New TOEFL Changes

Have you heard that the TOEFL test structure is about to change in less than a month? You may be asking yourself “Is the academic content changing? Is the organization of the sections changing? Are the questions changing? Is the timing going to change? When is this happening?” To be specific, only the structure of the test will change—how many questions in each section and the timing. Changes will be on August 1st 2019.

Don’t worry. These test structure changes will be for the better. The test will be shorter with more detailed score reporting, to your benefit, and ETS has published answers to some frequently asked questions (FAQs about the shorter TOEFL.)

If you plan to take the exam after August 1, 2019, you will see noticeable changes in the reading, listening and speaking sections that were announced on the Educational Testing Service (ETS) site.

If you have been taking the test since last year, you also may have noticed that the test has had content changes over the course of the past year (though subtle content changes have not been announced by ETS.) So, your best advantage is to know TOEFL changes in advance, so that when you take the exam you won’t be in shock on test day, and you’ll be able to perform at your best to see the results you desire.

Here is a summary of the TOEFL exam upcoming changes on the 1st of August, so take notes.

Time

3 hours with break and administration (no longer 3.5 hours)

Reading Section

Questions

Each passage only has 10 questions (no longer 12-14.) The same questions types will exist, and the number of and style of passages will be the same, with no question types taken out.

Time

52-74 minutes (no longer 60-80 minutes)

 

Speaking Section

Questions

Four questions (no longer 6.) One independent question and three integrated questions will be the same as before.

Question 1 (express a personal preference) and Question 5 (problem/solution; campus situation) will be removed, so you will no longer see those on the test.

Time

17 minutes (no longer 20 minutes)

 

Listening Section

Lectures

Only 3-4 lectures (no longer 4-6) — Number of conversations – no change

Questions – no change

Number of questions won’t change, and the question types will not change either

Time

41-57 minutes (no longer 60-90 minutes)

 

Writing Section – no change (according to ETS)

Though recent trends on the independent task have been noticeable: longer multiple choice questions, the new plagiarism warning, the note about selecting more than one option in multiple choice questions.

Scoring – no change

Still, the score will be out of 120 points, with each section having equal weight of 30.

MyBest Scores change

In August 2019, another good change is happening!

ETS will introduce a big change on your TOEFL report called MyBest Scores report, which will list your best score in each section, so you can take advantage of this feature by taking the test after August 1, 2109.

These structure changes are positive ones since the overall test time will be less. Consider that you’ll be less tired when it comes time to speak in the speaking section or write in the writing section! Take into account that the level of difficulty will be about the same as it has been this year since the content will not change, and it still evaluates your English language development. Keep studying from the same material content as ETS will not publish new materials until later on. While practicing familiar content, continue to hone your skills and test preparation strategies with your eyes on achieving a successful score. To score your desired results, you’ll need to be in sync with the test structure changes to master time management and pace yourself in practice and on test day.

If you have taken the simulation of the new version of the test, feel free to comment giving details on results. If you liked this post, follow to read about MyBest Scores report in an upcoming post.

TOEFL Skills Useful for Life

Have you ever wondered if the skills you are studying for TOEFL are skills you will use after the exam? Would you have need of those skills after the test preparation period? The English skills that TOEFL tests–reading, listening, speaking, and writing—are all needed for both college life in study abroad and for a post-university career. However, the TOEFL exam does not only test your English language skills. Academic skills and test skills are assessed as well. And, those skills also apply to real life.

Assessed Language Skills

The TOEFL exam is formatted is to test various language skills in order to see if you are prepared to encounter all types of campus situations. Reading on TOEFL checks your ability to read nonfiction educational passages at the level of a first-year university student. Listening assesses your ability to hear academic college lectures accurately. In addition, you’ll be tested on how well you listen to and understand campus conversations. The speaking and writing sections have integrated tasks to assess your reading and listening in lectures and/or conversations. Other tasks on these sections test your ability to present a brief speech and to write a short academic essay.

 

Furthermore, reading skills are tested not only in the reading section, but also throughout the other sections. Listening skills required of campus conversations and academic lectures are tested in the listening section, and listening is also incorporated in both the integrated speaking and integrated writing sections. In addition, the integrated tasks in the speaking and writing sections test your receptive skills of reading and listening. And, you’ll summarize academic readings, lectures, and campus conversation. Your summaries will be spoken in the speaking section and will be written in the writing section. To produce language, you’ll use active skills of speaking and writing. In both the speaking and writing sections, your productive skills will be tested. In the independent speaking tasks and writing task, you’ll express yourself through speaking and writing, which you’ll need to do in college.

