Sustained Speech (SpeechRater™ Dimension)

Sustained Speech in TOEFL Speaking

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In the context of TOEFL® Speaking, Sustained Speech is crucial as it reflects the ability to speak continuously for an extended period without unnecessary pauses.

This skill is pivotal not only in everyday communication, where it’s essential for presentations, speeches, and conversations, but also in achieving a high TOEFL® Speaking score.

Effective Sustained Speech in TOEFL® Speaking requires careful planning and organization of thoughts, alongside proficient use of both vocalization and nonverbal cues to clearly and fluently convey ideas.

This competence is directly linked to a clear and fluent speaking style, significantly influencing your score in the TOEFL® Speaking section.

What is Sustained Speech in TOEFL® Speaking?​

Sustained Speech (SS)  in TOEFL® Speaking context is a SpeechRater™ indicator of your fluency. It is one of 12 dimensions measured on My Speaking Score.

SS is a measure of how smoothly you speak based on the number of words you utter without any pauses.

  • You should pause less frequently and speak faster. 
  • Top achievers on the TOEFL speaking test speak 158 words per minute on average.

Your Sustained Speech Score​ in TOEFL® Speaking

Your SS score is calculated based on the number of words you speak without any interruption and the number of fillers per second.

  • Higher SS score = fewer pauses + more words without interruption.
  • SS is scored out of 100.
  • Your score is indicated by the “You are here” line.
  • This response outscored 57% of the test takers in ETS’s database.
  • 43% of the responses scored higher in this one dimension.
  • This response is consistent with other TOEFL Speaking responses in the 18-25 range.

Tip: Learn more about how to read My Speaking Score charts, including the Impact score and what the coloured bars mean, in our knowledge base.   

Why You Should Care

  • Those who score 26+ on TOEFL Speaking have an average Sustained Speech score of 92.97.
  • SS is one of the strongest predictors of your overall TOEFL speaking score.
  • Speaking Rate correlates well with some other indicators, such as pause frequency, distribution of pauses, phrase length, and speaking rate (when your Sustained Speech score is high, your score on these other indicators is likely to be high).

Increase Your Score

Reduce the number of times you pause in your speech and try to speak longer without any interruption. Stronger speakers

  • Pause less frequently.
  • Speak faster with few or no interruptions.
  • Read audio waveforms for gaps.
Fewer gaps mean fewer pauses. The longer the space between two pauses, the higher your Sustained Speech score.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Can I Practice Sustained Speech Effectively?

To improve your Sustained Speech abilities for the TOEFL® Speaking section, consider the following strategies:

  • Practice Regularly: Engage in speaking activities daily. You could describe a scene, tell a story, or explain a concept without pausing. Record yourself to identify and reduce pauses and fillers.
  • Read Aloud: Reading passages aloud can help you become more fluent and articulate. Focus on maintaining a steady pace without unnecessary pauses.
  • Use Transitional Phrases: Learn and incorporate transitional phrases into your speech. These phrases can help you connect ideas smoothly, reducing the need for pauses.
  • Seek Feedback: Practice speaking with a friend, tutor, or language exchange partner who can provide constructive feedback on your fluency and suggest areas for improvement.
  • Immerse Yourself in English: Listen to and mimic native speakers through podcasts, movies, and conversations. Pay attention to their pacing, intonation, and how they manage pauses.

What Strategies Can Help Reduce Pauses And Fillers In My Speech?

To reduce pauses and fillers in your speech, focus on techniques that enhance your comfort and familiarity with the language. This could include expanding your vocabulary to reduce the need for pauses while you search for words, practicing speaking on a variety of topics to become more versatile, and engaging in mindfulness or relaxation techniques to reduce anxiety that can lead to more fillers. Additionally, participating in toastmasters clubs or public speaking groups can offer practical experience and constructive feedback in a supportive environment.

How Does The Sustained Speech Score Correlate With Other Aspects Of Language Proficiency, Such As Vocabulary And Grammar?

While the blog post focuses on fluency and the absence of pauses in Sustained Speech, it’s important to understand how this aspect correlates with broader language proficiency:

  • Vocabulary: A rich vocabulary allows for more precise and varied expression, which can lead to more fluid speech. Using a wide range of vocabulary correctly can also reduce the need for pauses as you search for words.
  • Grammar: Good grammatical knowledge enables you to construct sentences more quickly and accurately, contributing to smoother speech. Understanding complex grammatical structures allows for more sophisticated expression without undue pausing.
  • Confidence and Comprehension: Fluency in Sustained Speech is not just about speaking without pauses; it’s also about the confidence to express ideas clearly and the ability to comprehend and respond to spoken language effectively.

Improving your Sustained Speech involves a holistic approach to language learning, incorporating vocabulary, grammar, listening comprehension, and speaking practice.

ChatGPT & TOEFL® Speaking Prep

The AI-powered virtual assistant ChatGPT is an excellent resource for TOEFL Speaking practice. With carefully written instructions, it delivers beautiful responses to your inputs. Though you may need to ask a question more than once, the process of coaxing out various responses from ChatGPT is not only fun but also informative.

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