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Helping you with the TOEIC and beyond
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A response to Letter 2
Joe wrote me back so I'd like to respond to his letter.

Dear Joe,

I thought you were saying that nothing much can be learned from TOEIC practice tests. Good to know you weren't. You suggested that TOEIC learners can learn a tremendous amount of English if they “analyze the arrangement and connection of words in such sentences in such a way that you look up words and phrases in the dictionary, look for grammatical references to phrases and constructions in grammar books (or on grammar sites) and google them to see if such phrases and constructions regularly appear in the reliable sources such as NYTimes, OED, etc.” I agree that would be a good conscious learning but language can be learned in an implicit way. If you expose yourself to English, you learn something implicitly. You may nor may not feel it because it is not explicit but I believe exposure to English is good for your language development.

I also believe in the effect of repetition in language learning. For example, when you listen to the same songs over and over again, or watch the same movie over and over again, or read the same novel over and over again, you don't learn new things but these repetitions help improve your English. Let me give you another example. You introduce yourself to one person, then you do it to another person, then another and repeat it ten times, and then you will become fluent in introducing yourself. I believe this kind of fluency development is important to language acquisition, even though you are not learning anything new. Doing many practice tests has a similar effect.

You asked me about my English level when I was doing Cambridge exams. Let me answer that question. When I passed the First Certificate in English (FCE) exam, I would day my English level was intermediate, and when I passed the Certificate in Advanced English (CAE) exam, I was at an advanced level, so when I was preparing for the Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE) exam, I was an advanced student.

You said you were talking about super advanced TOEIC learners in Letter 1. I was talking about those learners who have achieved high scores on the TOEIC but continue to do TOEIC practice tests without doing other stuff. Were we talking about the same group of learners? I want to make sure that having high TOEIC scores does not necessarily mean you are a super advanced learner of English. In fact, it is highly unlikely that super advanced learners of English stick to TOEIC practice tests because they know something better to improve their English. If a super advanced learner continued to do TOEIC practice tests repeatedly, then it would probably be because that he or she really thinks they need to practice solving TOEIC type questions for some reasons other than improving their English, like learning to avoid making careless mistakes. In that case, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to continue doing practice tests until they get rid of their bad habits, like carelessness.

Those who continue to do TOEIC practice tests are usually intermediate learners of English, somewhere between the FCE and CAE levels on the Cambridge scale, I would say. As you rightly pointed out, intermediate learners can learn more from practice tests than advanced learners can.

Thanks for quoting Aya's tweets. It's good to know she read my previous letter and bothered to comment on it. Let me comment on her comments.

I didn't say doing practice tests is equivalent of extensive reading. I wanted to say doing practice tests has a similar effect. The points I wanted to make were:
1. Reading easy materials helps your language development.
2. Reading something you can enjoy helps your language development.
3. Reading a lot helps your language development.
4. For some people, TOEIC practice tests can be easy and fun and if they do a lot, that would help their language development.

She asked if those learners read sentences and passages when they do practice tests. It sounds like a rhetorical questions and her implication is they don't. I think they do read sentences and passages. I haven't asked them but I do read myself when I take a test and I always encourage learners to do the same, so I assume they do. If they don't, maybe that's why they don't get 990 and I strongly recommend that they change the way they find answers.

When I use the word “high-achievers”, I was referring to those who have achieved high TOEIC scores, not those who have achieved high-level of English proficiency. It was misleading and I should have probably said “high-TOEIC-achievers”. High-TOEIC-achievers don't necessarily have reading fluency and if they don't, extensive reading is a good way to increase their reading fluency.

You said you are dubious about the effect of doing practice tests but those who do practice tests believe that's an effective way to improve their TOEIC scores otherwise they would stop. When you believe in what you are doing, it works.

You asked me if it is “okay to say to all the learners that the best way of learning is the way that you feel most comfortable with or that you think most enjoyable”. My answer is yes. As I have repeated many times, I believe that if you don't enjoy what you are doing, you don't learn much. If you have to take pains in language learning, you have to enjoy taking those pains.

