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  • 7 Secrets to Acing the TOEFL’s Speaking Section

    Text Version:

    Read aloud

    Start getting comfortable with speaking in English by reading English passages aloud. Concentrate on pronunciation and on speaking clearly so that native speakers can understand you.

    Record yourself and listen to your recordings

    Use your phone, computer, or tape recorder to record yourself speaking in English. Save these recordings and review them as you study, paying attention to words you have trouble pronouncing or issues you may have with speed or inflection.

    Practice “thinking aloud”

    When you’re at home, practice talking to yourself in English. Try to train yourself to think in English rather than thinking in your native language and then translating to English.

    Talk in groups

    Take a discussion-based ESL class, or make plans to meet with friends on a regular basis to practice speaking English. If possible, talk with native English speakers so you can have more opportunities to hear how native speakers sound when they talk.

    Think of your response as a verbal essay

    You’ll be better able to structure your thoughts if you think of your responses to the speaking section as short essays. You should have an introduction, several concrete details and examples to enhance your main point, and a conclusion. You should also use transition phrases to help guide your listener from one point to the next.

    Avoid using words you have trouble pronouncing or idioms you don’t fully understand

    Idioms are commonly employed by native English speakers and can be a mark of fluency, but if you don’t use them correctly, you’ll likely end up confusing your listener. You should also avoid big words that you have trouble pronouncing and focus instead on being as clear as possible.

    Relax and slow down

    Some people start speaking more quickly when they’re nervous, so remind yourself to slow down slightly and speak clearly so your listener can understand you. Remember that it’s okay to pause for a second or two to collect your thoughts when it’s time to respond, but fill as much time as you can in this section with your response.

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