If you want to improve your TOEFL speaking score by 3 points, there are a couple of weaknesses you need to focus on. Download our free guide and find out exactly what is holding you back from your score.

In this video, however, we are talking about how to think about each question type. You don’t want to simply answer the TOEFL speaking question, but you want to answer it the way the graders want you to.

For questions 1 and 2, you want to imagine you are a dumb American.

Seriously.

They want you to have a strong opinion on a general question that really depends on the context. However, for the TOEFL, you have to have a very strong opinion that will work in all contexts no matter what… that’s dumb.

For TOEFL Speaking question 3, imagine you are a reporter. You have to report on the information you read in the reading and listen to in the conversation.

In questions 4 and 6, you should imagine that you are a teacher. You have to think that the listener, the TOEFL grader, has no idea about the topic and you have to introduce it, define it, and explain it using the examples and illustrations from the listening.

In question 5, imagine you’re my friend. My best friend. Seriously, I need more friends like you to give me advice. I have a problem and two possible solutions. Tell me which one you think is better and explain why.

Don’t forget to download the guide to improve your TOEFL score by 3 points

If you want to learn about all TOEFL sections, get our TOEFL Quick Guide here

If you’re looking for a complete TOEFL course, check out our  TOEFL Mastery course

 TRANSCRIPT

Let me get into it. How can you improve your score? If you´ve been following our +3 series, I´ve talked about the Reading, Listening, today I am going to talk about the Speaking.

Usually I talk about how to change your mindset, how to change the way that you think about the questions, so you think less about like “How do I answer this one particular question,” and more like “What is the structure of the TOEFL, what is the structure, in this case, of the Speaking section, and what do they want me to do, how do they want me to answer.”

No matter what the question is, no matter what it is, it doesn´t matter, what matters is you know how you are supposed to think about the question. You are supposed to think like an American college student. That´s different than just talking to somebody on the street, or order in a restaurant; thinking like an academic student is different.

I am going to teach you how to think about the TOEFL Speaking so you don´t have to struggle pretty much. You will understand what is expected of you. And when you know what is expected of you, it will be easier for you to answer the questions.

Let me start by talking about how you are going to do this. We are going to follow a two-step process. This is a little difficult, so you might need to watch this again and again, but it is very powerful.

Make sure you watch this video again if you don´t understand. And make sure you stay to the end, so you can really get the whole idea of how to think about questions.

This is how you think about questions.

It´s a two-step process here, these are two things you need to do. For each question type, it´s a little different, you have to imagine you are ________ something, and you have to think structurally. This is supposed to be a brick wall.

These are the two things you need to do: you have to imagine you are a certain person in a certain position, and then you think about the structure. I have to check the spelling of the word structurally, it´s kind of difficult word.

You have to think about structure and I´ll explain that in a minute. Let me just start by getting right into it immediately, because the best is just to see how it works.

Independent 1 and 2. This is the most controversial one that I am going to say. Imagine you are dumb! I get a lot of complaints from other teachers, I get arguments actually with people about this. I think that the independent speaking questions in the TOEFL want you to be dumb.

Why is that? Let me explain a little bit. Hopefully, you know about the structure of the test. If you don´t know about the structure, I´ll leave a link down below for you to download the quick guide so you can get used to the structure.

This is for people who know about the TOEFL a little bit. The independent questions are general opinion questions. They are just asking you what you think about something. “Is it better to work in a group or is it better to work by yourself?” They could be even a little bit stranger. They could be something like “Should historical sights be open to the public or only for scientists and researchers?” That´s a real question. Both of them. And you have to respond for 45 seconds about your opinion.

One way that it´s dumb is that you have to have an opinion about everything. There are other cultures, students who I had before from cultures where they don´t have an opinion about everything. Americans tend to have an opinion about everything. I am a teacher, but I have an opinion about environmental science, about space travel, I have an opinion about government spending.

I have opinions about things that I have no idea about because that is what is expected of me. I am expected to have kind of opinion about these things. I shouldn´t really trust other people for the most part.

On the other hand, in other cultures, they tend to trust experts, they trust politicians, they trust scientists, they trust people who have a position of power that know more about something that they do.

If you are coming from that culture and you come to take the TOEFL, it might be hard for you to have an opinion about everything. It might be pretty strange to have an opinion about everything, but you have to. You have to have an opinion about everything.

