Hello TOEFL IBT exam student! Welcome to Our English Success. If you’re anything like our other students, then you’ve come here because you’re sick and tired of not being able to reach your goals in TOEFL IBT and are ready for success.
- have taken the exam maybe 5 or 6 times and still couldn’t get the high speaking score that will enable you to start your new career or pursue new educational opportunities.
- feel very upset and frustrated.
- want to improve your speaking score but you don’t know how. You can’t identify the obstacles by yourself.
Does any of this sound familiar?
“I’m excited for you. After all these failures, you have the mindset to be successful just by a little support. Let’s finish the struggle for once and all!”
Just relax and keep reading. What you need is a TOEFL- IBT exam coach to provide guidance in helping understand and overcome your weaknesses. I’ve helped many students achieve their desired scores.
LET’S START WITH THE BASICS:
- You get 23-24 when you make a variety of errors in grammar, accent, vocabulary, time management or if you pause very often and have trouble thinking quickly.
- You get 26+ when you sound like a native speaker at TOEFL IBT.
- Your grammar, vocabulary, fluency or your accent need to be at “nearly-native speaker level”.
“Yes, but I have an advanced grammar. I speak fluently with few grammar mistakes. Using variety of vocabulary is not a problem for me. I know the topic development for the speaking tasks and I talk very coherently. Why can’t I still get a speaking score of 26?”
Let’s Start First by How Speaking Responses Are Scored:
Your responses will be scored holistically. This means that raters listen for various features in your response and assign a single score based on the overall skill you display in your answer. Although scoring criteria vary somewhat depending on the question, the raters generally will be listening for the following features in your answer:
- Delivery: How clear and fluid your speech is, including good pronunciation, natural pacing, and natural-sounding intonation patterns.
- Language Use: How effectively you use grammar and vocabulary to convey your ideas.
After working with many students who feel stuck, I can confidently say that most of the second language learners are not aware of the components of the natural speech: Stress Patterns, Intonation, Linking and Weak sounds and how their native language affects their speaking habits in English.
WHAT YOU NEED TO FOCUS ON IS A NATURAL-SOUNDING, CLEAR ENGLISH AND GOOD PRONUNCIATION!
1- LINKING SOUNDS:
One of the reasons that people get an advanced speaking score of 26 or higher is because they have a very neutral accent. One way to do this is with the pronunciation feature called “linking sounds.”
- Learning the rules of connected speech will help you speak better and understand better when you listen to native English Speakers. When native speakers speak, they connect words in such a way that there is no space between words. Linking is connecting sounds like links in a chain.
- Linking creates the smooth, uninterrupted sounds that are the key to natural, fluent sounding speech.
- Sometimes students think that native speakers speak too fast. But speed is not the problem. The problem is not understanding the linking between sounds.
- When non-native speakers of English speak, they say each word separately to sound clear, but they end up sounding unnatural and mechanical.
The good news is that you can learn the rules of how words are connected together!
2- INTONATION PATTERNS
Intonation patterns can be defined as the music of the language. The rise and fall of the voice in speaking. The rhythm and style for a language.
When second language learners start learning English, many continue their native language intonation patterns and apply those patterns to English. By doing so, their English sounds unnatural.
3- SENTENCE STRESS
Sentence stress is about emphasizing a particular word or (words) within a sentence.
1) Content Words > Stressed
- Nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs and sometimes question words like “when” “why” “where”.
2) Function Words > Weak
- in, on, at, from
- a, an, the,
4- WORD STRESS
Learn rules of stressing words within a sentence. If you stress the right words, your speech will have a natural rhythm and melody that’s common with native speakers.
- Parking lot
- good book
- great friend
5- SYLLABLE STRESS
A syllable is a small unit of speech that consists of a vowel, or a vowel and one or more consonants.
Stressing the wrong syllable sometimes creates a misunderstanding because people think you are pronouncing a completely different word.
- Decade – 10 years (note the letter “e” is soft in this word)
- Decayed – become rotten or ruined (note the letter “e” is hard in this word)
6- WEAK SOUNDS
When a word is reduced, we use the “weak form” of the word.
The weak form is said more quickly and more softly. The vowel becomes the schwa (Ə) sound, / Ə /.
- to becomes: / t Ə / … I need to talk to you.
- and becomes: / n / … black “n” white.
- for becomes: / f Ə r / … Let’s go for a walk.
- a becomes: / Ə / … I heard a noise.
7- ELISION OF “H”
Elision of the letter “H”
The letter “h” is often silent for pronouns like he, him, his, her, during the fluid native-like conversation.
- I love her (here, the “h” becomes silent)
- Tell him I’ll meet with the boss soon.
- Did he go to work today?
- That’s hers but you can use it too.
- You’ll find his dog across the street.
When you are not aware of the components of the natural speech listed above, you sound very unnatural and your speech doesn’t flow smoothly with the rhythm of English. This makes it hard to understand, creating problems for the listeners.
The listeners struggle to understand you and you become frustrated.
Don’t feel discouraged and hopeless if all of this information overwhelms you, I have a solution:
HERE IS HOW I FIX THIS PROBLEM:
- First, I ask my students to record the 6 speaking tasks.
- I listen to the recordings many times and diagnose the problems that prevent them from getting high scores in speaking. I create a very systematic, personalized plan to fix the problems with consistent practice, drills, and feedback for each of my students.
- My students work hard for weeks doing homework and assignments with TOEFL-style sentences and tasks.
HERE IS THE CHANGE YOU WILL EXPERIENCE IN YOUR SPEAKING:
- First, you will be aware of what is preventing you from getting your desired score in English pronunciation and accent. It is important for you to identify your weaknesses and deliberately work on improving those specific skills every day. It might be your native tongue habits or it might be not knowing the English language accent and pronunciation features.
- With practice, you will start noticing and hearing the patterns, stress, linking and weak sounds in the listening audios by learning how native speakers really speak.
- You will practice 6 speaking tasks with the right intonation, pronunciation, stress patterns, linking and weak sounds. I will frequently ask you to record audio for feedback. You will master each skill until it becomes automatic.
- With consistent practice and feedback from me, you will start to sound more natural and clear as the days go by.
- Feelings of frustration and sadness will transform into more confidence and joy in speaking the English language.
If you want to guarantee a high speaking score, you must sound almost like a native. This means you must speak naturally and clearly.
In language acquisition, there is no shortcut to success. There is only focused and targeted practice overtime.
We learn everything better when we review them. It is critical that you review what you learned. Repetition will help you improve your score.
It seems like a lot of work but the good news is that at the end, you will pass the exam and will have great English language skills with a minimal accent for the rest of your life in the US. Please be patient with yourself.
You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more personalized private lessons.
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