Sandra, knowing that she needed a high TOEFL score so that she could become a nurse in the United States, joined an Online TOEFL Course called “The 7-Step System to Pass the TOEFL iBT.” Yesterday, she completed independent speaking practice test 20. The speaking prompts reads: “Your friend is nervous because he has a job interview tomorrow. What would you advise him to do?” It is interesting to note that this particular speaking prompt was submitted by an online student who saw the question on the actual TOEFL iBT exam.
After Sandra recorded her response online at “The 7-Step System to Pass the TOEFL iBT,” her TOEFL mentor Michael Buckhoff, founder, owner, and materials writer for her TOEFL course, listened to and evaluated her speaking response. He told her that her score was 2.0/4.0 or 15/30 points.
Michael told her that during her speech she had some delivery problems which required extra listener effort to understand her. In particular, Sandra’s speech was characterized as having frequent pauses and hesitations as well as having problems with intonation.
In addition to commenting on Sandra’s delivery, Michael also told her that she had limited control over her grammar and language use. For example, during her speech, Sandra exclusively used simple sentences consisting of one subject and one verb. Unfortunately, she avoided using complex sentences and transition words, two oversights causing unclear connections among some of her ideas. Also, she had difficulties using verb tenses, often using present verbs to talk about past tense actions. Like her grammar limitations, Sandra also was not able to fully express her ideas because she had a knowledge of basic vocabulary.
Finally, when commenting about Sandra’s topic development, Michael had good news. Sandra indeed had organized her ideas beginning with a sharply-focused thesis statement which forecast two pieces of advice that she would give her friend. In addition, Sandra had given specific examples to illustrate her reasons. If only her pronunciation, grammar, and vocabulary had been better, she would have scored much higher on this practice test. Or, better yet, she would have scored much higher on the last practice test that took.
Despite the “what ifs,” Sandra knew that she was in good hands, for, even though Michael told her what her problems were, he also recommended some pronunciation, grammar, and vocabulary lessons in her Online TOEFL Course that would help her improve. There was light at the end of the tunnel for Sandra because she had always been a hard worker. Her problem before taking this course was not that she was not preparing diligently for the TOEFL iBT but that she did not know what her English proficiency weaknesses were or how to solve them.