After joining an Online TOEFL Course, Sarah completes her first online speaking practice test.

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Online TOEFL Course

Armed with a headset and a high quality microphone, Sarah clicked to watch the video at her Online TOEFL Course so she could see what the independent speaking practice test prompt would be. “Describe a person you knew as a child. Explain why this person was important to you,” the narrator instructed her. “You have 15 seconds to prepare for your response, and you will have 45 seconds to speak.” Sarah felt a little bit nervous, but she jotted down a few words to help her begin her response.


“Begin speaking now,” further instructed the narrator. Sarah began her speech talking about two important people in her life: her mother and her grandmother. First of all, Sarah’s mother was important to her because she had helped Sarah through elementary to high school, sometimes even helping her to get her homework done. Second of all, Sarah’s grandmother had exemplified hardwork by rearing four children during economically difficult times. Finally, Sarah concluded by saying that she loved both people in her life and would remember them for all time. After she finished recording her response at “The 7-Step System to Pass the TOEFL Voxopop Discussion Group”, she saved the file so her TOEFL mentor Michael Buckhoff could listen to it. She hoped that she could score high. About 8 hours later, Michael Buckhoff–founder, owner, and materials writer for “The 7-Step System to Pass the TOEFL iBT”–gave her delivery, language use, and topic development comments at the same Voxopop discussion thread in which she had posted her initial response.

Delivery: Michael told Sarah during her speech that she sometimes omitted the plural “s” and third person singular inflection “s” endings on her nouns and verbs. In addition, Sarah learned that she was having some trouble forming the inter dental voiced and voiceless consonants “th”. Finally, Michael also told Sarah that she needed more practice with her intonation, especially since she was NOT varying her tone during her 45 second response. Based on these problems, Michael recommended seven specific Speak Clearly lessons to help Sarah improve her pronunciation.

Language use: To her delight. Michael told Sarah that she had almost no problems with her vocabulary and grammar usage. In fact, Sarah was quite proficient at being able to use a combination of simple and more complex vocabulary and grammar such that she did not seem to have any limitations in preventing her from fully expressing her ideas.

Topic development: Unfortunately, with good news comes bad news sometimes. Michael told Sarah that she had not answered the first part of the question because she had described neither her mother nor her grandmother. Furthermore, the question had asked her “to describe a person” not two and to explain why that person was important to her so she had not really fully addressed the second part of the question either. Since she tried to explain why both her mother and her grandmother were important to her, the 45 second limitation prevented her from supporting her generalizations with adequate supporting details. Then, he recommended three TOEFL speaking lessons that would help Sarah to more explicitly address the task and to more coherently organize her ideas.

Finally, after explaining to Sarah some of the strengths and weaknesses of her response, Michael gave her a score of 2.0/4.0 or 14/30 pts. At least, Sarah now knew what she needed to do to improve, and she did not have to spend $200 on taking the official TOEFL exam to get the valuable feedback. And that is a good thing, right?

Online TOEFL Course

 

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