The samples for test 3 and 5 actually feature the new topic style recently introduced by ETS for question 1 – asking you to focus on a negative impression of something (rather than a positive).
The samples for test 3 and 5 actually feature the new topic style recently introduced by ETS for question 1 – asking you to focus on a negative impression of something (rather than a positive).
I have just posted a new TOEFL iBTv tutorial for the speaking section of the test. This one gives an example response for Question 1 on Test 2 (in the TOEFL Speaking Mentor system), breaking the answer into sections and showing you some simple tips and strategies to improve your spoken response.
Hope it gives you some good pointers!
Sorry I haven't posted notifications of new tutorials for TOEFL iBTv here for a while... There are actually three new tutorials there for the speaking section of TOEFL in particular, and the latest one focuses on a simple 5-step process for you to improve your speaking performance fully on your own (no matter which particular question type it is).
Check out the new tutorial here:
All the best to you all,
Posted by Jason Renshaw on February 08, 2010 in iBT Speaking in General, iBT Speaking Qu. 1 (Ind), iBT Speaking Qu. 2 (Ind), iBT Speaking Qu. 3 (Int R-L-S), iBT Speaking Qu. 4 (Int R-L-S), iBT Speaking Qu. 5 (Int L-S), iBT Speaking Qu. 6 (Int L-S), News and General Gossip, Online Practice | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Well, it's been a busy couple of weeks, first with a record number of new subscribers in January (I thought it was going to be a little quieter and I might even get a chance to take a quick break - not to be!).
Second, I've finally finished formatting two new complete speaking tests for the TOEFL Speaking Mentor service. That brings the total number of tests available to FIVE, or more than 30 TOEFL speaking tasks for students to try each week (plus another 80 mega-list topics for the independent question types).
Of course, increasing the volume of tests and questions by such a volume meant I had to increase the subscription price, but - aware that many students are on a tight budget - I created a new type of subscription for people who just want access to all the practice tests, tutorials and bonus topics. It means you need to be willing to practice on your own without direct scoring from me, but the good news is that you can get more speaking material and tips than I've seen on any other site or in any published TOEFL guidebook for only $15 per month.
BUSY BUSY BUSY! But BUSY means HAPPY of course...!
All the best,
One of the genuinely thrilling aspects of the work I do with TOEFL speaking and writing online has to do with the real difference a good TOEFL speaking and/or writing score can make for people's lives.
I see this most commonly with the people I help achieve the (very challenging) scores they need to attain entry into good university programs abroad, but also with professional licenses to practice things like pharmacy and physiotherapy in English-speaking countries (especially the US). A TOEFL speaking score of 26 can mean the barriers to getting an internship and green card are finally overcome. Qualifications of this kind are absolutely life-changing for the students involved, and knowing I played even a small part in that is thrilling and humbling at the same time. There are some examples of what a profound difference this can make here.
However, now and then I get news from students and teachers that makes what I do feel even more special. I got an early Christmas present today in the form of an email from a teacher in Brazil who has been using my TOEFL Speaking Mentor program to help her students there:
Actually, I'm an ESL teacher here in Brazil, and have used your site to help prepare a couple students for their TOEFL tests. I'm proud to share that they earned a 97 and a 100 on their tests- 26 and 23 on the speaking sections, respectively. Just so you know how much deeper your website goes than just helping earn a certain score- the first student, Gustavo, is a surgeon here, who is now able to go to Canada to study in a fellowship there and then return to the Northeast of Brazil as the only lung transplant surgeon in the whole region.... until he does this, many lung patients who cannot travel have no other choice but to succumb to their illnesses. It should be an honor to play a role in such an important development in this country!
I really appreciate the services your website offers, and will definitely be a returning customer in the future. Merry Christmas to you too!
Wow! I've just helped a Brazilian surgeon get the score he needs to study in Canada, so that he can then return and become Northeast Brazil's only lung transplant surgeon! The thought that helping a student like this can actually save lives and make a real difference in the world is - well, it makes me realize what an honor teaching can be as a profession!
My heartfelt congratulations to Gustavo and his dedicated teacher Rebecca, and thank you for giving me such an awesome early Christmas present!
How do you pass the TOEFL and get the speaking and writing scores you need? The answer is clear...
More good news has arrived about people using my TOEFL Mentor services and getting the scores they require for professional licensing purposes!
SHERYL (TOEFL Speaking score 27 and successful visa screening as Physical Therapist!)
JULIANA (TOEFL Speaking score 26 plus overall score of 113 - successful license qualification!)
VENUS (TOEFL Speaking score 26 and Writing score 25 - successful license qualification!)
SARRA (TOEFL Speaking score 26, after trying the test many times and working really hard!)
My very best wishes to these TOEFL Mentor members and all the best for a bright and successful future!
:-) :-) :-)
I was very happy to get this message from one of my TOEFL Writing Mentor students today:
I would like to thank you for your writing techniques. I use your techniques for both sections in writing part and I got 27 from my lastest exam.
Thanks a lot
Fantastic news and I'm really happy to hear it! All the best to you, Sasin!
