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IELTS Podcast

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Rank #46 in Language Learning category

Education
Language Learning
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Pass IELTS with expert help.

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Pass IELTS with expert help.

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Thank you

By arianaaa.. - Jun 09 2019
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This podcast is Amazing👌🏻👍🏻 It helped me a lot!

Nice tips

By Nilesh Kamani - Jan 02 2014
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Great tips from various experts.

iTunes Ratings

83 Ratings
Average Ratings
60
14
4
2
3

Thank you

By arianaaa.. - Jun 09 2019
Read more
This podcast is Amazing👌🏻👍🏻 It helped me a lot!

Nice tips

By Nilesh Kamani - Jan 02 2014
Read more
Great tips from various experts.

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IELTS Podcast

Updated 9 days ago

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Pass IELTS with expert help.

Using Complex Sentences in Your Speaking

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In this tutorial, you will find out:

  • what is meant by ‘a complex sentence’
  • the importance of incorporating complex sentences in the IELTS speaking test
  • the importance of focussing on natural use of language

The speaking test is the same for both IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training and it always involves a face-to-face interview with a certified IELTS examiner – regardless of whether you take the paper-based or computer-based version of the test.

The speaking test lasts between eleven and fourteen minutes. It is divided into three sections, which gradually become more challenging. There are four equally important assessment criteria:

Fluency and coherence – the ability to speak at a good speed and link ideas together

Lexical resource – the ability to use a range of vocabulary appropriately

Grammatical range and accuracy – the ability to use a range of grammatical structures accurately

Pronunciation – the ability to be understood easily

Today, we’re going to focus on ‘Grammatical range and accuracy’ and, more specifically, the use of complex sentences. Let’s start by having a look at the parts of the band descriptors for Bands 5, 6 and 7 which relate to the use of complex sentences.

A ‘Band 5’ candidate uses only a limited range of structures and attempts to use complex sentences. A ‘Band 6’ candidate uses a mix of simple and complex sentence forms – and a ‘Band 7’ candidate uses a variety of complex sentences.

Clearly, it’s important to incorporate complex sentences into your speaking in order to achieve a higher score for ‘Grammatical Range and Accuracy’. But what exactly is a ‘complex sentence’? The good news is that complex sentences are not as complex as they sound! A complex sentence is just a combination of two or more simple sentences. You probably already know how to form some types of complex sentences.

Let’s look at some examples.

Perhaps the easiest way to form a complex sentence is to use conjunctions. Conjunctions are words which join sentences together – and simple coordinating conjunctions include words such as ‘and’, ‘but’ and ‘or’. ‘Because’, ‘so that’, ‘before’, ‘when’ and ‘although’ are also examples of conjunctions. Not too tricky, right?

Another way to link two simple sentences together is using a relative clause. So instead of saying:

“I live with a friend. I met her at university.”

You could say:

“I live with a friend, who I met at university.”

Here’s another example. Instead of saying:

“On my last holiday I went to Brighton. It’s a town by the sea.”

You could say:

“On my last holiday I went to Brighton, which is a town by the sea.”

The band descriptor for Band 7 includes using a variety of complex sentences.

Instead of saying:

“I don’t have much free time. I don’t do much exercise.”

You could form a complex sentence by saying:

“I don’t have much free time, so I don’t do much exercise.”

But if you wanted to really show what you could do, you could say:

“If I had more free time, I would do more exercise.”

Conditionals are also examples of complex sentences.

A common topic in part one of the speaking test is ‘food’. Here is an example question, and several sample answers:

What’s your favourite food?

My favourite food is lasagne. My mum is a great cook and when I was growing up, she used to make lasagne every Saturday. It’s not exactly healthy, as she uses plenty of cheese, but it’s absolutely delicious.

Can you see how this candidate has joined simple sentences together to form complex sentences?

Here is another example:

I think my favourite food is chocolate. I would probably eat chocolate every day if I could! I can’t remember a time when I didn’t eat chocolate, so I think I’ve probably been a chocoholic since childhood.

And one more:

Steak, I think. I know that it’s not very environmentally friendly, and I know that we are all supposed to be becoming vegans, but in my opinion, nothing beats the taste of a medium-rare steak.

Although it is important to incorporate complex sentences into your speaking, it’s also important to achieve a balance. Don’t feel as if you can only use complex sentences. Each of the sample answers you heard began with a simple sentence – and this is perfectly natural use of language.

It’s also worth remembering that there are three other areas of assessment, including ‘fluency and coherence’. It can be very difficult to speak naturally and at a good speed if you over-emphasise the importance of including more complicated language.

Focus on expressing what you want to say – and, if you know how to use these structures, you will find that you start to incorporate them instinctively.

Signing up for our online course will enable you to receive the feedback you need to help you improve.
You can download or listen to the audio version here:

|Direct Download Here | Stitcher | iTunes | Spotify | Soundcloud | Transcript |

YOU MAY READ THE TRANSCRIPT BELOW:

Female Voice: You are now listening to the IELTS podcast. Learn from tutors and ex-examiners who are masters of IELTS preparation. Your host, Ben Worthington.

INTRODUCTION

Ben: IELTS Speaking: using complex sentences in your speaking exam. In this tutorial, we will find out what is meant when we say a complex sentence. We’re going to look at the importance of incorporating these complex sentences into the IELTS speaking test and we will also look at the importance of focusing on natural use of the language. This is really important.

Now, as you probably know, the speaking test is the same for both that IELTS academic and the IELTS general training and it’s quite unique in the fact that it involves a face-to-face interview with a certified examiner and this is the same if you’re doing the computer-based or if you’re doing the paper-based.

Just as a side note, if you find that you get nervous in this exam, then it’s entirely your responsibility to solve this. You cannot blame it on the examiner. This might sound harsh, but it’s not the examiners fault that you are getting nervous. Fair enough; the examiner might be intimidating for you, but in all seriousness, if you are getting nervous in front of the examiner, then it’s your responsibility to solve this problem.

I think there are a few options. You can get familiar with the exam and probably do practice mock exams, speaking exams and with a personal tutor, possibly online, with a friend; your deal. You can have a look at the format of the exam and in this instance, one thing is knowing the format, but the other thing is actually working through the format. So, just be careful about that last tip I gave. It’s like you can’t learn to ride a bike by reading about it. You have to get on it and this is a similar situation.

Third way you could overcome your nervousness is to look at some breathing techniques such as diaphragmatic breathing where there’s a series of deep breaths. You can look online and research that. Then there’s a whole host of different ways to boost your speaking confidence. YouTube is a good resource as well, but as always, do not just sit there like a cabbage, like a vegetable absorbing all this information because it’s useless without action. You have to actually apply it.

I suffer from this as well. I think we all do and it’s a good way to avoid doing the actual work if we’re just there in passive mode absorbing information like a vegetable. So, my tip for this is just pick one of the techniques that you find from your research and implement it and then once you’ve got that mastered, you move on to the next technique.

You can add them together and you compound them, but learning about 20 different tips to boost your confidence possibly won’t work. It’s better just to have like one or two that you’ve mastered and then master another two and then slowly go about improving in that way. Okay, let’s get back to the topic.

So, the speaking test lasts between 11 and 14 minutes and as you probably know, is divided into three sections which gradually become more challenging. The examiner is going to be looking at basically four areas: fluency and coherence, lexical resource, grammatical range and accuracy, and pronunciation. I’m not going to go into detail there. I’m not going to go into detail of those three. I’m going to mainly just focus on grammatical range and accuracy specifically the use of complex sentences.

Let’s have a look at the band descriptors for bands 5, 6, and 7 and then we can have a look at examples. Now, a band-5 candidate will use a limited range of structures and attempt to use complex sentences, okay, attempt. So, they’re at least trying. A band-6 candidate uses a mix of simple and complex sentence forms, okay? So, a band-6 candidate uses a mix of simple and complex sentence forms whereas a band-7 student uses a variety of complex sentences.

So therefore, it’s clearly important we need to be incorporating complex sentences to get a high score. Now, what exactly is a complex sentence? Actually, it’s just a combination of two or more simple sentences. Let’s have a look at some examples. Perhaps the easiest way to describe a complex sentence is to use conjunctions.

CONJUNCTIONS

Conjunctions will join the sentences together. Conjunctions can be simple words such as and, but, or and then slightly more tricky ones, slightly, something like because, so that, before, when, although. So, these are quite straightforward and I imagine you’ve probably got a grasp of these already. I’ll give you a very basic example.

So, you could say I live with a friend. I met her at university or we could just boost it up. We could spice it up a little bit and we could say I live with a friend who I met at university. Can you see? It’s much, much better. Another example: On my last holiday, I went to Brighton. It’s a town by the sea. Slightly upgraded version would be: On my last holiday, I went to Brighton, which is a town by the sea. You see?

So, using the relative clause in that last one, we’ve managed to upgrade our speaker and I personally believe that you can get into the habit of doing this through practice and that’s what it needs to be. It needs to be an automated habit. It needs to be automatic for you to do this because as we’ve said before, speaking is spontaneous and we can’t go back and take back those words. So, it’s much better if it just comes out first time the correct way.

Now then, the band 7 band descriptor says– if you remember, it says using a variety of complex sentences. So here, instead of saying I don’t have much free time. I don’t do much exercise; we could say I don’t have much free time, so I don’t do much exercise. But if we wanted to really upgrade it, we could say if I had more free time, I would do more exercise. Can you see there? Conditionals are very good for getting that variety of complex sentence sort of like criteria.

COMMON TOPIC IN SPEAKING PART 1: FOOD

Now then, a common topic in part 1 of the speaking is food. So, a typical question could be what’s your favorite food? Here, we can listen to one simple answer. My favorite food is lasagna. My mom is a great cook and when I was growing up she used to make lasagna every Saturday. It’s not exactly healthy as she uses plenty of cheese, but it’s absolutely delicious.

Now in that example, what I did was I’ve joined lots of simple sentences together to form a complex one, okay? Here’s another one. Well, just to go back there, so we have when and we also got so when I was growing up. It’s connected that way and then in the second sentence it’s not exactly healthy as she uses plenty of cheese, but it’s absolutely delicious. You see? Let’s move on.

I think my favorite food is chocolate. I would probably eat chocolate every day if I could. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t eat chocolate, so I think I’ve probably been a chocoholic since childhood. So, just working backwards there, we’ve got since, we’ve got so, we’ve got when, we’ve got– that’s probably about it and also hopefully, you’ll have realized there’s a mixture there of sort of like a short sentence, a medium sentence and then a longish sentence. Similar to the writing; variety here because variety is what’s natural and it sounds– it’s the easiest for the ear.

If it’s just short sentences in the writing and in the speaking, it sounds quite staccato whereas if it’s long sentences, it’s a strain. It’s a strain for the listener. It’s a strain for the reader because they have to hold lots of information in their mind. Also, it’s just not pleasant, to be honest. Oh no, that’s not what I was going to say. Also, it increases the chances of a grammatical mistake the longer the sentence is. Just proved my point there. Anyway, let’s move on.

One last example: steak. So, what’s your favorite food? Steak, I think. I know that it’s not very environmentally friendly and I know that we are all supposed to be becoming vegans, but in my opinion, nothing beats the taste of a medium-rare steak. So, that was a good sentence actually. I like that. We’ve got some topic-specific vocabulary: vegans, medium rare. We’re talking about the environment and we’ve managed to link it together and we’ve put in a conjunction there as well and we’ve got a good collocation: nothing beats the taste of… or nothing beats waking up on a Sunday morning, nothing beats home cooking.

Now then, let’s just move on. So, although it’s important to incorporate these complex sentences into your speaking, as I was just saying before, we need to achieve a balance. This balance is kind of related to the variety and it just makes it sound natural and as I’ve said, this is true– thank you very much. This is true for both the speaking and the writing, all right?

Also, just one last thing. It’s also worth remembering the three other areas. We’ve got fluency and coherence, we’ve got– what were the other three now? Just off the top of my head lexical resource, which I just mentioned with the vocabulary and then the pronunciation, but what I wanted to say is that fluency and coherence is important, okay?

