Hello Everybody! Here is
TOEFL Podcast 2
TOEFL Podcast 2
Hello! Hello! Hello Everybody! Welcome to TOEFL Podcast 2. Mrs Ford and I just came back from a nice run on the seawalk here in lovely Vancouver and it was nice to unwind after a long week. Speaking of unwinding, relaxing let’s pick up where we last left off in our last TOEFL podcast talking about eliminating nervousness when you are preparing for the TOEFL speaking section. Last week we were talking about tricks you can develop to work on your pronunciation as well as pace yourself. This week we are going to talk about questions one and two of the speaking section which with stating your opinion on something or talking about something from your past, present or future. There are definately some structural things to focus on. But I want to start off by giving you a truly golden tip.
People, the TOEFL speaking test couldn’t be more different from its IELTS counterpart when you are approaching the ENVIRONMENT in which examinees are evaluated. For those who have already taken the TOEFL, you are speaking into a microphone in a room wearing what we hope are soundproof headphones to block out the noise of any other examinee who might be doing his/her test at the same time or just typing very loudly. This is where visualisation is key. Essentially, you have to put a face on the evlauator(s) who will be listening to you later. I speak from experience so you might wonder how I am able to appear in front of the camera or do a podcast and you think I am talking directly to you. It’s because I imagine you are there the whole time. I put a face on my listener and you can do the same.
Try to imagine after each pause in your statements that the person on the other end is interested in what you have to say. Um………really? Is that right? Is that a fact? Go figure! These interjections we hear when we talk with people can improve your level of linguistic competency and I am sure that if you talk to someone who confirms they understand what you are saying, you feel more relaxed that you are ‘getting your point across’
vocabulary note: ‘get your point across or get yourself across’ means to communicate your ideas or onself it is a great phrasal verb and I used it in Peppy 25 – Steve in Paris
You could even do a little experiment by speaking with a friend and ask them to give you encouragement that they understand what you’re saying and then have them sit there and be silent. Did your performance change? I’m sure it did as it always has with my one-to-one students. You really need positive reinforcement here. There is no room for knocking yourself down all the time. Too many times I here students punishing themselves when they make mistakes which lead me to my next point.
Don’t call yourself STUPID!
Positive thinking is a powerful tool here and we have all been educated to think that when we make a mistake it is because we are stupid. Wrong! Don’t go there! Please do yourself a favor as the TOEFL test is challenging enough, you don’t need to throw any more weight onto your shoulders. So the next time you make a mistake and say under your breath ‘stupid me’, freez and change it to ‘silly me’. There is a famous acronym here in North America which people repeat almost like a mantra which I don’t subscribe to: KISS ie. Keep it Simple Stupid! It means if you make things complicated, you’re just being stupid. Chnage that to Keep it Simple Silly! Soften your self criticism to give yourself enough space to correct your own mistakes without feeling bad about it.
Correcting Yourself After the Fact
I know some people have been brought that when you are filling out a form, if you make the slightest mistake, you have to do the whole thing over again. Well I have news for you. You can fill out a form and make a minor mistake, scribble in pen over top of your mistake and the form is still valid. You can do the same things when you write out a check. This is the North American mentality which to some extent is more practical in terms of bureacracy. Keep this in mind when you are speaking. Depending on your cultural upbringing you may forgive yourself for your speaking mistakes or you may want to start all over again. There are many examinees like that. Oh, nuts, I made a mistake and they just give up as they would like to start the whole thing over again just as they had been brought up to do. This is a 45 to 60 second evaluation. Don’t you think the evlauators are aware that little mistakes get made when someone is speaking under so much pressure. Heck, even native speakers would make mistakes under pressure like that. So my golden tip to you here my friend is ‘correcting yourself immediately after the fact is much better than just giving up’. Furthermore, many test evaluators will be forgiving of such immediate self correction and some will take it into account that you are competent at monitoring your own mistakes, much like the process of proofreading.
Now based on my personal teaching experience, people who were educated and I’m sorry to have to talk about this, but its important. Student who were punished physically for making mistakes have a harder time trying to correct their own mistakes. I quite often see student freeze in terror when they make a speaking mistake when they come from strict educational backgrounds. Well if you fall into this category, you will need to undo this mistakes =punisment mentality. I suggest you spend some time in North America. Try to hang out with some friends from different countries. Mingle! I have seen it happen. You can break out of such conditioning and when you do, look out! You will be a TOEFL speaking juggernaut!
Here is an example. Let’s the examinee makes a mistakes with a third person singular conjugation and word form using an adjective instead of an adverb:
the dancer move very graceful…I mean….the dancer moves very gracefully.
So you can see immediate self correction is definately better than freezing up and giving up.
Taking Too Long in Your Introduction
Quite often we can approach the first two questions of the speaking section of the TOEFL as a mini-verbal essay. It’s normal because we have the habit of praraphrasing the question and introducing what we are going to say when we have 30 minutes to write an expository or descriptive essay. Don’t fall into this trap on the independent speaking questions. You will end up using up all of your time and as a consequnce, you won’t have enough time to state your points. Remember from my last pod cast that we usually use 2 or three points to back up our opinion. It’s been my experience that sometimes students will take too long paraphrasing in their introduction. Reasons for this include the fact that the questions themselves can be complex and it’s up to the examinee to summarize, to condense a complex question to save time. Summarizing is a skill. It is trying to get overall meaning from text or context and one that is also handy during the most extensive reading section as well.
So please keep this in mind. You only have 45 seconds to answer, not 30 minutes so if you cut your introduction down to 10 seconds, it will be extremely beneficial as it will allow you to state the rest of your answer in less of a hurry. Your speaking speed should be calm, articulate and remain at a constant pace. Make sure you start recording yourself and try to use thus tip. Well everybody, I hope that you can benefit from my tips. These are precious pieces of gold that have come up time and time again as I prepare students from: Italy, France, Brazil, Russia, Columbia, China,, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Egypt, Georgia, Iran, Iraq, Croatia, Poland, Ukraine, Pakistan, Argentina, Korea, Spain, Mexico, Israel and many more.