Types of Lecture structures - TOEFL Listening

There are four types of lecture structures in TOEFL IBT Listeniing section: Compare and contrast, cause and effect relationship, abstract category/specific examples, sequences. 


This type of lecture in TOEFL Listening section involves finding similarities and differences between two or more things. Listen for the speaker to introduce this framework by using one of the following phrases:
  • · “several theories”
  • · “possible explanations”
  • · “Many different views”
After the frame is introduced, the speaker will list each item to be discussed and mention its characteristics. Listen for the words that indicate compare/contrast, such as
  • · “ in contrast”
  • · “ on the other hand”
  • · “similarly”
  • · “however”
  • · “additionally”
  • · “also”


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Some lectures attempt to explain why a certain situation occurs. Listen for the speaker introduce this framework by using one of the following phrases:
  • · “Why would this happen?”
  • · “What is the reason for this?”
  • · “How could this happen”
  • · “What leads to this?”
If it seems the speaker is describing cause-effect situation listen for the cause. The speaker will always use the following phrases to introduce the cause:
  • · X causes Y
  • · X results in Y
  • · X produces Y
  • · X leads to Y
  • · X brings about Y
  • · X is responsible for Y
After identifying the cause, look for the speaker to detail the effects with a phrase similar to the following:
  • · Y is caused by X
  • · Y results from X
  • · Y is due to X
  • · Y can be blamed on X
  • · Y is attributed to X
  • · Y happens because of X


This lecture structure involves moving from an abstract category to a specific example. A lecturer may introduce an abstract concept with one of the following phrases:
  • · “one approach…”
  • · “one theory..”
  • · “the idea is…”
  • · “the concept is…”
  • · “the basic premise is…”
Next, the speaker will move to the examples, using the phrases:
  • · “for example,…”
  • · one instance of this is…”
  • · “consider...”
  • · “we see this in/with…”
  • · “this is illustrated by/with…”
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A lecture may present a series of steps or stages. Listen for the lecturer to mention the following clues:
  • · “process”
  • · “development”
  • · “stages”
  • · “transition”
The steps or parts will typically be introduced with clear transitions, such as
  • · First…second…third…”
  • · “next…”
  • · “then…”
  • · “initially…”
  • · “finally,…”

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