Stuart Mill English

How to Learn, How to Teach English

Beyond Practice Tests: Negative Factual Information Questions

Beyond Practice Tests: Negative Factual Information Questions

On a test like the TOEFL, Negative Factual Information questions ask you to find missing things. You’ll get four choices (A,B,C,D). Three things will be true. One will be false. You should choose the false thing. These are the opposite of Factual Information Questions where one thing is true and three are false. For example:

Steven can’t go to the party because of all the homework he has to do. Plus, he doesn’t even have money to get a bus. And Sarah will be there. He really doesn’t want to see her. So, he’ll stay at home again. Tonight he will do his homework. After that, he’ll watch a movie and go on the internet.

Why can’t Steven go to the party?

  1. a. He doesn’t know where the party is.
  2. b. He has a lot of homework.
  3. c. He doesn’t have money for a bus.
  4. d. Sarah will be there and he doesn’t want to see her.

What will he do tonight?

  1. a. He will play video games.
  2. b. He will do his homework.
  3. c. He’ll watch a movie.
  4. d. He’ll go on the internet.

Negative Factual Information questions are pretty easy. The thing that you can’t find is the answer. You should find three things and make sure you can’t find one thing.

Here are five study strategies.

Answers First First, make a list of four things. Then write something that uses three of them. For example, if your list was “bread, butter, eggs, sugar”, you might write “I bought bread, eggs, and sugar.” Of course, your answer can be much longer, but you’ll get used to how to create the questions. This will make it easier for you to answer them.

Change Factual Information Questions Look at some “Factual Information” questions on a practice test. Change the factual information questions into negative factual info questions by changing the grammar of the question. For instance, if the question is “How many cars did he buy” and the answer is “two”. You could change the question to “How many cars didn’t he buy”?

Add to Groups You’ll be very good at these questions if you can see groups quickly. You’ll see groups more quickly if you find groups of things that have stuff in common. Then think of things that you could add to the lists. For example, if you found an article that talked about France, Germany, and Spain; you might write Holland, Italy, and Poland. (They’re all European countries.)

Create Groups After reading something, add sentences to it. Add sentences so that there are groups of three things. So, if the text talks about apples and oranges, you could write about bananas to create a group of three.

Three Truths and a Lie Think of people, places, objects and events. Write three true sentences and one false sentence about them. For example, think about New York City. You could write: It’s in  the USA. The Statue of Liberty is there. It’s the biggest city in the world. The New York Yankees play there. Three are true. Which one is false?

September 11, 2010 Posted by | Studying Strategies, Test Prep | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beyond Practice Tests: Factual Information Questions

Beyond Practice Tests: Factual Information Questions

Five ways to study Factual Information questions.

On a test like the TOEFL, Factual Information questions ask you to find an answer that the reading specifically answers. In other words, if you understand the vocabulary and grammar, you should get these questions correct all of the time. Here is a short reading and two simple Factual Information questions:

John went to the store and bought apples. After that, he went to the bank before stopping at the post office to mail some letters. Back home, he just watched some TV and took a nap.

What did John buy?

  1. a. Apples
  2. b. Oranges
  3. c. Bananas
  4. d. Carrots

Why did John go to the post office?

  1. a. to mail some letters
  2. b. to buy stamps
  3. c. to talk to his friend
  4. d. to get a package

Of course, these are easy examples, but if you study well, real factual information questions will be easy too. How can you study well? Of course, practice tests are very useful. But, what if you don’t have any more practice tests?

Here are five study strategies.

Reading and Writing Read a magazine article. When you’re finished, write down ten things you learned.

How did you know that? After you’ve written ten things you learned from an article, write down the ten sentences from the article that taught you those things.

Make Practice Questions Write practice questions for an article. Include the real answer and three wrong answers. When you choose the wrong answers, try to pick things that you might guess.

Try to know everything Look at sentences. Write down every fact that is in the sentence. For some sentences there might be ten new things that you can learn. Try to find as many as you can.

