5 Key Actions to Listen Better

jackrabbit-listening

The jackrabbit pushes its ears forwards and listens, because sounds change. Their key action is presence. We can follow the cues of this animal when we listen.

How good are you at listening?

Give yourself a score on a scale of 1-10.

How effectively are you attuned to your clients, your team, your classmates, or your business colleagues? Are you asking the appropriate questions? How well do you comprehend lectures?

Effective listening will help you in business interactions, on exams, in classes, in supporting your team, in group discussions, and in interviews.

5 Key Actions

  1. Be present.

Take a breath. Focus on the speaker. Face the person. Hear the person speak. Maintain eye contact and lean forward if in person.

If you are listening to a video such as on the TOEFL exam or IELTS, this it he first step of intake. If you are in person, this is the start of a two-way relationship where you can take what you hear and proceed in the interaction.

  1. See the words.

Associate the lecturer’s words with a visual in your mind to trigger your memory. Visualization is a memory tool. If you picture what it being said, you’ll remember more information since the subconscious mind recalls visuals.

  1. Feel the emotion.

If you feel the lecturer’s emotions, you can notice how deep of concern the lecturer has for the issue. For instance, on integrated writing task in TOEFL, listening for emotion in the speaker’s voice may be a tactic to discern key points.

  1. Listen for pauses.

In a test-taking listening opportunity such as on the integrated speaking or writing tasks on TOEFL, pauses in a lecture may signal an important point to come, so take note of what follows.

In an interactive situation, on the other hand, don’t interrupt. Pay attention to whether the speaker is finished before speaking.

  1. Respond on target.

In an interview, after paying careful attention to the speaker’s question, you’ll be invited to respond on the topic.

On the contrary, in a pair, group, team, or audience situation where you’ve listened to a speaker, be clear before responding by first asking, “Can I give input/feedback?” “Could I make a suggestion?” so as to not offend.

Practice Actions

Begin by practicing action step one, being present to attune your ears.

Then, each day add another action step. You’ll be able to make progress in listening.

With experience in this method on the TOEFL exam, in classroom discussions, and in conducting business, you’ll gauge your enhanced listening skills.

CRITICAL THINKING SKILLS HELP ON TOEFL

You may be contemplating, “Why is critical thinking important on TOEFL? How are critical thinking skills evaluated in the scores? When do I need to employ logic on the test?”

On test day, TOEFL engages your critical thinking ability in different sections. It’s crucial because the way you use logic to analyze and reason in an answer will affect your results.

How?

Writing Section: Independent Task

On the independent task of the writing section of the test, some questions require you to apply skills such as effective analyzing and reasoning. In those cases, you’ll need to think critically to develop your argument. For example, with the agree/disagree questions, your argument or opinion needs to try to persuade the audience you believe in something. To show you’ve thought through a critical response, simply express your opinion with clarity in response to the prompt.

Placement of Thesis

Where does your key argument statement need to be written? In the thesis statement. In the last sentence in your introductory paragraph, you’ll give your reasons to support your view(s.) As you continue writing the independent task essay, all your topic sentences, which start the body paragraphs are reason statements in support of your argument. The ability to create a strong argument with reasonable support leading to a conclusion shows the audience/evaluators whether or not you have skill to develop an essay.

Test Strategy: Careful Evaluation

A key strategy on other sections of the exam is to approach responses by evaluating the best answer. Why? TOEFL avoids answers that are definitely 100% (or contain words that are absolutes) as those don’t require much reasoning. TOEFL wants test-takers to consider questions carefully.

How?

 

Approach

A good approach is to avoid selecting absolute answers. For instance, a typical absolute answer would be a response that has an answer with adverbs like always and never, which are absolutes of 100% definity.

Another fast tactic is to search answers for modal verbs to avoid selecting absolute answers like must. It will increase the possibility of selecting the right answer. Examples of modals are these types of helper verbs: can, could, may, might, must, ought, shall, should, will, would. Modals have varying degrees of possibility to indicate how likely something is to happen. Modals go from one extreme to the other–with absolute requisites on one end like will, must, ought, should, shall and suggestions on the other end of the scale of likelihood with can, could, may, might, would. Avoid responses that include the absolute modal verb must. If you see responses with the strongly suggestive modal verbs should and ought, consider carefully if the issue in the question is of enough importance to select that answer. On the other hand, if you see answers with the modal verbs might and could, those are potentially better answer choices as those are not absolute 100%.

