Inside the TOEFL® - Listening Inference Questions

 

People in this video

Michael
Narrator
Professor

 

Intro

[music playing]

MICHAEL:
Hi, I'm Michael from ETS. Today on Inside the TOEFL Test, we're going inside the TOEFL iBT Listening section. Specifically, the inference questions.

On-screen:
Inside the TOEFL® Test – Listening
Inference Questions

Michael: Inference questions ask the listener to show an understanding of the meaning of something when it is not directly stated in the lecture or conversation.

On-screen: Question Structure
Inference Questions- meaning of something not directly stated

Michael: You can recognize inference questions because they use phrases like "What are the implications of …?", "What does the professor imply…?" or "What can be inferred…?"

On-screen: Recognizing the Question Type
Inference Questions

Michael: Let's look at a sample question from a literature lecture about detective novels, including a famous one called The Moonstone.
First, here is an excerpt from the lecture:

On-screen: Sample Questions
[image of professor giving a lecture to students]
[The Moonstone on a chalkboard]
[image of professor giving a lecture to students]

PROFESSOR:
Um, so in The Moonstone, as I said, uh, Collins did much to establish the conventions of the detective genre. Uh, I'm not gonna go into the plot at length, but, you know, the basic setup is . . . um, there's this diamond of great uh . . of great value, uh, a country house, uh, the diamond mysteriously disappears in the middle of the night, um, the local police are brought in, in an attempt to solve the crime, and they mess it up completely, uh, and then the true hero of the book arrives. That's Sergeant Cuff.
Now, Cuff, this extraordinarily important character um . . . well, let me try to give you a sense of who Sergeant Cuff is, by first describing the regular police. And uh this is the dynamic that you're going to see throughout the history of the detective novel, um, where you have the regular cops—who are well-meaning, but officious and bumblingly inept—and uh they are countered by a figure who's eccentric, analytical, brilliant, and . . . and able to solve the crime. So, uh first the regular police get called in to solve the mystery—Um, in this case, detective, uh, Superintendent Seegrave. When Superintendent Seegrave comes in, uh he orders his minions around, uh they bumble, and they actually make a mess of the investigation, uh which you'll see repeated—um, you'll see this pattern repeated, particularly in the Sherlock Holmes stories of a few years later where, uh, Inspector Lestrade, this well-meaning idiot, is always countered, uh, by Sherlock Holmes, who's a genius.

MICHAEL:
Now, let's look at the question.

NARRATOR:
What does the professor imply when he says this:
PROFESSOR:
Well, let me try to give you a sense of who Sergeant Cuff is, by first describing the regular police.

On-screen:
What does the professor imply when he says this:

  1. Sergeant Cuff is unlike the regular police in The Moonstone.
  2. The author's description of Sergeant Cuff is very realistic.
  3. Sergeant Cuff learned to solve crimes by observing the regular police.
  4. Differences between Sergeant Cuff and Sherlock Holmes are hard to describe.

 

MICHAEL:
We can see that this is an inference question because it uses the word "imply" and asks the listener to understand the meaning of something that is not directly stated by the professor.

On-screen:
What does the professor imply when he says this:

  1. Sergeant Cuff is unlike the regular police in The Moonstone.
  2. The author's description of Sergeant Cuff is very realistic.
  3. Sergeant Cuff learned to solve crimes by observing the regular police.
  4. Differences between Sergeant Cuff and Sherlock Holmes are hard to describe.

 

Michael: When the professor says this:

PROFESSOR:  Well, let me try to give you a sense of who Sergeant Cuff is, by first describing the regular police.

MICHAEL:
He is hinting that there is a difference between the behavior of the regular police and that of Sergeant Cuff.

This contrast is supported in other parts of the passage. For example, the speaker describes the regular police as "bumblingly inept." He also says it is common in detective novels for them to be countered by a specific character, in this case Sergeant Cuff, who is "brilliant".

Taken together, we can see that the best answer is A, Sergeant Cuff is unlike the regular police in The Moonstone.

On-screen:
[green check mark appears next to answer option A]

 What does the professor imply when he says this:

  1. Sergeant Cuff is unlike the regular police in The Moonstone.
  2. The author's description of Sergeant Cuff is very realistic.
  3. Sergeant Cuff learned to solve crimes by observing the regular police.
  4. Differences between Sergeant Cuff and Sherlock Holmes are hard to describe.

 

Michael: Here's a tip for improving your listening skills:
Listen to recordings of two speakers with different viewpoints about the same topic. What words do the speakers use to support their ideas? Are the words mainly positive or negative? Then look at how they imply positive or negative ideas without saying them directly.

On-screen: Skill Building Tip – Listen for Inferences

Are the words positive or negative?
How do they imply positive or negative ideas?

Michael: There are lots of ways to improve your English skills. Whatever you do, keep practicing. And good luck on your TOEFL test.

On-screen: For more information about the TOEFL® test and to register, visit the TOEFL® website at www.toeflgoanywhere.org

[END]

Total length of video: 4:46