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Cracking the TOEFL iBT. Cracking the Listening Section. The Listening section of the TOEFL consists of the following tasks:. Four to six academic lectures, at least two of which contain classroom dialogue • Each lecture is three to five minutes long.

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Cracking the Listening Section

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Cracking the listening section

Cracking the TOEFL iBT

Cracking the

ListeningSection


Cracking the listening section

The Listening section of the TOEFL consists of the following tasks:

Four to six academic lectures, at least two of which contain

classroom dialogue

• Each lecture is three to five minutes long.

• A lecture may involve one speaker or multiple speakers.

• Each lecture is followed by six questions.

Two to three conversations involving two or more speakers

• Each conversation is three to four minutes long.

• A conversation has 12-25 exchanges.

• Each conversation is followed by five questions.

You will have 60-90 minutes to complete the entire section.


Cracking the listening section

The Listening section measures your ability to follow and understand lectures and conversations that are typical of an American educational setting. You will hear each lecture or conversation only once, but you are allowed to take notes while you are listening.

At the beginning of the Listening section , you'll be instructed to put on your headset.

An example of the screen is shown below.

You'll also receive instructions on how to adjust the volume of the headset. Make sure the volume is at a comfortable level before the section begins.


Cracking the listening section

LISTENING DIRECTIONS

You should be aware of a few special aspects of the Listening section before you take the TOEFL. First, unlike the Reading section, you are not allowed to skip questions and return to them later. You must answer each question before you can proceed to the next one. Second, some of the questions on the Listening section are heard, not read. These questions are indicated by a special headset icon.

It is important to be prepared for these audio questions. In this course, we use the headset icon to indicate when you should listen to the accompanying audio CD. On the actual test, you will only hear this material; it will not appear on your screen .


Cracking the listening section

CRACKING THE LISTENING SECTION: BASIC

PRINCIPLES

One of the most common mistakes students make in the Listening section is to

try to do too much. Some students try to take notes on every detail offered, and

they end up not hearing important information . Other students try to understand

every single word in the lecture, and they panic when they miss a word or phrase.

Neither of these approaches is very helpful on the test.

Instead, you must do your best to think of the lectures and conversations as being

similar to the reading passages on which we've worked. Each lecture or conversation

will have a purpose, a main idea, and supporting details. Your goal on the

Listening section will be to find these items in each selection. Because there are

only five or six questions per listening task, there is no need to memorize or comprehend

every single detail.


Cracking the listening section

  • The Listening section requires you to do the following:

    • • Find the main idea or purpose. Each lecture or conversation will have a main idea or purpose. Find and note this theme, which is usually stated at the beginning of the discussion or talk.

    • • Focus on the structure. Pay attention to how the main idea develops. Look for examples, comparisons, and cause-and-effect relationships.

    • • Listen for tone and attitude. Try to figure out if the speakers are positive, negative, or neutral toward the topic.

    • • Pay attention to transitions. Make sure you are listening for transition words and phrases. These help you follow the logic of the lecture or conversation.


Cracking the listening section

  • We'll look at all of these points in more detail in a moment, but there are two other important things to keep in mind when you approach the Listening section.

    • • Don't memorize. As we said earlier, there is far too much information to try to memorize or retain . So, don't even bother trying. Keep in mind that the TOEFL is testing you on your ability to follow a logical flow of ideas, not on your ability to memorize information. Just

    • relax and try to focus on the big issues, not the minor ones.

    • • Don't take too many notes. One easy way to get sidetracked on the Listening section is to write down too many notes . Writing requires your concentration, and if you're concentrating on writing, you're

    • probably not concentrating on listening. Focus on listening; in fact , if you are not comfortable taking notes, don't take any at all.


Cracking the listening section

Basic Principle #1: Find the Main Idea or Purpose

Now we will apply our understanding of the main idea or purpose to a listening task.

Fortunately, the patterns in the Listening section are very similar to the patterns in the Reading section. Lectures are designed around a main idea, whereas conversations are centered on a purpose.


Cracking the listening section

  • In lectures, the speaker will typically introduce the main idea at the very beginning of the talk . Listen for phrases similar to the following:

    • "Okay, today I want to talk about ...."

    • "What we're going to talk about today is...."

    • "Today, we're going to look at "

    • "Tonight, I wanted to look at .“

  • The professor will then follow with the topic of discussion . If you're taking notes, you should write the topic down . Once you have the main topic, you can expect the lecturer to provide a purpose, explanation, or more information .

  • In a conversation, the beginning sentences will reveal the speaker's purpose. Listen for the purpose to appear after an initial greeting, as in the following examples:

    • "Hi, what can I do for you?“

    • "Hello, how can I help you?“

    • "What can [ do for you today?“

    • "Is there something I can do for you?"