Zone in on Success

Now that you understand why critical thinking is essential on the exam and how it’s assessed in responses, use your critical thinking skills and these strategies accordingly on your next exam for a higher rate of success.

24 IDIOMS FOR HIGH TOEFL RESULTS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Idioms to Focus on

Are you at your wits’ end feeling desperate over which idioms to study for TOEFL?

Learning specific idioms with “take” improves performance on TOEFL and IELTS since these standardized tests are formatted with certain common English expressions.

The challenge for the test-taker comes in understanding the meaning of an idiom in the context of a passage or lecture. Some expressions seem to mean something different than what you might think.

Beat the Test

Improve your skill set of common take idioms. Knowing these expressions helps you understand TOEFL written passages and audio clips where your comprehension skills are tested. You’ll raise your competency by comprehending more details, which in turn, sets you up as a better test performer.

Examples in Context

Get to know these “take” idioms by familiarizing yourself with the examples in context. Dedicate study time to practicing them since they appear on TOEFL again and again. You’ll be at an advantage to get higher scores.

Take on I’ll take it on if no one else can complete the task.
Take notice The boss began to take notice of the worker’s productivity.
Take great pains to do something The parents went through great pains to ensure their daughter had enough money for university.
Take one at one’s word The cashier took the customer at his word when he described why he returned the product.
Take one by surprise The rebels took the army by surprise.
Take one’s time Let’s take our time to get the project done right.
Take one’s turn Wait until everyone has taken their turn.
Take someone at one’s word She invited me to come stay at her place in Rome, so I took her at her word.
Take one’s word for it I took his word for it when he said he had had an accident.
Take someone or something for granted It’s easy to take parents for granted until they’re gone. / I took my health for granted until the day I got sick.
Take someone or something at face value I take everything she says at face value. / The committee took the report at face value and approved the changes.
Take someone or something into account They’ll take his years of service into account when he’s evaluated for a raise. / She’ll try to take into account all the important things.
Take someone or something seriously If you don’t take the work seriously, you’ll be fired.
Take something into consideration They will take your experience into consideration when they decide who gets the job.
Take something lightly I’ve learned to take my work lightly as there are more important things to worry about.
Take something with a grain of salt His advice should be taken with a grain of salt since he doesn’t have much experience in the matter.
Take a beating In 2008, the stock market took a beating.
Take a dive The market took a dive after England’s exit from the EU.
Take it easy Take it easy after a long day of work.
Take it easy on Take it easy on him for missing work as his mother just died.
Take one’s chances Take your chances on oil and gold in the market.
Take the floor He took the floor speaking about pollution.
Take the helm She took the helm as CEO of the company.
Take the initiative The broker took the initiative to buy the stocks early when the market opened.

Step Up Fluency

You can even get practice using these expressions in business communication.

Now that you’ve got 24 new idioms under your belt, you’re a step ahead in fluency. Be confident on your next TOEFL that you’ll understand idiomatic meanings in context when these idioms surface on the exam.

If you were able to use these take idioms in context, feel free to Like this post.

18 Idioms for TOEFL and Better Communication

If you’ve been in a vicious cycle taking TOEFL again and again with minimal change in scores, how do you dig yourself out of this–how will you get out of a rut?

  1. Believe. According to Gandhi, “Man becomes what he believes himself to be. If you believe you can do it, you shall acquire the capacity to do it.”
  2. Change the routine. If you have the habit of studying idiomatic expressions once a week, change the habit and study twice weekly to have a better effect.
  3. Alter the approach. If your approach is the process of studying idioms written on index cards, adjust your study tactics from a different angle, for instance, try creating digital flashcards online for new words to have more impact. With a different learning strategy for foreign language acquisition, you’ll tackle new idioms in no time and expand your knowledge of everyday phrases. So, getting to know idioms is one way to advance your language skills.

Here are 18 idiomatic expressions to raise your level on TOEFL, in business communication, and in campus interactions.

