Cracking the TOEFL iBT. Cracking the Listening Section. The Listening section of the TOEFL consists of the following tasks:. Four to six academic lectures, at least two of which contain classroom dialogue • Each lecture is three to five minutes long.
Cracking the TOEFL iBT
The Listening section of the TOEFL consists of the following tasks:
Four to six academic lectures, at least two of which contain
• Each lecture is three to five minutes long.
• A lecture may involve one speaker or multiple speakers.
• Each lecture is followed by six questions.
Two to three conversations involving two or more speakers
• Each conversation is three to four minutes long.
• A conversation has 12-25 exchanges.
• Each conversation is followed by five questions.
You will have 60-90 minutes to complete the entire section.
The Listening section measures your ability to follow and understand lectures and conversations that are typical of an American educational setting. You will hear each lecture or conversation only once, but you are allowed to take notes while you are listening.
At the beginning of the Listening section , you'll be instructed to put on your headset.
An example of the screen is shown below.
You'll also receive instructions on how to adjust the volume of the headset. Make sure the volume is at a comfortable level before the section begins.
You should be aware of a few special aspects of the Listening section before you take the TOEFL. First, unlike the Reading section, you are not allowed to skip questions and return to them later. You must answer each question before you can proceed to the next one. Second, some of the questions on the Listening section are heard, not read. These questions are indicated by a special headset icon.
It is important to be prepared for these audio questions. In this course, we use the headset icon to indicate when you should listen to the accompanying audio CD. On the actual test, you will only hear this material; it will not appear on your screen .
CRACKING THE LISTENING SECTION: BASIC
One of the most common mistakes students make in the Listening section is to
try to do too much. Some students try to take notes on every detail offered, and
they end up not hearing important information . Other students try to understand
every single word in the lecture, and they panic when they miss a word or phrase.
Neither of these approaches is very helpful on the test.
Instead, you must do your best to think of the lectures and conversations as being
similar to the reading passages on which we've worked. Each lecture or conversation
will have a purpose, a main idea, and supporting details. Your goal on the
Listening section will be to find these items in each selection. Because there are
only five or six questions per listening task, there is no need to memorize or comprehend
every single detail.
Basic Principle #1: Find the Main Idea or Purpose
Now we will apply our understanding of the main idea or purpose to a listening task.
Fortunately, the patterns in the Listening section are very similar to the patterns in the Reading section. Lectures are designed around a main idea, whereas conversations are centered on a purpose.
Basic Principle #2: Focus on the Structure
After finding the main idea or purpose, focus on the structure of the talk. Lectures and conversations each have standard structures. Listen for them as you take the TOEFL.
Types of Conversation Structures
Conversations on the TOEFL also fall into some predictable patterns. Try to identify the pattern when listening to the people speak.
Conversation Structure #1 : Problem/Solution
This is a typical conversation type on the TOEFL. One student has a problem, and another student offers advice or a possible solution. Listen for the first student to introduce the problem by mentioning one of the following:
After describing the problem, the other person will offer some sort of advice or solution. Listen for the following phrases:
• "why don't you..."
• "if I were you, I'd..."
• "maybe you should..."
• "have you tried/thought of..."
For this structure, it is important to listen for what the problem is and what steps or solutions the speaker may take to solve it.
Basic Principle #3: Listen for Tone and Attitude
Although you are unlikely to be asked a tone question in the Listening section, an understanding of the speaker's tone or attitude is helpful on many types of questions. Speakers on the TOEFL often use phrases or words that can have more than one interpretation. However, if you are aware of the speaker's tone, you are less likely to misinterpret the phrase.
For example, lecturers on the TOEFL often say something like the following:
"...and after the war, the country experienced a prolonged period
of economic growth, right?“
Even though the speaker appears to be asking a question, he is actually just emphasizing his point. Being aware of the tone will help you interpret statements such as this one.
Conversations tend to have slightly more personal tones. You can expect the tone to be similar to one of the following types:
•Excited : This tone is typical of the significant event conversation. The
speaker is interested in the event and may be trying to influence others
•Disappointed/upset: In this case, the speaker is not happy about the
situation. He or she may express dissatisfaction with things or events.
This usually occurs during the problem/solution encounter, although it
can appear in other conversations too.
•Uncertain or confused: Sometimes the speaker is uncertain or confused,
especially in service encounters. The speaker will be unsure of
what action to take or how to proceed.
Of course, you don't have to spend valuable time during your test trying to figure out the exact tone. However, having a basic idea of the tone-as well as of the purpose of the lecture or conversation-will aid you when you are eliminating