Cracking the listening section

  • In lectures, the speaker will typically introduce the main idea at the very beginning of the talk . Listen for phrases similar to the following:

    • "Okay, today I want to talk about ...."

    • "What we're going to talk about today is...."

    • "Today, we're going to look at "

    • "Tonight, I wanted to look at .“

  • The professor will then follow with the topic of discussion . If you're taking notes, you should write the topic down . Once you have the main topic, you can expect the lecturer to provide a purpose, explanation, or more information .


Cracking the listening section

  • In a conversation, the beginning sentences will reveal the speaker's purpose. Listen for the purpose to appear after an initial greeting, as in the following examples:

    • "Hi, what can I do for you?“

    • "Hello, how can I help you?“

    • "What can [ do for you today?“

    • "Is there something I can do for you?“

  • After this initial question, the other speaker will state his or her purpose. Usually

  • this involves asking for some sort of help or assistance. If you are taking notes, you should write down what the purpose of the conversation is.


Cracking the listening section

Basic Principle #2: Focus on the Structure

After finding the main idea or purpose, focus on the structure of the talk. Lectures and conversations each have standard structures. Listen for them as you take the TOEFL.

  • Types of lecture Structures

  • Most lectures will have one of the following four basic structures :

    • Compare/Contrast

    • Cause-and-Effect Relationships

    • Abstract Category/Specific Examples

    • Sequences


Cracking the listening section

  • Lecture Structure #1: Compare/Contrast

  • This type of lecture 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 framework is introduced, the speaker will list each item to be discussed and mention its characteristics. Listen for words that indicate compare/contrast,

  • such as

  • "

    • • “in contrast”

    • • "on the other hand"

    • • "similarly"

    • • "however"

    • • "additionally"

    • • "also"


Cracking the listening section

  • Lecture Structure #2: Cause-and-Effect Relationships

  • Some lectures attempt to explain why a certain situation occurs. Listen for the speaker to introduce this type of framework with the following phrases:

    • • "Why would this happen?"

    • • "What is the reason for this?"

    • • "How could this happen?"

    • • "What leads to this?“

  • If it seems that the speaker is describing a cause-and-effect situation, listen for the cause. A speaker will often 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 derail 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 attributable to x "

    • • 'Y happens because of x"


Cracking the listening section

  • Lecture Structure #3: Abstract Category/Specific Examples

  • Another common lecture structure involves moving from an abstract category to a specific example. A lecture may also sometimes begin with specific examples and end with a more general interpretation of the examples. A speaker may introduce an abstract concept with one of the following phrases:

    • • "one approach..."

    • • "one theory..."

    • • "the idea is..."

    • • "the concept..."

    • • "the basic premise is..."

  • Next, the speaker will move to the examples, typically using the following phrases:

    • • "for example..."

    • • "one instance of this is..."

    • • "consider..,"

    • • "we see this in/with..."

    • • "this is illustrated by/with..."

  • Even if you have difficulty understanding the abstract idea, you can usually figure

  • it out by paying close attention to the examples used.


Cracking the listening section

  • Lecture Structure #4: Sequences

  • 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..."


Cracking the listening section

Types of Conversation Structures

Conversations on the TOEFL also fall into some predictable patterns. Try to identify the pattern when listening to the people speak.

Conversation Structure #1 : Problem/Solution

This is a typical conversation type on the TOEFL. One student has a problem, and another student offers advice or a possible solution. Listen for the first student to introduce the problem by mentioning one of the following:

• "problem"

• “issue"

• "difficulty"

• "trouble"

After describing the problem, the other person will offer some sort of advice or solution. Listen for the following phrases:

• "why don't you..."

• "if I were you, I'd..."

• "maybe you should..."

• "have you tried/thought of..."

For this structure, it is important to listen for what the problem is and what steps or solutions the speaker may take to solve it.


Cracking the listening section

  • Conversation Structure #2: Service Encounter

  • Another common conversation on the TOEFL is the service encounter. In this encounter, a student will discuss a problem with a professional-usually a professor, a librarian, or an office worker. The problem will be introduced in the same way as in the previous conversation type, but the response may differ. The service professional will usually explain exactly what the student needs to do to solve the problem. The solution may involve several parts. If so, listen for the following words to indicate the steps the student must take:

    • • "requirement"

    • • "application"

    • • "form"

    • • "recommendation"

    • • "prohibited "


Cracking the listening section

  • Conversation Structure #3: Significant Event

  • Some conversations on the TOEFL revolve around a significant event. This could be a meeting, an announcement , or a social event. Usually, the first speaker will introduce the event with one of the following phrases:

    • • "have you heard about..."

    • • "did you see..."

    • • "let you know about..."

