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Saturday, June 19, 2010

More 2010 Results

Here are the 10-week results for the 11 guys who started in late March, 2010. I used the masculine pronouns (he, his) to maintain anonymity, even though several of them were women.

One student left after 10 weeks to focus on GMAT, but the rest are continuing, and I expect them to continue to make good progress.

As always, please compare my students' results with those of students in any other TOEFL speaking preparation program!

1. Works at a Japanese company with international operations. Started at SP14/T56. Speech was very slow and full of hesitations at first. I felt sorry for this guy because he entered a very competitive class, and the other students were all scoring SP20-24/T95-105. No one enjoys being the lowest performer in class, but he found motivation from his classmates’ great performances, and worked really hard to catch up. He got SP18/T77 in 6 weeks and SP22/T80 in 9 weeks. Way to go!

2. Finance guy with good speed, but template strategies when he started. SP23/T90 at start, but SP score was inconsistent. Up to SP24/94 in 9 weeks, and SP score has been more consistent. I have my own “preferred strategies” for answering IND SP questions, and this guy sometimes chooses strategies which are different from my own. Sometimes they work really well, but sometimes they don’t.

3. Japanese trading company, good listening skills and SP23/T87 at start. This guy had some tongue control problems. I call it the “floating tongue” because the tongue seems to rise to the top of the mouth during vowel articulation for no apparent reason. Try this: say あ-い-う-え-お out loud. If you are doing it correctly, your tongue is at the bottom of your mouth. Now raise the tongue up to the center or top of the mouth and say あ-い-う-え-お. That was his problem. Worked on it and got a lot better. SP24/T94 in 9 weeks, and SP26 would not surprise me.

4. Japanese trading company, lived abroad for four years in teen years, but still had SP20/T85 at start. This guy had the unusual problem of speaking too fast, as well as the usual too many “uh” hesitations. He developed some great speech content, and got SP24 in 6 weeks and SP26/T102 in 9 weeks.

5. Works at an international company. SP20/T91 at start. Strong strategically, but mumbles if he’s not careful about moving his mouth sufficiently. Mumbling is never going to help your score. Up to SP22 in 9 weeks. [Update: SP23/T92 on June 26. Honestly, of course I can't promise that I can help everyone get up to this level, but if this guy can do it, most other Japanese men can too.]

6. Government guy with a clear voice but too many “uh” hesitations. Started at SP17/T76, up to SP19/T87 in 6 weeks and SP22/T95 in 10 weeks. He’s developed some really good strategies and should hit SP23/T100 soon. I wish all government employees were this easy to help. [Edit 6/29: Up to SP23/T103. Have fun studying GMAT!]

7. International finance guy, with voice clarity problems, but very good strategically. He uses my preferred strategies for speaking tasks more consistently than any other student right now. SP15/T89 at start, up to SP19/T98 in 9 weeks. Should get SP22-23 with a bit more voice clarity. [Edit 6/29: up to T102, but no SP score improvement. He can do it, though. He's strategically very strong, and his voice is good enough.]

8. Japanese finance company guy, very slow to start, SP15/T72 on first TOEFL, up to SP17/T87 in 10 weeks. His speed is improving, and can improve speed and strategies a little bit more, but his voice is clear, so he should get SP22-23 with work. [Edit June 25: Up to S19/T95 in 12 weeks.] [7/10 update: Up to SP20. If he works on moving his mouth a little bit more, he should be up to SP22-23 because he's strategically very smart.]

9. Japanese finance company guy, very clear voice, but slow speed at start, SP17/T84. Has made a lot of progress on his speed, and got up to SP19/T90 in 6 weeks, and SP22/T95 in 9 weeks. Should get up to SP23-24 soon. [Edit: up to SP23/T107 on June 13! Woo hoo! He is focusing on TOEFL now, but continuing with SP class. He can score SP24-26 with effort.]

10. Japanese finance company guy. This is another guy who speaks too fast. TOEFL SP is not a race! Yes, you need some speed, but if speed hurts your pronunciation too much, you have to slow down. SP19 has not improved, but total score has gone from T65 to T81. [Edit 6/29: still no improvement on SP, but TOEFL score is up to 92.] [7/10 update: SP23/T97. SP improved by four points, and he should be around SP23 consistently if he remembers to slow down a little bit.]

11. Japanese finance company guy with both speed and clarity problems at first. Started at SP14/T66, but worked very hard to improve both speed and intonation. Up to SP19/T82 in 9 weeks, and will improve more. [Edit 6/29: up to SP23. SP is now his highest score. This is not typical, but about 20% of my students have SP scores as high as or higher than their LS scores. If you practice as hard as this guy, you will succeed on TOEFL SP.]