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 | 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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Arsenio’s Business English Podcast | Season 6: Episode 14 | Can CEOs Be Trusted?

If you look at Google, 63% of employees are not worried about layoffs. However, if you look at Walt Disney, the CEO slashed 40k jobs at the beginning of COVID and have laid off an additional 28k at the beginning of this month, leaving its workers in “an awful lot of pain.”  Meanwhile, the heir of the company, Abigail Disney, went on a Twitter-tirade over the businesses’ practices and why the upper-echelon had received billions in bonuses and dividends while the hard-working middle-class suffered egregiously during the crisis.

So, can we trust big cats? Can we trust that Jeff Bezos actually gives a damn about his employees (apparently not because tens of thousands had gotten COVID)? It’s tough to call, and that’s today’s focus.  Can we trust the FAT CATS?

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TOEFL iTP | Grammar | Incomplete or Missing Infinitive and Gerund Phrases

An infinitive is a verbal form that consists of the word to and the simple form of the verb: to be, to go, to give, to build. Infinitives are often followed by an object: to give directions, to build a house. Together, an infinitive and its object form an infinitive phrase.

Infinitives can be used in a variety of ways. They may be the subjects or objects of verbs or used after to be + adjective.

  • To read the directions is important. (infinitive as subject of a verb)
  • He forgot to read the directions. (infinitive as object of a verb)
  • It’s important to read the directions. (infinitive after to be + adjective)

Infinitives can be used as adjective phrases after noun phrases. You will often see this in structure problems after noun phrases containing the word first.

  • John Glenn was the first American to orbit the Earth.

Infinitives can be also be used to show purpose. In other words, they explain why an action takes place. (The phrase in order + infinitive also shows purpose.) These infinitive phrases often come at the beginning of a sentence, and are set off by commas.

  • To learn how to dance, he took lessons.
  • In order to learn how to dance, he took lessons.

You may see Structure items that focus on passive infinitives. A passive infinitive consists of the word to + be + past participle.

  • Roberta was the first person to be asked to speak at the meeting.

A gerund is a verbal form that ends in -ing: being, going, giving, building. Like infinitives, gerunds are often followed by objects: giving directions, building a house. Together, a gerund and its object form a gerund phrase.

Gerunds are verbal nouns, and are used as other nouns are used. You will generally see gerunds as subjects or objects of verbs or as objects of prepositions. (Note: infinitives can also be subjects and objects bu never objects of prepositions.)

  • Playing cards is enjoyable (gerund as subject of a verb)
  • He enjoys playing cards. (gerund as object of a verb)
  • He passes the time by playing cards. (gerund as object of a preposition).

Listen to my podcast for the examples and Patreon for the additional write up.

{Patreon Special} Arsenio’s Business English Podcast | Season 6: Episode 17 | Hotels

From the gorgeous hotels such as Bangkok Marquis Marriott in Bangkok, Sintesa Jimbaran in Bali, Sheraton (minus them double-charging me), in Kuala Lumpur, to terrible hotels in the USA, Thailand (same area as Bangkok Marquis), and Australia. Today is story-telling Thursday! There are plenty of vocabulary terms for you guys on my Business English Podcast Badge! I go over them briefly on here, but if I speak very quickly and you want to practice your writing, verbiage, phrasal verbs, etc….make sure you click my Patreon down below!

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Arsenio’s ESL Coaching & Membership Services

Hello, all! Here’s the comprehensive overview of my membership and coaching services! I’ve had a lot of inquiries, so I wanted to make sure that everyone knew exactly, step-by-step, how much it would cost for the different packages involved.

January 2021 New Pricing

As of January 1st, there has been a 33% increase in hourly coaching packages, but it’s still similar to the 5-hours coaching packages.

1 hour = $40 an hour.

5 hours = $200 per package (one hour free) so a total of 6 hours.

Last Year

1 hour was $30 an hour.

5 hours was $150 an hour (no free hour). With the free hour now, last year’s package of 6 would technically be $180 — so there’s not much of a difference.

Group Learning

2-3 students = $30 per student/per hour (25% reduction).

4-5 students = $20 per student/per hour (50% reduction).

So, the more students there are, the cheaper is is for every individual student. The cap is at 5 students…and even so, understand that teaching IELTS Speaking and TOEFL Speaking with 4-5 students may be a bit difficult because the talking time for each student. Other areas, + TOEIC, would be far easier to teach with that amount of students.

Top-up packages will be coming soon!

Keep in mind, this is for all test preparation courses ONLY.

More questions? Book my calendar! Or email me arseniobuck@icloud.com

Pronunciation Course | Phase III | Word Stress in Numbers

Happy New Years! It’s officially 2021 and we’re back with the follow up from “compound nouns” yesterday. If you’re reading this on Facebook or the blog, know that price changes won’t happen on Patreon; therefore, every badge will have my pronunciation (audio) course. Be sure to tune in!

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{Patreon Special} Pronunciation Course | Phase III | Word Stress in Compound Nouns

Boom! Excited to debut this one today, on the cusp of New Years’. In today’s special pronunciation course, we’re going to talk about word stress in compound nouns. Here’s a snippet of what will be discussed.

Listen for the primary stress in the following words:

Password forgot my password

Deadline met the deadline

Post office the nearest post office

· Note: if the second nouns are made out of the material in the first noun, stress both nouns, but put the primary stress on the second noun (wool coat, cream cheese, plastic bags, paper towels, and apple pie).

Available in all Patreon tiers!

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