Tag Archives: TOEFL iBT Pronunciation

S.T.E.A.L.T.H., Our 7-Step System TOEFL Course

 

“Hi Michael,

I retook the TOEFL iBT on 12th May and got the desired score – 116 (R30, L30, S26, W30). I thank you for all the speaking practice tests and comments that helped me boost my speaking score.

Thanks,
VSS”

—————————————————————-

 

 

—————————————————————-

“Hey Michael,
I just got my TOEFL score – 113 overall, and I’m thrilled about it. (Writing/Reading – 29, Listening – 28, Speaking – 27). I want to thank you for your great tutoring – you really helped me a lot. I used your service for about a month, and that made all the difference – your input and guidance really helped me do all the right things. I think your service can help anyone at any level, since you make sure your students focus on what they require the most. So, once again, Thank you!
Tal.”

—————————————————————-

“I am interested in your Speak Clearly TOEFL Subscription Service…”

Michael Buckhoff’s “7 Step System to Pass the TOEFL iBT

Exam!” “Give me a power-packed TOEFL lesson!”

YouTube Preview Image

For more information, go here:

Michael Buckhoff’s “7 Step System to Pass the TOEFL iBT

Exam!” “I want my lesson now!”

Watch Video: Learn about S.T.E.A.L.T.H.

 
Why should I make a donation?

TOEFL iBT Pronunciation: Take my Pronunciation Challenge; Improve your Pronunciation Today

Michael Buckhoff’s “7 Step System to Pass the TOEFL iBT

Exam!” “Give me a power-packed TOEFL lesson!”

[kaltura-widget wid=”pr79h5l7zv” width=”410″ height=”364″ addpermission=”3″ editpermission=”3″ /]

For information, go here:

Michael Buckhoff’s “7 Step System to Pass the TOEFL iBT

Exam!” “I want my lesson now!”

Watch Videos: Are You Afraid of the TOEFL iBT, Learn about S.T.E.A.L.T.H.


Why should I make a donation?

TOEFL iBT Pronunciation: “Can” versus “Can’t”

Michael Buckhoff’s “7 Step System to Pass the TOEFL iBT

Exam!” “Give me a power-packed TOEFL lesson!”

http://www.bettertoeflscores.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/canversuscant.mp4

For more information, go here:

Michael Buckhoff’s “7 Step System to Pass the TOEFL iBT

Exam!” “I want my lesson now!”

Watch Video: Learn about S.T.E.A.L.T.H.


Why should I make a donation?

TOEFL iBT Pronuncation: Do You Have Any Trouble With Word Stress When You Speak English?

Michael Buckhoff’s “7 Step System to Pass the TOEFL iBT

Exam!” “Give me a power-packed TOEFL lesson!”

[kaltura-widget wid=”aqrwwcb068″ width=”410″ height=”364″ addpermission=”3″ editpermission=”3″ /]

For more information, go here:

Michael Buckhoff’s “7 Step System to Pass the TOEFL iBT

Exam!” “I want my lesson now!”

Watch Video: Learn about S.T.E.A.L.T.H.


Why should I make a donation?

TOEFL iBT Pronunciation–[e] and [ɛ] vowel sounds: Do You Know the Difference?

Listen to this post: Pronouncing Gate and Get Vowel Sounds

To have clear pronunciation, you need to pronounce your vowels sounds clearly since they vital to the syllables of the words you speak. In some cases, it may be hard for you to distinguish one vowel sound from another. Two such vowels are the mid front unrounded tense vowel, i.e. [e] as in gate and the mid front unrounded lax vowel, i.e., [ɛ] as in get.

Being able to pronounce the [e] and the [ɛ] vowel sounds are important to your being intelligible as you complete the two independent and four integrated speaking tasks of the TOEFL iBT. The fewer problems you have pronouncing these two sounds, the greater chance you have of getting a high TOEFL iBT speaking score.