Also, as we’ve been talking about, so is using a wide variety and using these complex– so-called complex sentences and the key really is that we don’t want to be over emphasizing or entirely focusing on the complex sentences to the detriment of fluency and coherence. You see? So, this is why it’s really important to try and find this balance.

I’ve had students in the past just hell-bent and entirely focused on creating a grammatically perfect sentence so much so that it just didn’t flow because they just kept on stopping, starting or the pauses were too long while they organized it in their mind. The pauses were too long and it just wasn’t fluent.

So, this is why it’s good to learn these conjunctions or learn some sentences with these conjunctions, with these structures, but learn them to a level of automaticity so that they sound automatic. The easiest– the most straightforward way to do this is through repetition. Repetition is the mother of all learning. I’m not going to give you any gimmicks, just get into the habit of trying to use them.

Like I was saying before, when we’ve got a big task in front of us, for example, I don’t now– we’re going to overcome our nervousness in the speaking. For any big task, it’s usually easier to just break it down into its smallest components and then focus on each of the smallest– on one of the smallest components, master it, and move on to the next one. So in this case, maybe you’re going to master since or although or the conditionals and then once you’ve mastered, you move on to the next one.

IELTS SPEAKING CONFIDENCE COURSE

Now, just one last thing before we finish. In the IELTS Speaking Confidence Course, we do offer a range of confidence-boosting techniques and there are strategies and kind of a mixture of quick fixes and strategies to help you overcome the nervousness and also very specific strategies to buy yourself time.

So, you get the question and there’s this strategy, it’s pretty handy where it involves a little bit of repetition, but you give yourself those few seconds, you buy yourself a few more seconds and then you can start delivering your answer. Also, there’s the framework that’s coming soon and we’re going to be integrating that as well.

Okay. So, that’s everything from me today. If you’ve got any questions, send us an email. If you know anybody who’s struggling with the IELTS exam, please tell them to get in contact or share them the podcast. Also, I’d have a look at the IELTS podcast Ben Worthington app: (Android app / iOS app). That’s great because it comes with the transcript, it comes with them some special offers and I think it’s really beneficial to be listening and reading at the same time, associating words and sounds to words, to seeing the correct pronunciation and expanding your vocabulary as well.

Now, that’s everything for me today– from me today. Wow! I’m just totally butchering my own language, aren’t I? Anyway, that might be good confirmation that even native English speakers have off days. So, don’t beat yourself up if you are also butchering the English language. Okay take care and keep your head up and keep working. All the best.

[Music]

Female Voice: Thanks for listening to ieltspodcast.com

The post Using Complex Sentences in Your Speaking appeared first on IELTS Podcast.

Nov 02 2019

18mins

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Speaking Part Two: Get a ‘Band 9’ Score (+ tips)

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In this tutorial, you will find out:

  • what to expect in Part Two of the IELTS speaking test 
  • how to get a ‘Band 9’ score in this part of the test..!

The speaking test is the same for both IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training and it always involves a face-to-face interview with a certified IELTS examiner – regardless of whether you take the paper-based or computer-based version of the test.

Today, we’re going to focus on the second part of the test, which lasts between three and four minutes. Part two is an ‘individual long turn’. The examiner will say:

‘I’m going to give you a topic and I’d like you to talk about it for one to two minutes. Before you talk, you’ll have one minute to think about what you’re going to say. You can make some notes if you wish. Do you understand? 

Here’s some paper and a pencil for making notes – and here’s your topic. Please don’t write anything on the booklet. I’d like you to describe…’

Here is an example of a part two task:

Describe a time when you gave advice to others. You should say:

– who you gave advice to
– what the advice was
– why you gave this advice
– and explain how you felt about the advice

So how do you get a ‘Band 9’ score in part two? Well… like this!

I would like to talk about an experience I had when I was at university. 

When I was a student, I had a part-time job at a local florist’s shop. The customers who came into the shop would often ask me for advice. At first, I was quite hesitant about making suggestions – I’m not exactly sure why. Partly I guess because I was only 19, but also because I didn’t feel very sure of myself – I was certainly no expert.

However, I quickly came to realise that most of my customers really didn’t have a clue about flowers! Soon I was giving tips about everything – from which types of flowers to choose at different times of year – so daffodils and tulips in the spring – or to how to put different colour schemes together. I was even making recommendations about which flowers or arrangements might be more suitable for different recipients or occasions.

On top of that, I started explaining how to look after cut flowers once you’ve bought them. I was shocked to find that most people didn’t know that they should cut the stems at an angle to make the flowers last longer for example – or add a couple of teaspoons of sugar to the water. I thought everyone knew that!

Once I got the hang of it, I loved giving advice to the customers. They were very appreciative, and they used to come back into the shop to tell me how much their mother or girlfriend – or husband or boyfriend – had liked the flowers, and to thank me for my help. I hadn’t expected a job in a flower shop to be so rewarding!

Why would this answer deserve a ‘Band 9’? Well, let’s give this candidate some feedback, based on the assessment criteria:

You spoke ‘fluently and coherently’ and ‘developed the topic fully’. There was an excellent range of vocabulary, and you ‘used idiomatic language naturally and accurately’, together with ‘a full range of grammatical structures’. Finally, you were ‘effortless to understand’.

Right. So that’s all you need to do..!

Whether you are really trying to get a ‘Band 9’ score – or you simply want to improve your score in the speaking section, here is some good advice:

First, when you look at the topic, don’t panic. Sometimes you will get a topic which makes you think – ‘OK, great. This is a piece of cake!’ – but on other occasions it can be very difficult to think of something to say.

Remember that you are not being tested on your honesty(!). The experience you talk about could be something that happened to a friend of yours, it could be from a movie, or you could even make the whole thing up..! Be careful though because you could “come a cropper” (fail badly).  https://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/come-a-cropper.html

Second, if you have several ideas, don’t procrastinate. Don’t spend too much time thinking about which one might be the best. Just make a decision and stick to it!

Then, once you have decided what you’re going to talk about, get organised. One way to do this is to use the keywords from the question to help you make coherent notes. Some people prefer to do this as a list…

who – customers / florist’s shop

what – unsure to begin with / then everything – which flowers – different seasons – colours, occasions

why – didn’t have a clue / looking after cut flowers – stems, sugar

how I felt – appreciated / It was very rewarding

… whereas others use a mind-map or a diagram. If you feel more comfortable jotting down random ideas, allow enough time to put them in order before you have to start speaking. You don’t need to follow the order on the card, but do you need to arrange your ideas coherently.

In the speaking confidence course we have a tutorial about making mind maps, and numbering each point you will talk about, this makes for a more coherent presentation. 

It’s a good idea to experiment with different ways of making notes so that you can find out what suits you best. It’s also important to learn and practise some key phrases to help you begin your talk more confidently, such as:

‘I’d like to talk about an experience I had… / which happened to me…’.

Now it’s your turn. Have a look back at the task and take a minute to brainstorm some notes. Then see if you can speak about the topic for two minutes. You could also try recording yourself. When you listen, try to identify your strengths and weaknesses.

For lots more tips to help you prepare for part two of the speaking course – including suggestions to help you expand your IELTS vocabulary, please check out our online course.

You can download or listen to the audio version here:

|Direct Download Here | Stitcher | iTunes | Spotify | Soundcloud | Transcript |

You can read the full transcript below:

[Music]

Female Voice: You are now listening to the IELTS podcast. Learn from tutors and ex-examiners who are masters of IELTS preparation. Your host, Ben Worthington.

INTRODUCTION

Ben: IELTS Speaking: a brief overview of part 2 and how to get a band 9 score for this section. In this tutorial, not only will you find out what to expect in part 2 you’ll also find out how to get a band 9 and you’ll be able to listen to a model band 9 answer. Before we start, let’s have a listen to this model answer.

MODEL ANSWER

Model answer: I would like to talk about an experience I had when I was at university. When I was a student, I had a part-time job at a local florist shop. The customers who came into the shop would often ask me for advice. At first, I was quite hesitant about making suggestions. I’m not exactly sure why. Partly, I guess, because I was only 19, but also because I didn’t feel very sure of myself. I was certainly no expert.

However, I quickly came to realize that most of my customers really didn’t have a clue about flowers. Soon, I was giving tips about everything from which types of flowers to choose at different times of year, so daffodils and tulips in the spring, to how to put different color schemes together. I was even making recommendations about which flowers or arrangements might be more suitable for different recipients or occasions.

On top of that, I started explaining how to look after cut flowers once you’ve bought them. I was shocked to find that most of the people didn’t know that they should cut the stems at an angle to make the flowers last longer, for example, or add a couple of teaspoons of sugar to the water. I thought everyone knew that.

Once I got the hang of it, I loved giving advice to the customers. They were very appreciative and they used to come back into the shop to tell me how much their mother or girlfriend or husband or boyfriend had liked the flowers and to thank me for my help. I hadn’t expected a job in a flower shop to be so rewarding.

Ben: I wanted you to listen to that first. I just wanted you to understand and now, what we’ll do is we’re going to break it down. So first, let’s have a look at the topic card. Well, the examiner before you even choose your topic card, will say something like I am going to give you a topic and I’d like you to talk about it for 1-2 minutes.

Before you talk, you’ll have one minute to think about what you’re going to say. You can make some notes if you wish. Do you understand? Here is some paper and a pencil for making notes and here’s your topic. Please don’t write anything on the booklet I’d like you to describe, okay?

PART 2 CUE CARD

Here is an example of the part 2 task: Describe a time when you gave advice to others.
You should say:
who you gave the advice to
what the advice was
why you gave this advice
and explain how you felt about the advice.

Well, how do you get a band 9? Well, the example that you just heard was band 9, as I said, and we’re going to give– let’s break it down, all right? Why would it get a band 9? Let’s just listen one more time.

Model answer: I would like to talk about an experience I had when I was at university. When I was a student, I had a part-time job at a local florist shop. The customers who came into the shop would often ask me for advice. At first, I was quite hesitant about making suggestions. I’m not exactly sure why. Partly, I guess, because I was only 19, but also because I didn’t feel very sure of myself. I was certainly no expert.

However, I quickly came to realize that most of my customers really didn’t have a clue about flowers. Soon, I was giving tips about everything from which types of flowers to choose at different times of year, so daffodils and tulips in the spring or to how to put different color schemes together. I was even making recommendations about which flowers or arrangements might be more suitable for different recipients or occasions.

On top of that, I started explaining how to look after cut flowers once you’ve bought them. I was shocked to find that most of the people didn’t know that they should cut the stems at an angle to make the flowers last longer, for example, or add a couple of teaspoons of sugar to the water. I thought everyone knew that.

Once I got the hang of it, I loved giving advice to the customers. They were very appreciative and they used to come back into the shop to tell me how much their mother or girlfriend or husband or boyfriend had liked the flowers and to thank me for my help. I hadn’t expected a job in a flower shop to be so rewarding.

Ben: Well, why would this get a band 9? Let’s have a look. Let’s give the candidate some feedback based on the assessment criteria. So, the candidate here she spoke fluently and coherently. She developed the topic fully. There was an excellent range of vocabulary along with idiomatic language used naturally and accurately and all of this together with a full range of grammatical structures. Finally, the speaker was effortless to understand.

LET’S BREAK IT DOWN

So, let’s break it down. Now, the student starts with when I was a student, I had a part-time job at a local florist shop, so two grammatical structures there used in just one sentence. The customers who came into the shop… relative clause, as I’ve mentioned before in previous tutorials.

The customers who came into the shop would often ask me for advice. At first, I was quite hesitant about making suggestions. I’m not exactly sure why. So, we’ve got that natural expression there: partly, I guess, because I was only 19, but also… conjunction there. …but also because I didn’t feel very sure of myself. I was certainly no expert.

So here, you’ll have heard me say or the speaker say would often ask me for advice. So here, we are developing the topic. This is exactly what is on the cue card. Describe a time when you gave advice to others. You should say who you gave the advice to. So, in that first paragraph, we’ve got with answering the cue card we are giving advice to the customers. We’re developing the topic fully.

