New TOEFL Speaking Task 2 (Part 1) by John Grant

Recently, TOEFL has modified the pattern that TOEFL Task 2 campus conversations typically take. In this blog post, I will examine what this new type of task looks like. In an upcoming post, I will show you how you can answer it.

We are all familiar with the usual pattern as follows.

In the reading, there is a proposal to improve things around campus or an announcement from the university of a plan to change something. Then, we hear a conversation between a man and a woman about the change.

In this pattern, the person has either completely agreed or completely disagreed with the plan or proposal. Our job is to summarize the plan or proposal, the person’s opinion, and both reasons.

While we still usually see this pattern on the TOEFL test, ETS has added a third way the conversation could develop. In this new pattern, the man or the woman agrees with the main change and agrees with the first reason that is explained in the reading.  However, they disagree with the second reason. Let’s look at an example.

Read this announcement from the university.


Changes to the Multimedia Department’s Library

The university board has decided to close the computer lab in the multimedia department’s library. This decision was taken because, according to a recent survey, a majority of students in this department own their own laptop and use it exclusively for their work. The library will continue to lend out laptops to students that do not have them.

In addition, the space that the computer lab currently occupies can be used to increase the number of books about multimedia that the library has to offer.


To summarize, we can say the reading makes these points:


Type: Announcement from multimedia college.
Plan:  They want to close the computer lab in the library.
Reason 1: Most students have their own laptops.
Reason 2: It will free up space so they can add more books.


Now, let’s look at a transcript of a conversation between a man and a woman discussing the announcement.

Male student Have you heard about the computer lab?


Female student I sure have, and I think it’s about time.


Male student Why’s that?


Female student Well, they’re right that most students have their own laptops these days. Every year they’re getting cheaper and cheaper. Also, in our field, you need your own laptop so you can do the homework. Those old computers in the lab just weren’t being used.


Male student So you must be happy that they’re getting new books.
Female student That is one thing that bothers me.


Male student What do you mean?


Female student Multimedia is such a changing field that by the time books are published, they’re already out of date. I mean, if you’re going to write a paper, you’d head to the Internet first for the latest information.


Male student I see what you mean.


Female student I think that extra space would be better used as a meeting room for group projects.


As you can see, the woman agrees with the change and the first reason for the change. However, she doesn’t think it’s a good idea to buy more books, and she offered an alternative on how to use the extra space.

In my next post, I will show you how to answer this question.


IELTS Reading & Listeningの「大文字 or 小文字」問題 ― by 土橋

「IELTS ReadingとListeningの空欄補充問題は、解答内容やスペルが正しくても、すべて小文字で書くと不正解になりますか?」



このご質問に対する答えは、「IELTS ReadingとListeningの空欄補充問題では、解答内容とスペルに誤りがなければ、すべて大文字もしくは小文字で書いても正解となります」です。つまり、ある問題の答えが「Angela」だったとして、以下はすべて正解です。




TOEFL®︎ iBT本試験;自宅での受験(SHE)日本で開始! by教務部

COVID-19の影響で多数のテスト会場が閉鎖となる中、遂に日本でも自宅で受験できるiBT本試験=Special Home Editionがスタートしました。






因みに、Windows PCでないと受験出来ないと思っておられる方がいらっしゃるかもしれませんが、私も含めて大抵の(?)Macユーザーは、BootCampか仮想ソフトでWindowsを入れてると思います。*因みに私はParallelsでWindows10を入れています。そういう環境であればMac🖥でも受験可能です。


TOEFL®︎ iBT本試験;臨時会場閉鎖! by教務部




Imagine yourself as the grader – by James Giguere

Hello, and thanks for visiting the instructor blog! Are you enjoying the autumn foliage (紅葉)? I recently took a quick trip to Gujo in Gifu-ken, and the leaves were already starting to turn red and yellow. I definitely recommend visiting there if you can find the time.

My name is Jim, and I teach TOEFL and SAT here at AGOS. I want to write a little bit about a trick that I use whenever I take a standardized test, especially a language test: just imagine that you are the grader.

This applies to both TOEFL and IELTS, and can be used for all sections, but let’s take the TOEFL Speaking test as an example. Imagine yourself grading a similar speaking test in Japanese. What features would prove to you that a speaker is comfortable and confident speaking Japanese? Would you be listening for their vocabulary and grammar, their ideas, or their delivery? What kinds of common mistakes do you think test takers might make?

