Case study

Welcome to the TOEIC Class!

An English learning journey with Professor Sylvie Leger

Boasting 40 years of educational experience, Professor of English Sylvie Leger reflects upon her 20 years of preparing students to the TOEIC® Listening and Reading test which helped shape the academic and professional trajectories of many students.

 ETS Global is delighted to present this article, where Professor Leger shares her wealth of experiences, guidance and advice for current and aspiring teachers.

Easy to Integrate TOEIC Preparation Classes into Curricula

One of the most memorable aspects of Sylvie’s career is her connection with the TOEIC program. It was around 2005 at the Lycée Dammarie-lès-Lys Senior School, that Sylvie suggested the TOEIC® Listening and Reading test become a part of the courses.

There was no European section or additional English hours at the time and Sylvie felt it was necessary to provide TOEIC preparation classes to students who were highly motivated and interested in mastering English. It was easy to integrate TOEIC preparation classes into the curriculum at the time because the TOEIC test comprised of only comprehension exercises and it didn’t require a lot of resources from the school.

An Innovative Proposal from ETS Global to become a Test Center Administrator

In 2007-2008, a Key Account Manager at ETS Global approached Sylvie with an innovative proposal: to become qualified to proctor TOEIC tests. This initiative paved the way for a unique educational collaboration with ETS Global.

Becoming a Test Centre Administrator (TCA) was timesaving and Sylvie’s students could now take the test within their high school itself. Up until the meeting with ETS Global, Sylvie, at first, used to take each cohort of students from the suburbs into Paris, in order to pass the test in a test center, or the school had to invite an assessor from Paris to host the test at school.

Repeating the TOEIC Class success story

In 2009, when Sylvie arrived at Lycée International François 1er in Fontainebleau, no one had heard of the TOEIC test. Upon hearing Sylvie’s idea to begin TOEIC preparation classes, the principal suggested the creation of a TOEIC optional class for one hour per week for the high school students.

After the class was announced, 70 students expressed their interest in joining, which exceeded the capacity of the class”, says Professor Leger.

This class continued to flourish. It was originally reserved for students from the 12th grade (terminale), however, there was soon demand from students in the European section, both English and German sections. Due to the class’s success, Sylvie had to ask another colleague to help out with the TOEIC class.

Excellent results

Before the students took the final TOEIC Listening and Reading test in May, Sylvie would organize a mock TOEIC test in order to prepare the students and have them decide if their mock exam score is sufficient for them to try the real one.

We are very proud of our students. In 2023, out of 300 students, 64 registered for the TOEIC test. Results were impressive, with an average score of 789 points. 4 students reached level C1, and 37 obtained level B2”, declares Professor Leger.

Sylvie noticed evolutions in her students’ communication skills. After attending the TOEIC class, many of her French and Francophone students were more confident about their language skills and were able to communicate more easily with the anglophone students who attend the school.

Preparing high schoolers for the workplace environment

Sylvie also noticed that her students were facing another challenge related to the TOEIC test: “High schoolers are used to working only on texts that would appear in the Baccalaureate, such as newspaper articles or literary masterpieces. The business world subject matter is entirely new to them.”

In order to overcome this challenge, Professor Leger understood that she would have to slowly introduce texts with business vocabulary to her students. It was easier to introduce listening comprehension texts to students rather than written comprehension. She decided to avidly work with TOEIC style texts such as telephone conversations, meetings and other texts linked to the business world, thus making it easier for students to take a leap into the business world.

It was opening new perspectives for them and giving them a chance to visualize their work in company”, emphasizes Professor Leger.

Professor Leger’s method

In order to get her students ready for the professional world, Sylvie uses the first three hours of her course to do just that. She starts her course with a simple exercise where the students close their eyes and imagine themselves in an office, playing an important role such as a director, manager, or personal assistant. Then she asks them to describe all the objects the students see around them (printer, computer, badge, etc.) creating an opportune moment to learn vocabulary that the students will find in the TOEIC test.

Students are happy to learn new words such as appointment or credential, which they would seldom come across in the regular Baccalaureate preparation classes”, underlines Professor Leger.

Professor Leger then moves on to more complex vocabulary such as “to ship an item” or “a customer satisfaction survey” and more. In the final hour of this business discovery class, Professor Leger gives them the vocabulary sheets related to all the words and themes they spoke about in the first two hours, which will help the students memorize the words.

Standing out in Parcoursup to access higher education

Besides the benefits of discovering the professional world and being immersed in its vocabulary, the students discovered that the TOEIC preparation also paid off in Parcoursup. The results from the students’ first trimester bulletins (where the mock TOEIC scores appeared with an appraisal from their teacher), had a positive impact on Parcoursup choices, thus highlighting the growing importance of this test for students who will go through selective academic streams.

A clear benefit was for students applying in the Business School category of Parcoursup as many French business schools require students to a certain score on the TOEIC Listening and Reading test before entering the school. Sylvie’s students, who had trained with her and took the TOEIC test, were delighted with the seamless entry process that the TOEIC certification had created for them.

In a way, the national platform Parcoursup has revolutionized the TOEIC class’s activities. Students now understand that a preparation class can actually help them with their higher education application, so they’re more invested and participate eagerly in the TOEIC class. For many students who will take the test again when graduating, this first experience is a real advantage.

Sylvie Leger’s dedicated work with the TOEIC test has proven to be a transformative force in shaping her students’ futures. Through strategic integration of TOEIC preparation into the curriculum, creation of the TOEIC class, becoming a TCA herself and providing tailored classroom materials for her students, Sylvie exemplifies the profound impact a teacher’s commitment to test preparation, can have on students’ paths to success.