to my students on revision

Dear students,

 

We kicked off our second-round and third-round revision on March 1. It has been agreed at the English teachers’ meeting that the second round and the third round are combined into one. Around the middle of this month, the Hubei Education Testing Centre issued the NMET Syllabus Hubei. After studying the document, we’d like to offer the following explanations and clarifications regarding our work in the coming weeks. We hope you find them helpful.

 

The two biggest chunks of the exam are still the Cloze Test and the Reading Comprehension. We will spend a large portion of our time and effort improving our skills in doing them.

 

We will choose with care the Cloze Test exercises from materials available to us. You will have time to do each and every of the chosen passages in class. After you finish your work, we will give detailed explanation of the choices. And of course there will be time for discussions about some tricky choices. Bear in mind that the Cloze Test tests your ability to put your English knowledge to use in a certain context, which is of course the given passage. Therefore, first of all, we have to follow the context closely when we are making the choices. By the time all the answers are put into the passage, we should have got a complete story. Secondly, our knowledge of vocabulary and grammar plays a vital role in helping us choose the best answer. Most questions focus on some seemingly similar words, which differ from each other in some way. A possible trap here is that some of us simply know a word for its Chinese translation and therefore we tend to use the English word in the way the corresponding Chinese word is used. The truth is, however, that English words have to be used in the English way. Lastly, a good knowledge of human experiences is important, as well. We Chinese and they foreigners do share most of human experiences – we love, we hate, we eat, we sleep, we work and so on and so forth. Such a good knowledge certainly helps us score high in the Cloze Test.

 

We can’t overemphasize the importance of Reading Comprehension. It is acknowledged that whether a language learner is successful or not depends, in large measure, on how good a reader s/he is. All the reading we have done in the past few years will count towards our final score in the exam. Reading helps us to build up our knowledge of the language, to strengthen our intuition of the language, and to broaden our horizons as well. In the following weeks, we will choose carefully the passages you have to read. Still, the rule is that your reading comes before your teacher’s explanation. Remember to finish the reading assignment within the time limit. Do not do anything else when you are reading. Do not snack, chat, listen to music or do anything else whatsoever when you are reading.

 

We still hope you do some reading every day. Twice a week, on Tuesday evening and on Thursday evening you have some reading assignments to do. But a good learner should have his/her own reading plans. You may have your favourite English learning papers, storybooks, or journals to read. We would like to recommend two lively learning papers – SSP and TEENS. The front-page articles carried in the two papers always give you a refreshing experience. Reading them would arouse your interest in the language.

 

You have probably learned about the changes in the English exam. Next, we will discuss those changes separately. The following is quoted from the NMET Syllabus Hubei.

 

第一节:共10小题,每小题1分。每题在一句或两句话中留出空白,要求考生从每题所给的4个选项中选出一个最佳选项。本节测试的重点为英语词汇的用法

II)考查词汇知识

1. To make members of a team perform better, the trainer first of all has to know their ______ and weaknesses.

A. strengths                     B. benefits                 

C. techniques                   D. values

2. The building around the corner caught fire last night. The police are now ______ the matter.

A. seeing through           B. working out         

C. looking into                D. watching over

3. As I grew up in a small town at the foot of a mountain, the visit to the village ______ scenes of my childhood.

A. called up                     B. called for            

C. called on                     D. called in

【答案】1. A   2. C   3. A

 

It is crystal clear that this section tests your vocabulary knowledge. This is totally different from the grammar multiple choice questions we have been too familiar with.

 

Look at this.

 

1. ____________ at the door before you come in.

A. Knock                         B. To knock  

C. Knocking                    D. Knocked

 

Questions like this should not be included in this section any longer. We believe this section tests your knowledge of vocabulary in two ways.

 

A. The meaning of the word

Do you really know the meaning of the word and use the word in the English way? Look at the question.

 

2. Jules was not eager for classroom learning. Instead, he hungered for ____________.

A. boredom        B. danger      C. risk          D. adventure

 

B. The collocation of the word, that is, words that come before and behind it in natural speech. Look at this.

 

4. No one knows how many people currently _________ the net.

A. surf               B. ride           C. swim        D. dive

 

We have decided on the following measures to cope with the above change.

 

1. We suggest all the words in the course books should be reviewed, unit by unit. Two units should be done in one morning self-study period. And at the beginning of each session in the day, a dictation of ten words chosen from the vocab list of one unit is given to you. It is strongly recommended that the work be checked by the teacher.

 

2. We teachers design five vocab questions as part of your Daily Practice, a paper of ten questions. Each paper focuses on one unit. Each question tests one word from the vocabulary list. The other three choices of the question are similar to the key word in a certain way, but they are not the best choice for some subtle differences. We hope you take the questions seriously. Look at this.

 

3. The King wished to pull down the city wall and _____ it with a stone building.

A. restore         B. recreate             C. replace          D. reunite

 

3. We are collecting more vocab questions for May. In May, there will be some intensive training in answering vocabulary questions for you.

