Today, we’ll look at a simple three-step template for giving a good TOEFL Speaking Task 2 response. Simplicity is important in TOEFL Independent Speaking. After all, you have just 45 seconds to talk.
The three-step template I’m about to show you is not something you absolutely need to follow. But it is one way to keep your TOEFL Speaking Task 2 response straight and to the point.
Before I show you the steps, remember that the Speaking Task 2 question presents you with a social issue, and then asks you to take a side on that issue. You might be asked to say whether you think children should be allowed to use smart phones or whether parents should keep smart phones away from children. Or you might need to take a side on giving money to beggars, saying whether you think that kind of charity is a good idea or a bad one.
The three parts of the TOEFL Speaking Task 2 Template
To keep your answer straight and to the point, it helps to say which side you are taking right away. So that’s the first step of the template: take a side.
After you take a side, you need to explain why your side is right. This brings us to the next step: explaining your position on the social issue.
Finally, at the end, you should talk about the alternative to your position, if possible. Addressing the other side of the issue makes your explanation of your side seem very complete and well-thought out. Because you only have 45 minutes to talk, you may or may not have time for this final third part of the template. But it is a great way to conclude your TOEFL Speaking Task 2 response, if there’s enough time.
To memorize this three-step template, think of it as the “SEA template.” First you take a SIDE on the issue. Then you EXPLAIN your side. Finally (time allowing), you discuss the ALTERNATIVE to your position. Side. Explanation. Alternative. SEA!
Now, let’s use this template to answer an example TOEFL Speaking Task 2 question. Here’s the question:
- Some schools provide children with health education classes. Other schools send health information to parents, so that parents can teach their own children about health issues. Which approach do you think is better, and why?
On this question, I’ll take the side of teaching health education in school. My explanation of my position will focus on the health expertise a trained teacher has. And the alternative to my position is — as stated in the question — parents teaching health to their kids. Here is a SEA template, with my answer:
- SIDE: I believe that health education should be taught to children in school.
- EXPLANATION: Health teachers have special training and expertise in health. A good teacher can tell kids everything they need to know about health. And health teachers will know how to answer any questions that their students have about healthy living. With this information, kids can keep themselves healthy.
- ALTERNATIVE: If health education is just done by parents, kids may not get correct, expert health advice. Most parents aren’t health experts, and some parents might not even have the time to give their kids any health tips at all. So without regular health classes, kids could be misinformed about health, and might make unhealthy choices that are bad for them.
How to use my SEA TOEFL Speaking Task 2 template for yourself
The great thing about SEA is that it’s flexible. You could do just the first two steps, with a longer explanation section and no discussion of the alternative. Or you could simply make the alternative shorter. In my last post on TOEFL Speaking Task 2, you can see an example response that follows the SEA pattern, but devotes just one sentence to the alternative side of the issue.
For that matter, you could give a SEA response where the main supports for your side of the issue focus on the disadvantages of the alternative. This modified SEA template could start with a side, go to the alternative, and then end with a short explanation of the side you took. This would make it an SAE response. You could also just give your side and refute the alternative, for an SA response.
Play with the three elements in this template — Side, Explanation, and Response — and see what kinds of 45 second TOEFL Speaking Task 2 responses you can come up with. If the template helps you, you can stick with it and modify it as needed.