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Introducing Dr. Byrnes' e-course, “TOEFL Academic Discussion”

Hi, I introduce my e-course, “TOEFL Academic Discussion.” This audio-enhanced course is designed to help you master the art of writing TOEFL Academic Discussion Responses. The course is divided into two parts. In Part I, you will learn the essential components of a well-crafted essay. Here, you will learn response strategies with templates, methods of generating relevant ideas using your background knowledge, and connecting sentences logically. All these lessons are aided by ample sample essays. 

The key to a successful academic discussion lies in presenting a persuasive argument, which means effectively organizing your ideas to convince your reader of your viewpoint. To achieve this, it's crucial to have a solid understanding of the topic presented in the question. Without background knowledge on the subject, it's challenging to produce a compelling argument. Part II of this course aims to help you learn about the topic as well as learn how to make persuasive arguments. Here, you can analyze hundreds of essays from various perspectives that answer ETS sample questions. 

The entire course is narrated by Dr. John Byrnes, allowing you to both read and listen to the content. Repeated listening offers numerous benefits, including aiding in the retention of fixed expressions, grammar intricacies, and the core arguments presented. Furthermore, listening to the lectures and sample essays will contribute to the enhancement of your listening and speaking skills. 

The same lecture with much smaller number of essays can be found here.

This is the course syllabus:

Course syllabus

Part I: Response strategies


Scoring criteria 


Mechanics of English

Question format

Open question

Binary question

Response strategies

How to analyze students’ arguments

Incorrect assumptions

Step-by step guide

About templates

Standalone templates

Thesis beginning

Hook beginning

Agreement templates

Add another reason

Offer a solution

Disagreement templates

Polite disagreement phrases

Concession and refutation


How to generate ideas

Ask W questions

Perspectives to consider

Ethical perspective: utilitarianism vs duty ethics

How to connect ideas

By addition



By contrast

By inference

Use hedging words

Part II: Sample responses

Public policy 

  1. Ways to attract people to live in rural areas

  2. Urban planning for available land

  3. Global environment problem and a solution

  4. Air-pollution policy

  5. Economic success vs environmental protection

  6. Promoting tourism in remote places

  7. Housing shortage 

  8. Assistance for  unemployed people

  9. Universal minimal income

  10. Public-transportation tax

  11. Online voting 


  1. Effort-added grading

  2. Gap year

  3. School uniform

  4. Field trip

  5. Educational computer games for young children

  6. Journal writing in classroom as a learning method

  7. Optional attendance

  8. Online classroom

  9. Part-time work for teenagers

  10. Professional development requirements for teachers

  11. teacher evaluation method


  1. Best business investment

  2. Fewer work hours in the future

  3. Work for a big company or start-up?

  4. Employee retention

  5. Reverse mentoring

  6. Effective leader qualities


  1. Family projects for bonding

  2. Streaming services replacing cinema

  3. Value of museums

  4. Mistakes when purchasing technological devices

  5. Most important invention

  6. Nature or nurture

  7. Internet, equalizer or divider?

  8. Mars colonization

  9. Zero waste society

  10. Future jobs due to AI

  11. E-sports

  12. Future of the augmented reality technology

  13. Urbanization


  1. Free will vs determinism

  2. Animal rights 

This course is $29.99.