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Free TOEFL Reading Test with Answers 6

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This page will help you practise for the TOEFL reading test. This section has a reading passage about anthropology and 12 questions. Think carefully before you select an answer.

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.Read the text and answer the questions.

1) Anthropology distinguishes itself from the other social sciences by its greater emphasis on fieldwork as the source of new knowledge. The aim of such studies is to develop as intimate an understanding as possible of the phenomena investigated. Although the length of field studies varies from a few weeks to years, it is generally agreed that anthropologists should stay in the field long enough for their presence to be considered ‘natural’ by the permanent residents.

2) Realistically, however, anthropologists may never reach this status. Their foreign mannerisms make them appear clownish, and so they are treated with curiosity and amusement. If they speak the local language at all, they do so with a strange accent and flawed grammar. They ask tactless questions and inadvertently break rules regarding how things are usually done. Arguably this could be an interesting starting point for research, though it is rarely exploited. Otherwise, anthropologists take on the role of the ‘superior expert’, in which case they are treated with deference and respect, only coming into contact with the most high-ranking members of the society. Anthropologists with this role may never witness the gamut of practices which take place in all levels of the society.

3)  No matter which role one takes on, anthropologists generally find fieldwork extremely demanding. Anthropological texts may read like an exciting journey of exploration, but rarely is this so. Long periods of time spent in the field are generally characterised by boredom, illness and frustration. Anthropologists in the field encounter unfamiliar climates, strange food and low standards of hygiene. It is often particularly trying for researchers with middle-class, European backgrounds to adapt to societies where being alone is considered pitiful. It takes a dedicated individual to conduct research which is not in some way influenced by these personal discomforts.

4) Nonetheless, fieldwork requires the researcher to spend as much time as possible in local life. A range of research methodologies can be utilised to extract information. (1) These can be classified as emic or etic. (2) While emic descriptions are considered more desirable nowadays, they are difficult to attain, even if the researcher does his utmost to reproduce the facts from the natives’ point of view. (3) More often than not, aspects of the researcher’s own culture, perspective and literary style seep into the narrative. Moreover, research generally involves translations from one language to another and from speech into writing. In doing this, the meaning of utterances is changed. (4) The only truly emic descriptions can be those given by the natives themselves in their own vernacular.

5) The least invasive type of research methodology is observation. Here, the researcher studies the group and records findings without intruding too much on their privacy. This is not to say, however, that the presence of the researcher will have minimal impact on the findings. An example was Richard Borshay Lee, who, in studying local groups in the Kalahari refused to provide the people with food so as not to taint his research, leading to an inevitable hostility towards the researcher which would not otherwise have been present.

6) A variant on the observation technique, participant observation requires that the anthropologist not only observes the culture, but participates in it too. It allows for deeper immersion into the culture studied, hence a deeper understanding of it. By developing a deeper rapport with the people of the culture, it is hoped they will open up and divulge more about their culture and way of life than can simply be observed. Participant observation is still an imperfect methodology, however, since populations may adjust their behavior around the researcher, knowing that they are the subject of research.

7) The participatory approach was conceived in an attempt to produce as emic a perspective as possible. The process involves not just the gathering of information from local people, but involves them in the interpretation of the findings. That is, rather than the researcher getting actively involved in the processes within the local community, the process is turned on its head. The local community is actively involved in the research process.


1  The main premise of the text is…

the steps to be followed when undertaking anthropological fieldwork.
a history of anthropological fieldwork methodology.
the effects that an anthropological fieldwork has on local communities.
the problems with conducting anthropological fieldwork.

2  The main reason for anthropological researchers remaining in a community for an extended period of time is that…

they can gather as much information as possible.
they can try out a range of different research methodologies.
they want local people to behave naturally around them.
they need time to become accustomed to the conditions.

3  What does the passage say about researchers who are considered a ‘clown’ by locals?

They do culturally unacceptable things without realising it.
They do not gain respect among high-ranking members of the community.
They cannot conduct any research of value.
They do not study the language and culture of the region before their arrival.

4  What does ‘gamut’ mean?

idea or impression
prohibition or taboo
range or extent
secret or mystery

5  The writer believes that the most difficult aspect of fieldwork for educated westerners is

the lack of companionship.
poor sanitary conditions.
failure to meet expectations.
never being left alone.

6  In paragraph 3, it is implied that…

the fieldworker’s emotions and mood prejudice the research.
 the longer a researcher spends in the field, the more depressed he gets.
middle-class Europeans find field research more difficult than researchers from other backgrounds.
anthropological texts tend to exaggerate the difficult conditions that researchers experience.

7   Where in paragraph 4 does this sentence belong?
A native’s point of view of his own lifestyle is emic, while the analytical perspective of the outsider is etic.

1
2
3
4

8  Which of the following is NOT true about an emic account?

It is likely to be more analytical in style than an etic account.
It is told from the perspective of the person being studied.
It is currently the preferred way of conducting anthropological research.
It cannot be translated without altering its meaning.

9  Why is the example of Richard Borshay Lee given in paragraph 5?

to demonstrate that observation is an ineffective method of gathering data.
to highlight why it is important that researchers minimize their impact on a community.
to show the dangers of researchers trying to lessen their impact on a community
to show how a researcher’s choice of methodology can influence the validity of his findings.

10  How does participant observation differ vary from straightforward observation?

It requires the researcher to become actively involved in the daily lives of those being studied.
It allows the subjects of the research a greater degree of privacy.
It eradicates the problem of research subjects altering their behaviour towards researchers.
It takes longer to perform this type of research effectively.

11  In paragraph 6, divulge is closest in meaning to…

explain
illustrate
reveal
propose

12  Which of the following is NOT true of the participatory approach?

It attempts to reduce etic accounts of a culture to a minimum.
It does not require a researcher to be present.
It aims to involve the subjects in both information gathering and analysis.
It is the reverse of the participant observation technique.

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