Your One-Stop Guide to TOEFL Speaking Preparation

This article from E2Language provides running examples of TOEFL speaking preparation along with pre-test strategies that will broaden your knowledge and expand your horizons … Seriously! 

TOEFL speaking Preparation
Want to ace your TOEFL speaking prepration? We’re going to break-it down for you ~ TOEFL style. 

Here’s the TOEFL Speaking Preparation low-down

There are six speaking tasks in the TOEFL. Two of these are independent where you speak about given topics.

Four of them are integrated where you’re given information to combine into a spoken summary.

Independent Speaking

The two independent speaking tasks are: Description and Summary.

Description

In the Description, you could be asked to talk about anything from your personal experience. For example:

Describe a teacher who had an influence on you. Or:

Describe a book that you liked to read as a child or something of the sort.

Opinion

In the opinion, you’ll need to give your opinion on a topic and explain why you think that. For example, you might be asked whether you agree or disagree with a statement, like:

All children should play a sport. You will need to support your opinion with reasons.

For the two independent speaking tasks, you’ll have 15 seconds to think about what you want to say and note down any ideas, and you’ll have to speak for 45 seconds into a microphone.

Integrated Speaking

These tasks include either listening, or reading, or both. For all four of these tasks, you’ll have 30 seconds to prepare and 60 seconds to speak into a microphone.

 Summarize opinion

For this task you will:

  • Have 45 seconds to read a short text
  • Listen to a conversation related to the text
  • Summarize the opinion of the speakers

Summarize reading and lecture

For this task you will:

  • Have 45 seconds to read a short text
  • Listen to a lecture related to the text
  • Summarize the reading and lecture, linking the main ideas

Summarize problem

For this task you will:

  • Listen to a conversation
  • Summarize the problem and solutions discussed
  • State chosen solution and explain why

Summarize lecture

For this task you will:

  • Listen to a lecture
  • Summarize the main ideas
TOEFL speaking TED
Ari Wallach, TED

Pre-Test TOEFL Speaking Preparation Strategies

Firstly, preparing for the independent speaking tasks is easy.

Remember, for task 1 you need to describe something familiar, and for task 2 you need to give an opinion.

So, for task 1, you can prepare by brainstorming a list of familiar topics like:

  • Music (specific types/songs)
  • Books (favorite books/childhood books)
  • Travel experience
  • Important objects/gifts
  • Important life events
  • Important people from history
  • Influential people in your life.

These are just a few examples of possible topics.

Think about personal stories related to these topics and practice narrating these to yourself or your friends and family.

For task 2, you should practice giving your opinion on different topics. Research topics which inspire different opinions. These can be related to things like:

  • Education
  • Employment
  • Children
  • Animal rights
  • The environment

Note: These are just some examples and there are plenty more examples out there! 

Read about issues related to these topics and think about where you stand. Make sure you practice giving detailed reasons to support your opinion.

This will help you to form opinions about a variety of topics and build up your fluency and expression in English.

For more targeted TOEFL preparation, each day, choose a random topic from this in the list to research and practice a one-minute response for it.

Integrated Speaking

To prepare for the Integrated Speaking tasks, you need to prepare by building different skills – reading, listening, speaking, summarizing, and integrating, or combining information.

To build these skills, you will need to practice summarizing information from a reading passage.

You should read short texts on a variety of academic topics. National Geographic is a great website that has many different topics such as history, geography, culture and the environment.

Read an article a day, taking notes, and then practice speaking for a minute about what you have read.

TOEFL speaking preparation
You can read magazines of interest and find articles that spark your curiosity.

Also, you will need to practice summarizing information from an audio recording. TED and TED-Ed are great sources of academic lectures.

Listen to a lecture a day to practice note-taking skills. This is extremely important for the integrated speaking tasks. Then, give yourself 30 seconds to prepare a summary.

You can then practice speaking for one minute, summarizing the information in the lecture and focusing on main ideas and their related examples.

Another major skill that you need to develop for the integrated speaking is integrating information to give a spoken summary. So, find an article on a topic and then look for a lecture on the same topic.

Practice your reading and listening note-taking skills. Then use your notes from the reading and lecture to prepare a summary that integrates views from both sources.