Be Random Randomly choose ten words, expressions, or sentences from an article. Then, read the article. Finally, create questions that use the things you chose as the answers.

September 4, 2010 Posted by | Studying Strategies, Test Prep | , , , , | 1 Comment

After you take a practice TOEFL

After you take a practice TOEFL®

Would you make a dinner, but not eat it? Would you go to the beach and not go swimming? Would you write an essay, but not have someone look at it? Maybe, maybe, maybe; but if you did, you’d be missing the best part.

After you take a practice TOEFL test, you still have some important work to do. Just taking the test and checking your score is not enough. It definitely helps you, but if you do a little more, you’ll be helped a lot more. Here are some strategies.

Reading and Listening

For each question, ask yourself: What was the right answer? How do I know that was the right answer? What were the wrong answers? How do I know they were wrong?

Sometimes, this will go quickly—especially for “fact-based” questions where the answer is stated exactly in the test. But, for some questions, you will need a lot of time to figure out exactly why what’s right was right, and what’s wrong was wrong. Take your time. You’ll be glad you did when you take the real test.

Speaking and Writing

Listen to or read your answers and make outlines of what you said or wrote. For example:

Question: Do you prefer to live in the city or the countryside?

Answer Outline:

  • I prefer to live in the city.
    • More exciting (movies, concerts)
    • More people (friends, Koreans)
    • That’s why I prefer to live in the city

Now, ask yourself these questions: Are you happy with your speech/essay? Did you give good examples to support your opinion? Would you change anything? If the question asked you to repeat information, did you do that? Did you miss anything?

In general you want to review the tests so that you can really understand your mistakes and your success. If you got it wrong, figure out why. If you got it right, make sure you didn’t get lucky. You’ll be able to use the information to improve your future scores.

August 28, 2010 Posted by | Studying Strategies, Test Prep | , , , | 1 Comment

Don’t Waste Your Hard Work

Don’t waste your hard work (TOEFL Prep)

Some things to do in addition to studying

You need to do many things to get a good score on the TOEFL. Of course you should study hard. You need to learn more words. You need to read faster and understand more. You should be able to listen and talk about lectures and conversations on lots of different topics. And, of course, you have to be able to write quickly and clearly.

But, there’s more. Make sure you do these things too. Then, you’ll really get your best score.

Sleep right: How can you do your best work if you’re yawning? How can you focus for four hours if you need a nap? You can’t. So, make sure you’re rested. You need to make sure that you wake up at least three hours before you start taking your exam. Your body needs about one week to get used to a sleep pattern. So, you need to make sure that you’re awake three hours before your exam time for a whole week. For example, let’s say your exam is at 9:00am on March 7th. On March 1st, you should start waking up at 6:00am. That way, on March 7th, you definitely won’t be tired.

Eat right: The TOEFL is like a marathon. Basically, you need to concentrate for more than four hours without a break. That’s a lot. It’s important to eat food that will continue to give you energy during the exam. For example, if you eat a candy bar or something with a lot of sugar before the test, you’ll only have energy at the beginning of the test. By the time you start writing your essays, you won’t be able to do a good job. Your mind will be tired, and you won’t have any energy. However, if you eat bread or pasta the night before the exam, then you’ll keep getting energy throughout the test.

Also, get into a good eating pattern. Eat at the same times for one week before the test. Don’t eat during or right after the time that you’ll be taking the test. You don’t want to be hungry while you’re taking the test.

Study right: As much as you can, study during the times that you’ll be taking the test. And study for four hours with only a ten minute break after two hours. It can be difficult to concentrate for the entire test, so you need to train yourself. Lock yourself in your room and don’t leave for four hours. Take practice tests during this time.

Also, when you’re studying for the Speaking portion of the test, make sure you turn on the radio or television. Other people are going to be speaking while you are answering the speaking questions. You need to be used to ignoring other sounds.

