Sunday, February 27

A Page from my New TOEFL Text

This is a page from my new TOEFL text Scoring Strategies for the TOEFL iBT due out at the end of March 2011.

How is my text different? In myriad ways. For starters, I analyze the rhetorical design of each task so that you will clearly understand how that task is designed, and, more importantly, which strategy you should use to maximize scoring. Also, as you can see, I use graphics to teach TOEFL scoring strategies. I call this process strategy visualization. My students love it. So will you. Stay tuned, TOEFL fans. The TOEFL revolution is coming.

The Pro


Friday, February 25

The Pro Rates a Sample ETS Essay

The independent essay below comes courtesy of ETS. ETS says that this sample independent essay scored a perfect 5. Really? Read and watch as the Pro analyzes it. Note: I have added numbers and underlines for reference.
______________________________________________________________

Prompt: Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Always telling the truth is the most important consideration in any relationship. Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

(1) the traditional virtue of telling the truth in all situations is increasingly doubted by many in today’s world. (2) many believe that telling the truth is not always the best policy when dealing with people. (3) moreover, the line of a “truth” is becoming more and more vague. this essay will explore the importance of telling the truth in relationships between people.

Intro Analysis: Sentences #1 and #2 repeat the same information. This demonstrates redundancy (unnecessary repetition). Sentence #3 introduces a new topic: how "the line of a 'truth' is becoming more vague". What is "the line of a 'truth'"? I have no idea. This demonstrates a lack of word choice. Also, this sentence does not topically connect with the last sentence. The last sentence is not an opinion. It is an announcement. How can we check to make sure it is not an opinion? Click here; see point #7. This suggests the test-taker is using induction as the method of organization. Conclusion? This introduction demonstrates a serious lack of topical unity and language use. As a result, there is a serious lack of coherence.

(1) we all understand that often the truth is offending and may not be a very nice thing to both hear or say. (2) lies or white lies often have their advantages. the manipulation of white lies is the most obvious the business world. how many times have we heard that some product is “the finest” or “the cheapest”? how many times have we heard that products have such and such “magical functions”? advertising is about persuasion, and many would agree that if a company is to tell the absolute truth about it’s products, no one would be interested in even having a look at the products.

Body Paragraph #1 Analysis: Sentence #1 introduces the topic of "the truth" as being something that can offend. Sentence #2 introduces a new topic: "lies...having their advantages." This topic change demonstrates a lack of topical unity. Also, the business world example is wrong. If a salesperson says this [product] is "the finest," and it's not, then he/she is lying. This is not an example of a white lie. Clearly, the test-taker does not understand the difference between a white lie (idiom) and a basic lie, and the context in which they are used. The raters who rated this essay also fail to understand the difference between a white lie and a lie. Is this paragraph about the truth, white lies, lies, or advertising? This body paragraph lacks topical unity, development, and a lack of language use, specifically the idiom white lie. The result is an overall lack of coherence.    

(1) the same logic applies to human relationships. (2) if your friend had worn a newly purchased dress on her birthday and energetically asked you if it was a worthy buy, would you freely express your opinion that you had never seen a dress as the one she’s currently wearing? and spoil her birthday? unarguably, hiding(entirely or particially) the truth in some situations can be quite handy indeed. confrontations and disputes can seemingly be avoided.

Body Paragraph #2 Analysis: Sentence #1 suggests that the business example in body paragraph #1 is not a human relationship. If not, then what is it? This demonstrates a lack of word choice and topical unity. Sentence #2 also lacks topical unity. What is the connection between the friend wearing a new dress and you saying you had never seen a dress like that before? You are not lying. You (the friend) are stating a fact. Where is the lie, and why? Also, what causes "confrontations and disputes", and why? This paragraph is one big question. It lacks topical unity and development. Combined, these demonstrate a lack of coherence.

however, there is always the risk factor of the truth emerging sooner or later when telling an untruth. the basic trust in any relationships (businessman/customer, friends, parents/children) will be blotched, and would have an impact on the future relationship between both parties. the story of the “the boy who cried wolf” fully illustrates the consequenes of telling untruths. no one will believe you when you’re telling the truth. your word will have no weighting.