    • • "program/event /opportunity/chance"

  • After noting the event, listen to any details about it. Also note what the speaker‘s plans are concerning the event. Listen for the following key words:

    • •"participate“

    • •"plans“

    • •"open to“

    • •"free" or "busy"


Cracking the listening section

Basic Principle #3: Listen for Tone and Attitude

Although you are unlikely to be asked a tone question in the Listening section, an understanding of the speaker's tone or attitude is helpful on many types of questions. Speakers on the TOEFL often use phrases or words that can have more than one interpretation. However, if you are aware of the speaker's tone, you are less likely to misinterpret the phrase.

For example, lecturers on the TOEFL often say something like the following:

"...and after the war, the country experienced a prolonged period

of economic growth, right?“

Even though the speaker appears to be asking a question, he is actually just emphasizing his point. Being aware of the tone will help you interpret statements such as this one.


Cracking the listening section

  • The tone of most lectures is fairly straightforward. Because the speaker is teaching a class, the tone will usually be similar to one of the following types:

    • •Objective: The speaker is simply listing facts or providing information

    • . The speaker is an authority on his or her subject and so will not

    • be unsure or uncertain about the topic. This type of tone can appear

    • in any of the four common lecture types.

    • •Subjective: In some cases, the speaker will be presenting a position

    • or making an argument. The speaker will try to convince the listeners

    • about a certain view. This type of tone is more likely to appear in

    • compare l contrast and cause-and-effect lectures.

    • • Inquisitive: There are also classroom discussions on the TOEFL.

    • During a discussion, the professor leads the class through a number

    • of questions, so the tone is inquisitive. The professor considers and

    • responds to the students' questions as the lecture progresses. Abstract

    • category/specific example lectures typically involve discussion, although

    • other lecture types may as well.


Cracking the listening section

Conversations tend to have slightly more personal tones. You can expect the tone to be similar to one of the following types:

•Excited : This tone is typical of the significant event conversation. The

speaker is interested in the event and may be trying to influence others

about it.

•Disappointed/upset: In this case, the speaker is not happy about the

situation. He or she may express dissatisfaction with things or events.

This usually occurs during the problem/solution encounter, although it

can appear in other conversations too.

•Uncertain or confused: Sometimes the speaker is uncertain or confused,

especially in service encounters. The speaker will be unsure of

what action to take or how to proceed.

Of course, you don't have to spend valuable time during your test trying to figure out the exact tone. However, having a basic idea of the tone-as well as of the purpose of the lecture or conversation-will aid you when you are eliminating

answers.


Cracking the listening section

  • Basic Principle #4: Pay Attention to Transitions

  • From the Reading section of the TOEFL, you can have a pretty good understanding of the common transitions used in writing. These transitions show up in lectures and conversations as well, and it is good to note them.

  • However, two other types of transitions to be especially alert for are reversals andnegations.

  • Reversal Transitions

  • Often, speakers on the TOEFL will reverse the direction or logic of the conversation or lecture. If you're not listening carefully, you may misunderstand the speaker. For example, look at the following lines:

    • "First, I want to look at the mechanism by which single-celled

    • organisms reproduce...um, actually, let's come back to that in a

    • moment. We need to talk about. ..“

  • In this situation, the speaker abruptly changes the topic. These reversals happen

  • occasionally during lectures and somewhat more frequently during conversations.


Cracking the listening section

  • Reversal Transitions

  • Here are some phrases for which to listen.

    • • "you know what?"

    • • "we'll come back to that in a moment"

    • • "actually, let's"

    • • "instead"

    • • "better yet"

    • • "I don't want to get into that now“

  • Negation Transitions

  • Also, speakers will sometimes use a positive word to indicate a negation. Look for

  • phrases like the following, where the negation words are italicized:

    • • "I don't have to explain that, right?"

    • • "You guys are okay with this, correct?"

    • • "We don't need to go into that now, okay?"

  • In each case, the speaker uses a positive word to express a negative statement.

  • When used in this way, the positive words indicate that the speaker assumes the

  • listener knows what the speaker is talking about and no further discussion or explanation is needed.

  • Reversals and negations can by tricky, bur if you're on the lookout for them, they'll

  • be easier to handle.


Cracking the listening section

  • Reversal Transitions

  • Here are some phrases for which to listen.

    • • "you know what?"

    • • "we'll come back to that in a moment"

    • • "actually, let's"

    • • "instead"

    • • "better yet"

    • • "I don't want to get into that now“

  • Negation Transitions

  • Also, speakers will sometimes use a positive word to indicate a negation. Look for

  • phrases like the following, where the negation words are italicized:

    • • "I don't have to explain that, right?"

    • • "You guys are okay with this, correct?"

    • • "We don't need to go into that now, okay?"

  • In each case, the speaker uses a positive word to express a negative statement.

  • When used in this way, the positive words indicate that the speaker assumes the

  • listener knows what the speaker is talking about and no further discussion or explanation is needed.

  • Reversals and negations can by tricky, bur if you're on the lookout for them, they'll

  • be easier to handle.


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