English Skills for Real Life On Campus and Beyond

When you go abroad to study at a university, getting benefit from the international experience, you’ll use multiple language skills. Not only will you be reading textbooks, you’ll also be on campus looking over bulletins, newsletters, and potentially research announcements. Sitting in class and listening to professors won’t be the only lectures you hear. You’ll tune into conversations all over campus. For instance, to converse with other students in class and on campus, talk to staff at college, and interact with faculty, you’ll enhance speaking communication. Living in a real-life campus environment, you’ll talk and write about all the various topics you read and hear about at the university. To speak effectively in study situations, you’ll need to perfect your techniques, such as giving class speeches or responding in a debate or on a panel. Moreover, your writing skills will be used in writing essays, research proposals or thesis, by emailing letters to classmates, staff, and professors, or by simply sending messages.

At graduation time, when you get a job in an English-speaking environment, all these English language skills from TOEFL preparation will come in handy. Imagine your post-university career, if you need to present to a supervisor or to negotiate as part of a team, you’ll integrate your communication skills. Talking to colleagues or co-workers is similar to having a conversation at the university. If you need to give a presentation at work, it could be similar to a speaking response in TOEFL or a speech from college. At work, you’ll surely need to write reports, emails, project proposals and memorandums, all of which involve TOEFL writing skills.

Academic Skill

In addition to English skills, TOEFL tests academic skills. It’s true some of the above language skills qualify as academic ones too. For example, both a language part and an academic part exist in these tasks: reading passages, listening to lectures, listening and speaking, reading, listening and speaking, and reading, listening and summarizing, and writing essays.

Also, TOEFL evaluates academic skill not related to language. One type is note-taking. On the exam, you’ll have to take notes on lectures and conversations. You’ll be given a note paper to hand write your notes on. The key is to write down notes that are valuable for you to use. Developing effective note-taking skills with speed and accuracy are key to succeeding on three parts: the listening, integrated speaking tasks, and integrated writing task.

During life at school, note-taking is an essential skill in and out of the classroom. So many ways of listening come up–podcasts, audios, videos, webinars, classes, lectures, presentations, conferences, workshops, panels—that you’ll need to take notes on the flood of information.

Post-college, note-taking skills are essential in the workplace. For instance, when in attendance at meetings or conferences, your ability to take notes is valuable. Transforming those notes into reports, proposals, research, projects, or summaries will most likely be an everyday professional occurrence.

Another academic skill evaluated on TOEFL is time management. How do you use your time on various tasks or on each section? Do you allot adequate time for reading? Do you use time well? Do you work well under pressure? How do you perform in a time crunch? Do you adjust your time frame to respond to all the questions? You’ll need to learn how to pace yourself during the exam. So, carefully knowing how to budget your time for tasks such as reading passages, responding to questions, and writing is crucial. A poorly timed situation may result in a lower reading score: if you waste too much time on the first reading passage and questions, you may run out of time on the final reading passage without having sufficient time to answer the questions properly.

In comparison, time management skills at college perfect your ability to get things done. As many activities are happening at the same times and dates, you’ll hone in on how to juggle slots of time to manage productivity in an academic setting, in campus activities or in extracurricular events. With these skills, you can organize time to relax too: to exercise before class or to watch sports after class.

In real life, personal or professional, having the skills to arrange time comes into play. Daily work hours need to be scheduled in, time for chores in your home life need to be planned, or hours to entertain with friends need to be arranged. These days, with the fast-pace of life, time management skills are a must, and you’ll have an edge as you’ll have mastered the art of time during your preparation for TOEFL.

Content development is an additional skill evaluated on the TOEFL exam. In both the speaking and writing sections, you’ll need to plan what content is included and develop ideas. You’ll need to use this skill in many subjects when you attend college. And, you’ll be building content development in your own language too, often for projects in the professional arena.