Body Paragraph #3 Analysis: This paragraph demonstrates a serious lack of word choice. "Blotched?" What does that mean? "Untruths?" What are they? "Weighting"? What does that mean? A lack of word choice results in a lack of coherence. There are grammar issues as well.

in addition, another “bad factor” of telling untruths is that you have absolutely no control over when the truth(of previous untruths) will emerge. untruths breed pain in both parties: tears when the truth is uncovered after a period of time; fear and the burden of sharing a “secret”. in the long run, it seems that hiding the truth is not beneficial to either party.

Body Paragraph #4 Analysis: Sentence #1 introduces the negative effects of lying. Sentence #2 introduces the topic of breeding "pain in both parties." What is the main topic? It is not clear. Is there an example for support? No. This paragraph, like all the rest, is built on vague generalities. The result is a lack of sustained coherence.

(1) everyone hates betrayal. (2) even if it is the trend to occasionally hide the truth in relationships, it is strongly recommended that not to follow that trend as the risk and the consequences of the truth unfolded overwhelms the minimal advantages one can derive from not telling the truth. afterall, it is understood that relationships are founded on “trust” which goes hand in hand with “truth”. indeed telling the truth is the most important consideration in any relationship between people. always.

Conclusion Analysis: Sentence #1 introduces a new topic: betrayal. Warning: Betraying is not the same as lying. They are two completely different topics, like apples and oranges. Also, the topic of betraying is not topically connected to the introduction. This demonstrates a lack of topical unity and organization. Sentence #2 is wordy. Moreover, it sounds like an Eastern European translating into English, as does much of the phrasing in this essay. This suggests the test-taker is not thinking in English. Combined, these result in a lack of coherence.
________________________________________________________________

ETS gave this sample independent essay a 5. What would you give it? I give it a 3.5. 

Note that this essay is long. However, long does not always mean proficient. Some of the best essays I have rated have been short and to the point. More often than not, a long essay means a lack of coherence (the writer is just writing and writing, and saying nothing).

What would give this essay greater coherence, among other things? Specific examples for starters, one clearly developed and demonstrating a cause-effect relationship in each body paragraphRemember: the prompts says "give specific examples" not "vague generalities."

I rated this essay sentence by sentence. Yet what about rating it "holistically," as a whole, as ETS does (see rating holistically). Doesn't matter. Holistically rated or not, this essay still rates below 4. Why? Because the accumulation of mistakes in all areas of argument development - lack of organization, lack of development, lack of topical and grammatical unity, lack of proficient language use - all add up to a lack of coherence. Remember: Rating holistically means I (the rater) will ignore one or two errors (that, at least, is the theory). In this essay, however, there are too many errors, basic errors, which can't be ignored.

Okay, why so did ETS give this essay a perfect 5? That, TOEFL fans, is the $64,000.00 question.

________________________________________________________

LOOK AT THE PRO's SAMPLE RESPONSE!

Prompt: Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Always telling the truth is the most important consideration in any relationship. Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

Is telling the truth always a good idea? No. Personally, I think that telling the truth is bad for business, bad for love, and bad for jokes.

The truth is bad for business. For example, you sell cars. Your prices are the lowest in town. Are they? No. But what's the alternative? Do you say, "I'm lying, so go across the street because that dealer has better prices"? No. You'd be slitting your own throat. As you can see, lying is part of selling. Do customers know this? Of course. Are they offended? No. Like you, they know that telling the truth is bad for business.

The truth is bad for love. For example, your boyfriend's wearing a new cologne. He says, "You like it?" You say, "I love it!" Actually, you really mean, "God, that stinks!" Do you say this? Do you tell the truth? No. Why not? Because you don't want to hurt his feelings. In the end, you tell a white lie. In other words, you lie to make him happy. Why? Because love is more important than the truth.

The truth is bad for jokes. Last week, I was in a restaurant chilling with Jose when I suddenly said, "Yo, Jose. Look! Over there. It's Angelina Jolie. Serious. She's so hot!" Jose loves AJ. He looked and looked, but AJ wasn't there. Was I lying? Of course. If I told the truth, it wouldn't be a joke. Was Jose offended? Was he hurt? Are you kidding? He does it to me all time. It was simply payback.

As you can see, telling the truth is not always a good idea. Can you imagine if everyone suddenly started telling the truth? Car dealers would lose money, boyfriends would cry, and Jose wouldn't laugh at my stupid jokes.
____________________________________________________________

ETS says an independent essay should be approximately 300 words. The above-essay is 300 words.

