TOEFL Speaking Test Practice

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



TOEFL iBT¬ģ 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 ūüôā


Test prep exercises                                Talking easy English lessons


   ¬©  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 ‚Ķ)
  • Paris is the capital of France. (NOT The Paris ‚Ķ)

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



   ¬©  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.



   ¬©  All photos by edudelcorral

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


Reading Exercise: Atitl√°n Lake in Guatemala

An ancient volcano’s crater

A view of the lake Lake Atitl√°n, Solol√°, Guatemala

A view of the lake Lake           Atitl√°n, Solol√°, Guatemala

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

     The famous, world explorer considered Lake Atitl√°n 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 Atitl√°n 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 Atitl√°n, Solol√°, Guatemala
View of San Pedro           Lake Atitl√°n, Solol√°, 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 Atitl√°n, Solol√°, Guatemala
The afternoon at the lake.           Lake Atitl√°n, Solol√°, 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.


  ¬©  All photos by edudelcorral


The Talking easy lessons

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.


   ¬©  All photos by edudelcorral

The Business English Exercises


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 _________________.



   ¬©  All photos by edudelcorral

The Business English Exercises


Business English. Common phrasal verbs

Before we get down to business, let’s look at a photo and relax our mind. Discuss this photo and what it makes you feel.

Returning home at dusk Las Pe√Īitas Beach, Le√≥n, Nicaragua
Returning home at dusk           Las Pe√Īitas Beach, Le√≥n, Nicaragua

Now let’s cut to the chase!

Pick the right word to fill in the gap:

1. We __________________________ up with a new marketing approach. = We developed/created a new structure.


2. We have to __________________________ out ( = develop) more productive meetings.


3. They cut __________________________ ( = eliminated) the middleman and started providing this service themselves.


4. Tom found a way to __________________________ ( = bypass/eliminate) this problem.

get down
get around
get up

5. Please __________________________ on. = Please continue.


Time for a small coffee break and a quick breather.  Look at the photo, enjoy the scenery and describe what you see. What does it evoke?


Lights in the lake Lake Atitl√°n, Solol√°, Guatemala
Lights in the lake           Lake Atitl√°n, Solol√°, Guatemala


OK, let’s get on with the job! Back to filling in the gaps.

6. We need to __________________________ ( = examine/review) these reports before 3:00 PM.

go through
get around
give off

7. We need to _________________ ( = schedule/arrange) an interview for Friday.

set up
take off
save up

8. The meeting has been __________________________ off ( = cancelled).


9. The president has called __________________________ ( = requested) sweeping changes in the way we

do business.

10. I knew they’d __________________________ to our way of thinking. = I knew that they would eventually accept our way of thinking.

get up
come around
feel out

 Congratulations, you’re starting to sound like if you were part of the brass and one of the big guys!


   ¬©  All photos by edudelcorral


The Business English Exercises                             The lessons and exercises


Complementary vocabulary for: A glimpse into Bolivia And Argentina

These are different words and expressions that may be used to describe the photographs.

          Lake Titicaca     

Dark skies. The sky is bright.

Magnificent clouds. A spectacular, dramatic, contrasting sky.

In the late afternoon or the early evening.

A stunning, charming panoramic view of a lake.
It is a picturesque scene.

The ships, vessels, and boats have anchored in the lake.
Some boats anchored in deeper waters.

          The Central Park

The photo depicts, describes, shows

A fantastic view of a park.

An urban scene.

the colorful balloons. 

A kiosk in the background.

Flowers in the forefront.

          The market

The market, a marketplace
The fruits are colorful.

An impressive variety of fruits and bottled drinks.

A man with his back to the camera,

The fruit booths or stall in the market.

The women are wearing blue aprons.
One of the women has her hair covered.

There are papayas, red and green apples, bright red strawberries.
It is a lively scene.
Different bottles on shelves on the wall.

          The mountains

A view of a city.
In the distance.
A city landscape with mountains in the background.

A dense concentration of brick buildings.

A brightly colored wall.

Snow covered mountains. The peaks are covered in snow.

Open spaces contrasting with the city view.

          The desert.

A landscape with a view of a desert.
Reaching out towards the horizon.

The green patches of vegetation.

A city in the distance, a city set in the desert.

A large, gigantic, huge light green cactus to the right of the view.

The tips of the cactus are white.

The vegetation shows different tones of green.

          The mural

The photo shows a mural.

The man and the woman both have black hair.

The bird is a condor with a prominent yellow beak.

The man’s mustache is thick and is black like his hair.

The woman’s hat is light yellow and quite large or rather big.

It also depicts a church tower, a bridge, and a train.


   ¬©  All photos by edudelcorral


Back to A glimpse into Bolivia and Argentina                                                   Read fragments from my books

Speaking exercise: A glimpse into Bolivia and Argentina

Speaking practice for IELTS, TOEFL, TOEIC exams

Look carefully at each photo. Describe the photo using the two words at the bottom of the photo.

You have 30 seconds preparation time and 45 seconds response time.

You can do this, trust yourself!

Lake Titicaca Copacabana, Bolivia

Lake Titicaca
Copacabana, Bolivia

   lake, boats

The Central Park Sucre, Chuquisaca Department, Bolivia
The Central Park           Sucre, Chuquisaca Department, Bolivia

park, people

The market Sucre, Chuquisaca Department, Bolivia
The market            Sucre, Chuquisaca Department, Bolivia

market, fruits

The mountains La Paz, La Paz Department, Bolivia
The mountains           La Paz, La Paz Department, Bolivia

clouds, city

The desert Humahuaca, Jujuy Department, Argentina
The desert             Humahuaca, Jujuy Department, Argentina


The mural Villazón, Potosí Department, Bolivia
The mural             Villaz√≥n, Potos√≠ Department, Bolivia

Man, Woman




   ¬©  All photos by edudelcorral

vocabulary for this exercise                versi√≥n en espa√Īol de la lecci√≥n