Jane Birkenhead, May 30 2022

TOEFL Speaking Task 2

Speaking task 2 can sometimes seem confusing. Some students have recently told me that they’ve had questions where they think the main speaker agrees AND disagrees with the announcement or proposal. 

And they’re wondering how to answer these questions.

First, it’s highly unlikely that the speaker will agree and disagree. In the Official Guide to the TOEFL iBT Test, it says that

“One of the speakers will have a strong opinion about the proposed change - EITHER in favour of it OR against it- and will give reasons to support that change” (p.167). 

It doesn’t say anything about agreeing and disagreeing.

So, why does it seem that the speaker agrees AND disagrees? The clue is in the language used. 

In many task 2 questions, the speaker will express some sort of small agreement with the change but then strongly disagree overall. This reflects what goes on in real life! It’s quite normal to agree that some part of a proposal would make sense, but then to disagree with it overall.

Look at these examples. I’ve used colour to make it easier to follow.

Can you see how the sentence starts with some kind of agreement, then it’s followed with a contrasting transition word? This is the language use clue. And then there's a disagreement.

As you listen to the conversation, DON’T just listen to the beginning of the sentence and think that the speaker agrees. Listen to the whole sentence and listen carefully to see if there is a contrasting transition word. 

Then you’ll completely understand the speaker’s opinion and be able to respond correctly. 

Written by

Jane Birkenhead

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