Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Taking notes in a lecture

by University East Anglia. Study skills for international students
A lecturer generally follows a very predictable pattern in the way s/he imparts information. In addition, there will be certain expressions that signal the information which is about to follow. Some examples are:
  • ‘I am going to begin today by…’
  • ‘There are three important reasons…’
  • ‘Let us now move on to…’
  • ‘Another factor that…’
This kind of language alerts the listener to the speaker’s intentions and provides students with a way to follow the direction in which the lecture is moving.
How does this help the student who is struggling to identify the important points? Firstly, it indicates the relative importance of the information. For example:
  • Is it a main point or is it a detail?
  • Can the information be inferred from previous points in the lecture or not?
  • Do we already know this or is it new information?
Secondly, if you can identify the organisation of the lecture (this is usually indicated in the introduction) this will give you an idea about the type of notes you might take during the lecture. Although many students use linear notes (notes which follow the order of the points made in the lecture), it is worth thinking about some other ways of keeping notes.
  • A tree diagram for notes about classification and descriptions will eliminate the need for you to write too many words
  • A two-column table can makes quick work of jotting down advantages and disadvantages
  • Mind-maps are incredibly useful ways of noting down key words or important facts, particularly when we are not sure of exactly how many there will be. Many students have also observed that the visual nature of such notes makes the information much easier to remember
In order to be able to do all this, you need to have a reasonable level of English and in particular your listening skill needs to be good. Taking notes means being able to focus on two things at the same time: listening to the lecture and writing down the most important information you hear and see. While it may seem impossible, it is a skill that can be developed and perfected with sufficient time and lots of practice.
Apart from experimenting with the use of new layouts for notes, and exploring to what extent diagrams can help the task of note-taking, other strategies can also be used. For example, full spellings are not required: abbreviations and symbols do an amazing job of speeding up the transfer of information you have heard onto paper. Also, sentences are not necessary: bullet points and key words may be sufficient.
Finally, as soon as possible after the lecture, review the notes for completeness and easy understanding. If there are gaps, it will be easier to fill them in while the information is still fresh in your mind and/or while our co-listeners’ notes are still easily accessible. The ultimate test of effective notes is: are they helpful when you need them - no matter how long after the lecture that may be?

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Facts and figures about verbs in academic writing

by University of East Anglia

  • 18 % of all verbs are past simple
  • 54% of all verbs are present simple
  • 90% of verbs use the simple form
  • The present simple is 24 times more common than the present continuous

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Understanding questions at the moment to do an essay

I found this video  from University of East Anglia very useful in the course Study Skills for International Students. Also in the TOEFL or IELTS exam, you must be careful to write what you have been asked for, and to be careful to be less descriptive and more analysis developing your essay.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Independent task: speaking, personal preference questions

You can practice these questions by yourself. Remember you have 15 seconds to prepare and 45 to talk.

Take into account: grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation. Speak clear and do not hesitate.
  • What do you think is the best way to learn a second language? Give your opinion.
  • Name a skill you have learned and explain why it is important to you. Include details and examples to support your explanation.
  • Some students prefer to do the group projects. Other students prefer to do individual projects. Which kind of projects do you think produce more learning and why?
  • Some people work for a business, and some people work in their own business. Which would you prefer to do and why? Include details and examples in your explanation.
  • A good teacher should have some special qualities. What qualities do you think are necessary for a good teacher to have access and why? Include details and examples in your explanation.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Secrets for the Reading section

from English club

The iBT does not test grammar separately as previous TOEFL tests did. You will still need to prove that you have a strong grasp of grammar in the speaking and writing sections. It is helpful to familiarize yourself with key academic vocabulary. Keep in mind that you don't need to know every word in a reading passage to answer the questions. Practise reading without a dictionary close by. When it comes to the questions, concentrate on the areas that the questions pertain to. Skim through the passage, read the questions, then read for more detail. The questions usually come in the order they appear in the passage. Anticipate the type of questions you will be asked in this section. Many of the readings have a main idea question. You will be asked at least two vocabulary questions from each reading. You will also be asked some detailed questions and some inference questions. You will not have time to reread a whole passage.

Monday, October 7, 2013

New accents in the Speaking and Listening part from March 2013

From this year, TOEFL has added new accents to its listening and speaking section. This will be competitive to other cultures and more worldwide. In my classes, I always encourage my students to listen audio and videos from other languages. English is not only American or British, It is part of what we consider globalization. 

For more information about accents in the TOEFL visit toefl.org

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Videos with TOEFL tips from teachers

Do you really want to know what do teachers expect from you? What kind of essays they consider the most amazing? What kind of answers are expecting to hear in the speaking part?