Practice talking about the different views presented in each source and how they relate to each other.

As you can see, to build your skills for the TOEFL speaking, you need to read, listen and speak and practice integrating all of these skills.

Jump straight into E2 TOEFL Speaking with the expert TOEFL teacher, Lucy! 

Start planning your TOEFL speaking preparation time by following the link to this TOEFL Preparation blog post!

And make sure you check out our quality TOEFL learning materials too!

You can find our TOEFL preparation course on our website: E2Language.com

Follow our social media for more TOEFL resources and updates!

 

 

All the best with your TOEFL Speaking preparation!

Written by Jamal Abilmona

TOEFL Speaking Test Explained | Independent and Integrated Tasks

Imagine if you’re attempting the TOEFL speaking test with zero preparation! How would you approach each of the speaking tasks? 

Ask yourself: What is being tested of you? What language skills will you likely use? 

TOEFL speaking test
Understanding the TOEFL speaking test requirements will save you a lot of stress on test day!

What are the TOEFL speaking test requirements?

The TOEFL speaking test assesses your ability to speak about familiar topics as well as your ability to verbally summarize information.

The speaking test is divided into two sections: the independent and integrated speaking tasks.

There are six tasks in total.

Independent Speaking Tasks

The first section is independent speaking. It is independent because you will be using your own information to complete these tasks. This section has two tasks.

For both of these, you will be given 15 seconds to prepare and note down ideas. You will then need to speak into a microphone for 45 seconds.

  1. Description Task

The first one asks you to describe something familiar to you. This could be anything from your personal experience like:

Describe a teacher who had an influence on you, or: Describe a place that you like to visit, or: Describe a book that you liked to read as a child.

As you can see, these are all topics that are related to your experience.

  1. Opinion Task

The independent speaking tasks asks you to give your opinion on a topic.

For this task, you will need to say whether you agree or disagree with a statement, like: All children should play a sport.

Or you may be asked to choose a side and explain why. You will need to support your opinion with reasons!

For example: Some people think students should take a gap year before entering the workforce while others think this is a waste of time. What is your opinion? 

TOEFL speaking test
Give your opinion; your view on the topic and explain why take this position. 

Integrated Speaking Tasks

The integrated speaking tasks make up the second part of the speaking test. It is integrated because you will be using information provided to you from reading and listening texts to answer the questions.

There are four tasks in total. For each task, you will be given 30 seconds to prepare and note down ideas. You will then need to speak into a microphone for 60 seconds.

For these tasks, you will have to integrate, or combine, information from a reading passage and listening audio into a summary, or summarize information you hear in a lecture or conversation. You will be able to take notes as you listen.

TOEFL speaking test
Learn a good technique for summarising text and audio!

View the article on TOEFL tips and tricks for developing a good note-taking system here

  1. Summarize Opinion

For this task, you will be given a short reading text. You will have 45 seconds to read it. The text will be related to a campus issue, like student parking, or tuition fees for example.

You will then hear a conversation between two students relating to that topic. In this conversation, one of the students will give an opinion about the issue. You will then need to summarize that opinion and explain why the student has that opinion.

  1. Summarize Reading and Lecture

For this task, you will have 45 seconds to read a short passage about an academic topic. You will then hear a short lecture on the same topic.

You will be asked explain how the examples used in the lecture support or contradict information in the reading passage. It is important to take good notes to complete this task successfully.

  1. Summarize Problem

For this task, you will listen to a conversation that takes place on a university campus. It will be related to some kind of student problem to do with things like accommodation, scheduling, assignments, etc.

The speakers will also mention some possible solutions. You will be asked to summarize the problem discussed by the speakers and state which solution you would recommend and why. You should take notes as you listen.

  1. Summarize Lecture

In the final speaking task, you will hear a lecture on an academic topic. You should take notes of main points and examples from the lecture as you listen. You will then use your notes to summarize the ideas in the lecture.

View the following E2 Core Skills Channel on YouTube for helpful tips on forming complex sentences! 

Start planning your TOEFL preparation time by following the link to this blog post here!

Follow our social media for more TOEFL resources and updates!

 

 
Written by Jamal Abilmona. 

