TOEFL Writing

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Today’s lesson is for those of you who will be taking the TOEFL test. And, as usual, when I do a lesson about the English tests, I will speak at a more natural pace, a little bit faster than usual. If you’re a beginner, don’t worry, you can still listen and still practice your listening skills, and get some vocabulary from the lesson. But it will be a little bit faster, perhaps a little bit more difficult. Let’s begin.

So, we’re looking at the TOEFL task 1, the essay writing section. This is the integrated task. I’ll put it this way. Now, what does that mean by “integrated”? It means they’re giving you… Giving you a reading section, they’re giving you a listening section, and they’re wanting you to write. So you’re practicing three skills in one task. Okay? Not easy, but not that difficult if you practice it. So I’m going to give you four tips on how to approach this section of the test.

Now, for those of you who have done the practice test, or have taken an actual TOEFL test, or are preparing for one, you know that what will happen is you will be given a reading section-okay?-you will be given three minutes to read it and prepare whatever notes you need, then… This will be on the computer screen. Then it will disappear, then you will hear a lecture that is related somehow to what you read. That will go on for about a minute or two, and then it will stop. Then, you will be given the question. Basically, the question is going to tell you how to relate the listening to the reading. Okay? It is crucial that you take notes, both for the reading and the listening. You can’t try to keep all of this in your head. It will not help you when you… When you have to start writing. You will have 20 minutes to write. You should aim for about 200 words, let’s say. That should be enough to convey all of the information that they’re asking. What you have to remember is right away, they’re…

You’re going to have to do one of two things. You’re either going to have to counter. You have to show how the listening, the lecture counters or goes against what was written in the passage, or how the listening supports what was written in the passage. Okay? It’s going to be one of those two things. So, as soon as the listening starts, you have to understand right away: Are you going to be countering? Are you going to be supporting? You don’t need to wait for the question. It should be very obvious to you, as soon as the lecturer starts to give the lecture: What is he doing, or what is she doing? Is she going against the reading, or is she giving support to the reading? Or is she giving information that draws on information from here that they work together? So counter or support, identify it right away, and then you know how to set up your notes.