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TOEFL Listening Skill 4: Understand The Speaker's Stance

In the Listening part of the test, you may be asked questions about the speaker's stance, or attitude. This type of question asks you how the speaker seems to feel about a particular topic. Often the speaker does not say directly how he or she feels; instead, you must understand the speaker's attitude from a combination of the words the speaker says, the context in which the words are said, and the way the words are said. You may, for example, be asked to determine if the speaker feels positive or negative, happy or sad, impressed or unimpressed, or enthusiastic or bored about a particular topic. You may also be asked about whether a speaker is doubtful or certain about what he or she is saying. To answer this type of question, you must listen to what is said in a particular context and how it is said, and then you must draw a conclusion about the speaker's stance, or attitude.

The following chart outlines the key points that you should remember about questions on the speaker's stance.

QUESTIONS ABOUT THE SPEAKER'S STANCE
HOW TO IDENTIFY THE QUESTION
Listen again to part of the passage.
What is the attitude, opinion, point of view of the speaker?
Select the sentence that best expresses how the speaker feels.
What does the speaker mean?
HOW TO FIND THE ANSWER


The part of the passage that indicates what the speaker says will you.
 

HOW TO ANSWER THE QUESTION
1. Listen carefully to what the speaker says in the part of the repeated.
2. Draw a conclusion about how the speaker feels.


Example 1: Consultation - Chess Club

(narrator) Listen to a conversation between two students.

(woman) Do you enjoy playing chess?

(man) Yes, I really do.

(woman) Well, you might think about joining the chess club. I belong to it, and I think you might really enjoy it, too.

(man) What does the chess club do?

(woman) The members get together once a week for friendly competitions. Then each semester, the three best players from the club compete in a tournament with players [rom other schools.

(man) The meetings once a week sound like a lot of fun, but ... uh ... my chess playing just ... uh ... might not be quite up to the level of tournament play.

(woman) Well, why don't you come with me this Wednesday and try out one of the weekly meetings? You can come to the meetings for a while and then see if you 're ready to compete in a tournament in a fell' months.

After you listen to the conversation, the question and answer choices appear on the com­puter screen as the narrator states the question. This is a stance question that asks about the speaker's attitude. To start this question, a part of the conversation is replayed.

Question 1: 

(narrator) Listen again to part of the conversation. Then answer the question.

(woman) Do you enjoy playing chess?

(man) Yes, I really do.

(woman) Well, you might think about joining the chess club. I belong to it, and I think you might really enjoy it, too.

(narrator) How does the woman seem to feel about the chess club?

The question and answer choices then appear on the computer screen as the narrator states the question.

1. How does the woman seem to feel about the chess club?

a. She thinks it is not as much fun as the tournaments.

b. She really thinks it is wonderful.

c. She thinks it does not meet often enough.

d. She thinks it is too competitive.

In the conversation, the woman says well, you might think about joining the chess club. I belong to it, and I think you might really enjoy it, too. From this, it can be determined that she really thinks it is wonderful. The second answer is therefore the best answer to this question.


Now look at an example of a different type of question that asks about the speaker's atti­tude.

Question 2: 

(narrator) Listen again to part of the conversation. Then answer the question.

(man) The meetings once a week sound like a lot of fun, but ... uh ... my chess playing just ... uh. ... might not be quite up to the level of tournament play.

 The question and answer choices then appear on the computer screen as the narrator states the question.

(narrator) Which sentence best expresses how the man feels?

 2.Which sentence best expresses how the man feels?

a. "I don't want to go to meetings unless I can play in tournaments."

b. "I don't want to take part in the meetings or the tournaments."

c. "I really don't feel comfortable playing in tournaments."

d. " I'm just about ready to play in tournaments."

In the conversation, the man says the meetings once a week sound like a lot of fun, but ... uh ... my chess playing just ... uh. ... might not be quite up to the level of tournament play. From this, it can be determined that the man would most likely enjoy going to the meetings but would not feel comfortable playing in tournaments. The third answer is therefore the best answer to this question.