IELTS Listening – Vowel Problems (Mini-tip)

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


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.


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!


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?