TOEFL Speaking Test Practice

The bridge over a hidden river Humahuaca, Jujuy, Argentina
The bridge over a hidden river             Humahuaca, Jujuy, Argentina



TOEFL iBT® Speaking Section
Academic Speaking Skills

The TOEFL speaking section takes 20 minutes to complete and contains 6 sections. It is done on a computer. Your answers are recorded and sent to ETS for marking.

The TOEFL speaking tests contain academic situations set both inside and outside the classroom

In classrooms, there are situations where you must:

respond to questions
contribute to class discussions
read or listen to something and then summarize it
give your opinion of topics under discussion

In situations outside the classroom, you need to:

take part in conversations with administrative staff, such as at the library
take part in casual conversations with other students
give your opinion about something

Description of the speaking tasks
Independent Tasks

Task 1. Personal Preference – Preparation time: 15 seconds Response time: 45 seconds
This question will ask you to speak about a person, place, object or event that is familiar to you.

Choice – Preparation time: 15 seconds Response time: 45 seconds
You will be presented with two situations or opinions. You’ll be asked which you prefer and you need to explain your choice.

Are you ready? Then, let’s do it!!!!!!!!!!

Remember: Peace is in your mind and comes from preparing yourself…

Task 1. Personal Preference.


Some students prefer to study early in the mornings. Others choose to study after they have finished with all the day’s chores. What time do you prefer to study and why?

Task 2. Choice.

It has been said that Facebook enhances social interaction in the contemporary community. To the contrary, it has been expressed that it discourages face to face communication and isolates the individuals. With which of these positions do you agree and why?

Practice is the road to perfection, so let’s try once again!

Task 1. Personal Preference.


During the years of your studies, you have met many teachers. Which of these teachers would you consider is your favorite and why?

Task 2. Choice.

In a job interview, you are asked to decide between living in a small town and one of the main big cities. Which one would you choose and why?


This is another way to practice your speaking skills.

In the TOEIC exam, this is a required speaking skill. In that test, you have a 30 second preparation time to examine the photo and 45 seconds to speak about it, describing the most relevant items depicted in the photograph.

Use the following concepts: in the foreground, in the background, the most relevant issue depicted in this photo, it reminds me of…

The street seller Tarija, Tarija Department, Bolivia
The street seller           Tarija, Tarija Department, Bolivia

I’ll tell you a bit about this photograph. This is a street view. It was taken in the city of Tarija, the capital of the Bolivian Wine Country. In this region, Bolivia is producing vintage wines that have won international awards. Their production of wines is quite recent, but in a short time, they’ve learned to make wines that are of outstanding quality. Personally, this is one of my favorite spots in Bolivia…

It seems we ran out of time! So, you have earned a rest. Good job 🙂


Test prep exercises                                Talking easy English lessons


   Â©  All photos by edudelcorral


Business English: When to omit articles (the, a, an)

When do we omit articles (the,a,an) in a sentence?

The wagon Sucre, Chuquisaca Department, Bolivia
The wagon           Sucre, Chuquisaca Department, Bolivia


Before uncountable nouns  (mass nouns)

Substances, concepts, etc that we cannot divide into separate elements.

We cannot count milk or sugar, but we can say a spoon of sugar or a glass of milk.


  • music, art, love, happiness
  • advice, information, news
  • furniture, luggage
  • rice, sugar, butter, water
  • electricity, gas, power
  • money, currency

We usually treat uncountable nouns as singular. We use a singular verb. For example:

  • This news is very important.
  • Your luggage looks heavy.

We do not usually use the indefinite article a/an with uncountable nouns. We cannot say “an information” or “a music”. But we can say a “something” of:

  • a piece of news
  • a bottle of water
  • a grain of rice

We can use some and any with uncountable nouns:

  • I’ve got some money.
  • Have you got any rice?

We can use a little and much with uncountable nouns:

  • I’ve got a little money.
  • I haven’t got much rice.