Why are idioms important?

Idioms are an important aspect of informal written and spoken English. Using expressions correctly eases effective verbal communication, improving your soft skill. And, as you communicate better with idiomatic language, you show leadership at school, at work, and in business.

With expressions at your fingertips, you’ll draw on accessible phrases to convey points concisely. You’ll also seem savvier to come across like a native. Once you feel comfortable practicing expressions, try using idiomatic phrases to illustrate key points in team meetings, seminar presentations, or group discussions. Furthermore, in test preparation if you are preparing for TOEFL, IELTS or GMAT, broadening your grasp of idioms will be a stepping stone to up your game to the next level. Whether your benchmark is to improve soft skills in business communication or to succeed using the correct expressions on tests, your “idiom database” is an invaluable tool in the process.

How important are idioms on the test?

If you come across an expression you’re not familiar with on the test, it will be hard to understand the sentence or paragraph it’s in. As a result, if you can’t figure out what’s being discussed, it may cause you to lose points. So, yes, idioms are important on the exam.

How are idioms tested on each section of the TOEFL?

Reading & Listening

Idioms will be in the readings (but not a key part) or listening. In passages, for instance, understanding an idiom may help you get the whole meaning context of a college-level text. In a reading, an idiom will be part of a quote or opinion. As such, idioms would be in quotations to show a phrase is different than the typical meaning.

Let’s analyze one test case:

“When truck production began to soar, quality went up and factories reported they had produced less “lemons” than before.”

Here, the expression “lemons” is in quotations, and it means something defective.

Though the TOEFL question will not ask what a “lemon” is, it’s useful to know the expression’s meaning to find the right answer faster.

The next section, the listening section, has the most idioms of all the sections since you’ll listen to campus dialogues of how people speak every day. To improve, focus on becoming familiar with the idioms that have surfaced on past exams.

Speaking & Writing

On the other hand, in the speaking and writing sections, the least number of idioms are found—only in the integrated tasks (speaking questions 3-6 and writing integrated task.) Avoid using an idiom in speaking or writing, only if you have a good knowledge of the idiom. In that case, you might include just one idiom in a speaking response and one in the integrated writing response. No need to use more than one on either of these two sections’ integrated tasks.

Here are six idioms from past TOEFL tests to get to know

  1. Cost an arm and a leg
  2. Butterflies in your stomach
  3. Be on your toes
  4. Time flies
  5. Breeze through something
  6. Get some shut eye

Analyze the meanings of the six idioms in the paragraph below

Taking the TOEFL test every month costs an arm and a leg. When you arrive to take your test, you’ll have butterflies in your stomach. When the test starts, be on your toes. After four hours, time flies, and you feel like you breezed through. It was a long day, and after the test, you go home to get some shut eye.

  1. Is expensive
  2. Feel nervous
  3. Be ready/be prepared
  4. Time goes by quickly
  5. Do something quickly
  6. Sleep

Achieve a better score on the TOEFL in order to get into your dream college. Well, you’ve got your work cut out for you. Yes, it may be a challenging task or a difficult road ahead.

Recall that mastering idioms is just the tip of the iceberg. It’s only a small part of the issue.

Keep plugging ahead to applications.

 

 

 

 

Be happy knowing you’re as wise as an owl and familiar with a set of valuable idioms to effectively communicate and advance your soft skills.

So, what are you waiting for? Go practice using them. Time’s a ticking, hurry up!

Now that you’ve gained self-assurance to use some of these new idioms in your speaking, writing, or business communication practice, keep your eyes peeled watching for more useful idioms coming in an upcoming blog post.

New Vocabulary Raises TOEFL Success

 

Do you cringe when you encounter new vocabulary in English? Your feeling of dread can change to curiosity by simply following a structured approach when you come across any unknown word choice.

Although the TOEFL® iBT does not have a particular vocabulary section, many of the questions, answer choices, and passages contain difficult word choice. To improve your score substantially, you must increase your vocabulary. If you think studying vocabulary words is not exciting, get motivated to expand your range of words. Tell yourself it’s useful, not only on the test but also in academic life or career wise. Make learning new words fun or challenging so that you do not get bored with the process. What’s an advantage is the same words appear on the TOEFL one year after another. Get your hands on a list of frequent words on the TOEFL to get started. The more words that you recognize and understand the meaning of, the easier the test will be for you. Clearly, vocabulary is not something to avoid in your test prep time. Gear up for your success by creating a strategy how to tackle new vocabulary every day.