While it's not strictly TOEFL, my recent video tutorial for TOEIC speaking will give you some good ideas about pace, rhythm and stress when you record answers to test questions online...
Posted by Jason Renshaw on November 07, 2009 in iBT Speaking in General, iBT Speaking Qu. 1 (Ind), iBT Speaking Qu. 2 (Ind), iBT Speaking Qu. 3 (Int R-L-S), iBT Speaking Qu. 4 (Int R-L-S), iBT Speaking Qu. 5 (Int L-S), iBT Speaking Qu. 6 (Int L-S), News and General Gossip, Online Practice | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
The latest TOEFL iBTv tutorial is up on the site, this one with more focus on using EMPHASIS in your spoken response to make you easier to understand and to also ensure the test assessor catches on to the fact that you are covering key information in your response to a particular question.
The examples of emphasis here are framed within an example response to a Question 5 style task from the TOEFL speaking section.
This is the latest in my TOEFL iBTv series, and this tutorial focuses on identifying a series of stages to work through (and how to time them) to both produce a good essay efficiently under time limits, but also to help you discover where you have particular weaknesses so that you can focus on specific stages to improve your overall writing!
Good luck with your TOEFL writing development!
If you're preparing for the TOEFL, you've most probably already found Michael Buckhoff's great Better TOEFL Scores website and collection of materials. If you haven't, then it's about time you checked it out!
Well, we're two of the better-known resources known around the Internet when it comes to improving your TOEFL test performance, so it appeared logical to us to join forces and enhance each other's offerings to TOEFL test takers.
As a result, my TOEFL Speaking and Writing Mentor services have been added to Michael Buckhoff's great S.T.E.A.L.T.H 7-step coursework system for passing the TOEFL!
Check out Michael's announcement here, and I hope you'll go ahead and benefit from the great stuff both Michael and I offer to our TOEFL students.
Hundreds of students are joining, and reporting big improvements in their scores!
If you're preparing for TOEFL Speaking, and haven't joined this service - then you're already falling behind...
Make sure you sign up and give yourself the very best opportunity to get the TOEFL speaking score you need for your future!
Posted by Jason Renshaw on October 29, 2009 in iBT Speaking in General, iBT Speaking Qu. 1 (Ind), iBT Speaking Qu. 2 (Ind), iBT Speaking Qu. 3 (Int R-L-S), iBT Speaking Qu. 4 (Int R-L-S), iBT Speaking Qu. 5 (Int L-S), iBT Speaking Qu. 6 (Int L-S), News and General Gossip, Online Practice, Teaching Activities and Tips for iBT Classrooms | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Well, this (TOEFL speaking question 4) appears to be the question in the speaking section that causes the most grief to test-takers. Hopefully the video tutorial below will help make things a little clearer and more manageable!
For more helpful tutorials like this for TOEFL speaking and writing, make sure you visit my TOEFL iBTv page!
The following questions about TOEFL writing tasks were recently posted over on Erin's Test Magic TOEFL forum:
I am going to take my TOEFL very soon. I am in a fix about the writing. I have some questions about the writing section. Would any expert answer my questions?
1. In case of independent writing, should I take a side? Meaning should I completely agree or disagree? I may debate on the topic. There may have both the sides strong in an issue. And if I discuss both of the sides, and finally conclude that both the sides have merit and on the basis of the factors discussed in the essay, one can't totally say that this one or the other one is better.
2. Should I use idioms and phrases very often? Is it detrimental for the essay if I use more idioms and phrases?
3. In case of integrated writing, should I conclude in my own way?
I've given some quick responses and advice based on these questions - you can read them at this link!
Moving on to some grammar for your independent writing efforts!
The latest TOEFL iBTv tutorial below features a simple lesson on using IF/WHEN in Zero Conditional constructions to help you create general examples related to the general present. (These can then be added to in order to create more specific examples, but they make a good lead in after you've stated a reason and if you want to support it in general everyday terms before getting specific).
There will be a lot more basic grammar tutorials for writing appearing in TOEFL iBTv in future, so make sure you stay tuned!
Well done, Charmaine! A TOEFL Speaking score of 28 and 102 overall for the test!
Another success for TOEFL Speaking Mentor!
All the best,
I noticed recently that my forum for TOEFL gets most of visits (by far actually - 70,000 referrals to date!) from Facebook.
That reminded me that I haven't really done much about a TOEFL presence on Facebook, so I went ahead and created a TOEFL Mentor page there. If you're on Facebook, why don't you become a "fan" and get instant updates on what I'm doing for TOEFL?
To get things rolling, I started a discussion thread there about:
Yet another RISE TOEFL Speaking Mentor success story to make my day!
This email just came to me from another of my students - Danae from Greece:
I just got my TOEFL scores! I got 28 in the speaking section and a total of 115!!
Your tips and tricks were very helpful! I was really worried about the speaking section, but thanks to your advice I became more confident. Your comments on our recordings were very useful to me, because they gave me the opportunity to understand the flaws in our answers and identify my mistakes. Therefore, I could focus on these aspects and try to give more accurate answers.
I have recommended your website to all my friends, it is outstanding!
