Friday, March 25, 2016

How to answer TOEFL speaking question 3

Example of academic policy reading passage:

The Office of the Dean of Liberal Arts and Sciences would like to announce that starting with the current freshman class, there will be an 'African American Experience' course requirement. In order to graduate, each student will be required to take one three-credit course dealing with this topic. Various academic departments will be collaborating to design various courses to help students meet this requirement. LAS has made this decision because the African American experience has been traditionally neglected in US history text books. Furthermore, recent developments in US history reveal lingering racial tensions and conflicts and LAS feels its students should be aware of the causes of contemporary historical conflicts as well as possibilities for resolving them.

Example of a dialogue between two students concerning this new policy decision:

Joe: I'm really upset about this new African American experience class.

Maggie: Why? I think the university is right on top of things. This is definitely necessary these days with all the protests and events in the news.

Joe: Well, that's my point. This is a politically motivated class they are shoving down my throat. A few students start protesting on campus and I have to add one more class, it's ridiculous. The university is under pressure by protesters and I need to do what a bunch of trouble-makers want me to do. I should try to organize counter-protests.

Maggie: I think the protesters just brought an important and neglected issue to everyone's attention.

Joe: Also, what if Latino students start complaining? Or Asian students? Every time a different ethnic or racial group protests I need to take another course about that group? Nonsense. Let them fix the American history class so that I get the info I need, instead of tacking extra courses on. I want to know the truth so find a text book that helps me learn in the first place.

Maggie: Well, I'm looking forward to the class. 

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For the reading passage, it might be a good idea to simply talk about what is happening and why. ***So when you read, just read for what is happening and why.***

In this academic policy announcement from the Dean's Office, we learn that students, starting from this freshman class, will have to start taking an African American experience course. This is due to the fact that US history textbooks have neglected this topic and students need to know about what is causing current events.

Now transition into the listening section.

However, the male student in the dialogue strongly objects to this new policy initiative.

Now explain why he is upset.

First of all, he is upset because he perceives this new class to be politically motivated. He feels that the university is only trying to placate protesters. The university is not interested in providing the truth, but in making a group of trouble-makers happy. He implies that he is being forced to learn something only because of disruptive protests.

Secondly, he is concerned about the consequences of the university doing what protesters want it to do. He states that other ethnic or racial groups may also protest in order to change the curriculum. He asserts that the university should focus on the real problem instead: the US history text books. Instead of making him take another class, the school should find a history text that provides the truth.

Do you need a conclusion? Probably not (based on what I've seen elsewhere), but here's a quick one anyway:

Obviously the university is trying to address a controversial problem and this student's objection should be no surprise.

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