Visit the Test Site: You absolutely don’t want to get lost on the day of the test, so make sure you know exactly where the test is. This means you should go to the building, walk inside, and, if possible, visit the room where you’ll take the test. This is important for two reasons. First, you shouldn’t worry about anything but the test on your test day. Second, people do better on tests in familiar environments. Don’t waste brain energy learning about a new environment.

* * *

Sleep right + Eat right + Study right + Don’t get lost = Better TOEFL score.

August 20, 2010 Posted by | Studying Strategies, Test Prep | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Talking about Future Travel

This is another speaking topic for students. Click here to read the introduction to the series.

Students, remember, you can only speak English while you do this activity. Don’t speak your native language for at least one hour. You can do it!

Teachers, you can adapt these for lessons, or give them as homework.

Topic: Future Travel

Objectives: After the discussion, you should be able to discuss future travel.

Materials: A computer with an internet connection; Pictures of these things (from a magazine or on the internet): A fork, a car, a toilet, a skirt, a tree, a soccer ball, and a cigarette

Grammar: Future Modals

Expressions

Listen and repeat these expressions.

I’d love to go there. Say these about places that you want to visit
I think that’s the most beautiful place in the world.
It looks like paradise.
I think it’d be better to avoid that place. Say these about places that you don’t want to visit.
I heard bad things about it.
It’s not high on my list of places to go.
I’d love to live there. Say these about places that you want to live.
I could make a home there.

Vocabulary: Paradise, Island, Museum, To go skiing, To go hiking, To go swimming, beach, site seeing

Google the Vocab Do a Google image search for each word and discuss the pictures with your partner. (You can also draw pictures of each word and discuss the pictures with your partner.)

Controlled Activity Search YouTube for these countries and the word “travel”: Thailand, North Korea, France, Russia, Columbia, Canada.  Watch a video. Answer these questions:

What do you see?

Would you like to visit this country? Why/Why not?

Question Time Ask your partner these questions.

If you had $100,000,000, which countries would you visit?

Which countries would you like to live in?

Could you live in a country where you don’t speak the language?

Which languages would you like to learn?

What things do you like to do on vacation?

Would you prefer to visit museums or sit on a beach?

Would you prefer to sit on a beach or go skiing?

Would you prefer to go skiing or go shopping?

Do you like camping?

Your Questions Now write five discussion questions and ask your partner.

Same or different? Write the names of five countries. Then look at pictures of these things and answer the questions below

A fork: Do people eat the same in your five countries? Do they use forks? How do they eat?

A car: Do people drive a lot in your five countries? How do people normally travel inside a city? How do they travel between cities?

A toilet: Do most people use a toilet in your five countries? Are toilets necessary?

A skirt: How do people dress in your five countries? Are short skirts OK? Why/why not?

A tree: Describe the nature in your five countries. Are there mountains? Oceans? Beaches? Where do you think people go on vacation?

A soccer ball: What are the most popular sports in your five countries? Do you like those sports?

A cigarette: Do a lot of people smoke in your five countries? Is it OK to smoke in bars and restaurants?

Watch a Movie Find a movie about travel and watch it with your partner. Here are some good choices.

National Lampoons European Vacation (Comedy)

Earth (Documentary)

Elizabethtown (Romantic Comedy)

August 14, 2010 Posted by | Speaking, Studying Strategies | , , | Leave a comment

Talking about Music

This is another speaking topic for students. Click here to read the introduction to the series.

Students, remember, you can only speak English while you do this activity. Don’t speak your native language for at least one hour. You can do it!

Teachers, you can adapt these for lessons, or give them as homework.

Topic: Music

Objectives: After the discussion, you should be able to discuss music.

Materials: A computer with the internet or a CD Player and CDs

Expressions

Listen and repeat these expressions.

