Pronunciation Course | Phase III | Unstressed Words in Sentences

We’re back with the third-to-last video in the pronunciation course! Again, if you guys are ready and requesting the video course, please reach out to me and I’ll make it LIVE on Podia. Until then, this audio is available on all Patreon badges, as stated dozens of times before.

And in today’s episode, I will teach you how to unstress structured words. Remember, structured words make the grammar of the sentence correct, but in spoken English, we often unstress them.

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IELTS | Listening | Cambridge 15 | T2 – P1 – Festival Information

It’s been a few months, but I’m officially back with another IELTS Listening practice. In today’s video/podcast, I will be breaking down the typical section 1 form and allowing you guys to answer the questions.  If you want the answers, make sure you view my blog!

Festival Information

DateType of EventDetails
17tha concertperformers from canada
18tha balletcompany called 1) ____________
19th-
20th
afternoon
a playtype of play: a comedy called Jemima has had a good 2)
_________
20th
evening
a 3) _________ showshow is called 4____________
Questions 1-4

Workshops

– Making 5 __________ food

– (children only) Making 6 _________

– (adults only) Making toys from 7 _________ using various tools

Outdoor activities

– swimming in the pool 8_____________

– Walking in the woods, led by an expert on 9 _______________

See the festival organiser’s 10 ___________ for more information

Answers on next page!

Arsenio’s Business English Podcast | Season 6: Episode 19 | Put Your Heads Together: Solving Problems Proactively

Sometimes in the world of business, and even in our personal lives, we act in a reactive way instead of a solutions-based way. When COVID had shut down my job last year, the anxiety level was out of the roof because I didn’t know how I would generate income. So, when the second shutdown happened this year, I was more than prepared and excited.

Putting your heads together is an idiom that means “helping one another find a solution.” In the entrepreneurial world, sometimes you need to sit down in a mastermind group to ponder what’s happening and plan out actionable steps. In today’s podcast, you have stories and a situation between two women who came across a massive problem at work.

TOEFL iBT | Listening | Listening Tips for Success! | How to Note-take with a Utensil

Welcome back to the super amazing blog here! I’m BEYOND grateful to give this to you, and normally this is available to my Patreon students — but again — a student has come forth and showed me that she has a lot of listening difficulties. So, I want to be able to do this blog/podcast for you guys.

Listen for the main idea


In most cases, the first question after each lecture is a main idea question also known as a gist question. At the beginning of a listening lecture, the professor usually mentions what the main topic of the lecture will be about, but sometimes the topic might be branched into something more specific. Please note the topic can change, so always be prepared to note down any new topics.

Listen to the speaker’s tone of voice


Sometimes you’ll be asked questions regarding the speaker’s attitude or opinion. To answer these questions correctly, tone of voice matters. For example, does the speaker sound excited, confused, sad…etc?

Listen to how ideas are connected throughout the lecture


When listening to a lecture, make note of the way the ideas in the lecture are connected. In other words, how the professor organized the lecture. When you encounter a question asking you how the lecture is organized, you can refer back to your notes. Some of the main relationships between ideas include cause/effect, compare/contrast, and steps in a process.

Listen for key points not specific details


TOEFL listening questions will not test you on small details. For example, you won’t see questions that are about a specific year, name, or location. Instead, questions will test your understanding of key points mentioned in the lecture.

Listen for signal words that indicate different parts of the lecture


To help you capture key points in the lecture, you need to learn to listen for signal words or transition words. These words are like the road signs that tell you what is coming next. Signal words can tell you the beginning or the end of a topic. They can also help you move through the middle of the lecture by introducing topics.

