Listen to this post and see some “bonus content: toefl_ibt_and_natural_speechOne of my S.T.E.A.L.T.H. students pointed out that the TOEFL iBT reading and listening passages follow cookie-cutter templates; that is, the organization of the passages is predictable. The student, upon beginning his university studies at an American university, pointed out that actual textbooks and university passages are much more complex than that.
In one of my listening blog posts, I commented that the speakers in the listening passages of the TOEFL iBT use pronunciation that is too clear and does not resemble actual native-speaker English. While this is true, I should still give some credit to Educational Testing Service and the TOEFL iBT because the researchers have made an attempt to use more natural speech on the test. What does natural speech entail?
Well, speakers will interrupt themselves while speaking, they may hesitate or stutter, they may use conversation fillers such as um, uh, well, and you know, and they may even repeat the same words or use different words. Of course, the main goal for you is to not let these characteristics of natural speech affect your listening comprehension.
Finally, be careful of a common listening TOEFL trap. For example, in my listening TOEFL iBT preparation class, students were listening to a conversation between a student and a staff worker in the admissions office. The student was there to purchase a parking decal for her car. The worker said the following statement: “You need to place the parking decal on the left side of the inside part of your windshield. Wait a minute! Did I say the left side? I meant the right side. You need to place the parking decal on the right side of the inside part of your windshield.” Of course, one of the questions after this conversation was, “Where should be parking decal be placed?”
A teaching point in my Online TOEFL Course, natural speech is something that you should get used to. It is important for you to have regular exposure to listening materials that use natural speech so that your ears can get used to natural speech.
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