Click to See the Transcript
Okay. Hi there. I’m Jaime Miller, and today we have a really amazing opportunity to talk with one of my students who recently got her results with TOEFL iBT. A lot of my students are kind of shy. They don’t always like to share the information about what they’ve been through, but Anh is super brave, and she’s willing to talk with us like this. So hi, Anh. Thank you. You’re welcome.
So give us a little bit of background information about yourself. Ah, we’d love to know, like, where are you from? And why did you need to take TOEFL iBT?
Yes, so I’m a Vietnamese. So I grew up in Asia. Then I went to study pharmacy, student pharmacy school in Hungary so I lived in Europe for five years. And then I had four months living in Australia. Now I ended up. Now I end up living, working here in the States. So I’ve been all over the places and, but here in the States we have we have to take a lot of tests.
So one off them is the TOEFL iBT with a specific requirement for each skills, not the total. That’s the hard part.– Getting all of them at the same test.– When I talk about TOEFL, my manager or my co-workers, they don’t understand. They only think about total–what is the–what is their requirement?
But their requirement is different from, and I have to explain to them, each institution has their own way of selecting requirements. Some schools require total, but the National Board of Pharmacy requires specific minimum for each skill.– Which you recently just got, which is super exciting. So we, uh, we got the results from… Well, I want to go back and say that, like, we were–you were taking private lessons with me and, um after you got to a certain point of, like, getting better.
And I had that sense that you were at the level I was suggesting to go take the test and because sometimes people get nervous when they take the test like I’ve had some students that take lessons with me for, you know, four months or like six months, they have these dramatic improvements. They go take the test and their scores are lower or they’re at the same level where they used to be. And so then we have to do this breakthrough of like getting, transferring their new level of, like, accent usage into the TOEFL test.
So I was worried that might be an issue for you. So we scheduled three tests and then you didn’t need them! You got–we just got the results from test number one! So tell us what your scores were. They’re really something to be proud of…. Yes. So I got 25 in reading, 25 in listening, and 26 speaking, and then 24 for writing. And so good. Yeah. So huge congratulations…. Very huge congratulations…. So I want to know about your struggle with TOEFL because I feel you have, uh, you really overcame something that a lot of pharmacists think of as, like, the worst-case scenario.
It’s like, you know what they dread having to deal with. And you did it. And you’re this, like, inspiring proof that this kind of thing is possible. So go back. When did you take FPGEE originally? I took it in April 2014.
Okay. And it is now November 1st, 2019. So it was expired. Six months ago. Okay. Yeah, yeah…. So what happened? I mean, if you go back to the beginning and you describe like you took the FPGEE test, you walked out of the center.
You knew you had to wait to get the results that you were gonna pass. But you passed the first time, right? Yeah. And then did you start studying for TOEFL immediately? At that point, did you wait in–It was 2014 you said? Yeah…. So what happened with TOEFL after that? Yeah, well, it’s gonna be a long story, because yeah, it’s a long, long process. So after I passed the FPGEE, at the same time, I got two jobs, so… Okay, let’s go back after I got the letters saying that I’m–I was eligible to take the FPGEE.
I was able to get my Florida pharmacist intern license, so I applied for jobs, but nobody got me’ cause who–you are foreigners, so it was very hard………. Then I took a course in pharmacy technician program.
And then after I finished that program, I got my technician registration, so I started to apply for job and I got a job at the same time.
So I started my job in March–March of 2014 and I took the exam, uh, somewhere the end of April, so it’s very close, and then I think I wait… I waited for maybe a week or so when the results came out.
I knew that. And I started to study for TOEFL. Well, at that time, I didn’t understand.
I didn’t try to… I didn’t try to find, try to search or find the meaning of speaking 26 writing 24.
I didn’t even understand what the meaning of those specific minimums is. I’d say that’s really normal. I mean, even for me as a teacher, it took me, like three years to really understand, even though I was tutoring for TOEFL iBT. I mean, you know, I was working and guiding pharmacists, but, like, I didn’t know what it meant. So I mean, yeah, I’m not surprised that you were also–I feel like everybody, like, tutors have to figure out what– Yeah.– speaking 26 writing 24 means, students have to figure it out too.
Yeah, so I mean for sure in the beginning, like, how would you know what that is?… The national board, they did– They don’t–there’s no explanation why you ask them. Um, and the ETS.
They don’t have that kind of explanation for specific scores range, you know. And like I just went to take the tests, I think, I don’t remember in 2014 but I remember in 2015 a year later, after I study a little bit or review a little bit, I took the test or maybe two tests, and then I didn’t get the results.
Then at that, I think that’s the second time I took the test at a Prometric Test Center, and It was in the second floor, and now–and then, when on my way out to the parking lot, I saw language… language training center on the ground floor, and I saw a teacher and I asked her,” Are you teaching English?” Are you teaching TOEFL, like all of– What are you teaching? And I started to enroll. I enrolled in their…. Their TOEFL course.
They do know about the speaking of 26. They might have heard that the certain professionals required. TOEFL speaking 26. And I, at that time I felt happy. Okay, they understood. They know the situation.
A lot of people. So I studied. I think I took, like, eight or ten lessons, private lessons with a teacher.
But actually, it was like a double blind it situation. Neither of us understood what quality it takes to get to writing 24 and speaking of 26.
I didn’t know. And even like my teacher, she didn’t know and all during the 8 or 10 lessons were focused only on Task 1 and 2 and at that time– Jaime: Of the speaking section.? ? ?– Anh: Of the speaking section, and at that– Jaime: That was the old version of the test. ? ? Jaime: So ? ? it was the opinion questions only. Okay, right. ? ? ? ? Anh: Right And at that time, I even didn’t have a clear understanding of different Tasks like Task 1 and 2 is like one thing.