You also suggested reading newspaper articles and writing about them is much more effective than doing practice tests. I would say it depends. I like reading newspapers so I learned a lot from them, but there are people who don't like reading newspapers. If you force them to read what they don't like, do you think they can still learn English effectively? I don't.

Yours sincerely,

Masaya


Joe will appear on a radio show on Sunday.

TOEIC lovers vs. TOEIC haters: Why do you love/hate the TOEIC?

Date: November 24
Time: 9 p.m.-10:30 p.m.
Guests: Joe F, Jun, Kiyo

放送用URL(ねとらじ用):
http://std1.ladio.net:8080/TBR.m3u
     ↑
放送時間にアクセスすると聞けます。


BBS:
コメント用スレッド
   ↑
Do you love or hate the TOEIC? Why? Give us your comments on the TOEIC.

This program will be in English.





「人気ブログランキング」への投票はこちら


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Doing TOEIC practice tests
This is a response to Letter 1 posted on Faded Dead Jaded.

Dear Joe,

Thanks for your letter. I would like to comment on what you wrote.

I agree that reading newspapers is a good language practice. I learnt a great deal of vocabulary and some grammar from it and I gained reading fluency. However, I must tell you I learnt a great deal more from practice tests and other exam preparation materials when I was taking exam preparation courses for Cambridge exams in London. I acquired English through exam preparation, so doing practice tests is not a peculiar way of learning English for me.

You wondered what those high-achievers learn from practice tests. I think they learn something from their mistakes. When they do a practice test, they make mistakes. They analyze why they got them wrong and try not to repeat the same mistakes again when they take another TOEIC. If they manage to avoid making mistakes, they will get 990. They don’t need explanations for each correct answer because they can figure it out by themselves. So it doesn’t matter if they can't read the explanations in Korean.

You mentioned that all the practice tests are very similar and so you don’t learn new stuff from them if you have already done several tests. For me, that’s a positive aspect of TOEIC practice tests because it means the language used in them is easy for high-achievers. I believe in extensive reading and one of the most important principles of extensive reading is to choose easy materials. Reading easy materials a lot is better than reading difficult stuff a little. Also, in order for extensive reading to work, learners have to enjoy what they are reading. If you really like the TOEIC and enjoy solving mock questions, TOEIC practice tests can be good study materials for you. One TOEIC practice test has about 10,000 words, so if you do one test a day for 100 days, you will be exposed to 1,000,000 words. This will make a big difference.

You asked me whether those high-achievers need to do practice tests. They don’t have to if they don’t like them. If you don’t enjoy practice tests, it doesn’t work. You should find something else instead, like newspaper articles. Some enjoy TOEIC practice tests, some don’t. Some enjoy newspapers, some don’t. Some enjoy novels, some don’t. Some enjoy movies, some don’t. Some enjoy sitcoms, some don’t. If you don’t enjoy, you don’t learn much. That’s my belief in language learning. So it is important to find materials you can enjoy. And that can be TOEIC practice tests for some people.

Yours sincerely,

Masaya



Joe will appear on a radio show on Sunday.

TOEIC lovers vs. TOEIC haters: Why do you love/hate the TOEIC?

Date: November 24
Time: 9 p.m.-10:30 p.m.
Guests: Joe F, Jun, Kiyo

放送用URL(ねとらじ用):
http://std1.ladio.net:8080/TBR.m3u
     ↑
放送時間にアクセスすると聞けます。


BBS:
コメント用スレッド
   ↑
Do you love or hate the TOEIC? Why? Give us your comments on the TOEIC.

This program will be in English.





