I’ve had trouble reading for the past few weeks. I don’t know what it is – I’ve just had difficult maintaining my concentration. I’ve been plugging away at the same book since October, and have only read a couple hundred pages.
But I did read a few other things this month. Of note:
- While doing research for a professional writing assignment, I read this great article about paleolithic art in The Guardian. It covers potential purposes of ancient cave art left behind by our ancestors. That’s definitely the sort of thing that might show up on the TOEFL.
- I also read a scholarly article about Seneca Village in the Journal of Urban History, a predominantly African American community that was destroyed to make room for New York’s Central Park. That isn’t the sort of thing that will appear in a TOEFL reading passage, but it is a really well-written article that will appeal to anyone with an interest in the development and consequences of urban green spaces. I went down a Central Park rabbit hole as a result of a special work assignment I had this month… so I guess I did read some stuff.
- Actually, I’m happy to have some work assignments outside of my usual TOEFL wheelhouse, as it does encourage me to read some stuff I wouldn’t otherwise read. I didn’t mention it last month’s column, but in October I found myself going down a Frank Lloyd Wright rabbit hole. He is one of the best-known American architects, and since architecture is one of the subjects that appears in the TOEFL reading section (albeit somewhat infrequently), here’s a nice article about his most famous design, from Travel + Leisure Magazine. If you want to improve your academic reading skills, folks, keep on reading! Don’t be picky.
I also read a couple more issues of “Science News” I picked up from the discard pile of my local library in Canada. A few articles seem relevant. First up, from the October 9/23, 2021 issue:
Stone Age humans or their relatives occasionally trekked through a green Arabia talks about the migration patterns of early humans. It reveals how weather patterns presented opportunities for them to cross great distances.
Satellite swarms may outshine the night sky’s natural constellations talks about the possible consequences of the huge number of private satellites now orbiting the planet. They might make it difficult for astronomers to do their thing. I don’t normally mention articles about astronomy here, but the new online TOEFL prep course published by ETS listed astronomy among the topics that might appear in the reading section, so perhaps I will start!
Next, I read the December 4, 2001 issue of the same magazine. A few things stood out:
Some dinosaurs may have lived in herds as early as 193 million years ago is about dinosaur behavior. If you’ve been reading this column for a few months you will know that I always list articles about dinosaurs. They seem to come up quite often in TOEFL materials.
Baleen whales eat (and poop) a lot more than we realized is about the valuable role that whales play in their ecosystem. It’s a nice long article that will get you ready to tackle an article about animals when you take the test.
Assassin bugs tap spiders to distract them before a lethal strike is about a curious feature of a specific type of insect. This bug is able to hunt dangerous spiders by tapping its legs in such a way that the spiders are comfortable being around it. That’s the sort of thing that could appear in the integrated speaking questions!
That’s all for now, but come back next month for more articles. I’ve run out of “Science News” issues, but I have a few issues of “Scientific American” to go through.