Vowels (SpeechRater™ Dimension)

Vowels in TOEFL Speaking

What’s Inside?

Table of Contents

What is Vowels in TOEFL® Speaking?​

Vowels (Vo) in TOEFL® Speaking is a SpeechRater™ indicator of your pronunciation.

Vo is a measure of how closely your vowel sounds resemble a native speaker

Stronger speakers tend to pronounce words very similar to a native speaker.

Your Vowels Score​ in TOEFL® Speaking

Your Vo score is calculated based on how well you pronounce vowels in comparison to native speakers.

Vowels is scored out of 100. Your score is indicated by the “You are here” line.

  • This response outscored 81% of the test takers in ETS’s database.
  • 19% of the responses scored higher in this one dimension.
  • This response is consistent with other TOEFL Speaking responses in the 25-30 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 Vo score of 89.87.
  • Vo is one of the stronger predictors of your overall TOEFL speaking score.
  • Vo correlates well with some other indicators, such as phrase length and speaking rate (when your Vowels score is high, your score on these other indicators is likely to be high).

Increase Your Score

Make sure that you pronounce vowels similarly to a native speaker as much as possible. If you think you should improve your Vowels score, you should listen to the native pronunciation of words, especially when you are not completely sure about how you should pronounce them. You can also use an app or tool that can help you compare your pronunciation to that of a native speaker and realize the differences between them.

On My Speaking Score, remember to listen to your recording again to see if you pronounced some sounds incorrectly. You may need to get support from an expert who can give you feedback on your pronunciation.

Remember, Vowels is an important measure of your pronunciation, and it has a high impact on your overall SpeechRater score.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Is The Vowels (Vo) Score Calculated In TOEFL® Speaking?

The Vowels (Vo) score in the TOEFL® Speaking section is calculated using advanced speech recognition technology, specifically the SpeechRater™ system. This technology assesses your pronunciation by comparing the acoustic properties of your vowel sounds to those of native English speakers. The evaluation considers factors like the duration, pitch, and intensity of vowels, ensuring a comprehensive analysis of your pronunciation. While the exact algorithm is proprietary, it’s designed to objectively measure how closely your vowel sounds align with the standard pronunciation models of native speakers.

What Exercises Can Help Improve Vowel Pronunciation For Non-Native Speakers?

Improving your vowel pronunciation involves a combination of listening, practicing, and getting feedback. Here are some exercises to help:

  • Listen and Repeat: Regularly listen to native speakers through movies, podcasts, or audiobooks. Pause after sentences and try to replicate their pronunciation as closely as possible.
  • Minimal Pairs Practice: Work on pairs of words that differ only in one vowel sound (e.g., “ship” vs. “sheep”). This helps in distinguishing subtle differences between vowels.
  • Use Pronunciation Apps: Several apps are designed to help with pronunciation, offering feedback on your speech. These can be invaluable for practicing specific sounds.
  • Record and Compare: Record yourself pronouncing words or sentences, then compare your pronunciation to that of a native speaker. This method helps in self-identifying areas of improvement.
  • Engage with a Language Tutor: A tutor can provide personalized feedback on your pronunciation, helping you to correct mistakes more effectively.

What Are The Other Indicators That Correlate With The Vowels Score, And How Do They Impact The Overall TOEFL Speaking Score?

Besides the Vowels score, other indicators such as phrase length, speaking rate, and grammatical accuracy play significant roles in determining your overall TOEFL Speaking score. For instance:

  • Phrase Length: This measures the average length of spoken phrases, reflecting fluency and complexity in speech.
  • Speaking Rate: This assesses the speed of your speech, indicating how naturally you can communicate ideas.
  • Grammatical Accuracy: The correct use of grammar also affects your score, as it’s crucial for clear and effective communication.

A high Vowels score often correlates with higher scores in these other areas because clear pronunciation contributes to overall comprehensibility and fluency. Improving your vowel pronunciation can, therefore, have a positive ripple effect on these other aspects of your speaking performance, ultimately boosting your total TOEFL Speaking score.