Link your TOEFL Speaking and Writing Ideas to Get a High Score

Door hinges are used to connect doors to buildings, nails are used to connect boards together, and sewing thread is used to join two pieces of cloth. Like hinges, nails, sewing thread, connectors are used to connect your ideas together when you speak and write. Having a knowledge of connectors can help you link old and new ideas together as you complete speaking and writing tasks, which will make it easier for the iBT human raters to understand what are speaking and writing. Four types of connectives link old and new information together: prepositions, coordinating conjunctions, subordinating conjunctions, and transition words. Use Google search to get a lengthy list of each type, so I will not worry about listing all of them here. Rather, by presenting an example of each type of connector word, I will show you how you can use these types of words during the speaking and writing sections of the TOEFL exam.

Preposition: Due to

Prepositions attach to noun phrases to form prepositional phrases and contain support ideas to the main part of the sentence. Moreover, as in sentence 1, fronted prepositional phrases are often set apart from independent clauses with commas. Conversely, as demonstrated in sentence 2, prepositional phrases are usually not preceded by commas, especially when they are restrictive in nature and when these phrases are placed at the end of sentences.

1. Due to the rain, the baseball game was canceled.

2. The baseball game was canceled due to the rain.

Coordinating Conjunction: So

In more formal writing situations, coordinating conjunctions link two independent clauses together of equal importance. If the first independent clause is relatively short, it is not mandatory to place a comma before the coordinating conjunction

3. It rained so the baseball game was canceled.

Subordinating Conjunction: Because

Subordinating conjunctions are used to frame support ideas in dependent clauses and are set apart by commas when they are used in the beginning of the sentence as in sentence 4. However, as in sentence 5, dependent clauses are not preceded by commas when they are placed at the end of sentences.

4. Because it rained, the baseball game was canceled.

5. The baseball game was canceled because it rained.

Transition Word: Therefore

A fourth type of connector, transition words are used to join two independent clauses together of equal importance. Sentence 6 illustrates how a period may be placed after the first sentence; “therefore” is used at the beginning of the next sentence and is followed by a comma. Sentence 7 show how a semi-colon may be placed after the first sentence, “therefore” is used at the beginning of the next sentence, and it is then followed by a comma. Sentence 8 demonstrates the flexible word order of how transition words often come directly after the subject and then are preceded and followed by commas.

6. It rained. Therefore, the baseball game was canceled.

7. It rained; therefore, the baseball game was canceled.

8. It rained. The baseball game, therefore, was canceled.

Prepositions, coordinating conjunctions, subordinating conjunctions, and transitions words have different ways of grammatically connecting ideas together, but, as in the case of “due to,” so,” “because,” and “therefore,” they can share the exact same meaning. Since you are trying to show that you can use basic and advanced grammar, practice using a variety of these types of connectors in your speaking and writing. For example, it would be unwise to use “however” several times in the same speaking or writing task when you can also use “despite,” “but,” “although,” and “in contrast,” which is why I suggested that you Google search a list of connectors that you can begin using as you speak and write English.

In addition to using a variety of connectors to link old and new ideas together in your TOEFL speaking and writing tasks, make sure that you choose the appropriate connector that logicaly signals the relationship that you are trying to convey. For example, it would be strange to say, “Although it is hot, I am thirsty.” when you are trying to communicate an expected, not unexpected, cause-effect relationship.

Therefore, it would be more logical to say, “Because it is hot, I am thirsty.” Toward this aim, connectors may express many types of relationships: addition, example, compare, contrast, time, place, direction, summary/conclusion, and cause-effect. It is important that you practice using a variety of connectors in a variety of situations so that you will be able to use these words appropriately as you complete the speaking and writing tasks during the official TOEFL exam.

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The author of this article is verteran TOEFL speaking and writing mentor Michael Buckhoff, who took seven years out of his life to design the Online TOEFL Course “The 7-Step System to Pass the TOEFL iBT.” Since his course has more than 700 vocabulary, pronunciation, grammar, listening, reading, writing, and speaking lessons, or more than 6 months of TOEFL and academic English skill-building instruction, it essentially replaces the need for students to pay for and enter Intensive English Programs, hence saving these tight-budget students 1000’s and 1000’s of dollars.

Buckhoff specializes in helping students score higher than 26 and 24 on the speaking and writing sections of the exam, and, if you decide to enrol in his course, you will be able to send him pronunciation, speaking, and writing practice tests on a daily basis, and he will help you improve your English until you have reached your desired overall and subtotal scores on the TOEFL exam. To learn more about his course, please visit his web site at http://onlinetoeflcourse.com

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