The infamous speaking section of the TOEFL iBT (the internet based TOEFL test), has many ESL hopefuls nervous. That’s fair because the pace of the questions and the content can be difficult for even some native English speakers. Of the overall TOEFL iBT test, about 25% is speaking, accounting for approximately 20 minutes of test-taking time. It focuses on academic English and to get a great score you need to answer questions in a clear, concise way demonstrating an understanding of the material.
Breakdown of the 6 Speaking Questions/Tasks:
To ace the speaking part of the TOEFL iBT you need to know what to expect. There are 6 speaking questions which you answer by speaking into a headset. Let me break them down for you:
The first 2 questions are called Independent Tasks and are on topics familiar to the test-taker. You have 15 seconds to prepare an answer and 45 seconds to speak.
A sample Independent Task question is: “Some universities require first year students to live in dormitories on campus. Other’s allow students to live off campus. Which policy to you think is better for first year students and why? Include details and examples in your answer.”
The last 4 questions are called Integrated Tasks and involve using more than one skill – reading, writing and speaking for example. In some cases you can read the question first, then listen to it, prepare your answer and then speak. Other times you’ll listen first, prepare and then answer. After listening and reading the test-taker is given a short time to prepare a response, about 30seconds, and then must proceed with answering as requested. Usually the response time is 60 seconds.
A sample Integrated Task question is “For thousands of years humans have been able to domesticate, or tame, many large mammals that live in the wild together in herds. Once tamed, these mammals are used for agricultural work and transportation. Yet some herd mammals are not easily domesticated. A good indicator of a mammal’s suitability for domestication is how protective the animal is of it’s territory. Non-territorial mammals are more easily domesticated than territorial mammals because they can live close together with animals from other herds. A second indicator is that animals have a hierarchical social structure, in which herd members follow a leader, are easy to domesticate , since a human can function as a ‘leader.’ ” <THEN YOU WOULD LISTEN TO A SHORT 1-2 minute LECTURE BEFORE GETTING A QUESTION…> “The professor describes the behavior of horses and antelopes in herds. Explain how their behaviour is related to their suitability for domestication.”
Now, if you’re thinking that seems difficult – you’re not alone. The TOEFL test can be one of the most important tests of your life, your score determining whether or not you can be accepted into the overseas school or company of your choice. Never fear! Jennifer Teacher is here! If you’re ready to start preparing seriously for your test, contact me.