All things TOEFL iBT

Posts tagged ‘speaking’

Independent Speaking/Independent Writing – Good manners

Before you answer the question:

Complaining about or showing disapproval of someone’s annoying behavior nowadays is like making a storm in a teacup: no one seems to care anymore.

Speaking your mind makes you look like the fussy one: someone who is always hard to please.

Would you consider any of these things annoying? Where would they usually happen?

  • Not using the indicator
  • Speeding
  • Not respecting pedestrians
  • Revving the engine
  • Blowing/honking the horn
  • Using the shoulder as a lane
  • Slurping your drink
  • Eating smelly food

Of course, there are many other behaviors that piss us off everyday. Here is the question at hand:

Do people from your country have good manners? Give reasons and examples to support your view.

You have two alternatives: record an answer by clicking on the Vocaroo icon below or write an answer in the Comments.

If you´re recording, don’t take more than 45 seconds.

If you’re going to write about it, write at least 300 words in 30 minutes.

If you want to do both, by all means do so.

Powered by Vocaroo Voice Recorder

Tests and stress


When we think about tests, here are some words that come to mind:














goals, objectives

multiple choice x discursive

under pressure

One way of doing well in tests is knowing how you react in test-like situations.

What kind of student are you in test situations?

I shake like a leaf  = I am visibly nervous = I tremble = I get the jitters

I freak out

I get goosebumps

I get butterflies in my stomach

I get white as a sheet (of paper)

I get cold sweat

I get cold feet

My mind goes blank = I draw a blank

Here is some more language used to talk about tests and stressful situations in general. Match the sentence halves 1-12 in bold with the other halves in the bullet points in italics below.

  1. I get nervous about …
  2. I get nervous when …
  3. My level of nervousness depends on …
  4. I deal well with  …
  5. I find it hard …
  6. The more nervous I get, the more I …
  7. It’s easy for me …
  8. Ideally, …
  9. In the best case scenario, 
  10. Usually when I do/take/sit a test, I …
  11. I feel grumpy …
  12. If I don’t know the answer to a question, I try not to … 

  • the kind of test I have to do
  • beat about the bush
  • waste a lot of time
  • to be concentrated/focused in tests
  • unexpected/adverse circumstances 
  • make sure and get a lot of rest the night before
  • taking tests
  • if I know I could have done much better at a test
  • I keep my cool in tests
  • to get straight to the point
  • tests don’t bother me
  • I have to give or deliver a presentation
  • stressful situations

Now tell us:

If you could choose the way you could be tested, what would it be and why?


Integrated Speaking – Going viral


Watch the video and state the main reasons according to the speaker why certain videos go viral. Then, state which in your opinion is the most important or effective way of popularizing a video.

Record your answers on the Voxopop page here.

Recording your voice – Voxopop

To get some speaking practice going,

Your first task on Voxopop:

Click on the link here.

Create an account, wait for the approval to join the group, then record away!

The moral side of murder – lecture

Watch the video up to 5:30 and explain the morality principle according to the professor. State which side you are more inclined to and give reasons for your answer.



Listen to a short talk about the topic of cybercrime. Then, go to the Voxopop discussion and answer this question:

The speaker outlines some of the problems cybercrime can bring. Which do you think is the most damaging and why? Give reasons and details to support your answer.

Listen to the audio here.

NB: The audio file is taken from

Speaking rubrics

The Speaking tasks are assessed by three criteria : Delivery, Language Use, Topic Development.

By Delivery, examiners understand it as pace and clarity of speech including pronunciation, rhythm, intonation, rate of speech, pause structure, and fluency.

Language Use covers range, precision, and effectiveness of grammatical and lexical features.

Topic Development has to do with completeness and overall coherence.

With that in mind, which of these features mark a full score response – 4 (FSR), and a low score response – 1 (LSR)?

few supporting details
clear point of view
well-supported reasons and explanations
ideas that progress smoothly and cohesively
hesitant and choppy presentation of ideas
little relevant content
small range of vocabulary
comfort with a variety of grammatical structures
unclear intended meaning
use of few grammatical structures
control of a wide range of vocabulary items
numerous pronunciation difficulties
clear intonation patterns
some minor grammatical problems
fragmented speech with long pauses
ease of presentation

Which area do you think you need to work most on?

Independent Speaking skills – Personal Preference language



Remember the Speaking Section of the TOEFL iBT has two independent tasks.

The purpose of these two tasks is to have candidates talk about their own experiences and give opinions about everyday topics.

The slides are here to give more insight on the topic:

Independent Speaking skills & Personal Preference language



Pronunciation challenge -extra speaking practice

This activity is aimed at working fluency and recognition of letters and sounds.

Do you know how many silent letters there are in English? Click here to go to the Voxopop discussion. In the opening notes of the group, there is a link that shows the sentences you have to record.

See how good you are at recognizing silent letters in English? 

Drafting Independent Speaking responses

Fifteen seconds may seem an eternity to some and a split second to many. Preparing for the Independent Speaking tasks requires candidates to use their 15 seconds wisely by brainstorming ways to answer the questions before them.

The key is to think of your answer in nouns or word groups instead of trying to prepare setences per se. These topics or word groups can serve as a guide as you speak through the task.

Click on the link here to see the possible drafts for 6 Independent Speaking Tasks.
toefl class notes 27042011

Would you say anything differently?