And, like 3 and 5 is like one different conversation, and then 4 and 6. Like not until I started with you. And then I started to understand there are different, um, way that they construct the speaking section.
So I took the test. I took a test after that eight or ten lessons and I didn’t get the score. So… and I even didn’t want to contact them.
They said there was a money-back guarantee but I don’t see any, like… they would not Refund anything for me. So… but I just moved. I just moved on. So it happened in 2015 and what happened… But the bad, the sad thing is that I started to have half doubt in teacher and tutor, you know, because they failed me.
So I lost all trust in tutor and teachers. So I stopped looking for teachers online. Youtubers– I don’t know them.
You can say a bunch of things on YouTube. How–how you expect me to believe you, you know, like they’re things like that. In social media– You never meet those teachers either. And they never meet you. And like, they just–I mean, I’ve always struggled with that. Like, I’ve always struggled with that because even like when I started making videos in 2010 for TOEFL advice, I came into, like, the YouTube TOEFL world when there were already TOEFL videos out there. And I remember watching things where like there were advice videos that I objectively could see applied to a certain group of students, but not to another group of students and like, and it’s always like that with advice videos, it’s like, well, who should you be following?… Like, how do you know that you should be following the advice?
So it’s like, as students, you’re overwhelmed with information, and it’s like, what information should you be following? And then like, is other advice on there good? Like some of it might be. But it’s like You… YouTube videos for TOEFL are like a puzzle that’s like 7000 puzzle pieces, and your puzzle has like, 1000 pieces. But the TOEFL YouTube has just like 7000 puzzle pieces, and you’re like,” Okay, like which of these puzzle pieces actually belong to my puzzle?” So, yeah, it’s super tough.– Anh: It’s so hard, and like, I didn’t trust anyone even though I did watch( them).
I just watch and see. Then I just ruled them out. Okay, there’s some teachers posted videos on speaking, but it’s hard for me to follow because it–it was in a classroom. So I was not there from____ you know, and then I just, I just gave up.
Then 2016. I don’t remember. I took any tests in 2016, but 2016 was when I started the process to sponsor my parents to stay in the United States, so I had to look for full-time jobs. Previously, after I got my pharmacy technician registration, I got like four or five jobs to work as a PRN and regular part-time, but no full-time.
So I– So around June or July 2016 I left all of those PRN and regular part-time jobs.
I got my full-time job. Which is my current job. So and that–at that time June, July 2016, I watched one of your–your video… videos in YouTube and, uh, I remember you… You were wearing a black shirt, but it was like one or two Hours long, but the most important it was like you explained the meaning of speaking 26.
And I was like, it makes so much sense because I failed I think… three tests up to that point, up to that point, failed like three tests and then I… And then one thing that you pointed out was the comments from ETS from the TOEFL graders.
They have the same comments with one range. If you fail on that range, you got the same comment over and over again. And there’s no custom… No customized, No student-specific comment to get back.
And that was one other thing like,” Oh, I had my paper reports here.” I looked into the… into them and then oh, you were so right. I looked at them and I… yes, I can… I can, I could say they were the same. If I got 2 or 2.5, they all have the same comment and– And I didn’t pay attention to that because we’re all focused on the scores, right? The scores. But ignored all the comments, so we didn’t see that.
You didn’t even notice that, like, they’re not actually really giving you any information at all. And then nobody explained what the meanings of 26 is. And then when you said that it reflects the level, English level of US graduate students and that made, and that started to, to enlighten me, then I went online. No. At that time from Georgia, I had to finish my job. And I got my full-time job in August.
And because it was my start of a new job, we have, they have… They normally have the 90 days, probationary period. After that time, they decide to keep you or fire you. So you had to show up for that. I had to perform at work.
So until… not until October 2016 was when I bought the Right Note and 24+ Writing. Materials from your website. And I started to study, and they’re really good.
I like the thing is, I studied TOEFL. Stop, study for TOEFL, and stop. So it was like you got into your car, and then you have to wait for your car to warm up…. So it it took some time. It took some time to, you know– That’s normal, yeah, definitely.– the study momentum.
Right, right…. Is it okay if we show like what happened after you got those programs? Because I think it’s interesting to see how your reading, Your listening, and your writing scores Stabilized after that, yeah, so this is your score history. So this was all before? Yeah, you know, with self study, YouTube study, or the other the other tutor who you were working with. And then, like you said, October 2016 you’ve got these programs off our website. Um, yeah, it’s pretty amazing.
I mean, yeah, it’s like… So do you think like that increase in your Listening could have happened for a couple of reasons, you know. I used and I applied because the way that you taught in those materials was so… how can I say this? They are applicable. I followed– I followed step by step and I applied to… I practiced at home and applied them to the tests, and I found, I saw that it’s working.
Those two materials really working and like, even though, like now looked at them. They’re so old, but they work. They worked. Yeah, they worked. I mean, I have to say it’s funny. Cause like, Right Notes was the first program that I made. And I look back at the videos that I did now and like I cringe, it’s like embarrassing to me, but the fact is that it always… it still works. Like I have students right now who I tell, ignore my hair like just, you know, like, or laugh at my hair.
I don’t care like it doesn’t matter because the material is actually good material. Like, it helps you build the ability to actually understand, like, what’s happening inside those lectures. And I think I made it in 2012 because there wasn’t anything like that available. And I think, you know, still, I don’t know that anything has been created, although I don’t follow it. But it worked for you, which is awesome. So okay, so that was happening. And then let’s fast forward. So then, how did you get to the point of deciding that, uh, you wanted to work with me to get your speaking score of 26?
