Step Up to the TOEFL, Basic Level, is out now!

My latest textbook, Step Up to the TOEFL for Students at the Basic Level, has just been released by the University of Michigan Press. You can find details of both the basic and intermediate level books here. It even has a companion website, and you can take a peek at Unit 1 and the introduction!

This book is aimed at elementary to low-intermediate level students who would like to start preparing for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). However, instead of teaching to the test (types of questions, how to make the best guesses, what to write in the essay, etc.), my books teach the vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation skills needed for the test … and many other situations. This book is structured around vocabulary (the greatest need at this level); the higher level book started with grammar.

I’d love to hear your feedback about the book, and we always welcome suggestions! Just leave me a comment, or contact me directly.

In case you were wondering, “students at the basic level” was not our first choice, but ETS — the company that produces the TOEFL test — gets the final say on books like this (which seems fine with me), even though they do not endorse it. The first book was called “for intermediate students” at their request. Obviously, we couldn’t say “for elementary students,” which would imply elementary (primary) school age. I’m not sure why “low-intermediate” was vetoed (British ESL books use the apt term “pre-intermediate,” but that might be confusing in the US market). Interestingly, ETS clearly distinguishes between a book that is intermediate, low-intermediate, or elementary and students that are at those levels. They also seem to prefer classifying the students as intermediate (not intermediate level), but the publisher and I wanted to avoid “for basic students”, which seemed somewhat offensive. The compromise is fair, if a little wordy. I can’t quite understand ETS’s logic myself, but in these cases, we don’t try to reason why!

Author: Nigel Caplan

Nigel Caplan, Ph.D., is an associate professor at the University of Delaware English Language Institution, as well as a textbook author, consultant, and speaker. Nigel holds a PhD from the University of Delaware, a master's in TESOL from the University of Pennsylvania, and a bachelor's degree from Cambridge University. He is currently director of Project DELITE, a federal grant providing ESL certification to Delaware teachers. He also brews beer.

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