 

The brand-new question is a challenge. Look at the following quote from the NMET Syllabus Hubei.

 

第二节:共10小题,每小题1.5分。每题在一句话中留出空白,要求考生根据括号内的汉语提示,用句末括号内的英语单词完成句子。本节测试的重点为英语语言知识的综合运用

(三)填空题

1. We _______ (起床) before dawn. It was still dark outside. (get)

2. It _______ (一定下雨来着) last night. The playground is still wet. (must)

3. He asked for the letter to _______ (送走) at once. (send)

4. When you hang wet clothes near a fire, you will see steam _______ (从潮湿的衣服上升起). (rise)

5. _______ (我们将如何制订这项计划) has been explained clearly by the teacher. (plan)

【参考答案】

1. got up                     2. must have been raining          3. be sent     

4. rising from them   5. How we will make (work out) the plan  

 

We believe that this section tests three aspects of the language – words and phrases, sentence patterns and grammar. The instructions are clear; it tests the students’ ability to use their knowledge of English in a controlled context, which is the given sentence. Judging from your performance in the Daily Practice, we suggest we follow the following steps when answering a question of this type.

 

Step 1

What is the key word or phrase?

 

Step 2

What sentence pattern may be involved here?

 

Step 3

What grammatical features should be taken into account?

 

Here is an example.

 

1. We _______ (起床) before dawn. It was still dark outside. (get)

 

The first chunk of language to pop into your head is the phrase “get up”. But do not hasten to put it in. Ask yourself if a sentence pattern is involved here. Of course in this question there is no pattern involved. Then, come to Step 3. What grammar is used here? Yes, the past tense. So, you change “get up” into “got up” and put it in. And that is the right answer.

 

Here is another one.

 

10. The Iraqis wish that their life __________________________ (恢复正常) as soon as possible. (normal)

 

The first chunk to pop into your mind is the phrase “return to normal”. Still do not put it in the blank immediately. Follow Step 2. Is there a pattern involved? Yes, definitely. You might recall the pattern with “wish”. When “wish” is followed by a that-clause, what…? Then the grammar point flashes through your mind. You will bring the subjunctive mood back to mind. Of course the best answer to the question is “would return to normal”.

 

There was some misunderstanding among students and teachers alike that grammar will no longer be the issue here. Now we have come to see that with the section grammar couldn’t be more important. More often than not, the answer you write in is extremely close to the correct answer, but it is wrong just by a small margin. The grammar can be ignored easily. Grammar is still as important as ever, if not more.

 

To help you perform better in this section, we teachers have included 5 sentence completion questions in your Daily Practice. The 5 questions are based on the relevant unit. We hope you do them vigorously and correct your errors after you have got the answers. Copy the answers in a notebook and review them from time to time. Also in May, you will have some intensive practice in this area.

 

All of you have got a copy of the NMET Syllabus Hubei, of which the most important part is the vocab list. The vocabulary list should be at your fingertips anytime. Not all the words in the course books are covered in the list. When uncertain whether a word is on the syllabus, turn to the list to check.

 

Before we close this letter, here are some tips you might find helpful.

 

1. Get your English textbooks into your classroom. Don’t let them sleep in your dorm or in your home. Read them as instructed by your teacher.

 

2. Do English every day, little but often. Do not study English for 4 hours or more at a stretch. Do not stay away from it a whole day, either.

 

3. Follow your routine whole-heartedly. On Monday evening, Wednesday evening, and Friday evening, remember to do your Listening Work. On Tuesday evening and Thursday evening, you have the Reading Practice. Also the Daily Practice should be done on time. All the above pieces of work take up small portions of your time. And we hope they are not a burden to you but some spice to your everyday school life.

 

4. Get English in perspective. English is ONE of your subjects. We should not overdo it; nor should we play down its significance. If your total score were a picture, you should be aware how much of it your English occupies. Should English cover too little of the picture, you might do extremely well in other subjects to balance. Of course English cannot replace any other subject in contributing to your total score. We suggest you give English the time it deserves, not too much and not too little. If your English is not your shiny subject, give it a bit more time. If your English shines very much indeed, we believe it is wise to give more effort to the subject(s) you are weak in.

 

5. Practice, practice and practice. It is cliché, but you will see how true it is when your English is good and strong some years from now. Never give up on English.

 

Finally, we, your teachers of English, sincerely wish all of you a marvellous performance in the National Matriculation English Test Hubei 2007. May all of you make it to your dream university this autumn.

 

Best wishes,

 

Yours truly,

Teachers of English, Senior High Three, ****

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. maysouthocean
    Mar 28, 2007 @ 10:38:50

    HI, Shengliver, I am so much respectful when reading your instructions to NMET contestants. I am suddenly lightened by your plans and constractive suggestions,I still wonder how do you cutivate students habits to build up their learning when they are in starting grads?I am now given two classes of senior 2 after my maternity leave,feeling not easy to be a shinning instructor  halfway.A little bit gloomy when facing a roup of lazybones…
     
     
                             Endeavor

    Reply

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