Before plural countable nouns

We do not use articles before plural countable nouns used in a general sense.

  • Children usually rush about.
  • Computers are useful machines.

Note that plural nouns take the article the when they are used in a particular sense.

  • Where are the children? (Which children? Our children)

Before proper nouns

We do not use articles before the names of countries, people, continents, cities, rivers and lakes.

  • India is a democratic country. (NOT The India …)
  • Paris is the capital of France. (NOT The Paris …)

Before the names of meals

We do not use articles before the names of meals.

  • Mother is cooking lunch.
  • Dinner is ready.

We use a when there is an adjective before breakfast, lunch, dinner etc. We use the when we are talking about a particular meal.

  • I had a late dinner yesterday.
  • The lunch we had at the restaurant was very good.

Before languages

We do not use articles before the names of languages.

  • Can you speak English? (NOT Can you speak the English?)
  • They speak French at home.

Before school, college, university, church, bed, hospital, prison etc.

  • His dad is still in hospital.
  • We learned English at school.
  • He is at university.

The is used before these words when the reference is to the building or object rather than to the normal activity that goes on there.

  • I met her at the church. (Here the reference is to the building and not to the activity that is going on there.)
  • I went to the hospital to see my friend.
The center’s streets Sucre, Chuquisaca Department, Bolivia



   Â©  All photos by edudelcorral




The Business English Exercises               Business English: Article usage grammar.


Business English: Article usage grammar.

Breathe in and breathe out.  Check out the photo and then explain what you see in it.

The Historical Center La Paz City, La Paz, Bolivia
The Historical Center           La Paz City, La Paz, Bolivia

Alright, that was good! Time to get busy! The usage of articles: (when we should use the, a, or an, as well as, when not to use an article) can often be confusing when learning English as a second language. The best approach to solve this situation is a bit of theory (grammar) and a bit of practice.

1. That’s __________________________ interesting suggestion.


2. How far have you gotten with __________________________ report?


3. Every company needs __________________________ good project manager.


4. Q: Are they reliable? A: Yes, they always deliver on __________________________ time.


5. We have to draw up _________________ new business plan. The old one isn’t good enough.


6. Do you know how to program in __________________________ Java? ( = a programming language)


7. We’re looking to hire someone who speaks __________________________ Russian.


8. I don’t think he’s __________________________ good fit ( = well-matched) for our company.


9. Direct selling accounts for about __________________________ 50% of our annual sales.


10. The senate passed an important energy bill on Tuesday. __________________________ bill will ensure that companies don’t overcharge their customers.


Time for the traditional break. Look at the following photo carefully and describe what you see.

View of the city La Paz City, La Paz, Bolivia
View of the city           La Paz City, La Paz, Bolivia

Let’s move on! Fill them up!

11. If we don’t follow these regulations, we’ll get in _________________ trouble with the local authorities.


12. I’ve worked on __________________________ similar projects at my last job.


13. Q: Is that your boss? A: No, that’s __________________________ CEO. (There’s only one)


14. I’m not happy with __________________________ logo they designed for us.


15. That’s not _________________________ good strategy. We have to think of something better.


16. The senator from California spoke out against __________________________ racism. (in general)


17. The senator from California spoke out against __________________________ last week’s protests in Los Angeles.


18. The senator from California spoke out against __________________________ protests in Los Angeles that killed 10 people.


19. He has __________________________ MBA (Master of Business Administration) from Harvard.


20. He signed up for _________________________ MBA program that I told you about last week.



   Â©  All photos by edudelcorral

The Business English Exercises         Business English: When to omit articles (the, a, an)


Doble weddings

Chapter 5… Of poor lovesick poets

The boat Ometepe Island, Rivas, Nicaragua
The boat
Ometepe Island, Rivas, Nicaragua

     All in all, the house had twelve bedrooms. The rooms, which looked to the west, had huge picture windows that displayed the beach below. They also had French doors opening to balconies. Wicker chairs and tables were set up there, to relax and enjoy the fantastic view. The sunsets were frankly spectacular all year round. At night, the electrical storms would light up the sky with a display of brilliant flashes.