Signal words
“Okay”, “Well”, “Now”, “But”, and “So”

1. “Okay” and “Now” are usually used to transition into a different topic or a different key point.
2. “Well” is usually used before answering a question.
3. “But” and “So” are usually followed by a key point.
Examples
All right folks, let’s continue our discussion of alternative energy sources and move on to what’s probably the most well-known alternative energy source— solar energy. The sun basically provides earth with virtually unlimited source of energy every day, but the problem has always been how do we tap this source of energy. Can anyone think of why it’s so difficult to make use of solar energy?OK. Another ancient Greek philosopher we need to discuss is Aristotle—Aristotle’s ethical theory. What Aristotle’s ethical theory is all about is this: he’s trying to show you how to be happy—what true happiness is. Now, why is he interested in human happiness? It’s not just because it’s something that all people want to aim for. It’s more than that. But to get there we need to first make a very important distinction. Let me introduce a couple of technical terms: extrinsic value and intrinsic value.All right, so far we have been looking at some of the core areas of linguistics, like syntax, phonology, semantics. Now I’d like to talk about the branch of historical linguistics, and the comparison of several different languages, or the comparison of different stages of a single language. Now, if you are comparing different languages, and you notice that they have a lot in common. Maybe they have similar sounds and words that correspond to one another that have the same meaning and that sound similar.
bestmytest
Signal words
Let’s move on to …
This brings me to my next point, which is….
So far we have have been looking at…. Now I’d like to….
So now that we’ve covered…
What … is all about is this…
Examples
All right folks, let’s continue our discussion of alternative energy sources and move on to what’s probably the most well-known alternative energy source— solar energy. The sun basically provides earth with virtually unlimited source of energy every day, but the problem has always been how do we tap this source of energy. Can anyone think of why it’s so difficult to make use of solar energy?OK. Another ancient Greek philosopher we need to discuss is Aristotle—Aristotle’s ethical theory. What Aristotle’s ethical theory is all about is this: he’s trying to show you how to be happy—what true happiness is. Now, why is he interested in human happiness? It’s not just because it’s something that all people want to aim for. It’s more than that. But to get there we need to first make a very important distinction. Let me introduce a couple of technical terms: extrinsic value and intrinsic value.All right, so far we have been looking at some of the core areas of linguistics, like syntax, phonology, semantics. Now I’d like to talk about the branch of historical linguistics, and the comparison of several different languages, or the comparison of different stages of a single language.   Now, if you are comparing different languages, and you notice that they have a lot in common. Maybe they have similar sounds and words that correspond to one another that have the same meaning and that sound similar.   
Signal words
(opinion) I think, It appears that, It is thought that
(theory) In theory, the hypothesis is that
Examples
You have an advertising budget to spend, but how do you to spend it wisely. Again, research is the key. Good research gives you facts, facts that can help you decide, well, as we already mentioned, decide the right market to target, and the best media to use. But also: When to advertise? or…or how to get the best rates? Like, maybe you’re advertising Sport equipment, and you have been spending most of your budget during the holiday season when people buy gifts for each other. Now, in theory, that would seem a great time to advertise, but maybe a research shows you’re wrong, that the customers who buy sports equipment tend not to give it as a holiday gift, but want to use it themselves. In that case, advertising during a different season of the year might give you better results.We recently noticed an increase in cloud cover over an area of the ocean waters around Antarctica. An increased area of low thick clouds, the type that reflects a large portion of solar energy back to space and cools the Earth. Well, the reason for this increased cloud cover, it turns out, is the exceptionally large amount of microscopic marine plants. Well, the current hypothesis is that these microorganisms produce a chemical that interacts with the oxygen in the air, creating conditions that lead to the formation of the low thick clouds we observed. Well, that’s true. It could have huge implications. So, maybe we are talking about controlling the weather. Perhaps, if the microorganisms near Antarctica really are responsible, perhaps we can accelerate the process somehow.

Pay attention to the following transition words which can help you capture the main ideas and examples:

Type of connectionTransition words
These words show the order of ideas.First/Second/Third
Firstly (or “First of all”)/Secondly/Thirdly (or “Lastly”)
For one thing/For another thing/Finally (or “Lastly”)
In the first place/in the second place/Finally (or “Lastly”)
These words show the addition of informationIn addition, furthermore, additionally, also, next, moreover, what’s more, on top of that
These words shows conclusions.To sum up, in summary, in conclusion, to conclude, all in all, all things considered ,overall, taking everything into consideration, in a nutshell
These words demonstrate contrastConversely, on the contrary, by contrast, by way of contrast, on one hand/on the other hand
These words compare or demonstrate similaritySimilarly, likewise, by the same token, along similar lines
These words show result.As a result, as a consequence, consequently, therefore
These words state a generalization.Generally, on the whole, in most cases, in general
These words clarify a point.That is, in other words, to put it simply, That is to say, just to reiterate
These words give examples.For example, for instance, take something, for example, to give a clear example
These words state an alternative.Alternatively, as another possibility
TIPS TO IMPROVE TOEFL LISTENING SCORE

