Know thyself.

Sometimes it is very hard to know what’s wrong with you until you get feedback.

Recently I was asked by a student who I didn’t teach on a regular basis why her TOEFL Speaking score was not improving. I asked her for some more information about her way of speaking: how she tries to organize the speech, how much she tries to say, and some others… The answers to all the questions indicated that she should be a perfect speaker of English!

With my 10-odd years of experience, there has been no single exception that didn’t get a good result if all those questions are affirmatively answered.

Just out of curiosity, I decided to allow her to send me an example so that I could give her my feedback. (I know she, or everyone else for that matter, would feel a bit awkward if I asked her to speak right then and there when everyone else was still there in the lobby, trying to listen to us rather attentively!)

As it turned out…

she didn’t develop her idea. I couldn’t exactly understand what she was saying.

Her pronunciation was a major obstacle to prevent me (and raters) from understanding her idea.

and more…

There seemed a lot to improve. It will take a lot of patience and effort until finally she can see herself speaking significantly better. It was just that she knew what a perfect response should be, and she answered my questions based on that ideal response. Seeing you in an objective manner is just so hard.

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