Nonetheless, many non-native speakers have difficulty pronouncing these two sounds. (1) These speakers may be unsure of which words use these two vowel sounds. (2) They may also be unaware how to pronounce the two sounds. Whatever the reason, these speakers will not be able to advance in their speaking and pronunciation proficiency until they have mastered these two sounds.

To solve this problem you will need to improve your sound and spelling recognition of words in English. A good start on solving this problem is to reread this blog post out loud and see if you can identify which words contain the [e] and the [ɛ] vowel sounds. Then you can continue your awareness by reading newspapers out loud with the same purpose.

Another solution to this problem is to understand how these two sounds differ phonetically.

Articulation tip for the [e ] sound:

  • Produce this sound with a hard tongue.
  • Like the [ɛ] sound, the [e] sound is a mid front unrounded vowel.
  • This is a long vowel sound. In American English, it sounds like a diphthong consisting of two vowels, one gliding into to the next: e—-i.
  • Articulation tip for the [ɛ ] sound:
  • Produce this sound with a soft tongue.
  • Like the [e] sound, the [ɛ] sound is a mid front unrounded vowel.
  • This is a short vowel sound.

For more information, go here:

Michael Buckhoff’s “7 Step System to Pass the TOEFL iBT Exam!” 

Watch Video: Learn about S.T.E.A.L.T.H.

Why should I make a donation?

TOEFL iBT Pronunciation: Avoiding Word Stress Shifts with Compound Nouns, Two-Noun Compounds, Reflexive Pronouns, and Ten and Teen Numbers

Listen to this post: toefl-ibt-and-word-stress-part-one

In words of two or more syllables, one of the syllables is stronger than the others. For example, note the stressed syllable in the following words: MIsion, teleVIsion, rePUblican, and uniVERsity. Having appropriate word stress patterns involves not only your ability to stress the correct syllable but also your ability to pronounce the unstressed syllables by making them softer sounds.

Additionally, having appropriate word stress means you are familiar with parts-of-speech word stress patterns. If you know, for instance, that a word is a noun or a verb, you may be able to predict where the word stress falls. Also, understanding general word stress patterns will help you to formulate rules with other types of words as well. Having appropriate word stress is critical to your success on TOEFL iBT speaking. If you have irregular word stress shifts, TOEFL iBT human raters will have to put forth more effort in understanding you. And, in some cases, your distracting word stress shifts will prevent you from being understood. Therefore, human raters will give you a lower TOEFL iBT speaking score.

To illustrate how irregular words stress shifts can interfere in your ability to speak clearly, consider the following story. An English language learner went to the supermarket to buy some groceries. The customer found all but one item: conditioner.

So, he approached a store clerk and asked, “Where is the CONditioner?”

“What? asked the clerk. “The CONditioner,” said the customer.

The clerk replied, “I’m sorry, but I cannot understand you.”

Even though the customer had pronounced the vowel and consonant sounds correctly, he had not stressed the correct syllable of the word: conDItioner. Due to that irregular word stress shift, the clerk could not understand what he was asking. Despite the importance of word stress to a leaner’s intelligibility, it proves a difficult obstacle for many. Why is word stress so difficult to learn? Word stress involves making the stressed syllable longer, clearer, louder, and high pitched. Few advanced learners of English effectively execute these four characteristics of word stress, probably due to inexperience and differences in word stress patterns from speakers’ first languages. Additionally, these learners are unfamiliar with word stress rules regarding certain words.

For more information, go here:

Michael Buckhoff’s “7 Step System to Pass the TOEFL iBT Exam!” 

Watch Video: Learn about S.T.E.A.L.T.H.

Why should I make a donation?

