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David RecineRecently, a student from Mexico contacted me, worried about his pronunciation on TOEFL speaking. It’s understandable that he would worry. Accented English is often treated as imperfect English in ESL exams.

The good news is that it is possible to get a full four points in TOEFL speaking, even with an accent. (This takes practice, though – even if you don’t have an accent!) To get four points on TOEFL speaking questions, you need to make sure that your accent does not make it hard for the listener to understand you. Accent problems can vary, depending on your native language. This post will focus on tips for native Spanish speaking Magooshers from Latin America and Spain.

There are a number of good resources online for native Spanish speakers who want to reduce their accents and speak English more clearly. Here are a few that I find especially useful:

If possible, you should also check your pronunciation with a native English speaker, or an English speaker who has a native language other than Spanish. If you are having trouble finding the right kind of speaking practice partner, consider using one of the free language exchanges mentioned in this post .

In my own experience working with native Spanish speaking students, I’ve found that the biggest challenge is often intonation. By intonation, I mean the overall rhythm and tone of whole sentences and longer speeches. Often, when a native Spanish speaker’s intonation is “off, ” the English words seem indistinct and are hard to follow. You can learn more about English intonation (and listen to some audio examples) in these two Magoosh TOEFL Blog posts:

This will be the first of several posts where I look at special English challenges for different kinds of language speakers. If you would like speakers of your native language to be represented in an upcoming post, let me know! You can post your request in the comments, or contact me through .

We highly encourage students to help each other out and respond to other students' comments if you can!



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