TOEFL Q12: Animal Science


In this lesson, your tutor will help you go over question six from the TOEFL speaking test. Listen to a short lecture.
Note to tutor: read the text to the student. The text is not presented to the student in the actual test.  

Now I want to tell you a little bit about animal behavior. Animals use something called display behavior to interact with other members of their species. To explain, I’ll talk about two animals known for their display behavior: the monkey and the peacock. We’ve all seen monkeys at the zoo yelling, seemingly for no reason, but this is actually a display behavior. You see, monkeys yell at other monkeys to gain advantages. Suppose a monkey has found some food. Another monkey also sees the food and wants it as well. In this case, the second monkey will give out a warning yell. This scares the first monkey away from the food. By using display behavior, the second monkey was able to get a meal. Perhaps the most famous example of display behavior comes from peacocks. Male peacocks are well known for their beautiful plumage. It is beautiful to look at, but it serves another purpose. Any idea what this could be? Yes, exactly. It attracts female peacocks. During mating season, male peacocks walk around to show off their plumage. Those with the most beautiful plumage can attract the most females. So, this behavior does not mean much for other animals, but it is essential behavior in peacock mating.



Using points and examples from the lecture, explain display behavior.

Preparation time: 20 seconds l Response time: 60 seconds


Use the chart below to summarize what you heard.

Topic The instructor discusses __. She illustrates this by talking about __ and __.
Detail 1 Monkeys __ at each other as display behavior. If one monkey finds food, another monkey will give out a __. This yell __ the first monkey away from the food.
Detail 2 Male peacocks have __. The purpose of it is to __. Male peacocks will show off their plumage during __. Those with the __ attract the most females.
Keywords monkey, warning yell, food, peacock, plumage, attract female

Sample Answer

Reading great sample answers is one way to improve. Go over the sample answer with your tutor. Ask questions if you have any.

Sample Answer

In the lecture, the instructor talks about the display behavior of animals. She illustrates this by mentioning the display behavior of monkeys and peacocks. First, the instructor claims that monkeys yell at each other as a form of display behavior. If one monkey gets food, another monkey will give out a warning yell. This scares the first monkey away from the food. The instructor then talks about the plumage of male peacocks. She explains that male peacocks use their plumage to attract females. Those with the best plumage attract the most females.

Further Study

Got more time? Here is a list of common vocab words related to the text you studied today. Go over each one with your tutor.

Additional Expressions
interact (v) to talk or do things with others
e.g. They’re quiet children who don’t interact much.
plumage (n) feathers that cover the body of a bird
e.g. The peacock has colorful plumage.
species (n) a group of animals that are similar
e.g. There are approximately 8,000 different species of ants.
yell (v) to say something very loudly
e.g. We saw people yelling for help.
gain (v) to get something that one wants
e.g. What do you hope to gain from this?
advantage (n) something that helps make another thing better
e.g. He enjoys an unfair advantage over us because of his wealth.
purpose (n) the reason why something is done or used
e.g. The purpose of the new resort is to attract more tourists.
mating season (n) the time of year when animals produce young
e.g. During mating season these whales will travel from the northern polar hemisphere towards the equator.
central (adj) main; most important
e.g. The novel’s central [=main] character is an orphan.
scare away (exp) to frighten someone or something away from someone or something
e.g. The bear scared away a lot of people from the campground.

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