Friday, September 19, 2008


The best way to practice speaking is with native speakers of English. If you do not live in an
English-speaking country, fi nding native speakers of English might be quite challenging. In
some countries, there are English-speaking tutors or assistants who help students with
conversation skills and overall communication skills. It is critical to fi nd them and speak
with them as often as possible. Another way to practice speaking is by joining an English
club whose members converse in English about movies, music, and travel. If a club does not
exist in your area, start one and invite native speakers to help you get started.

Independent Speaking Tasks

Make a list of topics that are familiar, and practice speaking about them.
Describe a familiar place or recount a personal experience.
Later, state an opinion or a preference and present clear, detailed reasons for it.
Make a recommendation and explain why it is the best way to proceed.
Practice giving one-minute responses to topics.

Integrated Speaking Tasks

Find a textbook that includes questions about the material at the end of chapters, and
practice answering the questions orally.
Read a short article (100–200 words). Make an outline that includes only the major
points of the article. Use the outline to orally summarize the information.
Find listening and reading material on the same topic covered by the article. The material
can contain similar or different views. (The Internet and the library are good places to
fi nd information.) Take notes or create outlines on the listening and reading material:13
– Orally summarize the information in both the written and spoken materials. Be
sure to paraphrase using different words and grammatical structures.
– Orally synthesize the material by combining the information from the reading and
listening materials and explain how they relate.
– State an opinion about the ideas and information presented in the reading and
listening material and explain how they relate.
– If the reading and/or listening material describes a problem, suggest and explain a
solution to the problem.
Recognize the attitude of the speaker or the writer of the original material through
intonation, stress, and word choice. This helps to understand their point of view and
plan an appropriate response.

All Speaking Tasks

Increase vocabulary and learn to use idiomatic speech appropriately.
Learn grammatical structures and use them naturally when speaking.
Work on pronunciation, including word stress, intonation patterns, and pauses. (There
are a number of products and websites that can help you develop pronunciation skills.)
When practicing for the TOEFL iBT using the tips above, take 15 seconds to think
about what you’re going to say before you speak. Write down a few key words and
ideas, but do not attempt to write down exactly what you are going to say. (Raters will
be able to detect responses that are read and give them a lower rating.)
Use signal words and expressions to introduce new information or ideas, to connect
ideas, and to mark important words or ideas. This will help the listener easily follow
what you are saying. (For example, “on the one hand…,” “but on the other hand…,”
“what that means is…,” “The fi rst reason is…,” “another difference is…”)
Make recordings of the above activities and evaluate your effort by asking yourself
these questions:
– Did I complete the task?
– Did I speak clearly?
– Did I make grammatical errors?
– Did I use words correctly?
– Did I organize my ideas clearly and appropriately?
– Did I use the time effectively?
– Did I speak too fast or too slowly?
– Did I pause too often?

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