That sounds great! Say this after you hear good music.
Hmmm, it’s not really my style. Say this after you hear bad music.
Her voice is beautiful. Say this after you hear good singing.
His voice is terrible. Say this after you hear bad singing.
I like the beat. Say this after you hear good rhythm.
I don’t like the beat. Say this after you hear bad rhythm.
It has a nice melody. Say this after you hear a good melody.
It has a bad melody. Say this after you hear a bad melody.
Oooh, cool bass line. Say this after you hear good bass sounds.
Ouch, bad bass line. Say this after you hear bad bass sounds.
Crank it! Say this because you want the music to be louder.
Aagh! It makes my ears hurt. Say after you hear really bad music.

Vocabulary: Melody, Voice, Guitar, Bass, Drums, Rhythm

Vocab Activity: Do a Google image search for each word and discuss the pictures with your partner. (You can also draw pictures of each word and discuss the pictures with your partner.)

Play some songs Play songs for your partner. Each partner should play two songs. (See below for some suggestions, but it’s better if you choose). While you listen, you should write answers to these questions (example answers are in italics).

Do you like this song? Yes, I like this song because…

Do you like the melody? No, I don’t like the melody because it makes my ears hurt.

Do you like the singer’s voice? Yes, her voice is beautiful.

Do you like the guitar/bass/rhythm? Yes, I do because… No, I don’t because…

Does this song remind you of another song? Yes, it reminds me of The Beatles.

Now, discuss the song with your partner. Ask your partner these questions. You should both answer each question.

Did you like this song? Why?

Do you listen to similar music?

Is this good music for dancing?

Is this good music for walking?

Can you say three adjectives to describe this song?

Question Time Ask your partner these questions about music.

How often do you listen to music?

What are your favorite bands? Why?

What is your favorite genre (Rock, R&B, Classical, etc.)? Why?

Do your friends and you listen to the same music?

What kind of music do your parents listen to?

Do you listen to music from other countries a lot?

Your Questions Now write five discussion questions about music. Ask the questions to your partner.

DJ Pretend that you are a DJ on the radio for one hour. With your partner, choose the songs you will play. Practice introducing five songs. For example:

DJ: Now, we will listen to Michael Jackson’s biggest hit “Thriller”. It’s an old song, but I love it.

Something Else Here are some other songs you might like. You should be able to find them on YouTube.

Owl City “Fireflies”, Marit Larsen “If a Song Could Get Me You”, Peter Bjorn and John “Young Folks”

August 6, 2010 Posted by | Studying Strategies | , , , , | 1 Comment

Talking about Sports

This is another speaking topic for students. Click here to read the introduction to the series.

Students, remember, you can only speak English while you do this activity. Don’t speak your native language for at least one hour. You can do it!

Teachers, you can adapt these for lessons, or give them as homework.

Topic: Sports

Objectives: After the discussion, you should be able to discuss sports.

Materials: A computer with an internet connection

Grammar: Present Simple, Verbs + Gerunds and Verbs + Infinitives

Expressions

Listen and repeat these expressions.

I’m really competitive. Say these if winning is really important to you.
I play to win.
I can’t stand losing.
I just like to have a good time. Say these if winning isn’t really important to you.
I don’t like to take games too seriously.
It’s just a game!
It was over before it began. Say these when a team is easily winning.
They’re dominating.
They’re getting their butts kicked. Say this about a team that is losing badly.
Don’t give up! Say this to someone who should keep trying.
What an exciting match! Say this when you are enjoying watching a match.

Vocabulary: team, competitive, match, dominate, to give up

Vocabulary Practice Go to Sport Illustrated’s website and look at the pictures. Find a picture of something that shows a team; something that shows competition, something that shows match; something that shows dominate; and something that shows to give up

Discussion Questions Discuss these questions about sports with your partner.

Do you like to watch sports? Why? What do you like to watch?

Do you like to play sports? Why? What do you like to play?

Is winning very important to you? Why/Why not?

Do you like to play other games (like chess)? Which games do you like to play OR Why don’t you like to play games?

Is it important for children to play sports? Why/Why not?

