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旋元佑英文自習 - ETS托福Official Guide答案錯誤,題解亂掰
瀏覽數:881

去年(2007)夏天我回到登峰美語補習班授課,除了我自己的單元班(文法,字彙)之外,還接了GMAT修辭與托福閱讀這兩個留學考的班。

重回館前路,距離我先前在登峰教課已經有十多年了,許多商家都早已不知去向。在騎樓下賣雜誌書報的老人尚在,仍然彎著腰在攤開膝頭的舊報紙上寫著獨樹一格的書法。

久未接觸,托福考試已經從PBT(紙筆測驗)一變為CBT(電腦測驗)再變為iBT( 網路測驗) 。要教學生,我得盡快熟悉最新的考試型態。於是我拿著號稱為the Bible的ETS Official Guide to the New TOEFL iBT(2006年國際版,McGraw Hill出版,新加坡印刷),開始研究新托福閱讀的十種題型。

那本Official Guide以相當長的篇幅詳細介紹新托福閱讀的十種題型,並且分別提供例題與題解。其中最具新意的是Type 9與Type 10這兩種稱為Reading to Learn的題型,以 "摘要" 及 "列表" 這兩種方式來取代原來的Main Idea類題目。看來是因為Main Idea類的題目太容易用全文主題句與段落主題句來破解,所以才要改頭換面,希望能夠測出考生真正的實力。

我備課的方法是所有的題目自己先做一遍。在Official Guide介紹十種題型的這個部分,我做完Type 9之後去對答案,發現自己竟然做錯了。當下感覺相當汗顏,趕快去看題解。問題是,看完題解之後我仍然深信自己是對的。

Type 9是屬於"摘要"的題型,題目中列出六項敘述,考生須選出三項可作為全文摘要的敘述。錯誤選項或者內容與原文有抵觸、或者屬於細節性質而非重點摘要。Official Guide上面的三個答案,其中有一個和我選的不同。

我仔細分析過原文的結構之後,肯定我的選擇沒錯,而是Official Guide的答案錯誤,題解亂掰。當下我的反應是先上網查看是否有 "ETS Official Guide答案錯誤" 的風聲。查到的評論對這本Official Guide都是一片讚美之聲,Amazon.com網路書店也給它三顆星半的高評價。這本2006年版的書,在全世界使用了一年,多少考生用它準備考試,多少補習班在用它教學生,書中介紹新題型的如此關鍵的部分有如此嚴重的錯誤,竟然沒有一個人發現 ? 我自己想想都覺得不可能。

接下來我去找我信任的朋友,英文高手,包括老中與老外,請他們看看這道題目。他們看的結果,雖然某種程度認同我的看法,但是沒有人敢說ETS Official Guide有錯。

下一步,我寫了一封很客氣的信,分別寄給ETS與出版公司McGraw Hill,並且附上一篇很詳細的Word檔案作為附件,在裏面我仔細說明ETS的答案有何錯誤、為什麼應該是我選的答案才對。

寄出之後,ETS完全沒有回應,這就很不尋常。這種國際性機構,有人投書,依常理來看一定會回一封信,至少表示收到了。McGraw Hill則有一位資深編輯回信,表示已經把我的信轉給ETS,等候他們處理。

當時我的心情是:我要怎麼面對我的學生 ? 托福閱讀班開課時我一定會用到Official Guide的十種題型分析。而且我一定會直言不諱:ETS Official Guide的答案錯誤。可是,學生會相信我嗎 ? 對方是主考機關ETS,材料是已經使用一年的Official Guide,怎麼可能有如此離譜的錯誤 ?

在等待ETS回覆期間,我繼續備課,結果又在Official Guide後面的Practice Test中發現一個錯誤,同樣是答案錯誤,題解亂掰。這個發現讓我信心倍增:這本Official Guide是趕工之下的產物,品質大有問題。於是我又寫了一封信給ETS,指出這第二項錯誤。結果,ETS仍然沒有任何回應,McGraw Hill仍然是打太極拳,把問題推給ETS。

眼看開課日期將近,我開始生氣了。ETS對這樣的指控怎麼可以相應不理 ? 於是我又寫了第三封信,信中很不客氣地指控ETS犯了嚴重錯誤又嘗試掩蓋。若ETS不立即回覆,我揚言要採取幾項行動:

一。上課時對學生公開指控ETS Official Guide有嚴重錯誤、ETS並且嘗試掩蓋。
二。在下一期的TIME for Students雜誌中以總主筆身分公開指控ETS Official Guide有嚴重錯誤、ETS並且嘗試掩蓋。
三。聯合支持我的托福閱讀教師召開記者會,公開指控ETS Official Guide有嚴重錯誤、ETS並且嘗試掩蓋。(這是唬人的,沒有一個人支持我。)
四。到所有英語學習網站上留言,公開指控ETS Official Guide有嚴重錯誤、ETS並且嘗試掩蓋。