That doesn´t really make the test dumb, it really makes it American. What makes it dumb, for this particular question, is that you have to pick a side and you have to argue for your side.

Is it better to work in a group or is it better to work alone? Of course, sometimes it´s better to work in a group, sometimes it´s better to work alone. It depends on a situation. Not on the TOEFL. Situations don´t matter. What matters is your opinion, and then you try to make the listener agree with you.

You want to say things like, “It´s always better to work in a group, because of this, because of this and because of this”. You don´t want to say, “Sometimes it´s better to work in a group in this situation, other times it´s better to work alone because of this situation”. You can do that, but the structure of the test, they really want to pick a side. If you agree or disagree.

That´s what makes you kind of dumb, if you are an intelligent person, you know that it depends on a situation. There are certain situations where historical sights should be open to the public and there are certain situations where historical sights should not be open to the public. But not for the TOEFL. You pick one side and you argue for that one side like there is no other choice. That´s how you do it.

Once you do that, that´s what you are thinking about the structure. That´s how you are thinking about structure. You imagine you are dumb, try, and then you think about, “OK I am a dumb person, what do dumb people do?” They take one side and they argue for that one side, even it doesn´t matter what the situation is, what the contest, they are always right. That´s dumb.

You can complain about me in the comments below, I guess. That´s for the first one, that´s how you want to think about it.

For the second one, for the second ´imagine you are´,  this is for integrated question 3, this is the first integrated question, this question you read, and you listen to, you report on information.

And I said you have to imagine you are a reporter. Why should you imagine you are a reporter? Because reporters report on stories that shouldn´t be about their opinion. It´s the opposite of number one. You shouldn´t have any outside information. Everything you say should be something from the Reading and the Listening.

Now, look, what the reporters do. In question 3 there is an announcement, there is some change on campus. News announces information, new information, changes. It could be something like there´s a new baseball coach or they are renovating the school hall, something like that.

A news person has this information, has this news. They announce it, this is the news, it´s the first thing you do you say this is what´s happening, and what they do? They go and listen to people´s opinions, they go out, they say, “What do you think about this, what do you think about the new baseball coach? What do you think about the renovations?” And you listen to two people have a conversation, one person is going to really dominate the conversation, and then you are going to say their opinion and the reasons for their opinion.

This is the structure part. You are going to imagine you are a reporter, and then you think structurally.

What do I have to do when I speak? First, I have to say what is going on, I have to say this person´s opinion, and I have to say the reasons for their opinion. That´s what you do. That´s what you are listening for and that´s how you improve, you know what you are trying to find. You know what they expect you to do.

For Questions 4 and 6, you have to think like you are a teacher. I taught about this a bit in a video “Improve your listening by 3 points.” This is about to stop thinking like a student and trying to find a correct answer, instead think like a teacher. And what do teachers do? They try to explain something to you through examples, through characteristics, through history. They try to introduce a new topic to you and try to make it more understandable.

What you need to do is that you need to, you are going to imagine you are a teacher, you need to find the topic, and then you need to figure out the two ways that I try to make the topic more understandable.

In the last video with the Listening, I taught about explaining Christmas to an alien. You are going to explain Christmas to an alien. Alien has no idea what a Christmas is. They know English for some reason, so you are going to talk in English, but they don´t know what a Christmas is.

How are you going to explain Christmas? You start with a definition. You say something like, “Christmas is a holiday which is traditional Christian, some people think it was more pagan.  It´s celebrated on December 25th in a lot of Western cultures.” OK, fine, What´s next?

“I still don´t understand what´s Christmas is,” the alien says. And then you have to decide how you keep explaining it. You are going to give examples.

You might say something like, “We give presents to each other to show our appreciation. Or we eat a big dinner, or we decorate a tree”. There is a lot of different examples I could say.

Or I might compare it to another holiday, “Christmas is kind of like ( no it´s not like that) Christmas is the most important holiday for Americans, just like New Year is the most important holiday for Chinese, for example.” And then I might compare the two. That´s what teachers do.

That´s how they structure these lectures. Usually, they give you the topic, in the Reading for question 4, in the question 6 it is only Listening, and they say like, “OK, this is the topic: Christmas”

“I am an alien I don´t know what it means.” Let me explain you a little bit. Listen to me explaining for 3 minutes. I am going to talk about 2 examples, two characteristics, two of something.

