I'm taking an A2-Virtual English Course from a university in a Latin America country. I had an exam the past week and had difficulties with two "True or False questions" based on the information given in the reading passage below.

My English teacher said me that both sentences are false according to the reading. I do not agree with my teacher and (some) virtual classmates. I think that in both questions, there is no information to decide if these are true or false. As I am just a beginner English student, my teacher doesn't take me seriously and feels that she is right.

I would like to know the opinion of the linguists and English language enthusiasts that visit ell.stackexchange.com about my problem.

The exercise was:

  • Choose true or false:
  1. Listening is easier if you learn a language at college (choose true or false).
  2. Downloading news onto your phone will improve your speaking (choose true or false).


1 Answer 1


Both false. (in the context of this type of question)

The only mention of "college" is the advice to listen to podcasts on your way to work or college.

The only mention of news websites is in the context of improving your reading.

This type of question isn't asking you to use common sense (common sense says "of course its easier at college, and of course improving your vocabualry by reading will improve your listening") But only to use the information in the given text.

And as it is a true/false question, you can't respond with "not given", so you must respond with "false". That is the game that you must play if you want to pass this kind of test.

  • 1
    @Alberto Many native English speakers would face the same difficulty. You are specifically advised to download podcasts/songs/news on to your phone in order to learn the language. In order to get the answer right, you have to assume that learning the language will NOT improve your ability to speak it. Little wonder that you disagreed with your teacher! As James says, it's a game and not a fair one for learners! Oct 31, 2020 at 21:10
  • Thank you for your consideration and attention to this matter. I think that my answers are based on what is the meaning of true or false in IELTS True/False/Not Given Question: TRUE If the statement agrees with the information FALSE If the statement contradicts the information NOT GIVEN if there is no information on this For instance, the sentence "IF you learn a language at college, listening is easier" doesn't contradict "IF you're learning a language abroad, it's definitely easier". I think that is necessary the option NOT GIVEN in this exercise.
    – Alberto
    Oct 31, 2020 at 21:53
  • That is a different question. The question you posed was "choose true or false" If the actual question is "choose true, false or not given" that may change the answer. You need to find the official mark scheme for the test. Anything else is just opinion.
    – James K
    Nov 1, 2020 at 10:38

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