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Cambridge IELTS 9 Writing Model Answer (Test 1, Task 2)

Key:

Background statement – introduction
Thesis statement – introduction

Topic sentence – body
Supporting statements – body
Concluding statement – body

Summarising statement – conclusion
Judgement statement (opinion) – conclusion

Some experts believe that it is better for children to begin learning a foreign language at primary school rather than secondary school.

Do the advantages of this outweigh the disadvantages?

In a world where the concept of physical distance has been greatly reduced due to technological advances and globalisation, it has become increasingly beneficial to be proficient in a second language, especially in the workplace. As a result, there has been some discussion regarding the optimum age for exposure to a second language in schools with many suggesting that earlier is better, a view which, in my opinion, should be supported by education authorities.

Firstly, the idea that children should be introduced to a second language at an early age is supported by the principle of learning speed being inversely proportional to age. There is no doubt that capacity for learning is extremely high at primary education level. Younger children are able to hone pronunciation skills more quickly and in conjunction with their own natural improvement in their first language. Furthermore, fear of failure does not usually manifest itself in 7-11 year-old children, meaning that productive skills can be practised more freely in a low-pressure environment inspired by trial and error, which is proven as an effective language learning method and lends support to second language teaching at primary level. 

On the other hand, there are aspects of language learning that are difficult to study closely at a young age. While grammar is largely acquired naturally in one’s first language, an understanding of a second language is typically more heavily reliant on a mixture of theory and practice, which can be more difficult to encourage in younger pupils with a lower concentration span and less-developed critical thinking skills. In addition, it could be argued that the main focus in primary schools should be on arithmetic and first language proficiency, with the introduction of a second language proceeding the development of these traditional key skills. Accepting other subjects as priorities would naturally delay second language learning, with high school being a natural introduction point for such subjects. 

While it is clear that mathematical skills as well as first language literacy are vital, the importance of speaking a second language surely means that there is more pressure on children to speak two languages at a younger age. As a result, it is my strong feeling that primary school curricula must include an emphasis on encouraging second language exposure as early as possible. 

 

 

 

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IELTS Speaking – Finish your Part 2!

“And…er… that’s it…”

Have you ever finished your two-minute topic like this? How did it feel? I imagine there was a bit of silence as the examiner tried to work out if you had finished. It doesn’t need to be like that (it shouldn’t be like that!) Here are a few ideas to help you.

  • Sequence your ideas

If you are telling a story then you should be looking to use phrases like this:

Beginning

I remember when… / There was this one time… / I’ve got this story about when…

Setting the scene

It was (date) and we were / I was…. / So, I remember that I / we were -ing…

Moving On

Next / After that / Then / The next thing that happened was / So then

Ending

In the end / At the end / So anyway / Finally

Do you know any more?

Remember to finish your final sentence with a decreasing tone to your voice, so that the examiner can hear you have finished.

Here are some sequencers you could use when giving your opinion about something

Statement – your main topic

Well, I think / I reckon / Basically / I believe that…

Support

I guess that’s because / It’s all down to /

Sequencing – moving on

Also / I also think / Furthermore / Not only that, but

Ending

So, basically I / So yeah, that’s what I think / In brief / To recap / To put it simply

Let’s have a look at a couple of examples. The sequencing language is in bold. Read and think about what the topic is. Do you think the speaker would be successful? Try reading some of the sentences aloud – practise saying some of the sentences more and more quickly, but focus on a natural rhythm – remember, fluency DOES NOT mean speed!

1. Telling a story

I remember when I went to a really nice park with my best friend. It was about 4 years ago, I think, in the Summer, and… it was hot… So anyway, I remember we were walking along through like a forest-y bit, y’know, and then we realised that… it was… we were all alone and it was actually a bit dark. I…er… then I said to him, like, something like “This is a bit creepy – do you wanna get outta here?” and then he was like “Wait, did you here something?” and then there was like a creaking sound, which was really scary. So the next thing that happened was we were looking around trying to work out what was going on, and we saw some bushes moving. I think we were just creeped out because we were young and making each other more and more excited…er… scared. Anywaythen we like walked really slowly up to the er… bush, and we were crouching so that it was likely anyone would see us! Aaaaand… when my friend finally plucked up the courage to look in the hedge, in the end it was just two squirrels fighting – it was so embarrassing!

2. Giving an opinion

Well, I think that video games will pretty much take over our lives, to be honest because…well… technology and virtual reality has become so important in every day life. You can see examples of this in cinema, the home, even the street…all around us. Anyway, I think kids have come to expect a certain level of reality and…of absorption… immersion in a game. They, y’know… get bored and stuff really quickly… and  I guess it’s all down to what you’re used to. I reckon not only that, but that we’ll have VR headsets and 3d gaming in most first world houses within the next ten years, and then kids will refuse to leave the house. Also that kind of technology will be used in the workplace – y’know, for meetings and conferences, so people will go out less. So, to put it simply, I guess that technology has become the most important… thing in our lives, yeah.

Remember – your speaking test isn’t just about grammar, or speaking quickly. It’s also about being able to have a conversation in English, and part of that is signalling to other people either that you want to continue speaking, or that you are about to finish.

Thanks for reading and good luck!

 

Simon

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IELTS Listening – Vowel Problems (Mini-tip)

Do you speak a language where the vowel sounds are different from English when we spell words?

Example:

English A = /eɪ/ like way     E = /i:/ like me       I = /aɪ/ like why       O =  /əʊ/ like no       U = /ju:/ like university

Spanish A = /æ/ like cat      E = /eɪ/ like way    I = /i:/ like me           O = /ɒ/ like what     U = /u:/ like food

Other problem letters can be g / j and f /v.

In part 1 of the listening, you will often have to listen to people spelling names and addresses, and you will have to write the correct spelling of these words. This can be a problem if your alphabet has sounds which are mixed up with English sounds.

Tip

I saw one of my students today write the sounds of the vowels and g / j at the top of her question paper right at the beginning of an IELTS listening practice paper. She is Spanish and she wrote:

a = ei   e = eeeee    i = ai   o = phone    u = you     g = jeeee     j = jay

She then got the correct answers on the part 1 spelling, having previously found these really difficult!

Give it a try!

Simon

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IELTS Writing – Expressing possible future results

I often say that IELTS only ever deals with problems! Seriously though, the writing Part II tends to address global issues, as they are subjects that everyone can relate to. When you are writing about problems or issues in your body paragraphs, it is often appropriate to point out what could happen in the future as a result of these problems. In this case, a good paragraph structure would be:

Topic Sentence – The opening point of your paragraph

Explanation / Example – being more specific or giving an example

Implication – what this problem means and how it will affect us

Conclusion sentence – as with other written paragraphs, restating the Topic Sentence.

