Introduction to TOEFL iBT Listening section
The TOEFL Test is a standardized test of English language proficiency recognized internationally. It is used by many English-speaking universities — in the US, UK, Canada, etc. — as well as various grandes écoles (prestigious French universities) with English-speaking programmes for the admission of international students. TOEFL iBT exam is comprised of 4 different sections i.e. Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking. In this article, we will explain about the TOEFL iBT Listening module and try to give you an in-depth information so that you can be successful in your TOEFL iBT exam.
More than 8,500 universities, agencies, and other institutions in over 130 countries accept the TOEFL Test. More than 27 million people have taken the TOEFL Test since its creation in 1967, including 1 million in 2011.
As we all know, there are four important sections in the TOEFL iBT examination. They are:
- TOEFL iBT Reading Section
- TOEFL iBT Listening Section
- TOEFL iBT Speaking Section
- TOEFL iBT Writing Section
So, Listening comes as a second module to the candidate appearing for the test. This article will help you to understand about the TOEFL iBT Listening section more clearly.
Note that the order of the modules is fixed for years and would never change.
Module 2: TOEFL iBT Listening section
Let’s have detailed guidelines for this section:
Listening Section in TOEFL iBT is of 60-90 minutes duration. It consists of 2-3 whole passages of conversations and 4-6 lectures. Here the student is required to listen to all the audio clips that are being played, to answer the questions to them accordingly. Every bit of audio is from three to five minutes long.
The student may also get some additional experimental passages to listen.
The Listening Section in the TOEFL iBT mainly measures the candidate’s ability to understand the process and get well-versed with kind of English language that is being spoken in the audio. Not only the listening skills of the student are tested but also your ability to take notes and stay focused. Students feel it’s daunting at times, but it is one of the most straightforward sections of the TOEFL iBT test. Knowing what to expect from this article will make it a lot easier for students to do well on the examination day.
In this part you will find two types of English languages used:
- Informal, non-academic, and conversational-
This is just like the typical campus conversation which can be between two students, a student and professor outside classroom discussing doubts, or entire bunch of students etc.
- Thoroughly formal and academic-
This particular section involves various fields of study such as arts, science, business, etc.
The student is not required to have knowledge about the topics.
Question Types students will witness:
Following are some question types students frequently come across:
Type 1: Main Idea
Main idea questions usually are very straightforward. Students are asked what the conversation is all about and what topic does it focuses on.
- What are the speakers discussing about?
- What is the topic of discussion?
- What is the discussion mainly about?
Type 2: Understanding details and facts
Understanding detail questions asking mainly how a particular fact is described and elaborated. Students are asked why a minute detail is mentioned in the conversation. This kind of question can sometimes be difficult as the students are required to memorize and take down every small detail while listening. But by practice, students can improve.
- According to the Professor, what is _______?
- What is the evidence for_____?
- What does the professor talk about_____?
Type 3: Purpose/Organization
Gist/purpose questions ask the student to identify the main purpose of the lecture. The purpose question looks like why the entire conversation is happening in the first place, but not in detail.
- Why does the professor mention _____?
- How does the professor describe_______?
- In what order the student talks about?
Organization asks the student to understand how the details and information are organized in the conversation.
- How does the professor organize his lecture on _______?
Type 4: Inference and attitudes
Inference question requires the student to find out the indirect meaning of the sentence in the conversation or the audio clip. It requires the student to go beyond the literal meaning of the phrase, idea or sentence to spot the correct answer.
- Why does the professor mention the______?
- Why does the professor say this in the audio?
Attitude question asks about the intentions of the speaker and where he is going with the topic when he talks about a specific detail.
- What is the student’s attitude towards______?
Note that Type 4 questions consist of repeated listening wherein a certain portion of the clip will be repeated again in order to recognize speaker’s attitude or implied meaning of a statement.
How to Prepare:
Following are some key points which students should keep in mind while appearing for the TOEFL iBT listening module:
- Listen to the general idea
- Pay attention to details and always take notes while listening
- The meaning is always inferred (implicit) and not explicit
- Focus on sentences which include speaker’s emotions
- Pay attention to the structure-introduction, body, and conclusion
- Also, pay equal attention to the narrative story.
- Learn to recognize different styles of the organization–
- Theory or evidence
- Cause and effect
- Steps of a process
- Comparison of two entities.
- Inculcate a hierarchical strategy of notes taking which includes both the main point and its supporting details.
- Focus on expressions and vocabulary.
- Pay attention to speakers’ intonation
Tips for students:
- Students are allowed to listen to the audio only once but can take notes simultaneously so that any detailed is not missed.
- While the listening clip, the student can see the questions onto the screen. So that he/she can know exactly how much to answer and how much content is relevant for that particular answer.
- The basic idea of this section is to figure out the sentences which express the speaker’s feelings. Tones and sounds are paramount to understand the sentence. So, the students should be very alert and not get distracted.
If you want to know more about the overall TOEFL iBT Exam please read our article about “TOEFL iBT“