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Wrong Answer Trap: Strong Emotions
I want to talk in this video about a type of wrong answer that mixes up emotions and opinions. In general, this is about a lecture or a conversation in which someone has a positive, negative, or neutral opinion about something, an emotion. And then in the answer choices, we see it changed.
We see it going from positive to negative, or negative to neutral, or some other combination like that. Very often we see a neutral statement in a lecture or in a conversation. And to then, it’s changed in the answer choices to positive or negative. And so, because it’s changed like that, it is wrong. It’s a trap answer.
It might seem almost correct, but if it’s too strong of an emotion, too strong of a negative or a positive emotion or opinion, it might be a problem. This is most common in attitude, function, and inference questions because they bring up the intention of the person who is speaking, what they want to do, not only the facts. Right. Attitude is about opinion, so of course, this is common there.
Function is about why the professor or student says something. And an inference question is about what they are thinking, and what you can understand what they think from what they said. So these are all about more than just the facts of what’s said, but what the person is thinking. So it’s very helpful to think about, as the test taker, for you to think about the purpose and the overall intention of the person who is speaking.
You need to think about why they say certain things. Okay, let’s look at an example here. We have a part of a lecture. Let’s just look at that first stanza. There’s actually not much to say about this. There are very few rules. Okay, now this is from the sample lecture number three.
That is in the previous lesson video, I’ll link to that under this lesson. And the professor is talking about sestinas, he’s talking about these poems and the first stanza of the sestina. So what does the professor imply about the first stanza when he says this? There’s actually not much to say about this. Okay. There’s actually not much to say about this, referring to the first stanza.
So why is there not much to say about the first stanza? If we think about the context of the full lecture on sestinas, we can understand what he’s implying about the first stanza. Let’s take a look at our answer choices and find that change from neutral to negative, or from positive to neutral, or whatever. It requires little explanation.
It’s an important part of a sestina. It’s shorter than other stanzas. It should not be discussed. Okay, two of these are very clearly negative. It’s unimportant, it should not be discussed. So I’d need to think now, was the professor being negative?
Was he actually saying something bad about the first stanza. There’s actually not much to say about this. Why is there not much to say about it? Because it’s simple. Because it’s an easy part of the poem compared to the other stanzas which are more complicated. So the professor is explaining the poem.
That’s what all this lecture is about, he is explaining the form of this poem, how to write it. So he is not trying to say that it’s unimportant, he’s not trying to say it’s bad to talk about it, he’s just trying to give an explanation. So much better, we can cross these out and take a look at these answer choices it requires little explanation, that matches the overall meaning and purpose of the lecture.
It’s shorter than other stanzas is very tempting. This is quite neutral and maybe it matches by, when he says, there’s not much to say about it, that doesn’t have the same meaning as shorter. Not much to say does have the meaning of no explanation. You can’t say much because there is nothing to say, no explanation. Short is a different meaning, really, so we can cross that out.
And the answer is that first one there, it requires little explanation. Now, that is one way it can go. It can be a neutral statement that in the answer choices, as we saw, was very negative or could be positive, but sometimes this is a little bit more difficult. That’s not the only way this can happen.
It could be the other way around. It could be positive statements or negative statements that are made opposite. So positive made negative, or negative made positive, or they could become neutral. So these can be a little bit trickier, because sometimes it’s hard to tell if the professor is actually being positive or negative.
Let’s take a look at that harder example. This one is from the first sample recording, the first sample listening. It is the lecture sample in that first lesson. Let’s listen here. So just by a show of hands, how many of you here are familiar with the word allotrope? All right, great.
So that looks like about half of you. Well, we won’t spend too much time on this, so just be patient with me if it’s all old news for you. I’ll try not to bore you too much. Okay. She’s introducing this phrase, allotrope. This word allotrope.
And then she says, if much of the class already knows the word, she will try not to bore them too much. So what does she imply about her lecture when she says this. I’ll try not to bore you too much. What is that? Why does she say, I’ll try not to bore you too much? Let’s take a look at our answer choices.
First of all, yes, I should point out she does sound like she’s joking a little bit here. But it’s a little positive. So it’s kind of a mix of positive and negative. She is saying that the material that she’s going to talk about might be boring for some students, and then she’s making a joke about that.
So you can kind of hear her smiling, using that tone. Using that the sound of their voice can be very helpful for questions like this. Now, let’s look at those answer choices. It won’t be enjoyable for students who dislike chemistry. This is quite negative, isn’t it? She expects students to complain about repetition, also very negative.
She will make it interesting through humor. This is much more positive. Or it may not provide new information for some students. This is negative, but maybe not as negative as being unenjoyable or making complaints. It’s just not new information.
Those first two are quite negative, they’re too negative. Because she says, I’ll try not to bore you too much in the context of, this is review and I’m going to try to make it not boring, but everyone is just getting the basic information in this class. She says earlier in the lecture that that’s what these introductory classes are for.
So in the context of this whole lecture as an introduction, she’s not trying to say that people will dislike this. And she doesn’t say anything about people complaining, she doesn’t imply that students will complain. These are very strongly negative statements. And it’s too much.
Next, we have, she’ll make it interesting through humor. This is a little too positive because that statement, I’ll try not to bore you too much, does imply that the information is maybe a little boring for some students. Notice it’s maybe a little boring, not extremely boring like in those first ones. So make it interesting through humor, maybe she will, I hope she will, that’s great, it’s good if a teacher does that, but she doesn’t imply that she’s going to be very humorous.
She might laugh a little while she says, I’ll try not to bore you, but that doesn’t mean she will be humorous in the future. The last one is a little bit negative, not providing new information, but it’s not too strong like these first ones. So this is a better answer choice. So watch the strength of the emotion, the strength of the opinion.
Make sure it matches the overall meaning, the overall intention of the speaker, of the professor, or librarian, or student, or whoever. If you’re not sure, when you are guessing, think about whether the recording, the person who was speaking, was positive, negative, or neutral in general. And then, think about the listen again part that you heard and think about the tone in that.
Just like the example I played a moment ago. That professor had a positive tone. She sounded like she was smiling or laughing a little bit. So it’s not going to be extremely negative then. So if it’s too positive or negative to match what you think you heard in the listen again or in the overall recording, eliminate it, even if it matches pretty well.
If it’s too strong, that’s possibly a problem.
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