In the first week, I have learned useful knowledge about academic test preparation, TOFEL.
First, I studied about generating ideas. In order to write an independent essay, we have to get general ideas to write about. One essential way to get general ideas is to brainstorm. Brainstorming usually means writing a list of word, phrases, or sentences without stopping or worrying about whether the ideas are good or not. Usually we spend three to five minutes before writing to brainstorming.
Second, I learned about outline the independent essay. Outlining based on reasons for my opinions, including brief introduction, three reasons and brief conclusion. Each reason needs support and examples. When writing outlines, it is better to use abbreviations and symbols, including using only the first few letters or the first syllable, omitting the vowels or the middle of a word and using initial for the names of people, places, or organizations, such as “info = information”,” gym = gymnasium”, “LA = Los Angeles”.
Third, I learned about the thesis statements. In essays, we need thesis statements to make the opinions clear. Thesis statement is often in the first paragraph. Thesis statement must be specific, state opinions or preference, appear clearly in introduction, be the main idea of the whole essay. The sentence is made of thesis statement and reasons. For example, if I want to write a thesis statement about opposing smoking in public place, I can write “Smoking should not be allowed in public place because the right of the community to be healthy outweigh the rights of an individual to smoke.”
Besides, I also studied skills about reading tests. There are factual information questions, inference questions, negative factual information questions, rhetorical purpose questions, vocabulary questions and so on. Usually we use the methods called “repeat main idea”,” concept repeated (verb noun pronounce)”,” similar meaning, different style” and so on to answer the questions quickly and correctly.
In the second week, I prefer to learn more about speaking tests and listening skills in class. In China, we hardly speak English with other people, so it is important to improve our speaking skills. listening has a large proportion in score, but we usually cannot hear what the video says clearly or cannot get the information to answer the questions. These are the things I need to improved most.
In the second week, I have learned useful knowledge about listening section in TOFEL.
First, I studied about the request of listening skills in TOFEL. We have to answer multiple choice questions about the main ideas and answer questions about speaker’s purpose or attitude. Main ideas are the most important part in listening section. Identifying the main idea of a passage is similar to identifying the main idea of a reading passage. We need to pay special attention to the beginning of the talk because the main idea is usually mentioned near the start of the talk. Besides, repeat words usually means the main ideas.
Second, I learned about how to take note. Note-taking is especially essential when you listen to the video. Taking notes is a complex skill, but it has lots of benefits. We can provide a written record and organize information. Good notes show both the ideas and the relationship of those ideas. Using indentations is a common way to take note. When we are taking notes, we don’t need to care about details like spelling, punctuation, or grammar in the notes. The only thing is that you can understand the note you take when you answer the questions. We can use local language if it is more quickly.
Third, I learned about speaking. We have to improve our abilities in independent speaking and speaking in response to a lecture, a reading, or both. There are some tips to get high scores in speaking test. Avoiding whispering and speaking in confidence are needed when you take speaking test. Besides, if there is some extra time, we cannot repeat the things what we have talked before; we just need to clarify more examples to support the ideas. However, if there is no time to speak, we shouldn’t speak faster which have a bad influence on scores; instead, we can speak important information clearly.
In the last week, I prefer to review the knowledge I have learned before. In the first two weeks, we have already learned all the sections of TOFEL and I have gotten useful skills to prepare the coming TOFEL test. Nevertheless, there is still some part I don’t understand or I cannot use the skills frequently and correctly, like note-taking skills. It is still difficult for me to write all the information I need to answer the question, and my handwriting sometimes is hard to understand. These are the things I hope to improve in the last week.
In the last week, I have reviewed useful knowledge about TOFEL, including writing, speaking, listening and reading sections.
First, I reviewed some speaking skills as follow. Rhetorical expectations are the accepted style of organizing your content and making your point in speaking. Rhetorical expectations vary from by genre and culture. Identifying the question type means that some questions in the speaking section will just ask you to summarize the main idea or answer question while some others will ask about your opinions to the reading or listening.
Second, I reviewed about independent speaking and integrated speaking in the class. In an independent speaking task, we use our background knowledge and examples from lives to support the ideas. In an integrated speaking, the support examples will come from the reading and listening. Moreover, using transition makes your speaking logically. We need some words and phrases to organize our response. However, overuse transition words may lead to strange speaking.
Third, I learned about how to prepare for student-led discussion. It is a novel way to practice logical thinking and speaking skills. Students are divided into different groups and they take the passage before the class. Students have to read the article before the class and then summarize the main idea of the article with teammates. After that, students can ask some questions about the article, which will be discussed by all the teammates in the group. If one student give an opinion, other students may supplement it or oppose it by giving different opinions. In this way, we can get various facets of single thing to develop our mind.
Although the class comes to end, but I will continue learning English skills in the future. Here are my plans. In the second year of college, I will focus on words which I am not familiar with. Besides, I will speak more in class or talk with my friends as much as possible. In the winter vacation and summer vacation, I will be training outside school to further improve my writing, speaking, listening and reading skills. At the summer vacation in my second year, I will take TOFEL test in my first time. If I get enough scores (higher than 100), I will take more time on major learning; otherwise, I will practice more and take more TOFEL tests until I finally get my ideal score.