TOEFL Samples and Analysis: Speaking Skills

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The TOEFL IBT speaking section is the third and the shortest section of only 20 minutes. The first two sections take about 2 hours. This section is divided into two parts, ie, two independent tasks and four integrated tasks. All responses are transmitted through a headphone to an online scoring network system.
The TOEFL speaking section measures the test takers ability to speak effectively in academic environment. While in the classrooms the student has to respond to questions, express views, discuss, etc, while outside the classroom he would participate in informal conversations and interact with college staff, eg, library staff, housing office, etc.

The two independent tasks are normally topics on which the candidate will be familiar. It will need to bring forth ideas, opinions, etc while speaking. The task may be Personal preference based and choice based. In both tasks preparation time is 15 seconds and response time is 45 seconds. Typical questions are “Choose a teacher you admire and explain why you do so?”
The first two integrated tasks have a mix of reading, listening and speaking. This is complex, wherein one has to read a passage of 75-100 words, listen to a passage for 60-80 seconds and then the candidate has to respond in 60 seconds in summarizing the speakers views in context with reading passage. There would be a topic on academic course and one on general campus life. The next two integrated tasks are a combination of listening and speaking. The listening component is based on campus life and an academic course, with response time as 60 seconds.

The performance of candidates varies upon the level of preparation one has made for the Speaking test. Some essential methods to improve speaking skills are:
• Record your own speech and then evaluate it.
• Prepare for the integrated tasks well, by enrolling in a TOEFL class.
• Better still, find a friend to converse and obtain feedback.

It will be expected of the students to participate in class room discussions and make oral presentations, for which speaking skills are essential. However, the TOEFL tests are designed scientifically and therefore need special care and attention to prepare. It is a good idea to obtain a TOEFL study guide and practice with recording your answers. Be particular about grammar and intonations. In general, speaking clearly, logically and in a simple manner are most effective in the tests and obtaining a high score. Learn to pause and breathe while speaking, allowing you to gather the chain of thoughts. Listening is as important, so as to arrive at appropriate judgement for your response.

The TOEFL tests trains you to understand and respond logically in a clear voice, using correct sentence structures. Also open your mouth widely while speaking and speak with confidence. While practicing speaking at home, time yourself with new and unfamiliar topics, so that your depth of preparation is also robust.