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文/Graham Pickering

譯/Frankie Chu

 

This is my first column for TOEIC OK News and I am very much looking forward to sharing my ideas and thoughts with you on TOEIC and English writing.

這是我在TOEIC OK News的第一個專欄,很期待可以跟各位讀者分享我對TOEIC還有英文寫作的想法。

 

To begin with however, I would like to recount my own recent experience taking the TOEIC Speaking and Writing test. Early in September, I was invited by ETS to take the computer-based TOEIC Speaking and Writing test in Taipei. I live in Taoyuan, so the first challenge was getting out of bed early enough on Sunday morning to get to the venue in time for the 9.00 a.m. test!

首先,我想要描述我最近參加TOEIC口說與寫作測驗的經驗。9月初,我受ETS之邀參加在台北所舉辦的電腦化TOEIC口說與寫作測驗。由於我居住在桃園,所以首要的挑戰,就是要在星期天早上起得夠早,才能趕上9點的測驗。

 

Sitting on the train heading north, I was feeling a little anxious about the prospect of taking the test. While English is my mother tongue, I did worry that if I didn’t do well, it would be more than a little embarrassing. Imagine how I’d feel if the ETS people called and said, “Well Graham, the results are out. You failed the test miserably. And, our international research tells us that on average, bottle-nosed dolphins score higher than you do!”

坐在北上的火車,我對於考試感到有一些焦慮。雖然英文是我的母語,但我非常擔心如果我考不好,這就不會只是尷尬而已。想像一下,如果ETS的人打電話跟我說:「考試結果是失敗的,你徹底的失敗!而且我們的全球調查指出,平均起來,瓶鼻海豚的分數都比你還要高。」這樣我會是什麼感覺?

 

ETS had kindly provided me with a test kit, so the night before the test I thumbed through Tactics for TOEIC, and picked up a sense of what the test looked like. I mentally worked my way through some of the sample questions and I was feeling OK about the test structure and the level of difficulty of the questions. What I didn’t know was whether or not I might “freeze” during the test. In the speaking test, I was concerned that my mind might go blank and I’d just sit there like a fish out of water, my mouth opening and closing mechanically…but not a single sound coming out.

測驗前一晚,我翻閱了ETS提供給我的題庫《Tactics for TOEIC》,因此對於測驗有了一份簡單的認知。我把範例題目在我腦海裡演練過一遍,對於考試的架構、還有考題的困難度感覺都還OK。但我所不知道的是,我是否會在考試期間突然定格?在口說測驗時,我擔心我的腦袋會一片空白,而我就坐在那邊像一條離水的魚,嘴巴只能機械地開合,卻無法發出任何一點聲音。

 

I found the test venue easily enough, and along with the other examinees, I completed the registration, filed into the computer room and found my assigned seat. The test administration team walked us through how to use and adjust the headphones and microphone and then, we were ready to go.

考場很容易找到,我和其他考生一樣,完成了報到,進入電腦教室並且找到我的座位。監考人員跟我們介紹如何使用並調整耳機和麥克風,接下來我們準備開始考試。

 

With everything in place, I stared intently at the instructions on the screen. “Houston, we have a problem!” My attempts to log in were not working. The system was spitting me out like I was some kind of toothpaste! After a few heartfelt 對不起, 對不起’s, and a couple of frantic calls to Ground Control – whom I imagined was some poor IT guy trying to have his Sunday morning breakfast in Starbucks – the test crew finally logged me in and I was ready to fly.

當一切準備就緒,我認真地看著螢幕上的指示。“Houston, we have a problem! ”(太空人求救語)我試圖登入但無法成功,系統一直把我擠壓出來,就像我是某種牙膏一般。在幾句由衷地道歉,和瘋狂打電話給那位可能正在STARBUCKS享用他星期天早餐的可憐IT人員,監考人員終於讓我順利地登入,而我也準備起飛(開始考試)了。

 

After a couple of minutes spent reading the instructions, the speaking test began. The first two tasks on the speaking test require reading a text aloud. Although there were perhaps no more than 30 other examinees in the computer lab, I was a little distracted by the sound of everyone reading into their microphones. I couldn’t hear what they were saying exactly, but it sounded to me like I was in a Buddhist monastery during an energetic chanting session.

花了幾分鐘閱讀指示後,口說測驗正式開始。TOEIC口說測驗一開始的兩題,是大聲朗讀出一段文章,雖然在電腦教室裡的考生大概不超過30位,我還是有點被每個人對著麥克風朗讀的聲音影響到。我無法聽清楚他們到底在說些什麼,但在我聽來像是置身於一個充滿活力的誦經聲的佛寺。

 

I settled in, reading my texts aloud with slightly exaggerated precision. I worked my way through the tasks; responding to questions, proposing a solution, and expressing an opinion. I completed them all, stumbling occasionally as I raced against that clock as it counted down uncaringly, in the corner of the screen. The challenge, as I see it, is to arrange your thoughts with little or no preparation time. I felt empathy for my fellow examinees who were of course, also required to come up with the appropriate English to express themselves.

我坐定位,開始用一種有些誇張並過度標準的發音來大聲朗讀我的文章。我用這個方法完成這道題目,回答問題、提出解答並且表示意見。我完成了所有題目,但是看到螢幕角落的時間,我有時會停頓下來,就像和無情地倒數的時間賽跑一般。這裡的挑戰是,你必須在幾乎沒有任何準備時間的情況下,整理你的思維。我很同情其他參加測驗的考生,因為他們也需要用適當的英文來表達他們自己。

 

With the speaking test completed, the writing test soon began. The writing is computer-based also and in addition to English language skills, you have to be a competent typist. If you are a ‘one-finger wonder’, good luck in getting through the test in time!

口說測驗結束之後,寫作測驗也即將開始。寫作測驗也是電腦化,並且除了英語技能之外,你還必須是一個打字能力好的人。如果你是一指神功(編註:指電腦打字速度不快),那我得祝你能夠在時間之內完成考試。

 

In the first writing task we were given two words which we needed to combine into a single sentence. Not too bad, I thought. Next, we were required to answer two business e-mails with specific instructions on how to respond. The final task was an opinion essay for which we were given 30 minutes to write at least 300 words. Again, it is a challenge to write and type out your ideas in a coherent way while working against the clock.

在第一道寫作題目裡,我們必須要將兩個字串成一個單句。我心想,還不算太差。下一題,我們要根據所指定的提示來回答兩封商業email。最後一題,我們要在30分鐘之內寫出至少300字的短文。要把你的想法用很流暢的方式寫下,並打字出來,這又是一項挑戰,尤其是當你還要跟時間賽跑的情況之下。

 

The two-hours required for the test shot by, and my fellow examinees and I poured out onto the street, and headed our separate ways. Thinking back about the test, I felt a heightened sense of respect for Taiwan’s well-practiced test takers. I found taking the test challenging and if it was a tense affair for me, a native English speaker, how much more so for the other examinees. So, hats off to Taiwan’s long-suffering students of English. May all of your hard work pay off sooner, rather than later, and may we all outscore those damn clever dolphins !

兩個小時的測驗時間很快就過了,我跟著其他考生走到街上,朝著各自的方向前進。回想剛剛的測驗,我對台灣這些準備充裕的考生有著無限的尊敬。我發現考試是很有挑戰性的,對於英文是母語的我而言,都很緊張了,更何況其他的考生呢?所以容我起立脫帽,向台灣這些長期遭到英文折磨的學生致敬,希望你們的努力能早點得到收穫,並且祝我們的成績都比那些自以爲聰明的海豚還要高。

 

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