Okay, let’s continue. So after that October 2016 I studied, but then in January 2017 um, I had a medical emergency. So when I was in hospital and my medical problem took me six months to recover and my medical condition–one of the conditions was um, loss of concentration and was not able to concentrate on studying.
So I again, I stopped studying for TOEFL For like six months or so and then somewhere… May 2017 Things start– Things started to happen at work.
The later was getting worse than the events and the wait. The what was getting worse?– Anh: at work… that the latter events at work that happened.
Which had direct effect on my study too. So in May 2017, my manager was asked to step down. We don’t have any– We didn’t have any manager.
And then, um, my workplace. I work in hospital pharmacy. So we have an IV room to make two compounds sterile medications. That room was down and because they found a bunch of fungal contamination in there, we couldn’t use that room, so we couldn’t function normally. So there’s a lot more work to do because we have to make medications on demand only. So if you have, like, 10 or 20 medications, you have to get in and out, in and out of the room.
10 or 20 times instead of one sitting to make all of them, we can’t. We couldn’t do that.
And then when the room was back on September 2017 you might have heard about Hurricane Irma, which hit Florida, and Hurricane Maria, which hit Puerto Rico.
And now here came real disaster after the natural disaster. The thing is that the production sites or the manufacturing sites off big pharmaceutical companies of the US… Mainland are located in Puerto Rico.
So when all of the power lines were down, they couldn’t produce any medication. Especially– I’m learning.
Wow, okay. I did not know that. Like for patients, surgery patients, cancer patients. So that three months, three months after the hurricane, we depleted all the available products from the production sites of the–all the the companies. So the whole country fell into the so-called national back order. Critical condition. Wow, I didn’t even know about that. That’s crazy. Okay, so, yeah, it was a very stressful time. I would imagine, like, all kinds of things were happening.
So three months after that hurricane, it took six months for them to get back. So all six months for them to start to get back, but during that… that time. So some It’s already started the beginning of 2018 now. And I had to… in pharmacy–in hospital pharmacies we had to compound those opioid painkillers. Morphine.
You may know about morphine. So things like that, things like that. We had to compound them.
But the thing is, once you compound them, They have a very… They have very short date on them. They have to be used in 24 hours or 9 days. And the more we made, the more we waste it, because sometimes you you couldn’t use all of them. But you still have to have them, you have to have them available.
So then, a lot of work, more waste, and mobile hours. So during that time I couldn’t study again. I stop. Yeah, right. I had to put my TOEFL aside.
It was so much, like it was like, I even wanted to give up. Just stay at home.
And did your parents visa get approved? Because I know you told me you were sponsoring them. So that was the reason why you took that job. And it was obviously so important to keep them because I’m guessing, Like to keep your parents with you? Yeah, great.
I think not until the middle… Maybe June 2018…. Both of them got their green cards. That’s awesome. Yeah, that must have felt incredible, like that You finally did that. I mean, that’s like a huge, huge thing. Yeah, and then so it’s the middle of 2018. I started to contact you.
I emailed you about my intention to study with you and how to how to go for it. But at that time, you had your family problem at that time. We all have our dramas!
I couldn’t move on when we, when we contact, and then you had problems. You have to postpone your, your classes.
But at that time, the thing is for after three years, it took three years for me to remove the big doubt and started to build trust.
And like, at the point when I contact–I emailed you was when I completely trust. I had no option but follow because I watched your video YouTube like, three years ago, and I still, still I studied your materials and I watched more of your old videos later.
And a lot of them. A lot of them makes sense. So I… so I was determined.
You were the one that could help me at that time. And like now, I’m done with my work, not done with my work, but the time, the hard time now passed, it passed.– The hurricane was gone. The back order was gone. Yeah, right. Things were… Yeah.– My parents got their green card… It was like driving on a street with bumpers one after another.
Like until you get to the highway. You know, like it’s very hard. You don’t know. I want to say something about that, too, because I think like you’re you’re taking us through like the step by step of what was going on for you. And it’s so important. Like when you have time and space in your life. That is when this is gonna happen. It can’t happen… Like because the work that we did together, I’m sure you’re gonna talk about it. But it’s intense, like changing, changing your accent, you know, getting to that level of accuracy with pronunciation and rhythm and intonation.
It takes so much time to do that. And you can’t do it when you’re, like, putting out all of these other fires in your life like the parent visa thing, or like citizenship, which, like, a lot of my students are dealing with citizenship simultaneously, or like crazy situations at work. Or, like other students of mine are getting divorced or the health problems. Like all these things, they’re legitimate things that stop us. They take our energy and they make it the wrong time to be studying.
Because, like, if you’ve got that much stuff going on in your life, you have to take care of that so that you’re calm and you’re able to, like, benefit from the investment that you make.
Yeah, yeah, now I think about it, like there was no way I could study with you. There would be a lot of reschedules or even cancels. I would not be able to to put up with the just intense schedule.– Yeah.– Amount of materials and homework.
There was no way. And you also you also had to get to the point because, like when we’re doing accent work like to develop speaking scores of like 26 like to take you from this point of being, like, you know, 23 speaking 22, 21. Like we only worked on speaking. That’s all we did in our lessons was like focusing on how to get a speaking score. And so you eliminated the reading and the listening and the writing as problems. And I think that’s another thing that, like so many people come to me and when when they have, because I also work with people where they’ve gotta do, like, work on four sections.
And I can do that, like we can do that. But it’s gonna take longer, like it just is because, like, you like you went through that process, you know you developed yourself to that level where the only thing left that we needed to work on was speaking and accent. But I mean, even that is, like, very time consuming everything. A lot of people just well, I mean, if you’ve never reached that level, you, you just you don’t know what it’s gonna be like.
You have to experience it. That’s honestly the only way, and it’s it’s gonna take, like, 10 to 15 hours a week.
