The ultimate goal of taking the TOEFL exam is to prove one’s proficiency in the English language. After completing the exam, the recorded answers are graded, evaluated, and distributed. Test-takers can then pinpoint their level of proficiency-based on their scores and present them to various institutions for purposes such as university admission or immigration applications. Successful completion of the TOEFL exam, however, does not necessarily mean that someone will receive a “TOEFL certification.” The scores themselves merely provide the appropriate proof that certifies one’s level of English proficiency. Since the term “certification” itself may be confusing and often interchanged with terms such as “scores” or “results,” it’s worthwhile to properly distinguish what exactly a test-taker receives after undergoing the TOEFL exam. This article will explore the appropriate terminology, as well as how “TOEFL certification” can be interpreted among ESL studies.
Is TOEFL a Certification?
First and foremost, taking the TOEFL exam does not result in receiving a “TOEFL certification.” It is possible that the confusion in using this term may come from the existence of the TEFL certification. TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language, and it is a post-secondary program that prospective ESL teachers (i.e. those instructing students on the English language) are required to take. In some countries, TEFL may also be referred to as TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) or TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages), but all of these organizations are generally the same and accepted worldwide. The key difference here lies between the words “test” and “teaching.” Another reason why these two terms are sometimes mixed up is that teaching TOEFL does require one to be proficient in English and to be knowledgeable about the TOEFL exam itself. The clear distinction, however, is that TOEFL is for students and TEFL is for teachers.
How Do I Become “Certified” in TOEFL?
With that said, one can still be “certified” in TOEFL in that they can take the TOEFL exam and receive the appropriate results. Therefore, to become “certified,” all one needs to do is take the exam itself. Since there is no passing score for the TOEFL exam, it is possible to fail (i.e. perform poorly), but one would still receive “TOEFL certification” by simply having undergone the exam. In this respect, “TOEFL certification” is just an official report of one’s scores. To take the exam, registration is required and the appropriate fee(s) must be paid in advance. Prospective test-takers are also able to choose the time, date, and location of their exam. Since the TOEFL exam is a standardized test, the proper preparations (studying, practicing, etc.) should also be incorporated into the process towards acquiring TOEFL scores.
How Long is the TOEFL Certification Process?
The TOEFL exam itself is a single 4-hour session, but the entire duration of the process can vary since there are several individual factors to consider. Registration availability, for example, depends on the testing center one chooses. In terms of how long it takes to receive “certification” from the moment of finishing the exam, scores are typically made available within a week of the test date. If the exam is taken at home (i.e. the TOEFL iBT Home Edition or Paper Edition), then there may be a bit of a delay at 6-10 days from taking the test. Again, it is worth mentioning that the exam also requires studying and practice, so these additional circumstances should be factored in especially since they can vary from individual to individual.
Is It Possible to Buy TOEFL Certification?
In short, no. TOEFL certification cannot simply be purchased. The sole purpose of the exam is to measure one’s proficiency in the English language, and therefore those who want to have any sort of certification or official document must take the proper steps to earn it. Technically, one can pay the TOEFL exam fee, not answer any questions, and still receive scores in each section, but receiving the scores (or the “certification”) still requires the test-taker to physically attend the scheduled exam. In addition, such low scores would likely not meet any requirements stated by universities or government institutions which would ultimately result in a waste of money. The same goes for TEFL/TESL/TESOL certification. Since these are all internationally recognized organizations with standardized guidelines, the proper work and sufficient effort are highly recommended to be observed alongside any monetary payment.
Can I Teach TOEFL with a TOEFL Certification?
As mentioned, one should be TEFL certified to teach English according to the standards in most countries. For ESL teachers, however, it is possible to supplement their training with courses that are specifically designed to tutor and train students whose aim is to pass the TOEFL exam. Some technical or independent colleges offer standalone courses that provide in-depth information about the TOEFL examination itself. Although such courses are meant for ESL teachers, they may also prove useful for prospective TOEFL test-takers since they will be given detailed insight that breaks down the TOEFL exam including its structure, types of questions, as well as some helpful hints and advice.
As anyone who undergoes the TOEFL exam will know, the English language does not come without its challenges and confusion. In addition, there are possible scenarios in which recipients of TOEFL scores eventually become ESL teachers themselves (whether in an English-speaking country or a country with a foreign mother tongue). Therefore it’s important to be able to differentiate between what one needs to prove their English skills and what skills one needs to teach English. With that said, it is far more appropriate and effective to refer to “TOEFL certification” as simply “TOEFL scores” or “TOEFL results” instead.