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honest; truthful; frank; straightforward; genuine; earnest
sincere
essential
exact
several
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TOEFL listening: A conversation between a professor and his student

Overview of TOEFL listening part
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TOEFL discussion 31 — Script Q&A
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50 TOEFL lectures   50 TOEFL conversations
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    50 TOEFL lectures   50 TOEFL conversations

    TOEFL Listening Comprehension Transcript

    Narrator
    Listen to a conversation between a professor and his student.

    Professor: Hello, Michelle. Can I help you?

    Student: Hello, Professor. I was wondering if you had a few minutes to, uh, talk to me about my essays.

    P: Sure. Sit down.

    S: Thanks. Professor, you, uh, you gave me a C plus on my last essay. That''s the third C you''ve given me now. I guess I just don''t understand what it is you''re looking for.

    P: Well, you''re not alone, Michelle. I''m afraid most of the class is doing poorly this term. Now, I''ve tried to explain what I want you all to do several times now, but nobody seems to get it. I guess I''m a failure as a teacher.

    S: (laughs) I don''t think so. But, I''m sorry- would you mind trying one more time with me? I understand that you want to see a clear, efficient development of the thesis and all that, and I thought I''d done that this time, I really did.

    P: Have you got your paper with you?

    S: Yes...here it is...right here.

    P: Let me have a look.

    S: Sure! Here.

    P: Mmm...yes...I remember now. Actually, Michelle, you have a very good thesis here. I like it. I just wish you could''ve presented it more effectively.

    S: In what, in what way?

    P: Well...just look at your opening sentence. This is the first sentence that the reader meets. "Most authorities consider the zygote the initiation of a new existence." Now tell me, Michelle, if the average person picked this up and started reading it, would they understand that?

    S: Well, um...I hope so. I mean, I presume so- that''s what I presumed when I wrote it, of course.

    P: Of course. It seems short and direct. But you must remember that when you wrote this, you had been reading and researching your topic beforehand- I hope- but the reader is coming to this cold. How many people know what a zygote is? How self-evident is the meaning of "a new existence"? That''s a very abstract phrase.

    S: Yeah, I guess so.

    P: Michelle, the writer''s first duty is to his readership and his second duty is to his thesis. Think of all the articles you''ve read that''ve been built on flimsy arguments, misconceptions or untruths, and yet have become widely popular, have enjoyed wide acceptance because of the writer''s talent at communicating.

    S: Yeah, there''re a lot of those. You want us to write like that?

    P: (laughs) Well, I certainly don''t want you to be promulgating untruths- that''s what I hope I''m helping my students avoid- but it would be worth your while to notice how some of those writers do it. The key to effective writing is "Know thy readership"- assess your reader accurately.

    S: What they know, right?

    P: Exactly! What they know... and what they don''t know. If you talk down to them, they feel insulted. They say to themselves, "Does he think I''m stupid or something?" And they walk away.

    S: Well, I don''t think that, that''s for sure.

    P: Maybe not, but your opening sentence borders on the other extreme- if you expect too much of your readers, you''ll also put them off. They''ll say to themselves, "Who does he think I am, Einstein?" And again, they''ll walk away.

    S: Well, um...so, what should I do, for instance, with this first sentence here? I can''t make the grammar any simpler, can I?

    P: No, but you can certainly tone down the vocabulary. Either that or define difficult or arcane words when you use them. But that usually slows things down. Anyway, you have to bring yourself and the reader to the same level somehow- that''s what you should always be shooting for.

    S: So... I should define ''zygote'' right off the bat- "...a zygote, or fertilized egg,...."

    P: That''s the idea...but keep it short, or you''ll lose the effectiveness of your opening. Why not just go ahead and use ''egg''? Then you can introduce the more, uh, precise scientific term later in the paragraph.

    S: Just "An egg is..."?

    P: Sure. It''s strong and clear, which is just what you want in order to interest your reader. You have a whole essay to be more precise in, to get down to the details.

    S: Then what about the rest? You said that "initiation of a new existence" is too, um, too....

    P: Too abstract. OK, just tell me this: what do you mean by that phrase?

    S: Well, uh... it means, um, the start of a new life, a new living thing....

    P: Good! Well, why didn''t you say that in the first place? That''s much more direct and attention-getting. It''s expressed in a way that anyone can understand. "An egg is the start- or the beginning- of a new life".

    S: But...does that sound, well...formal enough, Professor?

    P: Don''t confuse formality with obfuscation, Michelle. You don''t have to write densely to be formal- and lord knows you don''t have to use big words! You just need to avoid slang and, uh, casual language. And be sure that the grammar is standard. Write clearly, simply, directly- that''s what makes a good essay.

    S: OK. Maybe I''ve just gotten a better idea of what you''re looking for now. "Clear, simple, direct." I''ll remember that next time.

    P: Good. And I''ll be looking forward to how well you succeed. I''m not averse to giving A grades if they''re deserved, you know.

    S: Thanks for your time, Professor. I really appreciate your help.

    P: Not at all, Michelle. That''s what I''m hear for. See you in class.

    S: See you.


    Excerpt from the TOEFL test listening conversation

    Student: So... I should define ''zygote'' right off the bat- "...a zygote, or fertilized egg,...."

    Professor: That''s the idea...but keep it short, or you''ll lose the effectiveness of your opening. Why not just go ahead and use ''egg''? Then you can introduce the more, uh, precise scientific term later in the paragraph.

    S: Just "An egg is..."?

    P: Sure. It''s strong and clear, which is just what you want in order to interest your reader. You have a whole essay to be more precise in, to get down to the details.

    S: Then what about the rest? You said that "initiation of a new existence" is too, um, too....

    P: Too abstract. OK, just tell me this: what do you mean by that phrase?

    S: Well, uh... it means, um, the start of a new life, a new living thing....

    P: Good! Well, why didn''t you say that in the first place? That''s much more direct and attention-getting. It''s expressed in a way that anyone can understand. "An egg is the start- or the beginning- of a new life".

    S: But...does that sound, well...formal enough, Professor?

    P: Don''t confuse formality with obfuscation, Michelle. You don''t have to write densely to be formal- and lord knows you don''t have to use big words! You just need to avoid slang and, uh, casual language. And be sure that the grammar is standard. Write clearly, simply, directly- that''s what makes a good essay.
    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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