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TOEFL Listening Practice: Listening for Basic Comprehension

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  • 0:01 TOEFL Listening
  • 0:56 Lecture Passage
  • 3:06 Lecture Questions
  • 4:35 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Elizabeth Foster

Elizabeth has been involved with tutoring since high school and has a B.A. in Classics.

In this lesson, you'll get some practice with the simplest type of TOEFL listening questions. This is a good practice lesson to do first if you struggle with this section.

TOEFL Listening

The listening section of the TOEFL can be tough to get through. Just to recap briefly, here's what you're up against:

  • Four to six lecture passages with six questions each - These listening passages are supposed to imitate what you might hear in a classroom.
  • Two to three conversation passages with five questions each - These passages are supposed to imitate conversations you might have outside a classroom.

In total, you'll get 34-51 questions on all these passages. There are three types of questions on the listening section, but for this lesson, we'll just focus on the most basic type, listening for basic comprehension questions. These questions ask you to understand basic facts and information stated in the passage. Because the questions themselves are fairly simple, this is a good place to start if you're struggling with the listening section in general.

Lecture Passage

Ready to get started? Now you'll listen to a lecture passage and work on some listening for basic comprehension questions about it. If you don't have some handy, pause the video right now and get some scrap paper for note taking, just like you'll have on the actual TOEFL.

Strategy hint: don't try to write down every word. It won't work. Instead, write down key terms and main points; that will make your notes much more useful.

Today, we're going to discuss the Roman army, specifically the Marian military reforms of, uh…107 BC. So, you remember from our last class that by 107 BC, the Roman army was in trouble. I'll just go over two of the major problems. First of all, to serve in the military, you had to buy your own weapons and gear, and, uh… that was too expensive for most of the people to afford, so the size of the army was very… very restricted. Second, there was no standing army, so any time you needed to go attack someone, you had to raise a brand-new army from scratch, and train them all, and it was very inefficient.

So, this wasn't good. And then along comes this general, Gaius Marius. And he'd been frustrated by the old system, and he decided to reform it. First of all, he opened military service to anyone, regardless of, uh, how much money you had or whether... whether you could pay for your own equipment. It didn't matter. Now the Roman state would pay for everyone's equipment, so it really opened a much bigger, a much broader pool of potential soldiers. All the poor people could serve in the army now, so they didn't have to worry about not having enough men.

And then the second thing Marius did was he instituted a standing army, so the army was in service all the time, training all the time, and if there was ever a war, it was already ready. You didn't have to waste all the time recruiting and training the men; they were already ready to go.

Okay, that was the passage. On the real TOEFL, the passages will be longer, but we'll go with this mini version just for practice. Now on to the questions. You can look at your notes while you're working on the questions.

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