How to be organized about learning new vocabulary?

Get in the habit of looking up new words that you come across in reading passages or in listening to lectures. If you make a ritual of writing new word choice in a notebook specifically for that, you can use your notes to review sets of new words acquired so that you retain the information over the long run. If you see or hear a word that you don’t know, it’s probably a valuable word to jot down in your vocabulary journal.

In addition, keep a growing vocabulary list that you can refer to in your study sessions. To begin with, look the new word up online in an online dictionary or use a dictionary app and make a flashcard with the word on the front, the meaning on the back with synonyms and an example in context. Carry these index cards around in your pocket to study during breaks during the day. This is just a start, but rote memorization is not enough. As a language learner, you will benefit if you absorb the words in phrases and expand on them in exercises, so tools such as mnemonics may be useful as an aid. If you keep a routine of expanding your English vocabulary day to day, it will be a valuable asset for communication in your career and beyond.

Of course, flashcards are tools to learn new words, but they are not enough just by themselves so use a valuable smartphone app such as the fun and memory-efficient app Study Blue, which makes remembering your new words much easier.

You must apply those new words in context. Otherwise, you may not recall the new words. So, when you memorize any new words, consider how that word choice typically appears in a phrase or sentence.

  • Is the context more often written or spoken?
  • Is the word choice used in only one way?
  • Is the context where the word is used formal or casual?

The next step is trying to use your new word(s) in a few typical phrases or sentences in context. For fluency, using your word in context has to come naturally, so by practicing how to put the new words in context, it will become second nature.

If you learned something new from this post, check out Accurate Content on the Integrated TOEFL Writing for how to target your writing content.

Beat Test Anxiety with a Plan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are you in a time crunch? Do you feel stressed out or are you in a bind?

If you have a couple days before your TOEFL® iBT exam, feel hope. Take a bit of time to lower your anxiousness about the test. To keep your anxiety under wraps, you need to prepare mentally. Since you know that you have prepped sufficiently before the exam day, you can reduce your feelings of nervousness so that come exam day, you will be mentally strong. A few key study tips are useful if you still continue to struggle with some anxiety about the day of the exam and the outcome:

Breathe. And again. Take a deep breath. Focusing on the breath will take the stress away from thinking about the actual test.

Know what you have to do, and concentrate on how you can get it done well in time. Look at your calendar, and the day you will take your test. Count how many days or weeks remain before you take the plunge. Highlight your test day in yellow. Don’t panic! Maybe your nerves are feeling jittery just thinking about that day. Take a breath and put your anxiousness aside. When you confront the test day with confidence, you are forced to know what time you have left before the date. Assess exactly how much time you have prior to your test. Is it days or weeks? This step gives you a sense of what you need to plan for, so you can take more control over your nerves. Feel confident, because even if only two days exist before your upcoming test, you still have the opportunity to prepare.

Now that you know the exact time frame of how many days or hours you have prior to taking your TOEFL, create a detailed study plan for reading, writing, listening, speaking, grammar, and vocabulary. Take a pen and journal, or in your notebook or weekly calendar, come up with a plan with study sessions that addresses the priorities you want to get done in the time frame left. How long will you spend on each skill? Whichever skill is your weakest, practice that first to improve upon it. Even practice it longer than you work on other skills. Humans often tend to procrastinate what overwhelms… and the skill that is your weak point is a daunting task. How will you organize your practice sessions to maximize effectiveness? Do not stray from your plan even if you feel overwhelmed. Re-focus your brain to stay on track and get whatever needs to be done completed within the time frame. After you finish every study session, you will feel more confident that you accomplished what you had planned out in advance, which lowers your level of worry.

Short on time? If you just have a few days before your test, make a plan to study numerous hours every day or more for each of the days left. If you have a few weeks, create a study plan for minimum an hour and a half per day or several hours at various times every week.