最後我網開一面,重申我並無意挑戰ETS的權威,只是為了能夠在上課時坦然面對我的學生。所以我重複我的要求:ETS必須承認錯誤,方式是給我個人一封email,不然我就要開始上述的四點行動。我也不客氣地對McGraw Hill那位資深編輯直言:你們是該書的出版公司,應該有分辨是非的能力,不能一味推給ETS。

這封信寄出之後,McGraw Hill立即回信,要我稍安勿燥,表示他已經向ETS強調過此事的重要性,而且ETS也已經在寫回信給我。幾小時之內ETS的回信來了,有一份Word附檔。附檔中署名的是ETS閱讀部分的出題委員,並曾參與那本Official Guide的編輯。此人在信中承認:我指出他們的兩項錯誤,他們都同意我是對的,並且承諾在新版中將要改正。

這整個事件,令我對ETS相當失望。首先,ETS是 "燈不點不亮",想要用 "不回應" 的方式拖過去。而且,既然承認錯誤,就應該像汽車公司回收汽車或製藥公司回收藥品一樣,從市場上全面回收有錯誤的書籍。至少要公開訂正,讓考生知道對錯,而不是像這樣子採取 "自欺欺人" 的方式來處理。

以下附上我和ETS與McGraw Hill所有往來信函,上面有姓名、職稱,以及email地址,讀者可以自行查證。

Communications with the ETS

寄件者:Hsuan Yuanyu [yy.hsuan@msa.hinet.net]

寄件日期:2007/5/10 (星期四) 上午 03:33

收件者:customer.service@mcgraw-hill.com; os_internet@ets.org

Dear Sirs:

I'm about to start teaching TOEFL Reading using the McGraw Hill "Official Guide to the New TOEFL iBT," International Edition 2006, printed in Singapore. I've spotted a possible mistake in the book, which is potentially very serious. I've attached my explanations in a Word document.

I'll start teaching around May 25. I'll appreciate it very much if you can reply to me before that. Thank you very much.

Best regards,

Hsuan Yuanyu, Taipei, Taiwan

Attachment

Dear Sirs:

I have been studying McGraw Hill’s The Official Guide to the New TOEFL iBT, International Edition 2006, printed in Singapore. I believe there may be a serious mistake in the book.

In the Explanation on pages 34-35, Choice 6 is among the Correct Choices, and Choice 1 among the Incorrect. I chose differently when I did the question. When I looked at the corresponding Explanations, they failed to convince me.

Choice 6 reads: In the twentieth century, artists working in the fine arts often treat materials in new ways whereas applied arts specialists continue to think of crafts in terms of function.

There are two problems with this choice. First, The first sentence of the last paragraph says: “Even though the fine arts in the twentieth century often treat materials in new ways, the basic difference in attitude of artists in relation to their materials in the fine arts and the applied arts remains relatively constant.” The weight of the sentence is clearly on the second and main clause, since the first clause (starting “Even though”) is merely a concession. Thus, the whole sentence merely reaffirms that “the basic difference … remains relatively constant.” Choice 6 says “In the twentieth century, artists working in the fine arts often treat materials in new ways….” This repeats the content of the “Even though…” clause, which stands in logical contrast to the main clause, the clause that contains the main idea. Therefore, Choice 6 is far from being an accurate summary of any main idea in the passage.

Second, after the author makes a passing reference of a new trend in the fine arts in the twentieth century as a concession, he immediately returns to his main thesis and goes on to conclude: “It would therefore not be too great an exaggeration to say….” The structure of the last paragraph indicates that the concluding sentence is a summary of the main idea, whereas the sentence preceding it (on which Choice 6 is erroneously based) is merely a supporting detail. Therefore, Choice 6 is clearly incorrect.

Choice 1 reads: The fine arts are only affected by the laws of physics because of the limitations of the materials that are used.

The Explanation for Choice 1 goes: “This answer is incorrect because it is a minor point mentioned in sentence 4 of paragraph 2. The statement is true, but it is made only to support the broader theme (of the second correct answer choice above) about the differences between the two forms of art. Thus, it is used as an example in support of a major idea and is not itself one of the major themes in the passage.”

This Explanation necessitates a look at “the second correct answer choice,” which is this: Applied-art objects are bound by the laws of physics in two ways: by the materials used to make them, and the function they are to serve. This answer choice deals with “applied-art objects” only. Therefore, the theme of Choice 2 is neither broader nor narrower than that of Choice 1. Since the passage as a whole is a contrast between fine arts and applied arts, Choice 2 covers only half the theme (the half that has to do with applied arts); Choice 1 covers the other half (the half that deals with fine arts).