Let´s say Christmas again, just to give you an example, we decorate a tree, we give presents, you need to listen for those things. You need to listen to the most important stuff.

The most important stuff is the topic, and the most important stuff is two subtopics that they use to explain the topic.

That´s what you have to do for that. And that´s how you think structurally. You think like a teacher.

The last one. You are my best friend. Oh, thank you. Pretend you are my friend, and of course, we are friends, of course, we are. What do I mean?

Question 5. It´s two people talking again, just like question 3, but this time there is no announcement. Instead, one student has a problem. And the other student tries to help the student solve the problem.

Let´s say, for example, it´s always a man and a woman, so you imagine you are my friend, and I have a problem. When your friend has a problem, what you have to do? You listen to the problem. And you try to help them, try to give some solutions, some ways to help them solve that problem, and that´s what you have to do here.

You have to listen, and you think, “OK so what´s the problem”, you are going to say that when you speak and then, “The person offers two solutions to the problem”, you are going to say those as well, when you speak, and then you are going to offer your opinion, you are going to say – this is the only integrated section when you give your opinion –

“So, the man´s problem is that his work schedule conflicts with his school’s schedule, the woman in the conversation thinks that maybe he should quit his job, or he can change his school schedule. If I were the man, I would change the schedule”, and you start explaining your opinion. Think like a friend, and this becomes much easier when you know how to think about them.

I think a lot of students when they really get in trouble on the TOEFL, they just look at the content of the question in front of them, “How do I answer this?”

Instead, you want to think structurally, you want to think about what does the TOEFL want, “Why they are asking me this?”

And then when you know why, you can explain it better and you can follow the conversations, follow the listening, follow the questions a little bit better. That´s it.

If you stayed to the end, you are awesome, thank you, keep studying really hard, there will be a link for the TOEFL emergency course where you can become a TOEFL master in 3 days. There is a 3-day Emergency course for you to download there, I´ll leave a link to the other stuff that I mentioned.

Thank you for listening, and good luck.

Take care guys.

Bye-bye.

TOEFL Speaking Evaluation

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SMART CHOICE

If you want to improve your TOEFL speaking score by 3 points, there are a couple of weaknesses you need to focus on. Download our free guide and find out exactly what is holding you back from your score.

In this video, however, we are talking about how to think about each question type. You don’t want to simply answer the TOEFL speaking question, but you want to answer it the way the graders want you to.

For questions 1 and 2, you want to imagine you are a dumb American.

Seriously.

They want you to have a strong opinion on a general question that really depends on the context. However, for the TOEFL, you have to have a very strong opinion that will work in all contexts no matter what… that’s dumb.

For TOEFL Speaking question 3, imagine you are a reporter. You have to report on the information you read in the reading and listen to in the conversation.

In questions 4 and 6, you should imagine that you are a teacher. You have to think that the listener, the TOEFL grader, has no idea about the topic and you have to introduce it, define it, and explain it using the examples and illustrations from the listening.

In question 5, imagine you’re my friend. My best friend. Seriously, I need more friends like you to give me advice. I have a problem and two possible solutions. Tell me which one you think is better and explain why.

Don’t forget to download the guide to improve your TOEFL score by 3 points

If you want to learn about all TOEFL sections, get our TOEFL Quick Guide here

If you are looking for a complete TOEFL course, check out our TOEFL Mastery course

 TRANSCRIPT

Let me get into it. How can you improve your score? If you´ve been following our +3 series, I´ve talked about the Reading, Listening, today I am going to talk about the Speaking.

Usually I talk about how to change your mindset, how to change the way that you think about the questions, so you think less about like “How do I answer this one particular question,” and more like “What is the structure of the TOEFL, what is the structure, in this case, of the Speaking section, and what do they want me to do, how do they want me to answer.”

No matter what the question is, no matter what it is, it doesn´t matter, what matters is you know how you are supposed to think about the question. You are supposed to think like an American college student. That´s different than just talking to somebody on the street, or order in a restaurant; thinking like an academic student is different.

I am going to teach you how to think about the TOEFL Speaking so you don´t have to struggle pretty much. You will understand what is expected of you. And when you know what is expected of you, it will be easier for you to answer the questions.

