Video: How to Sound like a Native Speaker

Audrey TOEFL: Advice for Studying 0 Comments

Your word choice matters. Did you know that using overly complex vocabulary to express your ideas in speaking tasks 1 and 2 may actually decrease your TOEFL score?

To receive a high score for the TOEFL Independent Speaking tasks 1 and 2, your responses should sound natural and spontaneous. However, many students have a hard time speaking naturally in a conversational tone.

In this video, our teacher Sierra Yohalem shares an easy strategy that she recently used with one of her students. If you want to improve your speaking skills and sound more like a native speaker, make sure to watch this video:


Hi, my name is Sierra Yohalem, I’m a TOEFL iBT teacher. One of my students is preparing for her exam and it’s been a little bit stressful. I wanted to make this video and share with you one of the tips that I gave her.

My student’s problem is that when she’s practicing for the speaking section, her responses sound too formal, the language she is using is too academic. She was using words like “furthermore” and “nevertheless” but when I pointed this out to her, she didn’t know where she could find vocabulary or transition words that sounded more natural.

So, the solution I had was to show her the transcripts for the campus conversations from tasks 3 & 5. We went through the transcripts together, listening to the audio files and reading them, and we picked out vocabulary words and phrases that she could use on her responses. We also paid close attention to pronunciation and intonation so that she could sound as natural as possible. She really likes this activity and also she can use it at home on her own when we’re not having a class together, and still be listening to native speakers.