The need to provide constant test practice leaves limited room for creativity and innovation in the TOEIC classroom. However, a little variety can be a good thing for both teachers and students.
Here are some suggestions for slightly different ways to cover TOEIC exercises in class.
Part 1 – True or False
For each photograph, play the four statements to the class, but pause the recording after each statement to take a show of hands. Ask students to raise their hands if the statement is True. Then ask them to raise their hands if the statement is False.
Purpose: This helps to identify which students have the most trouble with this part of the test. This is especially useful for large classes of mixed ability. You can give weaker students extra homework to practice and improve.
Variation: Play all four statements as per the real test, then stop the recording and say aloud A-B-C-D with a short pause after each. Students should raise their hands to indicate their choice for the correct answer. This also helps to identify weaker students, while providing slightly more authentic test practice.
Part 2 – Prediction
For each item, play the question/statement and then pause the recording. Tell students to briefly discuss possible responses with a partner. Then play the three responses and afterwards have the class identify the correct response.
Purpose: Asking students to think about possible responses before they hear them is a good way to improve their prediction skills.
Variation: When you play the three responses, stop the recording after each response and ask the class whether they want to Eliminate that response (if they are sure it is incorrect) or Consider it (if they think it might be correct).
Part 3 – Open Listening
Before you play each conversation, write the three questions on the board. Do not write the answer choices. Tell students to listen to the conversation and try to identify the correct answer for each question. Then play the conversation. After, have students compare their ideas in pairs, then tell them to open their books, read the four answer choices, and select the correct answer.
Purpose: This helps students to focus their listening skills more precisely, without the distraction of eliminating incorrect answer choices.
Variation: Have students identify the key words in each question, to make sure they are certain exactly what they need to listen for before they hear the recording.
Part 4 – 7-seconds
Before you play each short talk, tell students you want them to underline or highlight the key words in the three questions and the answer choices. However, explain that they only have 7 seconds to do this. They may object at first, but explain that in the real test they will have to preview questions and answer choices very quickly indeed and this is good practice. Tell them to begin, and start the recording as soon as seven seconds has passed. Be strict about the 7-second rule!
Purpose: In the real test, students can fall behind in Part 4. This activity forces students to skim through the questions and answer choices as quickly as they can. By increasing their previewing speed in this way, students have a better chance of keeping up with the recording.
Variation: As they listen, tell students to raise their hands when they hear the answer for each question. Stop the recording immediately, and confirm the answer. This helps students maintain concentration.
Part 5 – The Elimination Game
For each item, ask students to identify the incorrect answers. Tell them to work in pairs and to think about why each answer is incorrect. They should then make a sentence for each incorrect answer choice so that the word or structure is correctly used.
Purpose: Focusing on distractors in this way helps to reinforce students’ knowledge of grammar and vocabulary usage.
Variation: Put students into groups to share the sentences they have made. They can check each other’s work, and ask you to clarify any queries.
Part 6 – Fill the Gap
Tell students to cover the answer choices for each item. [They can use pens, erasers, or pieces of scrap paper to do this. Alternatively, you can gap out the answer choices and photocopy texts in advance] Explain they should read the text quickly, identify whether each item is focusing on grammar or vocabulary, and try to think of possible words that might complete each gap. Have them work with a partner so they can share their ideas.
Purpose: This helps students to analyze sentence structure, as well as look for cohesive links between sentences in a text. Using context to predict missing words and phrases before looking at the answer choices improves students’ speed and performance.
Variation: After checking students’ answers, ask them to identify which items require them to look outside the sentence with the gap for the information they need. Point out that in Part 6 they sometimes need to look elsewhere in the text - at the sentence(s) before or after the missing word or phrase, to work out the correct answer.
Part 7 - Key Word Challenge
Before students look at the comprehension questions, tell them to first identify all the key words in the text as quickly as they can. They should underline the key words, or highlight them. Encourage students to do this as quickly as possible by giving them a time limit of 15-20 seconds. When they finish, put them into pairs to compare the key words they identified. Finally, tell students to answer the comprehension questions. Did they identify the key words that relate to each answer?
Purpose: This helps to show students that they don’t need to read every single word in a text in order to find the correct answers.
Variation: Have students read the comprehension questions and then underline or highlight the key words in a text that provide the answer. For lower ability students, you may wish to give the correct answers so students focus simply on identifying the key words in the text that contain the information.
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