Here’s a simple example, using the university entrance system as an example:

Topic Sentence: University entrance is becoming more difficult due in part to the increase in prices.

Explanation / Example: Over the last ten years, it has been noted that the fees have increased tenfold in the UK.

Implication: The issue is that a continued rise at this rate could make it affordable only for the richest citizens, meaning that the class divide is further highlighted. (Use of “could” to show future possibility)

Conclusion Sentence: The possibility of this therefore means that cost has become the foremost discussion at university board meetings.

Now, have a look at the sentences below. There are 12 sentences, which belong in 3 paragraphs. Try and find the topic sentences and the conclusions by matching ideas. Then, look for implication sentences by scanning for future language and use these steps to put the paragraphs together. Here is the question:

What are the challenges that workers face in the modern workplace?

This is therefore a current and growing issue because of ever-increasing life expectancy.

Furthermore, the recession has lead to reduced salaries as well as less incentive schemes.

This means that there is increased pressure on potential employees to possess more specific skills than before.

Consequently, national financial issues are affecting the standard of living as well as overall happiness.

A further example of a challenge in the workplace is the lack of promotion opportunities.

Firstly, technological advancements have resulted in some unskilled, blue-collar work now being done by computers or machines.

The result of this is that competition for places is higher and job seekers are now under more pressure.

With the retirement age being so much higher than in previous generations, high-level roles are now occupied for longer and management turnover is very low.

Therefore, it could be said that technology has caused as many problems as it has solved.

This has lead to job satisfaction and security being at a low point.

Of course, morale and motivation in the workplace is then lower than it has been previously.

This then means that the workplace becomes saturated at middle and low levels as well, resulting in a lack of options for the unemployed.

———————————————————————————————————————————————–

Once you’ve finished, you can download the answer here:

Three Body Paragraphs

Now, try and write your own paragraphs, answering this question:

What problems are caused by global warming?

Simon

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The IELTS Exam

Not sure what to expect? Not sure if you want to, or need to do the IELTS exam? This article will tell you what you need to know – I promise not to make it confusing!

IELTS

IELTS (pronounced “eye-yelts”) stands for International English Language Testing System is an exam that is internationally recognised by universities, immigration departments, professional organisations and a large number of businesses. While there are other well-known English Exams (FCE, CAE, CPE, TOEFL, TOEIC), IELTS remains the most widely recognised and therefore a very good choice for you if you want certification of your English level.

What’s in the exam?

Below is an overview of what exams you will do, and what you can expect to find in the papers:

Listening

The Listening paper is in 4 parts, and lasts 30 minutes. At the end, you have 10 minutes to write your answers on an answer sheet (see example here)

IELTS Listening Answer Sheet

 

You will only hear each recording once, but you will have some time to look at the questions before you listen, and then to check your answers after listening. Spelling is very important – even a single letter wrong will mean that the answer is marked wrong. Have a look at my spelling article for the listening paper here: http://wp.me/p2RmnE-ov

  • Part 1 is a conversation between two people. You will have to listen for personal details – names (which will be spelt), numbers, dates, addresses etc. This is the easiest part of the exam.
  • Part 2 is somebody talking to a group of people, giving information semi-formally. This could be directions, dates, a map, a table to complete or some multiple choice questions.
  • Part 3 is a conversation involving three people – usually some university students with a tutor. The subject will be academic. you can expect multiple choice and sentence completion here.
  • Part 4 is the most difficult part, and is part of a lecture about something academic. You will need to complete lecture notes, flow diagrams and sentences with words you here.

Reading

The reading paper is in three parts. Usually, the third text is the most difficult. Each text is about 800 words and the exam lasts one hour. The answer sheet is very similar, but unlike the listening you do not get extra time to transfer your answers.

For more information on what to expect, have a look at my reading article here: http://wp.me/p2RmnE-1P

REMEMBER: If the exam paper asks you to write “True, False, or Not Given”, then write exactly that. T, F and NG are not acceptable. Similarly, if you asked to write A-G instead of words, make sure you do this! Spelling is important again.

Writing

The writing paper is in two parts.

Part 1

This part is 20 minutes and 150 words long. You will need to report the most important numbers and percentages from one of the following:

  • A bar graph

bar_graph_example

  • A line graph

line_example1

  • A pie chart

pie2

  • A table

uOtWljXUC_8hn9P5WoB0Qzl72eJkfbmt4t8yenImKBVvK0kTmF0xjctABnaLJIm9

There is also a chance you will get a paper asking you to describe a process of how something works or is done.

ielts-process-bricks

 

In part 1, you are only reporting facts. This means you don’t put your opinion, and you don’t write a conclusion

 

Part 2

In part 2, you are given 40 minutes to write 250 words about an academic topic, giving your opinion. You could be asked to write about advantages and disadvantages, agreeing or disagreeing, benefits and drawbacks or problems and solutions. For each of these, you must write:

  • An introduction
  • Two or three body paragraphs
  • A conclusion

With both parts of the writing, the word count is very important. If you write less than 150 / 250 words, you will lose marks. The examiners will mark you in the following areas:

Task Achievement

  • Did you answer all parts of the question?
  • Did you reach the word limit?
  • Is your paragraphing clear?

Coherence / Cohesion

  • Do your sentences and paragraphs connect together logically?
  • Do you use linking words and ideas?
  • Are the words in your sentences in the correct order?

Lexical (Vocabulary) Resource

  • Have you used a good range of vocabulary without repeating yourself?
  • Is the vocabulary related to the topic and the task?
  • Is your spelling good?

Grammatical Range and Accuracy

  • Is your grammar correct?
  • Have you used a range of different grammatical structures?

Remember to put your opinion at the end of part 2. For more information see my articles on writing: Introductions: http://wp.me/p2RmnE-4J Body paragraphs: http://wp.me/p2RmnE-4P Conclusions: http://wp.me/p2RmnE-5f

Speaking

The speaking test is the final part of the exam. It can happen any time within seven days of the other papers. It is split in to three parts, and lasts a total of 11-14 minutes.

Part 1

This is like an introduction. You will be asked some general questions about your life, studies, interests etc. Make your answers as full and friendly as you can!

Part 2

In this section, you are given a topic and one minute to prepare. You then need to speak for two minutes. The subject will always be something related to your experience. For some examples, look here: http://www.goodluckielts.com/IELTS-speaking-topics-2.html

For each topic, it is important to answer every part of the question. You must speak for a minimum of one minute – of course, two minutes is better.

Part 3

This part is a discussion. The examiner will ask you some more questions related to the topic from part 2. This time, the questions will be more global, and they may engage you in a conversation. Look at the follow-up questions here (the first parts are examples of part 2): http://www.ielts-exam.net/ielts_speaking_samples/386/ Again, try to give full answers and include reasons for your answers.

