TOEFL Speaking Question Type: INTEGRATED LISTENING/SPEAKING: QUESTIONS 6 : and the sample answer.
This integrated task, the last of the six Speaking tasks, is based on academic content. For this task you will first listen to a professor present a brief excerpt from a lecture on an academic subject and then you will be asked a question about what you have heard. You will have 60 seconds in which to give your spoken response.
As with Question 4 (the other Speaking task that is based on academic content), the topics for this question are drawn from a variety of fields within the life sciences, social sciences, physical sciences, and the humanities. Here too, no prior knowledge of any academic field in particular is required for you to understand the lecture or answer the question.
The lecture excerpt is between 60 and 90 seconds long, and focuses on a single topic. Usually the professor will begin the lecture by defining a concept, by highlight¬ing an issue, or by introducing a phenomenon, and will then go on to discuss impor¬tant aspects of it or perspectives relating to it. The lecture will contain illustrative examples that help explain or clarify the main concept or issue. The question you are asked after you have heard the lecture will typically ask that you explain the main concept or issue of the lecture, using points and examples that were given in the lecture.
The lectures can be about processes, methods, the¬ories, ideas, or phenomena of any type—natural, social, psychological, etc. If a lecture is about a process, the professor might explain the process by describing some of its functions. In a lecture about a theory, the professor might explain the theory by describing its applications. In a lecture about a phenomenon, the professor might explain it through examples that illustrate its causes or its effects.
In the sample Question 6 given below, the lecture is about a social phenomenon— the emergence of a national culture in the United States in the early twentieth cen¬tury. The professor illustrates this phenomenon by describing two of its causes—radio and the automobile—and how they contributed to it. After you hear the lecture, you are asked to use information from the lecture to explain how the two causes contributed to the formation of a national culture.
Find a textbook that includes questions about the material at the end of chapters, etc.
Practice answering the questions orally.
The following example shows how a question of this type will be presented to you on your computer.
First you will hear the narrator say this:
In this question, you will listen to part of a lecture. You will then be asked to summarize important information from the lecture. After you hear the question, you will have 20 seconds to prepare your response and 60 seconds to speak.
Then a picture of a professor standing in front of a class of students will appear on your screen, and you will hear the narrator say:
Now listen to part of a talk in a United States history class.
The professor will then begin the lecture.
Because the United States is such a large country, it took time for a common national culture to emerge. One hundred years ago there was very little communication among the different regions of the United States. One result of this lack of communication was that people around the United States had very little in common with one another. People in different parts of the country spoke differently, dressed differently, and behaved differently. But connections among Americans began to increase thanks to two technological innovations: the automobile and the radio.
Automobiles began to be mass produced in the 1920's, which meant they became less expen¬sive and more widely available. Americans in small towns and rural communities now had the abil¬ity to travel with ease to nearby cities. They could even take vacations to other parts of the country. The increased mobility provided by automobiles changed people's attitudes and created links that had not existed before. For example, people in small towns began to adopt behaviors, clothes, and speech that were popular in big cities or in other parts of the country.
As more Americans were purchasing cars, radio ownership was also increasing dramatically. Americans in different regions of the country began to listen to the same popular radio programs and musical artists. People repeated things they heard on the radio—some phrases and speech patterns heard in songs and radio programs began to be used by people all over the United States. People also listened to news reports on the radio. They heard the same news throughout the coun¬try, whereas in newspapers much news tended to be local. Radio brought Americans together by offering them shared experiences and information about events around the country.
When the lecture has ended, the picture of the professor will be replaced by a screen instructing you to get ready to answer the question. Then the question will appear on the screen and be read aloud at the same time by the narrator.
6. Using points and examples from the talk, explain how the automobile and the radio
contributed to a common culture in the United States.
Preparation time: 20 seconds
Response time: 60 seconds
After you hear the question, you will be told when to begin preparing your response and when to begin speaking. A "Preparation Time" clock will appear below the question and begin to count down from 20 seconds (00:00:20). At the end of 20 seconds you will hear a short beep. After the beep, the clock will change to read "Response Time" and will begin to count down from 60 seconds (00:00:60). When the response time has ended, recording will stop and a new screen will appear alerting you that the response time has ended.
To answer this question, you might begin with a little background and mention that the United States did not have a common culture 100 years ago because people in different regions of the country did not communicate much with each other. Then you could say that the automobile and the radio changed this situation, and go on to summarize the information from the lecture that explains how they caused this change. For example, you could say that when automobiles became inexpensive, people from small towns could travel easily to cities or to other parts of the country, and that when they began to do this, they started acting like people from those other regions and started to dress and speak in the same way. As for the role that radio played in the emergence of a national culture, you could point out that when radio became popular, people from different parts of the country began listening to the same programs and the same news reports and began to speak alike and have similar experiences and ideas. If you have time, you could conclude by saying that these similar ways of speaking and dressing and thinking became the national culture of the United States. You should remember that you do not need to repeat all of the details provided in the lecture. There is simply too much information in the lecture to allow you to do that. You should, however, convey enough information so that someone who has not heard the lecture would be able to form a good idea of what the professor was explaining to the class.
Other lectures for question 6 could include such topics as how people learn, and the central concept might be that learning occurs when two events are associated in the brain. The professor would illustrate that concept by describing two different ways that events can be associated in the brain, and you would be asked to use points and examples from the lecture to explain how these two ways of associating events result in learning. Or in a lecture about money, the professor might provide two dif¬ferent definitions of the concept and illustrate them with two examples, and you would be asked in your response to explain the two definitions, using the two exam¬ples. The question that follows a lecture like this would typically ask you to use points and examples that you heard in the lecture to explain how people learn or what the definitions of money are.
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