TOEFL Clear Speech Tips

Having TOEFL clear speech is explicitly mentioned in the delivery aspect of the rubric. Taking a deeper look at the TOEFL rubric reveals specifically what you need to do in order to have clear speech.

TOEFL Independent Speaking Rubric

TOEFL clear speech

Being highly intelligible and having well-paced flow are two areas mentioned. In addition, the rubric explains that you must have clear speech. If you have some minor problems with pronunciation or intonation, you will be able to score 4.0–as long as your pronunciation problems do not affect your overall intelligibility.

TOEFL clear speech: Being highly intelligible

Having highly intelligible speech means it is easy for others to understand what you are saying.

Example of highly intelligible speech

This speaker has some language-use problems and some problems with pacing. However, it is quite easy to understand what she is saying.

Example of somewhat intelligible speech

Unlike the first speaker, you need to really pay attention in order to understand what he is saying. In addition, he has vocabulary and grammar limitations that make it hard for him to fully express his ideas.

TOEFL clear speech: Having a well-paced flow

Having a well-paced flow means you do not have too many awkward pauses and hesitations.

Example of well-paced, even flow

In this response, the speaker has a fairly well-paced flow to his ideas. This speaker achieves good pacing because he is pausing after  every 4-5 stressed words.

Example of uneven flow

Unlike the first speaker, this speaker pauses after every 1-2 stress words. As a result, her pacing is choppy and fragmented.

TOEFL clear speech: Minor problems with pronunciation

When ETS mentions pronunciation, they are referring to how you are pronouncing the sounds in the words that you speak. If you mispronounce certain words to the extent that others cannot understand, you are having major, not minor, problems with pronunciation.

Minor problems with pronunciation

Even though this student has some intonation issues, these are minor problems. Hence, it is not difficult to understand what the student is saying.

Major problems with pronunciation

In several instances in this response, it is difficult to understand what the student is saying.  Aside from having pacing and intonation problems, the student is having problems pronouncing the sounds and syllables of certain words.

TOEFL clear speech: Minor problems with intonation

Intonation involves using higher, neutral, and lower inflections on different parts of sentences that you speak. Your goal is to vary your tone so that you sound more natural.

Minor problems with intonation

In this response, the speaker varies his intonation so that he sounds natural.

Major problems with intonation

In contrast to the first response, this speaker does NOT vary his tone very much. Instead, he uses an unnatural monotone. In addition, his pacing is awkward without enough natural breaks in his speech.

TOEFL Clear Speech Service

With 31 years of teaching experience, I am ready to help you reduce your non-native speaker accent so that you can reach your dream score of 26+ on TOEFL speaking. Enrolling in this service offers you several benefits:

1 hour Skype lesson in which you complete a diagnostic pre-test for vowel and consonant sounds

1 hour Skype lesson in which you complete a diagnostic pre-test for syllable division and grammatical word endings, word stress, sentence rhythm, intonation, and thought groups and blending

1 hour Skype lesson, including a post test to measure your progress

Weekly audio feedback correcting your pronunciation as you complete the recommended skill-building, accent reducing pronunciation lessons based on your pre-tests and post-test

Complete, unlimited access to “The 7-Step System to Pass the TOEFL iBT,” which includes more than 700 vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation (i.e., 58 skill-building video lessons), listening, reading, writing, and speaking lessons for 12 weeks

Certification of completion, including a letter or recommendation explaining your intelligibility proficiency from 1-7.

Once you make your payment, you will be enrolled in TOEFL Clear Speech for 12 weeks.

  • You MUST complete this course within the twelve week period.
  • You will not be allowed to complete Skype lessons or to send me pronunciation practice after the twelve week period has expired.
Michael Buckhoff,

Teaching Experience and Qualifications


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