View Full Version : Is the "SPEAKING" section required on the TOEFL?

05-25-2002, 06:59 AM
The ETS is planning to include a "Test of Spoken English" section in the TOEFL, from 2004.

People coming to US for higher studies need understand the spoken language and be able to reasonably communicate with other people. Anybody who can do well in the Reading and Listening sections can do that as well. The students need not give any lectures or speeches, which demand a good command over the language. So, I feel it's unnecessary to test a students ability in "Spoken English".

What about those who have speaking disabilities? What about those who stutter? can't they study in the US?

What do you say?

05-25-2002, 11:08 AM
(Erin, I thought i was starting a "Poll". It ended up showing as a "post". I suppose, the polling feature is not ready yet. when it is, kindly move this post to that section and delete this message.)


05-28-2002, 12:51 PM
Hey guys, see this...


<h2>ETS Launches Three-Phase Introduction of Next Generation TOEFL</h2>
Princeton, N.J. (April 10, 2002) --Educational Testing Service (ETS) has begun a three-phase introduction of the next generation of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) to English language instructors, students, and score users around the world.

The next generation of TOEFL will premier in 2004, TOEFL's 40th anniversary year. It will reflect a decade of research designed to identify the best way to build and assess the communicative English skills test takers need at the university level and in their professional careers. The exam will more closely reflect the speaking, listening, reading and writing skills needed for lifelong success.

Each year the TOEFL test is administered to approximately 800,000 candidates in more than 210 countries. More than 4,200 academic institutions, government agencies, scholarship programs, and licensing/certification agencies in more than 80 countries use TOEFL scores.

The first of the three-phase rollout begins September 2002, when the TOEFL program unveils LanguEdgeTM Courseware, a CD-ROM instructional tool that will give students a glimpse of the next generation of TOEFL. Instructors in English language classes can use LanguEdgeTM Courseware to help their students build and assess communicative English skills. TOEFL representatives are taking orders now for the new product at worldwide conferences for English teachers. (See the TOEFL Web site at www.toefl.org for a list of these conferences.

"LanguEdge Courseware will help teachers of English understand what the next generation of TOEFL will be assessing," explains Marilyn Rymniak, executive director of the TOEFL program. "It is also a professional development tool for teachers so they can develop their own skills, such as rating English assessments holistically and using new scales to rate performance on the speaking and writing activities in their classrooms. We want everyone - teachers, students, and score users to be familiar with the next generation of TOEFL."

The second phase will begin in 2003, when officials will introduce a new TOEFL speaking test. Then, in 2004, the next generation of TOEFL, TOEFL CBT2 with integrated skills, will be unveiled.

"The current style of English language tests served non-English speakers well for many years, but times have changed and communication needs dictate that we move to the next generation of TOEFL," Rymniak says. "Colleges and universities are demanding English language tests that match the dynamic and interactive nature of their campuses. They want tests that utilize real-life communication scenarios, not just vocabulary, reading, and speaking tests."

The new version of the TOEFL test will simulate real language experience at a university. “We want to have students perform tasks they typically would have to do in a classroom — such as engaging in a conversation that an academic advisor might have with fellow students — in order to test how they can actually communicate in an academic setting,” Rymniak says.

For the new test, ETS is using language, content and contexts from a spoken and written corpus of 1.65 million words gathered from various educational institutions in different regions of the United States. Language samples were collected at both undergraduate and graduate levels, through excerpts from textbooks as well as recorded lectures and labs, office hours, service encounters, and student interactions. The corpus has six major categories: business, education, humanities, engineering, natural sciences, and social studies — typically the disciplines that international students typically choose when they study in the United States.

ETS has published framework papers (TOEFL Monographs 16-20) that explain the underlying theory and research behind the new communicative TOEFL test. The monographs can be downloaded for free at www.toefl.org/research/rmonogph.html.

Educational Testing Service is the world's largest private educational testing and measurement organization, annually administering more than 11 million tests worldwide. ETS is dedicated to serving the needs of individuals, educational institutions, and government bodies in 181 countries. For more information, access the ETS Web site at www.ets.org.

Isn't this funny?