That’s what I could say, yeah.– We don’t have amount of time at that, at that point. Yeah, I agree. Yeah.
So… so you were saying that like when you finally felt, like, ready to contact me. You said it took three years to remove the doubts that you had and build trust. So I’m remembering you started with the 12 Essential Topic Classes.
Yeah. So… So somewhere in September When I saw your Facebook, when you talked about Facebook, when you came back to teach, then I enrolled in that class that start in November. So it’s like a year.
It was like a year, now. It was exactly… ? ?– Yeah, it was a year ago, yeah. So I started from there and I was very serious. I asked for…– You were.
I asked for time off from work. I don’t care if… Because people was like they complaining, it was bitching, it like,” Why are you asking for one day here, one day there instead of asking for, like a…” People normally take vacation for five days in a row, and then they have people cover. But now I’m asking for this Tuesday, this Thursday and like those specific days and they… some of them got mad.
But I don’t care. So…– That’s the right attitude to have. Now is my time for myself because I burned myself out during the horrible time that we had to deal with. Now It’s my time for myself to… to move on and, and then after we finished The 12 Essential Topic Classes, I jumped directly, like jump immediately to the private lessons and we started from there and it was like, so what– So now I already have 100% trust, faith in you.
The problem is, that I want to share. Students, You need to have faith in yourself, too. And that’s the hardest because sometimes it’s… you think, you would think that you are able to control faith in yourself, but not others.
But it’s not like that. Once you lose your faith in yourself is very hard to get back because from other people, when they see you’re going down, like… when you see me making me making mistakes, you try to fix it, and I worked with you and I improved like from your side.
But from my side, if I make repeatedly make the same mistakes… pronunciation, the same sound, the same sounds with different words. It was very discouraging, and it was, sometimes it was like I submitted homework for you and you… I wish you could fake it.
Give me some– Oh, to fake, to fake it to be like yeah, it was perfect. Yeah, to encourage me. Right, right…. But, well I’m glad you didn’t do that. You just like is like, if you take a medication, that is better if they actually work.
Because we don’t want…– I’m the bitter medication. Yeah, the bitter drug. I’ll accept that. Yeah. No, I… I get that. Oh, yeah. I mean, it’s hard. I can say for myself, it gets difficult too, like It’s discouraging for me as well As a teacher, as a tutor. I have days also where I’m like,…” Oh, God, I wish this was easier.” Like, I just I wish it was easier because it’s not.
It— It isn’t easy to be the bearer of bad news. Like to always be the one who’s the messenger. And, like, I have plenty of students that, like, don’t like me or get angry. They’re, they’re just like they’re frustrated. They’re like, you know,” Why are you telling me this bad thing?” I’m like yeah, like, I don’t—I don’t– This isn’t enjoy–like I like THIS part of my job. I like this part where like, you’re done… I’m going to say goodbye to you and, like, watch you walk into the rest of your life, like this is the part that I wait for.
It’s not the part where it’s like you made another mistake. You made another mistake, like, it’s tough. It is really hard for both of us. You know, it’s hard for both. Yeah, yeah, that’s what, that’s what, that is when students maybe lose their faith in themselves. ? ?– Jaime: Oh God, yeah.
Not… not in you, but they’re gonna lose fate in themselves. And then that’s why when they just slide down.– So how did you keep it, then?… What helped you keep your faith in yourself?– Because I trust you. Well, when talking about faith, There’s always two ways… my, my side and your side, but your side stays the same.
So I trust you 100% like I said. And I–every time discouragement came from, you know, failing the tests. And they got comments with, like, mistakes. All of that, I just think about the time you said that Anh, you aren’t at that level. You will, You will get it, but it’ll take time. You don’t know when it would happen, but it’ll happen eventually. So that it was kind of some things that, um, replenish the losing faith and just, you know, your faith, faith in yourself.
Keep losing and keep losing. But you need to replenish hold–holding, holding it back. Yeah, is the hardest part. And then was time even with–while studying with you, there was time I really just want to give up so, so many times, you know. Driving on the street and oh, I have to do this test, now I got the comments and it was not what I expected.
And I found like, after, there was one time I took the test at the wrong test center, and it was so bad. And I’m really, on that day when I take it, during the time I took the test… I just want to give up, like… Now I don’t care.
I don’t care. I won’t continue to my career path of Getting pharmacst license, I’ll stick to being a pharmacy technician.
So many times the same thought came to me, came to me. But, you know, maybe something in mind, in my mind just pushing it away. But those kind of negative thoughts would come, and it is inevitable to… To ignore them. You…– Yeah, well, and I want to pause. I’d like to say something about that because I think like this is maybe the most important part of why you were ultimately successful with this. Because what you’re highlighting is something that everybody goes through and even for me, like as a tutor, I mean, I’d say that the main place that I’ve grown for myself is that I’m patient.
I’m way more patient with my students growth process now, like after almost 10 years. Than I was, like, seven years ago or like even five or, you know, four years ago, like I’m so much more patient. But we all wonder we all doubt. There are times when, like I wanted to give up is a tutorr also. And I thought, like I can’t do this, like I’m not capable of this, like I don’t know how to do my job, like, and students have that all the time too, like what you’re talking about.
Can I? Am I capable? And so what it really comes down to, I think, is being able to hold both possibilities at the same time. And just making space for that. Like, okay, I feel crappy about myself. I don’t think I can do it. I’m really worried. But maybe I can. And like both of those things and, and I don’t I don’t think that we can ever truly remove the doubt that we have about our failure, and I don’t think that we need to, either.
I think it’s just important to say it’s almost like weather. Like sometimes we’re gonna have really bad days. Sometimes it’s going to rain a lot.