What not to do when you fine tune your schedule? When you are setting your study time, avoid a plan to study the night before the exam. The day before the exam should be used as a day of rest so that your mind stays fresh for the test date. You don’t want to be lacking concentration during the listening or speaking sections, do you? You wouldn’t want to run out of steam when you get to the final section, writing, either. So, in your plan, budget the last day before the test as a resting day, with minimal focus on studying. Rather, relaxation will help your mind be at ease and loosen your anxiety.

Prioritize what you need to do first by using a study guide. What are you going to tackle during each study session? For how long? Since the exam covers such a wide range of material, you want to make sure you face each skill during your study sessions. If you have test anxiety, maybe it’s because you do not know where to begin. You may feel overwhelmed with too many parts to study at once. This is where prioritizing comes in handy. To reduce your nervousness, attack the study materials by making a checklist of what you must study first as the most important to the least important. Stick to that order. How to know what is the most important? If you use a study guide with practice questions or a sample test, you can pinpoint your weaknesses. Address your weak areas first. In this way, you can use your study time more efficiently.

Finally, you need to hit the books. Study! So, if your study plan has a time frame of two hours, then get to work. Sit down and follow your plan. Do not procrastinate, not even 15 minutes. It would increase your anxiety level as the exam day approaches. If you mentally feel like putting it off, just remember your ultimate goal of success. Paint a mental picture of getting to your objective. Know that you will reduce your test anxiety by putting your study plan into effect effectively.

 

If you liked this post, you’ll enjoy Use Technology for Proficiency in English.

 

Quick Steps to Paraphrase on TOEFL

 

You may feel frustrated if you struggle on how to paraphrase accurately on the TOEFL® iBT exam on the integrated writing and speaking sections. Luckily, if you follow a couple of simple techniques, you can polish your skills in no time.

What is a paraphrase?

A paraphrase is when one explains information from a specific source in one’s own words. It highlights the principal ideas, and it may be more specific than a summary.

Why is paraphrasing important on the TOEFL® iBT?

With the capability to paraphrase, you will have an advantage on the integrated writing and speaking sections of the exam. Once you understand the key ideas, paraphrasing will help you recall those points from the texts and lectures. Furthermore, it is a valuable skill, which will maximize your success in your academic studies.

How do I create an accurate paraphrase in my own words?

To paraphrase, you first need to understand the original meaning and have effective notes, so review note-taking techniques.

  • Take notes while reading or listening. Do not write sentences. Simply write the main idea in abbreviated form.
  • Look over your notes. Consider how you could explain the key points in your notes to an individual who hasn’t read or listened to the information that you did.
  • Write (or speak) your main ideas substituting synonyms, different sentence structures, alternate word forms, or other word order. For instance, rather than write an original verb, change that verb to a similar noun form in an altered structure or new order, but keep the same idea. Then, make similar relationships between key points and details from your notes.

How do I acquire and master paraphrasing skills?

  • Read passages and listen to lectures.
  • Take notes, but avoid copying words or phrases from the source (this will save you time in the writing period); use synonyms when you note take. Do not change the meaning in your notes, do not forget to take notes on key ideas, and do not add your own ideas to the source information.
  • Refer to your notes to present the key idea. Simplify the structure and words.
  • When you are paraphrasing a practice reading passage, go back to the passage to review if you paraphrased the principal ideas accurately. In study practice, you can listen to a lecture again to see if you paraphrased your notes well, however, on the exam day, since you only listen to the lecture once, you will be unable to refer to the lecture source.

 When I’m under pressure taking the exam, how do I PARAphrase quickly?

  • Put information into your words
  • Avoid copying
  • Reflect the same ideas or Rearrange similar text
  • All key points included

Sample Paraphrases:

Original text:

There are times when people copy ideas from internet because they have no idea how to paraphrase.

Paraphrase A:

At times, since individuals do not understand how to rephrase, they repeat things word for word from the web.

Alternate Paraphrase B:

Individuals duplicate word for word from the web at times since they do not understand how to create a paraphrase.

The Owl Purdue Online Writing Lab has paraphrasing practice.

If you like this blog, you’ll enjoy Secret Tips to Developing TOEFL Writing Skills.