NO SKIPPING ANSWERS
Unlike the reading section, in the listening section you CANNOT skip answers and come back. If you skip a question, you will not be able to go back and answer it

Make an educated guess on questions you are unsure of
When you don’t know the answer, try to figure out which choice is most consistent with the main idea of the conversation or lecture. Another way is to eliminate obvious wrong answers.

Don’t take more than two minutes to answer a question.
If you spend more than two minutes on a question, you might run out of time. It is not worth it. Leave time for other questions that you have more confidence on. It’s better to have an educated guess and move on than it is to miss out on potential easy questions because you ran out of time.

NOTE-TAKING TIPS

Here are symbols you can use in your notes:

SymbolMeaningExamples
=refer to, occur, ..etcA concept that people make choices to describe a situation in a positive or negative way is referred to as word framing
Word framing = ppl describe a situation in ✓ or X way.
Because, as a result of, due to, because, owing toDue to the increasing popularity of e-books, there has been a fall in paper book sales.
∵↑e-books, paper books $↓
ThereforeElement 43 has radioactive decay, therefore element 43 doesn’t last very long, which means if that ever had been present on earth, it would have decayed ages ago.
Elem43 has radioa. decay ∴ it ≠ last long
=>result in, lead to, contribute to, give rise to, causeCarbon dioxide significantly contributes to global warming.
CO => global warming
isn’t, doesn’t, don’t, can’t etc.Element 43 has radioactive decay, therefore element 43 doesn’t last very long, which means if that ever had been present on earth, it would decayed ages ago.
Elem43 has radioa. decay ∴ it ≠ last long
+many, lots of, a great deal of, etc.Because potatoes have the ability to provide abundant and extremely nutritious food crop, no other crop grew in Northern Europe. As a result, the nutrition of the general population improved tremendously and population soared in the early 1800s.
∵ potatoes /nutri crop/+vitamins => popul↑ in Europe 1800s
++ComparativesOlder and more experienced birds who nest in the high density shrub areas have significantly more offspring than those in low density areas, which suggests the choice of where to nest does have an impact on the number of chicks they have.
older birds /nest in high shrub ++offsprings birds/nest in low shrub
+++SuperlativesWhat was even more surprising were all the large organisms that lived down there. The most distinctive of these was something called the tube worm. Here, let me show you a picture. The tube of the tube worm is really, really long. They can be up to one and half meters long, and these tubes are attached to the ocean floor, pretty weird looking, huh?
! +++special = tube warm /long/tubes attached to ocean floor
Little, few, lack ,in short of/ be in shortage of, etc.As I said the monsoon migrated itself, so there was less rain in the Sahara. The land started to get drier, which in turn caused huge decreases in the amount of vegetation, because vegetation doesn’t grow as well in dry soil, right? And then, less vegetation means the soil can’t hold water and the soil loses its ability to retain water when it does rain. So then you have less moisture to help clouds form, nothing to evaporate for cloud formation.
– rain in Sahara
land+dry => vegetation↓
–vegetation => soil ≠ hold water => -water to form cloud
!Important, interestingBut what’s particularly interesting about these volcanoes is that most of the volcanoes here on Earth are not shield volcanoes. Instead, they are other volcano types, like strata volcanoes, for example, which are a result of tectonic plate movement.
! volcanoes on earth ≠ shield volcanoes = strata volcanoes
tectonic plate => volcanoes on earth

Other symbols:

SymbolMeaning
&And, also, in addition, etc.
~about/around, approximately, etc.
And so on
$Sales, money, cost
e.g.For example
i.e.That is
xWrong, incorrect, bad, detrimental, negative, etc.
Right, good, positive, etc.

