Sunday, May 29, 2011

How to match Headings to Paragraphs in IELTS Reading


Matching Headings to paragraphs in IELTS is considered the most difficult sort of questions in the Reading Test. As you remember I got 8.5 out of 9 in the Reading Section and obviously I had to face these tough Matching Headings questions in my test too. However, they are not very "tough" if you know how to deal with them and this is just the aim of this new post.

Let me explain the Matching Headings Technique with an "interesting" exercise. I choose a topic related with "Dictionaries", which is not very popular, but this is another thing that you have to expect in your IELTS test: some topics are really boring, but you have to be prepared for that.
Reading Passage 1

       SPOKEN CORPUS COMES TO LIFE

A.   The compiling of dictionaries has been historically the provenance of studious professorial types - usually bespectacled - who love to pore over weighty tomes and make pronouncements on the finer nuances of meaning. They were probably good at crosswords and definitely knew a lot of words, but the image was always rather dry and dusty. The latest technology, and simple technology at that, is revolutionising the content of dictionaries and the way they are put together.

B.   For the first time, dictionary publishers are incorporating real, spoken English into their data. It gives lexicographers (people who write dictionaries) access to a more vibrant, up-to-date vernacular language which has never really been studied before. In one project, 150 volunteers each agreed to discreetly tie a Walkman recorder to their waist and leave it running for anything up to two weeks. Every conversation they had was recorded. When the data was collected, the length of tapes was 35 times the depth of the Atlantic Ocean. Teams of audio typists transcribed the tapes to produce a computerised database of ten million words.

C.     This has been the basis - along with an existing written corpus –for the Language Activator dictionary, described by lexicographer Professor Randolph Quirk as “the book the world has been waiting for”. It shows advanced foreign learners of English how the language is really used. In the dictionary, key words such as “eat” are followed by related phrases such as “wolf down” or “be a picky eater”, allowing the student to choose the appropriate phrase.

D.   “This kind of research would be impossible without computers,” said Delia Summers, a director of dictionaries. “It has transformed the way lexicographers work. If you look at the word “like”, you may intuitively think that the first and most frequent meaning is the verb, as in “I like swimming”. It is not. It is the preposition, as in: “she walked like a duck”. Just because a word or phrase is used doesn’t mean it ends up in a dictionary. The sifting out process is as vital as ever. But the database does allow lexicographers to search for a word and find out how frequently it is used – something that could only be guessed at intuitively before.

E.   Researchers have found that written English works in a very different way to spoken English. The phrase “say what you like” literally means “feel free to say anything you want”, but in reality it is used, evidence shows, by someone to prevent the other person voicing disagreement. The phrase “it’s a question of crops up on the database over and over again. It has nothing to do with enquiry, but it’s one of the most frequent English phrases which has never been in a language learner’s dictionary before: it is now.

F.   The Spoken Corpus computer shows how inventive and humorous people are when they are using language by twisting familiar phrases for effect. It also reveals the power of the pauses and noises we use to play for time, convey emotion, doubt and irony.

G.   For the moment, those benefiting most from the Spoken Corpus are foreign learners. “Computers allow lexicographers to search quickly through more examples of real English,” said Professor Geoffrey Leech of Lancaster University. “They allow dictionaries to be more accurate and give a feel for how language is being used.” The Spoken Corpus is part of the larger British National Corpus, an initiative carried out by several groups involved in the production of language learning materials: publishers, universities and the British Library.
Questions 1-7

Reading Passage 1 has seven (A-G) paragraphs. Choose the most suitable heading for each paragraph from the list of headings below. Write the appropriate numbers (i-xi) in boxes 1-7 on your answer sheet.
Note: There are more headings than paragraphs so you will not use all of them. You may use any heading more than once.

List of Headings
         i.            Grammar is corrected
        ii.            New method of research
       iii.            Technology learns from dictionaries
       iv.            Non-verbal content
        v.            The first study of spoken language
       vi.            Traditional lexicographical methods
      vii.            Written English tells the truth
     viii.            New phrases enter dictionary
       ix.            A cooperative research project
        x.            Accurate word frequency counts
       xi.            Alternative expressions provided

OK guys, I will show how to perform 100% of the points in Matching Headings to Paragraphs questions. Just remember the name of this game: What is the best title for each paragraph?

