In July 2023, the TOEFL writing section changed. This shows a change in the college classroom because of new technology. The second TOEFL writing prompt now asks for students to participate in an academic discussion. This does not have a lot of integrating, but it is more like integrated writing than independent timed writing.
The academic discussion is like a discussion board assignment on Canvas. This is used in many college classes to work like a conversation in class. It looks a little like a social media post.
- There are instructions for the writing, like with all TOEFL questions.
- The discussion board has an opinion question from the professor that you need to answer.
- You can see answers from two other students.
- You have 10 minutes to explain and support your opinion.
You will not write an essay for this question. You will write a short response of about 100 words. This is more like a short paragraph.
You only have 10 minutes to read the other posts on the discussion board and add your answer. You need to think quickly.
Your paragraph should start with a 1 sentence clear statement of your opinion (like a thesis statement). The other sentences should provide reasons and examples for your opinion.
You can use the two student example answers as guides for how to organize your ideas. However, 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 respond to their answers with a sentences like I agree with James or My answer is like Emily's idea. However, your ideas and language should be clearly different from what they said.
In the TOEFL rubric, it explains that an answer will receive a high score if it is clearly connected to the professor's question and the supporting ideas are explained 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 question?
- 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: Discussion Board Practice
Add to the discussion board conversation about geneology 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.