TOEFL iBT | Independent Essay | Evaluating an Essay #6 | How to Get a 24

Here it is, people! The last Independent Essay from my previous student who ended up achieving a 24 on her writing, giving her a grand total of 100 for her test.

So, in this video/podcast, this is what a 23/24 essay would look like, but the amount of things she could have done better is staggering. Nonetheless, hear me break down each paragraph, try drawing conclusions of the 2nd body paragraph, and see if everything correlates — which it doesn’t.  This is a great learning lesson for most of you out there, and she made a quantum leap to get that 24, which I’m absolutely so happy about.

Here’s the essay topic.

People learn things better from those at their own levels—such as fellow students or co-workers—than from those at a higher level, such as teachers or supervisors.

Podcast

TOEFL iBT | Speaking | Part IV | Creep & Slump

Another break down  of a TOEFL Speaking question and how some of you may be wasting quality time jotting down information that doesn’t have substance. I’ve seen this happened recently with one of my students and I realized it needed to be addressed, so here it is!

TOEFL iTP | Reading | Answering Main Idea/Main Topic Topic Questions

We’ve got a super special for you today! I know a lot of my Indonesians LOVEEE my blogs on TOEFL iTP, so now we’re getting into the techniques on how to answer main idea/main topic/main purpose questions. Remember, there are questions available on my TOEFL iTP Badge! Make sure you get all the exclusive material, podcasts, training for $50 a month!

Directions: I would like you to read the following passages and then mark each answer choice according to the following system:

  • s – too specific
  • g – too general
  • x – incorrect
  • i – irrelevant
  • c – correct

Let me walk you through the first passage down below.

{example} There are two main types of cell division. Most cells are produced by a process called mitosis. {example} In mitosis, a cell divides and forms two identical daughter cells, each with an identical number of chromosomes. Most one-celled creatures reproduce by this method, as do most of the cells in multi-celled plants and animals. Sex cells, however, are formed in a special type of cell division called meiosis. {example} This process reduces the number of chromosomes in a sex cell to half the number found in other kinds of cells. Then, when sex cells unite, they produce a single cell with the original number of chromosomes.

  1. What is the main topic of this passage?
  • The method by which one-celled organisms reproduce
  • A comparison between mitosis and meiosis
  • Meiosis, the process by which identical cells are produced.

“The method by which one-celled organisms reproduce” is a specific detail.

“A comparison between mitosis and meiosis” is the correct answer. The first sentence states “there are two main types” before mentioning mitosis and giving a definition and example of it. After that, it mentions sex cells and how they’re from a different cell division called Meiosis, then follows the definition and example. This would be the main topic because it covers the entire paragraph.

“Meiosis, the process by which identical cells are produced” is incorrect. It says nothing about meiosis producing “identical” cells. The produce single cells.

Your Turn

The last gold rush belongs as much to Canadian history as it does to American. The discovery of gold along the Klondike River, which flows from Canada’s Yukon Territory into Alaska, drew some 30,000 fortune hunters to the north. The Yukon became a territory, and its capital of the time. Dawson, would not have existed without the gold rush. The gold strike furnished material for a dozen of Jack London’s novels. It inspired Robert Service to write “The Shooting of Dan McGrew” and other poems, and it provided the background for the wonderful Charlie Chaplin movie, The Gold Rush. It also marked the beginnings of modern Alaska.

This author’s main purpose in writing is to….

  • discuss the significance of mining in Canada and the United States
  • show the influence of the Klondike gold strike on the creative arts
  • point out the impact of the Klondike gold strike

The keystone arch was used by almost every early civilization. to build a keystone arch, stones are cut so that the opposite sides taper toward each other slightly. The upper and lower surfaces are carved so that when several stones are placed side by side, the upper and lower surfaces meet in smooth, continuous curves. Some form of scaffolding is built under the arch and shaped to accept the curved underside of the stones. Then the stones are fitted in place one by one. They keystone is the top center stone, the last to be dropped into position. Afterwards, the scaffolding is removed and the arch is self-supporting.

The passage mainly concerns the….

