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TOEFL Tip #63: Bad Suggestion From “ETS TOEFL Tips”

by Strictly English TOEFL Tutors on October 26, 2009

Sorry to say, but ETS’s TOEFL Tip is not very good this week.   It suggests that listening to movies and TV will improve your listening.  I agree, but only to a point.  I have many students who go to the movies all the time, and they still do not score high on the TOEFL.  There are many reasons for this:

1. The content of movies are not even close to the content of TOEFL lectures.  Therefore, movies and TV might improve your ability to understand general English, but it will not give you the specific vocabulary and content that you’ll need for TOEFL.

2. If you process information more through your eyes than through your ears, you can easily understand a movie by focusing more on the images than by focusing on the words.  Now this is good, because most everyone uses their eyes to understand the world around them, but this won’t help you with TOEFL.  TOEFL offers no visual prompts or visual clues. You only have your ears.

So if you really want to use movies to improve your listening, then go to the theater with a blindfold on!  Okay, that was a joke.  But here are a few ideas that might improve this ETS Tip:

1. Go to movies with very little action.  Action movies do not have as much talking, so they do not help you improve your listening.

2. Watch documentaries, like Disney’s EARTH. These movies have content that is more akin to TOEFL content.

3. Watch TV channels like PBS , the Discovery Channel, or the History Channel. Again, they have content that is similar to TOEFL content.

Categories: Listening

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