's Guide to the TOEFL® Test Podcast

Teachers may copy these scripts for use in class. You may link to this page, but it is not permitted to post these scripts on another website or to host the files on another server. All scripts are copyright 2005-2006 by the Center for Educational Development.

Monday, October 03, 2005

TOEFL® Podcast #1


Welcome to the TOEFL® Podcast! If you are studying to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language, either in the paper-based, computer-based, or the new Next Generation TOEFL® format, then this podcast is for you. The TOEFL® Podcast will help anyone studying for an exam that requires listening comprehension, including the IELTS and other similar exams throughout the world.

Each weekly TOEFL® Podcast will have four parts. First, you’ll hear a portion of a conversation or a lecture similar to one you may hear in your classes in the United States. This first portion is done slowly, to give you a chance to pick up the new terms and vocabulary. The second part of the podcast is an explanation of some of the key vocabulary and expressions from the sample conversation or lecture. Third, you’ll hear the conversation or lecture again, but this time at the normal speed that you will hear in the actual TOEFL® examination. Finally, we ask you a few comprehension questions to check your understanding, similar to what you may hear on the TOEFL®.

The approach we use in this podcast to prepare you for the listening comprehension section of the TOEFL® or similar exams is very different from other books or courses. Many people think that you should listen to native speakers talking as they usually do—very fast—so that you can get used to understanding them. Unfortunately, for many learners of English, this is too fast for them to understand much of what is said. Sometimes you may only understand 40-50% of what was said. This is a very inefficient use of time, since you can only pick up new words and phrases when you can understand their meaning. Listening to native speakers only speaking at a native rate means picking up fewer new words in English than if you listened to them more slowly.

Our approach is very different. Here, you will listen to English conversations using the same words or phrases as a native speaker uses, but more slowly and clearly. This way, you can actually understand and pick up these words. After a couple of times listening to the podcast, you will be able to comprehend up to 80-90% of it. This is a much better and more efficient use of your time. As your English gets better and better by listening, you will be able to understand what native speakers are saying when they speak fast.

Of course, the TOEFL® exam will have native speakers speaking at the regular—that is, a fast—rate. You have to eventually be able to understand that type of talking. But first you have to expand your vocabulary and pick up the new words and phrases. Then you can worry about understanding at a faster speed.

Most TOEFL® books give you sample listening exercises and introduce you to the types of questions on the test, but they don’t actually teach you any of the English that you’ll need to know to succeed on the TOEFL®. In the TOEFL® Podcast, we explain words and phrases that will help you improve your ability to understand spoken English.

TOEFL® Podcast is currently produced by a team of volunteers at the Center for Educational Development, in Los Angeles, California. My name is Dr. Jeff McQuillan, and I’m the host of TOEFL® Podcast. I have been teaching English as a Second Language for many years both here in the United States and in other countries. I received my Ph.D., my doctorate, in applied linguistics and education from the University of Southern California. I taught as a university professor for several years here in California and in Arizona. I have written many articles and books on the teaching English.

Our podcasts are short, so they won’t be as long as the conversations or lectures you may hear on the TOEFL®, especially the new Next Generation TOEFL® that will be used beginning in 2005 and 2006. However, you will still pick up new terms and learn how to listen to lectures and conversations. We look forward to seeing you next time on the TOEFL® Podcast.

Note: TOEFL® is a registered trademark of the Educational Testing Service, which does not endorse and was not involved in the production of this podcast.