Sometimes we’re gonna feel bad about ourselves, and it’s just like a weather system that passes. There’s gonna be sun. It’s gonna get nice again, you’re going to be able to go for a picnic. So it’s like how you feel right now. It’s not permanent. So it’s okay, you know, I think it’s okay if we have those times where we’re discouraged and we’re disappointed and we feel bad, and the most important thing is that patience to just sit through that, let that pass and be like,” Okay, now I have energy again.” Now I, I got a little a little buzz of optimism.
You know you can go back and face it. Yeah, and like after that… Last, the last failure, I don’t remember what I did, but all of a sudden, and I have energy to restart. Of course It took us… I think it took us a month to get back to the_____ private lessons, I think.
Yeah, we have these fluctuations. I mean, I say it like, when you’re when you’re working with me, when we’re working together for like a year or something like that, Life is gonna happen in the middle of it. So that kind of like start, stop, you know. Momentum, No momentum, like all of that can sort of happen because we’re not machines. So yeah, I’m remembering There was, like, a pause, and Then we got back to it. Yeah, right.
Um, yeah, because you said that. Let’s go back to the test, the momentum of taking texts you get. And then… and then you advised me to let’s go take test and then see where you are at.
And, and then I did some Cafe tests and then live test, something like that. And it was during that time, I had a new way of study.
Like maybe they reduced a number of questions, reduced in each section except the writing. And I had to do… I hide anyway of studying, but all from your, from advise from your book, and they work. They work for me and I’m… and I’m so glad that I did that. And I was determined when I have to do this every day. And I did that, and I did all of those different materials and things like the flip book warm up I did That almost every day.
I tried to tried to do that excess on the homework or the practice either before going to work or coming after work, coming home after work.
Mm-hm. That’s awesome. Yeah, it’s that dedication of just continuing to do it. I want to go back to one event that we’re glossing over, which I think was really important, that when we started private lessons, I was concerned about how you’re FPGEE was gonna expire. And I… and I remember because I always like I learned enough over the years that I always warn people about this. I’m like, I know you can get your results. I don’t know when. We may have an expiration come up in the middle of this.
And one of the things that I really appreciated about working with you, which was unique. It’s different from what happens for a lot of pharmacists when they’re FPGEE expires. Typically what happens is that they go dark, they fall off the radar. I email them.” Hey, what’s up?”” How are you?” Nothing. Like before, they will be able to pass again.
Well, yeah. So typically, people just like disappear. Pharmacists often disappear when they’re FPGEE expires. You stayed with me. You were like, it was like I don’t think we even had a conversation about it. Actually, I’m realizing now, I don’t think I don’t think we’re ever like,” Oh, today is the day.”” What are you gonna do?” Like we were continuing, we’re just–we’re gonna do it. So how did you feel during that time? Were you aware that FPGEE was expiring?
G…. Yeah. I was fully aware. I, I was aware of like when I started to enroll in November last year. I knew that there’s no way, I kind of have that feeling. There’s no way I would get the score before expiration.
So accepting, accepting that it’ll expired before I get the score. I only accepted like, you know, if I don’t get it, I don’t get it. It’s not the time, but that’s not important anymore.
What was important?– TOEFL is more important. But why, though? What– Because it only represents something you know, like, what does that represent to you? What was more important?– Between the the TOEFL and the FPGEE? Or… Well, I’m just saying, like with your career, I mean, I feel like because what you chose, like the thing I–I feel like so many pharmacists that I know accept the expiration of their FPGEE As if it’s like a message from God saying that it’s like this career is not for you.
This is…– Mm-hm. You know? They sort of… they take it as like this big message about their life that, like my FPGEE expired, it’s too difficult to get it again.
It’s too much work like I’m, I’m closing that door or like, and there’s a depression. There’s an anger, sadness, a sense of failure that a lot of them have. But a lot of people accept that as like, that’s the end.
It’s the end of that. And I feel like you just didn’t because, like, something else mattered more to you. And I’m curious. That’s like, what I’m trying to get at…. What is it that you felt like was calling you? So what, you mean it’s like they have some kind of belief? Yeah, I think so.
Yes. Well, people have judgment. Just, just mental. Um when– Like when you see, we see each other, we judge, that’s automatically happens. So when something comes…” Oh, um a bird died in front of my house? It is a sign of something, right?” Like some, something like that. Something bad could happen today! Right, you’re like waiting for it. Okay, right.
But if they die, they die. Doesn’t matter. In front of your house or your neighbor’s house. If they die, they die.
I mean, accepting, accepting it and move on. I don’t have time to… To stay, hold back.
And there– There’s nothing I could do to, to keep it from expired, from being expired. I could not write them an email.” Hey, give me some time! I know that I’ll get it,” you know?– You could try it.
I mean, I, I know– I know a lot of students, I know a lot of students that spend– They spend months thinking about writing the email to the board, writing the email to the board, waiting to hear from the board. Like during that time, they could be making the progress, but they just like they stop everything, like hoping that you know, they’re going to get the permission again. I don’t think it works because if they allow that, it become a precedence on applying for the FPGEE and they wouldn’t do it like why are we wasting time on that?
Because when I realized that TOEFL is what… is what has the highest priority, The rest of them is like after. I don’t care, and I remember saying to you that I don’t care if my, uh, my FPGEE expired anymore, except that… Once I accepted, it’s like was… I was determined to focus, and actually, I realized that I focused on the wrong thing at the beginning.
Like you said, we should not have taken the FPGEE in the beginning. No, it’s the TOEFL that you got to focus, but the national board would not tell you,” Here, go over this first.” They just said one of the requirements is this.
But they would not tell you,” Go for the TOEFL first.” But because…– Yeah, it would be so much better.– And NAPLEX, they said that, they are very easy to, uh, to pass because of the grading. The grading system is easy.
