Well, I took on some outside work this month and didn’t have time for anything on July’s to-do list, but I always have time for the least popular part of this blog – the monthly “you should read more” article!
This month I read the April 24 issue of “Science News.” As always, the magazine contained a ton of great articles that resemble the various reading (and listening) tasks that appear on the TOEFL. There were a few standouts this month:
- An Ancient Shark’s Weird Fins Helped it Glide like a Manta Ray talks about a unique feature of a shark that swam the oceans about 90 million years ago. This resembles the type four speaking questions, which are often about how animals do something. Like how some fish survive in the deep ocean, or how some birds hunt prey, or perhaps how some sharks glide through the ocean.
- Stone Age Culture Bloomed Inland, Not Just Along Africa’s Coast is a great article about an early human culture. The reading section of the TOEFL often includes articles about what I call “early” human cultures.
- Octopus Sleep Includes a Frenzied, Colorful, “Active” Stage might also form the basis of a type 4 speaking question. Or perhaps a type 3 – I can picture an article about animal dreams, and the example of the octopus.
Next I read the July Issue of “History Today.” Articles about history are really common in the reading section of the test… and not just articles about “early” human history. Most of the content from this magazine is behind a paywall, but a few great articles are available online:
- China’s First International Students discusses a group of young Chinese children sent to study abroad in 1872. It’s a fascinating story. They were pulled back by the regime earlier than planned, but many of them played important roles in the development of the country upon their return.
- Baby Boom or Bust compares today’s low birth rates to the history of France from the 19th to mid 20th centuries.
I also read the May issue of National Geographic. This was the best issue of NatGeo in a long time. Here’s what caught my eye:
- The Conservation Popularity Contest could form the basis of a type 1 writing question. I imagine a reading about the problem of ugly endangered species being ignored, and the lecture suggesting solutions to this problem.
- There is a tiny little space-filler about the hummingbird being a “surrogate species.” That would make a perfect type 3 speaking question! I can’t find a link to the little article online, but here is a little article from the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
- One of the long feature articles this month is about saving coral reefs. That could certainly form the basis of a problem/solution writing question as well.
Finally, I read the Summer 2021 issue of Modern Cat Magazine. You had better believe it. I liked:
- The Evolution of the Social Feline. I think I will submit my foster cat for Modern Cat’s “Cat of the Week” award. I hope you’ll all vote for it if I post a link here.
I also read some books that aren’t worth mentioning here, but I will mention the Penguin Classics collection of journalist Nellie Bly’s work. It’s titled “Around the World in Seventy-Two Days and Other Writings.” Bly was a pioneering New York journalist in the late 19th and early 20th century. She was noted for her “stunt reporting” including how she got herself committed to a mental hospital in 1887 to secretly investigate the conditions there, and her recording-breaking around the world trip in 1890.
That’s all for now. More recommendations next month.