VOCABULARY

Let’s have a look at the range of vocabulary. So, you will have heard me mention before florist shop. I didn’t say a flower shop; florist shop. It has its own specific name. Some topic-specific vocabulary: daffodils, tulips, color schemes. All of this is very unique to this topic; very specific. Also, we’ve got some very natural sounding expressions: most of my customers really didn’t have a clue. Just a little anecdote there. Soon, I was giving tips about everything from which types of flowers to choose at different times of year or how to put different color schemes together. Putting color schemes together; that’s quite high-level vocabulary there, quite high-level grammatical– no, vocabulary. Sorry.

I was even… So, to emphasize, we don’t say I was making recommendations. No. I was even making recommendations about which flowers or arrangements might be more suitable for different recipients or occasions. Now, this goes back to what I’ve said multiple times before. If you want to be scoring high we have to upgrade the language we use and in this case, we could say might be more suitable for different people.

People is very generic. It’s a catch-all phrase. If we’re talking about florists and giving flowers as gifts for celebrations, we can say recipients. Also, occasions as well. I’ve just been diving into the topic and getting more specific, more details.

IDIOMATIC EXPRESSION

On top of that… That’s quite a good idiomatic expression. It’s quite, not generic but it’s quite universal and it’s a more natural way of saying in addition. In addition is what we say in our writing, for example, or furthermore. On top of that sounds very natural; a good idiomatic expression used accurately and eloquently.

On top of that, I started to explain how to look after cut flowers. Once again, we’ve got that very unique vocabulary. …cut flowers once you’ve bought them. So, a good grammatical structure there; once you’ve bought them.

Next sentence: I was shocked… a little anecdote there and we’ve got some good vocabulary. It’s a higher-level vocabulary. I was shocked to find that most people didn’t know that they should cut the stems at an angle. Very topic-specific vocabulary.

Stems are like the green sticks with the flower on top. It’s like the actual main, not the main part but it’s like the main branch of– we can’t say branch. It’s the main piece of the flower. Without that, you just have the head of the flower.

So, you should cut the stems at an angle to make the flowers last longer. So, this student obviously researched how to talk about their job in English because these kinds of phrases are very unique. Like how many times have you used to cut at an angle? So, it takes some extensive research and this is– should be part of your preparation; to learn about certain topics at length so you’re able to describe them accurately and maybe relate anecdotes and share these details for your part 2 or your part 3.

So, yes. You should cut the stems at an angle to make the flowers last longer, for example, or add a couple of teaspoons… A couple of teaspoons there that’s another native English expression. A couple of buckets, a couple of friends, a couple of teaspoons, in this case, and it’s used accurately and it’s used appropriately so it sounds natural.

… a couple of teaspoons of sugar to the water. I thought everyone knew that. Just a personal anecdote there just building on top of it. Once I got the hang of it, another idiomatic expression, I loved giving advice. So, going back to what we were talking about developing the topic fully. So, in that previous paragraph we’re talking about what the advice was and then the final part and explain how you felt about the advice.

Notice as well it’s not I like giving advice. It was I loved giving advice and much more emphatic. I loved giving advice to the customers. They were very appreciative and they used to come back into the shop to tell me how much their mother or girlfriend or husband or boyfriend had liked the flowers.

So, lists. If you can get the opportunity just to rattle off a list– rattle off is probably not the best term, but if you get the opportunity to produce a list and keep going with it, why not? Don’t make it ridiculously long, but adding lists is a good way to boost your vocabulary score and as I’ve said before, we’ve got a module about this in the writing course.

Where were we now? Yes, I also– note that the speaker says they were very appreciative. They don’t say they were very happy. No. They were very appreciative. It’s much more descriptive. It’s much more accurate if we can use phrases like that. So, they were very appreciative and used to… nice incorporation of the past tense. They used to… used to come back into the shop to tell me how much their mother or girlfriend or husband or boyfriend had liked the flowers and to thank me for my help.

Final sentence: I hadn’t expected a job in a flower shop to be so rewarding. A nice little touch to it at the end there and also we’re using the present perfect; I had not or I hadn’t expected and we’ve used it accurately. I’m not going to go into the present perfect now. I’ve done it in previous tutorials, but you can see it’s effortless and it doesn’t even bring that much attention to it. It just rolls off and so this helps the student with a full range of grammatical structures and also because the pronunciation was quite high-level, it’s effortless to understand.

FINAL TIPS FOR PART 2

Now, just some final tips for part 2. When you look at the topic don’t panic. Sometimes you’re going to get a topic and you think wow! This is a piece of cake. Other times you’re going to be thinking OMG, oh my word! In this case, I think the best preparation is just to breathe and also just bear in mind that you’re not getting tested on your honesty. This is a language exam. Communication is the key.

So, you could always talk about something that happened to your friend or you could talk about something that you saw in a movie and you could even make the whole thing up, but as I’ve said before, be careful with this because you could come a cropper that means you could get found out, you could fail badly.

I’m not a massive fan of inventing and lying. It’s only a little white lie I know. However, I just think it’s easier if you could pull from your own experience or somebody else’s experience, but sometimes you do have to just invent it.

Second point: if you’ve got quite a few ideas then don’t procrastinate. Don’t try to think which is the best; just choose one of them and develop it. Try and use that structure we’ve mentioned before so you’re kind of like answering the question then just saying why and then you’re giving an example and you could use to give further examples or to give further reasons, you can use that lovely expression you just heard a few minutes ago which was on top of that.

Finally, once you’ve decided about what you are going to talk about, try and brainstorm some of the key vocabulary terms. In our online course, Speaking Confidence, we encourage students to brainstorm and just charge their memory with as much as possible to try and just get it all out onto paper and at the same time get the expressions as they’re coming out. So, expressions like on top of that or firstly, secondly, there are two reasons I think it’s a good idea; get it all out and then in your final moments or in the middle of your one-minute organization just put numbers on these ideas and from there you’ve got a plan to work through.

Also, as you probably will have guessed, remember to check that you are fully responding to part 2; that you haven’t misinterpreted the question. The amount of times I’ve had students misinterpret the question is rather surprising and this is like high-level students as well. They’ve misinterpreted it and they’ve started and finished the whole talk about something slightly related, but it wasn’t fully related. So, they didn’t get points for fully developing the topic.

Now then, the mind map is one idea. Other students might want to just list their ideas or work through the cue card, brainstorming point for each cue card. The key here is to test which method works for you. If you’ve got a more linear way of thinking then just making a list might be better. If it’s more explosive like my personal process is quite explosive; it’s just lots of random ideas that I need to organize then perhaps the mind map is more suitable for you, but the key here is to experiment. Find out what works best for you.

Also, practicing some of the key phrases like the ending phrase and that’s my presentation about some advice that I gave when I was younger and that’s my small talk about a holiday that I went on. Just copy-paste phrases that we can adapt and this goes back to the framework that we’re developing where we’re talking about the two reasons or if my memory serves me well.

These kinds of phrases are probably useful for writing down in the one-minute preparation or you could even just write down acronyms of those words just to save time and just to remind yourself to say them.

Now, we’re coming to the end of the tutorial. Thank you very much for joining us today. I hope you got a ton of value. If we didn’t cover everything that you need then please get in contact and give us– send us an email. Tell us what you ideally wanted. Was it a list of phrases? Was it how to present your ideas in a powerful way? I don’t know. Send me an email.

When you sign up to ieltspodcast.com you’ll get the opportunity to send us an email whereby you can say look, I’m struggling with this or Ben, I’d like to see a tutorial about copy-paste sentences or whatever. Get in contact. We would love to help you.

Next point: if you know anybody who’s struggling with the IELTS exam it’s rather selfish that you’re not sharing this resource; just joking. If you do know anybody who is struggling though why not send them this link and we can help them too. We can get them on board and we can start helping more and more students. IELTS is not easy and helping other students, helping each other and us helping you is– it’s just part of what we do and this is– we want to get as many students through the exam as possible.

This reminds me of my new project which is going to be a podcast for those students who’ve finished with IELTS, passed IELTS, who decided IELTS is not for them but still want to continue learning, improving, and striving. I haven’t yet decided on the title of this new project, but don’t worry. Once it’s launched, you will definitely hear about it.

Final thing: if you’re struggling, send us an email. Sign up to the email list. Share this tutorial if you found it useful and yes that’s the last thing I wanted to say. Keep moving. Keep actively learning. Keep actively improving. Keep writing. Keep speaking. Keep doing the practice test. You will get there. You only fail if you give up, so keep on improving.

That doesn’t mean take test after test after test after test. It means getting into the habit of studying, preparing, and basically changing your identity into the person who has passed IELTS and this is a future episode that’s coming up. It’s like a mindset; the preparation, all that side of it, which I think is vital for improving your IELTS success— vital for improving your IELTS success opportunities or options. It’s not the right word I’m looking for, but anyway you understand.

So, have a great day. Keep on working. You will get there.  All the best.

[Music]

Female voice: Thanks for listening to ieltspodcast.com

The post Speaking Part Two: Get a ‘Band 9’ Score (+ tips) appeared first on IELTS Podcast.

Oct 23 2019

24mins

Play

Advanced Speaking: Using Hypotheticals, Proposing Solutions to Problems, Agreeing and Disagreeing

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Advanced Speaking: Using Hypotheticals, Proposing Solutions to Problems, Agreeing and Disagreeing

In this tutorial, you will learn how to:

  • incorporate hypothetical language into your speaking 
  • propose solutions to problems
  • improve your ability to agree and disagree

In today’s podcast, we’re going to look at ways to improve the range of language you incorporate into parts two and three of the IELTS speaking test. First, we’re going to focus on ‘grammatical range and accuracy’.

Here’s an example of a part two question:

Describe a time when you were late for something important. You should say:
– when it happened
– how it happened
– how late you were

and explain what the result was.

Here is the first part of a candidate’s answer:

Well, this all happened a few years ago, when I was living in London. I had applied for a job with a new company and they had offered me an interview.

Unfortunately, I misread the address of the office where the interview was to be held. I had only glanced at it quickly and I had thought it said, ‘Queen’s Avenue’, which was about a ten-minute drive from where I was living… 

On the day of the interview, I was just checking the street number when I realised that it was ‘Queen’s Road’ – not ‘Queen’s Avenue’. When I looked at a map, it turned out that ‘Queen’s Road’ was miles away..!

Here is the last part of the response:

What a disaster! Looking back, I just can’t believe I made such a stupid mistake! If I had just read the address more carefully in the first place, I would probably have got the job!

The candidate wraps up his talk strongly, using the following sentence:

If I had just read the address more carefully in the first place, I would probably have got the job!

This is an example of a third conditional, which is used to talk about a hypothetical situation in the past. Here the candidate is saying that he didn’t read the address carefully – and so he didn’t get the job.

Making natural and accurate use of complex grammatical structures like this can help to improve your score for ‘grammatical range and accuracy’. Sign up for our online course for more suggestions!

We make third conditional sentences like this:

If + subject + past perfect, would / could / might + have + past participle

Let’s practise with a few examples. How could you convert these ideas into third conditional sentences?

a) I didn’t realise the office was in Queen’s Road and I didn’t allow enough time.

If…

If I had realised that the office was in Queen’s Road, I would have allowed more time.

b) I left home late and I was late for the interview.

If…

If I hadn’t left home late, I wouldn’t have been late for the interview.

c) I was late so they didn’t offer me the job.

If…

If I hadn’t been late, they would / might have offered me the job.

Now let’s have a look at incorporating a wider range of IELTS vocabulary into part three of the test. In this final part of the speaking test, you may be asked to propose a solution to a problem. 

For example:

Obesity is a problem in many countries in the world today. What do you think can be done about this problem?

Governments around the world are struggling to find solutions to problems like this, so it’s important to bear in mind that the examiner is not expecting you to have the ideal solution..!

You could respond by saying something like:

Well, firstly I think it’s important to recognise that there are no easy solutions.

Well, to start with I think we need to accept that this problem is not going to be solved overnight.

… and then move on to give your opinion.

In part three, you may also be asked to agree or disagree with a statement.

For example:

Many people are of the opinion that it’s the government’s responsibility to tackle the problem of obesity. Do you agree?

There are lots of different phrases we can use to agree and disagree. Here are some examples:

Do these people agree or disagree? How strongly do they feel?

