Whenever you see a specific method or template for TOEFL Writing or Speaking, remember that templates are just suggestions. There are always alternatives. For example, today’s Speaking Task 2 template is an alternative to the last TOEFL Speaking Task 2 template I showed you.
Introducing the MEEM Template for TOEFL Speaking Task 2
Previously, I gave you a template I call the SEA template. Today, we’re going to look at a template I like to call the MEEM template. MEEM stands for: Main idea, Examples and Explanations, Main Idea again.
The MEEM pattern for TOEFL Speaking Task 2 responses is a little bit like the pattern for the five paragraph essay. Like the five paragraph essay, this structure for a speaking response talks about the main idea in its introduction, then expands on the main idea after the introduction, and finally reviews the main idea in a concluding statement.
Unlike the five paragraph essay, a MEEM response to TOEFL Speaking Task 2 won’t necessarily have paragraph-length introductions and conclusions. You only have 45 seconds to speak, so think of this template as a simplified, spoken version of a five paragraph essay… or as a simplified spoken version of TOEFL Writing Task 2.
Transcript of an example MEEM Speaking Task
Now we’ll look at how MEEM can work in an actual response. The response will be to this example TOEFL Speaking Task 2 question:
- Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Use details and examples to explain your argument.
It is very important for the government to fund the arts.
Now, here’s a response, with each part of the MEEM template labeled:
- MAIN IDEA: Although I don’t think government funding for the arts is bad, I also don’t think it’s as important as other government funds.
- EXPLANATIONS AND EXAMPLES: Art is enjoyable, and having well-funded arts is wonderful, but not always practical. The first job of the government is to provide public services, and the second job of the government is to help people in need. Art comes after these priorities. For example, the government shouldn’t pay any money to the arts if it can’t maintain good roads and schools, or lacks the funding to help families out of poverty.
- MAIN IDEA, RESTATED: So for these reasons, I think art funding should never be treated as an important priority. Too many other government projects are more important.
There are a lot of different patterns you can use to give a TOEFL Independent Speaking response. You could even choose to give responses that are completely impromptu — spoken without a pre-planned pattern. But for most TOEFL students, I recommend having at least one pattern in mind, and maybe two or three. That way, you’ll always have a pattern handy for any TOEFL Independent Speaking response you see on the test.