I have recently been admitted to teach some TOEFL courses in an institute and the course I lecture is reading and writing. According to the institute policy, each teacher is free to have his/her own material of teaching. I am spending a lot of time observing classes and I prepare powerpoints to present in my class which takes a long time to prepare them every session. The students have been pleased so far but in one of the classes another instructor has given the students 7 gigabyte of additional material and also sends them about 10 sample writings each session and all in all has a wealth of teaching stuff to give to the students. They have about 3 years experience teaching TOEFL.

I am new but I know I am doing my best. However, I feel bad for my students to be deprived of the material that other students have the privilege to have just because their teacher is someone else.

The other instructor does not share his material with anyone and it is of no use to ask him. I would appreciate if someone let me know how I can compensate for my students and if you know any good sources of TOEFL writing samples please let me know.

  • 5
    If your students are satisfied and they're learning what they are supposed to learn, why do you care what the other guy is doing? (How many of his students do you think read 7GB of extra material? Do you think it's even possible to carefully read and use that much material in a few months?)
    – ff524
    Commented Sep 2, 2015 at 16:27
  • Of course not, but I do feel responsible for my students.
    – Hnml
    Commented Sep 2, 2015 at 16:41
  • Probably related: academia.stackexchange.com/questions/46433/… Commented Nov 11, 2015 at 18:11

2 Answers 2


It is a common misconception among beginning teachers (including me when I first started) and some experienced teachers that it is good to include more materials in your teaching. However, since students have a limited ability to learn, it is better to keep the quantity of material within that limit. Pick the most important stuff, and make it really good. Then review as much as possible to help students remember.

When designing your teaching methods, start with objectives (e.g. improving students' TOEFL score), then pick your assessment (the TOEFL), then design the content (practicing things that are likely to be on the TOEFL).

When I teach, my challenge is getting rid of unimportant material so it does not distract students from the important information.

  • 2
    Getting rid of unimportant material so it does not distract students from the important information. Exactly.
    – ff524
    Commented Sep 2, 2015 at 21:15
  • Yes, in my experience the challenge of teaching is definitely "how can I possibly cut enough stuff out to fit in the available class time", not the opposite. Commented Jun 20, 2016 at 19:13

You will have to build your own corpus of materials! Every teacher has to start somewhere. I would be surprised to find this instructor ginned up 7GB worth of material on his own so in the mean time a very good place to start is either at the institute library or writing center or your own local library. I'm sure there are stacks of books on TOEFL that have plenty of links to relevant topics. And a Google search for "TOEFL teaching material" returns nearly a half-million hits.

A sort of more passive approach you can take as the semester and years progress is to keep a notebook or folder with materials you find useful. If you read an article in a magazine you think would be useful as teaching material, clip it and stick it in this folder. Over time these tidbits can become the basis for your own custom reading materials.


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