TOEFL iBT Pronunciation: Avoiding Irregular Word Stress Shifts with Compound Adverbs, Two Word Verbs, Two-Syllable Nouns and Verbs, Verbs with Prefixes, and Abbreviations and Symbols

Listen to this post: word_stress_part_two_and_toefl_ibt_prounuciation

To continue to improve your pronunciation of word stress, you will need to become familiar with word stress patterns of various word combinations. For example, how would you pronounce the following words: downwind, watch over, underestimate, USA, and autistic? What about conduct when used as a verb or when it is used as a noun? Would you place the primary stress in the same part of the word in both parts of speech? These are additional issues that I will focus on in my Online TOEFL Course.

Having appropriate word stress can benefit your TOEFL iBT test-taking experience three ways. First, having appropriate word stress improves your intelligibility. Second, avoiding word stress shifts ensures that your speech does not distract listeners from what you are saying. Finally, competently using word stress makes you natural-sounding. Of course, human raters, impressed by your clear, non-distracting, and natural-sounding speech, will be pleased to give you high scores on TOEFL iBT speaking.

Unfortunately, word stress poses great challenges for learners, so much so that TOEFL iBT human raters are specifically trained to pay close attention to your proficiency or lack thereof in this area. Due to inexperience with English or interference from a first language, you may be unsure what to do, for example, when two adverbs combine to form one word: northwest. Is the stress placed on the first or second word? In other cases, in words such as go through and put down, would you place stress on the first or second word?

Furthermore, if you hear reCORD, is it being used as a verb or noun? How about when someone says EXploit? Is it being used as a noun or a verb? Do you change your word stress when using nouns or verbs? There are even additional rules with word stress and verbs which have prefixes such as dehumidify, preview, and withdraw. In these examples, would you stress the prefix or the base? As you can see, there are numerous rules regarding word stress and certain word combinations, and it will take you time to get familiar with these rules.

Through my Online TOEFL Course,  you will learn word stress patterns of compound adverbs, two word verbs, two-syllable nouns and verbs, verbs with prefixes, and abbreviations and symbols. In addition, you will learn how to predict stress with suffixes and word endings: -ic, -ical, -ify, -ogy, -tion, -graphy, -ious, -ian, -ical, -ee, -eer, -ese, -esque, -ique, -ette, -et, -ate. For example, you will learn that when you see a word that ends with the ending -ee the stress is placed on the last syllable, i.e., referEE. The value of using word endings to predict stress in incalculable: by learning stress patterns of word endings, you will be able to predict word stress patterns of thousands of academic words. Now you may be thinking to yourself, “Heck, I can learn this naturally by speaking regularly with native speakers.” It is true that you can learn word stress naturally, but it may take you 5-10 years before you internalize all the rules that are explicitly taught in this course.

Therefore, my Online TOEFL Course can dramatically short-cut your path to near-native speaker proficiency by giving you intensive practice with word stress in the form of listening discrimination exercises of academic sentences and paragraphs. You needn’t wait 10 years before you can win your battle with word stress. Subscribe to my Online TOEFL Course and begin reducing your word stress shifts immediately.

For more information, go here:

Michael Buckhoff’s “7 Step System to Pass the TOEFL iBT Exam!”

Watch Video: Learn about S.T.E.A.L.T.H.

Why should I make a donation?

TOEFL iBT Pronunciation: Comparing Vowel Sounds “Rook,” “Rule,” and “Rut”–[U], [u], and [ʌ]

Listen to this post: http://www.bettertoeflscores.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/u-u-and-wedge-vowel-sounds.wav

To be intelligible in English, you must be able to pronounce your vowel sounds correctly. Since there are fifteen vowel sounds in American English, it is also important to differentiate among different vowel sounds. Three such vowels are the [U] as in rook, the [u] as in blue, and the [ʌ] as in rut.

Having intelligible pronunciation is especially important to your score in TOEFL iBT speaking since TOEFL iBT human raters will need to understand your pronunciation in order to give you a score on your six speaking tasks. The fewer problems you have clearly articulating the [U], the [u], and the [ʌ] vowel sounds, the better chance you have of getting a high TOEFL iBT score.

