ESL Study Guide

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Speed Reading

Speed Reading

Getting Started:

Speed Reading helps improve your reading ability by helping you text faster. On tests such as the TOEFL, speed reading will ensure you have more time available to complete the test. With the reading section of exams being a common weak point of second language learners, increasing your reading speed is essential.

The first step in increasing your reading speed is determining how fast you read.

After reading choosing a level and a passage, complete the questions to find your reading speed.

Improving your speed:

Once you know your reading speed you can begin working on improving it. For example, if you find that you read at 200 words per minute (wpm). Using Speed Reader, choose a level and passage and then enter your reading speed. If you find you are answering 100% of the questions correctly, you need to enter a higher reading speed to practice with. As an optimal range, try using a reading speed where you find yourself answering 70% - 80% of the questions correctly. You should not overwhelm yourself, but you also need to ensure you are not making it too easier.

Something to keep in mind:

While you are reading, keep in mind the number of words you read at a single time. If you find yourself only being able to reading a single letter or word at a time, it is a point you can work to improve. Reading warmups is designed to increase the speed at which you move your eyes as you read. Watch as pictures appear and then disappear, then click on the matching picture. As you consistently choose the correct one, the picture will appear and disappear faster and faster.

Good luck with your studies,
ESL Study Guide

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Idioms and slang

Learning another language can be confusing at times. Idioms and slang can often make little if any sense. Here is a few idioms and slang terms dealing with the work place.

Idiom: work in
Definition: rub in
Example: I had to work in two trips to the post office, stopping at Staples and picking up an executive from the airport before meeting the boss to discuss next week's schedule.

Idiom: work into
Definition: force something to progress little by little
Example: I had to work into my routine, it was too much to start with at first.

Idiom: work off
Definition: make something go away
Example: I had a lot of debt to work off after finishing university.

Idiom: work on
Definition: try to improve
Example: I often work on my golf stroke.

Idiom: work your fingers to the bone
Definition: work very hard
Example: He has been working his fingers to the bone looking after his brothers.

Idiom: work out
Definition: solve a problem
Example: I was able to work out the problem that was posted on the board.

Idiom: work out
Definition: exercise
Example: I often work out on the weekends.

Idiom: work over
Definition: threaten or hurt someone
Example: My parents threatened to work me over if I ever stole anything again.

Idiom: work up
Definition: stir up, excite
Example: I worked up a sweat jogging.

Idiom: worked up
Definition: feeling excited, angry, worried
Example: The students were worked up after failing the vocabulary test.

Idiom: worm your way out of something
Definition: avoid a problem or taking responsibility
Example: I was able to worm my way out of helping my sister move.

Idiom: worse for wear
Definition: not as good as new, worn out
Example: After getting back from the hike, I was beginning to look the worse for wear.

Idiom: worth its weight in gold
Definition: valuable
Example: My teacher's advice was worth its weight in gold.

Idiom: wrap (something) up
Definition: finish or complete something
Example: We wrapped up the study group before noon and returned to the school.

More idioms and slang can be found in the ESL Study Guide - Idiom and Slang database.

Missing idioms are automatically submitted for review. The database currently contains over 8,000 idioms and slang terms.

Good luck with your studies,
ESL Study Guide

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Monday, July 02, 2007

TOEFL Essay Tips

Lets begin by breaking the essay down into its components. The question for this essay was "What do you think is more important towards society, the contribution of artists or scientists?"


With an independent essay it is important first to get the readers attention, next what are you going to talk about?, and what reasons do you have to support your argument?

The hook:

Getting a readers attention is always important. If you get off to a weak start in your essay, your score will likely suffer because of it. Remember, there are five common ways to begin an essay:

- shocking/surprising statement
- declarative approach
- celebrity statement
- anecdotal approach
- historical overview

Now look at the hook from the essay.

"We say art is the reflection of certain period. For example, when Korea experienced Japanese colonization, there were many literature, picture, and even music that presented the reality of many Koreans suffered from Japan's physical oppressions."

While this is generally an ok approach, the first tip for your TOEFL essay is the purpose (what is it?). Your hook should ALWAYS connect to your essay. Is this going to be an essay on art? A historical perspective to art? No, your TOEFL essay MUST answer the question. A tip to remember is making the hook more effective by connecting it to the purpose of the essay.

The rest of the introduction.

"The points we have to focus on from this fact are two. First is at changes people's consciousness, second is at gives dream."

While the student has gone on to introduce their reasoning in the introduction, the introduction is too disjointed to be truly effective. The next TOEFL tip to remember is the purpose of your reasoning. Is it connected to your essay? If you can not support your thesis with your reasoning your purpose has not been accomplished and you have thrown aside one of the things that will affect your score the most.

Moving on to the first body paragraph.

"First, at helps poeple change the conscious that can change the whole world."

Starting with a transition is a good way to begin. All of your paragraphs should be connected. If you can have a smooth even connection from start to finish, you should get a higher score. While possible to use a more advanced transition, remember to stick with what you know. A TOEFL essay is not a place to try something new.

Continuing the rest of the first body paragraph.

"There's no at that has no certain intention of creation."

Unfortunately, the paragraph begins with a total lack of clarity. Having seen many students make this mistake, I must say it again. A TOEFL essay is not a place to try something new. Stick with what you know, you are only hurting yourself otherwise.

"Therefore, the author adds his ideology, feelings, and opinions about social problems to support and present his intetions of creation. From this, the reader gets impressed, and finally can change his conscious, and finally this conscious developes the world. For example, the book 'ethics of slavery' changed the conscious of many slaves and some politics, and therefore slavery became illegal."

The rest of the body paragraph shows the same lack of clarity (one thing you MUST avoid in your TOEFL essays), as well as a significant amount of grammar mistakes. The lack of clarity highlights the importance of ONE idea per body paragraph. What is the main point of your paragraph? Use of examples within your body paragraph must again connect to your idea. If your ideas, paragraphs and examples are not connected, your score will suffer.

Continuing on to the second body paragraph, the essay still suffers from a complete lack of clarity.

"Second, at gives dream."

Starting with the transition again is good, but what reason are you using? Your reader MUST be able to clearly follow your ideas.

Continuing on

"Some artists present their own ideal worlds on their works. For example, in the book 'Utopia', Thomas More presented his ideal world that has no discrimination, and in the book 'the third stream', Elan Tofler presents his prediction of future, and indicates the direction we should follow to create ideal world. From this art, people makes the dream, and during the process to try to accomplish this dream, the world developes. Art developes the world by changing people's consicous and make them have dreams. This is why today's world exists and developed the world more importantly than science."

The first point to consider here, besides the lack of clarity, is what is your reason to discuss. Connect everything together, even if you must use simple sentence structure.

While you may have a hard time getting a 5/5 if your sentence structure is too basic on the TOEFL. If you lack too much clarity, you will have a hard time even getting a score above 2/5.

Finally, where is the conclusion? An independent essay should have a clearly defined conclusion. In your conclusion you should recap your thesis, restate your reasoning, and do this WITHOUT introducing ANY new information.

Overall, this essay would not leave your in a strong position after having spent 25 of your 30 minutes writing. I would grade it at 2/5. It neither acccomplishes it's purpose, has proper structure, or clearly conveys its argument and reasoning.

Good luck on your future studies,

ESL Study Guide

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