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TOEFL Listening: Main-idea question

  Hi, guys. I want to talk about how to solve the question #1 of TOEFL listening, i.e., the main idea question. These are the two clues: The main idea can usually be found in the first segment (or paragraph if you take notes the way I explained) of the lecture. The professor will say it explicitly or implicitly. Of course there are exceptions, and the main idea might not start until after the second paragraph. This is usually the case when the professor has to set the stage (has to explain various concepts) before she can talk about the main topic of concern.  The correct choice is normally phrased using a general term  I am going to discuss two hard questions today. The first one is hard since the clue phrase is implicit. The second question is hard since the main point appears much later in the lecture.   Example 1. Bryce Canyon (hard) TPO 63 Lecture content:  The professor begins the lecture with a field trip to Bryce Canyon National Park, adding this phrase, “remarkable geologic ph

Degrees of pitch rise and conveyed meaning

  Degrees of rise Beginning pitch level The normal beginning with a prehead (a sentence that does not begin with a stressed word) is pitch level 2, which indicates no marked attitude. If it starts either higher or lower than level 2, attitudinal meaning is involved. If it begins at level 3, the sentence can show a surprise, excitement or insistence. On the other hand, if a sentence with a prehead begins at a lower pitch, at level 1, it can mean indifference, timidity or boredom. Level 1 pitch can also mean that what is to be said is obvious or redundant. For instance, She is the teach er. (neutrality: information)      2 3 She is the teach er. (excitement)      3 4 She is the teach er. ( indifference)      1 2 This is another example: I think I am right . (neutrality: simply stating) 2   3-1 I think I am right . (attitude of insistence) 3   4-1 I think I am right . (attitude of timidity) 1   2-1 When pitch does not rise in the content words

Front-mid-low vs front-low vowels: /ɛ/ vs /æ/

Front-mid-low vs front-low vowels: /ɛ/ vs /æ/ Let’s learn another confusing vowel phoneme pair: /ɛ/ and /æ/. These two vowels can be difficult for non-native speakers because both are frontal and lax vowels. In light of the tongue height, /ɛ/ is low middle and /æ/ is low. For /ɛ/, the muscles of the lips and mouth should be relaxed. After placing the tongue in the middle position, just let the air out to say /ɛ/.  /æ/ is traditionally classified as a lax vowel, but it takes a lot of muscles to produce the /æ/ sound. This is due to the fact that /æ/ is a low vowel. That is, to place the tongue low, the jaws have to be open. The middle part of the tongue is raised and the tip of the tongue touches the back of the bottom teeth. There is vibration in the throat. People often describe the /æ/ sound as the cry of a goat: “Meh-eh.” We non-native speakers often realize the existence of these two vowels through the pronunciations of ‘men’ and ‘man.’ To distinguish /ɛ/ and /æ/ in ‘men’ and ’man