It’s very easy that according to my manager and my co-workers, they all said that they all passed. And even my co-worker who couldn’t pass TOEFL, he passed the NAPLEX so… and he himself agrees that TOEFL should be the one that you focus. So when my ex–If, if my expert, my equivalence certificate expired, it expired. There’s nothing I can do because it would not make any– It will not make any change if I go and write email and… Because they would not consider, they would just throw out your email away even if they would reply to that, because they do look into those who got the TOEFL and they do look into those who got their Certificate expired.
So– So if you think out of the box, people got to, students, they got to think out the box.
Don’t contain yourself. In one failure And then stick to it. It’s very, is dangerous because you are like unhealthy cell, you know, cell is the basic unit of anything. If it’s unhealthy, it may become malfunction like and it may become cancerous or tumorous. But the things you don’t know, like students, when you think that this is what this is, how you go, is how you should go, you go for TOEFL or continue to insist to insist on getting the their certificates.
Which way that you want?– Like with special treatment. You are the one who who know that. But because of the refusing, refusing to take TOEFL like I have, I have the credential undeserved. That’s what students think. But believe me, wearing a white gown doesn’t make you a doctor, a hospital or in a dictation room in hospital, they are people who wear white gowns. But not only number doctors. They could be nurses, they could be pharmacists. They could be PA, the physician assistants.
No, not all– Not all of them are doctors…. So don’t think that you wear the white gown, It makes you a doctor.
Or don’t think that being around native speakers would make you a native speaker. No, it takes time and effort to get to their natural native speaking level. So I want to ask you about that, too, because like, we’re gonna have to wrap up here soon. But one thing that I’m noticing is that, like, as we’ve been doing this interview, you’ve been talking and you are talking like 15 times more than what you needed to do at the TOEFL test. Like if you think about what you had to get through the level of fluency that was required for that you are proving here what you are capable of.
You’re proving what somebody who like has a speaking level of like 26 or higher can do…. So my question is, what differences do you see between Anh today and Anh like back at the level where some of this is just like a bad test or like you know, not feeling so confident, but like back in this range like, how’s your pronunciation different?… How’s your grammar different?… How’s your vocabulary different? So one, in one of the essential processes, I don’t know. Maybe that one, or one of your YouTube videos.
You said that the speaking 26 reflects the US, the level of English of US Graduate students. I started to observe.
I observed my pharmacists who I’m working with, and normally you would not observe People like that, but I observed them talking on the phone. They are… They are really using complicated grammars. They’re using diverse vocabulary, they are so convincing, they are so knowledgeable, and they’re so powerful.
I observed them. I feel like” Oh my God, I’m not that bad, I was down here. They are up here.” Was. Was, because Now you’re up there, Anh. And then I realized that’s the 26+ level. I’m not there yet. Like, you know, you’re, all of a sudden you realized something that you don’t have, you don’t actually have.
And then I was. And then another thing I realized too is that when I looked back At my scores in speaking. And they said they gave me 23 or 24.
I felt like those are so generous because I’m not there. I couldn’t speak like they do. Like those ETS graders give me 23, 24. They are already generous to give me the score. I’m not there. When you realize that I’m, I’m, I’m at the low level. I’m not at, you know, the stairs of the phase that you have your unconsciously take, making mistakes to unconsciously being accurate speaking.
That is where, I, when I looked at that. Oh, my God, I’m down here. Right, Right. I’m just gonna I’m gonna show that real quick because I feel like for anybody who hasn’t seen that or I mean, it is something I talk about all the time in classes. Yeah, it’s like this idea that we have these phases in learning, right? Start down here with unconscious mistakes. We got to get to conscious, conscious accuracy, and then you start developing unconscious accuracy.
Yeah, so you sort of like, you– You recognized that you were down there. That was one, like that was one of the reasons I accepted that my equivalence certificate expired. Now I knew that this is not important anymore.
In order to work here and have people, and like make people respect me. I need to have a high level of speaking and be convincing. As powerful and knowledgeable as the pharmacists. So I’m working with them and I was admiring them and I… I started to observe them more and the more I observed them, there are like two of them that are my favorite.
I enjoy listening to them when they talk on the phone or when they just keep chit-chat with us. Enjoyed that. But normally if you don’t realize something like that, you would not use that as a tool…. To grow?– To grow. Yeah, you would not– because you think that people talk, people are just talking.
Just talking, just talking. Yeah, yeah, it’s incredible. It was like, that’s the realization.
Like… only if students realize that they are at a low level. Like I said, they would try to move up if they think they’re up here.
They would not… There’s no more to go up. They would think that everyone else judges them( as being) low. But if they themselves see that they are low and they would consciously want to move up.
So that was my driving force that that pushed me. To like from the beginning. And I was so determined. I was accepting. I started to accept, you know, realizing it is very hard and accepting it is even harder, especially people who got pharmacist license or, or something like that, health care professionals they studied. And the only thing that, like their, their… Credentials makes them deserve what they need.
Well, I think that you’re so inspiring for sharing this because it this is a really rare opportunity for somebody who’s accomplished what you’ve done to really show what somebody who’s at a speaking level of 26 is capable of. You know, something like that, because the fact is, I think that there’s a lot of confusion, a lot of secrecy, a lot of myths, misunderstandings, misinformation about you know, what is a speaking score of 26? But I mean, for you to show how much you can talk like how much you can say.
I mean, you’ve developed like that ability to be convincing that ability to be powerful. I mean, if you think about it now, when you look back like now, do you feel ready? To, like, lead a pharmacy to, like, be a pharmacist and, like, be at that level. And if you think about who you were, like a year ago, or 18 months ago or, like, two years ago. Were you at the level then? No, I would not be, like have the real… The real strength to argue or to stand my ground, you know, to speak back at that level.
