What Does TOEFL Stand for?

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If you’re looking for a way to prove your English skills, you’ve probably heard of the TOEFL. But what does TOEFL stand for anyway?

The TOEFL is an acronym for Test of English as a Foreign Language. Almost no one calls it that anymore since it is a long name. Most people just call it the TOEFL now.

If you’re wondering what TOEFL stands for, you’re probably looking for an exam to prove your grasp of the English language. Maybe you’re trying to study abroad at an English speaking university. Or, you could be trying to get a job at an international corporation. There are many reasons why you might be interested in the TOEFL.

What Does TOEFL Stand For?

The TOEFL exists to test your English skills and show college and professional recruiters how well you know the language. You might be asking what TOEFL means if you’re looking for a way to prove your fluency.

The most common reason people take the TOEFL is to get into an English speaking university. If you don’t understand the language your studies are presented in, you’re going to have a hard time keeping up with everything.

The second most common reason for taking this test is trying to get a job that requires it. Maybe you want to work abroad or for an international company. The business world is moving towards using English in all of its interactions, so this is an important skill to have when it comes to getting work.

The TOEFL and English Speaking Universities

The TOEFL is one of the most widely accepted exams when it comes to proving your fluency in English.

Universities across the world need to know that you’ll be able to keep up with the course material. If you don’t know the language well enough to succeed at their school, they might feel like they are wasting resources on a student who can’t keep up.

Many universities only have a limited number of spaces to allow students to attend. They want to make sure all of those spaces are given to students who can understand and use their classes. If you don’t have the right level of English skills, it’s going to be a struggle for you to keep up with your studies.

Most schools also want to help their students succeed. By only allowing non-native English speaking students with a specific TOEFL score, they are taking steps to show they care about your success.

The TOEFL and Working at International Companies

While having a TOEFL certification may not be necessary to work at an international company, it will definitely improve your chances of getting a good job. Many worldwide businesses have a global language policy to help them better interact with customers in dozens of countries.

However, working visas will require you to prove your English skills. If you are looking to work in a different country, you’ll need to prove your proficiency in the language before going to work abroad. Knowing what the TOEFL stands for as it applies to medical and other licensing agencies will help you get certified to practice. Different countries may require different scores, so make sure you know the minimum score you need to reach your goals.

The TOEFL and Different Levels of English Fluency

Getting a good score on the TOEFL proves that you are completely fluent in the language and have no problem studying and working in English.

Here’s a brief rundown of the different levels of fluency.


Novice English speakers can get across short messages about things that affect them on a daily basis. Many of them speak one word at a time and have difficulty communicating with higher level speakers. Most speakers are not confident in their skills and experience a lot of hesitation while trying to communicate.


Intermediate speakers have an easier time communicating and can find meaning in their exchanges with other people. They can use simple sentences to speak with others in English, and higher level intermediate speakers can use several sentences at once. However, they still are only able to handle speaking about things that impact them directly. Their vocabulary is still limited and they may struggle with words and concepts they haven’t encountered before.


Advanced English speakers have no difficulty participating in conversation about a variety of topics. They are able to handle speaking in many verb tenses and can talk about topics beyond what immediately affects them. You will need to be at an advanced level before you are ready to take the TOEFL.


Superior level English speakers can participate in any conversation with ease. They can present and talk about their opinions on several issues. Abstract concepts are easy for them to grasp and discuss at length. Many of them understand the nuances of having a conversation and will wait to take their turn when there are multiple people speaking.

Final Thoughts

Understanding what TOEFL stands for gives you options for what you want to do in the next steps of your life. If you feel like your English is good enough, you can start preparing to take the test. Or, if you still need some practice, you can look for a course to help you improve your skills. Whatever your next steps, this highly accepted test can help you succeed.


  1. https://hbr.org/2012/05/global-business-speaks-english
  2. https://www.ets.org/toefl/ibt/about/who_accepts_scores
  3. https://www.actfl.org/publications/guidelines-and-manuals/actfl-proficiency-guidelines-201