Learning TOEFL Vocabulary With the News


By Heidi

One great way to study and prepare for the TOEFL is to pay attention to current events and the news. You’ll need to learn 3000+ new words to do well on the TOEFL. Lots of these words can be found in the news. In my TOEFL class, I often bring in news articles to spur interesting discussions and to teach useful vocabulary.

Here are a few tips if you want to start improving your vocabulary in preparation for the TOEFL:

  1. Read the newspaper.
    Whether you read a hard-copy of the paper or you read the paper online, newspapers are a great source of English material.  I recommend that the students in my TOEFLclass skim the headlines of the major stories and then read the ones they’re most interested in.  Once you find a story that you like, read through it once quickly and underline all the words you don’t know. Then go through it again with a dictionary and try to understand everything. Then, if you’re really a good student, try to summarize the article in your own words. Extra credit: Start a conversation about the article!
  2. Watch the news on YouTube.
    Of course, watching the news on TV is helpful but I prefer YouTube for a few different reasons. First, it’s more convenient and you can do it anywhere. Second, you can control what type of stories you watch. Third, you can pause, rewind, and replay the stories as many times as you like! Also, many YouTube videos have subtitles built-in. Watching YouTube new stories is a great way to improve your listening skills.
  3. Use online resources such as Newsinlevels.com, which provide full transcripts of news stories.  I love this site. They give you a YouTube video with a full transcript with useful vocabulary highlighted! Most of the videos are in the Australian accent, so be aware of that. However, it’s great to get used to hearing different accents, especially because they are starting to use different accents on the TOEFL.

So, there you have it. These are just some tools that I use when I’m teaching my TOEFL class in Irvine. However, you can feel free to use whatever resources you have available to you! Be creative! Happy studying!


spur (v) – to urge to action

skim (v) –  to read quickly

summarize (v) – to get express the main idea in a concise (short) way

subtitles (n) –  text translated at the bottom of a screen

transcripts (n) –  a written copy of everything spoken

accents (n) –  a type of pronunciation typical to a person of a specific region or culture