Quick Write 103111 “Kaleidoscope”

There are people who’ve had huge influence on my thoughts, ideas, and perspectives. Y is one of those people for whom I always have respect and feel grateful. Last night, I was invited to a commencement ceremony of a New York based graduate school to be a photographer for my precious friend who was to graduate with her master’s degree that she’d been pursuing for more than five years. When I found her in a blue cap and gown cheerfully chatting with other graduating students in a lobby of the ceremony venue, she looked like a person that I’d never known. I approached her, conveyed my heartfelt greetings, and started being her private photographer.

When I saw two professors sitting proudly in chairs on the platform, I started wondering what the professor emeritus in a superbly gorgeous cap and gown had brought in a plastic bag on the floor just besides him. A “Daiso” plastic bag didn’t fit the solemn, ceremonial atmosphere at all, and I even thought why he couldn’t have chosen any better bag to this big day. But soon I got to solve the mystery. When the professor emeritus was asked to present diplomas to eighteen graduating scholars, he took out a gift from the Daiso bag and gave it to each student. Guess what it was – A tiny kaleidoscope.

Before the gift-giving, the professor emeritus posed a question. “Why do you think I’m giving a kaleidoscope to you? Does anybody have thoughts on that?” Three students voluntarily answered the question. The professor emeritus responded after one remark saying, “I used to explain the reason why I’m giving it to graduating students myself, but my rendition would’ve never been good, so I gave up and started asking ‘you’ the question. And see? It works pretty well.” A big laughter followed.

I myself tried answering the question on my way home. A kaleidoscope shows different images every time we look into it. Colorful bits and pieces are mixed in million different ways and create endless patterns of the images that could almost never be reproduced. Looking at a kaleidoscope from outside gives us the vision of what it looks like, but once you look into it, you’ll encounter tiny, but infinite universe of colors and shapes. I’ve come to realize that it is exactly what teaching represents. Every student, every learner is different. They have their own colors and shapes, and sit together in one classroom. They resonate, harmonize, and sometimes conflict with each other, and with teachers. They are inconstant, incoherent, but keep growing. Teachers look into the kaleidoscope of learners trying their best to observe it without any preconceptions or preoccupations. Every time teachers look into the scope, they’ll discover something. Those discoveries show endless patterns. Those endless patterns of findings make us a better teacher, and that’s the way it has to be.

(60 minutes / 478 words)

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Quick Write 103011 “Learning from Mark 5”

This is the fifth QW post of “Learning from Mark” on http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/politics/july-dec11/sandb_10-28.html . Actually, there are so many learning points from what David Brooks, the co-commentator, says on the program, yet I’ll continue talking about how Mark delivers his own views for a while. Hopefully sometime soon, I’d like to focus on how David develops his ideas and how skillfully and effectively he does so.

1) … we have just seen it in the unveiling of the tax plans on the Republican side, all of which show a tilt basically to those already well-off.
The noun “a tilt” means “a sloping position or movement, an inclination or bias (OED)”. I can use the phrase “show a tilt to” like “I’m no doubt willing to listen to what he has to say, but his comments always show a tilt to misogyny, and it gives me a pain in the ass.”

2) And I would simply say that the person I felt most sorry for were the people in Rick Perry's campaign this week
We just can copy the phrase “I’d simply say that the *** I felt most sorry for were/are… ” like “I’d simply say that the people I felt most sorry for are those who are forced to learn English while sacrificing the joy of learning it.”

3) And it was just a bad week. The only thing that saved him was that Rick Perry was having a worse week.
These sentences can sound ironic, but we can still make the expression sound a bit warmer by giving a little twist like “Okay, it was just a bad week. The only thing that saves us is that we were having a worse week.” Would it make you feel any getter? I hope it would.

(40 minutes / 298 words)

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Please note that the tense is "PRESENT PERFECT".




"Seven-Step Method" Revisited

I experimented "Seven-Step Method (SSM)” with the e-mail passage taken from "Dokkai Tokkyuu 1" a week ago. I’ll try SSM again with a passage from a different source than the last time. As I argued in the previous post (“Seven-Step Method Trial 2”), SSM is a good training method to practice writing with the assistance of passages written by professional native English speaking writers while learning the typical styles of the TOEIC Part 7 passages and high frequency vocabulary appearing on the TOEIC test items simultaneously. The model passage that I'll try SSM on today is the short e-mail message from the TOEIC Official Book Vol. 4 Test 1 page 60.

