How do you identify your grammar and vocabulary mistakes?

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Hi there. I’m Jamie Miller, and in this video, I want to talk with you about a common problem that I see lots of students make. Both the ones who joined my regular classes for the 12 Topics and in private lessons with me.

Now all of my students need to get a speaking score of at least 26 on TOEFL iBT or writing scores of 24. So if you’re in a similar situation with your professional goals and TOEFL iBT, please pay attention.

So the issue that I see often is that students make vocabulary mistakes that they are not aware of and they don’t know how to fix. I don’t judge this. I lived in Turkey for seven years, I self studied a lot of Turkish, I made many mistakes. Often I directly translated from English into Turkish, and I said things that I thought would be normal in English. They sounded really kind of funny in Turkish, so you know, when you have that kind of direct translation from your language into English, this sort of thing can happen a lot. And it’s also easy to mix up words when TOEFL graders are giving you a score of 26, there are a lot of things that they’re listening for, and if you give them TOEFL responses that have the right characteristics, you can get a speaking score of 26 very reliably, very consistently. Very predictably, may not be easy, but it’s certainly possible, and I have had enough experience to know anybody can learn how to have a speaking score of 26 if you have the motivation and the stamina to keep going.

So what are the TOEFL graders listening for? When they give you a speaking score of 26 they want to hear certain things about your topic development, your organization, structure, transition phrases, the amount of detail, accuracy, logical word count… And they’re really paying attention to language use. Right, your grammar in your vocabulary, those are definitely part of what they are noticing. And so, like I was saying, one common problem is that a lot of students make vocabulary mistakes that they aren’t aware of. If you’re studying by yourself, this is a serious limitation, and eventually you’re gonna reach a point where, like you need a tutor to, listen to you and ideally, you need a tutor who’s really paying attention. Somebody who is noticing the details of what you’re saying and then points those out to you in a way that you could actually learn from them.

So I want to show you what happened with one of my students this morning in our class. We were practicing speaking task 2, and my student made a few little mistakes. Now I wrote those down because we were having a discussion about something else, and I didn’t want to distract us. But after class, I’m sending him a document that has the information about how to fix those errors. And I want to show you what I do.

So this is standard when students are studying in private lessons with me. This is the kind of thing that I do for all of my students. It’s not possible to do this a lot in group classes, but whenever I’m teaching privately, this is something that you can get. So let me just show you here how this goes.

So here’s the message I wrote:

“Hey, before our next class, please make these flash cards, put them into memory pouch 1 so you can study them daily. We didn’t have time to talk about these little vocabulary errors, but I heard them while you were speaking.”

Okay, number one, he’s gonna write this mistake on the back of the flash card. “It doesn’t worth it right now.” And then the correction on the front of the flash card, “It isn’t worth it right now.”

He may know this. A lot of my students say, “Oh, I know, I know that that’s a mistake.” But the memory pouches that we give out as part of the ESA Method learning kit has a specific protocol that if you study it on the back and you practice with that daily, we can retrain old mistakes and fossilized memories with vocabulary, your grammar. So it’s really important to write each of these down as part of the ESA Method system so that you can change those. That was number one. Number two, he said, “My boss took the decision.” The correction: “My boss made the decision.”

Now again, this may be an easy mistake. You might also be able to identify it. I guarantee you. My student is very smart. He he knows that took should be make: make a decision, made a decision. It will not be a surprise for him when he sees that. The reason why he needs to follow the ESA Method process with the memory pouch protocols is because he needs to retrain an old habit.

I lived in Turkey. Like I said, there were a lot of times when I self-studied, I taught myself the wrong thing, and it became a habit. It was a memory to say the wrong thing. It’s hard to change those. It’s possible to change things like that, but you need a certain kind of protocol in order to make that shift.

So both of those are gonna go onto flash cards for him. And then the third thing which I’m identifying here is, what’s the difference?

What’s the difference in meaning between these? We’ve got light, natural light, light–lighting, and lightning because again, when a TOEFL grader is listening to you in order to get a speaking score of 26 you’ve gotta have precise vocabulary. Light, lighting, and lightning are similar, but they’re each different. And when someone is getting a speaking score of 24 or maybe 25 they could be making these kinds of vocabulary mistakes of using a word, light, lightning, or lighting. They’re all in the same kind of word family, but they’re different from each other. So again, you need a teacher who’s pointing these things out to you and then helping you learn them in a way that you can understand.

Here’s how I explained it to my student. Uh, so all of them are uncountable. That’s really important. Light and natural light are the physical waves that are admitted by the sun or a light bulb. So here’s a picture example. We’ve got red visible light, all the colors, that kind of thing. Lightning with an N… That’s this guy here coming out of the sky, and then lighting is any invention that holds any of the various kinds of light bulbs. And if we just zoom in here on this Google doc, we can see some examples of things that I found out of search results, right? Lamps, light fixtures… Any of those kinds of things constitute lighting. So my point in showing you this… The reason why I’m taking you inside something that happens inside of my classes is because in order for you to get a speaking score of 26 or writing score of 24 or higher on TOEFL iBT, you have to be using the right vocabulary.

As I was saying before, it’s one of the categories of things that the graders are noticing when you’re talking or when you’re writing, it’s got to be appropriate. Yeah, and you can see that there’s a difference between light, lighting, and lightning. So it’s important to use those accurately.

For more help like this, please check out my website English Success Academy and find out more about classes with me. I will do a free consultation with you. We can talk about your situation with TOEFL iBT.

So if you’re feeling like you need somebody who’s really paying attention to you and giving you feedback in a way that you can learn it in a step-by-step process, come and find me. Let’s talk.