Which sport is better for children: soccer or baseball?

Strange Sports Do a Google image search for these sports. Describe them to your partner. Would you like to try playing them?

  • Curling
  • Midget Throwing
  • Bog Snorkeling
  • Underwater Rugby
  • Sumo Wrestling
  • Lawn Mower Racing

Your Questions Write five discussion questions about sports. Ask your partner your questions.

Next Why not ask your classmates to play a sport together. You could make one of the rules that you have to speak English. Anyone who doesn’t speak English gets a penalty.

July 31, 2010 Posted by | Speaking, Studying Strategies | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Studying with Songs

Student Self Study: How to listen to music

Everybody knows that if you listen to a lot of music in English, then it’s easier for you to learn English. Listening to English music helps you learn faster. Just think about the people you know that speak English really well. How many of them listen to a lot of English?

Why is this true? Imagine that you learn a new English word. Let’s say the word is “poisonous”. It means that something is harmful, usually if you eat or drink it. For example: You can’t drink that. It’s poisonous. If you drink it, then you’ll die. But, now let’s say you learn the word “toxic”. It means the same thing as “poisonous”. For example: You can’t drink that. It’s toxic. If you drink it, then you’ll die.

Which word is easier to learn? Well, in 2004 the answer was “toxic” because we kept hearing “Toxic” by Britney Spears on the radio.

The same is true for everything in English. Grammar, pronunciation—listening to music reinforces them. For example, “All You Need Is Love” by the Beatles, is great reinforcement for the passive voice.

And don’t think that studying in a classroom has to come first. If you heard “Toxic” 20 times and then looked it up in a dictionary, then you’d never forget what it means. So, listening to songs can be a great way to prepare yourself to learn more in the future.

You don’t have to do anything else. Just listen a lot! But, you can do more. Here are five ways to really get the most out of songs.

Five ways to really learn a lot using songs

#1 Look up the lyrics. (The lyrics are the words in a song.) If you go to Google and search for your song’s title and the word “lyrics” you can easily find the lyrics to your song.

Try it. Go to google.com and search for “toxic lyrics”.

#2 Before you look up the lyrics, try to write them down yourself. You’ll become better at listening for details if you do.

#3 Can you sing? It doesn’t matter. Even if you sing by yourself, it’ll be good for your memory, so don’t be shy, sing along with the song.

Sometimes it’s really hard to understand English because people speak too fast. If you can sing along with a song, you’ll get used to listening to English quickly. It will also improve your pronunciation, intonation, and stressing of words.

#4 Memorize some or all of the lyrics. Then you can sing them anywhere!

#5 Share a song with a friend. If you teach a song to a friend, then you’ll really remember it well.

Tip: If you don’t know the words, this is a great online dictionary

http://www.ldoceonline.com/dictionary/

July 24, 2010 Posted by | Studying Strategies | , , , | Leave a comment

Talking about Money

This is another speaking topic for students. Click here to read the introduction to the series.

Students, remember, you can only speak English while you do this activity. Don’t speak your native language for at least one hour. You can do it!

Teachers, you can adapt these for lessons, or give them as homework.

Topic: Money

Objectives: After the discussion, you should be able to discuss money.

Materials: none

Expressions

Listen and repeat these expressions.

I mostly spend money on food. Say this to describe how you spend your money. We chose “food” but you can say any noun.
I need to get some cash. Say when you need to find an ATM/Cashpoint/Bank Machine.
I found a great deal. Say after you found something for a cheap price.
I’m broke. Say when you don’t have money.
I’m dead broke. Say when you really, really don’t have money.
That’s way too expensive. Say after you see something with a very high price.
That’s a great deal. Say after you see something with a very low price.
I need to save up some money for that. Say when you want to buy something after you have more money.
I went on a bit of a spending spree. Say when you spent a lot of money on different things.

Vocabulary: cash, broke, dead broke, deal, spending spree

Vocab Activity: Do a Google image search for each word and discuss the pictures with your partner. (You can also draw pictures of each word and discuss the pictures with your partner.)