Thank you very much for the help! :)
Well, you're most welcome Danae! Congratulations on such a fine result - 28 for speaking and 115 overall is an outstanding effort.
Best wishes for a bright future,
Another TOEFL success story - congratulations to Rosemary!
I always get a real thrill when I hear about another student reaching their professional goal in English.
I just got this wonderful news from one of my first TOEFL Speaking Mentor subscribers:
Hi Jason, this is Rosemary, one of the first set of people who subscribed to your Toefl mentor programme. My name in this forum is RANYANWU if you can remember. I took toefl on the 10th of October, and the result was just released today. I made 26 in Speaking. Since I met your website, I knew that I have found an answer to toefl. I had written toefl severally without hope or even knowing what the raters wanted. Thanks a lot Jason. My family and I are very grateful. This is a huge success to me in the ladder of my professional career as a pharmacists here in the U.S. After knowing your website, I incorporated your template in my practice and also used it in the exam. I made good in familiar topic/ fair in campus situation /good in academic based content. I am particularly happy making good in Quest 4& 6 which are the ones I used to be nervous about. It really showed that your templete for integrating in Q4 really works. Thanks a thousand time. I am sure that intending toeflers should not hesitate to consult your site for toefl preparation. Bye.
Wonderful stuff, and my sincerest congratulations to Rosemary!
All the best,
~ Jason Renshaw
I just posted about this issue over on Erin's Test Magic Forum in the TOEFL Speaking section there.
If you're stuck in the 22-24 bracket for TOEFL Speaking and can't work out why your score isn't improving (no matter how much you practice or take the actual test), then you might like to read that post!
All the best,
Here's the next TOEFL iBTv tutorial in the series to do with writing, and this one gives you some simple tips on the basic structure of your integrated writing task response.
Watch and learn, then put it into practice with your own writing!
All the best,
I've just added four new sample topics and model answers to my free TOEFL Speaking Topics page. Find out about:
The topic mega lists available exclusively to TOEFL Speaking Mentor subscribers feature these plus another four example topics and model answers, describing:
There are of course many MANY more topics and example answers available to TOEFL Speaking Mentor subscribers, but these are just some of the latest updates!
Good luck to you all in your TOEFL speaking preparation!
Posted by Jason Renshaw on October 03, 2009 in iBT Speaking in General, iBT Speaking Qu. 1 (Ind), iBT Speaking Qu. 2 (Ind), iBT Speaking Qu. 3 (Int R-L-S), iBT Speaking Qu. 4 (Int R-L-S), iBT Speaking Qu. 5 (Int L-S), iBT Speaking Qu. 6 (Int L-S), News and General Gossip, Online Practice | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
I've just uploaded a new visual tutorial to my free TOEFL iBTv resource section, and this one looks at a simple way to brainstorm and create an outline simultaneously, to help you make a quick and efficient start to your independent essay response:
The great TOEFL iBTv tutorials keep coming, and are updated regularly, so make sure you get over there and see them as often as you can!
Well, it took a while, but finally I've completed and released the brand new TOEFL Writing Mentor service.
You can take a sneak-peek at the service by watching the screencast below:
With 5 complete writing tests (10 writing questions - 5 integrated and 5 independent), 25 professional tutorials, and the chance to submit your writing and get scores from me, it has to be one of the premier TOEFL writing services you'll find anywhere on the Net!
I've also been making some great updates to the existing TOEFL Speaking Mentor service as well!
The available complete speaking tests have been increased from 1 to 3 (meaning 18 practice speaking tasks rather than 6), and I am now checking and scoring all responses to speaking tasks on Tuesday of each week.
I am also in the process of adding more example answers, broken down into sections so test takers can see how much time and what sort of content I dedicate to each 'part' of one response.
So TOEFL Speaking and Writing continue to develop and improve on my site. If you're getting ready for the test and aren't a member yet - you're falling behind!
Well, TOEFL Speaking Mentor has left me completely burned out!
The demand has been overwhelming. The reports back from students who have used TOEFL Speaking Mentor show that people have made fantastic improvements in their scores (with many getting the magical 26 of higher!), but to be honest, I just haven't been able to keep up with the massive demand.
A side effect of this has been regular delays to launching my new TOEFL Writing Mentor service as well. Some new publishing projects landed in my inbox, and suddenly I realized that there just isn't enough time in the week to give so many people 1-1 detailed help and feedback for their speaking and writing production...
So, I'll be taking a short (3-4 week) break from 1-1 TOEFL tutoring services. The plan is to launch TOEFL Writing Mentor (and re-launch TOEFL Speaking Mentor) as different services, very cheap to access, with huge amounts of advice and practice tasks to try.
I'll be back here soon to announce the official changes and new services. Stay tuned!
Yes, yes, I know - I've been pretty quiet around the blog and my online forum, but there's a very good reason for that...
I've been working on my new TOEFL Writing Mentor service, very exciting, very busy, I can assure you!
In any case, you might be interested in some initial video tutorials I've made for that service and uploaded onto YouTube.