Let me start by talking about how you are going to do this. We are going to follow a two-step process. This is a little difficult, so you might need to watch this again and again, but it is very powerful.

Make sure you watch this video again if you don´t understand. And make sure you stay to the end, so you can really get the whole idea of how to think about questions.

This is how you think about questions.

It´s a two-step process here, these are two things you need to do. For each question type, it´s a little different, you have to imagine you are ________ something, and you have to think structurally. This is supposed to be a brick wall.

These are the two things you need to do: you have to imagine you are a certain person in a certain position, and then you think about the structure. I have to check the spelling of the word structurally, it´s kind of difficult word.

You have to think about structure and I´ll explain that in a minute. Let me just start by getting right into it immediately, because the best is just to see how it works.

Independent 1 and 2. This is the most controversial one that I am going to say. Imagine you are dumb! I get a lot of complaints from other teachers, I get arguments actually with people about this. I think that the independent speaking questions in the TOEFL want you to be dumb.

Why is that? Let me explain a little bit. Hopefully, you know about the structure of the test. If you don´t know about the structure, I´ll leave a link down below for you to download the quick guide so you can get used to the structure.

This is for people who know about the TOEFL a little bit. The independent questions are general opinion questions. They are just asking you what you think about something. “Is it better to work in a group or is it better to work by yourself?” They could be even a little bit stranger. They could be something like “Should historical sights be open to the public or only for scientists and researchers?” That´s a real question. Both of them. And you have to respond for 45 seconds about your opinion.

One way that it´s dumb is that you have to have an opinion about everything. There are other cultures, students who I had before from cultures where they don´t have an opinion about everything. Americans tend to have an opinion about everything. I am a teacher, but I have an opinion about environmental science, about space travel, I have an opinion about government spending.

I have opinions about things that I have no idea about because that is what is expected of me. I am expected to have kind of opinion about these things. I shouldn´t really trust other people for the most part.

On the other hand, in other cultures, they tend to trust experts, they trust politicians, they trust scientists, they trust people who have a position of power that know more about something that they do.

If you are coming from that culture and you come to take the TOEFL, it might be hard for you to have an opinion about everything. It might be pretty strange to have an opinion about everything, but you have to. You have to have an opinion about everything.

That doesn´t really make the test dumb, it really makes it American. What makes it dumb, for this particular question, is that you have to pick a side and you have to argue for your side.

Is it better to work in a group or is it better to work alone? Of course, sometimes it´s better to work in a group, sometimes it´s better to work alone. It depends on a situation. Not on the TOEFL. Situations don´t matter. What matters is your opinion, and then you try to make the listener agree with you.

You want to say things like, “It´s always better to work in a group, because of this, because of this and because of this”. You don´t want to say, “Sometimes it´s better to work in a group in this situation, other times it´s better to work alone because of this situation”. You can do that, but the structure of the test, they really want to pick a side. If you agree or disagree.

That´s what makes you kind of dumb, if you are an intelligent person, you know that it depends on a situation. There are certain situations where historical sights should be open to the public and there are certain situations where historical sights should not be open to the public. But not for the TOEFL. You pick one side and you argue for that one side like there is no other choice. That´s how you do it.

Once you do that, that´s what you are thinking about the structure. That´s how you are thinking about structure. You imagine you are dumb, try, and then you think about, “OK I am a dumb person, what do dumb people do?” They take one side and they argue for that one side, even it doesn´t matter what the situation is, what the contest, they are always right. That´s dumb.

You can complain about me in the comments below, I guess. That´s for the first one, that´s how you want to think about it.

For the second one, for the second ´imagine you are´,  this is for integrated question 3, this is the first integrated question, this question you read, and you listen to, you report on information.

And I said you have to imagine you are a reporter. Why should you imagine you are a reporter? Because reporters report on stories that shouldn´t be about their opinion. It´s the opposite of number one. You shouldn´t have any outside information. Everything you say should be something from the Reading and the Listening.

Now, look, what the reporters do. In question 3 there is an announcement, there is some change on campus. News announces information, new information, changes. It could be something like there´s a new baseball coach or they are renovating the school hall, something like that.

A news person has this information, has this news. They announce it, this is the news, it´s the first thing you do you say this is what´s happening, and what they do? They go and listen to people´s opinions, they go out, they say, “What do you think about this, what do you think about the new baseball coach? What do you think about the renovations?” And you listen to two people have a conversation, one person is going to really dominate the conversation, and then you are going to say their opinion and the reasons for their opinion.