  • basic principles of building keystone arches
  • uses of arches in modern architecture
  • role of scaffolding in building keystone arches

Circumstantial evidence is evidence not drawn from the direct observation of a fact. If, for example, there is evidence that a piece of rock embedded in a wrapped chocolate bar is the same type of rock found in the vicinity of the candy factory, and that rock of this type is found in new other places, then there is circumstantial evidence that the stone found its way into the candy during manufacture and suggests that the candy-maker was negligent. Despite a popular notion to look down on the quality of circumstantial evidence, it is of great usefulness if there is enough of it and if it is properly interpreted. Each circumstance, taken singly, may mean little, but a whole chain of circumstances can be as conclusive as direct evidence.

What is the author’s main purpose in this passage?

  • to show that a manufacturer’s negligence can be shown by direct evidence only
  • to define circumstantial evidence and show its usefulness
  • to demonstrate that circumstantial evidence can be very useful in science

The Northwest Ordinance was passed by Congress in 1787. It set up the government structure of the region north of the Ohio River and west of Pennsylvanian, then called the Northwest Territory. It set the conditions under which parts of the territory could become states having equality with the older states. But the ordinance was more than just a plan for government. The law also guaranteed freedom of religion and trial by jury in the territory. It organized the territory into townships of 36 square miles and ordered a school to be built for each township. It also abolished slavery in the territory. The terms were so attractive that thousands of pioneers poured into the territory. Eventually, the territory became the states of Ohio, Indian, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin.

What is the main topic of this passage?

  • the structure of government
  • the provisions of an important law
  • the establishment of schools in the northwest territory

Additional questions can be found on my Patreon for $50 a month with examples, audiocasts, templates, exlclusive material and coaching.

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{Patreon Special} Pronunciation Course | Phase III | Rhythm in Phrases & Sentences

This is a PHENOMENAL one, especially for those of you who have problems with enunciation and the rhythm in your sentences. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been coaching a range of students, and one, in particular, has problems with the rhythm in her sentences. Going back to three years ago, I coached a Thai doctor because her rhythm was the exact opposite of what it was supposed to be, failing the 3rd part of her exam to become a doctor in America because the patients didn’t understand her. You have no idea how important it is to have the CORRECT rhythm. So, this podcast is available on all my Patreon badges (if you’re a current student, message me and you get it for free). And if you want the entire VIDEO course to this phase, let inbox me because I will quickly create the course on podia for you. Now, let’s dive into it!

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TOEFL iTP | Grammar | Items Involving Misplaced Modifiers

A misplaced modifier is a participial phrase or other modifier that comes before the subject, but does not refer to the subject.

Look at this sentence:

  • Driving down the road, a herd of sheep suddenly crossed the road in front of Liza’s car. (INCORRECT)

This sentence is incorrect because it seems to say that a herd of sheep — rather than Liza — was driving down the road. The participial phrase is misplaced. The sentence could be corrected as shown:

  • As Liza was driving down the road, a herd of sheep suddenly crossed the road in front of her. (CORRECT)

This sentence now correctly has Liza in the driver’s seat instead of the sheep.

So, with that being said, the following sentence structures in the table down below are often misplaced.

Misplaced StructureExampleCorrection
Present ParticipleWalking along the beach, the ship was spotted by the men. Walking along the beach, the men spotted the ship
Past ParticipleBased on this study, the scientist could make several
conclusions.
Based on this study, several conclusions could be made
by the scientist.
AppositiveA resort city in Arkansas, the population of Hot Springs
is about 35,000.
A resort city in Arkansas, Hot Springs has a
population of about 35,000.
Reduced Adjective
Clause
While peeling onions, his eyes began to water.While he was peeling onions, his eyes began to water.
Adjective PhrasesWarm and mild, everyone enjoys the climate of the
Virgin Islands.
Everyone enjoys the warm, mild climate of the Virgin
Islands.
Expressions with like
or unlike
Like most cities, parking is a problem in San Francisco.Like most cities, San Francisco has a parking problem.
COMPLETE TOEFL IBT

If you want the questions, tune into the podcast down below. If you want the additional questions as stated in the podcast, link is down below for my TOEFL iTP Patreon Badge!