The first two sentences of paragraph 2 serve as transition that leads to the third: “This assumption misses a significant difference between the two disciplines,” and thus to the fourth and fifth sentences: “Fine-art objects are not constrained by the laws of physics in the same way that applied-art objects are. Because their primary purpose is not functional, they are only limited in terms of the materials used to make them,” which is basically what Choice 1 says. Sentence 5 (not sentence 4 as the Explanation says) truly points out a “significant difference” between the two kinds of arts. All the remaining sentences of this paragraph (seven in all) are devoted to supporting and developing this difference.

Explanation for Choice 2 says that “five or six” sentences are used to develop the major theme of the first paragraph, which is that applied-art objects are bound by physical laws both in function and in material. Now “seven” sentences are used to develop the major theme of the second paragraph, which is that fine-art objects are bound by physical laws only in material—exactly what Choice 1 says. If Choice 2 is correct, then Choice 1 must be correct.

I’m supposed to start teaching a TOEFL Reading class in Taipei around May 25, using McGraw Hill’s Official Guide. I cannot in good faith tell my students what they see in the Official Guide is correct. If there really is a mistake in the Official Guide, please acknowledge it. If I am mistaken in my interpretations, please enlighten me. Thank you very much for your help.

Best regards,

Hsuan Yuanyu, Taipei, Taiwan

-----Original Message-----
From: Wall, Charles [mailto:Charles_Wall@mcgraw-hill.com]
Sent: Wednesday, May 16, 2007 12:19 AM
To: yy.hsuan@msa.hinet.net
Cc: Prof_CS, College
Subject: ETS TOEFL Guide

Dear Sir:

I have received your letter regarding a possible error in the ETS TOEFL guide. I have forwarded it to ETS for a response.

I will contact you as soon as I hear from ETS.

Thank you for contacting us.

Chuck Wall

Senior Editor

McGraw-Hill

From: Hsuan Yuanyu [mailto:yy.hsuan@msa.hinet.net]
Sent: Tuesday, May 15, 2007 2:01 PM
To: Wall, Charles
Cc: os_internet@ets.org
Subject: RE: ETS TOEFL Guide

Dear Mr. Wall:

Thank you for your response. I have to inform you, however, that I have spotted another mistake--this time a rather obvious one--in the same book (The Official Guide to the NEW TOEFL iBT, International Edition 2006). Question 1 on page 70 is a simple, straightforward Factual Information Question. The answer should be Choice 2. Your book gives Choice 3 as the answer, and offers some very lame explanations on page 75.

Please take me seriously. It won't take you more than two minutes to do the question and check the Answers and Explanations. You'll see what I mean.

I'm in the publishing business myself. It's easy to imagine the kind of pressure your company and the ETS people must have been under to bring out this new guide in time for the new test format. Mistakes are understandable, if not inevitable. I have no intention of challenging the authority of your company or of the ETS. All I ask is an acknowledgement, so that I can face my students with some degree of assurance. Otherwise, I really don't know how I'm supposed to use the book in class. Thank you very much for your help.

Hsuan Yuanyu, Taipei, Taiwan

-----Original Message-----
From: Wall, Charles [mailto:Charles_Wall@mcgraw-hill.com]
Sent: Wednesday, May 16, 2007 2:34 AM
To: Hsuan Yuanyu
Cc: Prof_CS, College
Subject: RE: ETS TOEFL Guide

Dear Hsuan Yanyu:

Thank you once again for taking the time to write to us.

I will need to submit your note to ETS and get a response from them. All content questions regarding this book are for them to decide. I will get back to you as soon as I have a response.

Cordially,

Chuck Wall

Senior Editor

McGraw-Hill

From: Hsuan Yuanyu [mailto:yy.hsuan@msa.hinet.net]
Sent: Tuesday, May 22, 2007 11:37 AM
To: Wall, Charles
Cc: os_internet@ets.org
Subject: RE: ETS TOEFL Guide

Dear Mr. Wall:

I have written two letters to the ETS informing them of the mistakes in the Official Guide, and you have also forwarded my letters to the ETS. I regret to say that I haven't received any reply from the ETS yet. Obviously the ETS has chosen to ignore me, hoping the whole thing will just blow away.

If I don't get a replay very soon, here's what I'll do. First, I will announce to all my students that there are unforgivable mistakes in the Official Guide, and that the ETS has opted for a coverup. Then, as Chief Editorial Writer of TIME for Students, a bilingual magazine authorized for publication in Taiwan and Hong Kong by Time Inc., I will make the same announcement in the editorial of next month's issue. After that, I will call a press conference to expose the scandal--I have elicited the help of several TOEFL teachers who will back up my claims, and by then the ETS's lack of response will have escalated into a full-blown scandal. These emails will be presented as evidence that the ETS is attempting a coverup. Meanwhile, I will leave my comments on every English-learning website I can find. Sorry, but this will not just blow away.