Why does the Pro's sample essay score a 5? Because it is a Coherent argument? Why is it a Coherent argument? Because it demonstrates OPDUL=C ("Op-dull-see").

Organization
Progression
Development        =    Coherence
Unity
Language Use

Note: I analyzed ETS's sample independent essay using OPDUL=COPDUL=C is a trademarked, argument proficiency analyzer I developed to rate TOEFL essays and TOEFL speaking task, quickly and accurately.

Want to learn how to write essays that demonstrate OPDUL=C? It's all in the book.

__________________________________________________________________

- The Pro at Work -



© Bruce Stirling 2010-11

Thursday, February 24

Wednesday, February 23

Support the Libyan Revolution!

Idiom for the Libyan Revolution

As you know, idioms come from context, context being cultural situations or moments. The following idiom describes what Gaddafi is doing right now in Libya. The "King of Kings" says "the revolutionaries are on drugs!" Gaddafi also says, "I will die a martyr!" Insha'Allah.


Gaddafi is rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic


  
The Pro

Tuesday, February 22

Speaking and Writing Strategies = Bestseller

Amazon sales ranking as of 2.22.11
Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #19,187 Paid in Kindle Store
o   #3 in Kindle Store >  Test Prep > TOEFL

The Pro


Monday, February 21

Fake TOEFL Score

It's interesting how many google "fake toefl score." You want the Pro's advice? Yo, dude, do you really want to call your parents from an American jail? 



Remember: If the CIA and the FBI don't catch you, your professors will. Why? Because the proof is in the pudding. Believe me, it all comes out in the wash.

The Pro


Sunday, February 20

Another Success Story

One of my students just got 107/120. I won't mention her name. Suffice it to say, she is from Brazil.


TOEFL Integrated Essay

The integrated essay consists of three steps:

1. Read a short passage for 3 minutes.
2. Listen to a lecture on the same topic as in the reading for 60-90 seconds.
3. Write a fact-based essay that shows (summarizes) how points in the lecture "cast doubt on points in the reading."

Remember: You will hear the lecture only once so you must take good notes. The reading, however, stays on your computer screen.

For many test-takers, the integrated essay is a challenge. However, classroom experience proves that once my students understand ETS's testing methodology specific to the integrated essay, they score consistently higher on the integrated essay than on the independent essay. Why? Good question, TOEFL fans.

My theory is that the independent essay, because it is a subjective task, is also a creative task. Creative, in this context, means the test-taker must develop examples. Developing examples is a creative process that many test-takers find challenging. Why do some students just sit there looking at the ceiling when writing an independent essay? Because they can't think of examples/can't be creative. The ability to create (develop and write) examples will test your automaticity, your ability to write and think like a native speaker. Those test-takers who write high-scoring independent essays also demonstrate a high level of automaticity (creativity) when writing.

However, since the integrated essay is a fact-based argument, test-takers do not need to be creative with examples. They just have to summarize facts that are in the reading and in the lecture. In short, summarizing a fact-based argument (integrated essay) is easier than writing an opinion-based argument (independent essay).

Remember: The key to understanding how to write a proficient integrated essay starts with your understanding how to write a proficient independent essay. Why? Because the integrated essay tests your ability to integrate two independent essays. If you can't write an independent essay, then you will not understand how to write an integrated essay.

Want to learn how to write a proficient integrated essay that scores a 5? 

It's all in the book.


The Pro

 Mr. and Mrs. iBT



© Bruce Stirling 2011

Saturday, February 19

Essay Formatting on Test Day

A student asked a good question in class the other day. She wanted to know how she should format her independent essay, specifically if she should indent. Indent means to move the first line of each paragraph in from the margin, as in the essay below.

Remember: Indenting is paper-based essay formatting. Also, note there is no space between body paragraphs. This is also paper-based essay formatting.

