TOEFL Listening Quiz: English Question Words 1

The conversations and discussions in TOEFL Listening and TOEFL Integrated Speaking focus on questions and answers, so English question words are important

In TOEFL audio tracks, students, professors, and other people on campus ask each other for information and give each other information. As you listen, it’s very important to recognize the question words you hear. When a speaker asks a question, the question word they use is a strong clue about what will be said next.

If you have trouble distinguishing the English question words from each other, you’re a lot more likely to get confused when you listen on the TOEFL. And boy can it be easy to get confused! “Who” sounds like “how,” “when” sounds like “where,” and “what” sounds like “why.” Then in connected speech, all of these words really start to sound like each other, don’t they?

The good news is that these word are distinct, and you can learn how to hear them distinctly. It all comes down to practice. One great way to practice these words is to quiz yourself on them. I’ve designed a quiz that helps you do just that. Read on

TOEFL Listening Quiz, Part 1: The English Question Words, Alone

Instructions: Listen to the three tracks below. In each track, I read the six English question words in a different order. Every track is followed by four answer choices. Choose the answer that lists the question words in the same order you heard them. An answer key and notes about the results will appear at the bottom of this post.

1) English Question Words: Advanced

Listen to this advanced audio track ONLY ONE time

Select the words that are in the same order as the advanced audio:

a) why, when, where, what, how, who
b) how, when, where, why, what, who
c) when, why, where, what, how, who
d) what, who, how, why, when, where

2) English Question Words: Intermediate

Listen to this intermediate audio track ONLY ONE time

Select the words that are in the same order as the intermediate audio:

a) why, who, what, where, how, when
b) when, who, what, where, how, why
c) how, where, who, what, when, why
d) what, when, how, where, why, who

3) English Question Words: High Beginner

Listen to this high beginner audio track ONLY ONE time

Select the words that are in the same order as the high beginner audio:

a) when, why, what, where, how, who
b) where, when, how, why, what, who
c) who, why, what, where, when, how
d) why, where, who, what, when, how

TOEFL Listening English Question Words

Answers For TOEFL Listening Quiz: English Question Words 1

  1. C
  2. A
  3. B

What the results mean

This quiz is designed to test the skill of understanding the English question words when they are spoken on their own. The highest-level question you can answer right corresponds to your level of ability with English question words. If you couldn’t correctly answer the advanced, intermediate, or high beginner questions without replaying the audio, you’re at beginner level. (And now that you’re done with the quiz, do replay the audio for extra listening practice.)

Bear in mind that this quiz measures only your ability to understand the English question words when they are spoken alone. This is a good skill to have — if you’re really good and understanding these words on their own, you’ll probably be good and understanding them in context too.

On the TOEFL itself, question words always appear in context. To understand these words in context, you’ll need to listen carefully to the question words and the words that come after them. Question words can sound less distinct in connected speech. But you’ll also have opportunities to figure out which question words you heard, based on what’s said next.

In my next two posts on this subject, I’ll give you a quiz on question words in connected speech, followed by a listening quiz for question words in connected speech with context.

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  • David Recine

    David is a Test Prep Expert for Magoosh TOEFL and IELTS. Additionally, he's helped students with TOEIC, PET, FCE, BULATS, Eiken, SAT, ACT, GRE, and GMAT. David has a BS from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and an MA from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. His work at Magoosh has been cited in many scholarly articles, his Master's Thesis is featured on the Reading with Pictures website, and he's presented at the WITESOL (link to PDF) and NAFSA conferences. David has taught K-12 ESL in South Korea as well as undergraduate English and MBA-level business English at American universities. He has also trained English teachers in America, Italy, and Peru. Come join David and the Magoosh team on Youtube, Facebook, and Instagram, or connect with him via LinkedIn!

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