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How to prepare for TOEFL® speaking section

How to prepare for TOEFL® speaking section

Speaking is a practical skill and therefore the best way to prepare for the test is to gain the skill and put it into as much practice as possible. This way you can speak in English naturally and comfortably. The best approach is to engage in conversation with native speakers of English. Practice using the English language to give your opinion, describing problems and solutions, pronunciations and using contractions so as to sound more natural when speaking. Apart from listening to actual people, there are numerous resources to help you master the same skills such as websites and books.

The test is divided into independent speaking and integrative speaking. One may apply different practice measures for each task. To build the skills that you will require for the Independent Speaking Tasks some activities are recommended as follows. Make a list of topics that are familiar to you, either academic or non-academic. They should be familiar so that you do not struggle with the content for them. That done, the next part is to persistently practice speaking about them in English.

Think about all the activities that you engaged in yesterday for twenty seconds and recount the experiences that come to mind in a minute. As you do this, remember to use tenses appropriately as you are talking about activities in the past. You should also be keen to employ connecting words such as “first” and “then” for better flow of the narrative and to show organisation of thoughts. You may also do the same for what you plan to do tomorrow paying attention to adjust tenses appropriately.

Think of a story that is familiar to you then try to narrate it to as many different people as possible. Each time you repeat it, try to narrate the story as fast and as possible without losing the gains you have gained in narration, pronunciation, etc. In the same vein, you can collect pictures from the media you can access then look at each picture and describe it in one minute. You may describe the same objet more than once but using different adjectives and adding details.

Finally, you can state an opinion you hold about something or a preference and come up with clear, detailed reasons for each. You may also create a list of topics on slips of paper. Every single day, choose a random topic from among those in the list practicing a one minute response for it. Repeat each response over and over to build on flow and fluency.

For Integrated Speaking tasks, various activities are recommended to build the necessary skills. The target here is to seamlessly combine all of the skills learnt in the English language. Find a website with a short topical talk such as the National Geographic website which you listen to and take notes. Use the notes to create a summary of the talk and eventually record a minute long oral summary.

Read an article or listen to a talk on any issue you like and listen to it or read it. Come up with an outline for a minute-long opinion speech on the same, including your opinion on the article/speech two points supporting your opinion and a reason in support of each point. You may also read a short article from a textbook, write down a few questions on it and answer them orally at first, eventually recording them.

Find listening and reading material on a single topic, either with similar or different views. Take notes, summarize important point for each material and do oral summaries of the same. Finally, combine the information from the two sources and explain how they relate in writing and finish by stating your opinions on the material.

There are more ways to prepare for this section of the TOEFL® and group activity is one for those in the same locality. Getting a feel of the actual test might also help give perspective. For this, you are encouraged to register for membership on our website and start taking simulated tests as well as the practice questions available here.