TOEFL is already testing irrelevant skills (memorizing long lectures without taking notes,.etc...).

Now they want to test the ability of students to communicate in "REAL-LIFE" situations ?!?!


Does this mean each and every student has to "learn" how to "behave properly" at grad schools - even before applying to them?

Does this make any sense?

Thank god they are not expecting us to learn whatever that's going to be taught there.

And, how can they test the behaviour in "REAL-LIFE" situations, anyway?
the student who is being tested, has paid so many $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ for the test, is unsure about his future and is anxious about the test. how can we expect him to behave as in a "REAL-LIFE" situation where the things are a great great deal pleasant.

I say, all this "NEW GENERATION HI-TECH INTERACTIVE ENHANCED (adjective) (adjective) (adjective) (adjective) (adjective) TOEFL CBT VERSION 2.0000000000000000000" is nothing but an attempt to convince people that all the $$$$$$$$$ they charge is not unreasonable.

not only that, they make many more mega bucks by selling their new software: LanguEdge Courseware.

c'mon, even the grad studies dont have such a decoration.
why then all this hype and over-emphasized prep material for a simple test supposed to assess whether a student has reasonable skill in english so that he can study/live reasonably well in the states?

Please give me your views on this ....


Edited by - raghuveer_v on 2002 May 28 10:11:39

06-02-2002, 07:54 PM
Hi Raghuveer,
I agree with you that ETS wants to make more and more money by these ways. The TOEFL is basically meant for non-English speakers. Most of the Non-English speakers live in Asian countries. For us Indians, the TOEFL costs Rs.5000 to Rs. 5500. The fees for the exam are already too high. Also all the software and books available are costly. One has to think twice before taking any decision on buying such software. I agree that this is all a money-making plan of ETS.


TD Guru
10-06-2005, 10:13 PM
Hi Raghuveer,

That may be the situation for India, but in the case of East Asian students, we know that there have been serious concerns over the English proficiency of students coming to Canada. A common complaint among local schools has been the fact that students with high TOEFL scores are not able to properly function in a university environment. Grammar is perfect but there is no communicative competence when it comes to speaking.

I actually don't think ETS is going to make much money from the TOEFL iBT, as they have spent millions putting together the infrastructure to deliver the new test. However, ETS had to respond to the complaints from their main customers, namely the universities and colleges that rely on TOEFL to measure the English ability of inbound students.

The structure section is now gone, so all the easy points in this section are no longer available. The listening section is much harder, and the new speaking section is worth 25% of the total score. Writing is now worth another 25%. If students can't show minimum competence in the Speaking and Writing sections, then they probably won't be successful in a first year university course.

Having been to graduate school in the UK and faced with the pressure to get through the course, I can tell you there is nothing worse than getting accepted to a top university and then failing out.

Samuel Curtis
10-07-2005, 08:05 AM
One needs to know TOEFL was changed in response to the rising popularity of IELTS, which are happily accepted by places previously flying the Union Jack. In Hong Kong, where I live, the governemnt even gives out free IELTS test opportunities to final-year college students to test their English standards.

I need to say the PBT/CBT TOEFL was a bit too artificial, maybe a bit less in the reading and TWE part. The way listening is examinated in TOEFL CBT kills me; all listening exams I ever took (incl. IELTS, in which I got a rank 8) allowed note-taking and is horribly needed for a person who has ADD. (Not that I can't function with the CBT format though)

I went with a few CBT practice tests (Longman and Barron's), and the feeling was that I feel more stressful when I do the TOEFL than when I did the IELTS. I don't know what it's mean actually.

In any rate, the way iBT examinates the oral skills is troublesome. You don't usually talk to the phone in school.

TD Guru
10-07-2005, 07:09 PM
Sam Curtis,

No, you don't talk into a phone at school. However, you will be asked to comment in a seminar, or make a presentation in a business class.

ETS wants to find out how well students can speak, what their accent is like, and how well they can organize their thoughts.

The feedback from teachers in Canada is that the iBT is a big step forward.

Of course, you are right, the reason ETS added iBT is also because of competition from IELTS. All the deficiencies you mention regarding the CBT are correct.