Like now I feel much… even though before I only use the knowledge to reply. But now I’m good. I’m confident not just using the knowledge, but I have the level to argue with people.– So important to have that.– It’s very important.
And like I don’t know if you have time to like me to… To speak with something like a metaphor Example. I’d love it. No, let’s do it. Yeah, we can. We could make time for that. Yeah, share your metaphor example…. When I know that you are your picture of your house, your foundation, I was like, the house was like me.
We have a foundation. All students have foundation. We can speak English, basic English, but the foundation is damaged over time. Over time as we age.
It is not going to stay that way. But if you don’t pull up your carpets, things covered. You don’t see. It’s true. You would not see what’s underneath the carpet, so don’t let the carpet cover your eyes, and you’re actually blind by them. So students try to remove the carpet, see through the foundation of their English level and fix it.
This… like you say, the thing is, if you don’t fix the foundation, what would happen?
And the ETS… Or the national board, all those who come into the house and they pull that carpet up and they saw those foundations then they walk away.
Those who didn’t buy the house. See what I mean? Like, yeah, yeah, no, I see your metaphor. I think it’s a great metaphor. Yeah. I mean, you’ve gotta have that solid foundation that you can build on because it comes back to what you are saying about your confidence to argue, your confidence to communicate with people, like you need to have those abilities in order to give consultations, work with people, like manage all the social connections and things that are gonna happen in English inside your job.
Like you have to have the ability to do that. But it needs a strong foundation to uphold, to keep it last long.
So imagine if you know you don’t, you don’t… You come in And you didn’t see that. And then you start to put all of your furniture in. Like students who don’t have, who would know that they have foundations, only, they didn’t– They are not aware of the foundation may not be strong enough to uphold all of that. And what would happen? Collapse of the whole house. It’s the same, It is similar to that.
So I think that using that metaphor, it makes people understand. Great metaphor. You don’t realize that too. I appreciate that. Yeah. No, that’s awesome. Well, and I want to say thank you so much. I don’t know if there’s anything else you want to share, but I feel like you’ve covered some incredible points and all of this. Um and I just like I said, I think that this interview you’re giving us…– I have another one.– Is a gift.
Okay, yeah. Yeah. I figured, like a few days ago. So I think this metaphor, science student, They may understand. Mmm. So I don’t know if people have heard about CoQ10 enzyme.
You see them in Costco or Sam’s Club. You see the supplements. But what does that enzyme do? That enzyme acts at a cellular level and they… it helps to sustain the cell and promote the cell, to stay healthy, to stay stronger, and to be to be functional.
So in your body, you have primary cells which will differentiate Into specialized cells like lung cells, Heart cells, muscle cells, brain cells.
But if your primary cells are unhealthy, are weak, are malfunctional, How would you expect your specialized cells?
Be strong, be functional? Like unhealthy and weak. It’s like students whose English starts weak. They will be crushed like the boot crush the egg. In one of your metaphor too, like the boot.( Mindset, page 8) ? ? And if they’re… if the primary cells are nonfunctional, they make turning to cancerous cells, and students’ English Malfunctional is when we make a bunch of mistakes.
The thing is that the cells don’t know that they are malfunction. Students don’t know. They make mistakes.
You know? Nobody come in and say,” Hey, cells, don’t turn to cancerous now because you’re making mistakes.” Nobody tell you… Nobody told you that you’re making mistakes and this is the same way.
So you are like that CoQ10 enzyme……. Because you act, I’m the CoQ10 enzyme.– The primary cells, you act like them, you ? ? strengthen the cells. When the cell is weak, it’s dying, and it dies faster when the cell is unhealthy, It would not be able to absorb nutrients. And here, let’s say, students, before going to exam, you may know that they go and buy magnesium or vitamin B12 to want to improve their memory.
But if the primary cells are weak, how you expect them to be able to absorb enough nutrients? It doesn’t matter how many, like one a day. Or vitamins you put in yourself, your body, The cells would not able to absorb them unless they are super healthy. They are like, because that enzyme is a… It’s our strongest antioxidants that act at the cellular level like the foundation.
Right. Right, Right. You… If you are… so you can take that vitamin or those vitamins like before In addition to coenzyme, to CoQ10 enzyme thatwould boost the function of your, the cell and that eventually would boost the function of your whole body. Support your heart, support your circular system, everything from the cellular level. And I think that’s the most important part.
You know, I don’t know if you… Your CoQ10 enzyme for yourself.– Now I might take it since I am, I am being equated to CoQ10 enzyme… I think it be funny if I started taking it, but yeah.– Like especially new students, And when they realize that they are at low level, it’s like people who are… who not taking a lot of supplements. And they are like, easy to get tired or something, they need to take like a stronger version.
Like liquid version, which is more expensive, but it absorbs faster. And after that, after a bottle of liquid, you can just buy capsule. So it’s like you need someone To tell you, to strengthen Your foundation of English and like the CoQ10 enzyme, as we age over time, even though it is produced naturally in your body, the level goes down as we age on over time, we still have it, but it’s not enough. You’re, you know, like that’s why…– You need it from somewhere else.
Yeah. You know what you’re saying I think is like you can’t always make enough of it for yourself. And you may need help. It’s like English. It’s like English. Being around native speakers, if you don’t know the basics. Like, all of pronunciation that you have taught me… that was like for elementary kids. All of that was like the basics that we need. And once you get that basic, I’m able to use it for any occasions like now. If anything, I’m confused. I go to the pronunciation dictionary…– Right.
To study that. And believe me, every time I did my practice I found words, old words, but new pronunciation to me.
