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TOEFL listening: A conversation between a student and an English professor

Overview of TOEFL listening part
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    50 TOEFL lectures   50 TOEFL conversations

    TOEFL Listening Comprehension Transcript

    Narrator
    Listen to a conversation between a student and an English professor.

    Student: You wanted to see me, Dr. Dietz?

    Dr Dietz: Yes. Sit down please, Jacob. It''s about your essay...um...just a moment. Where did I put it now? Ah, here it is. It''s about your essay here...

    S: Oh?

    DD: I''m interested in this part...uh...here: (reading) "Exiles is a play worthy of examination but not of performance. Joyce''s sense of the dramatic is not so much turgid as it is unspeakable." That''s an acute assessment, I think, Jacob, and very well phrased. I like it. How did you come up with that idea?

    S: Ah. Well...uh...I dunno...I was reading a lot. I mean, I was researching my topic, and...um...I guess it just came to me, you know, after studying so much about Joyce and his about play.

    DD: And you''ve read Exiles, have you?

    S: Well...erm...not all of it, actually. I, I didn''t have time, really, to read the whole thing, but I, uh, I got through Act One, and then I, um, sort of skimmed through the rest, I guess...and the ending...

    DD: But you feel that you got a good sense of the play''s merits and demerits?--

    S: Umm...

    DD: -- Enough to form this considered opinion, did you?

    S: Uh, yes, I think so, I mean...

    DD: Because what I''m wondering about here is your word choices, really. I think the opinion itself is quite good, quite perceptive. But, well, the phrasing seems a bit, a little...familiar to me. "Not so much turgid as it is unspeakable." It seems familiar. It rings a bell, you know?

    S: Oh.

    DD: Is it possible, do you think, that you''ve written that before? In one of your other papers for me, I mean?

    S: Uh...well, maybe I--

    DD: But I don''t think we''ve discussed any other turgid authors, have we? Nice, but not a very generally useful phrase, is it?

    S: No. I guess--

    DD: But catchy, certainly! I don''t suppose you, um, caught it from someone else, did you?

    S: No-o! Oh...well, maybe I...

    DD: Perhaps you could''ve read it somewhere in the course of your research? And then, well... forgotten, huh?

    S: Um...yes. I guess I could have. But--

    DD: That sometimes happens, Jacob.

    S: It does? Really?

    DD: Yes, it happens to the best of us, to the most conscientious of us. Reading over and over, searching through lots of references, taking notes. Phrases, ideas get picked up and we don''t really realize it. They sometimes seem like new ideas we have ourselves.

    S: I see.

    DD: Or sometimes we note down an extended quote that we like, and then we work relevant parts of it into our paper. And then we revise and we re-organize, and it just sort of, well, gets lost in the shuffle-- we just forget to, or we fail to, follow through with the footnotes, you know.

    S: Mm...yeah. Uh--

    DD: Anyway, whatever might have happened here-- as I said, "not so much turgid as it is unspeakable"-- this sounds very familiar, like someone''s said it before. And if that''s actually the case, then it should be presented in your essay as a quotation, with a proper citation, don''t you think? Even if the source itself is listed in your bibliography, you know.

    S: Yes, of course! I''m sorry. Maybe I should--?

    DD: Well, you should go back to the library, go back to your reference books, and see if you can''t locate the source for this remark. So-- here. Here''s your essay back--

    S: Oh!

    DD: -- and you can add the citation if you find the quote. And then, bring it back to me and I''ll grade it.

    S: Oh, OK! Thank you, Dr Dietz. I''ll do that right away-- and I''ll be more careful next time, I assure you.

    DD: I know you will, Jacob, I''m sure you will. And you might try looking first in Reverend Stanton''s Life of James Joyce. I think that''s a likely location. Isn''t that one of the books in your bibliography?

    S: I think, uh...yes, here it is. Gee, I looked at so many biographies of Joyce, I can''t remember which one''s which anymore.

    DD: Well, Stanton''s is probably the least sympathetic of Joyce''s biographers. I doubt he even tried to read Finnegans Wake. Probably thought it was nonsense.

    S: Well, I can see why! (Laughs nervously then suddenly stops.) But I guess I''d better get over to the library now.

    DD: Yes. Yes, you should. And get back to me with your revisions as soon as you can, Jacob.

    S: Yessir, I will.


    Excerpt from the TOEFL test listening conversation

    Dr Dietz: Well, you should go back to the library, go back to your reference books, and see if you can''t locate the source for this remark. So-- here. Here''s your essay back--

    Student: Oh!

    DD: -- and you can add the citation if you find the quote. And then, bring it back to me and I''ll grade it.

    S: Oh, OK! Thank you, Dr Dietz. I''ll do that right away-- and I''ll be more careful next time, I assure you.

    DD: I know you will, Jacob, I''m sure you will. And you might try looking first in Reverend Stanton''s Life of James Joyce. I think that''s a likely location. Isn''t that one of the books in your bibliography?

    S: I think, uh...yes, here it is. Gee, I looked at so many biographies of Joyce, I can''t remember which one''s which anymore.

    DD: Well, Stanton''s is probably the least sympathetic of Joyce''s biographers. I doubt he even tried to read Finnegans Wake. Probably thought it was nonsense.

    S: Well, I can see why! (Laughs nervously then suddenly stops.) But I guess I''d better get over to the library now.

    DD: Yes. Yes, you should. And get back to me with your revisions as soon as you can, Jacob.

    S: Yessir, I will.
    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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