A change to the writing section of the TOEFL was announced, beginning in July 2023. This change to the TOEFL shows a clear shift in the college experience as technology has advanced. The second TOEFL writing prompt now asks for students to participate in an academic discussion.
The discussion is set up like a discussion board similar to what is used in many college classes today. There is an explanation of the task, as with all TOEFL questions. The discussion board shows a question from the professor and responses from other students. You have 10 minutes to express and support your opinion.
The goal of this task is to show that you can actively participate in an online class discussion and add to the conversation with your own unique ideas.
This task does not result in an essay. You should have a short response of about 100 words.
Because you only have 10 minutes to read the other posts on the discussion board and add your own contribution, you need to think quickly.
Your response should begin with a 1 sentence clear statement of your opinion (similar to a thesis statement). The following sentences should provide support for your opinion.
The other student response can be used as a guide for how to organize your ideas, but you should be careful to add unique thoughts to your post. You do not want to repeat what someone else has already said. You can acknowledge the thought with a statement such as I agree with James or My perspective is similar to Emily's post. However, your ideas and language should be clearly distinct from what others have said.
In the TOEFL rubric, it is stated that a response would receive a high score if it is clearly connected to the prompt and the ideas are communicated well.
Exercise 1: Rubric
Review the TOEFL rubric for the second writing task "Writing for an Academic Discussion." Then discuss the following questions with a partner:
- Why do you think the TOEFL has added this type of writing task?
- What similarities and differences are there between the expectations for writing task 1 and 2?
- What challenges do you expect with this type of writing?
Exercise 2: Integrated Writing Practice
Read the passage.
As you know, our first beta test of our app did not go as hoped. Aside from the code issues that are being worked out now, the testers rated the app below the major social media platforms out there in terms of content. The marketing interns put together a simple focus group with our target customers to find out more about their preferences on the apps we would be competing with. Will you take a look and send me a report on your findings? We need to let the programmers know by tomorrow if we have some major changes to make to the type of content users can share and find in their feed. I expect your report by end of day.
Now watch the video of a product focus group.
Social Media Focus Group
Set a timer for 20 minutes. Write your response to the question below. Remember to leave time for revision.
- Write a short report (1-2 paragraphs) for your boss explaining the likes and dislikes the focus group mentioned about social media platforms. Include any suggestions you might have for a new prototype of your company's app that would increase user satisifaction. Be sure to include specific references to the feedback from the video.
Exercise 3: Discussion Board Practice
Add to the discussion board conversation about social media in your Canvas course. Your teacher will provide the question and two example student responses. Set a timer for 10 minutes. Your addition to the discussion board should be about 100 words.