Truth be told…

When taking on the Speaking Section, especially on the first two questions a.k.a. Familiar topic questions, quite a few test takers assume a strange attitude toward the truth. They suddenly prefer to lie about their preferences and habits. Their common obsession is to display the hypothetical ability to talk more than necessary, saying, “I cannot keep talking until the beep unless I tell a lie or two.”
But just give it a quick thought. If you had an ability to organize a couple of discrete lies into a well-developed story in 15 seconds, I think you would be successful in a different dimension than our legally accepted businesses.
You are given 15 seconds to prepare, and 45 seconds to display your ability. That’s it. This is not a test for an anchor person to take over Matt Lauer. You are not even asked to finish your talk in time (though they will give you a cue).
So be true to yourself. Base your response on the truth. Everyone has enough life experience to share for 45 seconds. Your lies are easily detected. Your response suddenly becomes inconsistent or even contradictory as soon as you start to rely on a false, made-up resume. As is always the case, honesty is the best policy.

When should you start working on the TOEFL?


If you live a normal life in your own language environment, the first time you hear the term TOEFL would be the time you have to seriously start working on the TOEFL. Up until you graduate from university and start your career, English may have come across as nothing more than a school subject. Not now. Now you are a chosen candidate for your company’s next-generation MBA holders. Some business people may be already outstanding in their ability of English, which is why they are selected as such. However, most candidates are not that good at the English language and are selected therefore based on not so much their English ability but their performance and attitude toward work (which should be a better criterion because these MBA holders are supposed to contribute to management in the future, not to teaching English). Although such being the case, if you want to get a head start on your career, achieving a certain TOEFL score can make a big difference. You may not need it now, but will definitely need it by the time you become thirty. It is therefore that college graduates in non English-speaking countries should start working on the TOEFL test as soon as their career starts. If you are exempt from the score or passed over for the opportunity, so be it. But if you have been chosen as a candidate, you cannot turn back the clock any more.

Write or Not To Write?

Every time you work on the integrated writing task, you may wonder whether you should include this particular detail or not.  This is because you well understand that this should be a summary. This section asks you to summarize what you have heard.

However, the definite answer to this question is that you should include it. In fact, you should include as many details and as many examples as possible in your response.

ETS takes the word “summary” differently than we do. As far as the TOEFL is concerned, you are not required to actually write a summary; instead you’re supposed to write everything that you have read in the reading passage and heard from the lecture. This is how you can get a perfect score even if you don’t have enough skill to summarize the story.

So write or not to write? The answer is obvious. That is why a response worth five points is just as long as 280 words to even 300 words, although on your computer screen you will see an ideal response is 150 to 225 words.

If you have nothing else to talk about, create one.

I just posted my latest You Tube video on the importance of making a contrast.

In responding to Q2 of 6 questions of the Speaking Section of the TOEFL, you will end up using this technique. After all, you are asked to compare the two in this question. However, even when responding to Q1, this technique should be utilized to its fullest.

You say,”I would choose to drive to school.” And in 10 seconds, you will give up, saying, “I have nothing to talk about any more! I just drive to school. That’s it! That’s the end of the story! What else do you want?!”

Now, I would like to contend that if you have nothing to talk about, create something to talk about.

That’s when making a contrast works.

As opposed to using public transportation, driving a car is easier. First of all, if you take a bus, you are never sure when the next bus will arrive at the bus stop. …

Nobody asks you to discuss public transportation, but you can, if that’s how you can display your ability to speak.

In the speaking section, you have to display how much you can speak. Otherwise there will be no evaluating your ability. But you have nothing to show your ability with. Now, if you have nothing, you can create something else.

Daily TOEFL 29: And…And…And… vs. (silence)

There are many things you never notice about the way you speak, but I do.

Let me introduce one of them.

One is the use of “and.” Here is part of a sample response to Q3 of 6 in the TOEFL Speaking Section.

The university is announcing a new ban on smoking.

And students will not be allowed to smoke in the dorm.

And if you smoke, you may be punished.

And the woman makes complaints about the new policy.

And she thinks drug problems are much more imminent  …


That’s about it. Obviously, this sample uses too many ands. Its usage is irrelevant. This may be just a habit that the speaker has developed before s/he realizes. However, if you imagine listening to this response, “and” will be haunting you when it is time to judge this response. The effect will be negative.

I can assume that this habit comes from a strong desire of the speaker not to stop speaking. S/he wants to speak, but cannot say anything. That’s when “and” pops up. However, “and” should connect two sentences logically, the former sentence being a reason or an assumption, the latter a result or a conclusion. Or both have a parallel relationship.

I don’t think “and” can work as a filler. I would make a pause if I have to think before speaking. Just a pause of a second or two will not affect your entire speech.