Discourse Coherence: Enhancing the flow of your speech

Modified on Sat, 20 May 2023 at 08:36 AM

Imagine you are building a tower with blocks. Each block represents a sentence in your speaking response. When your tower is strong and steady, it means your sentences fit together nicely and make sense. This is what we call "discourse coherence."

To have good discourse coherence in TOEFL Speaking, it means that your sentences should connect smoothly, like putting blocks on top of each other without them falling down. You need to make sure that your ideas flow logically from one sentence to the next, so that everything you say fits together nicely.

When you have good discourse coherence, it helps the person listening to you understand your ideas better. It's like telling a story where all the parts make sense and are in the right order. So, when you speak in the TOEFL Speaking test, remember to build your tower of sentences carefully, making sure they fit together well and tell a clear story or express your ideas in a logical way.

Technical Explanation

DimensionModelConstructImpact on OverallDefinition
Discourse Coherence
Language UseConnectivesMildHow your response is formed to connect ideas.

Responses with a higher Discourse Coherence score (i.e. more connectives) correlate with high TOEFL Speaking scores.

Overall Score

  • Good: 26-30
  • Fair: 18-25
  • Limited: 10-17
  • Weak: 0-9

What this chart tells us

For the Discourse Coherence dimension, there is a mild relationship between the pronouns and conjunctions and connectives in your response and your overall TOEFL Speaking score. To earn a high overall TOEFL Speaking score, you likely need to produce a more cohesive response than most other test takers.

You are here - What this line means (and why the bars overlap)

  • the Discourse Coherence score for this response is 12 (i.e. it scored in the 12th percentile)
  • 88% of all responses scored higher; 12% of all responses scored lower
  • responses with a Discourse Coherence score of 12 are generally consistent with an overall TOEFL Speaking score in the Limited range
  • responses with a Discourse Coherence score between 55 and 76 scored in the Fair and the High ranges (i.e. where the blue/green bars overlap)
  • the Impact of this dimension is 2/4, meaning there is a mild correlation between Discourse Coherence and your overall TOEFL Speaking score


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