Nonetheless, it is difficult for non-native speakers to have clear pronunciation with these sounds. First, non-native speakers may be unsure which sounds spelling patterns represent which of the these vowels. Second, these same speakers may not know the phonetic difference among these three vowel sounds. Finally, these non-native speakers may not have had enough regular speaking practice with native speakers to know how to pronounce these sounds clearly. Do any of these characteristics describe you?

While it is too complicated in this post to explain the phonics behind these three sounds and while I cannot help you speak regularly with native-speakers (That is something you must choose to do!), I can explain how these sounds are different phonetically.

Articulation tip for the [U ] sound:

  • The [U] vowel is a high back rounded lax sound.
  • Unlike the [ʌ ] vowel, produce the [U] sound with rounded lips.
  • Unlike the [u] sound, produce the [U] sound with a soft tongue.

Articulation tip for the [u ] sound:

  • The [u] vowel is a high back rounded tense sound.
  • Unlike the [ʌ ] vowel, produce the [u] sound with rounded lips.
  • Unlike the [U] vowel, produce the [u] sound with a hard tongue.

Articulation tip for the [ʌ ] sound:

  • The [ʌ ] vowel is a mid central unrounded lax sound.
  • Unlike the [u] vowel, produce the [ʌ ] sound with a soft tongue.
  • Unlike the [U] and the [u] vowel, produce the [ʌ ] sound with unrounded lips.

For more information, go here:

Michael Buckhoff’s “7 Step System to Pass the TOEFL iBT Exam!” 

Watch Video: Learn about S.T.E.A.L.T.H.

Why should I make a donation?

American Idol Encore 2 and TOEFL iBT Speaking: Improve your Pronunciation and Have Fun Doing It

Today, Angela, my wife of 14 years, set up our American Idol Encore 2 Nintendo Wii game by Karaoke Revolution. One of the first songs Angela sang was Sweet Escape, as you can watch by clicking here, by Gwen Stefani. During the song, Angela came to the most difficult and fast-moving lyrics of the song:

“Cause I’ve been acting like sour milk all on the floor

It’s your fault you didn’t shut the refrigerator

Maybe that’s the reason I’ve been acting so cold?”

Angela sang that and the rest of the lyrics flawlessly. With life-like graphics being displayed on our 50 inch Sony hi-def television, it was gut-busting fun: I was laughing and singing along, and baby Cade was swinging to the beat. American Idol Judges Randy gave Angela a nod of approval, Paula was dancing during the song, and Simon–well, he had a stone face during the song but didn’t boo her at the end, so I guess that meant he liked it.

Truly, we were in the moment, and I had almost forgotten about my TOEFL iBT Blog. However, it struck me, almost like a lightening bolt of inspiration from the sky: “if English learners played this game or a game like unto it, they could dramatically improve their pronunciation and hence get a much higher TOEFL iBT speaking score.” Most importantly, they would be able to talk like native speakers and have much clearer pronunciation.

Why do I think this? First, when you sing the song, you see the lyrics at the bottom of the screen, Second, using an effective technique called tracking, you sing the song at the same time as the singer. Third, you score points based on keeping up with the lyrics, having appropriate rising and falling pitch at various junctures of the song, lengthening and shortening syllables, and so on.

In a nutshell, this game indirectly teaches you every aspect of pronunciation that you need: vowel and consonant sounds, syllable division and grammatical word endings, sentence rhythm, word stress, intonation, thought groups, and blending. Additionally, you will intuitively learn the sound and spelling patterns of American English. Most importantly, after singing, you are scored on how well you sing the song, giving you valuable feedback about your pronunciation. A lower score means you need more practice, and a higher score means you are improving. Play this game a few weeks, and your pronunciation is sure to improve. And you will have a whole lot of fun!

For more information, go here:

Michael Buckhoff’s “7 Step System to Pass the TOEFL iBT Exam!”

Watch Video: Learn about S.T.E.A.L.T.H.

Why should I make a donation?