The speaking section of the TOEFL measures your ability to express and support an opinion and to discuss information you have read and heard. These skills are important as you enter an American university, where students must do more than listen to lectures and take exams. Professors will expect you to speak in class and small group discussions and give oral presentations. Some universities even require all students to take a public speaking course. In addition, you need to be comfortable enough with English to speak with students, professors, and others outside of class to conduct your daily business.
Hopefully you are already speaking English every day either in an academic English program, in a conversation group, or with a tutor. Review the types of speaking items on the TOEFL, and then use these tips to help you focus your speaking practice to prepare:
- Practice integrating speaking with other skills as you study. When you read a passage, summarize it orally either for a teacher, a classmate, or yourself on a recorder. Do the same when you listen to a lecture or conversation in your listening practice.
- Read and listen to material on the same topic. Then orally explain how the ideas you heard and read are similar and different.
- Check a TOEFL study guide for independent questions, and practice giving opinions with support. Record your answers and listen to yourself. Be sure to time your answers since you have only 45 seconds to speak on the TOEFL.
- Continue to study grammar and vocabulary, using what you learn in your speech as often as possible.
- Listen to your recordings for intonation and grammar. A few minor errors are normal, but you need to be easily understood.
- Most importantly, focus on speaking fluently without long pauses.
If you are preparing to take the TOEFL, be sure to check out the other posts in IEI’s TOEFL series!
(Photo credit: tyfn)