In the speaking, the examiners are marking you on the following:

Fluency / Coherence

  • Can you speak without much hesitation?
  • Do your sentences make sense?
  • Do you have a natural rhythm?

Lexical (Vocabulary) Resource

  • Do you have a wide range of vocabulary?
  • Can you use topic-specific vocabulary in a number of situations?
  • Can you explain yourself if you don’t know a word?

Grammatical Range and Accuracy

  • Can you use grammar accurately?
  • Can you make the right choices in order to communicate the meaning you want?
  • Can you use a wide range of different grammatical structures?

Pronunciation

  • Can you pronounce words correctly?
  • Do you use connected speech and natural contractions?
  • Do you have a natural tone and range of pitches?
  • Do you sound “English”?

Take a look here for some advice: http://wp.me/p2RmnE-1v (fluency) and here http://wp.me/p2RmnE-5l (Questions)

What are the possible marks?

IELTS is marked from 0.0 to 9.0, with marks going up in stages of 0.5. If you want to do the following, these are often needed:

Foundation course – 4.5-5.0
Undergraduate course – 5.0-6.0
Masters Course – 6.0-7.0
PhD – 7.0-8.0

If you want to see how these match (approximately) to the CEFR scale, have a look below:

cefr2011a

In your language classes, A1 = Elementary, A2 = Pre-Intermediate, B1 – Intermediate, B2 = Upper Intermediate, C1 = Advanced and C2 = proficient.

When should I take IELTS classes?

Before you start studying for the exam, you need to have a good level of general English. Because of this, it isn’t a good idea to have IELTS classes until you have finished / nearly finished Intermediate level.

When you are ready, it is important to have these classes. You need to practise specific techniques and use real exams before you will be ready to sit the exam.

 

I hope this information has helped you. For information about booking and sitting the exam, have a look here: http://www.ielts.org/test_centre_search/search_results.aspx

 

Simon

 

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IELTS Listening – Matching Tasks

Have a look at this task. I’ve found that it can sometimes confuse students because there is a lot of information to follow. A few simple tips should help with this task.

Listening Task Type 6

You can’t remember all the information in A-G, so stressing about keywords and synonyms won’t help much. Instead, have a quick read of the questions, then forget them!

  • As you listen, make a few notes next to each name as it appears.
  • After the end of the task (during your 30 seconds checking time), match your notes to the letters. Then, complete this part during your ten minutes transfer time at the end of the test.

My current students have found this technique very helpful – give it a go in your next class or self-study period!

Simon

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IELTS Reading – Paragraph completion (word choice)

Here is a step by step guide for completing this kind of task. Remember to practise these steps until you have memorised them! Take a look at the task below.

It is a common 9 ……………….. that only men suffer
from colorblindness. On average 10 ………………..
than ten percent of men have this problem. Women
have two 11 ………………..  For this reason it is 12………………..  for a woman to suffer from  colorblindness.
myth a little less
X chromosomes defective genes
fact slightly more
exactly less likely
more probable

Often, the first thing you think is “what shall I read first?” In this case, the first thing to do is think about your grammar knowledge – just like you do in the listening exam during your preparation time. What kind of words do I need? What are the most logical answers?

9 – must be a singular noun

10 – something related to the percentage – must be “more” or “less”

11 – a plural, countable noun

12 – needs an adjective

Does this knowledge help you? Now look at the text here http://www.ielts-exam.net/ielts_reading/119/#P6b What you want to do is pick a keyword from the first sentence of the question, and match that to something in the text. Look at the beginning of paragraph B and you can see “men” and “colorblindness”. Now all you need to do is match a word or a synonym to one of the possible answers (you can see the word “myth” very early on – the answer to question 9).

Now complete the other three questions.

Summary

  1. Read the question and look at the grammar first
  2. Match a keyword / keywords from the first sentence to a location in the text
  3. Match synonyms or exact words to words in the box

So, in this task you don’t need to understand very much at all – you are just matching a few words and synonyms! Good news!

Simon

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IELTS Reading – Heading Matching

Here is a step by step guide to answering these questions. I think that heading matching is the easiest task, so I always advise you do it first if you see it in the exam!

Heading Match

1) Have a look at the attached document http://www.ielts.org/pdf/115016_Academic_Reading_sample_task_-_Matching_headings__2_.pdf

2) With a heading matching exercise, the first thing to do is read the first two sentences of each paragraph and try to match any keywords / synonyms to the questions. Do this for each paragraph.

3) At the end, if there are any you still can’t match, then go back and read two more sentences.

4) Be quick! If you can match two keywords or an idea, you don’t need to read any more, so don’t! Remember, if you’ve read four sentences and you still don’t know the answer, don’t waste your time – go to the next question and leave this one.

Have a look at the first two sentences of each paragraph. I’ve underlined the key words that show you the answers:

A: The role of governments in environmental management is difficult but inescapable. Sometimes,
the state tries to manage the resources it owns, and does so badly

(Answer v)

B: No activity affects more of the earth’s surface than farming. It shapes a third of the planet’s land
area, not counting Antarctica, and the proportion is rising.

Here, the answer isn’t clear, so I started reading the third sentence, and found World food output per head

(Answer vii)

C: All these activities may have damaging environmental impacts. For example, land clearing for
agriculture is the largest single cause of deforestation;

(Answer ii)

D: Government policies have frequently compounded the environmental damage that farming can
cause. In the rich countries, subsidies for growing crops and price supports for farm output
drive up the price of land.

(Answer iv)

Here’s the example:

E: In poor countries, governments aggravate other sorts of damage. Subsidies for pesticides and
artificial fertilisers encourage farmers to use greater quantities than are needed to get the
highest economic crop yield.

(Answer vi)

F: A result of the Uruguay Round of world trade negotiations is likely to be a reduction of 36 per
cent in the average levels of farm subsidies paid by the rich countries in 1986-1990.

(Answer i)

Good luck – remember to give yourself one minute per question, and don’t overread – match ideas, be confident and move on to the next question!

Simon

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Thinking Hats – can you present a balanced opinion?

One of the most difficult things to do in another language is think critically, evaluate a statement, and present an argument – in speaking or in writing – that is balanced. One of the skills you need to learn is the ability to think “What would someone else say about this?” and then present an idea that could be the opposite of your own. Let’s look at an example – an IELTS question I saw recently:

Increasing the price of petrol is the best way to solve growing traffic and pollution problems. To what extent do you agree or disagree? What other measures do you think might be effective?

The chances are that you look at this question and think “Yes” or “No” quite quickly. But are these the only options?