You can access them all here:
Skip past the first one if you figure you already know the basics involved with the TOEFL writing section. The second and third deal very specifically with the Integrated Writing task (the one everyone claims to have the most difficulty with!), so go ahead and enjoy!
I've been having fun getting a new online conversation application happening. It's called English iTalk, and focuses on conversational exchange using the superb Voxopop talkgroups application:
This is not TOEFL-oriented at all (which is one of things that makes it so enjoyable to use ~ it's based on real communication and conversation rather than structured and formulaic practice for pre-set academic tasks...), but anyone looking to improve their speaking ability in general would probably find it very beneficial.
Still in experimental/beta mode, of course, but it's showing lots of potential!
Looks like I'll be taking a break from TOEFL for a couple of weeks - I'm in the process of moving with my family from Korea (where I have been living and teaching for the past 10 years of so) back to my home country of Australia. Of course, that's going to keep me far too busy to do anything on the TOEFL front for a while...
Best of luck with all your TOEFL speaking and writing preparations, and see you online again from around mid-March!
I recently referred readers of this blog to Michael's excellent TOEFL blog over at www.bettertoeflscores.com...
Well, in addition to the fact that Michael somehow manages to post something pretty much daily about TOEFL, AND includes cool motivational pictures for you at the start of every post (hey, I like them!), it looks like he is starting up a pretty amazing looking TOEFL iBT newsletter with lots of interesting stuff ready to go into it.
Make sure you get over to his site regularly (or even better, subscribe to his blog) to see the newsletter when it comes out. I'm pretty sure this could be considered compulsory reading for anyone getting ready for the toefl test!
I noticed this TOEFL writing site some time ago, but just recently took a little more time to peruse the site more.
I have to admit - at first I was a bit sceptical, because the site is plugging TOEFL essay corrections for as little as $2.67 (that's if you sign up for 30 essays, though - so do the math and it's still a bit to fork out in one go). I couldn't understand how any quality provider of essay feedback and corrections could so this sort of work for so little (and to be frank - I still don't know how!).
However, some looking around the site revealed a very careful level system and very impressive stash of writing tips, sample topics and example compositions. Even if you're not looking to sign up for pay-for services, this site is a virtual treasure-chest of free writing goodies for you to nibble on.
Yes, a little on the negative side of being a free provider of help/advice and practice TOEFL materials on the Internet...
I used to be a contributor to the mighty Test Magic forums - mainly in the TOEFL section. I noticed that a huge amount of people go there for help and advice, but generally it is just test-takers talking to each other - with little or no feedback, pointers or materials being provided by the Forum owners at all. After about a year (perhaps more) of posting and providing links to places like this blog to get more help and access to free material, I got a couple of rather pompous warnings from the Forum owner (Erin, I think his name is) and had a lot of my posts cut. Basically, he was saying I was doing too much self-promotion...
To be fair, Erin was reasonably nice and straightforward about it, but to my annoyance I saw my posts cut and posts from some other TOEFL teachers or commercial service providers remain - some of them blatant advertisements for pay-for materials or services (or at least heavily linked to such). I only ever mentioned things that were free and open to the general public (which, as a matter of fact, accounts for about 98.5% of the material I have on the Internet!). I also found it a bit off-putting that there are hundreds of posts in that forum linking to ILLEGAL downloads of copied textbooks and CD files. Right - so you don't want posts to free help materials that are completely legit, but you will allow the forum to be a gathering place for mobs of people to obtain illegal materials?
Oh well. Erin is rightly famous for the immense traffic he gets at Test Magic, and his interview with Google Adsense where he talks about how much money he is making from click-thru advertising. Perhaps he sees links out to other forums or blogs as a potential threat to an infinitely minute amount of his potential income or something. I don't know, but I'll happily stay away from there from now on...
On the subject of dodgy rip-off merchants (not Erin or Test Magic, sorry, I'm referring to people who essentially "steal" other people's materials), I noticed a new site recently called Toefl Max.
The person who put this one together has more front than a major department store... Not only is there a page where you can just go in and start downloading pirated versions of every major TOEFL textbook imaginable (wait until the big publishers get on your tail, pal - they really DO take textbook piracy seriously and really do go looking for the pirates - and you've got all that stuff right there with plenty of site information to track you down!), this "respectable" entrepeneur has gone ahead and copied and pasted all the independent speaking questions I put together for questions 1 and 2 - straight into his own site, pretty much claiming them as his own! I've noticed he mentioned that materials for questions 3-6 will appear soon - he's probably trying to figure out how to rip the listening files I've made for these questions on my forum and website (they're pretty well protected in secure Evoca players). I notice this vagrant has not posted my full speaking test there (yet), though (despite the fact I've made the embed code freely available to all site developers who want to feature a full speaking test) - most probably because I've put my name on the thing and featured explicit links back to my own site...
Jeez - if you're going to take my materials, the least you could do is acknowledge where you got them from, and perhaps even do the professional courtesy of providing a link back to the original source. My hours and hours of designing and writing so that you can whack them up on your own page complete with Google ads to start making money...
Yep, I have to admit, it's been one of those days where I wonder why I do what I do with free TOEFL materials and preparation guidelines. Perhaps I really need to join the crowd and shut everything away behind password-protected pages, and start charging people!
