Listen to this post: Improve your TOEFL iBT Speaking and Pronunciation Today
Imagine taking the TOEFL iBT and effortlessly answering the six speaking tasks. You have command of the vowel and consonants of American English. Your syllable division, grammatical word endings, word stress, and intonation resemble those of a native speaker. You blend words together well and pause just enough to give the listener a chance to digest your ideas.
Does this sound possible? For many students, speaking clearly and fluently on the TOEFL iBT poses challenges–with just a small percentage of those students demonstrating “college-ready” speaking abilities. For example, listen to the following three voice recordings from students responding to an independent speaking task on a practice TOEFL iBT. Which one do you think will get a higher score?
If you guessed speaker 1, you have guessed correctly. It is easy to understand what the speaker is saying, and he has adequate control over his vocabulary and grammar usage.
Speaker 2, on the other hand, has an unclear distorted recording, probably from holding the microphone too close to her mouth. To prevent this type of distortion, it is best to have the microphone about 2-3 inches from the mouth.
Speaker 3, the least proficient of the three speakers, has an accumulation of problems with vowels, particularly long vowel sounds, hence making it more difficult for the listener to understand her ideas.
“How do you go from the speaking and pronunciation skills of speaker 1 to 3?” you ask. Here’s how!
1. Listen to the talk radio in English. Record five minutes of audio and then transcribe the conversation into writing. Then practice tracking ––imitating their pronunciation, as you read the listening script at the same time as the speakers.
2. Watch TV in English. Using the close caption in English, practice tracking.
3. If available, check out books, CDs, and cassette tapes and other materials in English from your local library.
4. Watch for notices in your newspaper of English activities and join them whenever you can.
5. Keep a list of words you often mispronounce and have a native speaker record these words. Then try to imitate the speaker’s pronunciation of these words.
6. Read with a native speaker out loud twenty minutes a day three days a week.
- The native speaker and you take turns readings paragraphs from an English newspaper.
- Ask the native speaker to closely monitor your pronunciation and to point out any mispronunciations that you make.
- Track the native speaker while he reads.
7. Self-monitor your pronunciation ten minutes a day, each day focusing on a different type of skill. For example, one day you might concentrate on grammatical word endings. On that day, you would read a paragraph aloud and pay particular attention to -ed, -s, -ing, -er, and -est endings. On other days, you could self-monitor your word stress, sentence rhythm, intonation, blending, or thought groups.
8. If you travel, take advantage of opportunities to use English: airlines staff, immigration personnel, hotel and restaurant staff, fellow travelers and passengers.
9. Use Internet Web Sites to practice pronunciation:
http://www.esl_lab.com/ General listening quizzes, listening quizzes for academic purposes, long conversations with RealVideo, and short listening exercises including pronunciation practice
http://iteslj.org/links/ESL/Pronunciation/ Includes dozens of ESL web sites offering free practice with pronunciation.
For more information, go to http://onlinetoeflcourse.com
Michael Buckhoff, firstname.lastname@example.org