          What are the qualities of a good boss? Personally, I believe a good boss should be understanding and a role model.
            A good boss should be understanding. For example, when I started working at McDonalds, I didn't understand how to make French fries. That was my first job. Nobody trained me so I thought, "How hard can it be?" I turned the fryer on and pretty soon I was making fries, no problem. But then customers start complaining. There was no salt on the fries. I'd forgotten the salt! I thought I was dead, but my boss Betty said, "Chill, Fred. It's your first day. Everybody makes mistakes. Just add salt next time, okay?" As you can see, Betty was really understanding. That's why she was a such good boss. She never freaked out.
            A good boss should also be a role model. After I made fries for a year, Betty promoted me to Big Macs. Pretty soon I was the best Big Mac maker in Mackinaw. Then one day Betty said, "Fred, this is Bob. Train him to make Big Macs, okay?" So I did. It was going great when the customers started complaining. There was no special sauce on the Big Macs. Bob had forgotten it! Did I yell at Bob? No. I did what Betty did when I messed up. I said, "Chill, Bob. It's your first day. Everybody makes mistakes. Just add it next time, okay?" Betty was such a good role model, I think of her every day now that I am president of Fred's Fine Shoes.
            In sum, a good boss should be understanding and a role model. Understanding means a boss realizes people make mistakes and being a role model means being a good example. Remember that when you're the boss one day.

Look at the next example of formatting. Note there are no indents and there is a space between each paragraph. This internet-based essay formatting.

What are the qualities of a good boss? Personally, I believe a good boss should be understanding and a role model.

A good boss should be understanding. For example, when I started working at McDonalds, I didn't understand how to make French fries. That was my first job. Nobody trained me so I thought, "How hard can it be?" I turned the fryer on and pretty soon I was making fries, no problem. But then customers start complaining. There was no salt on the fries. I'd forgotten the salt! I thought I was dead, but my boss Betty said, "Chill, Fred. It's your first day. Everybody makes mistakes. Just add salt next time, okay?" As you can see, Betty was really understanding. That's why she was a such good boss. She never freaked out.

A good boss should also be a role model. After I made fries for a year, Betty promoted me to Big Macs. Pretty soon I was the best Big Mac maker in Mackinaw. Then one day Betty said, "Fred, this is Bob. Train him to make Big Macs, okay?" So I did. It was going great when the customers started complaining. There was no special sauce on the Big Macs. Bob had forgotten it! Did I yell at Bob? No. I did what Betty did when I messed up. I said, "Chill, Bob. It's your first day. Everybody makes mistakes. Just add it next time, okay?" Betty was such a good role model, I think of her every day now that I am president of Fred's Fine Shoes.  

In sum, a good boss should be understanding and a role model. Understanding means a boss realizes people make mistakes and being a role model means being a good example. Remember that when you're the boss one day.

Which style should you use on test day? Internet block-style, definitely. Why? Because it is faster and easier, and it is easy to scan. That is what the raters like - an essay that is easy to scan. Don't waste time indenting or with any kind of fancy formatting.

Remember: The writing raters don't care about formatting or your opinion. They just want to know if you can write a proficient independent essay and a proficient integrated essay, both of which demonstrate OPDUL=C.

Want to know about formatting and OPDUL=C? It's all in the book.


The Pro

What are the advantages and disadvantages of going green?


Test Center Problems

The TOEFL test costs $170.00. For that price, on test day you should a get private cubicle, right? If not a cubicle, then a nice quiet work space, right? After all, your future is on the line. You've studied hard, for months, years even; you've spent a lot of money on books and classes, and just given ETS $170.00 - or more.

But then, on test day, you find the test center crowded and noisy. Why noisy? Because ETS allows staggered starts. That means when you are doing the reading section, the people around you might all be doing the speaking section. Noisy? You bet. I've had students walk out because of too much background noise. ETS says their headphones are noise-cancelling. Don't believe it. ETS should provide sound-proof cubicles for each test-taker. ETS has the money; they made an 11% profit (see profit).

So what should you do if you have problems on test day and you want a refund? First, remember that ETS is not in the business of refunding money. If you exit the test before you are finished, ETS will suspect you weren't doing well and decided to pull the plug and try again another time. This happens. ETS knows the game. 

However, what if your computer suddenly dies (true story), or if the smell from the Chinese food restaurant next door is so strong you can't concentrate (true story), or if the cardboard partition the test center was using to separate computers falls on top of you (true story), or if the noise-canceling headphones cancelled nothing (true story)? If you have a problem, talk directly to the test-site manager. Give him/her all the details. Get his/her name. Get the number of your computer. Get everything, every detail to support your claim. Tell the site manager to send a written report of your problem/claim to ETS (make sure you get a copy, signed by the site manager). 