‘Yes, I completely agree.’ – This person agrees strongly with the statement.

‘Well, I understand why some people feel this way, but I think…’ – This person disagrees.

‘I’m afraid I totally disagree.’ – This person is expressing strong disagreement.

‘Actually I think we need to take personal responsibility…’. – This person disagrees with the statement.

‘Well, I think they’re right to a certain extent.’ – This person agrees to some extent.

‘Well, I think it’s more complicated than that, actually…’ – This person neither agrees nor disagrees.

‘I would have to say that I think that’s absolutely true.’ – This person is expressing strong agreement.

‘I really don’t think that’s true at all.’ – This person strongly disagrees.

Now listen again and practise saying the phrases with the appropriate sentence stress and intonation. Record yourself and then give yourself some feedback on your pronunciation.Finally, what’s your opinion? Do you agree?!

You can download or listen to the audio version here:

|Direct Download Here | Stitcher | iTunes | Spotify | Soundcloud | Transcript |

You can read the full transcript below:

Female Voice: You are now listening to the IELTS podcast. Learn from tutors and ex-examiners who are masters of IELTS preparation. Your host, Ben Worthington.

INTRODUCTION

Ben: IELTS Speaking: using hypotheticals, proposing solutions to problems, and agreeing and disagreeing. In this tutorial, we will specifically look at how you can and will incorporate hypothetical language into your speaking. The irony there; I’m talking about advanced IELTS speaking skills and I can’t even pronounce the word hypothetical.

Anyway, also, we’re going to look at how you can propose solutions to problems and how you can improve your ability to agree and disagree. Firstly, in this tutorial, we’re going to look at a sample cue card. Then you will hear a sample answer and then we’re going to break down that sample answer and look at some of the point-scoring attributes that it has especially with regards to hypothetical language, which is basically the conditionals.

Let’s first have a listen to this part 2 presentation. Well, this all happened a few years ago when I was living in London. I had applied for a job with a new company and they had offered me an interview. Unfortunately, I misread the address of the office where the interview was to be held. I had only glanced it at quickly and I had thought it said Queens Avenue, which was about a 10-minutes’ drive from where I was living.

On the day of the interview, I was just checking the street number when I realized that it was Queens Road and not Queens Avenue. When I looked at the map, it turned out that Queens Road was miles away. What a disaster. Looking back, I just can’t believe I made such a stupid mistake. If I had just read the address more carefully in the first place, I would probably have got the job.

Now, let’s have a look– let’s focus on the last part of the presentation– of the response. The student says what a disaster. Looking back, I just can’t believe I made such a stupid mistake. If I had just read the address more carefully in the first place, I would probably have got the job. Now, this is a very strong way to finish up your presentation. If I had just read the address more carefully in the first place, I would probably have got the job.

Now, this is an example of a third conditional, which as you probably know, is what we use to talk about a hypothetical situation in the past. So, basically what this candidate is saying is that he didn’t read the address carefully, so he didn’t get the job. Now, if you can employ natural and accurate use of these structures, this will definitely help you improve your score for grammatical range and accuracy.

Let’s have a look at how we make these third conditional sentences. Well, we use if then the subject then the past perfect then would, could– then the modal verb would, could, might or have and then the past participle. So, in this case, it’s if I had just read the address more carefully in the first place, if I had just read and then I would probably have got the job.

Actually, this is an exercise that is going to be used on the speaking app we are developing. I know I said this a few months ago. We are getting there.  It’s taking time, but we are getting there. If you’re interested in this speaking app, then send us an email and we’ll put you on the waiting list.

TRANSFORMING THE SENTENCES

So, let’s transform these sentences. I didn’t realize the office was in Queens Road and I didn’t allow enough time. How would we say that? Well, as you probably just heard, if I had realized that the office was in Queens Road, I would have allowed more time. Next one: I left home late and I was late for the interview. So, if we start with if:  If I hadn’t left home late, I wouldn’t have been late for the interview.

If you go to the tutorial, you’ll see a few more of these and they are all of these exercises where you read the standard sentence and you convert it into a hypothetical statement or conditional. Actually, in the speaking app, there’s a whole exercise developed around this exact exercise of transforming these simple sentences.

The key to mastering this, the key to doing this is to reach a level of automaticity that means that you can use these phrases without even thinking about using them. That’s when they sound natural and you can use them like in automatic responses, but the key here is that we say them so many times or that we use them so many times that they just become natural and you’re not even consciously aware that you’re using them.

This is automaticity or some others say it’s fluency, but I honestly think it’s a bit like a sport. When you’re playing, you’re not consciously thinking about your moves. You’re just doing it. You’re making sure that– I don’t know, the racket is at 90-degree angle with the ball. It’s just something that you’ve done so many times that you can free up mental resources to be focusing on other things.

IELTS SPEAKING VOCABULARY

Let’s move on. Let’s look now at incorporating a wider range of vocabulary into your speaking test. Now, the examiner may ask you to propose a solution to a problem. For example, they might say obesity is a problem in many countries in the world today. What do you think can be done about this problem? Now, as I have said before, that this is a language exam and language is communication. So, you don’t have to worry about the quality of your answer.

I think I was reading online the other day that one possible solution to obesity is to close down the dog pounds, you know the dog shelters and let these dogs roam wild, so to speak, in parks, in the streets and then that would solve the obesity problem because– I shouldn’t be laughing, but the dogs could hunt down the bigger people because they wouldn’t be able to run away.

Sorry about that. Obviously, you wouldn’t propose something like that in the test, but what I’m saying you probably wouldn’t propose something like that because we’ve got to think of this as a job interview, all right? What I’m saying is that the quality of the answers doesn’t have to be sort of like government policy level answers. You just have to give a reasonable and expected answer.

My answer wasn’t expected; just shut down the dog pounds and let the dogs turn into wild dogs and take care of the big people. You could not say that in an exam. As I said before, you’ve got to treat this as a job interview. So, we need that level of formality.

Anyway, you could respond by saying something like: Well, firstly, I think it’s important to recognize that there are no easy solutions. That’s quite an easy copy-paste sentence. Another sentence: Well, to start with, I think we need to accept this problem is not going to be solved overnight and then we move into our opinion.

You could say something like this problem isn’t going to be solved overnight. For example, the U.S. Government has been struggling with this and they’re close to an epidemic at the moment. A few states in the U.S. have proposed a sugar tax. Other people actually think that they should just let the problem take care of itself and don’t believe that the government should actually have to do anything about it.

So, that example answer I just gave two points to it and then if I wanted to really develop it, I could give an example. I could say, for example, California I think a few years ago was seriously talking about a sugar tax that would definitely increase the cost of sugary drinks and other sugary products, but in the end I think big business got involved and lobbied against such a proposal so us just to keep the prices low regardless of the sugar content.

I don’t actually know if that’s true or not. I’d have to jump online, but the point is it sounds reasonable. Definitely more reasonable than letting dogs chase down the big people. Anyway, now what other kinds of questions could we get in part 3? Well, similar to task 2 in the writing test, we might have agree or disagree questions. For example, many people are of the opinion that it’s the government’s responsibility to tackle the problem of obesity. Do you agree?

So, it’s kind of similar to what we were talking about before. How do we respond? Well, in a natural fashion we say, there are lots of– we could start– sorry. We could say yes, I completely agree. Obviously, that means we agree strongly.

Next one: Well, I understand why some people feel this way, but I think… and then we develop our answer. So, we kind of acknowledge that point of view, but then we give our point of view. Other phrases we can use: I’m afraid I totally disagree and as with all of these statements what we’re going to do next is give reasons and then ideally giving examples that prove your point, that almost make it irrefutable and then we’ll– I don’t think a conclusion is necessary, but sometimes some people like to put that at the end.

Other phrases we can use: Well, I think they’re right to a certain extent… and then we just develop that answer a little bit more. They are right to a certain extent and that’s probably going to set you up for a conjunction afterwards.

Well, I think they’re right to a certain extent. For example, obesity is becoming increasingly dangerous. However, I honestly believe that people should be left to make their own decisions. For example, in countries or in regions such as Scandinavia, there’s no sugar tax and behavior that governments dislike or do not want to encourage they kind of just make it more expensive and plus there’s a whole cultural thing.

Anyway, about governments handling obesity, I think it could be done, but it largely depends on how they do it. For example, taxes are not the best way. Perhaps encouraging people to participate in sport would be a much healthier long-term way to do this. I did kind of get myself into a bit of a mess there halfway through because I was going to talk about taxes, but then I just pulled it back and I talked about governments doing campaigns and promoting healthy living.

MORE PHRASES

Other phrases we could use: I would have to say that I think that’s absolutely true. The government should definitely be controlling obesity because otherwise, it ends up becoming a much more serious epidemic. For example, if obesity isn’t controlled, then national health services have to deal with the consequences of obesity such as diabetes, heart attacks, and then there are all the heart operations that might be needed just as a result of obesity.

So, if the governments can tackle obesity before it starts, then it’s probably going to save them a lot more money and resources in the long run. So, there we had the reasons then we had the example and then sort of like summarizing statement of why it’s a good idea for governments to control or to handle obesity.

Next one: I really don’t think that’s true at all. Then we’re going to give a list of reasons, for example, why we dislike the idea of government handling obesity. Maybe we could talk about freedom of choice. Maybe we could talk about the nanny state. Then talk about all these different options and then give examples and we are on our way to scoring well, all right?

SENTENCE STRESS AND INTONATION

Now then, what I would recommend you do is just have a listen to those phrases again and perhaps you can record yourself and try and identify where you’ve put the sentence stress or where you’ve put the intonation. As we talked about in previous tutorials, that this is an important part of having full control of the English language. Now, what we need to be doing is stressing the important words. I won’t go into it right now. There’s lots of material about it at IELTS podcast.

Right, that’s everything for us today. I hope you’ve enjoyed this tutorial. If you want more speaking resources, then go to ieltspodcast.com and have a look at the Speaking Confidence Course. In this course, we look at how you can respond quickly and automatically. We look at strategies on how to attack part 2 and part 3. There’s the good old reflection method, paraphrasing methods, lots of different methods and frameworks and vocabulary in the course. We’ve been doing this for a while and we know what works, what gets results and what doesn’t work and we’re slowly refining and improving it and as you probably know, we’ve got a new part 2 framework in the pipeline coming soon.

IELTS ONLINE COURSES

The other thing I want to say before we finish is if you are struggling with the IELTS exam, then have a look at the online courses. We’ve got this Speaking Confidence Course. We’ve got the Jump to Band 7 or It’s Free writing course and we’re getting some fantastic results from both of those.

This is why we continuously interview the successful students, not only to get to know how they passed for them to disclose their strategies but also to inspire and just show you that this is possible, that you’re not alone and that we can do this together and it’s just a hurdle that you’re going to jump and you will pass and then you move on to the next obstacle. That’s the best way of looking at this.

FINAL MESSAGE

And final message before we finish: if you know any students or friends that are struggling with the IELTS exam, then share this podcast with them. I’d love to help them, too. They can listen to the tutorials while they’re washing the dishes, loading the dishwasher, cleaning the house, walking to work, on the treadmill in the gym, having breakfast, or whatever.  

I think the key here is to incorporate it into your routine, into your lifestyle. So, if you are always walking to catch a bus and then you’re on the bus and then you’re at work, then use that dead time, use that downtime to start improving your IELTS score.

Right. That’s everything from me. Thank you very much for listening. I hope you keep on improving and eventually you will get there. Take care. Thank you very much. Bye-bye.

[Music]

Female Voice: Thanks for listening to ieltspodcast.com

The post Advanced Speaking: Using Hypotheticals, Proposing Solutions to Problems, Agreeing and Disagreeing appeared first on IELTS Podcast.

Nov 06 2019

19mins

Play

IELTS 8.5 in 7 days, and then a baby in Miami!

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In this episode we chat with Irina who will soon be on her way to Canada!

She was preparing with her local academy in Moscow but got frustrated with the contradictory advice, timetable requirements and general faff of class attendance. 

Also, she had a little boy running around the house, and was 6 months pregnant! 