Organization is a further skill assessed on TOEFL. Again, on the speaking and writing sections, you’ll have to put your ideas in order (such as sequential or logical order) for brief speeches and short essays. If you’ve organized with a clear plan in mind, you can gain a top score. Moreover, organizational skills you learned for the test will enhance your student life at university. Your skills will be employed sorting important papers, not misplacing documents, and effectively using a daily planner. When you finish at school, your organization skills will be put to the test in real life and in the workplace where you’ll have to use checklists, prioritize, and schedule meetings. 

Test Skills

Aside from academic skills, TOEFL assesses test skills. Since it’s a standardized test, it evaluates your testing ability like strategy on how to answer questions and how to approach different tasks. To gain a top score, you’ll need to know the different types of questions in the reading and listening sections. In particular, knowing which multiple-choice questions will come up will give you a better chance of success. TOEFL tends to typically insert some wrong answers to trap you into responding incorrectly. So, you’ll need to become familiar with what the correct kind of responses look like in order to identify the right answers faster. For other strategy, it will help you to understand each type of task on the speaking and writing sections and how to approach each response for the highest rating. If you master the test format in advance of exam day, you’ll put yourself in a better place for scoring highest.

Test skills will also be useful once you are on campus living student life as standardized tests are part of the modern world. For instance, you may plan to apply to grad school. If you are going to attend school for a graduate degree or an MBA, you’ll take standardized tests like GMAT, GRE, job-training tests, work-licensing tests, or tests for certifications to advance your professional career. The multiple-choice sets and design of tasks in each section can be compared to other standardized tests, so building these skills will cross over to life situations. Even more so at university where you’ll need to make use of your strategy skills to approach different subjects on tests during your time in class.

Once you graduate, you’ll again make use of your mastery of test skills in your career. At work, you will need to put into practice different approaches to find an answer or think outside the box to problem-solve. Having learned from past mistakes, you’ll know which direction not to proceed in future endeavors.

Relevance to Real Life

The test-makers have created basic questions and tasks that simulate real life language situations because you’ll encounter those tasks after the test. Though you may not think so now during your extended study hours, rest assured the skills you are honing for TOEFL now–English language, academic, and test skills—are relevant to daily life beyond the exam. Those skills will be able to be put to use in your life after TOEFL, both at university and at work.

Is It Better to Agree or Disagree on the Independent Writing Task?

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Do you know how to structure and write an essay in which you must agree or disagree with a given topic? If you have ever taken a TOEFL exam, it is highly likely you encountered an agree/disagree question topic on the independent task of the writing section. The category of question “agree/disagree” on the writing section is the most common type of question which will arise on the exam day. It does not matter whether you agree or disagree on this writing task. The key is to choose one quickly and develop your reasons and examples on topic. Select whichever is easiest for you to give concrete details. Knowing a potential list of agree/disagree topics will make your life a whole lot easier when you come across one of these questions. Look over the topics in the list below, and you can begin to prepare yourself to respond with your opinion in an essay.

  • Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Parents are the best teachers. Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

63 Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Television has destroyed communication among friends and family. Use specific reasons and examples to support your opinions.

64 “When people succeed, it is because of hard work. Luck has nothing to do with success.” Do you agree or disagree with the quotation above? Use specific reasons and examples to explain your position.

65 Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Universities should give the same amount of money to their students’ sports activities as they give to their university libraries. Use specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.

66 It is better for children to grow up in the countryside than in a big city. Do you agree or disagree? Use specific reasons and examples to develop your essay.

67 Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? People should sometimes do things that they do not enjoy doing. Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

68 Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Television, newspapers, magazines, and other media pay too much attention to personal lives of famous people such as public figures and celebrities. Use specific reasons and details to explain your opinion.

69 Businesses should hire employees for their entire lives. Do you agree or disagree? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

70 Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Attending a live performance (for example, a play, concert, or sport event) is more enjoyable than watching the same event on television. Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

71 Do you agree or disagree that progress is always good? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

72 Learning about the past has no value for those of us living in the present. Do you agree or disagree? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

73 Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? With the help of technology, students nowadays can learn more information and learn it more quickly.   Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

74 The expression “Never, never give up” means keep trying and never stop working for your goals. Do you agree or disagree with this statement? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

75 Some people think that human needs for farmland, housing, and industry are more important than saving land for endangered animals. Do you agree or disagree with this point of view? Why or why not? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

76 Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Face-to-face communication is better than other types of communication, such as letters, e-mail, or telephone calls. Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

77 Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? The most important aspect of a job is the money a person earns. Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

78 Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? One should never judge a person by external appearances.  Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

79 Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? A person should never make an important decision alone. Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

80 Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Businesses should do anything they can to make a profit. Use specific reasons and examples to support your position.

