Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Why aren't there words like TOEICy or TOEICness?

Today, we finished unit 5 and unit 6 of the book. Both of these units corresponded to parts five and six of the TOEIC test, part 5 being the fill in the blank at the sentence level type and part 6 being the same thing, but at the text level. These units focused on using clues in the question to decide the part of speech and then the correct verb form. Part five also included the 2-pass method, which refers to time management. Test-takers are recommended to answer the easy questions first, and then go back after to answer the harder ones. They are also recommended not to spend more than 30 seconds on a question and to answer all questions, even if it is only guessing the answer. I can understand this and even support this tactic because if you leave out an answer, you will have no chance of getting the extra point if you so happen to be correct. Also, answering incorrectly does not affect your score, so what is the harm in trying?

I started unit 5 by reminding them of the tips focused on in the chapter. I then had them work in pairs on a question that asked them to choose which part of speech was being asked for. After I got their answers individually, I had them go on and answer the questions choosing the best answer from the list provided. Next, I gave them back their answer sheets and had them do the mini-test. I told them to try to use the 2-pass method and gave them a maximum of six minutes to complete the questions. Afterward, we went back through the questions, and I had them repeat some of the harder words after me. I also told them to circle those words that they found difficult so that they could come back later and review.

We then moved on to unit 6. I did not go into too much detail about verb choice because I thought they would have no problem, but it turned out that this was harder for them than expected. Next time, if I use this book, I should probably go through the examples, explaining the difference between them. I should mention here that there were eight questions – the first four were based on present simple or present continuous and the other four were on the past simple or past continuous. Also, two of these questions I thought could have either the simple or continuous tense although the answer key did not suggest this. I think that I may have to come up with my own ideas so that we can avoid this confusion, or simply skip over those problematic questions. The second task, however, was not as difficult and we were able to finish quickly. I decided to stop here and not go on because we only had ten minutes. Instead, I asked them to go back through units 5 and 6 and write down any new words that they had encountered that day. I also took the opportunity to reiterate the importance of vocabulary for the test and that they should review as much as possible. Finally, I set the quizzes for homework and let them go.

I think that in the future, and possibly during this semester, I might give them a handout that they can use to note down their vocabulary words because some use a notebook and others scrap paper, but perhaps an actual worksheet might be more encouraging in the sense that it may feel more like a real activity. Also, writing on scrap paper can be dangerous because it is easily misplaced or discarded. It may be interesting to try something like this: give them the worksheet this week and have them fill it out with words they don’t know. Then the following week give them a new worksheet and collect the old one. I could then use the data from the old worksheet to make up a review test to give them the following week. Of course, this may be time consuming because I would have to search all the lists and compile a vocabulary list for the quiz, but it may be a good way to help them review vocabulary. However, if I have the lists at home, they won’t be able to prepare for it, so that idea may not be so good after all. Perhaps then it may be better to use the vocabulary from the quizzes that they have been doing because if anything, it would give them another chance to review, something which is important for such a test.

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