Why so much evidence? Because ETS demands proof that you did in fact have technical difficulties; that proof comes not from you but from the test-site manager (the official witness). You should also send the same claim info to ETS. Get the phone number and email address of the ETS contact person from the test-site manager. If you still have a problem - and you do not know what to do - contact the Pro. The Pro knows what to do. 

Remember: An American would not tolerate less than perfect test conditions. A dissatisfied American test-taker would scream and shout, and demand a refund. That is the American way. Unfortunately, foreign-born test-takers are afraid to speak up. Don't be. Demand the best. For $170.00, you deserve nothing less.

Thursday, February 17




TOEFL Tip #23

If you buy any of my TOEFL texts - Scoring Strategies for the TOEFL iBT or Speaking and Writing Strategies for the TOEFL iBT or 500 Words, Phrases and Idioms - you will immediately notice that my TOEFL books are unlike any other TOEFL books on the market. If you expect my texts to be like all those other TOEFL books, than you will be disappointed. However, if you want TOEFL books that think outside the box - books that break the TOEFL book cookie-cutter mold - then my texts will serve you well.

And to be honest, I couldn't write "another" TOEFL text. Bo-ring. I mean, really, don't you think after 60 years of the same old TOEFL strategies, you deserve something new? I do.

The Pro

Wednesday, February 16

TOEFL Tip #22

As a TOEFL instructor and author, one thing I have noticed, year in, year out: test-takers do not analyze questions closely enough. The result is they answer incorrectly. When I explain to a test-taker why he/she answered incorrectly, more often than not it is because he/she did not take the time to analyze the question. Instead, they just glanced at the question and rushed off to look for the answer without completely understanding the question.

Remember: When you analyze a question or a prompt, make sure you understand it before you answer. As you analyze the question or prompt, look for signal words. For example, the signal word in the question below is "prior." Prior means before "1904."

1. According to paragraph 3, what did Picasso do prior to 1904?

Simple, yes? Yes. But you'd be surprised how many test-takers miss a simple time word like "prior." Instead, they see only "Picasso" and "1904."

Also, make sure you analyze writing and speaking prompts. For example, look at this prompt:

What are the positive and negative aspects of eating out?

A proficient response will answer both sides of this compare-contrast task. However, many test-takers will see only what they want to see. For example, Silvia loves eating out. In her rush to write her independent essay, she will only write about the positive things about eating out (what she prefers) and nothing about the negative side. But this is not a preference task. This is a compare-contrast task. State your preference in the conclusion after you have answered the prompt using compare-contrast in the body.

Remember: Every TOEFL iBT task has two parts: question + answer. If you do not take the time to analyze and understand the question, then you risk answering incorrectly, which will result in a lower TOEFL iBT score, and Harvard will have to wait.

READ THE QUESTION!

The Pro

Which phase of the moon precedes the waning gibbous?



© Bruce Stirling 2011

Tuesday, February 15

TOEFL Teaching Tip #3

One the biggest challenges when teaching the TOEFL iBT is how to manage class time when doing speaking exercises so that every student gets a chance to speak and have their responses analyzed.

For the two independent speaking tasks, this is what the Pro does. Let's say the class has 20 students.

1. Find 20 independent speaking task #1 single-question prompts, you know, such as, "What does your dream house look like?" or "Why do people eat out?", etc. Type each prompt on a separate sheet of white paper. For example, "What does your dream house look like?" is the only thing on a white page. Do this for all 20 single-question prompts.

2. Find 20 independent speaking task #2 paired-choice prompts, you know, such as, "Do you agree or disagree? Exercising is a good idea" or "Do you prefer going to a concert or a sporting event?", etc. Type each prompt on a separate sheet of orange paper. For example, "Do you agree or disagree? Exercising is a good idea" is the only thing on an orange page. Do this for all 20 paired-choice prompts.

3. After you have taught your class how to answer both types of independent prompt using my argument map, give each student a white page prompt and an orange page prompt. Make sure both pages are turned over so the students can't see the prompts.