Meet Dr Edward de Bono’s six thinking hats:

Poster_Six_Thinking_Hats

The idea here is to put on a hat and deliberately think in a different way depending on the hat’s colour. Let’s try it. The easiest, and often the automatic thoughts, are yellow – positive and black – negative.

Yellow: This is a positive step. The benefits of this are that fewer people would be able to rely on petrol and would have to seek alternative modes of transport, thus decreasing traffic.

Black: This is not an appropriate solution to the problem. It will serve to widen the class gap and leave many people currently reliant on petrol-based transport unemployed.

Red: The increase in price would cause significant stress in those already struggling financially.

Green: While this is not a viable solution, the possibility of making carpool lanes more widespread would encourage people to share one vehicle, rather than all drive separately.

White: Statistics show that the amount of cars on the road is increasing year on year. However, it would be difficult to implement a sudden price rise without providing a figure related to affordability versus need.

Blue: While carpooling and financial incentive are possible, they will ultimately fail, as car ownership has become part of human consciousness, and this will be almost impossible to change.

So, you can see that you have 6 possibilities:

  • Positive
  • Negative
  • Considering emotions
  • Alternatives
  • Summary
  • Statistics – available and required

If we expand these hats a bit, there are several words that you can use as “triggers” for critical thinking. Have a look at the picture below. You may need a dictionary!

Hatmap

OK, now have a look at these two statements:

  1. School buildings have no future – the advances of the internet mean that all forms of education and study are now able to be done from home.
  2. Strict punishments should be put in place for the parents of children who commit crimes.

Try and write six sentences for each – one sentence for each hat.

A note for IELTS

Where can we use these hats? Think about the written exam:

White – Part 1. You can only use the white hat in part 1!
Black / Yellow – Part 2, body paragraphs. Ideally, one body paragraph should contain a black idea, and the other a yellow idea.
Blue – Part 2, conclusion. In your conclusion, you summarise the main ideas and then present your final view.
Green – A paragraph about solutions would be green. You definitely can’t use the green hat in your conclusion!
Red – A paragraph about personal experience or public reaction to an idea would be red. Don’t forget how something would make people feel, or affect them.

Now take a look at the next article, which shows how the colours fit together in an IELTS writing task: http://wp.me/p2RmnE-pI

A note for Teachers

I’ve found these work well in IELTS classes – once students have read about them and you’ve done some soft practice as a class, you can get them to either work in groups, with one hat per group, or get them to produce six sentences on their own. After that, they can share and compare. I’ve also found that an activity that works well is getting them to read out their sentences without saying which hat they were intending to use, and seeing if students can match the correct hat to the sentence.

Enjoy, and remember: email me at simonrichardsonenglish@gmail.com with questions, sentences etc!

Simon

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IELTS listening – spelling tips

As you know, incorrect spelling in the IELTS listening results in a wrong answer. Even one letter wrong will mean a wrong answer. Here are a few tips to help you.

  • Dates – write the dates like this: number + ordinal + month, so…… 14th January. Get in to the habit and then you won’t confuse yourself by having too many choices. Then, make sure you can spell the months. These are:

January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December

Now, check you know the days!

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday

There are other ways to write the dates that will get you marks, but I think it’s sensible to choose one system and stay with it.

  • Pronunciation practice – part one. There will almost always be a number than ends in ‘-teen’ or ‘-ty’ because the pronunciation difference is quite small. Practise saying these: 15 / 50, 16 / 60 etc. Notice that the stress on ‘-teen’ words is on the second sound and the stress on ‘-ty’ words is on the first sound.
  • Spelling practice – I have heard teachers tell students that if there are any names, then they will be spelt for you. This isn’t completely true. Names will be spelt for you unless the sound matches the spelling, or it is a common word that you should know. Learn how to spell these surnames:

Smith, Jones, Walker, Brown, Green, Davis, Johnson

Now, take a look at this map (click on it and it will enlarge):

IELTS listening map spelling

You can see lots of street names here. If you look at all the streets that start with “Harold”, the second words are very common. You need to learn the following:

Mount, Avenue, Crescent, Road, View, Walk, Place, Grove, Terrace, Street, Place, Rise

Don’t worry about the meaning – it’s not particularly important. You will be expected to spell these without help though.

  • ‘s’ or no ‘s’?! You need to listen carefully to check if words are plural or not. If you miss the ‘s’, you will lose your mark.

Just to check…. can you spell these words (and do you know what they sound like)?

Accommodation (uncountable), language, university / universities, fortnight (learn this word – it means “two weeks” and often appears), budget, assignment, essay, square, government, authority / authorities, library / libraries, scientist, luggage (uncountable)

I hope this helps you!

Simon

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IELTS Writing Part II Focus – Introductions

Let’s focus on three different types of writing part II question:

1) Advantages and Disadvantages

2) Agree or Disagree?

3) Solutions to a problem

The introduction to your essay is actually quite simple. You need to include two things:

  • A “background” sentence – one that restates the main title and gives a general picture of the topic
  • A sentence that shows what you are going to put in your body paragraphs

Let’s look at the first title.

It is becoming more and more difficult to escape the influence of the media on our lives.
Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of living in a media rich society.

This title, like most in IELTS, comes in two parts. The first part is the background, and this is what you use to write your first sentence. Here’s an example:

It is undeniable that the presence of media is now further reaching than it has ever been, due in part to the portability of information. Because of this, it has become almost impossible to live a life free from its influence. 

So, the meaning is similar to the question, but has a possible cause added in. Now, I need to make it clear what each body paragraph will contain.

While the ease of access to information is a clear benefit, there are also drawbacks in the form of reduced privacy.

Now the reader can clearly see that my body paragraphs will be:

1) Benefits, starting with ease of access to information

2) Drawbacks, starting with reduced privacy

I’ve written about 60 words – if you can aim to write 40-60 words in your introduction, it will set you up clearly for the rest of the essay.

Now, take a look at the other two titles and their introductions. Can you see where the “background sentences” finish and the “body preparation sentences” begin? Can you predict what will come in the body paragraphs?

Machine translation (MT) is slower and less accurate than human translation and there is no immediate or predictable likelihood of machines taking over this role from humans.

Do you agree or disagree?

              With globalisation has come a greater need for international communication. One way in which we successfully communicate with speakers of other languages is through computerised translation. However, this method has been criticised for its inaccuracy and there is a belief that human translation will supersede machine translation for the foreseeable future. That said, there are also those who believe the opposite to be true, due to rapid technological advances.

Remember: Your language doesn’t need to be as complicated as this. Focus on accuracy first.

Here’s the final example.

Countries such as China, India and Japan have unsustainable population growths. In fact many experts are of the opinion that the population ‘explosion’ which is now a very worrying concern, is the most serious threat to life on this planet. 

