.  There are only 14 seats available for every date, so make sure and get yours quickly!

Many thanks to Alexandre Correia, Computer Science Professor at the IF-Sertão, who helped with all the IT and graciously did all the preparatory tests, the set-up and the take down.

Congratulations to the students– Wandersson and Bruna– who took the test; you are now officially Petrolina TOEFL pioneers   🙂

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Coming Soon to Petrolina: TOEFL

It is with great joy I report that today I received the equipment necessary to administer the TOEFL (many thanks to the help of Michael Capelli and the folks at Educational Testing Services)!

I began the process of registering the IF-Sertão, Campus Petrolina as a TOEFL site upon return to Brazil in February.  Due to the unbelievable abundance of study-abroad scholarships such as Science Without Borders made possible by the Brazilian Federal Government, demand for the Test of English as a Foreign Language has sky rocketed.  The test, accepted by higher learning institutions in over 180 countries, measures students’ English-language abilities and is often the make-it-or-break-it factor in winning the aforementioned scholarships.  Unfortunately, earning a high score is far from the only barrier to taking the test and getting the grants.

If you look at the map, you will notice that Petrolina (the red dot in the sea of blue) is quite far from the coast, where nearly all of the major capital cities in the North East region of the country are.  This means that until now, not only did students have to pay the already prohibitive cost of  ~450 R (150-250 USD) just to register for the test, but they also had to pay for transportation to, and room and board in, expensive capital cities, the closest being 10 hours away (by bus).

Thus, one of my main goals for this year, in a two-pronged approach of 1-teaching English to students who don’t know English while 2-finding and facilitating the scholarship opportunities for those students who already have the language skills, was getting the TOEFL here to Petrolina, the hub of the NE interior.  Every barrier eliminated is one step closer to making our students’ dreams of becoming world citizens come true.

With the arrival of headsets, microphones and web-cams, we are only a short time away from holding our first test, which I hope to set for mid-December.  

Be on the lookout for upcoming posts for specifics about when to register!

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TOEFL Course at UNIVASF

On Saturday, August 18, 2012 at 13 hrs, C² gave their first TOEFL course (Test of English as a Foreign Language) at the Universidade Federal do Vale do São Francisco (The San Francisco Valley Federal University- UNIVASF); Chels is at the campus in Petrolina (famous mostly for its medical school) and I am teaching in Juazeiro (the campus that will produce some of Brazil’s top engineers).  This is the first course we are offering for UNIVASF.  Our relationship with the University began when I met the Dean of Student Life, Lúcia Marisy, who is a feisty lady who likes to say that her mind is 30 years younger than she is.  In light of the 100,000 Science Without Borders scholarships, and the TOEFL test required in most cases to win them, I suggested we give a preparation course. Rather than receiving payment in the form of Reais (Real, the singular form of Reais, is the Brazilian currency, which is 2.022:1, R:USD at the time of writing), Chelsea and I are living in a University-owned mansion (here are some pics from our housewarming party – Chá de Casa in Portuguese) with the wonderful Dona Gilmar to help us cook and clean (pictured below).

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Non-Brazilians who are reading this post should note that any Federal University in Brazil is completely free and public (WHAT?!– Americans pay hundreds of thousands of USD to get their degrees…).  Traditionally these schools are the most competitive and prestigious, and UNIVASF is no exception.  Students must take entrance exams called the vestibular and more recently one called the ENEM, and receive top-marks to be admitted (and so students often pay for expensive private fundamental education to be able to study at the best free Universities… but that is a whole other post).  We are thrilled to be working with such dedicated and brilliant young minds, and it’s also nice to have a packed class (22-30 students), full of students who realize the importance of our course, which they are eager to take advantage of.  You can access the power-point from the first class using the scribd document embedded here:

Saturday was the first of two months’ worth of classes; classes that are the first step in our students’ exciting journeys to become world citizens.  Chelsea and I are ecstatic to be a part of this process!  See you next week 🙂

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New Language Center at the Instituto Federal

Panel of speakers from left to right: Artidonio Araujo Filho, Leopoldina Veras, Sebastião Hildo Diniz, Cara Snyder, and Jeziel Junior da Cruz.

Thursday, March 29 was an exciting day at the IF Industrial campus in Petrolina: the official inauguration of a new Global Culture and Language Center (GCLC) dedicated to supporting English language learning for students at the IF. Students, professors and administrators packed the room to listen to impassioned speeches by the school’s General Director Sebastião Hildo Diniz, Industrial campus director Artidonio Araujo Filho, director of education Leopoldina Veras, international relations coordinator Jeziel Junior da Cruz, Professor of Information Technology and mastermind of the Global Language and Culture English Program Alexandre Correia, and English professor and “official inspirer” Cara Snyder.

Alexandre Correia spoke to a full classroom at the inauguration.

