Last semester and for the next semester of my college career, I’m essentially “directing,” leading, and/or supervising (I actually have no idea what my official title ends up being, I’m just there to encourage and direct conversation) for a group of English L2 learners, exclusively international students, and nearly always Korean exchange students. This directive is known by the secret title of “Speaking lab.”
While Korea is indeed a small country compared to the continent of Asia and to the entirety of the landmass that we call our world, it’s a country of culture, diversity, history, and some fascination for me. At the beginning of my freshman year, I couldn’t even have told you the difference between North and South Korea. I couldn’t have pointed it out on a map. I couldn’t have picked out a Korean or even the Korean language in a crowd of languages and people groups.
I’ve learned so much, and there’s still so much more to be discovered.
I can read Hangul – slowly, and imperfectly, but potentially. I can speak more than one phrase with a halting American accent (I’ve never been able to catch the rhythm and the smooth transition from word-to-word in the language). I can tell you the names of cities and restaurants and foods, and why North Korea is different than South Korea, and why North Korea and South Korea are considered separate entities now even though some refer to it all as one Korea.
I’ve learned much from friends, roommates, and Facebook. I’ve learned from K-pop songs, and phrases shouted across the Dining Hall, and asking for any “vocab word of the day” time and again.
But I’ve also learned a lot from Speaking lab sessions. I’ve learned how to say “hungry” and “delicious” and “Jeju.” I’ve learned about the general Korean culture’s view of dating, eating, drinking, home life, beauty, etc.
My students helped me, and I only hope that I helped them, too. This semester, I’ll be more prepared, with a better plan and with actual expectations.
My purpose in Speaking lab is to direct conversation. Thus, in the rest of this post you’ll find 40 TOEFL Practice Questions for the English language learner, aka the vast majority of the conversation topics that we’ll be focusing on for Speaking lab next semester. Some -better than others. Some – golden opportunities. I guess we’ll just have to experiment to find out which one’s which…
TOEFL (Request lots of description. Lots and lots of description!)
1. Who is your best friend? Describe this person and say why he/she is your best friend.
2. What is your favorite place to visit on weekends? Describe it and explain why it is your favorite place to go.
3. What is your happiest childhood memory? Describe it and give reasons to explain why it is your happiest memory.
4. What is your most important possession? Describe it and say why it is so important.
5. Talk about a person in your life who has inspired you. Describe the person and explain why you found him/her inspirational.
6. Where do most like to go to eat out? Describe this place and say why you like it most.
7. Talk about an important national holiday in your home country. Describe it and explain why it is important.
8. What is your favorite book or movie? Describe it and say why it is your favorite.
9. Who do you feel close to in your family (or extended family)? Describe this person and say why you feel close to him/her.
10. Where is a good place to have fun in your city or town? Describe this place and explain why it is fun.
11. Talk about an experience in your life that made you feel embarrassed. Describe it and say why it was embarrassing.
12. What was your favorite subject at school? Describe it and explain why this subject was your favorite one.
13. Who is an important person in your country? Describe this person and explain why he/she is important.
14. Talk about an interesting tourist attraction you have been to. Describe it and say why it was interesting.
15. Talk about a time when you experienced success. Describe the experience and say why it was a success for you.
16. What is your favorite style of clothing? Describe it and explain why it is your favorite.
17. Name a person whom you truly admire. Describe the person and say why you admire him/her.
18. Think of a place that makes you feel relaxed and peaceful. Describe it and explain why it is relaxing and peaceful for you.
19. Talk about a difficulty you have overcome in your life. Describe the experience and say why it was difficult to overcome.
20. What is your most useful study aid? Describe it and explain why it is useful in helping you to study.
21. Talk about a teacher who had a positive influence on you. Describe this person and explain why he/she was so influential to you.
22. Where is your favorite place to study? Describe this place and say why it is a good place for you to study.
23. Talk about a positive experience with learning or using English. Describe the experience and say why it was a positive one.
24. What is your favorite kind of food? Describe it and explain why it is your favorite.
25. Name a famous or influential figure who has inspired you. Describe this person and say why he/she has been inspirational to you.
26. Which place has fond memories for you? Describe this place and explain why it is memorable to you.
27. When have you been happily surprised by something? Describe the experience and say why the surprise was a happy one for you.
28. Describe a resource that helped you to do something better than before. Describe it and explain why it was helpful to you.
29. Describe a person from your country’s history. Why do you think this person was important?
30. Where would you like to go to spend a vacation? Describe this place and say why you would like to holiday there.
31. Talk about something you and your family enjoy doing together. Describe it and explain why you all enjoy it.
32. What is your favorite recreational activity? Describe it and say why you enjoy doing it.
33. Who is the most intelligent person you know? Describe the person and say why you think he/she is intelligent.
34. Where would you most like to live? Describe this place and explain why you would like to live there.
35. What is your favorite season of the year? Describe the season and explain why you like it so much.
36. What custom from your home country are you most fond of? Describe the custom and explain why you are fond of it.
37. Which person are you most likely to go to with a personal problem? Describe this person and say why you would go to him/her in particular.
38. Name a place in your country you would recommend others to visit. Describe this place and explain why you would recommend it.
39. Talk about an event from the past that you would like to relive. Describe the original event and say why you would like to relive it.
40. What is your favorite way of getting around? Describe it and explain why it is your favorite means of transportation.
Well, that was fun…
So, you’re in my Speaking lab this semester? Best of luck to you and yours. I hope you like talking, and if you don’t like talking, then I hope you like listening – to me, and to your peers.