This is the structure part. You are going to imagine you are a reporter, and then you think structurally.

What do I have to do when I speak? First, I have to say what is going on, I have to say this person´s opinion, and I have to say the reasons for their opinion. That´s what you do. That´s what you are listening for and that´s how you improve, you know what you are trying to find. You know what they expect you to do.

For Questions 4 and 6, you have to think like you are a teacher. I taught about this a bit in a video “Improve your listening by 3 points.” This is about to stop thinking like a student and trying to find a correct answer, instead think like a teacher. And what do teachers do? They try to explain something to you through examples, through characteristics, through history. They try to introduce a new topic to you and try to make it more understandable.

What you need to do is that you need to, you are going to imagine you are a teacher, you need to find the topic, and then you need to figure out the two ways that I try to make the topic more understandable.

In the last video with the Listening, I taught about explaining Christmas to an alien. You are going to explain Christmas to an alien. Alien has no idea what a Christmas is. They know English for some reason, so you are going to talk in English, but they don´t know what a Christmas is.

How are you going to explain Christmas? You start with a definition. You say something like, “Christmas is a holiday which is traditional Christian, some people think it was more pagan.  It´s celebrated on December 25th in a lot of Western cultures.” OK, fine, What´s next?

“I still don´t understand what´s Christmas is,” the alien says. And then you have to decide how you keep explaining it. You are going to give examples.

You might say something like, “We give presents to each other to show our appreciation. Or we eat a big dinner, or we decorate a tree”. There is a lot of different examples I could say.

Or I might compare it to another holiday, “Christmas is kind of like ( no it´s not like that) Christmas is the most important holiday for Americans, just like New Year is the most important holiday for Chinese, for example.” And then I might compare the two. That´s what teachers do.

That´s how they structure these lectures. Usually, they give you the topic, in the Reading for question 4, in the question 6 it is only Listening, and they say like, “OK, this is the topic: Christmas”

“I am an alien I don´t know what it means.” Let me explain you a little bit. Listen to me explaining for 3 minutes. I am going to talk about 2 examples, two characteristics, two of something.

Let´s say Christmas again, just to give you an example, we decorate a tree, we give presents, you need to listen for those things. You need to listen to the most important stuff.

The most important stuff is the topic, and the most important stuff is two subtopics that they use to explain the topic.

That´s what you have to do for that. And that´s how you think structurally. You think like a teacher.

The last one. You are my best friend. Oh, thank you. Pretend you are my friend, and of course, we are friends, of course, we are. What do I mean?

Question 5. It´s two people talking again, just like question 3, but this time there is no announcement. Instead, one student has a problem. And the other student tries to help the student solve the problem.

Let´s say, for example, it´s always a man and a woman, so you imagine you are my friend, and I have a problem. When your friend has a problem, what you have to do? You listen to the problem. And you try to help them, try to give some solutions, some ways to help them solve that problem, and that´s what you have to do here.

You have to listen, and you think, “OK so what´s the problem”, you are going to say that when you speak and then, “The person offers two solutions to the problem”, you are going to say those as well, when you speak, and then you are going to offer your opinion, you are going to say – this is the only integrated section when you give your opinion –

“So, the man´s problem is that his work schedule conflicts with his school’s schedule, the woman in the conversation thinks that maybe he should quit his job, or he can change his school schedule. If I were the man, I would change the schedule”, and you start explaining your opinion. Think like a friend, and this becomes much easier when you know how to think about them.

I think a lot of students when they really get in trouble on the TOEFL, they just look at the content of the question in front of them, “How do I answer this?”

Instead, you want to think structurally, you want to think about what does the TOEFL want, “Why they are asking me this?”

And then when you know why, you can explain it better and you can follow the conversations, follow the listening, follow the questions a little bit better. That´s it.

If you stayed to the end, you are awesome, thank you, keep studying really hard, there will be a link for the TOEFL emergency course where you can become a TOEFL master in 3 days. There is a 3-day Emergency course for you to download there, I´ll leave a link to the other stuff that I mentioned.

Thank you for listening, and good luck.

Take care guys.

Bye-bye.

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Before the TOEFL exam, and even before you start preparing for it, the best thing to do is learn what your weaknesses are.

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