Give some suggestions to address this problem.

             In the Far East in recent times, there is a serious issue with rapidly increasing populations. It is believed by some that further increases could have implications for the continued existence of humanity. However, there are some tried and untried solutions, such as child limits, education and government incentive programmes, which could provide a solution.

Have a go at writing new introductions to these yourselves – Email me if you want me to look at them:
simonrichardsonenglish@gmail.com

Simon

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IELTS Speaking – Can you answer these questions?

Students: Have a look at the list below. Can you answer these questions? Can you see which questions might come up in Part I, Part II or Part III? I’ll post this again in a few days with the questions in categories to show you.

Remember: Use AND, SO and BECAUSE to make your answers longer.

IELTS Speaking Topics and Questions

Simon

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IELTS Writing – Organising Your Essay (Part III – Conclusion)

Now you have your introduction and body (see Introduction lesson: http://wp.me/p2RmnE-4J and Body lesson http://wp.me/p2RmnE-4P ) you are ready to write your conclusion. First, some things to remember:

  • Your conclusion should not make any new points
  • It should include a short summary of the main points
  • It should include your final opinion
  • It should directly answer the question

The conclusion is only about 30-40 words, so don’t worry about it. Just make sure that you DO write a conclusion, even if it means you don’t finish your body. It is very important that the examiners see your final opinion.

OK, here are the question and the essay so far from the end of lesson 2:

Many newspapers and magazines feature stories about the private lives of famous people. We know what they eat, where they buy their clothes and who they love. We also often see pictures of them in private situations.

Is it appropriate for a magazine or newspaper to give this kind of private information about people?

Over the past two decades, interest in celebrity life has increased to the point where every aspect of their lives is examined, documented and published in the media. Clearly, this raises questions about whether it is right to deny a person the right to privacy. Not only that, but it would appear that these stories that are being printed are not useful in any way.

It is a basic human right to be entitled to one’s own privacy, and for good reason. Being forced to constantly live in the public eye can lead to immense stress on an individual, causing illness, stress and paranoia. It is doubtful that those who actively pursue celebrities day and night would themselves enjoy the same kind of scrutiny, making it a hypocritical activity. Furthermore, it could be argued that printing pictures, stories and gossip about a particular person without their express permission to do so constitutes a crime in itself. For these reasons, it is extremely important that tougher laws are put in place to protect famous people.

Secondly, it seems that the stories printed about celebrities are becoming more and more banal, leading to a decline in the quality of the country’s media. Articles about a person’s clothes, hair or diet are not newsworthy, and encourage an unhealthily aesthetic approach to life. Such a focus does not provide a good example to children and could lead to them growing up with a set of values that disregard sociopolitical issues, respect and empathy. Bearing this in mind, it is important that the media takes on the responsibility of carefully monitoring the levels of this content within their publications.

If you look above, I have highlighted the main points in black. You can see that they are found in the first and last sentences of the body paragraphs. Now we need to begin our conclusion with a few words that show the examiner that this is the final paragraph. Here are a few possibilities:

  • In summary, 
  • In conclusion,
  • To sum up,

All of these are followed by a full sentence starting with a subject.

Here is my example conclusion for the above essay:

In conclusion, I believe that it is inappropriate for the media to publish intimate stories about celebrities due to concerns over privacy and content. Because of this, it is important that the police and the media work together closely to regulate content more strictly.

My conclusion contains my opinion and repetition of the points and conclusions from the body that connect to my opinion. That is ALL you need to write in your conclusion.

Now, can you write a second body paragraph and a conclusion for the other essay from lessons 1 and 2? (Question, Introduction and Body paragraph 1 below)

Some people feel that certain workers like nurses, doctors and teachers are undervalued and should be paid more, especially when other people like film actors or company bosses are paid huge sums of money that are out of proportion to the importance of the work that they do.

To what extent do you agree or disagree with the above statement?

Recently, there has been considerable concern over unfair pay rates for key workers when compared with seemingly over-inflated salaries for business figures and celebrities, which have been leading children to view these jobs as undesirable or less important. As a result, it has been widely suggested that pay should reflect the usefulness of a job to society.

Underpaying people such as teachers and nurses has a negative effect on young people. In an increasingly materialistic society, children have become more focused on the value of money and are therefore less likely to want to do lower-paid jobs. Furthermore, they may come to associate celebrities with positive role models because they represent a life that they desire, more than those who do work that is truly important to our countries. This could lead to a severe shortage of key workers in the future, leading to a decline in the quality of education and healthcare. Therefore, it is important that the divide between salaries is closed significantly in order to provide incentive for future generations.

If you would like to contact me about these lessons or with some of your answers to these questions, please do so at simonrichardsonenglish@gmail.com

Happy New Year everyone!

Simon

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IELTS Writing – Organising Your Essay (Part II – Body)

OK, so here is the question that finished the previous post (http://wp.me/p2RmnE-4J ):

Some people feel that certain workers like nurses, doctors and teachers are undervalued and should be paid more, especially when other people like film actors or company bosses are paid huge sums of money that are out of proportion to the importance of the work that they do.

To what extent do you agree or disagree with the above statement?

Here is my sample introduction:

Recently, there has been considerable concern over unfair pay rates for key workers when compared with seemingly over-inflated salaries for business figures and celebrities, which have been leading children to view these jobs as undesirable or less important. As a result, it has been widely suggested that pay should reflect the usefulness of a job to society.

Now we have the introduction, we can start the body. From my introduction I have decided to write about image and usefulness.

Writing the Body

When you are writing the body, it is important to remember that each paragraph you write is like a small essay; it needs an introduction, a body and a conclusion.

  • Introduction sentence – make a statement / give an opinion
  • Body sentences – support / give reasons for that opinion
  • Conclusion sentence – So……

Here is an example paragraph. The introduction is in red, the body is in blue and the conclusion is in black.

Underpaying people such as teachers and nurses has a negative effect on young people.

This is my introduction sentence: my statement. I now need to explain it in the body:

In an increasingly materialistic society, children have become more focused on the value of money and are therefore less likely to want to do lower-paid jobs. Furthermore, they may come to associate celebrities with positive role models because they represent a life that they desire, more than those who do work that is truly important to our countries. This could lead to a severe shortage of key workers in the future, leading to a decline in the quality of education and healthcare.

I have given reasons for my introduction statement. I have also explained what the results of the reasons could be in the final sentence. I now need a conclusion sentence to finish my paragraph:

Therefore, it is important that the divide between salaries is closed significantly in order to provide incentive for future generations.

Now, I can move on to my next paragraph and do the same again.

Can you write a paragraph about usefulness?