81 Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Games are as important for children as they are for adults. Use specific reasons and examples to support your answers.

82 Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Parents or other adult relatives should make important decisions for their older (15-18 year old) teenaged children. Use specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.

83 Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Most experiences in our lives that seemed difficult at the time become valuable lessons for the future. Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

84 Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Classmates are a more important influence that parents on a child’s success in school. Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

85 Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Grades (marks) encourage students to learn. Use specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.

86 Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? The best way to travel is in a group led by a tour guide. Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

87 Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Children should begin studying a foreign language as soon as they start school. Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

88 Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Boys and girls should attend separate schools. Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

89 Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Technology has made the world a better place to live. Use specific reasons and examples to support your statement.

90 Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Advertising can tell you a lot about a country. Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

91 Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Modern technology is creating a single world culture. Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

92 Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Telephone and e-mail have made communications between people less personal. Use specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.

93 Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Dancing plays an important role in a culture.  Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

94 Some people think governments should spend as much money as possible exploring outer space (for example, traveling to the moon and other planets). Other people disagree and think governments should spend this money for our basic needs on earth. Which of these two opinions do you agree with?  Use specific reasons and details to support your answer.

95 Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Teachers should be paid according to how much their students learn. Give specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.

96 Schools should ask students to evaluate their teachers. Do you agree or disagree? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

97 Some people think that children should begin their formal education at a very early age and should spend most of their time on their school studies. Others believe that young children should spend most of their time playing. Compare these two views. Which view do you agree with? Why? (Discuss BOTH.)

98 Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? People behave differently when they wear different clothes. Do you agree that different clothes influence the way people behave? Use specific examples to support your answer.

99 Decisions can be made quickly, or they can be made after careful thought. Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? The decisions that people make quickly are always wrong. Use specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.

100 Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? People are never satisfied with what they have; they always want something more or something different. Use specific reasons to support your answer.

101 Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? People should read only those books that are about real events, real people, and established facts. Use specific examples and details to support your opinion.

102 Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? It is more important for students to study history and literature than it is for them to study science and mathematics. Use specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.

103 Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? All students should be required to study art and music in secondary school. Use specific reasons to support your answer.

104 Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? There is nothing young people can teach older people. Use specific reasons and examples to support your position.

105 Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Reading fiction (such as novels and short stories) is more enjoyable than watching movies. Use specific reasons and examples to explain your position.

106 Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Only people who earn a lot of money are successful. Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

107 Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? A person’s childhood years (the time from birth to twelve years of age) are the most important years of a person’s life. Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

108 Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Children should be required to help with household tasks as soon as they are able to do so. Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

109 Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Playing a game is fun only when you win. Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

110 Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? High schools should allow students to study the courses that students want to study. Use specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.

111 Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? It is better to be a member of a group than the leader of a group. Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

112 Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Playing games teaches us about life. Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

113 Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Watching television is bad for children. Use specific details and examples to support your answer.

114 Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? A zoo has no useful purpose. Use specific reasons and examples to explain your answer.

115 It is sometimes said that borrowing money from a friend can harm or damage the friendship. Do you agree? Why or why not? Use specific reasons and specific examples to explain your answer.

116 Many people say that the internet is the most important invention ever. Do you agree or disagree with this and if not, what do you believe to be more important? Use specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.

117 Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? People pay too much attention to the less important things in life and fail to see the larger issues. Use specific reasons and details to explain your opinion.

118 A job should mean a job for life. Do you agree or disagree? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

119 Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? With the help of technology, life is easier today than in the past.   Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

120 Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? A problem shared is a problem solved. Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

198 Do you agree or disagree with this statement?  All university students should take basic science courses even if science is not a major field for them.

199 Do you agree or disagree with following statement? The most important characteristic of a leader and a politician is a good communication skill.

200 Do you agree or disagree that face-to-face communication is more effective to produce better work than e-mail communication?

201 Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: the rules that societies require young people to follow and obey are too strict? OR Today, young people are expected to follow or obey rules that are too strict. Do you agree or disagree?

