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EFSET Sample Listening Section #3 (difficult)


Editor's note: The audio for the listening sample questions was produced by VOA Learning English and may not represent how the audio will sound on the actual test. Scroll down to see a transcript of the audio and the answers.

EFSET questions 3 (long)
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You will hear someone talking about trends in 21st century communication. You can play the recording TWO times. Answer the questions based on what you hear.

1. What the speaker says supports which TWO of the following statements?

  1. English learners who text message gain language proficiency quickly.
  2. Teachers have found fewer errors in student writing since texting became popular.
  3. Text messages contain fewer acronyms than people think.
  4. Young people text more words than they speak on an average day.
  5. Grammatical errors in student writing are largely unrelated to text messaging.
  6. Parents should limit their children's cell phone usage.

2. The speaker uses which TWO specific examples to show the effects of texting on more formal communication?

  1. The problem of students’ spelling errors
  2. The occurrence of texting abbreviations in student essays
  3. The effects of texting on second language learning
  4. Finding texting terms in job applications
  5. Student difficulties in learning to speak in front of a class
  6. Methods of teaching the difference between formal and informal text

3. The speaker mentions the telegraph to accomplish which TWO of the following purposes?

  1. To introduce his opinion on the topic
  2. To emphasize teenagers’ texting practices
  3. To provide a contrast with David Crystal’s opinion
  4. To give some historical perspective
  5. To help explain why texting is effective in language learning
  6. To demonstrate past examples of informal language use

4. The speaker would most likely agree with which TWO statements?

  1. Teenagers’ insistence on texting is a classic sign of rebellion against parents.
  2. Learning how to text talk is similar to an English speaker learning Portuguese vocabulary.
  3. Texting does not lead to systematic errors in formal writing.
  4. Texting words will be accepted as part of formal language in the future.
  5. Teenagers are oblivious to society's concerns about texting.
  6. Text messaging is damaging the English language.

5. Which TWO of the following does the speaker advocate?

  1. Formal lists of text talk abbreviations for clarity
  2. Deliberate use of texting as a learning strategy
  3. Study of how texting terms are entering the world of formal English
  4. Recollection of the ways technology has changed the world in the past
  5. Support for parental limitations on children and adolescents’ texting
  6. Explicit teaching of the differences between formal writing and texting

6. Which ONE of the following best states the speaker’s main idea?

  1. Text talk is not a threat to the integrity of the English language.
  2. Text talk is more about technology than about language.
  3. Text talk is a modern version of an old phenomenon.
  4. Text talk is primarily important to linguists.
  5. Text talk is exclusively for teenagers.


MAN: The English-speaking world is abuzz with stories about the language of text messaging sneaking into more formal arenas. We’ve all heard them: the college professor handing back reams of papers in which students inserted phrases like “A-F-A-I-C” to mean “as far as I’m concerned” or “A-F-A-I-K” in place of transitions like “as far as I know” in their submissions, job applications rejected because “your” was spelled “U-R,” and other terrifying tales of text-talk. The inevitable conclusion of all these stories is that text messaging is ruining the English language.

Surely an exaggeration! But it’s a rallying cry for parents — like rock and roll music in the 50s and peculiar clothing and hair styles in the 80s and 90s, kids huddled over tiny screens flashing brief messages that have no words — HORRORS! Some parents even believe that keeping cell phones out of their kids’ hands is the only way to prevent this dangerous degradation from growing. Of course, these kids are terrified of their parents’ controlling ways. They’re just trying to talk to their friends.

Abbreviating language has been around for a long time, going back as far as ancient Rome. Even if you just focus on English, we’ve been shortening words and phrases since the original texters talked with their hands in the mid-19th century — telegraph operators, using Morse code, had a very intricate method of abbreviation, and the language of telegraphs was supposedly dangerous to the common tongue, yet somehow English has survived.

Linguist David Crystal thinks that the uproar about text speak is mostly noise. His book on the subject points out that there are fewer abbreviations in text messages than we all assume, and that text talk is not a cause of bad spelling. Studies have shown that very few language errors in student papers are related to text message language.

Other experts think that text talk is more like a second language than anything. If that’s a valid observation, texters might be getting benefits to their English skills rather than detriments. Second language learners receive all kinds of mental benefits, which might also be present in some small way for proficient texters.

At worst, learning the difference between texting and formal writing is not much different from learning the difference between talking to friends and giving a speech in front of a class. Like any other skill, it must be practiced and learners are likely to make mistakes on the way, but this is no cause for alarm.

The critical anti-text crowd would be wise to stop worrying and start working. Instead of fretting, people should be teaching others to distinguish between appropriate and inappropriate language in formal settings. Solving the problem is much more effective than simply talking about it.

There will always be detractors every time technology gives humanity improvements in communication, but somehow society — and language — continues to grow and thrive. Besides, even if text messaging were doing damage to our language, could we really get rid of it at this point?