How to Succeed on the TOEFL iBT Speaking Section

Is it just me or is the TOEFL iBT harder than it used to be?

No, not really. It’s just got a speaking section. The TOEFL iBT speaking section has added a new level of complexity to the TOEFL in recent years. In the late nineties, preparing people for the TOEFL paper based test (PBT) was a relatively uncomplicated task. A teacher could take a group of willing, hard-working students and work your way faithfully through a fairly dry TOEFL preparation book, set them a number of mock tests then send them in for the real deal after 10-12 weeks. One of the main attractions of the PBT form of the test for the insecure test-taker was the fact that there was no speaking element. Scoring a TOEFL 550 – the equivalent of what used to be the minimum score required by many US universities (about an 80 on the TOEFL iBT ) – was less of a challenge than getting a top score in the IELTS or the other Cambridge exams. For test-takers worried about their TOEFL grades, it was one less skill they had to worry about.

That all changed about 10 years ago with the arrival of the TOEFL iBT (internet based test). Suddenly your ability to speak well in English mattered and people started to worry. To make matters worse, you had to speak to a machine: there was no human interaction, no visual cues, no interpretation of body language. Anyone who has learned a foreign language before will tell you that having a meaningful conversation on the telephone is much more difficult than a face-to-face interaction. Conference calls are the bane of many an executives’ existence. Listening to the radio is more difficult than watching television.

TOEFL iBT Speaking tip: Buy a decent TOEFL book

How then does the modern test taker get to grips with the spanner in the works that is the TOEFL iBT listening section? The first thing one must do is get familiar with the many TOEFL speaking samples that can be found all over the internet. If you’re willing to go the extra mile, an up-to-date TOEFL iBT preparation book will provide you will a plethora of speaking samples to help you model out your answers.

Be careful about using out-of-date and hand-me-down material you get from your friends and acquaintances. It might be tempting to cheap out and download a 300-page pdf, but apart from being theft of intellectual property, more often than not you cannot be certain of its origin or usefulness.

TOEFL iBT speaking tip: Record Yourself

It is a devilish thing to try to self-study this part of the TOEFL test, since meaningful feedback is what will push you away from forming bad habits. In the absence of a teacher or study partner, you must get into the habit of recording yourself and listening back to the result. Most PCs come with pretty decent Voice Recorder software, and Apple users have the same benefits from QuickTime.

Although this is not tested in the TOEFL iBT, you should find articles from academic or scientific journals and read them aloud. Record your efforts then listen back to them. You’ll start to get a good feel for crucial elements that will count towards your score in speaking, such as tempo, enunciation, whether you are mumbling (an easy way to losing crucial marks) and pronunciation. It’s worth noting that E2Language.com makes an excellent app, called E2Pronounce, available to anyone who signs up for one of our TOEFL iBT preparation programs.

TOEFL iBT speaking tip: Book time with a teacher

No one should ever consider getting behind the wheel of a real car without first having some on-road experience. I wouldn’t be happy boarding a plane flown by a pilot who’d done 100 hours on the flight simulator. Similarly, sitting down to do your TOEFL iBT without ever having spoken to a teacher is a risky business! I wouldn’t even recommend a native speaker go into the TOEFL iBT and attempt the speaking section without consulting a teacher.

TOEFL iBT speaking tip: slow it down!

I recently attended a conference where a variety of experienced, international speakers presented. The most disappointing of these talks was given by a middle-aged man – a native-speaker of English – with a very impressive resume who spent 50 minutes talking at such a high speed that almost nobody in the auditorium could keep up. This should stand as a warning to all TOEFL iBT test takers: quality is much more important than quantity.

If you were to reach for a comparison between your real life experience of speaking and the TOEFL iBT speaking section, addressing a group in a public situation would be it. Speak clearly, steadily and enunciate to a degree that feels almost unnatural. It is very important that your audience understand every single word of what you’re saying. Leave aside your usual, chatty tone in favour of the disciplined discourse you reserve for public speaking.

TOEFL iBT speaking
Is talking to a computer easier than talking to a crowd?

It’s also useful to reflect on speakers we have personally found interesting to listen to in the past and mimic their style. After all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!

Have you taken the TOEFL internet test before? What did you do to prepare for the speaking section?

 

Written by Colin David