Determined to take the whole family to Canada, and wanting to pass before the baby was born she invested in the online IELTS course.  

Irina used the C2-Framework (included in the online course), dropped her ideas into it, got feedback, and then did the test! 

She was so happy with the result she will buy the course for her husband’s birthday!

You can download or listen to the audio version here:

|Direct Download Here | Stitcher | iTunes | Spotify | Soundcloud | Transcript |

YOU MAY READ THE TRANSCRIPT BELOW:

Irina: My baby is in baby carrier. You can’t hear him sadly, but he’s fallen asleep, I hope.

[music]

INTRODUCTION

Irina: My name is Irina. I’m from Moscow and I have a dream to move to Canada someday. Yes, I was in Vancouver last year and I really liked this city. So, I need IELTS to fill in the forms for the citizenship, Canadian.

Ben: I see. I see. Are you in Moscow at the moment?

Irina: Yes. I live in Moscow at the moment and I spent three months in Miami, USA because I gave birth there.

Ben: Wow! Okay.

Irina: Yes and I went back in June, so a couple of months ago with my son.

Ben: Your son, Leo, correct.

Irina: Yes, my son, Leo.

Ben: Got you and he might be making an appearance on this podcast. We don’t know yet, do we?

Irina: Maybe. I hope not.

Ben: Okay. I’m just saying that because I was chatting to Irina before and Leo is her three-month-old baby and he’s just gone to sleep at the moment and he’s having a few outbursts I think. I don’t know if that’s the right word, a few cries every now and again, but it seems like he’s settled now. Would you agree, Irina?

Irina: I hope so. Yes, he’s sleeping in the baby carrier.

HOW IRINA PREPARED FOR HER IELTS

Ben: Okay. Super. So, Irina, could you tell us how you were preparing for IELTS, please.

Irina: I started preparing in December last year and I went to some courses in Moscow like when you study in a group and you do some home tasks, but it wasn’t so useful I think because I had two teachers and they had different strategy especially regarding the writing part. So, I didn’t have clear idea how to write essay. So, I bought your course and I had just one week to prepare for the exam.

Ben: Wow!

Irina: I really had to cram, but you know your course was so useful because it was– it gives a clear idea and it has a strategy and I just to tell you the truth, I just memorized the writing part like your structure, writing C1 as far as I remember it’s called. So, I just memorized it and used it during the task.

Ben: Excellent. Wow! That’s fantastic. I’m really glad you got the– well, I know the results and will tell the listeners the results later, but they were impressive, but before we get into that, in this test preparation center in Moscow, you had two tutors each telling you the way. Did you not want to choose one of the methods that they were using and just stick with that one? I’m just curious.

Irina: You know they had different charts for essays. So, they divide it into different themes like they name them and they have different structures, but one of the teachers told that the essay has to have four parts, another told that it has to have like three parts. So, I didn’t know what to do.

Ben: I see. I see. So, in this test center, they were just preparing you for the writing or did they help you with the other sections as well?

Irina: Yes, of course, they helped with the other sections and one of the teachers she emphasized the reading part, but the reading part wasn’t the most difficult for me.

Ben: I see.

Irina: Yes.

Ben: Can we steal some of their strategies that you found useful or maybe we can share them with the audience?

Irina: From that course?

Ben: Yes.

Irina: Maybe the most useful was that you have to write the second part of the writing part first and then the– I mean that you have to write the essay first and then you have to write the letter second just to save your time. So, it was the most useful one.

Ben: Oh, wow! Okay, that’s an interesting– yes, it’s an interesting point. By the way listeners, we also teach the same; to start with part 2 because with part 2 it’s where you’re going to pick up the bulk of your points. So, obviously, let’s get that bit under control first and finish it and then move on to part 1 just as– task 1, sorry, just as Irina said. So, Irina, had you taken the test before?

Irina: Yes, I had taken the academic 1 in January as far as I remember this year and yes, I had pretty good results. I think 8 and 8 for listening and reading and 7 for speaking. The worst was the writing part; it was 6.5.

Ben: Wow! Okay.

Irina: So, yes. And also I was– sorry, I needed the general course, but I don’t know why I took the academic one first because for the Canadian citizenship you need the general one.

Ben: I see. I see. So, even if you did get the scores you wanted you would have had to take the test again anyway.

Irina: Yes, anyway. So, I scheduled to the test on March and I was about seven months pregnant so I wanted to do it before my due date and before I left Moscow because I moved to Miami for three months. So, the only date was March 2nd and I had only one week to prepare for the test with your course.

IRINA’S STRUGGLE IN THE WRITING PART

Ben: Wow! This is insane. Wow! So, seven days. This is crazy. And what was the biggest sort of like challenge with your– well, obviously it seems like it was the writing, but what specifically were you struggling with regarding the writing?

Irina: I’m not very good in writing, you know. Like putting my thoughts onto the paper it’s hard for me always and you know sometimes the themes or the essays are so challenging. Yes, but I was lucky I had some easy one as far as I remember. It’s something about fitness or healthy lifestyle, so it’s more common for me.

Ben: Interesting. Okay. There are two things I want to just mention, Irina. The first one you said I’m not very good at writing and just to correct you there, I would have put that in the past tense and said I wasn’t very good at writing because now you clearly are because you’ve passed.

Irina: Thank you.

Ben: You’ve passed the exam and you got the score you wanted and later we will reveal that score. So, I’d say that was in the past and also you said you had challenges putting your thoughts down onto the paper and answering them and I guess organizing your thoughts as well. Is that right?

Irina: Yes, that’s right.

IRINA’S TASK 2 QUESTION

Ben: Got you. Got you. Okay. And then the second thing I want to mention is that you found the question easy because it was about sports and fitness. Is that correct?

Irina: Yes, that’s correct.

Ben: Right. Is sports and fitness– is that something that’s interesting for you personally?

Irina: Yes, I’m personally into a healthy lifestyle like healthy food and fitness and keeping fit yourself. So, it was easy to find some thoughts and write about it.

Ben: Excellent. Excellent. I think it’s so much easier if it’s a topic– if you get a topic and this is true with the speaking as well or perhaps any part of the test, but if you’ve got a topic that you are personally interested in it makes it so much easier because you know the vocabulary, you’ve got more ideas. Yes, it just makes it more straightforward. So, just going back to the organizing the thoughts and putting your ideas down onto paper, was that a part that you used to struggle with?

Irina: The part?

Ben: Yes, was that a section of the exam that you used to have difficulty with; putting your thoughts onto the paper?

Irina: Yes, I had difficulties with that because– actually, I was worried if my mind went blank and you know you’re short on time and you’re in the exam. You know also when you are pregnant– oh, maybe you don’t know.

Ben: Not yet, no.

Irina: But when you’re pregnant you have some hormones flowing in your bloodstream and they make you not sillier but your mind can be flattering.

Ben: I see. So, it’s like harder to focus. Would that be a good–

Irina: Yes, yes, harder to focus. That’s true and that’s also true for the listening part because I’m quite good at focusing on some tasks, but when you’re pregnant it’s getting more harder–

Ben: I see.

Irina: It’s getting harder.

Ben: I see because before I was a bit curious because you said you wanted to get the test done before going to Miami and giving birth and I thought why not just do the test in Miami in an English speaking environment, around English speakers, but I guess you wanted it out of the way before going there because– is this true that the further you are nearer to the birth, the stronger the effects of sort of like or the more difficult it might be to focus? Would you say that’s right?

Irina: Yes, that’s true and actually, I also thought about passing the exam in Miami, but we have the only date that was very close to my due date. So, I was afraid that I will buy the course and I would go into labor.

HOW THE IELTS ONLINE COURSE HELPED IRINA

Ben: Okay. I understand. All right, yes. So, it was basically a case of let’s get the test out of the way in Russia, in Moscow before we start with Miami and the pregnancy. Yes, that makes perfect sense. Now then, would you– so, you did the course for about a week. Did the course help you with organizing your thoughts and putting them onto the paper? And you said about mind going blank; did the course help you with that too?

Irina: Yes. The course helped me very much because it has a very clear structure and it has only what you need. So, nothing like more than you need.

Ben: Excellent.

Irina: And you can choose the themes you know. It is very convenient. It is very comfortable, so you can study when you want like I have the elder son and when he falls asleep I could go and study with your course.

Ben: I see. I see. I thought I could hear another child talking earlier. I thought I could hear it and I was like that can’t be Leo if Leo has gone to sleep. I heard Leo before, but okay, I just confirmed the other voice now. Okay. So, you said that it helped you– it’s like a little bit more flexible, it can fit in with your time table and also sort of like it was clear and that’s the point I wanted to make. Because it had just what you needed– well, it includes just what you needed, I have thought–

Irina: Yes and the best thing I think was the feedback from you and your colleagues when you write the essay and they give you the feedback like in the form of a voice message. Like video and voice message from– I think from YouTube. You make a little video so it gives the full sense like you have the private classes with the teacher.

Ben: Yes, absolutely. Yes. This is an important part of the course as well because the teacher not only should be saying like okay, this is okay, Irina, but we can improve it. This is what I like about the video corrections is that we teach the tutors to not only recognize where the student has performed well, but also to correct, of course, but also– just to repeat myself, they have to correct the essay. They have to recognize where the student has done well and then this is my favorite part, is that recognize there’s a sentence that is okay, but we want more than okay. So, we recognize– so, I teach the tutors to recognize these okay sentences and spot them so we can give suggestions on improving them. And I think in the video, as you said, if you get somebody saying like hi, Irina. This is a really good essay. Well done. Send me the next one and all this, it really– it motivates you, doesn’t it? It motivates you to write the next one.

Irina: Yes, that’s true especially when you’re not fond of writing essays like me.

Ben: Yes, this is one of the reasons why we do the video corrections because the PDF ones as well is like it could be done by a non-native English speaker and I’m not criticizing them, but I think if you have a native English speaker looking at your work, you can feel a little bit more confident in the correction. Also, you’re hearing the person, so you can literally– you know that they are a native English speaker. I think there’s that benefit as well. So, on your test day you had this exam question about personal fitness and health. Is that right?

Irina: Yes, that’s correct.

HOW IRINA ATTACKED THE TASK 2 QUESTION

Ben: Right then. And with this you– how did you attack this question? What did you actually do? Do you remember?

Irina: Actually, I don’t. It was more than half a year ago, so I just– I was trying to organize my thoughts in your structure writing C1. It helped me because I was– I spent not so much time for the writing so I had–

Ben: Was that the older son?

Irina: That’s the other kids. We are in the small hotel in Moscow region because my husband has his birthday tomorrow. Yes, yes and I even bought the present for him your course [unintelligible 00:18:07.23]

Ben: Yes, I remember.

Irina: Yes, I need him to pass the IELTS as well, so to have more points for Canadian citizenship.

Ben: Super, okay.

Irina: Yes, he’s not very confident with his English and I just promoted your course and I told him it’s the best thing I had.

Ben: Super.

Irina: So, I think he will have the present tomorrow.

Ben: Excellent. Excellent. That’s fantastic. And yes, I hope we can get your husband on the podcast as well later. That would be fantastic and then maybe one of your boys in a couple of years.

Irina: Maybe. The whole family–

Ben: Exactly.

Irina: –in your podcast.

Ben: But sorry, we were going back and you said that it was good to sort of like you organize your thoughts and structure it into the C2 template which was sort of like the Sentence Guide C2 template. So, in the exam, you saw the question, you developed your ideas and then you basically dropped them into the C2 template that you memorized. Is that right?

Irina: Yes, that’s right. That’s right.

IRINA’S TAKE ON THE IELTS ONLINE COURSE AND C2 TEMPLATE

Ben: Excellent. Okay. Fantastic. Well, we’re coming close to the end. I’ve got two more questions. What would you say to somebody who’s thinking about joining the online course; the Sentence Guide C2 template course?

Irina: You mean what will I recommend them or what?

Ben: Yes, if they are on the fence about joining. If they are thinking maybe I should maybe I shouldn’t.

