Advice for TOEFL Speaking Task #2

Speaking Task #2 Questions ask you to give your opinion about a certain topic.


In your response, AVOID saying "The first reason is because..." or "The second reason is because..." or "There are two reasons to support my opinion."



For example the question reads:


Some people prefer to spend a lot of money on vacation so that they can do something special. Others prefer to spend very little money on vacation. Which do you prefer and why? Give reasons and details to support your answer.


The first step is to answer the question.

I prefer to spend a lot of money on vacation.


Whether it is in speaking or writing, students usually like to give their reasons in a format that goes:


The first reason is because...

The second reason is because...


Some TOEFL instructors even encourage you to use this structure. I can understand why. It helps you to organize what you are going to say. It is a helpful reminder to include two reasons. Also, in speaking, it will give you time to think of your response.


But, my advice is DON'T use these expressions. Here's why:


1. EVERYONE is using this format. After a while, this expression becomes cliche. It's overused. Imagine yourself as a TOEFL grader listening to students answer the same question over and over. Again and again, your grader hears, "The first reason is because..." That would get annoying after a while, wouldn't it? It might also get really boring! Don't bore or annoy your TOEFL grader!


2. This format is too rigid! When you use this format, you sound like a robot. The TOEFL is a test for English Language fluency. Imagine sitting down at a restaurant with fluent English speakers and they ask your opinion on how much money you'd be likely to spend on travel. Would you give your opinion and then say, "The first reason is because..." Probably not. Would they use this expression? Probably not. So, the best way to improve fluency is to get rid of these very strict formats that do not sound fluent at all. Speak to your TOEFL grader as if he or she was sitting right next to you sharing fries with you at a restaurant.


What you can do:


You CAN think about these formatted responses right before you speak. You will have 15 seconds of preparation time to organize your thoughts. On your scrap piece of paper, you can write #1 and one or two words that will help your remember your reason. The same for #2. Whatever words come after this number, that IS the start of your speaking.


Write: spend $

1. do what I want

2. may never get to go to that place again


Say: Spending a lot of money allows you to do exactly what you want to do on vacation.

Say: Also, I may never get to travel to a particular place again.


This sounds wonderful. It sounds like a human, not a robot!


Avoid saying, "The first reason is because..." and you will sound a lot more like a native English speaker!

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