The right one.– You’re rediscovering what you already thought you knew. Yeah, that’s really part of it…. Nobody taught me how to read the pronunciation of vowels.
I didn’t have like, how to read that” schwa” sign like those Latin( symbols) Or whatever it is. The phonemic alphabet, yeah. Yeah, so that, we, we… I don’t know. I myself, I didn’t know. But now I’ve learned, and I can applied it wherever I want.
Well, that’s one thing that I love is like I’m always trying to give my students tools so that you’re not dependent on me. I mean, you… like I can teach you how to understand pronunciation so that you can access tools that are around you all the time. Information that’s around you all the time, to, like, actually learn that and make it part of your English. So, yeah, I’m glad that you’re highlighting that part of it because I think it’s an important point of the investment.
Like I’m not making you depend on me for the rest of your life, you know, or even like you’re not depending on me to get your TOEFL score like there’s so much that you can do.– A lot of teachers just just keep secret. They just keep the knowledge for themselves instead of sharing it, like that’s the reason why when you said, if I want to share my experience, I’m glad to because that would help other people.
And I’m glad if you can get more students from sharing my experience and my story, and you get more students, I’m glad that happened to you.
And I’m glad it’s students who realize what… I hope. I hope they realize what I did. So just… Your priorities change all the time until you realize,” OK, this is done.”” Now what is next?” And choose the right… the next priority. Choose the right one and then not until choose the right one, can you go and finish it.
Well, I really appreciate it. You’ve given so much amazing insight in all of this, and I’m very grateful for your time. I know that other pharmacists who are listening and even people who are not pharmacists when they when they hear this, I hope that they recognize the gift that you’ve given in this interview. So I want to say again, thank you so much for what you did, and I really look forward to hearing what’s gonna happen next for you. I think that it’s just a matter of time until you are unleashed on the world because it’s obvious through all of this that you fought really hard to get what you have.
You deserve it. At this point, you deserve it, and I can’t wait to see what comes next for you. So, like now the advantage we can get the TOEFL, I can email them whatever that would would obstruct my application. That this, this is the point where, when student can email, like,” I have things, let me move forward.” But not before. Not before you get what they want.
Actually, it’s not FPGEE… I think it’s not FPGEE. Not the NAPLEX, like this could be the TOEFL, but they want… They wanted to prove to them that you are able to speak and you’re about to make people understand.
And I was like, after I studied and when I realized that was a low level, I was like,” Oh my God, I might have confused a lot of my co-workers.” But they was nice to just ignore. And just so you know, there’s a lot of words in one sentence, so they might just, can…– The basic meaning from everything else, right. Right.
Yeah, but what if you were consulting with a patient who’s like old or sick or deaf or something like that? And like they can’t, they can’t be nice in the same way, you know.– Exactly.
All right, well Anh, keep in touch…. Definitely let me know what happens next. But I’m super excited to hear how your story is gonna continue unfolding. So thank you so much. Thank you. I appreciate your help. You like I don’t know what I was doing. Like if I didn’t see your YouTube video.
It must be something that that made it happen. Because there’s a bunch… To be honest, it’s hard to find each other. Like I don’t know what I would be like.( Do you) see what I mean? Like I would, maybe I’d still be struggling with TOEFL. If I didn’t see your YouTube video, even though it was, like, 10 years ago or so.
Yeah, well, it’s good you did. Chance was there. I think you, this was supposed to happen. So I think it’s awesome. Like you didn’t interpret the expiration as like a message from the universe to, like, give up or stop or change careers. You just… You had that determination in yourself and you kept going and like you totally deserve this. So anyway, we’ll see what happens next.
Anh is a Vietnamese, foreign-trained pharmacist. She got her degree in Hungary and then moved to America. She wanted to stop working as a pharmacy technician, and that was why she needed minimum Speaking scores of 26+ on TOEFL iBT.
Obviously, Anh needed to meet NABP’s requirement for Speaking 26. Even though she took the exam a few times by herself, she was really frustrated with TOEFL iBT. Plus, to make matters worse, she didn’t feel like she could trust the advice she discovered in most free YouTube videos. However, she really needed feedback from someone on the mistakes that she was making. Some days, she wondered if she would ever be able to say “goodbye” to TOEFL.
One day, on YouTube, she found Jaime Miller’s presentation about what a Speaking score of 26 means. She realized that the Speaking score of 26 wasn’t a punishment — it was more like a gift. When she would finally get the score of 26, she wouldn’t be making the grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation errors that made it hard for her to communicate confidently, effectively and efficiently with coworkers. She realized that, in the future, as a pharmacist, she would have to manage people, build relationships and trust with colleagues and patients, and hold her own in arguments or stressful conversations.
She started seeing the score of 26 on TOEFL as a significant milestone towards her development as an “advanced” speaker of English.
This is the process that Anh ultimately followed to study with Jaime Miller and her programs — and how she scored Speaking 26 for the first time in her life:
- She joined one of Jaime’s early classes, which are now available for you to watch in the program: “Understand How to Get S26”
- She got feedback on her Speaking by finishing the “Understand How to Fix Fossilized Errors” program and studied really seriously.
- She rearranged her work schedule and didn’t make excuses about why she couldn’t (or didn’t want to) study the material.
- She enrolled in (and finished!) her customized private lesson plan to make her speak more accurately.
Although she’s done now, like she shares in the rare video interview, it wasn’t always easy. She had plenty of days when she wondered how she would ultimately succeed.
She was tenacious and kept her faith in herself… which is why she agreed to do this video interview with Jaime after she recently scored 26 on TOEFL iBT Speaking…
Do you want information about how to study with Jaime?
If you are inspired by Anh’s success story, we hope that you’ll click the green button below. There are several characteristics that increase a person’s chances of success.