Naaaaaah. There are too many good, honest people out there (in legitimate need of a helping hand) who would miss out - right?
I posted an analysis of the speaking section of the TOEFLa while back, including my concerns and criticims about the format and direction of the tasks.
Of course, I'm not alone in finding things wrong with the TOEFL iBT, and I recently read some interesting comments on Alex Case's TEFLtastic blog. It was particularly interesting to read the quotes from an expert from the Humanizing English Teaching movement who tried the test to see what it was like.
Worth a read!
I recently came across a whole stash of free TOEFL test practice materials at this link.
I only really had time to check out some of the speaking tests. The positive is that the creator of this site has managed to very accurately replicate the actual TOEFL test browser format, including the automatic timer function (so it will be good for you in terms of getting a great feel for the actual test experience.
On the negative side, many of the actual recordings for the listening sections come out quite muted and difficult to hear without turning your volume settings up ultra high. Even then, it's distracting because the narration sections are clear and set at a higher volume - so one minute you'll be straining to hear the speakers in a dialogue, and then the narrator will come on and blast your eardrums out! Also, despite the great timing functions, you can't actually record your performance or listen to yourself afterwards.
Still, as I said, it can still be great practice, on account of the close resemblance to the actual TOEFL browser and automatic timing functions. There are also a lot of tests and practice items to go through, including all the other parts of the test (reading, listening and writing as well as speaking).
One note of caution: I don't know how long these materials can/will stay available up on the web. The site maker has not documented where the original materials came from - so there is a good chance they have been burned, copied and uploaded illegally using some other source. Maybe (hopefully) I'm wrong there, but generally speaking I would expect to see rights/copyright asserted if the site owner had made or organized the making of all these materials privately...
Posted by Jason Renshaw on February 09, 2009 in iBT Speaking in General, iBT Speaking Qu. 1 (Ind), iBT Speaking Qu. 2 (Ind), iBT Speaking Qu. 3 (Int R-L-S), iBT Speaking Qu. 4 (Int R-L-S), iBT Speaking Qu. 5 (Int L-S), iBT Speaking Qu. 6 (Int L-S), iBT Writing in General, iBT Writing Qu. 1 (Int R-L-W), iBT Writing Qu. 2 (Ind-Essay), News and General Gossip, Online Practice | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
In addition to this blog and my dedicated forum over at http://global-english.lefora.com , you might like to consider visiting the following blog:
It’s put together and maintained by a guy named Michael Buckhoff, and he certainly seems to know his stuff. He’s also been producing a lot of quite helpful YouTube videos that you may like to watch to help you improve your test performance.
There are a lot of ways you can improve your chances of performing well in the TOEFL speaking section. It depends a lot on your personal learning style, self-discipline, and the time available to you before you take the actual test.
If you aren’t making a lot of progress, it could be time to consider getting a professional tutor to help you.
It isn’t cheap, but it is infinitely less expensive than paying the US$150 to take the TOEFL iBT time after time in the vague hope you’ll get that magical score. I’ve heard from students who took the TOEFL test more than 10 times looking for a specific score of 26 or more in the speaking section. 10 times! That’s US$1500! What was more staggering to me was hearing that some of these same students weren’t willing to pay for a professional tutor or pay for good quality test preparation materials… So, some people are willing to pay more than a thousand dollars to keep taking the test again and again, but not willing to pay less than one hundred dollars to get some professional tuition and some decent materials. Unbelievable! It just doesn’t make sense.
Considering even $100-$200 in top quality tuition could make all the difference in getting the score you need on your next test, you actually stand to SAVE a huge amount of money by not needing to keep take the test.
In any case, I have a speaking tuition program available that can really help you improve your performance – it’s called TOEFL Speaking Mentor and it’s available at this link:
The basic program is available for as little as US$12 per subscription. Doing the math, you could actually practice taking the speaking test 12 times with professional support and feedback for the price it costs you to take one official TOEFL test. Using the PLUS program (at US$27 per subscription), which gives much more detailed feedback and advice, you could still do this sort of practice 5-6 times at the same cost as the official test.
So it’s up to you – harder or smarter!
Posted by Jason Renshaw on January 21, 2009 in iBT Speaking in General, iBT Speaking Qu. 1 (Ind), iBT Speaking Qu. 2 (Ind), iBT Speaking Qu. 3 (Int R-L-S), iBT Speaking Qu. 4 (Int R-L-S), iBT Speaking Qu. 5 (Int L-S), iBT Speaking Qu. 6 (Int L-S), News and General Gossip, Online Practice | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
I've been wondering about this for some time - do TOEFL test takers actually understand what they need to do in order to score well in the speaking section? I started a poll to find out:
Cast your own vote as a test taker, or just take a look at the results. Interesting...
Now you can embed a full iBT speaking test directly into your webpage or blog posting!
