The Question:

Some people think that they can learn better by themselves than with a teacher. Others think that it is always better to have a teacher. Which do you prefer? Use specific reasons to support your choice.



This is a sample TOEFL essay written by a native speaker.  It follows our TOEFL Writing templates for independent essays.  If it is useful, please remember that we have many more sample essays for you to practice with!

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Sample Essay

              Everyone has their own preferred study methods, and all of them have unique benefits.  I am of the opinion that it is better to study with a teacher than it is to study alone.  I feel this way for two main reasons, which I will explore in the following essay.

              To begin with, studying with a teacher helps students to stay focused and avoid distraction, which are two things that young people often struggle with.  Students today have a world of technological distractions right at their fingertips, including smartphones, social networking websites and satellite television.  Even when we make firm plans, it is difficult to stay focused on our studies when we can so easily consume some frivolous entertainment instead.  When I was attempting to learn English for the first time, my studies faltered because I pulled out my phone whenever I hit a difficult part in my exercise book.  When I switched to studying with a tutor, however, simple courtesy prevented me from using a phone in her presence.  Additionally, whenever I tried to begin some idle small talk in order to avoid hard work, she gently nudged me back to my important studies.  I progressed much more quickly with her than I did while studying on my own.

              Furthermore, students have an inflated sense of their own ability and intelligence, which causes problems when they try to study alone.  Many people believe that with just a nice textbook they can master any topic on their own.  They are of the opinion that they can create a curriculum all by themselves and formulate their own study plan.  However, this is something that only trained experts are actually very good at.  My own experience is a compelling example of this.  As I said, I began studying English all by myself.  I drew up complicated lesson plans and schedules that were supposed to predict my progress.  Sadly, I did not progress as quickly as I anticipated.  When I started studying with a tutor, she immediately assessed my needs and ability level and created a more realistic timeline for my studies.  As a result, I have been able to make realistic progress without feeling discouraged.

              In conclusion, I strongly believe that studying with a teacher is better than studying alone. This is because teachers help us to avoid distractions, and because they can assist us in creating realistic goals and objectives for our learning.


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(the above essay question came from the latest edition of the Official TOEFL Guide)