Thinking about the TOEFL speaking test from this perspective will help you realize what’s most important to graders. The skills that you’re focusing on while you study may be different from what the graders will be paying attention to. There are some common themes, though. Here are a few points that will always catch a grader’s attention:

• Basic grammatical errors. As you’re practicing your speaking and writing, try to catch yourself every time you make a subject/verb agreement error (“she go” instead of “she goes”), singular/plural error (“I bought two book”), or other common error. One or two of these mistakes may not affect your TOEFL speaking score, but making too many will show the grader that you aren’t comfortable with English grammar. Think about a foreign person speaking Japanese – a couple of mistakes wouldn’t be too bad, right? But mistakes in every sentence would probably make you doubt their language ability. Overcoming this takes practice, practice, and more practice.
• Nervousness. Everybody gets a little bit anxious during a test, and the TOEFL speaking test can definitely make you nervous, but do your best not to think about it. Imagine that you’re talking to a friend, colleague, or classmate rather than a computer. As a grader, wouldn’t you give a higher score to someone who seems comfortable and calm while speaking Japanese?
• Memorized lines. Remember: TOEFL speaking graders often listen to dozens of responses per day, and they can usually tell when a line is memorized. If you memorize a line, make sure that your delivery sounds natural and not too different from the rest of your response. Otherwise, the memorized lines may actually hurt your score rather than help it. Try to imagine what it would sound like listening to someone robotically repeating obviously memorized lines of Japanese, rather than natural, fluent Japanese. Which would you give a higher grade to?

These are just a few of the things that TOEFL graders listen for, but spend a few minutes thinking of what you would pay attention to as a grader, and I’m sure you’ll come up with some more!

リーディング基礎力養成法~スラッシュ読み — by 米田王丈





Banana plants are a major cash crop because of the worldwide popularity of their nutritious and versatile fruits.



Banana plants are / a major cash crop / because of the worldwide popularity / of their nutritious / and versatile fruits.//

バナナは/ 主な換金作物だ/ 世界的な人気のために/ その栄養価の高い/ そして用途が広い果実の//   ・・・こんな風に頭の中で処理します。



IELTS とイギリス英語 — by 土橋健一郎


皆さんもご存知の通り、IELTSはケンブリッジ大学英語検定機構 (Cambridge English Language Assessment) などによって運営されている試験です。イギリス発祥の試験ですから、そこで扱われる英語はイギリス英語が中心となります。アメリカ英語が中心のTOEFLとは大きく異なりますね。



「fancy」という単語は名詞、形容詞としても使う事が出来ますが、イギリス英語では動詞として使われることが多いようです。実際、IELTS リスニング・テストでは動詞として登場することがほとんどです。

意味としては「~が欲しい」となります。「want」と同じですね。用法は「fancy 名詞」もしくは「fancy 動詞-ing」の形になります。以下の例を見てみましょう。

What do you fancy doing, Alex?
I’m too tired for the walking tour, but I don’t fancy the cruise, either.



リスニング基礎力養成法 — ディクテーション — by 加藤正人


TOEFL iBTやIELTSという試験では、ネイティブスピーカーがナチュラルスピードで話す英語をかなり正確に理解する必要があります。しかし、日本人学習者の多くがリスニングを苦手としています。実際、かくいう私自身も昔はその一人でした。では、どのようにしてリスニング力を養成すれば良いのでしょうか? その方法はさまざまありますが、もっとも時間のかかる方法の一つではあるけれど、非常に功を奏してくれるものがディクテーションです。これは英語の音声をCDなどから数回流し、カタマリごとに英語で書きとっていくものです。



Iシュドンダフトゥ relyオアダーpeopleファーリ

I shouldn’t have to rely on other people for it.



Improve your pronunciation and get higher scores! – by Michael Thundercliffe

Hi everyone, welcome to the instructor blog! I hope the summer heat isn’t causing you too much夏ばて.  I’ve been living in Japan for 11 years, and I’m still not used to this weather! I miss the mild English summers…

I’m Mike, and today, I’m going to be talking about the importance of ‘delivery’ (pronunciation and fluency) in the TOEFL and IELTS speaking tests. A lot of test takers in Japan don’t realise how important this is, but delivery is a third of your mark in the TOEFL test, and in IELTS, pronunciation is 25% of your grade! In both tests, these areas tend to pull people’s scores down.

‘Delivery’ is probably the biggest difficulty for Japanese speakers – but why is this? Well, at school, you probably learnt a lot of grammar and vocabulary, and you probably did a lot of reading, writing, listening and speaking practice too. However, you probably didn’t learn that much about pronunciation.

Let’s listen to an example. Here’s a recording of a Japanese speaker and a native English speaker saying the same sentence:

‘I want to go out tonight to eat with my friends.’

Japanese speaker:

Native English speaker:

As you can hear, there’s a big difference! The native speaker sounds more like this:

‘ah wanna go wow tonigh tah wee wi mah frens’

Sometimes my students ask me – do I really have to sound like that? Well, you don’t need to be perfect, but you need to be as close as possible to improve your speaking scores!

So how can you improve? The most important thing is to listen to a lot of English. This could be recordings from your Agos class CDs, podcasts, radio programs, Youtube videos, films, TV shows, drama or anything else. Try shadowing to say the words exactly like native speakers, paying close attention to stress, intonation and how the speaker links words together smoothly. Becoming a good listener and a good mimic will really help – you can do it!

We also have a Pronunciation and Fluency class (発音矯正)at Agos – if delivery is a problem for you, then this would be a good place to start!