First, you have to read the List of Heading in order to figure out what kind of article is in front of you. Then, start reading the first paragraph.

A. The compiling of dictionaries has been historically the provenance of studious professorial  types - usually bespectacled - who love to pore over weighty tomes and make pronouncements on the finer nuances of meaning. They were probably good at crosswords and definitely knew a lot of words, but the image was always rather dry and dusty. The latest technology, and simple technology at that, is revolutionising the content of dictionaries and the way they are put together.

Secondly, make your own overview of the paragraph. In my case, what I understand (in simple words) is this: the task of writing dictionaries has been historically made by very studious people, but their method were very boring. Now, the technology is making big changes in this field.

TIP one: I don't know all the words in this paragraph (such as provenance, bespectacled and pore), but this does not mean that I can not understand the main idea. You have to identify the key words: compiling of dictionaries, historically, studious professorial types, dry and dusty, technology, revolutionising.

The third step is to match the paragraph (keep in mind your own overview) with each Heading.

I will show you how I do this (my thoughts are in red color)

       i.   Grammar is corrected
There is nothing related to grammar in the first paragrap
      ii.    New method of research
There is nothing related to new methods of research 
     iii.   Technology learns from dictionaries
The words "technology" and dictionaries are mentioned. I will take this one.
     iv.     Non-verbal content
 There is nothing related to non-verbal content
      v.    The first study of spoken language
There is nothing related to first study of spoken
     vi.    Traditional lexicographical methods
Traditional means historically; methods means how to do something (dictionaries). I will take this one
    vii.    Written English tells the truth
There is nothing related to Written English
   viii.    New phrases enter dictionary
There is nothing related to new phrases...
     ix.   A cooperative research project
There is nothing related to cooperative research project
      x.   Accurate word frequency counts
What is that? :)
    xi.     Alternative expressions provided
There is nothing related to alternative expressions
   
     The last step is to choose the best title among your candidate headings:
:
iii   Technology learns from dictionaries  
vi   Traditional lexicographical methods

The big question is HOW??? Just, analyze each heading deeply...

iii.  Technology learns from dictionaries : This means that technology needs dictionaries...wait! what is that? It sounds really weird and this idea is not mentioned in the paragraph. Don' you believe me yet? The decisive reason is mentioned in the last part of the first paragraph:

The latest technology, and simple technology at that, is revolutionising the content of dictionaries and the way they are put together.

This means that technology is making big changes on dictionaries and not vice versa.

So, the answer is Heading vi:  Traditional lexicographical methods

TIP two: Even though some key words are mentioned in some potential headings, this does not mean necessarily this is the right answer. In this example, the heading with the key words "technology" and "dictionaries" was not the right answer .

Well guys, I will answer all the remaining questions during the following weeks, so you can compare your answers with mine.

It is 5:30 pm here, in Brisbane and you know I am a little bit hungry...pasta or steak? Fortunately this question is easier than Matching Headings to Paragraphs questions!

Keep studying but enjoy life too. Cheers!

Samy

18 comments:

  1. Thank you so MUCH for your help!!You can't imagine how much you have helped me!I hope i finally achieve my desired ielts score!!!!

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  2. iam going mad with matching headings any other short cuts????

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  3. Thank you so much for your help!
    Please explain more for the others if you can

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  4. thanks a lot samy

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  5. Samy you are genius. readingis my problem. i got 9 in speaking, 6.5 in reading and 8 each in rest two modules; overall 8
    . i practised maximun for reading and sat Academic.

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  6. thank you!!

    you are amazing!

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  7. THNX DUDE,,, I GRAB A LOT KNOWLEDGE FRM U U R GREAT..;) BYE

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  8. This post is one of my favorite ones. i am really appriciated by your explaination. I.m Tien Le from Viet nam

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  9. hello samy my test date is just two weeks away..nd no prepration so far..plz I need your help in this regard..would you plz shair your tipps and tricks on all readings questions

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  10. Hi Samy, Thanks so much for your very clear explanation. Can you help me explain more about true, false, not given type. It's so difficult.

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  11. Thanks a lot Sammy. This has opened my eyes today. This makes me easy to match the headings.

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  12. Thanks a Lot Sam...

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  13. Thanks Samy for catalytic tips but want more from you brother =)

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  14. pellucid explanation

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  15. ...there is not enough time to do all this thinking that you've shown us, there has to be some more faster approach ....

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