Before I finish this section, have a look below at my sample answer so far (introduction and body) for the question from my post about introductions http://wp.me/p2RmnE-4J:

Many newspapers and magazines feature stories about the private lives of famous people. We know what they eat, where they buy their clothes and who they love. We also often see pictures of them in private situations.

Is it appropriate for a magazine or newspaper to give this kind of private information about people?

Over the past two decades, interest in celebrity life has increased to the point where every aspect of their lives is examined, documented and published in the media. Clearly, this raises questions about whether it is right to deny a person the right to privacy. Not only that, but it would appear that these stories that are being printed are not useful in any way.

It is a basic human right to be entitled to one’s own privacy, and for good reason. Being forced to constantly live in the public eye can lead to immense stress on an individual, causing illness, stress and paranoia. It is doubtful that those who actively pursue celebrities day and night would themselves enjoy the same kind of scrutiny, making it a hypocritical activity. Furthermore, it could be argued that printing pictures, stories and gossip about a particular person without their express permission to do so constitutes a crime in itself. For these reasons, it is extremely important that tougher laws are put in place to protect famous people.

Secondly, it seems that the stories printed about celebrities are becoming more and more banal, leading to a decline in the quality of the country’s media. Articles about a person’s clothes, hair or diet are not newsworthy, and encourage an unhealthily aesthetic approach to life. Such a focus does not provide a good example to children and could lead to them growing up with a set of values that disregard sociopolitical issues, respect and empathy. Bearing this in mind, it is important that the media takes on the responsibility of carefully monitoring the levels of this content within their publications.

The third part of this series of posts – Part III – Conclusion, will be published soon.

Simon

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IELTS Writing – Organising your essay (Part II – Introduction)

For part two, when you first see the question how do you feel? Nervous? Confused? Panicked? Timing is a problem, but if you have a clear picture of what your essay will look like, this could help you relax a bit. This page is going to give a few tips on how to do that.

OK, let’s look at an example:

Many newspapers and magazines feature stories about the private lives of famous people. We know what they eat, where they buy their clothes and who they love. We also often see pictures of them in private situations.

Is it appropriate for a magazine or newspaper to give this kind of private information about people?

Step 1 is obviously reading the question, checking understanding and finding the question. I get a lot of students who give up before they start because they read the question and there is a word they don’t understand. Don’t panic! Try and look at the word in the sentence and if you still can’t understand it, just delete the word. It’s only confusing you and if you can’t see it, then it won’t any more.

For example: Maybe you don’t know the words feature and appropriate above. So, let’s delete them and see what we have:

Many newspapers and magazines ______ stories about the private lives of famous people. We know

what they eat, where they buy their clothes and who they love. We also often see pictures of them in private situations.

Is it __________ for a magazine or newspaper to give this kind of private information about people?

Less confusing? This is the question for you to answer. Don’t worry about the words we have deleted.

Now let’s split the question in to two parts: background and question.

Background: 

Many newspapers and magazines ______ stories about the private lives of famous people. We know what they eat, where they buy their clothes and who they love. We also often see pictures of them in private situations.

Question:

Is it __________ for a magazine or newspaper to give this kind of private information about people?

So, for our introduction, we need to think about two things:

1) Writing a sentence or two about the background. This is very much like in part I, where you are copying the idea from the title, but using your own words.

2) Preparing the examiner for what we are going to write about. In this sentence, you should think about what your main ideas are, but not write any argument.

For this, 40 words is enough and you definitely don’t want to write more than 65. Here’s an example:

Sentence 1) – Background:

Over the past two decades, interest in celebrity life has increased to the point where every aspect of their lives is examined, documented and published in the media.

Sentence 2) – What am I going to write about?

Clearly, this raises questions about whether it is right to deny a person the right to privacy. Not only that, but it would appear that these stories that are being printed are not useful in any way.

Now the examiner knows that I am going to write about two things:

1) Is it right to deny the person a right to privacy?

2) These stories are not useful in any way.

These will be the titles of my two body paragraphs, and it is really important that you write about the subjects from the second part of your introduction – not something else!

Now you try with this question:

Some people feel that certain workers like nurses, doctors and teachers are undervalued and should be paid more, especially when other people like film actors or company bosses are paid huge sums of money that are out of proportion to the importance of the work that they do.

To what extent do you agree or disagree with the above statement?

The second part of this lesson looks at an example introduction and how to organise the main body. You can find it here: http://wp.me/p2RmnE-4P

Enjoy!

Simon

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Writing – Using the Passive

A lot of exam classes and coursebooks focus on the form of the passive and I’m sure that most people know how to “make” a passive sentence. BUT… do you know why you are doing it?

I’m going to start with two sentences that might surprise you:

1) The Passive is not “formal”.

2) The Passive is not “grammar”.

I will explain.

Form

Just to check… the way to “make” a passive sentence is: Object + “be” + Verb 3 (+Subject)

So… “Tolkien wrote The Lord of the Rings” becomes “The Lord of the Rings was written by Tolkien” and “Someone is robbing me” becomes “I am being robbed” – ‘by someone’ is not necessary.

Why Passive?

OK, I said before that I don’t think passive is grammar. Yes, it has a form, but so does vocabulary. (“Interested + in” for example). So, why do we really use it? Well, here are a couple of examples.

1) Groups of people

The police have arrested three men for burglary.

Scientists say that we are now using more of our brains than before.

  • Only the police can arrest people, so we don’t need the subject.
  • Which scientists? You don’t know, so does it matter that they are scientists?

I would write: “Three men have been arrested for burglary” and “It is said that we are now using more of ours brains than before”.

Is this formal? Well, the news often presents stories including information from groups of people – scientists, students, doctors, teachers… so this may make us associate the passive with formality.

2) Flow of Information

Look at the short paragraph below:

The Internet

Tim Berners-Lee wrote his internet proposal in 1989. Mike Sendall accepted the revision in 1990 and CERN put it online in 1991. The first page that CERN published was http://info.cern.ch/hypertext/WWW/TheProject.html and it provided an explanation of how the world-wide web worked.

First of all, the text above has no “mistakes”, but it could be improved.

In written text, we try to put new information at the end of a sentence. Look at sentence 1:

“Tim Berners-Lee wrote his internet proposal in 1989.”

The title of the paragraph is “The Internet” so this is not new information. The new information is “Tim Berners-Lee” and “1989”. So, let’s write:

“The proposal for the internet was written by Tim Berners-Lee in 1989.” Now the new information is at the end. We can do the same for the second sentence, which is in two parts:

“Mike Sendall accepted the revision in 1990” – Mike Sendall is new information.

“CERN put it online in 1991” – CERN is new information. SO…..