Please tell the ETS people that I am offering them a last chance to do the right thing. Let me reiterate my point: all I ask for is an acknowledgement of the mistakes, in the form of an email to me, so that I can face my students with a clear conscience. If I can't have that, I have no choice but to fight for what is right.

As the publishing company, McGraw-Hill is not without responsibility in this matter. I am sure you are capable of telling right from wrong, without having to wait for the ETS.

Thank you for your help.

Best regards,

Hsuan Yuanyu

-----Original Message-----
From: Wall, Charles [mailto:Charles_Wall@mcgraw-hill.com]
Sent: Wednesday, May 23, 2007 12:25 AM
To: Hsuan Yuanyu
Subject: RE: ETS TOEFL Guide

Dear Hsuan Yuanyu,

The staff at ETS has composed a response to you and I’m sure it will be on its way to you shortly. I will contact them and emphasize the urgency of your request.

Thank you again for contacting us.

Charles A. Wall

Senior Editor

McGraw-Hill Professional

2 Penn Plaza, 11th Floor

New York, NY 10121

phone 212 904 5387
fax 212 904 5134

charles_wall@mcgraw-hill.com

www.mhprofessional.com

-----Original Message-----
From: Thompson, Dolores [mailto:dthompson@ETS.ORG]
Sent: Wednesday, May 23, 2007 12:57 AM
To: yy.hsuan@msa.hinet.net
Cc: OS_Internet
Subject: RE: O S X FW: Possible Mistake in Official Guide to the New TOEFL iBT

Dear Hsuan Yuanyu,

Attached is a letter responding to your email of May 9 regarding a possible mistake in the Official Guide to the New TOEFL iBT.

Feel free to contact our Order Services mailbox @ OS_Internet@ets.org with any further questions or concerns.

Sincerely,

ETS Order Services

Dolores-2988

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Attachment

Dear Mr. Hsuan Yuanyu:

Thank you very much for your communication of May 2, 2007 concerning a possible error in the ETS/McGraw-Hill “Official Guide to New TOEFL iBT,” International Edition 2006. I work in Test Development area of ETS on the TOEFL test, and am one of the staff who is responsible for writing TOEFL iBT Reading Comprehension questions.

You wrote that you believe that identified correct answers for the sample Prose Summary on pages 34 and 35 of the Guide are incorrect, specifically, that Choice 1 has many characteristics that make it as important a point in the summary, if not a better point in the summary than Choice 6. I believe that your analysis is substantially correct. We will revise this example of the Prose Summary item in the next reprint of the TOEFL Guide.

You also wrote on May 15 about a Reading Comprehension question on page 70 of the Guide. Again, we agree that the distinctions between Choices 2 and 3 should be clearer for this to be an effective practice question. We will make changes in this question in the next printing of the Guide.

Thank you again for taking the time to write to us. We are very concerned that our products be as helpful as possible to students, and we appreciate your efforts to make the Official Guide to the New TOEFL iBT better. Good luck with your upcoming class.

Sincerely yours,

Philip Everson

寄件者:Hsuan Yuanyu [yy.hsuan@msa.hinet.net]

寄件日期:2007/5/23 (星期三) 上午 02:08

收件者:Thompson, Dolores

副本:WallCharles

主旨(J):RE: O S X FW: Possible Mistake in Official Guide to the New TOEFL BT

Dear Ms. Thompson:

Thank you for your response. Now I can go to class with a light heart, and I see no need to take any further action on this matter. I don't have Mr. Everson's email address. Please tell Mr. Everson that I appreciate his candid admission of mistakes.

Best regards,

Hsuan Yuanyu

From: Hsuan Yuanyu [mailto:yy.hsuan@msa.hinet.net]
Sent: Tuesday, May 22, 2007 2:15 PM
To: Wall, Charles
Subject: RE: ETS TOEFL Guide

Dear Mr. Wall:

Thanks to your help, the ETS has written me and admitted mistakes on both counts. As I said, that's all I need to face my students, and I see no need to take further action on this matter.

Thank you again for your help.

Best regards,

Hsuan Yuanyu

寄件者:Wall, Charles [Charles_Wall@mcgraw-hill.com]

寄件日期:2007/5/23 (星期三) 上午 02:18

收件者:Hsuan Yuanyu

主旨(J)RE: ETS TOEFL Guide

I’m very glad that ETS was able to answer your concerns.

Thank you again for writing to us. We always appreciate hearing from readers!

Best wishes,

Charles A. Wall

Senior Editor

McGraw-Hill Professional

2 Penn Plaza, 11th Floor

New York, NY 10121

phone 212 904 5387
fax 212 904 5134

charles_wall@mcgraw-hill.com

www.mhprofessional.com


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