TOEFL Speaking Section: Independent Task Practice

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  • 0:01 Independent Tasks
  • 1:20 The Question
  • 3:00 Reviewing Your Answer
  • 5:38 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Elizabeth Foster

Elizabeth has been involved with tutoring since high school and has a B.A. in Classics.

Looking for some practice with independent speaking tasks on the TOEFL? Look no further: here's a lesson with sample prompts that you can test your skills on!

Independent Tasks

Independent tasks on the TOEFL ask you to go speak on a given topic using only your own opinions and experiences for support. There are two independent tasks on the test:

  • One personal preference task, where you'll have to pick the object you prefer in a given category
  • One choice task, where you'll have to choose one of two options in a given situation

On both of these prompts, there is no 'correct' answer. It doesn't matter which side of the prompt you choose to argue. What matters is your ability to organize your argument, provide relevant supporting points, and do it all in correct English. On each task, you'll have 15 seconds to plan before you talk and then 45 seconds to speak in response to the prompt.

In this lesson, you'll try a sample independent task and then get some tips for evaluating your own response. The lesson will be most helpful to you if you have some kind of recording equipment available to tape yourself with - use the microphone on your phone or computer so you can play back your own response and listen to it. Go set that up now and then come back to start the prompt.

The Question

Okay, do you have your recording equipment all set up? Now you'll hear your first question, and then the video will pause automatically for 15 seconds to let you plan your response.

PROMPT: Some people would rather go to live concerts, but other people prefer to listen to music at home. Which do you like better and why?

Okay, that was the 15 seconds you got to plan. It's not a lot of time, is it? Now you'll have 45 seconds to say your response. Turn on your recording device and start talking now.

Okay, you're done! Stop talking, even if you weren't finished, turn off the microphone, and it's time to review your answer.

Reviewing Your Answer

On their official rubric, the TOEFL graders are looking for three things:

  • Delivery: how fluid and natural your speech sounds
  • Language use: how correct your grammar and syntax is
  • Topic development: how well you answer the question

You aren't graded on which side of the prompt you pick; it doesn't matter at all. So now, let's go through your spoken answer to see how well you stacked up against the categories in the rubric. The prompt for this task was: 'Some people would rather go to live concerts, but other people prefer to listen to music at home. Which do you like better, and why?'

During the first 15 seconds of brainstorming, your job was to pick one side of the question. Again, it doesn't matter at all which side you pick. Just choose one. For the sake of example, we'll argue for listening to music at home. Once you've chosen a side of the argument, you've established what your main point is going to be. Now you need to brainstorm one or two quick reasons to support your position. Some reasons for this question could be:

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