Irina: Oh, I think it is absolutely worth this money because you know maybe people who pass IELTS, most of them they want to immigrate so they immigrate from the third world countries like maybe our salaries are not so high, so the price might be– you might think that the price is high, but it’s not. It’s not, of course. So, it’s absolutely worth this money and it’s worth the time you spend for the course. So, I think that’s the best thing you can do for your IELTS.

Ben: Awesome. Awesome.

Irina: For your self-preparation.

IRINA’S IELTS SCORES

Ben: Fantastic. Thank you. Now then, what score did you get for the writing? You were at 6.5 before and then when you took the course and seven days later you took the test and then you got your results. What were your results?

Irina: I got 7.5.

Ben: Wow! Wow!

Irina: Yes, that was more than I was expecting. I just needed a 7 and I heard that it would be hard to have 7, but I had 7.5.

Ben: Wow! Fantastic.

Irina: Yes.

Ben: That is excellent. Well done, Irina. That is fantastic.

Irina: Thank you.

Ben: Yes, you can definitely say that you used to have problems with the writing, but if you’re at a 7.5 you don’t have any problems now.

Irina: Thank you.

Ben: I think that’s everything. Did we just hear Leo a few seconds ago or was that the other kids?

Irina: No, no, no. just the other kids.

Ben: What’s the other child called?

Irina: You mean my son? My son is Michael. Michael and Leo, so I’ve got two boys.

Ben: Got you. Can we get Michael on the podcast now just to say hello to everybody because we’ve heard him?

Irina: I think he ran to the playground.

Ben: Okay, no problem.

Irina: It’s far away.

FINAL TIPS FROM IRINA

Ben: No worries. No worries. Right then, the last question I promise. Do you have anything else to add or any tips for students who are currently preparing for the IELTS exam?

Irina: I think– I also struggled with the speaking part because I was afraid as well that my mind went blank and I was meant to– sorry, they are playing. They’re very loud. So, I recommend just to breath before the exam like when you are sitting and waiting for the interview or for the speaking part, just take like ten breaths just to calm down and smile and feel confident because interviewers are– they value like your appearance, like you move, like you talk. Just be confident and you’ll have the better score because at first, I got 7 then I got 7.5 as well.

Ben: Oh, wow! So, you improved with the speaking as well.

Irina: Yes, yes, I improved maybe because I had the easy topic for the second part. It was about your favorite city, so I spoke about Vancouver, of course, and it was easy for me and I was so excited about it.

Ben: Wow! That’s fantastic.

Irina: The interviewer– the tutor liked my speech.

Ben: That is excellent. It seems like you were a little bit fortunate as well with your exam. I think it kind of all just lined up perfectly for you. You had the test– the written test a topic that you liked, a speaking topic that you liked and you had the strategy as well for the writing, so– and you had that really useful technique of just breathing and controlling your breath and getting like a calmer state of mind. Would you say that’s right?

Irina: Yes, that’s right.

Ben: Excellent. Okay and I think that’s everything, Irina. That was Leo, wasn’t it?

Irina: Oh, it’s Leo.

Ben: Hello, Leo. Okay, so we can finish now and I’ll let you get back to being a mother and yes, good luck with your application to Vancouver and for Canada, sorry, and thank you very much for doing the interview, Irina. It’s been fantastic.

Irina: Thank you so much.

Ben: You’re welcome.

[music]

Female Voice: Thanks for listening to ieltspodcast.com

The post IELTS 8.5 in 7 days, and then a baby in Miami! appeared first on IELTS Podcast.

Sep 28 2019

25mins

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Academic Writing Task One – Marking and Assessment

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Academic Writing Task One – Marking and Assessment

In this tutorial, you will:

  • become more familiar with Task One of the IELTS Academic writing test 
  • find out how this section of the test is marked and assessed

There are two tasks in the IELTS Academic writing test. You need to complete both of them, and you will have a total of 60 minutes. 

In the task instructions for task one, it says:

“You should spend about 20 minutes on this task.”

For most test-takers, this is good advice. Your score for task one only contributes one-third of your total mark for the writing section. 

In contrast, the task instructions for task two say:

“You should spend about 40 minutes on this task.”

Task two is worth two-thirds of your total score for the writing section.

Today, we’re going to focus on task one. As you may know, in task one, you will be presented with some kind of visual information, which is often in the form of one or more bar or pie charts, line graphs or tables or charts. 

In the task instructions it says:

“Summarise the information by selecting and reporting the main features and make comparisons where relevant.”

Questions involving maps, diagrams or processes are also possible, although less common.

You will be told to:

“Write at least 150 words.”

  1. You know that task one contributes one-third of your total mark for the writing section, you know what kinds of questions you should expect, and you know how long your response needs to be. 

But do you know what the examiners are looking for when they mark task one? 

If not, why not?! Far too many candidates simply write essay after essay, or re-take the exam over and over again, and are disappointed to find that their scores fail to show improvement. As the popular saying goes, this is the definition of insanity! 

In order to achieve the best score possible for your task one, it’s essential that you have a good understanding of the marking system. You can find the writing band descriptors for task one and two on the IELTS website, www.ielts.org, and you can receive plenty of useful feedback on your writing by signing up for our online course.

There are four areas of assessment: 

Task Achievement

Coherence and Cohesion 

Lexical Resource 

Grammatical Range and Accuracy 

These four areas are equally weighted, so each of them contributes a quarter or 25% of your total score for task one.

Task Achievement assesses how well you satisfy the requirements of the task. Essentially, you are just required to identify and report key information.

One of the key differences between achieving a Band 6 and a Band 7 score for task one is your overview. You need to ‘present a clear overview’ in order to be awarded a ‘Band 7’. It is definitely worth spending time learning how to write a good overview. You also need to ‘clearly present and highlight key features’, but many IELTS candidates find it easier to get this right. 

It’s also important to make sure that you write at least 150 words. Responses which are under-length will be penalised under ‘Task Achievement’. There is no upper word limit, but considering that you only have twenty minutes, it’s important to aim for quality rather than quantity, and you need to allow enough time to proofread and edit your essay.

The second area of assessment is Coherence and Cohesion. Examiners are trained to evaluate how well you have organised the information. In order to be awarded a Band 7, for example, you need to ‘organise information logically’ and there needs to be ‘a clear progression’ throughout your essay. 

The most logical way to organise a task one essay is:

Paragraph One – Introduction

Paragraph Two – Overview

Paragraphs Three and Four – Details

Even though you only have twenty minutes to complete task one, resist the temptation to start writing your response immediately. Minimal planning is needed if you follow the outline above but take a minute to make sure that you have understood the question. 

As you might expect, achieving higher scores for ‘Lexical Resource’ and ‘Grammatical Range and Accuracy’ demands more sophisticated and correct use of language and, again as you might expect, there is no ‘quick fix’ to improve in these areas. 

One point worth noting is the importance of natural use of language. The assessment criteria for a Band 7 score for ‘Lexical Resource’ include a focus on ‘awareness of style and collocation’. When you are learning IELTS vocabulary, don’t just learn words in isolation. 

Pay attention to common collocations – words which are used together frequently in natural English, such as ‘enrich, extend, expand or widen’ your vocabulary! Collocation dictionaries can be a great resource to help you with this.

Now that you have a better understanding of what the examiners are looking for, you should be in a better position to deliver it.

You can download or listen to the audio version here:

|Direct Download Here | Stitcher | iTunes | Spotify | Soundcloud | Transcript |

YOU MAY READ THE FULL TRANSCRIPT BELOW:

Female Voice: You are now listening to the IELTS podcast. Learn from tutors and ex-examiners who are masters of IELTS preparation. Your host, Ben Worthington.

INTRODUCTION

Ben: IELTS Academic Task 1: marking and assessment. Hi, there. My name is Ben Worthington and in this tutorial, we are going to focus on Academic task 1 and you will become more familiar with what’s needed from you and how it is assessed. Also, we’re going to look at structures for task 1.

Now, as you probably know, there are two tasks in the IELTS academic writing test. You’ll obviously need to complete both of them and you’ve got about 60 minutes. In task 1, the instructions say you should spend about 20 minutes on this task. That’s straightforward logical advice and then for task 2, it says you should spend about 40 minutes on this task. It says that because task 2 is worth 2/3 of your total score whereas task 1 is worth 1/3.

Just as a side note; most students and myself encourage this, but most students start with task 2 first. That’s just logical. That’s just– if you make a mess of your task 2 and you haven’t got any time to recover, then you stand a good chance of losing your 60% whereas if you make a mess of task 1, then you’ve already got 60% of the points sort of like scored to the best of your ability and in the bag, so to speak.

You’ve got it done and it’s out of the way and you’ve got 20 minutes left now to focus on task 1. So, even if you do mess it up, it’s not going to be as severe as running out of time if you would have messed up task 2. So, this is just another argument for taking the computer-based one because if you do have those horrible train crashes, then with the computer-based one, it’s much easier, quicker, cleaner to recover.

ACADEMIC TASK 1 INSTRUCTIONS

Let’s have a look at the instructions. So, it’ll say something like summarize the information by selecting and reporting the main features and make comparisons where relevant. I want to repeat that because it really is important. Summarize the information. Summarize. So, we’re not going to go through and list every single data point. This is a common error that students make.

HOW DO WE SUMMARIZE?

We’ve got to summarize and it tells us how. How do we summarize? Well, we select and report the main features. So, you need to know how to choose the right information. And then it also says make comparisons where relevant, but let’s just go back. Choosing the right information. In the online course we have for academic task 1, we have a whole chapter about choosing the right information because choosing the right information is a deal-breaker.

It’s the one that’s going to make or break your task 1. It’s also an area which a lot of students struggle with. We go into it in much more detail, but choosing the right information basically means following these instructions. So, we’re going to report the main features and then we’re going to make comparisons.

REPORT MAIN FEATURES

 So, how do we report the main features? Well, we use superlatives. We quickly identify the maximums and the minimums. From there, not only are we going to be using better high-scoring grammatical structures but we’ve got a ground as well to make comparisons and using comparisons, we’re going to be using conjunctions such as although and in comparison to. We’re just going to be using much better structures.

Moving on. Questions involving maps, diagrams, and processes are possible, too, but they’re slightly less common. Even so, in those cases, you can still use superlatives and obviously, you can still use comparisons. So, I’ll just give you an example. The most complex process shown on the chart was the production of tea or the most simple or the least complex process– the least complex chemical process was the production of ethanol. Imagining that we see some kind of process either showing tea production or chemical production of some sort with diagrams or maps, how do we show the maximums and the minimums?

So, we can state the most northerly point on the chart shows three palm trees or the least dense area of the map are the fields to the right of the housing estate. So, this is why in our academic task 1 course we really drill and we really emphasize the use of superlatives. They need to be mastered as do comparisons. If you get these two structures, if you nail these two structures, not only are they going to help you in your speaking but they’re going to help you in your task 2 as well.

They are just these advanced kinds of structures and this is why we need to learn them inside out, back to front, left to right, right to left. You just need to learn them to a level of automaticity so much so that they sound natural and automatic when you’re speaking. Also, so that they sound natural when you are writing. Likewise with the comparisons because comparisons are extremely useful when you’re doing your speaking and also when you are doing a task 2. So, just three very important points there.

FOUR AREAS OF ASSESSMENT

There are four areas of assessment: task achievement, cohesion and coherence, lexical resource, grammatical range and accuracy. Also, as a side note, I strongly recommend you go to ielts.org and you get to grips with the marking system. Write it out if you have to, but you really need to know what the examiners are looking for. Also, you can just see once you get to grips with it, once you write it out when you start training for academic task 1 or task 2, you’ll be able to see like okay, that was a natural use of a collocation or that was a natural use of language and you can start getting into the mind of the examiner, which would definitely help you.

So, just going back as I said: task achievement, cohesion and coherence, lexical resource, grammatical range and accuracy; each one of those is 25%. Task achievement will assess how well you satisfy the requirements of the task. What are the requirements of the tasks? Well– of the task, in this case.

As I said a few seconds ago, the requirements are summarize the information by selecting and reporting the main features and make comparisons where relevant. That is the requirement of the task. So, this is why it’s really important to make sure you’re choosing the right information and that you’re describing it properly.

Now, just before we dive into the differences between achieving a band 6 and a band 7, let me just give you a little bit of advice from the course in how to choose or how to know which information to include. I’ll give you two methods.