Revisions were accepted by Mike Sendall in 1990 and it was put online by CERN in 1991.

Now let’s look at the next part:

“The first page that CERN published was http://info.cern.ch/hypertext/WWW/TheProject.html and it provided an explanation of how the world-wide web worked.”

In the first part of the sentence, the new information is the website link. In the second part, the new information is what the website does. So, do we need to write “and an explanation was provided of how the world-wide web worked”? No!

So, after our changes we have:

The proposal for the internet was written by Tim Berners-Lee in 1989. Revisions were accepted by Mike Sendall in 1990 and it was put online by CERN in 1991. The first page that CERN published was http://info.cern.ch/hypertext/WWW/TheProject.html and it provided an explanation of how the world-wide web worked.

This paragraph shows better style, and this is something that examiners look at when marking IELTS and Cambridge Exam papers. One extra thing we could do is avoid repeating “CERN” by using the passive again:

“The first page that was published was……”

Conclusion

Next time you write a paragraph, try checking what you have written and finding the new information. Is it at the end of the sentence or sentence part? If it isn’t, can you change the sentence? Would using passive help or have you used passive in a place that doesn’t need it, meaning that the new information is at the start?

Simon

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IELTS Academic Reading – Practice Links

If you’ve read my other entry about reading (What to expect and Time Management), then you might want to do some practice reading. Here are some links to a few different kinds of question. Also, at the bottom of the page, you will find some documents you can download.

http://www.examenglish.com/IELTS/cbIELTS_reading.htm (A computer based test)

http://www.ielts-exam.net/practice_tests/50/IELTS_Academic_Reading_Passage_1/481/

https://www.teachers.cambridgeesol.org/ts/exams/academicandprofessional/ielts/academicreading (The links at the bottom are to different kinds of question)

http://www.ielts.org/test_takers_information/test_sample/academic_reading_sample.aspx (.pdf sample papers)

http://www.britishcouncil.org/professionals-exams-ielts-reading-exam-home.htm (The links on the bottom left are all practice papers)

Reading – Music

Simon

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IELTS Academic Reading – What to Expect and Time Management

1 hour, 3 texts, 40 questions. IELTS reading is not easy! Being prepared for all possible question types and having a clear strategy for each of them is important. On this page you can find examples of all the question types and a few tips on how to do these kinds of tasks. At the bottom of the page, there are a few general tips on time management to remember when doing the test.

What to Expect

In the IELTS reading, you could find any of the following question types:

  • Short answer  questions
  • Completion questions: Completing sentences
  • Notes
  • A summary (with no words to choose from)
  • A summary (with words to choose from)
  • A picture
  • A chart
  • A table
  • Matching information / opinion with writer names
  • Yes/No/Not Given questions
  • True/False/Not Given questions
  • Matching lists or sentences
  • Matching Paragraphs
  • Classification questions
  • Multiple choice questions

Let’s have a look below at examples of these.

Short Answer Questions

This is where you will have a general question and you will need to write the answer with a word limit.

Using NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS, write your answers to the following questions:

Example: What kind of flower bears the most fruit in Autumn?

Advice

Find a key word in the question. Here, “Autumn” or “Fruit” are good examples. Now, start from the beginning of the text. These questions will be in order in the text. So if you find an answer, the next answer will come after this one. The answer will not exactly match the question, but will use synonyms or paraphrase. Here, you are expected to scan for specific details. Read the questions first, then scan. You do not need to read the text first – this is a waste of time.

Completion Questions

Similar to short answer questions, you have a word limit but this time you complete the sentences instead of asking questions.

Use NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from the text for this answer.

Example: The roots of the plan then point towards the _______________ .

Advice

This is a similar kind of question to short answer questions – scanning for information and synonyms. The difference here though, is that you are asked to find words that are in the text

Summaries, Note completion, table completion, chart completion, picture completion

You will be given a summary, some notes, a table or a chart that refer to part of the text, not all of it. You then have to complete them with words either from the text or not (READ THE QUESTION!)

Below are some visual examples:

Table

Name Size Area Found Endangered?
Red Kangaroo 1.3-1.6m West and Central No
Eastern Grey Kangaroo 5_________ East and South 6___________
7___________ About 90cm North No
Western Grey Kangaroo 85-110cm 8_____________ No

Summary (with words)

The All Blacks were expected to win the 1991 championship __________. However, they encountered great ____________ before the tournament, when a number of the team suffered ______________. Ultimately they were ­­­­­­­­­­­­­_______________ of making the final, their tournament ending in ______________________.

Happy Incapable Players
Injuries Success Difficulties
Easily Disappointment Able

Sometimes, you will see this summary with no words to help you.

Advice

With these five types of question, the important thing is to find the correct area of the text. This means you need to skim. Remember, when you find the correct paragraph, answers inside the paragraph might not be in order. If you get a summary with words question, it is often quite easy because there might be only one possible word that fits in the space. You may not even need to read the text! Can you do the exercise above?

Matching information / opinion with names

In this section, you have to match names to opinions, facts or information. The key here is to remember to read the question, as you will often be able to use each letter more than once. Look at the example below:

Match each item with its inventor.

Write the letter A-E in boxes 7-10 on your answer sheet. You may use any letter more than once.

7          Phonograph

8          Absorption Refrigerator

9          Carbon Microphone

10        Telephone

A        Thomas EdisonB        Albert EinsteinC        Alexander Graham-Bell

Advice

For this kind of question, you need to scan, not read. Names are easy to search for, because they always contain capital letters. Find all the names and circle them, then go back and read the two sentences around each name to find the answers.

Yes / No / Not Given and True / False / Not Given Questions

Advice

OK, so you get some questions and have to write Yes, No, Not Given, True or False. CHECK THE QUESTION. Don’t write “True” if it asks you to write “Yes” and don’t write “Y” either. Do exactly as the question asks you so that you aren’t worried after the test. Also, you have to forget any knowledge you have of the subject from outside the exam. Only look at the text.

Finally, be happy: these questions are in order in the text!

What is the difference between No / False and Not Given?

NO / FALSE means that there is information in the text that disagrees with the question. NOT GIVEN means you can’t find any information. Trust yourself: scan the text for the area you think the answer is from, and if you can’t find any information, write NOT GIVEN.

Matching Lists or Sentences, Matching Paragraphs

Like with matching information or opinion, you will be given some sentences that are incomplete, which you must match to sentence endings, or you will be given a list of paragraph titles which you will need to match with paragraph titles. There may be more titles than answers, so you don’t need to use all the choices.

Questions 1-5

This passage has 5 sections, A to E.

Choose the correct heading for sections B to E from the list of headings below.