「人気ブログランキング」への投票はこちら


blogrankingbanner_02.gif

人気ブログランキング


テーマ:TOEIC - ジャンル:学校・教育

ラジオやります
TOEICお疲れ様でした。私はTOEIC Form 4JIC31(解答用紙A面がピンク、メジャーフォーム)でした。

以下、各パートの印象を簡単に。

Part 1 やや難:1問わからない問題があった(No. 6)

Part 2 やや難:新しいナレーターが2、3人いて、そっちに気が取られた

Part 3 普通

Part 4 普通

Part 5 やや易

Part 6 普通

Part 7 普通(よりちょっと難しめかも)

で、6時から「TOEIC107回受験記念ラジオ」をやります。

TOEIC107回受験記念ラジオ

Date: November 17
Time: 6 p.m.-8 p.m.
Topic: TOEIC
Special guest: Jiro

放送用URL(ねとらじ用):
http://std1.ladio.net:8080/TBR.m3u
     ↑
放送時間にアクセスすると聞けます。


BBS:
コメント用スレッド
   ↑
TOEICに関して言いたいことがありましたら、何なりとどうぞ。なお、問題の再現につながるような質問や書き込みはご遠慮ください。






お薦めTOEICブログ紹介コーナー 第6回

『マーティンの英語学習ファイティン!』

運営者:マーティン

更新頻度:9月30日以来更新なし

マーティンさんはTOEICブロガーの草分けで、もう7年くらいやってます。他のTOEICブログと違って、ダメダメ感満載で癒される。というか、母性本能をくすぐられる。ご本人は小顔のイケメンらしい。年に1、2回、オフ会も開いている。


「人気ブログランキング」への投票はこちら


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人気ブログランキング
お知らせその他
あれ、ちょっと気を緩めてたら11月も半分終わった。今月初めての更新です。まずはTOEICスコアの報告です。

2013年9月の公開テスト

990点

TOEIC201309.jpg

AM L: 100, 95, 100, 100 R: 100, 100, 100, 100, 100

ここまでで受験回数105回(うち公開テスト86回)、990点61回(うち公開テスト50回)、平均984.76点(公開テストのみだと984.83点)となりました。

ちなみに先週の金曜日にIPテストを受けました。それが106回目のTOEICだったので、今度の日曜日の公開テストは107回目の受験になります。今回は幕張メッセで受けます。自転車で10分で行けるので、一番好きな会場です。

というわけで、今度の日曜日は「TOEIC107回受験記念ラジオ」をやります。

TOEIC107回受験記念ラジオ

Date: November 17
Time: 6 p.m.-8 p.m.
Topic: TOEIC
Special guest: Jiro

放送用URL(ねとらじ用):
http://std1.ladio.net:8080/TBR.m3u
     ↑
放送時間にアクセスすると聞けます。


BBS:
コメント用スレッド
   ↑
TOEICに関して言いたいことがありましたら、何なりとどうぞ。なお、問題の再現につながるような質問や書き込みはご遠慮ください。




And there will be another radio show on the following Sunday.

TOEIC lovers vs. TOEIC haters: Why do you love/hate the TOEIC?

Date: November 24
Time: 9 p.m.-10:30 p.m.
Guests: Joe F, Jun, Kiyo

放送用URL(ねとらじ用):
http://std1.ladio.net:8080/TBR.m3u
     ↑
放送時間にアクセスすると聞けます。


BBS:
コメント用スレッド
   ↑
Do you love or hate the TOEIC? Why? Give us your comments on the TOEIC.

This program will be in English.



10月は公開テストを受けなかった。学会で神戸に行ってました。

12月1日(日)には4カ月ぶりにTOEIC SWを受けます(赤坂地下、午前の部)。

TOEFL iBTも受けたい(できれば年内)。



お薦めTOEICブログ紹介コーナー 第5回

『日々のこと・英語勉強のこと・・・今年中にはTOEIC850』

運営者:ジゼル ブンちゃん

更新頻度:月2回

ハンドル名の「ジゼル ブンちゃん」はスーパーモデルのGisele Bundchenから取ったそうです。理由は外見が似てるから。この写真、そっくり(ご本人は金髪ではないんですがゴージャス感がこんな感じ)。

gisele.jpg

このような人並み外れた美貌の持ち主のジゼルさんですが、ブログではTOEICの勉強をやろうやろうと思いつつも、なかなか思うように進まないというTOEIC学習者にありがちな悩みが綴られていて、共感できます。


「人気ブログランキング」への投票はこちら


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人気ブログランキング

テーマ:TOEIC - ジャンル:学校・教育

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