Number one is squint your eyes and blur the graph so you just see a rough outline. If you do this, you’re going to escape from the details. What a beautiful phrase, Ben. You’re going to escape from the details and you’re just going to see an overview. You’re going to see the maximum and the minimum and you can sort of like say okay, those are the points that I’m looking for.

Also ideally, you’ll be able to see any pattern that’s there. You might be able to see that the UK was leading France or you might be able to see that rainfall was higher in Scotland than it was in Wales. So, there’s that technique. If you’re doing the paper-based, you can hold it up and you can push it away from your eyes like from a fair distance and you’ll get a similar effect.

Also, another way which we strongly encourage in the online course is to force yourself to use the superlatives and the comparisons and I’ll say that again. Force yourself to use the superlatives. Not only are you going to pick up points for using advanced grammatical structures and good lexical resource but you’re also going to be fulfilling the task response of giving in an overview or summarizing.

When we’re summarizing, we want to be noting the maximums, the minimums and superlatives will force you to do this. For example, the highest amount of wine production in the world came from France and the country with the smallest amount of wine production is clearly Wales, for example, all right?

Now then, let’s move on to the key differences between achieving a 6 and a 7. As you know, we need to present a clear overview in order to be awarded a band 7. So, it’s definitely worth time in learning how to present an overview and this goes back to what I was saying before; just squinting your eyes.

So, you need to find out what technique is best for you. Maybe it’s just sort of like having a first glance at it. Maybe it’s squinting your eyes. Maybe it’s just going to– I think it’s called The Economist Data unit– Economist Daily chart; that’s it and there every single day, there is a chart and it’s described exactly like IELTS academic task 1. Sometimes it’s about oil production. Sometimes it’s about corn production. Sometimes it’s about GDP of each country, but there have a look at those daily charts and read them.

Copy them out word for word pen and paper. In this case, I’m going to promote pen and paper because you get that extra element like a kinesthetic element of touching it and writing it down. You get more senses involved in the process, which is good for learning. It’s not good for tests, but it’s good for learning. In the test as you know, do the computer-based. Anyway, go to The Economist Daily chart, identify their overview sentences, steal their overview sentences and you’ll be able to see good academic writing in the real world.

Right then, also, if you’re going for a band 7, you need to be able to clearly present and highlight the key features, which is another reason why in our online course we are pushing, insisting, and even returning essays back when they send them in for correction.

When they send them in for feedback, sometimes we send them back and we say look, you haven’t even included any superlatives. I’m not going to waste your time. Go back, rewrite it and then I’ll correct it. It might sound harsh, but this way, students learn and also, we don’t waste an essay correction for them.

WORD LIMIT

So, let’s move on. As I mentioned before, it’s important to know that there’s no upper word limit. However, you’ve only got 20 minutes. So, this is why it’s important to go for quality rather than quantity. So, as you know, 20 minutes that’s a short amount of time. If you’ve got a structure to follow, it gets much easier.

This goes back to what I’ve said in previous tutorials about muscle memory; about it becoming automatic. This is what we drill into the students for task 2. That first you do this, then you do this, then you do this. I think it’s like six, no five steps and boom! You just drop your ideas into the essay. Anyway, I’m going off-topic.

So, the second area of assessment is cohesion and coherence and here the examiners are trained to evaluate how well you’ve organized the information. For band 7, you need to be organizing the information logically with a clear progression throughout your essay. Now, here there are a little bit of different points of view for how you structure task 1.

I know that Ellen, part of our team, she recommends that students do paragraph 1 introduction, paragraph 2 you give an overview, paragraphs 3 and 4 you go into the details. She recommends this method because if you run out of time, then at least you’ve got the overview in the bag. At least you’ve got it done. So, if time management is an issue for you, it’s probably good you follow Ellen’s advice.

Personally, I prefer to teach that the overview is included at the end and I prefer the overview because a kind of– in my opinion, it gives a more coherent essay. We’ve got the introduction and we’ve got the details and we’ve got an overview. It seems more logical to me. At the end of the day though, it’s your choice. It’s your decision. You’ve got to take the responsibility. Test which one you prefer.

TIME MANAGEMENT

If time management is an issue, obviously Ellen’s is going to be more suitable for you. If it’s not an issue, then you might prefer mine. It’s totally your choice. It’s your responsibility. If I was totally correct, then there would be no need for Ellen. If Ellen was totally correct, there would be no need for me. So, it’s your responsibility to choose.

One other thing; also in the Academic Task 1 Course, we don’t just say paragraph 1 is an introduction, paragraph 2 the details. We give you the sentence structures and I will just divulge. Ben your vocabulary is so good. Sorry about that. It’s just that I enjoy using that word divulge. So, let me just divulge some information for you about how we teach Academic Task 1.

So, we insist as you’ve probably heard me say a few minutes ago, we insist on superlatives, superlative structures. We insist on comparisons and we insist on fancy sentences. Fancy sentences will be something like wine production in France was three times larger than that of Spain. Also, we insist on using whereas and while because these are comparisons which is, as we’ve said before, part of the task requirement is to make comparisons where appropriate.

Not only are you going to be– if we insist that you use whereas and while correctly, you will be fulfilling the task requirement because you’re making comparisons. Likewise, if we insist on superlatives, you are going to be getting nearer to giving an overview and it’ll also solve part of the problem of choosing the information. So, this is why our task 1 system is so robust and this is why it gets results because we insist on certain grammatical structures.

Now, just as a side note; an important side note. Those two structures that I just highlighted to you; superlatives and comparisons, it’s definitely worth your time learning these inside out, back to front, left to right, right to left, north to south, south to north. You’ve got to learn these, master them to a level of automaticity for two reasons.

Number one, if you learn them to a level of automaticity so it’s just automatic, it’s natural, it’s going to make it much easier to use them and it’s going to free up mental resources so you can select the right information, so you can manage your time, so you can check for mistakes, so you can check for opportunities to upgrade your essay. So, that’s reason number one.

Reason number two why you should learn those two structures because they’re incredibly useful for academic task 2 or general training task 2 because it’s superlatives, will help you with your grammatical range and accuracy. It’s the comparative structures such as while, whereas or in comparison to and although. Those conjunctions for making comparisons will also be useful for task 2 writing both also boosting your grammatical range and accuracy.

Furthermore, the icing on the cake is that once you learn these to such a thorough level, you can start using them in your speaking. You can start making the examiner sit up in her seat or his seat, start listening because you are going to be using some higher-level structures. For example, what kind of food do you like?

Well, when I was younger I used to eat a lot of Italian food whereas nowadays, I prefer Asian food. You see? It’s just so simple to use these comparisons and it just helps you so much and it makes your writing or you speaking so much more interesting and as I’ve said a million times, we’re going to be picking up points for grammatical range and accuracy.

FINAL POINTS

One final point before we finish is it’s definitely important to use these structures in academic task 1 in a natural fashion. This is why it’s important to learn them inside out, back to front. Not only are you going to be using them for other areas of your test but you’re also going to be using them– if you learn them to such a high level, they start becoming natural, which will help you with your lexical resource score, not just in task 1 but in task 2 and in your speaking exam.

Final point, when you’re learning your vocabulary, when you’re focusing on your vocabulary, don’t just learn them in isolation. Try to learn them in context and with the relevant collocations around them. I don’t have time to go into an example right now, but if you go to the IELTS vocabulary page, there we’ve got an introduction, which links to lots of other different resources you can use.

So, we go into detail about learning them in context, we go into detail about how to learn them in a thorough manner, how to memorize and just sort of like habits and rituals and systems you can put in place to achieve your goals.

Final point– let’s see. I think the final thing that I want to say is I’m just going to mention the computer-based test again because with the computer-based test you’ve got the opportunity to go back through your essay, not only correct it which is what basic tutors tell you to do. Go back and correct it.  Pick up some more points. No.

Smart tutors at ieltspodcast.com– now, this is true though. A decent teacher will tell you to go back and upgrade it. Look for opportunities to upgrade it and pick up even more points. So, not only are you doing your error correction but you’re also improving your work.

That leads me to the next point, which is if you’re keen on improving, if improving your work is good for you, the fastest way possible, the fastest way is to get feedback. The tutor can look at your essay and can tell you this is wrong, that’s not natural, that’s a train crash, that’s beautiful, that’s amazing, but you need to work on your use of articles.

Our tutors can do this and they love doing this and this is why we’ve got native English speakers and ex-IELTS examiners correcting your work because, not only can they give you the feedback and give you information regarding natural use of language but they can also give you insights into what the examiner will be thinking, which I think is invaluable.

And then if you combine that with a thorough solid program, a system for basically manufacturing, for outputting, for producing your task 2 and your task 1 essays– I’m not talking about paragraph one introduction, paragraph two… No. I’m talking about detailed systems, detailed requirements that, not only do we teach but we insist you use because they are known to get the high scores. They are known to deliver what the examiner wants.

Sorry, if I got a bit excited there, but I do get passionate about this. I do enjoy getting results. I’m results driven. Anyway, that’s enough from me.  Just one last thing regarding feedback; if you think feedback is something that you need, then send us an email. Tell us what you’re struggling with and we can give you a special offer regarding feedback, but you need to send us an email. You can get our email address once you sign up at ieltspodcast.com.

Second thing: if you know anybody who’s struggling, tell them to get in contact as well. Send them our link. Share our resources. You can help them, too. You’re not alone in this. You’ve got us and we can help you and your friends.

Final thing: have a look at the IELTS podcast Ben Worthington App. (Android appiOS app)

There you’ve got the full transcripts, which will help you to improve your own vocabulary especially when we do the essay commentary tasks because you can be reading through, you can hear the correct pronunciation, you can associate the sounds to the words, and it’s definitely better than just passively sitting there on YouTube, for example. At least there’s a little bit more activity involved, which will– as you’ve heard me say earlier, which would definitely help you learn faster. The more resources that are involved, the more senses that are involved.

Okay. So, that is everything from me today. Let’s keep on improving. Let’s keep on moving. Keep your head up high and just one last thing that I want to re-emphasize is that goals are important, but having systems in place; daily habits, daily systems that you’re following will get you there faster. That’s why we insist on systems in the online course.

That’s everything. So, just one last thing. Keep moving. Keep your head up high. You will get there. You will only fail if you give up and that’s a very positive note. You understand. All right, take care. All the best.

[Music]

Female Voice: Thanks for listening to ieltspodcast.com

The post Academic Writing Task One – Marking and Assessment appeared first on IELTS Podcast.

Nov 09 2019

27mins

Play

Overview of the Listening Test, How the Scoring Converts to IELTS Band Scores, & Differences Between the Paper-Based and Computer-Based Test

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In this tutorial, you will find out:

  • Exactly what to expect when you take the IELTS listening test 
  • How the scoring converts to IELTS Band Scores
  • How the computer-based and paper-based tests compare
  • If it is a good idea to take your IELTS test on a computer?

The listening test is the same for both IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training. It lasts approximately thirty minutes and it is divided into four sections, with each section gradually becoming more difficult. 

In each section you will hear a recording of native English speakers and you will need to answer a series of ten questions. The questions are in the ‘right’ order – you will hear the answers in the same order on the recording.

It’s important to be aware that although all the recordings are of native English speakers, they will have a variety of different accents, including American, Australian, British, Canadian and New Zealand, so you need to be ready for this. This comedy show has a lot of different accents. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-Z4761HhkU

Listening to country-specific radio stations or other online resources such as movies or documentaries can be a great way to improve your ability to cope with less familiar accents. For example, David Attenburough has an accent that for me, makes anything he says captivating. He’s like the grandad I never had. 

It’s also important to be aware that you will only hear each recording ONCE.

The first two recordings involve people talking in everyday social contexts. In the first section, you will hear a conversation between two people, perhaps a customer and a shop assistant or a person asking for help at a tourist information centre, for example. 

The second section will involve just one person speaking, so a monologue rather than a dialogue. You might hear part of a radio broadcast or someone explaining the details of a public event.