【Seven-Step Method】
STEP 1) Read the passage. (Day 1)
SETP 2) Copy the passage and rewrite it as your own.
STEP 3) Read the same passage again. (Day 2)
STEP 4) Rewrite it again.
STEP 5) Listen to the audio file of the same passage. (Day 3)
STEP 6) Rewrite the same passage again, but this time you do so based on what you've listened to without reading the passage.
STEP 7) Rewrite again without listening or reading. You do so on your memory only. (Day 4)

*Ideally, SSM is implemented for four days as mentioned above for the sake of repeated exposure to the passage and opportunities to refresh what you learned from the passage on the previous days.

STEP 1&2) First rewrite
Dear Mr. Murdoch

This e-mail is in response to your letter of October 22, which stated that my membership at your English speaking salon will expire on November 30. I wish to let you know that I have chosen not to renew it.

When I first became a member, the cost was 19,800 yen per month. Now the cost is 39,800 yen per month. Aside from this significant increase in cost, I have been dissatisfied with some of the services at your salon. There never seem to be enough native English speaking conversation partners available to practice speaking with even for peak hours on weekday nights. In addition, many of the members claim that they haven’t realized recognizable progress or improvement of their speaking ability, which I myself absolutely agree with.


Ryo Ichikawa

STEP 3&4) Second rewrite
Dear Ms. Stevenson

This e-mail is in response to your letter of October 1, which stated that my membership at your match-making service will expire on December 31. I wish to let you know that I have no intention to renew it.

When I first became a member, I was expecting to see a lot of cute, sexy, fabulous-looking, decent males. But the reality is, I’ll be 50 next month and I’m single. Aside from the sad truth, I have been disappointed with the fact that I learned recently. There never seems to be a lady who’s successfully found her ideal partner through your service. In addition, I can no longer afford to pay the monthly membership fee of $198, let alone the renewal fee of $ 498.


Samantha Jones

STEP 6) Third rewrite based on memory
(*The audio file is not available for this passage.)
Dear Mr. Choi

This e-mail is in response to the notification that arrived on October 31, which indicated that my membership at your cooking school will expire at the end of November. I wish to let to know that I have decided not to renew it.

When I entered your cooking school, I was excited to learn various recipes of Hawaiian food. Now the number of recipes that I’ve learned so far is only “four” during those six months. Aside from it, I have been dissatisfied with the punctuality of the instructor. He always comes late to class, and leaves 5 or 10 minutes earlier. In addition, most of the ingredients that the instructor uses for his recipes are unavailable in my neighborhood, and I’m unable to try out the recipes I learned at home.


Miranda Hobbes

STEP 7) Fourth rewrite based on memory again
Dear Dr. Goldenblatt,

This e-mail is in response to the notification as of November 1, which invites me to renew the contract of a yearly subscription to your e-mail magazine by the end of December. I’d like to let you know that I won’t renew my subscription contract.

When I started reading your publication, I learned quite a lot from what you wrote. These days, however, you repeat yourself, and I don’t think I’m learning much from you. Plus, multiple instruction videos attached to each issue are unnecessary to me, and I don’t want to bother to delete all of the files every time I receive e-mail magazines. Lastly, I’d like you to make sure that you’ll delete all of my contact information after my subscription contract expires on December 31.


Charlotte York

【My impression on SSM Revisited】
This time I rewrote a short e-mail passage without the audio file, so I skipped STEP 5 (It was “Six-Step Method”, but still “SSM”!). I initially tried to rewrite an article available online, but I couldn’t find a good one in terms of the TOEIC-wise authenticity by quick search. There must be nice online articles and passages that make you want to copy and rewrite if you invest ample time on searching.

What I learned from the four-time rewriting today is how I can end this type of message. I wouldn’t end my e-mail message like the model one. Instead, I’d conclude the message by saying something apologetic or make some excuses in an attempt to make my statement a little more acceptable to its recipient. Rewriting passages that someone else wrote gives you opportunities to add variations to your writing style that tends to fall into mannerism otherwise. SSM invites you to rewrite the same passage four times, so by the end of the last rewriting, you’ll have familiarized yourself with words, phrases, sentence constructions, and organizations of the passage of your choice. Yes, I bet SSM works.





Quick Write 102811 “Part 5 from Part 7-4”

QW 1028 tries to exemplify how to learn grammar from Part 7 passages. The short announcement on the Official Book vol.4 page 101 contains a good grammar point on “tense”. The first sentence of the passage states that Ms. Cho, the book author, is going to be on the news program as in “S (Subject) will be appearing”. The second sentence indicates that she will talk about her first book during the show as in “S will be interviewed”. Then you’d wonder why “S (Subject) will be appearing”, not “S (Subject) will appear”.

