TOEFL Speaking TIPS Podcast 1
Hello! Hello! Hello Everybody! Welcome to TOEFL Talk One!
Yes, your first TOEFL Talk podcast to help you master the speaking section of the TOEFL Test.You can also use this to advance your English speaking in general. So welcome to all of you.The thing that I am going to be addressing today is to be giving you some background information about the speaking section and trying to address something which seems to be a common denominator for everybody which is nervousness. Yes everybody contacts me on Skype, they send me e-mails, they leave me comments under my TOEFL and IELTS videos talking about nervousness. Everybody’s nervous. So, I’m going to try to give you a game plan so that you can defeat nervousness. Yes, we’re going to defeat nervousness together.
The speaking section of the TOEFL has six questions. Much like any speaking section for an academic test, the questions start off as more general and end up as more specific. Question 1 deals with general topics which the examinee has 30 seconds to prepare for and 45 seconds to answer. So, today I am going to talk about the following aspects of
What makes you nervous the most?
Even speaking in your language can be nerve wracking let alone having to speak into a microphone in a room with other nervous examinees doing the same thing. So we have a collective nervousness going on here. And if you are not properly trained for that day, chances are that you are going to go with the rest of the bunch of people there and become just as nervous as they are. So let’s try to follow a certain direction here. It’s very important to zero in, to focus on your weaknesses and strengths when speaking in English so that you are confident at all times the day of the test. Essentially I find that students have some of the following challenges to overcome for the day of the speaking section of the exam:
- Working on Your Pronunciation
I think it was in my video TOEFL Talk 3 where I talk about a student I had who wanted to show me just how advanced he was by speaking quickly. He would link all of his words together as a native speaker does, but he didn’t have even an intermediate level of pronunciation and I couldn’t understand a word of what he was saying. After a while I could see that he was becoming quite frustrated because he could see really what he was trying to do was getting him nowhere. So let’s try to learn from this gentleman’s mistakes, he’s obviously a kind of person who did not listen to himself. He did not do any kind of self-evaluation and this is key.
Now, in the extended version of this podcast, I will be talking about how to overcome pronunciation difficulties regardless of your nationality.The first thing you want to work on with your pronunciation is your vowel sounds. Vowel sounds with a capital v, Vowel sounds. The best way for you to learn or re-learn English pronunciation and yes even many professionals who are immigrants living in the US/Canada and UK this goes for you too. You need to work out a spelling system in English of your own to help you see the way the word should be pronounced. Now, if you are able to handle the phonetic alphabet, great! What has been my experience is that even my students who have paid thousands of dollars studying in a very very high level English course still have difficulty with English pronunciation. So obviously there’s something lacking there with having to associate something
visually with something auditorily. This is my solution, you need to write out the word the way that you say it. A good example is the ‘o’ sound in English which can sound soooooo different in so many different ways. If your pronunciation is too far off, then even a good answer on the speaking section will get you a lower score because of pronunciation, so let’s focus on some different ‘o’ sounds, shall we?
The first one, one that comes up in my online classes on a daily basis is ‘o’ pronounced as ahhhhhh. Now, you’ll see if you’re following the text here, that I’ve written it out exactly like the exclamation t ahhh!! Like when you go to the doctor and he/she asks you to stick out your tongue and say, ‘ahhh’. This is the first ‘o’ sound ‘ahhh’. That is to say like in the word ‘prahhhhblem’. So to help you to remember that sound, try to spell it that way ‘prahhhhblem’, . Can you hear it? ‘prahhhhblem’ Can you see it? ‘prahhhhblem’ Great! So we have examples like:problem, government, other, mother, blood,
All of those words are originally spelt with ‘o’, but that vowel sound in this case has the ‘ahhh’ sound. So you can try to focus on that vowel sound for today. I will try to show you other ‘o’ sounds in our next TOEFL podcast, but see if you can try to practice that ‘ahhh’ sound in those words for now.
