this one second

Having sent the second issue of this month’s TOEFL correspondence course to subscribers, I already started to work on another project. I got only this month available to me, with the weeks after this occupied with another set of projects.

 
When I say this, you may think, “Wow, you’ve been working too hard! I don’t have such time to do all that.” To tell the truth, however, me, neither.
 
My typical daytime is spent on taking care of my children. I am not a male chauvinist who advocates that men should concentrate on their career while women should stay at home to take care of the housework and to raise children. I do lots of housework and I take care of my children. This may lower the level (thus reputation) of my work as a TOEFL consultant, but that only makes up 50% of my whole life.
 
So in order to maximize what time I have, I do not make a schedule and value one second. I cannot make a schedule, because you never know when my seven-month-old starts to cry in the middle of the night or whether my three-year-old insists on playing with his father.
 
If I were to take the TOEFL to go to B school in the U.S., I would have to maximize the time available to me. when I have one minute free from everything, I would review one Speaking independent task. It takes only 45 seconds. 
 
This can apply to the reading section,too.
 
– If you have 6 minutes, you can / should read the entire passage.
 
– If you have 20 minutes, you can answer all the 13 questions.
 
The same is true of the writing section.
 
– Reading a sample response aloud  takes only three minutes. If you have 10 minutes, you can read it aloud three times to make sure how the sample is organized or to learn some new expressions.
 
– If you have a smartphone app for SAT, TOEFL, or GMAT, even one second can be utilized by learning one word.
 
The entire TOEFL test takes more than four hours, but its preparation can be broken down to much smaller pieces…by the second. “How many seconds do I study?” That would be the more appropriate question to ask, rather than “How many hours do I study?”
 
Most would-be MBA holders would be assigned to a more responsible position at work, I’m sure. Your work will occupy most of your daytime. However, it is also important you secure a considerable amount of time to study. If you are more conscious of time and think this one second means a lot to you, then, you can learn better, thus improving your score.

Isn’t it hard to get used to it?

Learners always say they want to get used to English, but I always regret to tell them I don’t know what that means.

In the (pretty) long history of my attempt to acquire the language, I cannot remember a time when I successfully got accustomed to  English.

I would often try to get used to the language, though.

As it turned out, however, there was no choice left for me but to keep studying strenuously. I have been doing that….until now.

All I did was to study English, but I speak, write and understand the language better than most non-native speakers of English in the world.

Getting used to English is probably equivalent to studying English. I speculate that learners want to get used to it just because they are trying to avoid intentional learning. My definition of “getting used to it” is a state where one has studied so hard and so intentionally for a substantial period of time that s/he takes the knowledge for granted.

Many learners often ask me how it is possible that I speak English this naturally.

I wonder if they have ever thought of how it is possible for them to say, “I’m from Japan.” so naturally.

They have kept studying hard, by which process they have bumped into this expression a number of times, until eventually they take it for granted that they can say, “I’m from Japan.” with no hesitation or doubt. What they have to do is to keep studying so that they will feel the same way on whatever they will have to say, hear, write or read in the future.

You cannot just sit back and relax, doing nothing but to expose yourself to the sound of English, hoping that one day, you will “get used to it.”

Just hoping that something happens means that you are not doing anything substantial or meaningful. Based on my 30-odd-year experience, the best way to learn a language is by studying really hard.

A new test, the same purpose

Japan’s university entrance exam will undergo some change in the future, according to recent news. People concerned, especially those who will take the test in 5 years and their parents must be feeling anxious. Looking back, when I was a senior at high school, there also was to be a change in the system. Our generation used to be made scared with the threat that the whole system would change and we were to learn things from scratch in the following year if we didn’t pass this year.

As it turned out, there was only a slight change that didn’t affect the overall preparation.

The same is said about the TOEFL test.

When the Internet based test (iBT) was to be introduced (as far back as a decade ago), people were making  a fuss about the new generation TOEFL, mainly because the speaking section would be added.

However, still the most difficult section (by the world standards) is the reading section.

Test takers throughout the world always hesitate or give up this test mainly because the reading section is a bit too hard to complete.

However, if you think of what you are supposed to do at university (STUDY!), it is a logical extension to put the most emphasis on the reading section. You go to university, but you can’t read???

Whatever change will be made in the future will be based on this assumption.

– You attend classes and listen attentively to the lecture while taking notes.

– You go to the prof”s office to ask questions.

– You read assigned books and write a paper.

– You go out for a drink with your friends.

– You go to the counselor to discuss your personal problems.

These are some of the things ordinary college students do.

ETS tries to measure the possibility that you will be able to do the above. No matter what change, this fundamental idea will remain the same. This is what the TOEFL is about / for.

No worries about the change in formality.