     The house was named after an old lighthouse, which still stands on a rock promontory nearby. It was known as La Casa del Faro (The House by the Beacon), and had become the favorite spot for our family get-togethers. Strange as it may sound, each of my great-grandfather´s four brothers had married one of my great-grandmother´s four sisters. Actually, the youngest brother and the youngest sister were married together with my great-grandparents, at their unforgettable double wedding. Apparently in those days it was quite common.


VersiĂłn en español            In the land of volcanoes’ Chapters           Purchase the book

Business English: Finance

Before we jump into this, some quiet time sounds good.  Check out the photo and then explain what you see in it.

The park Puno City, Puno, Peru
The park           Puno City, Puno, Peru


Alright, good fun!  Now it’s back to today’s business!  Let’s start filling in those gaps…

1. The global central banks want to keep interest rates at ___________________ ( = unnaturally) low levels. 


2. This is not going to end soon. = This is not going to end in the ___________________. 

 short term
  short cut
  long term

3. Sometimes government ___________________ is necessary. = Sometimes the government has to get involved.


4. The numbers gave us important ___________________ on why the banks failed. = The numbers helped us to better understand why the banks failed. 


5. The markets ___________________ ( = reached) a three year low yesterday. 


Let’s take a short brake. Look at the following photo carefully and describe what you see.

Lake Titicaca Puno City, Puno, Peru
Lake Titicaca           Puno City, Puno, Peru


Let’s wrap this one up and get those gaps filled!

 6.  He was ___________________ as ( = considered, seen as) the savior of Wall Street. 


7. 18 months in a row = 18 _______________ months


8. at an ___________________ low = at the lowest level in history


9. This was supposed to ___________________ ( = create) confidence in the bond markets.


10. to ___________________ headlines = to appear in headlines (of newspapers, magazines, etc.) 



   Â©  All photos by edudelcorral

The Business English Exercises


Reading Exercise: Atitlán Lake in Guatemala

An ancient volcano’s crater

A view of the lake Lake Atitlán, Sololá, Guatemala

A view of the lake Lake           Atitlán, Sololá, Guatemala

“The most beautiful lake in the world”        Alexander Von Humboldt

     The famous, world explorer considered Lake Atitlán the most beautiful lake in the world. It is positively an impressive lake, dotted with small picturesque villages on its shores. Most of the communication between its lakeside villages is done by boat. They transport the local people and the tourist visitors, who admire the lake, its calm waters, and the majestic landscapes.
     Lake Atitlán attracts visitors from all over the world, for it is unique in many ways. As you go from one town to another in the water-taxis you can see the three impressive volcanoes in the distance. If you travel in the late afternoon, you will be surprised by the clouds and the spectacular sunset, a sight you will never forget. 

View of San Pedro Lake Atitlán, Sololá, Guatemala
View of San Pedro           Lake Atitlán, Sololá, Guatemala

     San Pedro, a small village, is one of the most popular destinations in the lake. The local population belong to the Maya Tzutujil ethnic culture, one of the 24 different Maya cultures in Guatemala, Together with a Creole English and Spanish (which is the official language), there are 26 different languages spoken in this country. What’s more, each ethnic group has its own customs and traditions. An easy way to observe the cultural diversity is through the colorful clothes that the women and the men wear, which are different for each ethnic group. The women’s clothes are very interesting for they also express the social status of the owner, for example, if she is married and is a mother.

Tsutugil children. Panajachel, Solola, Guatemala
Tzutujil children.           Panajachel, Solola, Guatemala

     It is, without doubt, a fantastic experience to travel by boat, from village to village and admire the lake’s three volcanoes. While in San Pedro, it is possible to enjoy the coffee that is grown right there, outside of the town, and admire the lakeside views with fantastic sunsets. A great place to visit and quite different from other tourist destinations in the world, it has its own charm and beauty. I may not agree with the famous explorer Von Humboldt, but I do admit that it is one of the most beautiful lakes in the world!