- My next point is eliminating your stress:
Today’s tip for eliminating stress is working on your speed. This is the most difficult part of the TOEFL speaking section, but if you train with a clock on your computer or a watch you are going to get a very good idea of what is 45 seconds or 60 seconds. Now if you watch my TOEFL video on Test Preparation 6, you will see I give you the formula that you must follow when answering questions in question 1. When I say internalize, I say it with a capital I to stress its importance. Basically you can practice the internalization of the structure of speaking, or you can pay by doing the TOEFL test over and over again. Now that gets expensive and this is WHY I am going to show you the structure that I use with all of my TOEFL students.
So here in the extended version of this podcast you need to know the structure of the speaking section question 1 inside and out. Make it your daily mantra. I’ll never forget that one of my online students used to practice the following structure every evening as she was putting on her pyjamas before she went to bed. First part paraphrasing…. What is paraphrasing? It’s repeating the question back in your own words as best as you can. So let’s say the question is:
What game did you enjoy playing as a child? give reasons and examples to support your answer
So, paraphrase or repeat the question back as your intro:
The game I enjoyed playing as a child was volleyball for the following reasons.
So there is your intro, paraphrase the question and end ‘for the following reasons’.
Next, you want to state your first point. Here’s my example:
First of all, I enjoyed playing volleyball because it gave me the chance to get together with friends. I had a great time enjoying a great team sport which gave me the chance to interact in a healthy competition. Next, you want to state your first point.Second of all, volleyball was a great way to stay fit. It’s the kind of sport that allows you to exercise every part of your body. It’s also a great way to train your automatic reflexes. OK and last example:
For these reasons I enjoyed playing volleyball when I was younger.
So you can extract from my sample answer here the parts that need to be used in speaking section question 1: Paraphrase, first of all, firstly, first Second of all, secondly, second and ‘For these reasons’ internalizing that is your key to success in this part of the test because you will never get lost when you are under pressure. Do you remember that song Under Pressure? Well try to think of that song because it’s very true. Many of us are under pressure. You will always be able to find your way back to the question and that way you will reduce your level of stress the day of the test
- Point three on my introductory TOEFL Podcast on eliminating nervousness is to know what score you need.
You need to remember that each University and each program has different requirements regarding TOEFL scores. Some programs require a specific score for the speaking section and you need to find that out ASAP.
Here in the extended podcast I will tell you that 50 or 60% of the students I train one-to-one have no idea of the score which they need to get into University. It’s very important to zero in on the sections of the test that you need highest marks in. Now, many programs in medicine, business and teaching require that you have a specific speaking score. For example, a fully licensed practicing pharmacist in the US needs a score of 26. For students applying to University programs, speaking requirements can vary. I saw one student who got into a business program in Los Angeles with a relatively low speaking score while another student who got into a similar business program here in Vancouver needed a considerably higher score. So as you can see, one of the determining factors in the score requirement is which university and program you are applying for.
So in this case, you need to phone the applications department at the Universities you are applying to.It usually just takes a few phone calls and your set. You can take advantage of this phone call and make sure you know exactly how the University evaluates your grades from the diploma or courses you have already done in your own country. This will also vary greatly.
Since I have a good idea of speaking levels, I am able to determine quite quickly an approximate speaking score for my one-to-one students. As a VIP podcast listener, I suggest you make recordings of yourself answering speaking question 1. Try and start evaluating yourself. Think back to earlier in this podcast who tried talking a mile a minute to sound like a native speaker and ended up making a fool of himself. I hope that with the first pronunciation tip I have given you in this podcast along with knowing the basic formula for the speaking section 1 question, as well as knowing your target score, you will be able to independently reach your score objective.
Now as you may or may not know, I do give classes one-to-one online to prepare for the TOEFL on Skype/web cam and document sharing. If you are ready for some classes, I am accepting new TOEFL students and you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org I’d be more than happy to give you a free15 minute demonstration to show you how my classes work.
So I enjoyed sharing my knowledge about the TOEFL and advanced speaking in general in this podcast today and I will talk to you soon. Have a great day! Bye! Bye!