202 Do you agree or disagree movies and televisions have more negative effects than positive effects on young people?

203 Do you agree or disagree? Some people think that to go on field trips (such as a museum) is an important part of an education for a child. Others think that a child should spend time on classwork at school.

204 Providing internet access to people is as important as services such as building roads, so the government should provide internet access to all citizens at no cost. Do you agree or disagree?

205 Do you agree or disagree with using security cameras in public space in daily activities in the city/country to protect public safety?

206 Do you agree or disagree that using a lot of time to decide is a good quality for a person to have?

207 Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? One of the best ways that parents can help their teenage children prepare for adult life is to encourage them to take a part-time job. Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

208 Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Young people nowadays do not give enough time to helping their communities.

209 Do you agree or disagree with starting classes at school earlier than normal time?

210 Do you agree or disagree with following statement? People will spend less time for cooking and preparing meals in twenty years than they do today.

211 Do you agree or disagree with the idea? Providing the Internet access to people is as important as services such as building roads, so the government should provide the Internet access to all the citizens at no cost.

212 Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? In today’s world it is more important to work quickly and risk making mistakes than to work slowly and make sure that everything is correct.

216 Agree or disagree? It is important for children in some way to take care of a pet animal.

217 Do you agree or disagree? Kids should be given a chance to do whatever they want to, like study and music, rather than adults force them to do school homework and organizational events like sports.

  • Do you agree or disagree? Kids should be given a chance to do whatever they want to, like study and music, rather than adults force them to do school homework and organizational events like sports.

If you like this blog, you will find Make an Argument Essay informative.

Use Technology for Proficiency in English

tech

 

Have you ever found yourself wanting to use technology to study English, but you do not know how to search for the proper sites to advance your language learning skills?

Let’s look at a list of convenient ways to take advantage of technology to quickly gain English proficiency.

  • Download podcasts, lectures or songs on iTunes or listen to mp3 English songs. Listen to the language while driving a car, walking the streets, or commuting by bus or train.
  • Download iPhone or Android apps for free English, study skills, exams, TOEFL, IELTS, GMAT, reading, listening, speaking, grammar, vocabulary, mind mapping, note taking and writing skills.
  • Search for websites to review English grammar such as the Owl at Purdue: the Online Writing Lab, play learning games, or do research in English for any other subjects you are studying.
  • For listening, watch movies or listen to popular English songs. You could even sing to the words or learn the lyrics.
  • Get an online native coach of the language for speaking, listening, and writing.
  • Enroll in an online course to improve your academic skills.
  • Take a course of your academic interest on Coursera or edX
  • Speak to online partners to increase your practice in English.
  • Register for an English webinar in the area of your interest.
  • Study your hobby online in English.

 

Immerse yourself online in the language because gaining proficiency English is not only fun and interesting but also useful for boosting a career.

 

 

Rules How to Use a Semicolon Accurately in the English Language

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When you read books, articles in a newspaper or passages online, are you able to recognize the difference between a colon and a semicolon in English? Perhaps, you sometimes struggle using the semicolon punctuation mark correctly in written English.

Often mistaken with colons, semicolons have their distinct functions. Thus, they must be written in sentences according to the grammar rules. Similar to other punctuation marks, a semicolon is unique in the manner in which it is used, so avoid interchanging this punctuation with others unless it has the same rule. Therefore, if you know the rules about when to use a specific punctuation, you will be in a better position to perform well in formal written English on an exam such as the TOEFL writing section or the AWA on the GMAT.

What does a semicolon look like? A comma with a period on top of it. This is no coincidence! A semicolon, like a comma, indicates a spoken pause, a bit longer than a comma’s pause but shorter than the pause of a period at the end of a sentence. When we read  or speak out loud, our voices pause for semicolons in a similar way–but slightly more–than we would pause for a comma. So, when you listen to spoken English, you can actually hear a pause for a semicolon.

In many cases, a semicolon links two thoughts or related ideas. In formal academic written English, each thought or idea is usually in its own sentence. However, the flow of the writing might not be smooth if all the sentences are short or simple. Yet, if you are able to master the art of using semicolons accurately, it can give a smoother flow to your writing and even improve your performance on the written portion of a standardized test.

The functions that semicolons perform are unique, so be sure you avoid the common mistake of using a semicolon to replace a colon. For instance, an example of incorrect usage is as follows: I have one objective; to get a high score. The correct punctuation would be to employ a colon ( : )  in this case. Correct >> I have one objective: to get a high score.

