400 Must Have Words for the TOEFL » LESSON 39 - Entertainment

Word List
  • amateurish
    Not good enough to be the work of professionals
    Whoever painted this room did an amateurish job, with all sorts of uneven edges.
    Parts of speech     amateur n., amateurishly adv.
  • cast [kɑːst] n.
    The group of actors in a play, movie, television show, etc.
    Some viewers mistakenly start thinking that a TV show’s cast members are really the characters they play.
    Usage tips     In U.S.English, cast is singular. In some other varieties of English it is plural.
    Parts of speech     cast v.
  • charismatic [ˌkærɪzˈmætɪk] adj.
    Extremely attractive and charming
    Because of the sparkle in his eye and his confident style, John F. Kennedy was a charismatic leader.
    Parts of speech     charisma n., charismatically adv.
  • gala [ˈgɑːlə] n.
    Expensive, elaborately arranged, and full of celebration
    A college graduation party should be a gala affair, not a backyard barbecue.
    Usage tips     Gala is somewhat old-fashioned, far more common in print than in speech.
    Parts of speech     gala n.
  • hilarious [hɪˈlɛərɪəs] adj.
    Very funny
    In my opinion, the most hilarious character on television was Basil Fawlty.
    Parts of speech     hilarity n.
  • improvisation [ˌɪmprəvaɪˈzeɪʃən] n.
    Inventing a solution to an unexpected problem
    Boy Scouts take pride in their improvisation when faced with trouble during a camping trip.
    Parts of speech     improvise v., improvisational adj.
  • incompetent [ɪnˈkɒmpɪtənt] adj.
    Unskilled; lacking the ability to perform a task
    Because we hired an incompetent builder to replace our roof, we now have leaks everywhere.
    Usage tips     Usually, incompetent implies that someone tries to do something but fails.
    Parts of speech     incompetence n., incompetently adv.
  • medium [ˈmiːdɪəm] n.
    A channel or way for a meaning to be expressed
    Watercolor art is often considered childish, but some artists have achieved great things working in that medium.
    Usage tips     The plural of medium is media.
  • skit [skɪt] n.
    A short, informal play
    Marnie and Chris spent a long time practicing their skit for the school show.
  • zeal [ziːl] n.
    Enthusiasm; a deep determination to do well
    Unfortunately, Tom’s zeal to become a rock star distracted him from his studies.
    Usage tips     Zeal is often followed by to plus a verb or by a for phrase.
    Parts of speech     zealot n., zealous adj.

TOEFL Prep I Find the word or phrase that is closest in meaning to each word in the left-hand column. Write the letter in the blank.

______ 1. amateurish(a) group of people in a movie
______ 2. cast(b) very funny
______ 3. hilarious(c) unable to perform a task
______ 4. incompetent(d) enthusiasm
______ 5. zeal(e) not like professionals

TOEFL Prep II Complete each sentence by filling in the blank with the best word from the list. Change the form of the word if necessary. Use each word only once.

  • charismatic
  • gala
  • improvisation
  • medium
  • skit
  1. The sixth-grade class put on a little __________ about Thanksgiving Day.
  2. The year ended with a __________ celebration featuring a professional orchestra.
  3. Gena’s skills at __________ saved the play when she forgot her real lines.
  4. Television is a passive __________ because it demands no input from the viewer.
  5. Movie stars that are especially __________ often take advantage of their charm to go into politics.
Answer Key
TOEFL Prep I
  1. e
  2. a
  3. b
  4. c
  5. d
TOEFL Prep II
  1. skit
  2. gala
  3. improvisation
  4. medium
  5. charismatic
Answer Key

TOEFL Success Read the passage to review the vocabulary you have learned. Answer the questions that follow.

When the artistic medium of theater falls into the hands of college students, the results can be unpredictable. At one college, we saw Shakespeare’s Hamlet done as musical theater. The idea was bad to start out with, and the actual play was amateurish, bordering on incompetent. The cast did not understand the tragic power of the play. Their improvisation when they forgot their lines was silly and inappropriate. The costumes and set design looked homemade, like something from an elementary-school skit. Three months later, however, this same group of students did a great job with the comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Surprisingly enough, the actors were charismatic, played their parts with zeal, and achieved a hilarious result.It was no gala event, but we still felt that it was one of the best performances we had seen.

Bonus StructureHowever indicates a change in focus.

  1. What word best describes the author’s opinion of the student performance of Hamlet?
    • a. incompetent
    • b. charismatic
    • c. hilarious
    • d. full of zeal
  2. What is the author’s opinion of student performances in general?
    • a. Students should not perform Shakespeare’s plays.
    • b. Sometimes student productions are good, and other times they are not.
    • c. All student shows are amateurish.
    • d. Student performances should be gala events.
Answer Key
Answer Key
  1. a
  2. b
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