A walk in the afternoon Lake Atitlán, Sololá, Guatemala
The afternoon at the lake.           Lake Atitlán, Sololá, Guatemala

famous   known by very many or most of the people     The Maya ruins at Tikal in the north of Guatemala are famous in all the world.

positively   without a doubt, certainly       Guatemala is positively a beautiful and interesting country to visit.

impressive  causing someone to feel admiration or respect     I was impressed by the fresh banana bread I ate in one of the lakeside restaurants. It was delicious!

lakeside   the area at the edge of a lake  We took a walk by the lakeside early in the morning.

majestic   beautiful, powerful, or causing great admiration and respect. The views from the highway were majestic.

picturesque   (Especially of a place) attractive in appearance,especially in an old-fashioned way. San Marcos is a picturesque village in Guatemala.

status   an accepted or official position, especially in asocial group.   Maria is very respected and holds a high status in the community.


  Â©  All photos by edudelcorral


The Talking easy lessons

Ines’ multicolored parasols

The weekend niece. from the book, Searching for treasures

The colorful art of the facades Guatape, Antioquia, Colombia
The colorful art of the facades
Guatape, Antioquia, Colombia

   When Dora arrived, she would immediately look for Ines, knowing very well that she would be there, waiting for her, with an affectionate smile on her face and a kiss to welcome her. Dora understood that her grandmother was concerned with her paternal grandparent’s attitude toward her, but when they got rid of her, she felt happy and fortunate to leave them behind. When her Uncle Oscar and her Aunt Carito were not in Barichara, the farm felt empty and was quite boring. And there would be no candies when she arrived, like in San Gil with Ines.

      When Dora arrived early, before lunch, Ines would be waiting with a parasol in her hand. San Gil’s sun was very hard on the skin, and Ines protected them from it. The parasol was ample and wide, sheltering them as they walked back home. If she arrived later, after lunch, then Ines would be waiting with an umbrella. Both, the parasol and the umbrella were brightly colored and cheery. Ines had always had them, at least, as far as Dora would remember.

      The parasol and the umbrella, curiously enough, represented the shelter she found when she arrived in San Gil.

     A Friday, still early in the afternoon, Dora was at her grandparent’s plantation house. Carito and Oscar, her uncle and aunt, had gone to Bogotá for the long holiday weekend. What really bad luck, she thought, weekends are such a bore when only my grandparents are at home.

      So, she embraced the solicitude waiting for her on that weekend and gave herself up to her misfortune. Her Aunt Carito had decorated her bedroom, and it was a cheery place. At least, there she would be at peace.

     How, deeply and desperately, she missed her mother, especially in moments like these, when she found herself alone with her grandparent’s lack of interest in her. She felt trapped in a situation with no possible escape. How she missed the mornings, back home when her mother was still alive!

VersiĂłn en español            Searching for treasures           Purchase the book

Business English Employment and counter offers

Counteroffer (counter offer, counter-offer)

situation in which a company or organization offers an employee more money or a better job in order, for example, to try to prevent them moving to another company or organization where they have been offered a job:

When they realized that he was about to quit, they made a counter-offer, which he politely rejected.

Before we jump into this, some quiet time sounds good.  Check out the photo and then explain what you see in it.

The streets in town Humahuaca, Jujuy, Argentina
The streets in town           Humahuaca, Jujuy, Argentina

The Cotopaxi Volcano           Cotopaxi, Latacunga, Ecuador


Alright, good fun!  Let’s get some work done!  Let’s start filling in those gaps…

1. My new job offers more growth __________________________.

2. I __________________________ decline your offer.
with respect
am respected

3. Everyone should know how to __________________________ ( = deal with) a counteroffer.
take out
hand out

4. Some people think that it is a ___________________________ to accept a counter offer from your present employer.
bad idea
bad news
bad luck

5. An employee who resigns will most likely always be ___________________________ as a security threat, and as being disloyal.