Podcast

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TOEFL iBT | Writing | How to Write a High-Scoring Introductory Paragraph

You guys are going to love me for this. Yes, I know there are a ton of standard templates out there that the majority of planet Earth uses, but what if I told you that you can write a fully functional introductory paragraph and get even more points? In today’s blog/podcast/video, I will discuss just that.

A high-scoring TOEFL introductory paragraph can be split into two parts.

  1. General background information about the essay topic.
  2. A thesis statement


General background information

There are many different ways of writing the general background information about the topic. For example, you could write about a brief history of the topic or an explanation why this topic is controversial or important. Alternatively, you can begin with other people’s opinions on this topic.


Thesis statement

The thesis statement is the single most important sentence in your essay and you must include it in the introductory paragraph. A thesis statement is your main opinion on the essay topic, and it also includes a preview of your key points in which you will be writing about in detail in your body paragraphs.



Developing an industry is more important than saving the environment for endangered animals. Do you agree or disagree with the statement? Use specific details and examples to support your viewpoint. 

Typically, unprepared test takers will write something like this: 

I do not agree with the statement that developing an industry is more important than saving the environment for endangered animals. 

Before we continue, please take a moment and try to figure out what’s wrong with this introductory paragraph. Is there a problem with this intro? Well…yes…there are actually two problems. First, it simply reused the words from the topic question. TOEFL will deduct marks, if you do this. Don’t do it! :), Secondly, the paragraph is too short. 

OK, now that we figured out the issues, let’s see how we can solve this problem. 

OK! First, before you write your thesis statement, give some general background information about it or you can give someone’s opinion on it. Don’t worry, I’ll give examples later.

Now it’s time to write your thesis statement. Remember that simply copying the essay topic will cost you points, so instead you will paraphrase the essay topic. 

Let’s look at the definition for Paraphrasing: to express the same meaning by using different words or different sentence structures. Remember when I paraphrased the word “problems” into “issues”? Well, you will do the same thing for your thesis statement by paraphrasing the essay topic. 

So now that we have added background information before the thesis statement and paraphrased the essay topic into our thesis statement, we have solved the issues from the first example. 

Now let’s look at a high-scoring intro paragraph that uses everything we just learned.

Developing an industry is more important than saving the environment for endangered animals. Do you agree or disagree with the statement? Use specific details and examples to support your viewpoint. 

The debate on the competition between economic development and the protection of endangered species has been going on for decades. I disagree with the statement that developing industry should take precedence over saving the environment for endangered species because I firmly believe that destroying the environment will eventually take its toll on humans in the long run.

Notice the word “debate”? This word is very useful when it comes to TOEFL writing. Any time the essay prompt asks you to agree or disagree with a statement, you can use the word “debate” to point out that the statement has both sides of opinion. Here we write “The debate on the competition between industrial development and the protection of endangered species has been going on for decades”. So what did this sentence give to the intro paragraph? 

It gave general background information about this topic. 

Now, let’s look at the thesis statement “I disagree with the statement that developing industry should take precedence over saving the environment for endangered species because I firmly believe that destroying the environment will eventually take its toll on humans in the long run.” 

The writer used paraphrasing!. “Take precedence over” means the same thing as “is more important than”. He also uses “species” instead of “animals”. 

There are multiple ways to paraphrase sentences and words. For example: “take precedence over”can be written as “take priority over”. Here is the full sentence: “Developing industry should take priority over saving the environment for endangered species”. You can practice paraphrasing by thinking of different ways you can paraphrase essay topics and vocabulary. 

Let’s look at another example that starts off with other people’s opinions.

When people succeed, it is because of hard work. Luck has nothing to do with success. Do you agree or disagree with the statement above? Use examples and details to support your position. 

It is generally believed that success comes through hard work and luck does not play a part. However, in my opinion, hard work can certainly improve a person’s situation, but luck will to a large extent influence the course of a person’s life because the social circumstances that people are born into play an amazingly large role in the potential they have throughout their lives.

As you can see, it begins with other people’s opinions by using the common pattern “It is generally believed that”. Then, it uses “however” to introduce the thesis statement which is “ in my opinion, hard work can certainly improve a person’s situation, but luck will to a large extent influence the course of a person’s life because the social circumstances that people are born into play an amazingly large role in the potential they have throughout their lives.”