5 EASY TIPS FOR USING YOUR TEST SCRATCH PAPER

You are allowed to have up to three pieces of paper at any time to write notes and ideas during the TOEFL exam. Other high stakes tests often allow for use of paper as well. If you are not using this paper, you are hurting yourself. This paper is often called “scratch paper.” If you use up all your paper during the TOEFL test, raise your hand and the test administrator will bring you more. Needing more paper is a GOOD sign that you are taking advantage of this resource.

Taking notes of the TOEFL listening sections and using the scratch paper to prepare your writing and speaking is very important. If it is difficult for you to do it, don’t give up! Deciding that you’re just not going to take notes or use the paper is not a good solution for most test-takers. Practice, practice, practice, at home! Use listening material — especially the listening CDs or listening material that comes with TOEFL books — to practice taking notes. For the speaking sections, write down key words on your scratch paper in the 15 seconds you have. Brainstorm and/or write an outline on the scratch paper as a way to start the written sections.

These Five Points Should Cover Most Ways You Can Use the Scratch Paper:

1.) Write KEY WORDS, not full sentences. You don’t have time to be writing sentences.

2.) Write fast & messy. Only you need to be able to read your words.

3.) Use symbols and abbreviations to reduce writing time. For example, don’t write “money” — instead, you should use the $symbol.

4.) Use numbers to indicate transition words or phrases you will use in your speaking or writing. For example, in your notes, the number “1” means “first of all.” #2 means “in addition,” or “furthermore,” etc. #3 can mean “finally,” or “last but most importantly,” etc. Doing this saves you time from writing all those words.

5.) In the listening section, often the main idea is the first thing you will hear. This means you should be ready to take notes RIGHT AWAY… so be prepared and practice practice practice starting weeks or months before your test date!

Have questions or want specific advice? Just ask us!

What is the Most Common English Word?

Since the 1960s, computers have been able to store and analyze increasingly large amounts of data. Today, we can take all the words found in books, newspapers, magazines, and more, and store them in a database. What’s more, we can also do this with spoken language (although the process of converting it to text and storing it is more difficult).

 

storage

Large collections of language, used for studying and analyzing the language, are called corpora. One collection is called a corpus. A good corpus which can give us reliable information about a language needs to be based on millions of words. The largest American corpus today consists of over 520 million words (http://corpus.byu.edu/coca/). In Britain, several exist containing over a billion words!

Most corpora of American (and British) English say the same thing: the most common word in English is the

So it is not surprising: If we ask “What is the most common word in English?” we will see the word the in the question itself!!

What are some other very frequent words? And, be, of, to, a/an, in, have, that, I, are just some of the most common words which we are sure you already know!

corpus

How Americans Wish Each Other Happy Holidays (Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, etc.)

Over 70% of the American population identifies itself as Christian. Therefore, there is a strong cultural tradition in the U.S. of Christians (and even some non-Christians) saying “Merry Christmas” to others during and around Christmas time (December 25). This may extend even into the New Year holiday, and some people may say “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!”

Image result for happy holidays

However, over the years the United States has become more diverse, with citizens and residents practicing all the world’s religions. Also, there have been non-Christian communities in the US for a long time, such as Jews from Europe, and Buddhists, Taoists, and Confucians from China.

Image result for christmas merry santa    Image result for hanukkah

Usually some time in December, there is a Jewish holiday called “Hanukkah” which arguably started over 2,100 years ago. There is also an increasingly popular American holiday celebrated by some African-Americans called “Kwanzaa” from December 26 – January 1. It celebrates different moral principles from African cultures and religions.

Image result for kwanzaa

Because of the great diversity of religions and cultures we can find in America today, as well as the various holidays different Americans celebrate, some Americans today choose not to say “Merry Christmas.” In order to include everyone, they might just say, “Happy Holidays!” It is good to be respectful of people’s unique backgrounds but it is probably also true that when people say “Merry Christmas,” they are really just trying to be friendly and because they are excited about the holiday and special time of year.

Whatever you celebrate (or maybe you celebrate none of these holidays!), we hope you have a great winter and hope you’ll come learn more about American culture at our school!

What does “the lion’s share” mean?

“The lion’s share” is an expression that means most of or the majority (but not all).

It is a somewhat formal expression suitable for workplace and academic writings and presentations.

Examples:

“The eldest son received the lion’s share of the inheritance.”

“Without a doubt, Kathleen, who has served as my advisor over these past five years, deserves the lion’s share of my gratitude.”

lion

11 Tips to Help You Learn English Faster

We didn’t write these, but we totally agree. A great resource! If you have questions about English – grammar, slang, idioms, etc., please let us know. We are happy to help.

http://english-tonight.com/learnenglishquickly/

Image result for learn english

VIDEO: A Short History of English

Want to have a basic understanding of the history of English without taking a full course on the subject?

In under 15 minutes this E-Lecture by Professor Handke gives an excellent overview of the most important cultural and linguistic aspects that affected the development of the English language through time. This includes examples spoken in the original pronunciation of each period.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oz8tEPXI25A