Last Updated: September 23, 2023
TOEFL Listening Section
TOEFL is one of the premier English proficiency tests that is taken both by international students and national students when they aim for work in English-speaking countries or higher studies. The exam measures your skills in speaking, writing, reading, and listening to the language according to the level at which you can comprehend information and communicate it both academically and informally.
The test has been accepted in around 150 countries by over 11,000 universities. Taking the test also indicates your readiness and dedication in acquiring admission through all means possible since the test isn’t mandatory in a lot of colleges if you are not moving countries and acts as a bonus. TOEFL score, though expires in 2 years, can still be used as a marker for your job application and the like to prove your worth.
Objective of the Listening Section
The Listening section of TOEFL mainly focuses on analyzing your ability to comprehend academic discourses and also to follow daily conversations. Though both of these discourses differ in nature, the common factor in both of them is the language. A better understanding of the language, its grammar, and articulation along with the intonations used in different accents can help you figure out what you require for the test.
ETS looks for your understanding of basic grammar
which will generally aid you in conversing to the locals and people in your institution. They also look for skills relating to a pragmatic understanding
of what is being said by listening to it just once and your ability to connect content and synthesize it
The Listening section of TOEFL is divided into 2 types- Lectures and Conversations. You are allowed to take notes while you listen so that answering the questions will not solely be based on your retaining skills. You will be given 36 minutes in total to complete the section.
Different accents will be used in the test in order to test the overall proficiency in listening and understanding what is being said without sticking to one specific kind of English. The accents mainly used are North American, British, Australian and New Zealand English.
- Type 1- This includes listening to lectures based on a university-level. There will be 3 lectures in the section, each containing 6 questions. The lectures are generally 3-5 minutes long each.
- Type 2- This includes conversations between 2 speakers taken in different accents (mostly American). The conversations will each be 3 minutes long. The section will contain 2 conversations with each one having 5 questions.
TOEFL score reports contain the section scores and a total score separately. The section scores are scaled within a range of 0-30 with varying proficiency levels for each section. The total score is the sum of all the section scores and ranges within 0-120.
|Proficiency Level||Score||General Description|
|Advanced Level||22-30||can understand low-frequency vocabulary; comprehend inter-related information and synthesize information in passage. |
|High-Intermediate Level||17-21||can understand common academic terms; can distinguish ideas based on intonation; can synthesize information with difficulty. |
|Low-Intermediate Level||9-16||can understand basic grammar and high-frequency words; can identify the purpose of the text but difficulty synthesizing information if not repeated. |
|Below Low-Intermediate Level||0-8||shows very low proficiency in understanding the language. |
- Focus on Intonation-Learning a language by reading and studying the grammar can be easy when compared to the task of understanding a language through intonations. But intonations play a huge role in decoding accents and phrases that may otherwise be familiar to you. Learn the differences in intonations between both words and accents to understand passages that you listen to.
- Listening through Notes- Every time you listen to something, take notes. Do not take notes to cover topics that you think you may not retain. Take notes for anything and everything you hear so that the construction of the passage, the intention, and the message become clear to you through the notes alone even if you cannot listen to the audio again. The notes should be efficiently made enough to replace the lecture altogether despite not containing the same information in a word-to-word fashion.
- Paraphrase Efficiently-Paraphrasing content can be good practice to improve listening skills. Try to paraphrase lectures or even conversations that you come across in your daily life. You can choose to paraphrase conversations less than 3 minutes in length whether it be something you came across while ordering your daily coffee or while at home. Though the exam focuses on academic material, this can help you retain what you have heard and also improve your writing skills.
- Understand the Tasks-While preparing for the listening section, be aware that the information provided to you will mostly be academic in nature. Looking at a lecture will ultimately give you an introduction, body, and conclusion whereas a conversation will have a beginning, middle, and end since it is mostly narrative in nature. Understanding these distinctions will help you prepare efficiently if you lack time for preparation.
- Focus on 5W and 1H-The golden rule of any essay or content is to always answer to the what, when, where, who, and why(5W), and the how(1H) of it. This will aid you in both writings an essay and decoding the recording that you just heard. Listen to different types of materials and try to include these 6 pointers in your notes.
- Develop Passive Listening Skills-Focus on passively listening and not interrupting conversations. This will eventually allow your attention span to increase while listening to the recorded pieces. Zoning out during the listening section can cause you to lose vital information that might be necessary for the answers. Ensure that you listen and pay close attention to what you listen to.
- Know the Styles of Organization- While listening to lectures pay attention to the structure of the lecture and what it entails. There are different styles associated with different kinds of lectures. Lectures can be organized based on theory and evidence, cause and effect, steps of a process, and a comparison of 2 things.
Preparing for the TOEFL can seem to be a task especially when you focus on the listening section despite being relatively fluent in the language. This is due to the fact that while reading, speaking, and writing the language you are not keen on considering all the accents that are popular in the world when it comes to English. Since these accents are all universally recognized it is imperative that you understand and take the effort to learn these accents though you can stick to any of them in your speech.
All the best!