Avoid confusion by practicing to write with semicolons precisely because even though semicolons look a little like a period on top of a comma, they do not have the same uses. Here are some grammar rules of when you can use semicolons in your writing.

  1. Connect two related sentences (independent clauses)–like replacing a period. A semicolon divides the thoughts but also links those ideas.
  • Structure: Sentence #1 + ; + related Sentence #2.

          Examples:

  • Give me a ring on Saturday; we can decide then if we want to go out to the party.
  • Mom still rides her bike; her two back baskets balance her stability when riding.

2. Connect two sentences close in meaning using a transition (moreover, furthermore, namely, nevertheless, for example, however, otherwise, therefore, thus, then, finally, likewise, consequently) such as a conjunctive adverb. Use a comma after the transition.

  • Structure: #1 Sentence + ; + transition, + sentence #2 close in meaning.

          Examples:

  • My sister does not agree with my nephew riding around on a motorcycle; however, she used to ride a motorcycle when she was young.
  • My friend thinks that working 80 hours per week is normal; consequently, he has hardly any downtime to spend with his partner.
  • My grandma passed away at a ripe old age; nevertheless, she had filled herself with chocolates, desserts and liquor every day.

3. Use semicolons with a complicated list of items of a series(e.g. with commas within the series) to clarify and prevent confusion

  • Structure: #1 item+, + other + ; + #2 item +, + other + ; + and #3 item +, + other

          Example:

  • On her bike, my sister has traveled to Barcelona, Spain; Toronto, Canada; Vancouver, Canada; and San Francisco, California.

Remember to keep in mind:

  • Avoid using semicolons too much; you shouldn’t write them often in an essay. Focus on using them for that special circumstance, only when necessary.
  • The two main clauses that the semicolon connects must be related.
  • After the semicolon, do not capitalize the beginning letter of the word that follows (like you do following a period) unless that word happens to be a proper noun, such as I, which is always capitalized.

Since these rules are super easy to familiarize yourself with, you should have no trouble using them correctly in your next essay or on an exam such as on the TOEFL writing section or the AWA (GMAT.)

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Top 5 Tips to Help Improve Your English

Set concrete goals high

Set concrete goals high

 

  1. Establish short term and long term goals why you are learning English.

Ask yourself:

  • What are the reasons I want to learn English?
  • What will I do with the language?
  • Do you need to travel abroad or to the United States?
  • Do you plan to attend graduate school?
  • Do you want to speak with your friends who are English-speakers?
  • Do you want to use English in running a business?

Self-Reflection:

  • Whatever your reasons, consider why learning English is most important to you.
  • Write down your goals.
  • Make a chart that you can refer to daily to inspire you to move forward.
  • Consider how long you will need to study.
  • What exact skills do you need to improve in the language?
  • How will you get from point A (where you are now) to point B (your destination i.e. your short term or long term goal)?
  • How will you know when you are able to meet your goal?
  • What is going to happen when you reach your objective(s)?

 

  1. Try a new strategy

How long have you been studying test-taking in English? 1-2 years? If you feel your language level has not continued to improve week by week, try a new technique. For instance, if you are studying from a book, try something different. At times, if you feel stagnant, making a change in the manner in which you learn will help to improve your language skills. Doubtless, change will help you grow.

  • Listen to English podcasts
  • Listen only to English music on your phone when you are relaxing
  • Get a native English coach
  • Enroll in an English course online
  • Watch English TV
  • Watch (international) news only in English
  • Meet a native speaker online to do a language exchange by the web
  • Meet an English-speaking colleague/friend
  • Join an English study group
  • Join a college course online that is in English

 

  1. Never give up. Learning a language requires practice. Take runners, for example, who do not run a marathon without training; they put in months or more of training. If you keep trying, and if you continue to practice English, you can master academic skills in reading, listening, speaking, writing, and vocabulary. To be inspired, think of yourself in a marathon. What you can do each day to get you to reach your goal .Keep telling yourself you will get there to a major accomplishment with these minor achievements. The days or moments you feel frustrated while you are learning, remember not to give up hope. Believe in yourself and your abilities. If you keep putting in extra effort into language learning, the next study day you will feel more comfortable, confident, and fluent. When you feel down, think about the last thing you learned, and pat yourself on the back for having learned that. Encourage yourself to keep going forward.