Go to this link to find out how:
All the best,
Posted by Jason Renshaw on January 14, 2009 in iBT Speaking in General, iBT Speaking Qu. 1 (Ind), iBT Speaking Qu. 2 (Ind), iBT Speaking Qu. 3 (Int R-L-S), iBT Speaking Qu. 4 (Int R-L-S), iBT Speaking Qu. 5 (Int L-S), iBT Speaking Qu. 6 (Int L-S), News and General Gossip, Online Practice, Teaching Activities and Tips for iBT Classrooms | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
I've just completed a brand new iBT TOEFL speaking test, fully browser-based, with all-new question items covering all 6 parts of the speaking test. (Please note: this is a new test and different to the full test referenced in this blog earlier)
You can access it at this link:
So there's some more free practice for test-takers to take advantage of!
All the best,
Posted by Jason Renshaw on January 08, 2009 in iBT Speaking in General, iBT Speaking Qu. 1 (Ind), iBT Speaking Qu. 2 (Ind), iBT Speaking Qu. 3 (Int R-L-S), iBT Speaking Qu. 4 (Int R-L-S), iBT Speaking Qu. 5 (Int L-S), iBT Speaking Qu. 6 (Int L-S), News and General Gossip, Online Practice | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Now you can try a full TOEFL speaking practice test entirely for free, record your answers online, and compare them to the hundreds of example answers already submitted:
Posted by Jason Renshaw on January 02, 2009 in iBT Speaking in General, iBT Speaking Qu. 1 (Ind), iBT Speaking Qu. 2 (Ind), iBT Speaking Qu. 3 (Int R-L-S), iBT Speaking Qu. 4 (Int R-L-S), iBT Speaking Qu. 5 (Int L-S), iBT Speaking Qu. 6 (Int L-S), News and General Gossip, Online Practice | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
You can access 40 new practice questions for part 2 of the speaking section (independent paired choice) at this link:
Best of luck,
Practice your essay writing and perhaps even walk away with some prize money for your efforts!
Entry into the competition is free, and there is a total of US$175 in prize money up for grabs. Use the money to help offset the cost of your next test, buy some new test prep books, or take your friends out for dinner to apologize for being so grumpy while you've been pulling your hair out trying to prepare for the test. It's up to you!
The competition is designed, moderated, rated and guaranteed by Jason D. Renshaw, a major author with Pearson Longman with more than 20 international textbooks to his credit.
So enter your response to the specific essay topic listed there - you have everything to gain and nothing to lose! Entries must be submitted before Friday, September 26 to be considered for the competition.
~ Jason Renshaw
I'm happy to say that finally (FINALLY!) I have found the time to re-record the TOEFL iBT Speaking Tips and Tricks that were featured previously on this blog and on the main OnlinEnglish site - the ones that disappeared into the Internet ether when the audio players went cuckoo and wouldn't function anymore...
You can find the new versions at this link: http://www.english-itutor.com/TOEFL_iBT.html
As per the previous versions, the tips and explanations cover all six of the TOEFL iBT speaking questions, but now they are recorded in video lecture format, and they are easier to navigate, with supporting summarized points in written form.
I hope they prove helpful to you!
Posted by Jason Renshaw on July 29, 2008 in iBT Speaking in General, iBT Speaking Qu. 1 (Ind), iBT Speaking Qu. 2 (Ind), iBT Speaking Qu. 3 (Int R-L-S), iBT Speaking Qu. 4 (Int R-L-S), iBT Speaking Qu. 5 (Int L-S), iBT Speaking Qu. 6 (Int L-S), News and General Gossip | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
Just a quick update: I've done a little editing over at www.onlinEnglish.net, and now it is possible to access special live video rooms for EACH of the iBT TOEFL speaking tasks on our free sample test. You don't need any software, special memberships, sign-ins or downloads - the live video rooms are available directly in your Internet browser, and linked up to each iBT TOEFL speaking task page. You'll need a web-cam, of course, as well as a microphone, but it's super easy to use.
This is great if you want to meet up with other iBT TOEFL test takers and do some live practice and exchange.
Good luck with it!
Posted by Jason Renshaw on May 13, 2008 in iBT Speaking in General, iBT Speaking Qu. 1 (Ind), iBT Speaking Qu. 2 (Ind), iBT Speaking Qu. 3 (Int R-L-S), iBT Speaking Qu. 4 (Int R-L-S), iBT Speaking Qu. 5 (Int L-S), iBT Speaking Qu. 6 (Int L-S), News and General Gossip, Online Practice | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
I've noticed an abundance of talk and chat sites strewn about the Internet, but I haven't really been able to find one that didn't involve some sort of membership sign up and/or complicated download procedure. I thought I'd do something about it, and the result is: GET English!
GET stands for Global English Talk, and it's the newest addition to our OnlinEnglish Network. It's actually extremely simple and consists of two options - Live Audio Talk or Live Text Chat.
Live Audio Talk is a simple speaking applet loaded directly into the webpage. No membership requirements and no complicated downloads (though your computer will need to be Flash-enabled). The speaking applet comprises a live online space where up to 20 people can gather and speak live using a computer mic. We've even created two rooms based on level, in case people feel they are more suited to basic/beginner level live talking or something more advanced and challenging. And just in case people fear they won't have anything to talk about, we've provided a direct link on the pages to the latest Reuter's Video News homepage, where visitors can access all sorts of current news articles!
