TOEFL Independent Speaking – Tasks 1 & 2
TOEFL Independent Speaking is the first part of TOEFL’s speaking section and consists of two speaking tasks. These tasks are similar because you will be taking events or opinions from your own personal experience to answer the questions. However, they may not be as easy as they sound. You will need to think quickly and speak fluently.
In these tasks, you need to demonstrate your ability to speak clearly and logically about familiar topics. Your ideas for tasks 1 and 2 must be from your own personal experience. You are scored on what you say (content) and how you present it (organization).
For both of these tasks, you will have 15 seconds to prepare your answer, and 45 seconds to speak into the microphone. You only get 15 seconds to think about what you might say, which is not a lot of time. In my experience, I didn’t know what I was going to say until the recording time started! So, you have to be able to think on your feet and keep your answer structured. What helps is having the question displayed on the screen in front of you. So, keep referring to it as you are speaking. It will help you stay on track as you speak and help you with ideas as you go.
I’m going to give you a method for each of these tasks that will help you organize your answer and think of ideas when you attempt the TOEFL Independent Speaking section.
TOEFL Independent Speaking – Task 1
Task 1 may ask you to describe a past event in your life, a person you know or are familiar with, or a place you have visited. Though the topics may vary, they will be based on personal experience or everyday general topics.
For example: What is your favorite kind of food? Describe it and explain why it is your favorite.
Or, it may ask you to give advice.
For example: Your friend is changing their profession after 10 years. What might they find most difficult about this and what would you advise them to do about it?
Here is a method that will help you keep your answer structured and help with the flow of ideas:
Introduce the topic (summarize the prompt)
State your choice
Explain your choice (2 reasons)
Let’s put this method into practice.
Task 1 – Example 1
What is your favorite kind of food? Describe it and explain why it is your favorite.
Introduce: I love many different kinds of food, but I’d say my favorite is Italian food.
State: Although many people associate Italian food with pasta and pizza, it is actually quite diverse.
Explain: I like it the best for two reasons. Firstly, there is a lot of variety in the flavors. Italian food incorporates different flavors from different regions. For example, in northern Italy, they use rich cream sauces, but in the south, they use tomato sauces, olive oil and a lot of seafood. Secondly, it is hearty. This means that it is filling and nourishing and you don’t still feel hungry after eating it. Every time I am hungry, I think of Italian food.
Task 1 – Example 2
Your friend is changing their profession after 10 years. What might they find most difficult about this and what would you advise them to do about it?
Introduce: My friend has decided to change their profession after ten years and they might face some difficulties.
State: Firstly, they may not have the necessary skills or knowledge to enter into a new career, and secondly, it might set them back financially.
Explain: I would advise them to really do their research and get the necessary qualifications before making such a big, life-changing decision to make sure that they are qualified to enter into a new career. I would also advise them to make sure they are financially secure before taking this step. That way, just in case the new career doesn’t work out, they have a financial back-up.
TOEFL Independent Speaking – Task 2
Task 2 will ask you your opinion on a general topic where they may be two points of view – either you agree, or you disagree. Whichever opinion you choose, you must explain why.
For example: Much of today’s education is becoming digitized. What do you prefer, online or classroom learning, and why?
Or: Is it ever acceptable to lie to someone to protect them?
In both of these questions, you are being asked to do the same thing. In question 1 you are being asked if you agree that digital learning is better than classroom learning or not. In question 2 you are being asked if you agree that lying is sometimes acceptable or not.
Here is a suggested method to help you structure speaking task 2:
Summarize the prompt
State your opinion
Task 2 – Example 1
Much of today’s education is becoming digitized. What do you prefer, online or classroom learning, and why?
Summarize the prompt: Nowadays, a lot of education is going online.
State your opinion: Although this is very convenient and efficient, I actually prefer traditional learning in a classroom.
Reason 1: This is probably because all of my education was in a classroom environment. I feel that this kind of learning environment gives you more interaction, and therefore a better ability to really think about and understand things from different perspectives.
Reason 2: I also think it helps to socialize people. When we learn with others, we also learn how to work with others and interact with people who don’t necessarily share our views. In an online environment, we are alone and don’t really get the same interaction in real life.
Task 2 – Example 2
Is it ever acceptable to lie to someone to protect them?
Summarize the prompt: Some people think it is acceptable to lie to others to protect them.
State your opinion: Although it might sometimes be the easier thing to do, lying is never the right thing, even if it is to protect someone
Reason 1: Firstly, people deserve to know the truth so they can make decisions for themselves. For example, we might lie to our friends that they have not put on weight because we don’t want to offend them. But if we tell them the truth, it will actually help them to take action about their health.
Reason 2: Secondly, the person to whom you tell the truth may not like it in the beginning, but later on, they will realize you had their best interest at heart and thank you for being so honest with them.
Practice putting these methods into practice to feel confident on test-day. You can refer to the TOEFL Independent Speaking practice video for more tips.
Written by Jamal