 

  1. Be positive about the learning process. Mastering English does not happen overnight, so be patient with yourself. Avoid putting yourself down with negative thoughts. If you hear yourself in your head saying, “I’ll never be fluent in English,” immediately switch those negative words to positive encouragement. Tell yourself, instead, “Even though it’s a new language, if I keep studying, I’ll learn more each day” or “Though a lot of new vocabulary is challenging, I can accomplish learning more if I keep studying day by day.” Stay positive in your mind, because in this way you will learn English more quickly.

 

  1. Harbor no fear about making minor errors in English. In fact, being fearful of making mistakes can stop you from learning quickly. If you sometimes avoid speaking with native speakers because you lack confidence, you can change your attitude to be more confident. Stop being fearful of producing mistakes since it is natural to make errors when using another language. When people speak other languages, mistakes arise. You will only get better in another language the more you practice it and the more confidence you feel about your abilities.

 

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Why Am I Not Improving English?

Woman Writing in Daily Planner

Avoid translating

  1. You are translating from your native language into English. That’s a big “no-no.” Avoid translating from your first language into English. You can speed up your progress in English if you simply focus on listening to English and catch the words you understand. Use the context to guess understanding. For instance, if someone says, “There will be a big shin dig this Friday night.” Imagine you don’t know the word shin dig. Don’t translate it. Just imagine what those words could mean in terms of happening on Friday night: a feast, a reception, a get together, a dance, or a dinner party.

 

  1. You are not practicing enough English speaking with a native. Dedicate enough study time to make advancements. Don’t expect to study English only a half hour per week and improve rapidly. Intensive language learning of a few set hours every weekday can expand your progress. When you do have a set study session in-person with a native speaker, don’t forget to speak. Sometimes, when you are conversing with someone in another language, it’s easy to just listen, but you won’t learn English faster if you don’t practice participating more in the conversation. So, the more you converse, the more you will learn to communicate better in English. If you spoke English just one time today, next time or tomorrow, try to speak two times. Of course, the more often you practice speaking, you can improve your confidence and your fluency in the language.

 

  1. You lack confidence in your English abilities. How can you improve in the language if you do not believe in yourself? Be confident that you are learning, and you will acquire more language skills day by day. Avoid saying, “Sorry,” if you don’t feel confident using English fluently yet with a native speaker. If you come across a new word/phrase/express, you can always ask a native speaker, “What does (~phrase) mean?” Just because you may not be familiar with idiomatic expressions or advanced vocabulary, you don’t need to apologize if you are not at the highest level. Remember that you are trying. Give yourself a break because you are learning a language. Keep trying your best, be confident that you will learn more and more. No doubt, you will learn more vocabulary as you progress to a higher level.

 

  1. You are not listening to a sufficient amount of English daily. Perhaps you do not understand enough of what you listen to. Let’s say that you comprehend only about 65%. This is particularly a concern if you live in a foreign country (a non-English speaking place) and do not have access to listening to speakers of English face-to-face. Solution: get a native trainer online or in-person, or listen to English on the web. Practice listening to English every day to train your ears to focus on words you already know in English and listen for word chunks, phrases, which you may be familiar with to comprehend the context. Avoid listening just for grammar. You won’t be able to attain fluency by picking apart a conversation through grammar points. Stop trying to catch single words. Neither will you be capable of advanced fluency if you are concentrating only on individual words in a dialogue. You need to listen for how phrases are grouped together in a pattern. You can listen to music, television, or movies to gain more fluency and understanding. Tell your ears they must listen to English phrases, understand English in context, and capture the bigger picture, the overall meaning.

 

  1. You forgot what you already studied in previous lessons. If you are not remembering your intake, then taking notes on what you learned during your study sessions will help you review and keep the knowledge fresh. For example, keep an English notebook for acquiring more information. In your journal (digital or paper,) you can take note of phrases that are new that you can learn. Then, try to use these new groups of words if you think of it in context. If you write down only the vocabulary word, you may not understand in the future how to use it in context, so try to catch an entire phrase. Later, when you review your notebook, the whole phrase will serve as a reminder of the meaning in context. Consequently, it will be much easier to recall. Furthermore, it will be a base for you to move up to the next level.

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