The way I see the difference between “will be ~ing" and “will do” is that “will be ~ing” describes what the subject is doing at some point in the future, which is more like a confirmed plan, whereas “will” expresses the subject’s action in the future, but it also connotes the subject’s intention or hope, leaving the possibility that the action (or plan) may be canceled. The passage announces that Ms. Cho is scheduled to be on the show, and her appearance itself is very "unlikely” to be canceled. If the program starts at 6 p.m., Ms. Cho will appear on the show a few minutes past 6 p.m., or at whatever time during the show, which is literally “what the subject (= Ms. Cho) is doing at some point in the future”. On the contrary, if the announcement says “Ms. Cho will appear…”, it still talks about Ms. Cho’s action (or plan) in the future, but it could also send a message to readers of the announcement that she might not come to the show depending on her intention or due to whatever changes in schedule.

Yet the good news is, TOEIC Part 5 almost never tries testing our knowledge on the difference between “will be ~ing” and “will do”. There should be only one legitimate answer to one test item, so it’s almost unlikely that both “will be ~ing” and “will do” are in the four multiple choices to one test item. For instance, when “will be appearing” is the correct answer, there will a more obvious "distracter” or “decoy”, such as “will be appeared” or “appearing” as follows:

Mr. Perry _ _ _ _ _ _ _ on the Analysis at 8 p.m. EST this coming Friday.
A) appearing B) appear *C)will be appearing D) will be appeared

(50 minutes / 394 words)

"Decoy" A person or thing used to mislead or lure someone into a trap (OED)




Quick Write 102711 “Part 5 from Part 7-3”

QW 1027 goes further on “Word-Class-Focused” learning. QW1026 demonstrated how to learn the “verbs” embedded in the Part 7 passage (the Official Book vol.4 Test 1 page 61, “Memo on summer store hours”). Today’s QW post focuses on the adjectives in the Official Book vol.4 Test 1 page 70, “the advertisement on Our Friends in the Sky”.

【13 Adjectives】 Gram = Grammar tips Vocab = Vocabulary tips
1) popular 2) definitive 3) casual 4) hard 5) special 6) intriguing 7) detailed 8) entertaining 9)acclaimed 10) substantial 11) avid 12) valuable 13) premier

2) definitive
Gram: The adjective “definitive” comes from the verb “define” which means to state or describe the nature, scope, or meaning of something (OED). If you’re not familiar with “definitive”, but you know the verb “define”, you’ll infer the meaning of “definitive” as the state of something that states, describes, or represents the nature or meaning of something else. In fact “definitive” in this context is, according to OED, “(of a book or other text) the most authoritative of the kind”.

3) casual
Vocab: The adjective “casual” here means “not so serious”. We can infer the meaning of the adjective by looking into the context. The phrase “… a superbly written book that even casual admirer of birds will find hard to put down.” can be paraphrased as “a book that even 'not very serious’ fans cannot stop reading because of its good quality”.

6) intriguing
Gram: The adjective “intriguing” comes from the verb “intrigue” which means to arouse the curiosity or interest of (OED).When something is intriguing, it strongly attracts your interest.
A Part 5 question could test your grammar knowledge like this:
The book gives special attention to 50 wild frogs that she Dr.Barnes considers to be _ _ _ _ _ _ _ .
A) intrigued B) intrigue *C) intriguing D) intriguingly

9) acclaimed
Vocab: The adjective “acclaimed” comes from the verb “acclaim” which means to praise enthusiastically (OED). Synonyms are "celebrated, famous, acknowledged, praised, outstanding, distinguished, admired, renowned, noted, highly rated, eminent, revered, famed, highly esteemed, well-received”.

10) substantial
Vocab: The adjective "substantial” means to be of considerable importance, size, or worth. The example phrases that I’ve obtained from Oxford Sentence Dictionary (OSD) are "a substantial reduction in hospital admissions”, "substantial demands for time off”, "substantial finds to developing new engines”, "a substantial amount of cash”, and so on. You’ll find the phrase "substantial salary raise” in the Official Book vol. 4 Test 1 Part 3 68-70, for your information.

11) avid
Vocab: The adjective "avid" means to be having or showing a keen interest in or enthusiasm for something. According to Collins Thesaurus, synonyms are "enthusiastic, keen, devoted, intense, eager, passionate”. OSD contains phrases such as "an avid reader of science fiction”, "an avid partygoer”, “avid e-mail users”, "She looked at me with avid interest.”.

If you’d like to learn adjectives, you can go for the part 7 passages that talk about movies, products, recipes, menu, job description, and all kinds of reviews. They’ll contain lots of adjectives for descriptions or praises.

(50 minutes / 511 words)

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