David Recine at Magoosh wrote an article titled “Getting Feedback on your TOEFL Speaking” on August 3, 2015. I would like to respond to what he said by adding some additional insights that students should be aware of so that they know what their options are when it comes to improving their speaking proficiency.
According to Recine, Magoosh does not offer the service of having their online students complete and get scores on the independent or integrated speaking practice tests. Magoosh is a small company, Recines explains, that is too busy to be able to listen to and score speaking responses from the students enrolled in their test preparation course. Getting writing evaluated is a lot easier than receiving, playing, and commenting on voice files, according to Recine, because it is too complex to show students how their pronunciation should change when TOEFL raters are making written replies.
Therefore, Recine recommends some options that students can choose such as ETS’s Speech-rater, Myngle, iTalki, InstaEDU, and Wazant as being good sources of getting online TOEFL speaking feedback. Furthermore, Recine tells students that they should be getting feedback from TOEFL tutors who have the experience to be able to provide the appropriate comments.
Magoosh has a misconception, put forth by Recine, that it is too complicated to deliver speaking feedback, and that it must be done is writing. However, students can easily complete an independent or integrated speaking practice test at an Online TOEFL Course and upload it to the web site or simply e-mail it to the TOEFL iBT specialist as an audio file. In addition, when the iBT speaking specialist scores the practice tests and provides comments relating to delivery, language-use, and topic development, s/he can do this by giving the students’ audio or video comments. These types of audio or video comments are not time consuming at all, as Recine seems to believe. In fact, when I listen to and respond to speaking practice tests that my students submit, I can listen to, evaluate, score, and even recommend specific lessons to help my students improve their delivery, language use, and topic development in about 3-6 minutes of audio.
Recine at Magoosh presuppposes that the best type of feedback is from an experienced ESL tutor who meets in person or online with the TOEFL speaking student. Unfortunately, these tutors can charge up to $100 an hour, so the price range is out of the budget of many international students. Moreover, this notion ignores the possibility of a web site like mine in which my students complete speaking practice tests, email them to me, and, about 24 hours later, I provide 3-6 minutes of audio feedback after every practice test that my students submit. I never meet with my students in person or online, which is how I can keep the costs of my service comparable to Magoosh’s, which does not provide any speaking or writing feedback. These students simply follow the steps in my Online TOEFL Course and then send me speaking and writing practice tests when they want them listened to, read, and scored by a TOEFL speaking or writing specialist. It is a simple process really, and students can get the appropriate feedback they need without having to pay the extraordinary prices that in person or online tutors charge.
The author of this article is Michael Buckhoff, who currently teaches full-time at California State University, San Bernardino for the English Department and under the auspices of the College of Extended Learning. In addition, Buckhoff specializes in helping students improve their academic English proficiency through his patented “The 7-Step System to Pass the TOEFL iBT,” an online TOEFL course offering 700 vocabulary, pronunciation, grammar, listening, reading, writing, and speaking lessons. Unique to this course are students’ opportunities to complete up to 30 speaking and 30 writing practice tests monthly and to get qualified audio and written feedback about 24 hours later after having completed these speaking and writing tasks. Students in this course never have to meet face to face or online with a TOEFL tutor so they have the flexibility of when, where, and how they study their TOEFL lessons.