Thursday, December 17, 2009

How many words can you spell with TOEIC?

Yesterday was surprisingly busy, so that's why I am only getting around to yesterday's TOEIC class notes today.

I started the class off with something new - a pair work vocabulary review exercise. I asked the students to take out the word list that they made last class and to exchange it with their partner. I then told them to ask questions such as 'How do you say (word) in English or Japanese?' and 'What part of speech is (word)?' I gave them about 5 minutes to do this, and while they were doing so, I walked around observing. It seems, unfortunately, that many did not review since last class because many of the students could not remember the words they had written down last week, so what I did for next class was I told them to complete the word list for the chapter we did yesterday, which I will get to in a moment, and show it to me after the break. I also reminded them not to forget to bring the lists as some students had done so. I decided to do this activity from now on because they need vocabulary for the test, and whether they don't want to or not, they need to review the vocabulary. Actually, that sentence made me think of looking into purchasing some books on vocabulary especially those written by Paul Nation. Although I could definitely get some useful information from them, I think that in the end, if students don't review at home through things such as lists, cards, notebooks or reading, any theory pretty well goes out the window. Wouldn't you agree? Nevertheless, I think I will try this next year as well and perhaps even in some of my other classes because most of my students will probably end up taking the TOEIC test at some point, so it may well be worth starting early.

Moving on to the chapter, we looked at another chapter on Part 7. This time we focused on the inference questions and how to better answer them using information learned from other more easier questions. As I mentioned before, vocabulary questions and specific information (positive) questions are the easiest to answer, and doing those first can help you with the harder ones such as the inference questions. This chapter also focused on using key information to help with such questions. As expected, this part of the test is definitely the most challenging for students and this is also where vocabulary is vital. Unfortunately, we did not have much time after completing the unit to adequately start the vocabulary list, but I told them to work on it at home and show it to me in the new year.

I still haven't decided what I am going to do about the textbook next year, but I am leaning towards changing it because despite the useful tactics, which I could easily give them myself, the book seems to be difficult for many, which may be due to the fact it's all in English. Of course, if everyone reviewed and/or prepared in advance, it may not be so difficult. In the end though, the book is just too long even following the advice the book gives for such a class. One book I am considering is by Cengage; it's a series separated by different scores, the most advanced being 730, but the one I would be trying is 650 if I remember correctly. I have received the sample, but have not really looked at it, so that is something I should try to do soon. This book is shorter than the one I am using now, and there is some Japanese support which may help students more in the long run. No matter what book I choose to use though, I will definitely be focusing on vocabulary from now on.

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