4. Get a clock and start practicing. Pick a student and say, "Okay, Miguel, turn over the white sheet. You have 15 seconds to read the prompt and 45 seconds to respond. When you are finished, immediately turn over the orange page and do the same with that prompt." Tell the listening students they are TOEFL iBT raters. They will rate Miguel's 2 responses when he is finished and give him advice.

5. When Miguel stops speaking, the listening students will analyze each of his responses using OPDUL=C. Make the listening students explain why Miguel's responses were proficient or not according to OPDUL=C. I put OPDUL=C on the board in big letters so the rating students can follow it.

6. When Miguel is finished, go on to the next student. Do the same for all twenty students.

This is a highly effective method of doing two independent speaking prompts consecutively while giving each student a chance to speak and rate while you, the teacher, act as guide.

Want to know more speaking strategies? It's all in the book.


The Pro

Do you agree or disagree?


© Bruce Stirling 2011


Monday, February 14

Sample Essay #2

The independent essay below has 15 mistakes in grammar and spelling. Can you find them?
__________________________________________

What is telecommuting? Telecommuting means you can work from home while been connected to your office by the internet. Personally, I prefer work from home. Working from home has many advantages, such as more privacy, fewer stress and seeing my children more.

First, telecommuting gives me more privacy. For example, at work I have a cubicle is really noisy because people are always taking and using the copy machine. Also, people are always stopping and saying hello to me. This is not good because it wastes a lot of time. It also makes it hard for me to finish my work. But if I work from home, nobody bothers me and I finish my work without interruption this is an advantage of telecommuting.

Also, with telecommuting there is less stress. When I go to work, I must get up early and drive, it takes an hour and the traffic is always bad. If is an accident, I get to work late. That means I have to stay late to finish my assignments. But if I work from home, I don’t have to worry about getting up early or about traffic or being late for work this is another big advantage of telecommuting.

Finally, working from home let's me see my children more. My children are very young, only seven and eight. I drop them in day care when I go to work but when I work from home, I can look after them. This really saves me money. Also, I can spend more time with my children. This makes us all very happy. This is the best advantage of telecommuting.

Suffice, telecommuting has a myriad of advantages. Dont you wish you could just fallen out of bed and go to work in your pagamas?


check your answers

_________________________________________________ © Bruce Stirling 2011

Friday, February 11

A Brand New Idiom: Revolution 2.0

The Egyptian Revolution is a milestone for myriad reasons, one of which is that this revolution is the first true internet revolution. Thus it is called Revolution 2.0. The Egyptian Revolution was inspired by the Tunisian Revolution. That makes the Tunisian Revolution 1.0. And that, TOEFL fans, is how idioms are born: from context. What is context? Context is culture.


Congratulations to the citizens of Tunisia and Egypt for their historic changes.



Idiom for the Egyptian Revolution

As you know, idioms come from context, context being cultural situations or moments. The following idiom perfectly describes what Mubarak is doing right now in Egypt. He fired his government and appointed the same corrupt people. By hiring the same corrupt people, Mubarak's actions have no purpose thus are useless. That is the meaning of this popular idiom. Broadcasters in America, on CNN for example, are all using this idiom.


            President Mubarak is was rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic


  
The Pro

Thursday, February 10

PreWrite, Write, Rewrite = Old School

When writing the 30-minute independent essay, all TOEFL texts tell you to prewrite for 5 minutes, write for 20 minutes, then rewrite for the last 5 minutes. Why do TOEFL texts tell you to do this? Because American high schools teach this method of essay time management. In short, TOEFL texts are teaching you what is taught in American high schools specific to managing your time when writing an opinion-based essay.

What does the Pro think of the prewrite, write, rewrite time management method for TOEFL? The Pro thinks it is old school. Very old school. Why? For myriad reasons:

1) It is not a scoring strategy. It is just an arbitrary way of dividing 30 minutes into three parts (Why not 10, 10, 10? Or 2, 26, 2?)

2) Most test-takers don't follow this method of time management. Instead, they are so nervous they simply start writing. I see this all the time in the TOEFL classroom. Few, if any, of my students brainstorm or rewrite. It's just write, write, write.

3) Many test-takers start typing because they need as much time as possible to correct typing mistakes. (see typing strategies).

4) Prewrite, write, rewrite works if you have a weekend to write your essay. But you don't have a weekend. You have 30 minutes - and you can't waste one minute of it.