Let’s take a coffee break with doughnuts. Look at the following photo carefully and describe what you see.

The circus Humahuaca, Jujuy, Argentina
The circus           Humahuaca, Jujuy, Argentina

View towards the border with Honduras           Suchitoto, El salvador


So it’s time to put in some more hours!  Let’s get those gaps filled!

6. Employees who accept a counteroffer are often the first ones who get ___________________________ (by the company) when times get tough.
laid off

7. Many see a counteroffer as a way for a company to buy ___________________________. It stalls your departure while they look for someone to replace you.

8. He was really ___________________________, but I still declined.

9. My boss made some ___________________________ ( = agreed to some of my terms), but it wasn’t enough to prevent me from leaving the company.

10. This offer is ___________________________ .= I am tempted to accept this offer.


   Â©  All photos by edudelcorral

The Business English Exercises


Tickling the anemones

Chapter 5… Of poor lovesick poets

The cove Ometepe Island, Rivas, Nicaragua
The cove
Ometepe Island, Rivas, Nicaragua

     His mother would spend the day in the Costa Azul District, in the port of Corinto, where she owned a restaurant. Costa Azul (The Blue Coast) was a well-known quarter of the town, and it was largely famous for the assorted fresh seafood offered in the restaurants. The island (Isla CardĂłn), where the house was located, was close to the port,

“It was barely a twenty minute ride by boat, when the sea was calm, or fifteen bumpy minutes more with the occasional rough surf.”

“The house and an old lighthouse were the only constructions on the island. The building was large, and it was spacious. Its front facade faced the beach, with its fine, white sand and a gentle slope. The rooms had huge bay windows and their own terrace, both with fantastic views to the sea and those glorious sunsets in the west. To the south, the shoreline changed into a rocky coast that formed beautiful pools at low tide. The sandy part was perfect for wading and playing around in the water! I also loved to walk in the rocky part. When the tide ebbed, these tide pools began to appear suddenly. Many had sea anemones. As a little boy, I couldn’t resist poking them gently and watching them close up on me!”

VersiĂłn en español            In the land of volcanoes’ Chapters           Purchase the book

Business English The Information tech.

Before we jump into this, some quiet time sounds good.  Check out the photo and then explain what you see in it.

The Cotopaxi Volcano Cotopaxi, Latacunga, Ecuador
The Cotopaxi Volcano           Cotopaxi, Latacunga, Ecuador


Alright, good fun!  Now it’s back to the grindstone!  Let’s start filling in those gaps…

1. Some believe that the open source era is coming to ______________. = Some believe that the open source era is about to end.
an end
an ending
a finish

2. Her programming skills are top-_________________. = She has great programming skills.

3. We’ve witnessed some __________________ technological progress. = We’ve witnessed some incredible technological progress.

4. This software is full of ________________ . = This software is faulty; it has defects.

Let’s take a short brake. Look at the following photo carefully and describe what you see.

View towards the border with Honduras Suchitoto, El salvador
View towards the border with Honduras           Suchitoto, El salvador


So it’s time to put in some more hours!  Let’s get those gaps filled!

5. I’ve programmed many sites.= I’ve _________________ many sites.
give code to

6. It seems there has been a bit of a __________________. = We didn’t properly communicate our needs to each other.


7. Their website really _________________. = Their website became really successful.
took off
took out
took away

8. It’s a _________________ problem. = It’s a problem that happens over and over.


9. You can use this widget on more than one website. = You can use this widget on _________________ websites.


10. This solution is alright, but it’s not the best (one). = This solution is adequate, but it’s not _________________.



   Â©  All photos by edudelcorral

The Business English Exercises