About TOEFL Speaking Question Two

Here’s how TOEFL speaking question two works:

  • First, you read a short announcement, article or letter. It describes a change that is happening on campus, or suggests a change.  It mentions two reasons for the change.  It is about 100 words. You have 45 seconds to read it.
  • Next, you hear two students talk about the reading. One of the students agrees with the change, disagrees with the change, or (rarely) has a mixed opinion. 
  • He/she gives two reasons for their support or opposition. These reasons specifically refer to the reasons mentioned in the reading.
  • After hearing the conversation, you must summarize what you have read and listened to.  You will have 30 seconds to prepare your answer, and 60 seconds to speak.

You can practice with a sample question and answer right here.

 

Reading & Note-Taking Strategy

The reading part is about 100 words long, and you are given 45 seconds to read it and take notes. 

The changes are usually related to:

  • Buildings on a university campus
  • Classes and majors at a university
  • Transportation on a university campus
  • Extracurricular activities at a university (sports, clubs, etc.)

The reading will look something like this:

Campus Fitness Center to Close

The campus fitness center will permanently close at the end of this semester. This decision was made by the university administration in coordination with representatives of the student’s association. Unfortunately, the building currently housing the center is very old and the university can no longer afford the cost of maintaining it or providing heat and air conditioning as required. Furthermore, the popularity of the center has declined since the university formed partnerships with several private fitness centers in the city. These partnerships mean that all full and part time students can access five privately owned gyms across the city at no cost.

Set up your note paper so that half of the page is used for reading notes.  Quickly note what the change is.  Then clearly note each of the two reasons for the change, with a few details.  Take a look at my notes, below.  See how I used short forms like “fitness C,” “A/C” and how I use “X” to indicate negatives (can’t, not, etc).

Listening and Note-Taking Strategy

The conversation will go something like this:

Use the other half of the paper to take notes about the conversation.  Quickly note whether the student agrees or disagrees with the change.  I used “XX” to indicate that they don’t.  Next, note how they respond to each of the reasons in the reading.  Use arrows to show how the reading and listening reasons match up.

Sample Question

The question will look something like this:

“The woman expresses her opinion of the university’s plan. State her opinion and the reasons she gives for holding that opinion.”

After the prompt is displayed, you will have 30 seconds to prepare and 60 seconds to speak. You cannot see the reading while you prepare or speak.

 

Sample Answer

(see also: my video guide to this task)

  • According to the announcement the campus fitness center will be closed. 
  • This is because the school can’t afford to maintain it properly, and students can go to private gyms in the city for free if they want to exercise.
  • The man opposes this.
  • To begin with, he points out that the university will still have to maintain the building even if the fitness center closes because it could become a dangerous fire hazard. On top of that, it will be very expensive to hire construction workers to tear down the building and replace it with something else. 
  • Moreover, he argues that all of the gyms in the city are quite far from the university, so it could be hard for students to reach them if they don’t have their own vehicle. The closest one is more than thirty minutes away by car. Additionally, it can be quite hard to find a taxi from campus into the city late at night.

 

Answer Template

The good news is that you can always use the same template to organize your answer to TOEFL speaking question 2.  Try this one:

Reading Main Point (6 seconds)

  • “According to the announcement/article/letter…”

Reasons from Reading (6 seconds)

  • “This is because ___ and ___.”

Transition (2 seconds)

  • “The man/woman opposes this.”
  • “The man/woman supports this.”
  • “The man/woman has a mixed opinion of this.”

First Reason (23 seconds)

  • “To begin with, he/she points out that…”

Second Reason (23 seconds)

  • “Moreover, he/she argues that…”

Tips and Tricks

  • Link ideas by using discourse phrases like “as a result,” “consequently,” “moreover,” and “therefore.”
  • Spend about 10-15 seconds talking about the reading… at most. Spend the rest talking about the conversation. Remember that most of your score is based on your summary of the conversation.
  • If you are a slow speaker, don’t mention the reasons for the change.
  • Use a mix of simple and compound sentences.

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