Makes lists Write a list of ten things you have bought recently.

Ask your partner the following questions about each item (example answers are in italics):

What is the first thing on your list? The first thing I bought was soap.

Why did you buy it? We didn’t have any more soap at home.

Was it a good deal? Yes. It was a great deal! I only paid fifty cents. / No, it was way too expensive.

Are you glad you bought it? Yes!

Why/Why not? I like being clean!

Question Time: Now ask your partner these questions:

What do you usually spend money on?

Do you usually find good deals?

What is the most expensive thing you ever bought?

What are three expensive things you want to buy in the next five years?

Do you like spending money? How do you feel when you buy things?

Do people save a lot of money in your country? Do people spend too much money in your country?

Do your parents and you feel the same about money? How are different generations different?

Your Questions: Write five discussion questions about money. Ask your partner your questions.

YouTube Money Videos Search YouTube for the following songs and discuss which one you like the most and why.

“Money for Nothing” by The Dire Straights

“Money” by The Beatles

“Money” by Pink Floyd

July 17, 2010 Posted by | Speaking, Studying Strategies | , , , | 1 Comment

Talking about Movies

This is another speaking topic for students. Click here to read the introduction to the series.

Students, remember, you can only speak English while you do this activity. Don’t speak your native language for at least one hour. You can do it!

Teachers, you can adapt these for lessons, or give them as homework.

Topic: Movies

Objectives: After the discussion, you should be able to discuss movies

Materials: Paper and Pens

Grammar: Present Simple, Present Perfect, Stative Verbs

Expressions

Listen and repeat these expressions.

I really like action movies. Say one of these after someone asks you: “What kind of movies do you like?”
I really like comedies.
I really like horror movies.
I really like dramas.
I really like romantic comedies.
That sounds interesting. Say these after someone suggests going to see a good movie.
Oh, yeah. I’d love to see that.
Oh, I heard that was good. Let’s go!
Mmmm. I don’t know. Say these after someone suggests going to see a bad movie.
I don’t think that’s the movie for me.
That’s not really my favorite kind of movie.
How about something else?
It looks exciting. Say this about an action movie that you want to see.
It looks funny. Say this about a comedy that you want to see.
It looks scary. Say this about a horror movie that you want to see.
It looks interesting. Say this about a drama that you want to see.
It looks sweet. Say this about a romantic comedy that you want to see.

Vocabulary: genre, action movie, comedy, horror movie, drama, romantic comedy, anime, documentaries, sci-fi

Draw Movie Posters. On three pieces of paper you should draw three movie posters. Each poster should be for a different genre.

Guess Movie Genres. Now, look at your partner’s pieces of paper and guess what genres they drew. How do you know? Say at least three things that represent the genre. (For example: “That’s a romantic comedy. I know because the guy and girl are kissing. Also, they’re falling off of a boat, which is funny. And it looks sweet.”)

Ask your partner if he/she likes each genre and why/why not?

Do you like action movies? Why/Why not?

Do you like comedies? Why/Why not?

Do you like horror movies? Why/Why not?

Do you like dramas? Why/Why not?

Do you like romantic comedies? Why/Why not?

Discuss movie questions

What movies are in the theater now? (It means: What movies can you watch in a theater now?)

Which movies do you want to see now? Why?

What are some movies you’ve seen recently? Did you like them? Why/why not?

What are some of your favorite movies? Why did you like them?

What is your favorite kind of movie? (Action, drama, etc.) Why?

Do you like to eat popcorn at the movies?

Do you prefer to go to a movie theater or stay at home?

Your movie questions Write five movie discussion questions. Ask your partner the questions.

Watch a movie Now, discuss which movie you’d like to watch and watch it with your partner. Then discuss it. Don’t forget the popcorn.

July 10, 2010 Posted by | Speaking, Studying Strategies | , , , | Leave a comment