Live Text Chat, on the other hand, is for people who either don't have access to a headset/mic, and/or prefer the good old text chatting format for interaction. It can in fact be a less intimidating way of interacting with others over the Internet, and in addition to giving you time to think and edit what you say provides good practice with live writing/typing skills. As with Live Audio Talk, we've divided it into two levels and added the Reuter's Video Link there.
This is all 100% free, 100% accessible, and 100% easy and quick to use. So if you're really wanting to practice your English skills live online, there's no excuse now really, is there...?
To all the people who stop by this blog (and especially those who contact me with comments and ideas), I'd like to wish you a very hearty
HAPPY NEW YEAR !!!
I hope 2008 brings you all the success you desire and deserve!
I've just completed a big sweep of updates for our site www.onlinEnglish.net. It's got a new look and several upgrades added. You might like to check it out, especially the new iBT speaking self-trainer tasks.
I also just plowed through about 50 iBT independent essays we had sitting in our free test forum. They all now have scores and feedback, so if you were one of the people who submitted an essay and were waiting for someone to look at it, you might like to pop over to the site and take a look:
Here's to a great 2008!
We've finally loaded up our first free TOEIC test, this one focusing specifically on the new writing section that has recently been added to the test (though I believe it is still an optional section to take).
We enjoyed making this test, and think as online tests go it has a fair bit going for it.
You can type in responses to the test and get some scores and feedback from our expert tutors.
And our first free online speaking version is not far away either!
Over the many years I have been preparing students (and other teachers) for the TOEFL, there is a single simple framework that I have constantly returned to – and one that has generated the most success when it comes to taking the test and getting a good score as a minimum and potentially a perfect score if things go a test-taker’s way on the day.
I have to point out here that I have prepared students for the TOEFL at various levels of proficiency and “readiness”, and as a busy teacher and writer I’ve needed a grounding framework that can work at multiple levels. My formula has worked with a student who achieved a perfect 300 on the CBT, and it has worked with teenagers who on the writing portion of the CBT went from consistent 2s and 3s out of 6 for the essay to a minimum of 4 out of 6. The formula, albeit slightly adapted in some specific cases, has transferred excellently to the iBT version, complete with another writing task and 6 new speaking tasks. In fact, when I first began to seriously analyze the questions added for the iBT I honestly thought this formula was a very high instinctive priority in the test makers and raters as well as they went about designing and launching the speaking and writing portions of the new test. If true, it is no coincidence. That’s because this basic formula could be considered fundamental to a wide variety of academic/ formal/ professional presentations, whether they are written or spoken in nature.
Well, after all that build up, I am happy to say this formula is neither complicated nor foreign-feeling. It’s simple, and it’s something most students and test-takers already now something about.
It is: I-B-C.
Or in full form: Introduction-Body-Conclusion
Perhaps you’ve just let out a sigh of disappointment, wondering how I could possibly quote such a simple, well-known formula and make it out to be so profound.
The truth of the matter is that many test-takers (and even many of the teachers who prepare them, for that matter) take the test and come up with an ordinary score because in many (or even most) cases, people feel they know the ingredients in this formula and how to apply them well – when in fact they don’t.
What the TOEFL demands and watches very carefully for is an ability to understand and stay on topic (first and foremost), to be able to back that up in thoughtful detail, the ability to do so in clearly organized and cohesive fashion, and a capacity to take all of this somewhere (hopefully) to create a final position or state. The I-B-C model is a great way to ensure that happens, but until you can get it right you are pretty much praying to the ETS gods for good fortune and a lucky break.
Basically, if you can introduce content (or a response to content) in a framing and original way that makes a clear topic or case, then present a body of clearly organized information supporting and extending that original topic, then wrap up the overall production in a clear and original way, tying together the various well-organized on-topic threads and leaving the reader or listener with a concluding thought, then you have the essential formula for handling almost all of the productive tasks on the TOEFL, AND the potential to score highly on them.
Let me take you through the various TOEFL writing and speaking tasks so you can see what I mean. I’ll start with the writing tasks – (1) because I believe this is the format we’re all most familiar with when it comes to the I-B-C principles, and (2) because I honestly believe most of the academic speaking tasks for the test were designed based on what was familiar and consistently applied in the pre-existing writing section.
Independent Essay (iBT TOEFL Writing Task 2)
Introduce a topic and show some awareness about it. State a clear thesis or guiding idea for your essay. Refer broadly to the sub-topic ideas you will be addressing in the body of the essay, as an initial rationale for the thesis/guiding idea you have asserted. The introduction is absolutely crucial for immediately demonstrating to a test rater that you understand the topic and task, and that you are on track (“on topic”) from the very outset.