I wish I could convey through this post the energy present in the room while listening to that panel of speakers. It’s overwhelming the increase in initiative and energy that people here have to support English learning and the rising importance (stimulated in large part by Government efforts) they place on studying abroad. Cara has said that the comparison from last year to this one is striking—people seem to finally be waking up to the reality that globalization is unavoidable even in a region that was formerly thought to be insular and isolated, and they are correndo atrás—an often used Brazilian saying that means working hard to achieve something—to take part. For a deep-rooted cultural change to take place so palpitably in such a short time span (Cara has been here for a little over a year) shows another unique Brazilian strength: extreme flexibility in finding ways to get things done, aka the jeitinho brasileiro.

Me, getting excited about some of the new resource books for the GCLC!

As we have said in previous posts, English skills are for many students the singular obstacle to studying abroad, and the GCLC is a tangible step towards overcoming that obstacle.

Perhaps most importantly, the Center is a physical space at the school dedicated to English language learning. Having this space gives a sense of permanency and legitimacy to the school’s mission to teach its students English, and the Center will be a nexus for students eager to find a way to study abroad in English-speaking countries.

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An Important Partnership, and My Job as an Official Inspirer

From the day I arrived, Jeziel made clear that my job isn’t to teach everyone English.  That would (1) be impossible; and (2) is not my life mission.  My job is to make people want to learn English.  I am an official inspirerer.  There are moments where the task feels large and hopeless—there are 75, 000 all-paid scolarships abroad just waiting for English-speaking science students to grab.  It is agonizing that the students of the IF consistently qualify on the science front (they are the exact type of students the government is hoping to target) and yet are they excluded from these opportunities because of their lack of English language skills (something that would rarely inhibit an English-speaking US citizen).

But after a year of infinite visits to schools, cities, and classrooms in Petrolina and the Sertão (the region where I live); after Rugby teams, inspirational speeches, home stays, presentations and parties, I am thrilled to see Jeziel’s once abstract job description come to fruition via the partnership between the private English language school Aecus and the IF Petrolina

Visit the Aecus stand at the Petrolina Campus to register now!

When 200 inspired students arrived at IF-Petrolina Director Artidonio Araujo Filho’s office and placed a signed petition to learn English on his desk, a partnership was born.  Internationalization is happening—students can now take 5 hours of elementary English class a week, taught by teachers from Aecus, at a reduced rate of 50 Reais (28 USD) per month.  Usually the cost of such a course would run from 130-230 R, a prohibitive cost for many of our students.   Thanks to Jeziel’s vision, Artidonio’s progressive outlook and Director of Aecus Julio Bernandino Silva’s genuine care for the community (besides directing, he personally teaches one of the courses), IF-Petrolina is leading the way in preparing students to go abroad.   There are 80 students studying English at the Petrolina Campus room H27-our new Global Language Laboratory- during the following times and days: Saturday 9-12 and Monday and Wednesday 10-12:30, 13:15-15:45, 19-21:30.  Please visit the Aecus stand at the IF Petrolina Campus, call, or stop by to register for courses.

It can’t stop here–the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) test required to obtain a grant requires a high level of proficiency.  To get a passing score, students will have to study hard for an average of 2 years.  But this partnership is a very important first step in the right direction.  I would like to say “well-done” to the bright students investing in their future and encourage you to keep working, keep fighting to achieve your goals.  I congratulate you on your efforts.  Continue to live the statement “O Brasileiro desista nunca–Brazilians never give up!”

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Congratulations Euclides!

After lots of hard one-on-one work, especially on the writing section, of the TOEFL test (Test of English as a Foreign Language) I am proud to announce that the results have arrived!  Euclides  Francisco, student of Oenology and Viticulture at the IF-Sertão, Campus Zona Rural, has scored high marks on the TOEFL test, qualifying him for international scholarships such as Ciência Sem Fronteiras (now accepting applications-click here) and Fulbright (click here to explore one Fulbright Scholarship possibility for Brazilians) .

Euclides Francisco, student of Oenology and Viticulture at the IF-Sertão, Campus Zona Rural, ran to my room to show me his fantastic scores, which arrived today. Congratulations Euclides, I'm so proud of you!

I had the pleasure of  working with Euclides to prepare for the test, which he had two weeks to study for and took on Friday, February 9 in Recife.  He plans on using the scores to apply for programs in Canada and the USA.   He is the first of hopefully many to score high enough to compete for International Scholarships.  I look forward to the next post announcing his placement abroad!

Interested in studying abroad?  Taking the TOEFL is often the first and most necessary step for almost every scholarship and abroad opportunity.  For TOEFL dates and locations click here.  Also, together with the fantastic Rafaela Carla, English Professor at the Zona Rural, we will soon be administering the TOEFL test here in Petrolina at the IF Rural Campus.

Stay tuned– I will be offering a preparatory TOEFL course this year for intermediate and advanced English speakers.  I hope to have you in my course!

As always, feel free to drop me an e-mail (cara.k.snyder@gmail.com or cara.snyder@ifsertao) with questions, comments, or if you are a student looking to take the TOEFL or study abroad!

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