5) If this time management method is recommended for the independent essay, why isn't it recommended for the integrated essay? It's not. Thus the logic of using prewrite, write, rewrite for the independent essay and not for the integrated essay falls apart.

Why do TOEFL texts tell you to prewrite, write, and rewrite? Because, as mentioned, it's based on American high school pedagogy. Moreover, TOEFL texts assume you have no idea what you will write about. Therefore, you must brainstorm (prewrite) for 5 minutes. By doing so, you will (hopefully) figure out what you will write about. Such an assumption, however, is false. You do know what you will write about. You will write an opinion-based essay. And, if you follow this blog, you already know the basic steps.

Step #1: State your opinion in one sentence (see introduction strategies). Avoid long introductions.

Step #2: Develop body paragraphs (see body paragraphs)

Step #3: Write a conclusion using a conclusion strategy (see conclusion strategies)

In my book Speaking and Writing Strategies for the iBT, I give you the complete argument map (see argument mapping). The Pro's argument map tells you what to write, how to write it, where to write it, and why for maximum scoring. Best of all, you no longer have to prewrite, write and rewrite. With the Pro's argument map, you simply write for the full 30 minutes. This, in turn, will result in a higher independent essay score.

Want to learn more scoring strategies? It's all in the book.

_________________________________________________

What are the qualities of a good neighbor?


© Bruce Stirling 2010-2011

TOEFL Pro in China

My best-selling TOEFL text Speaking and Writing Strategies for the TOEFL iBT will be translated into Chinese and published in Chinese by the Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press, Beijing, China. FLTRP is the biggest ESL publisher in China. Publication date: 2011.

FLTRP's English web page   FLTRP's Chinese web page

Click here to Buy Speaking and Writing Strategies for the TOEFL iBT


- Mom loves TOEFL too! -


TOEFL Teaching Tip #2: OPDUL=C

As a TOEFL instructor, you must be able to explain to Maria why her independent essay scored 4/5 and not 5/5. And you must do it with Maria standing before you wanting an explanation because she is taking the TOEFL test tomorrow morning at eight a.m. How can you quickly and proficiently explain to Maria how to revise her essay (or verbal response) for a higher score when practicing and on test day? That is the number one challenge facing TOEFL iBT instructors.

TOEFL texts, however, do not tell instructors (or students) how to rate written and verbal responses. Instead, they give sample responses and say, "This integrated essay is a 5, this is a 4, this is a 3, this is a 2", etc. In other words, TOEFL texts provide no rhetorical analysis explaining why an independent essay scored 4 and not 5, or why a verbal response score 2.5/4 and not 3.5/4. This pedagogy is called "telling." It's like a car dealer telling you, "This is a fast car. Believe me. Really fast. The fastest in the world!" Great. But you need more information - detailed information before you buy. What you want is to get into the car and discover for yourself why it is a fast car mechanically. For TOEFL, what you need is a text that shows you how to analyze written and verbal responses rhetorically so that your students will be able to revise their responses for higher scores. My text Speaking and Writing Strategies for the TOEFL iBT does just that by teaching you how rate written and verbal responses using the argument analyzer OPDUL=C (op-dull-see).

Organization
Progression
Development      =    Coherence
Unity
Language Use

OPDUL=C is easy to use. For example, if an essay (or verbal response) demonstrates proficiency (skill and knowledge) in all areas of OPDUL, then it will demonstrate Coherence. Coherence will result in a higher a score. 

OPDUL=C is so effective, you can isolate the scoring difference between a 3 and a 3.5/5, then tell Miguel, "To get a 3.5, you must demonstrate greater language-use proficiency," etc. After you analyze responses using OPDUL=C, you will then rate them using easy-to-understand rating guides, guides which explain the rhetorical theory behind ETS's writing and speaking rubrics specific to OPDUL=C.

Of course, OPDUL=C is much more detailed than what you see above. For example, deduction and induction are sub-categories of Organization. Suffice it to say, OPDUL=C, in combination with my rating guides and my argument map, is so effective, I use it not only for TOEFL but also when grading essays in my composition classes and when grading emails, letters, and presentations in my business classes.

Want to know more about OPDUL=C? It's all in the book.


The Pro