This is the “meat” of the essay, where all the nitty-gritties are presented, explained, rationalized and/or exemplified. Given the scope of detail to be expressed here, staying true to the main topic, clearly organizing sub-ideas, and expressing details with good advanced appropriate language – all of these factors are so important. The body is often the place where writers slip and demonstrate either a vague or deficient understanding of the topic. You’ll need 2-3 paragraphs here, corresponding to the broad sub-topic ideas you mentioned in the introduction with a nice clear topic sentence for each. In fact, the I-B-C model becomes relevant to each body paragraph. You introduce the sub-topic or idea in a topic sentence, followed up with a mini-body of details, reasons and examples, and tie the paragraph up in a well-rounded conclusive way. Make sure all your supporting details correspond clearly with the sub-topic in the topic sentence, and if that in turn corresponds with the thesis/guiding idea in your introduction, then your challenge is with good written expression and the chances or wandering away from your main idea are somewhat reduced.
The conclusion wraps up the essay, rather like the curtain-call of a concert or play. It needs to re-state the thesis and main ideas from the body, but in a new and/or refreshing way. The best quote I’ve heard about conclusions is to “make sure they contain the essential information and impressions you want your readers to walk away from the essay with.” To that I would add that it is important to do this without sounding like you’re simply repeating yourself. Whereas the skill with the main topic in the introduction was to get it our clearly and succinctly, and in the body it was to deal with the topic in a very comprehensive and well structured way, here in the conclusion I believe the skill is about talking about the topic and thesis in a united and authoritative way, and leaving the reader with a lasting impression of it.
The independent essay is the single longest piece of production you will put together on the entire TOEFL test, so it is necessarily the part where understanding and applying the I-B-C formula is most complicated and yet crucial. But if you can get it right here, applying the formula to other writing and speaking tasks actually becomes easier. Given the production in these other parts is much shorter and less complex, we can strip the I-B-C formula back to some essential basics and reapply it.
Integrated Essay (iBT TOEFL Writing Task 1)
Compared to the independent essay, this is a bit of a different beast. In terms of style and content, it does need to be approached differently. This is a reporting and (to some extent) critical awareness task, probing not only your writing ability but essentially making it dependent on your reading and listening skills and demanding the capacity to show you can integrate the content of the two sources in a unified way. However, if I can assume for now that you have managed to handle most of the input from the sources, the key skill of presenting this in good writing still very much benefits from our basic I-B-C formula.
As I mentioned earlier, we can scale back our I-B-C model compared to the way we applied it in the independent task, because (1) we have less time to write (20 minutes only), and (2) less volume of detail and very little in the way of personal opinion is expected by the test raters. The ETS guides say this can be a mini-essay or just one extended paragraph. I think from the outset I would recommend a three-paragraph approach with a very short introduction and conclusion, with the bulk of the writing in the body. Raters in a rush who quickly scan your writing will then in that single eye-blink get an impression of a well-organized writer who makes a clear assessment at the start of the writing and backs it up with lots of detail in the middle, before rounding it off in a nicely conclusive fashion.
If you have some talent and can produce a lot of writing fast, you may even still want a 4-5 paragraph approach, with each body paragraph exploring a key issue or idea. That is in fact a good way to write this kind of essay, because towards the end it will show you how many ideas you’ve managed to cover and in what degree of detail. You can always pull the sections back together again to create one large body paragraph, or even for that matter pull everything together for one single paragraph overall. In either case (pulling the pieces together into one longer paragraph), I recommend doing so if you haven’t managed to cover a whole lot in each discrete idea-section, and it is a good idea to use appropriate transitions and cohesive devices to create a feeling of flow from one main point to the next.
In any case, an I-B-C approach to the integrated task (especially as a general writing process) will get a feeling of how much content you’ve managed to address and how well you’ve organized and expressed it.
Introduce the topic represented by both of the input sources, and state in a nutshell how the two sources relate to each other (it will almost always be a case of one source contradicting or challenging the other, or agreeing with, exemplifying or extending it). You would want two, but no more than three sentences in this part.
Again, this is the “meat” of the essay, where all the nitty-gritties are presented, explained, rationalized and/or exemplified. If your introduction was on track, you’ve stated the broad topic and explained generally how the two sources work with each other. Therefore, this is the place to show that relationship in some detail. Another way of putting it is that you’ve already stated we have a hamburger with an overall mix of ingredients in the middle/core that either complement or clash with each other. Well, here is where you describe that mix of ingredients. Explain each key idea from one source, with the relevant detail you managed to pick up, then compare/contrast it with what the other source has to say. I would go so far as to say there will be at least three key ideas for you to demonstrate and explain here, involving both of the inputs for each one. However, the main thing to remember is sticking to and reporting the details, and expressing the relationship between the sources using appropriate devices and expression. Your opinion should not be expressed here at all – it’s all about reporting and unifying what you’ve read and heard.
You can add a concluding sentence for this task. Even though the official TOEFL guides usually say it’s not necessary, if you can do so in a simplified and non-opinionated way I think it is a great way to sum up what has been reported and to show again that you have understood what was essentially going on in the mix of the two input sources. As long as you don’t simply repeat your introduction and can state something overall in a concise way, it can’t hurt you to include a concluding statement and may even benefit you.
So there you have it – my views on how a simple I-B-C formula relates to handling the writing tasks on the iBT TOEFL. Very soon I’ll be back with Part 2 of this posting, and there we will move on to see how I-B-C benefits answering each of the iBT speaking tasks!