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practice; training; furrow; seeding machine; row of seeds in a furrow
neglect
drill
publication
threat
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TOEFL listening: A conversation between a TEFL professor and a student after class

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    TOEFL Listening Comprehension Transcript

    Narrator
    Listen to a conversation between a TEFL professor and a student after class.

    Professor Dickens: Hello, Linda. Can I help you?

    Linda Wright: Yes, professor. I was wondering about what you said at the, at the end of your lecture, about the dangers of prescriptive grammar?

    PD: Yes?

    LW: And well, you said that, uh, prescriptive grammar-- I mean, teaching the rules of how grammarians think people should use English-- actually impedes learning, right?

    PD: Yes, that''s what I said, Linda. It does impede learning, it impedes language acquisition. Studies have actually shown that.

    LW: But what bothers me, I guess, is that, well-- all I''ve ever studied is prescriptive grammar, then. That''s what I''ve learned, and that''s what I use, and that''s what I know, I think. When I was in school, when I was growing up in Denver-- we learned "I before E", we learned to avoid "ain''t", and double negatives, and "they" as a singular pronoun, and "between you and I", and so on, and well, just a whole slew of rules that you''d call prescriptive, I''m sure.

    PD: Yes. Yes, I would-- many of them.

    LW: So you''re saying that we shouldn''t teach any of that?

    PD: "Teach"? No, you really shouldn''t try to "teach" those kinds of grammar rules.

    LW: Because they''re not good rules?

    PD: Well, no, that''s not it at all. Now, you''ve just listed a few "rules" that actually range very widely between good and bad. It''s true that some of your students are going to need to know, to be aware of, many of those rules eventually. When they''re writing business reports or college essays, for instance. But if you fill their lessons with rules, if your students are always worrying about being "right" or "wrong" instead of relaxing and just focussing on communicating, then those rules really get in the way of the learning process, of the process of language acquisition.

    LW: But then...when-- or how-- do we...?

    PD: Discourage double negatives? Get them to say "between you and me"? By example, mostly. You need to have confidence in your own English as a model-- you''re a native speaker, after all-- a college-educated English speaker...almost.

    LW (laughs): Soon college-educated, I hope!

    PD (laughs): Yes, I''m sure you will be. So have confidence in your own English, the English you use. Your students will hear you. They''ll pay attention to how you speak, to what you say.

    LW: But how does that help them exactly?

    PD: It lets them realize for themselves those many small elements of the language that preoccupy some grammarians so much. Tell me, Linda, why do TEFL students take classes?

    LW: Well...to learn to speak English, don''t they?

    PD: Precisely! So that''s what you want them to be able to do, to be doing, in class-- speaking English. Now, if I''m a student and I say to you, "I don''t brought my homework today"-- do you understand what I mean?

    LW: Well, uh, sure-- you mean you didn''t bring your homework.

    PD: So-- I communicated successfully, didn''t I?

    LW: Well, yes...but--

    PD: And it''s important that that success should be rewarded. But if the teacher responds instead with "No, you should say ''didn''t bring''", then the student all too often feels embarrassed or chastened, or he loses self-confidence. Not all of them, of course. But many do. The student withdraws psychologically from participation in the communication process-- and this is deadly. This is dangerous. What you want to do is complete the communicative act. Say something like, "Oh, that''s OK if you didn''t bring it today. Just bring it tomorrow."

    LW: Oh! So...

    PD: So, that way you haven''t "taught" negative past formation, you have just presented it in the process of communicating. The student is happy that you understood his English, and he''s happy that you''re not angry about his forgetting his homework-- and he may have noticed how you formed that verb phrase. Or if he didn''t, he may notice it next time. Research shows that, over time, this kind of positive reinforcement produces a much steeper learning curve.

    LW: Yeah?

    PD: And the students, on average, attain fluency much more quickly.

    LW: Well, I guess that makes sense, then...

    PD: What I''m arguing against, actually, is not prescriptive grammar per se-- English does have rules that speakers are judged by-- what I''m protesting is prescriptive teaching, with the teacher as lawgiver. That''s what can be counter-productive.

    LW: I think I''m beginning to get it, Doctor Dickens. Thank you very much. Will you be talking more about this later?

    PD: Oh, yes. We''ll be discussing this in detail in our next class. So don''t be late!

    LW (laughs): OK, I won''t. Thank you for your time. See you Tuesday.


    Excerpt from the TOEFL test listening conversation

    Professor Dickens: But if you fill their lessons with rules, if your students are always worrying about being "right" or "wrong" instead of relaxing and just focussing on communicating, then those rules really get in the way of the learning process, of the process of language acquisition.

    Linda Wright: But then...when-- or how-- do we...?

    PD: Discourage double negatives? Get them to say "between you and me"? By example, mostly. You need to have confidence in your own English as a model-- you''re a native speaker, after all-- a college-educated English speaker...almost.

    LW (laughs): Soon college-educated, I hope!

    PD (laughs): Yes, I''m sure you will be. So have confidence in your own English, the English you use. Your students will hear you. They''ll pay attention to how you speak, to what you say.
    50 TOEFL conversations
    50 TOEFL conversations
    A great variety of English listening comprehension tests that will help you increase your TOEFL test score.
  • based on TOEFL academic discussions
  • written and recorded by experienced US authors and voice-over specialists
  • 50 TOEFL lectures   50 TOEFL conversations




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