Write the correct number i-vii in boxes 1-5 on your answer sheet

List of Headingsi   The effect of globalisation on Eastern Europeii  What is Globalisation?

iii  Future prospects for developing countries

iv  Problems in South-East Asia

v   Solutions for Small Businesses

vi  The economy long-term

vii  The impact on urban areas

1 Example: Section A           v

2 Section B

3 Section C

4 Section D

5 Section E

Advice

Paragraph matching is possibly the fastest section you can get. The sentences that have the same information as the titles are always found at the beginning of the paragraphs, so that’s all you need to read! The paragraphs are clearly marked, so you don’t have to spend time looking through large amounts of text to find your answers. Remember here you can only use each title once!

Multiple Choice Questions

With these questions, you will be asked to choose one or two letters that answer the question correctly. Check the question carefully.

Questions 1-3

Choose the appropriate letter A-D and write them in boxes 1-3 on your answer sheet.

1          According to the text, foxgloves are

A         Endangered in Britain

B         Pink or Blue depending on the season

C         Poisonous

D         A source of medicine

Advice

These questions are in order, which is always good! Find a key word in the answers and scan the text for it. For example, if I want to check C, I will look for a word that means poisonous. Is it mentioned with reference to foxgloves?

Time Management

  • Take a watch. Instead of trying to time every question, time a section. You have 18 minutes for each section. Don’t go over! You need five minutes at the end to guess all the answers that you haven’t found. Don’t leave anything blank – you don’t get anything for nothing!
  • Practise the test before going in. This may sound obvious, but practising will help you learn which kinds of questions you find easier. I personally think that matching paragraphs to headings is the easiest task, so I would do it first. You don’t need to do the test in order. Choose the easiest question types first, or the types of question where guessing at the end is impossible. For example, sentence completion, summary completion with no words.
  • Read the questions first and decide if you are skimming or scanning, and if the answers are in order or not. Then you know how much you have to read. Don’t read the whole text first – you might not need to and it would be a waste of time.
  • Write your answers directly on the answer sheet. Unlike listening, there is no extra time at the end to transfer your answers.
  • Practise speed reading outside the classroom. Take a newspaper and read one page. Time yourself. Now do another, but set a time that’s 30 seconds faster. In your language you don’t look at every word individually – you just look at three together, or the ‘meaning’ words, skimming the grammar. Try and make yourself do this by not reading with your finger.
  • Trust yourself. When you have written an answer, move on. It’s difficult, but you have to do it.
  • Don’t get interested in the text. Don’t think about the text – think about the questions and try to be as much like a robot as you can! So don’t read the text first. You risk becoming interested and reading more slowly!

Above all, good luck. I hope these tips help you with the reading test. Remember, to get 4.5 you don’t even need to answer half the questions correctly, so be positive and practise, practise, practise!

Simon

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IELTS Speaking – Improve your fluency (Part 1)

How can I sound more ‘English’?

Have a look at the question below.

Part 1: Tell me about your home town.

OK, if you’re doing the IELTS test, you have enough language to talk about your town. But what makes a “good answer”?

  • Vocabulary that matches the subject (25%
  • A good range of grammar (25%)
  • Fluency – not just speaking quickly, but understanding how we speak (25%)
  • Natural English pronunciation and tone (25%)

These four things are marked at 25% each. Have a look at two answers, and we will compare them.

Answer 1

“My home town er….. is a small town in Spain. It is on the coast, so er…. we can go to the… beach when we want. There aren’t er… many er…. skyscrapers, but there are …… many old buildings and er… churches. The weather is usually sunny and…. er… about 20 to 25 degrees in Summer. Maybe 10 in Winter, but it…. never snows. I like it there.”

OK, there are no grammatical mistakes here, which is great. The vocabulary matches the subject too. But does it sound ‘English’? Look at this second answer below:

Answer 2

Well, my home town is, you know, a small town in Spain. So… it’s on the coast, I mean, we can go to the sea… to the beach when we want. And there aren’t many tall buildings, I mean skyscrapers, but there are, like, many old buildings and places to see, like churches. It’s usually sunny, like, I mean, 20 to 25 degrees in Summer and, I don’t know, 10 in Winter or something, but it never snows. I like it there.”

Is the vocabulary different? No. Is the grammar different? No. So why does this second answer get a much better mark than the first?

The answer is the natural English in the middle. Look at the language in bold.

1) Did you know that “you know” and “I mean” are the two most common phrases in the English language? They have no meaning, but we say them all the time. They are like a pause, but better, because they copy what English people do when they speak. Can you think of what you say in your languages?

2) We often repeat ourselves. This speaker says “we can go to the sea… the beach” and this is completely natural. We are always thinking about what we say, and we go back and correct ourselves all the time.

3) What does “like” mean? It can mean: About, you know what I mean, um… and we use it a lot.

4) Look at how the speaker starts a sentence with ‘and’. We teach you not to do this in writing, but in Speaking it is completely natural.

5) Look at how the speaker doesn’t often give exact information. ‘About’, ‘like’, ‘or something’ and ‘I don’t know’ are all examples of language that isn’t exact.

6) Starting sentences with ‘So’, ‘Well’, ‘And’ and ‘I mean’ are very common.

How can I practise these??

Because these pieces of language have no meaning and they are automatic, we say them very quickly. Listen to the recording below. How do I say these bits of language:

“You know”, “I mean”, “Well”, “So”, “And”, “I don’t know”, “Or something” ?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RNX0JnAYByk

  • Fast or slow?
  • Do I pause after I have said these things?
  • High or low sound?
  • Loud or quiet sound?

Think about these and then practise saying them again and again, like a loop:

“Y’know y’know y’know y’know y’know…” quickly. Then put this back in to a sentence? Did it help? It will help your IELTS mark.

Email me at simonrichardsonenglish@gmail.com with any questions.

Simon

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Useful IELTS websites for students

I know it can be difficult to find good, useful IELTS websites that help you with your studies. I’ve posted some links below with descriptions to help you understand what they are for.

1) http://www.ielts-exam.net/index.php?option=com_frontpage&Itemid=1

This website has got a lot of good practice examples. The menu on the left hand side is below:

From here, you can see hundreds of writing tests and a few reading, speaking and listening examples. It’s best for writing though. The model answers are good, but NOT perfect.

2) http://www.goodluckielts.com/IELTS-speaking-topics.html

This is an excellent website for speaking example questions. The link above is for Part 1.

3) http://takeielts.britishcouncil.org/prepare-test/free-practice-tests

This is the British Council’s page. It has some free practice tests for you to try on the left of the page.

In my opinion, these are some of the best pages out there for you.

If anyone has any questions about IELTS, please comment, Email me at simonrichardsonenglish@gmail.com or tweet me (link on front page)

Simon