The TOEFL iBT® Test: Improving Your Speaking Skills

Advice for Speaking
Skill: Speaking about Familiar Topics
Performance Level: Fair
Score Range: 18–25

  1. Look for opportunities to speak to native speakers of English. Interaction with others will help improve your speaking ability.
    • Find a speaking partner. Set aside time each week to practice speaking to each other in English.
    • If you can't find a native English speaker, find a friend who wants to practice speaking English and promise to speak only English for a certain period of time.
  2. Practice speaking for a limited time on different topics without a lot of preparation. Time your responses to questions.
    • Make a list of some general speaking topics
      • people persons you admire
      • places you enjoy visiting
      • things you enjoy doing
      Think of a specific example for each topic (a parent, the market, reading books) and talk about each for one minute.
    • Select one of the topics above and write down three verbs and three adjectives relevant to the topic. Try to use the words as you speak.
  3. Concentrate on speaking clearly with good pronunciation and intonation. Speak with confidence and open your mouth more widely than you normally do.
    • It is difficult to understand you if you speak word by word. Try to speak in "thought groups."
    • Take a reading passage and mark the thought groups first. Then read it aloud paying close attention to these groups of words and ideas.
    • Get a book on tape or get a transcript from a news report, interview or play.
      • Listen to the performance and mark the pauses, stress and intonation on the transcript.
      • Then read the transcript and try to imitate the pauses, stress and intonation patterns.
  4. Use books that come with audio recordings to study pronunciation, stress and intonation in English.