Sections three and four are set in academic contexts. The third section will involve a conversation between two or more people, such as a university student discussing a course with his or her tutor, or three students discussing an assignment. In the final section of the test you will hear a monologue, such as a university lecture.

The listening test includes a wide variety of different types of questions. You will probably be very familiar with some of these, such as multiple-choice questions, but perhaps less accustomed to tasks which involve matching, labelling diagrams or completing summaries. Question types vary in different sections and some sections of the test will contain more than one type of question, so it’s vital to spend some time getting used to all the possible variations you might encounter. 

As well as making sure that you are familiar with the different types of questions, it’s also essential that you follow the instructions. Although this might sound obvious, far too many IELTS candidates lose marks simply because they don’t do what they are asked to do.

For example, some types of questions specify the number of words you should write. If the question states ‘Write NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS for each answer’, you will need to write either one word or two words for each answer. If you write three words or more, your answer will be marked incorrect. It’s as simple as that. As we say in the UK, it’s cut and dried. https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/cut-and-dried

Not only will you be penalised for not following the instructions. Answers which are misspelled will also be marked as incorrect so as you expand your IELTS vocabulary, be sure to pay attention to spelling. Grammatical errors will also be marked as incorrect. You have been warned! 

Signing up for our online course at IELTS Podcast can be an excellent way to help ensure that you are getting accurate feedback on your performance both in the speaking and the writing. 

Each question is worth one point so the maximum score in the listening exam is 40. Each candidate’s score is then converted into an IELTS Band Score. The exact conversion depends on the test, but on average you will need a score of about 23/40 to achieve a Band 6, 30/40 for a Band 7 or 35/40 if you are aiming for a Band 8.

23 – 40 scoreBand 630 – 40 scoreBand 735 – 40 scoreBand 8

In many parts of the world it is now possible to take the listening, reading and writing sections of the IELTS test using a computer. One of the key advantages for test-takers is that you will receive your results more quickly. 

But are there any differences between the paper-based and the computer-based test? 

If you take the paper-based listening test, you will write your answers on the test paper while you are listening. Then you will be given ten minutes at the end of the test to transfer your answers to an answer sheet. If you take the test on a computer, this step becomes redundant so you will only be given two minutes at the end of the test to check your answers. The test stops automatically at the end of this time period.

If you struggle in the Listening section, it might be worth finding a test centre that conducts the test with headphones rather than speakers. The headphones will help block unwanted sounds such as coughs and sneezes.  

Apart from that, the tests are identical. 

So, is it a good idea to take your IELTS test on a computer?

It really comes down to personal choice. If you are used to handwritten tests, you might feel more comfortable taking the paper-based version of the test. If you can type more quickly that you can write, you might prefer to take the computer-based test. Just bear in mind that even if you are a computer whizz, it’s still worth taking the time to familiarise yourself with the computer-based test by practising with some sample questions.

You can download or listen to the audio version here:

|Direct Download Here | Stitcher | iTunes | Spotify | Soundcloud | Transcript |

READ THE TRANSCRIPT BELOW:

[Music]

Female Voice: You are now listening to the IELTS podcast. Learn from tutors and ex-examiners who are masters of IELTS preparation. Your host, Ben Worthington.

INTRODUCTION

Ben: IELTS listening. In this tutorial, we’re going to focus on how the scoring in the IELTS test converts to your band score and we’re going to look at some differences between the paper-based and the computer-based test.

My name is Ben Worthington and you’ll probably know me from all the other IELTS tutorials or the videos on YouTube or the guest appearances on other podcasts such as Luke’s podcast and so on and so forth.

ABOUT THE IELTS LISTENING TEST

This tutorial is all about the IELTS listening test. As you probably know, the listening test is the same for IELTS academic as it is for IELTS general training. It lasts around 30 minutes. It’s divided into the four sections and as with most of the tests, it gradually gets more difficult. In each section, you’re going to hear a recording of native English speakers and in each section is about 10 questions. Fortunately, the questions are in the right order in that you’re going to– they’re placed in the same order in that– as the delivery of the information.

Now, it’s important to bear in mind that across the English-speaking world there is a multitude of different accents. You’ve got my lovely northern accent, for example. It’s not as northern as it used to be, but what I’m saying is that you’re going to hear American accents, Australian accents, British accents, English accents, Canadian, New Zealand, and so on. All these different types of English.

So, this is why it’s good to vary the input material you are using to train your ears. As I’ve said before, practice tests are a good way forward. Another way is to, as I just mentioned, is to vary your radio stations and it’s never been so good as it is today. Like in no point in time could you within about literally thirty seconds or even less, ten seconds of just clicking around you can tune into a Texas radio station, you can tune into an Australian internet radio station.

It’s just never been like this. There’s never been a better time to practice or to prepare for your IELTS listening test. Anyway, your goal when you’re listening to all these different internet radio stations or documentaries is to improve your ability to cope with less familiar accents.

For example, David Attenborough, he’s the one who does the BBC Earth documentaries, he’s got an amazing accent and for me personally, anything that he says I find really interesting. He could just be describing a table, but the way he enunciates, the way he shapes the language, the way he– his intonation, he stresses on certain words. It really does captivate me and yes, you could say he’s like the granddad I never had. I’m sure his eyes or his eyebrows would rise when he hears such an explanation, such a compliment.

Anyway, what I’m getting at is train your ears. Get used to listening to different accents. I know personally like the first time I hear a Glaswegian, for example, or someone from Dundee I don’t understand much. It takes me a good 30 seconds to tune in to how they pronounce the words, the speed that they talk at and after those 30 seconds, I can understand pretty much most of it and what usually happens, which is rather irritating, is I’ll probably start copying their accent which can get a little bit annoying.

Anyway, let’s get back to the IELTS test. So, it’s important to be aware that you’ve only got one chance when it comes to the listening. They’re not going to play it again. So really, you need to be like preparing your ears. You need to be almost predicting the answers, which we’re going to go into in another tutorial and it’s also very wise to be aware of the format.

IELTS LISTENING SECTIONS

Now, in the first two recordings, you’re going to listen to two people talking about everyday– well, talking in everyday social context. So, in the first one, you’re going to hear a conversation between two people; perhaps a customer, a shop assistant, I don’t know, a student and a librarian or a tourist in a tourist information center. There are lots of different scenarios.

In the second section, you’re going to listen to one person. It’s going to be a monologue. So, you may hear a radio broadcast or you might hear the details of the public event. It just varies and this is why it’s a good idea to get hold of the practice tests.

Next one: in sections 3 and 4, it’s going to be– you’re going to listen to recordings from an academic context and it’s going to involve two or more people; maybe a university student discussing the course with this tutor, maybe it’s a couple of students discussing their final assignment. It really does vary from test to test. Then in section 4, it’s going to be another monologue. Obviously, as I mentioned before, it gets progressively more difficult and it’s important to be aware of this.

IELTS LISTENING QUESTIONS FORMAT

Now, there are a wide variety of questions that you will see in front of you on your paper or on the screen if you’re doing the computer-based. This is why it’s a very wise idea to get familiar with the format by doing practice tests.

Let’s have a look at the format of the questions. You’re going to have multiple-choice questions, matching questions, labeling diagrams, and completing summaries. And there are different question types in the different sections. Some sections will contain more multiple-choice, other questions will have sentence completion, for example. So, it’s a good idea to get accustomed to the different variations.

Now then, not only is it important that you get familiar with these different types of questions it’s also important that you become aware of following the instructions. Now, this may seem a little bit silly, but it’s really too easy just to go in there and lose points because you might simply misinterpret the instructions.

Let me give you an example.  Some questions specify the number of words you should write. So, if the question states: write no more than two words for each answer, you will need to write either one word or two words for each answer. If you’re writing three words then it’s going to be marked as incorrect. So, it’s quite cut and dried, as we say in the UK. It’s very simple. It’s very straightforward. It’s like this or it’s nothing. It’s cut and dried. It’s straightforward. So, really pay attention.

Now then, not only are you going to be losing points if you write down the wrong amount of words but also if the word is misspelled. This is why it’s important to really boost your IELTS vocabulary, to expand your IELTS vocabulary before the exam, just to be aware of more words so you can use more words and you can obviously spell more words. Also, grammatical errors are also going to be marked as incorrect.

IELTS LISTENING SCORES

Now then, each question is worth one point, so the maximum score in the listening exam is 40 points. These scores are then converted into your IELTS of band score, all right? Now, the exact conversion depends on each test, but on average, you’ll need to score around 23 out of 40 to get a band 6, 30 out of 40 for a band 7, and 35 out of 40 if you’re aiming for a band 8.

WHEN AND HOW TO PREPARE

As a side note, I’m going to emphasize again for the third time already the practice tests are the best way to do is the best way to train for this part. Now, I’m saying that if you’ve got your exam in less than 30 days you want to be doing lots of practice tests.

If your exam is in three months, six months or whatever then you can probably focus more on just listening in general and find some material that you enjoy; maybe the Premier League football podcast or the cricketing podcast in English whatever– whatever floats your boat, as we say, whatever interests you and listen to that because you’re more likely to listen to it and develop the habit of listening to it, okay?

However, if you don’t have a problem and if you find yourself that you can listen at length to these IELTS listening tests then that’s also fine. Do one of those. If you can, do one every day. When you’re doing these tests, don’t just mindlessly work through them. You need to complete the test and then, as I said before, identify the area which is costing you points.

After you’ve identified that area, find more practice tests and do more listening tests, but only focus on those areas. So, it’s possible– it’s very likely that you might only want to start doing parts 3 & 4 of the listening test. If you’re getting full points for parts 1 & 2, then if you just start focusing on the areas where you’re losing points, which might be 3 & 4, then you can get twice as much done because you can listen to you know twice as many harder sections this way rather than listening to a complete test every single time.

This is an important point that will help you improve faster and this goes back to what we say here at IELTS podcast that getting feedback is the fastest way to improve. This is why we are offering feedback on the writing courses because from experience, we know that just giving you a course and telling you good luck is not enough. It’s not sufficient. You’re only going to be passively learning.

You need to be actively learning. You need to be writing out essays, getting feedback, writing out sentences, finding your errors. This is the fastest way to improve. We are working on offering feedback in the speaking course, the Speaking Confidence Course. We are still fine-tuning this, but for the writing, we’ve got it down to a system and it’s working well and we are getting a lot of success as you’ve probably heard from the students on the success interviews we do.

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A PAPER-BASED AND COMPUTER-BASED LISTENING

Right, let’s go into the next section. Now, in a lot of the test centers, it’s possible to do the test on the computer and one of the best or one of the key advantages for test-takers doing the test on the computer is that you get to receive your results faster. There are a few other advantages which I’m going to talk about now.

Well actually, let’s look at the differences first. So, with the paper-based listening test, you’re going to write your answers on the test paper while you’re listening. Then you’ll be given ten minutes at the end to transfer your answers onto an answer sheet. If you do the computer test you do not– you only get two minutes at the end to check your answers. There’s no transference. There’s no transfer and the test stops automatically at the end of this time period. So, as you’re listening, you’re putting in the answers directly into the answer sheet.

Now, if you’re struggling– if you struggle in the listening section then you might want to check in your test center how they conduct the test. Some of them will do it with headphones rather than speakers and I think this is a much fairer way. For example, if somebody in the hall or in the classroom has the flu and the coughing and sneezing or maybe they just move the chair at a key point then it’s going to not only distract you it’s obviously going to pollute the listening experience.

You’re listening for that key phrase and then all of a sudden … I would honestly find that very irritating. So, this is why it’s a good idea just to check if they are doing the listening test with headphones or not.

I remember a few– a while back actually, I was speaking to a student and he said that he took the test in Italy. The windows were open in the test center because it was summer and it was really warm and outside there was a main road. So, their cars were beeping. You could hear the engines. You could hear the Vespas. All of this noise pollution just seeped in and he said– oh yeah that was it and he said there was a baby crying on the street near the window at the same time as well.

For me, that’s very unprofessional and of course, it’s difficult to get full control of the environment from a test center’s point of view. However, having headphones will help you get a fairer and a better quality listening experience.

Now, apart from that, apart from what I was just talking about the differences between the paper-based and the listening– I’m sorry, and the computer-based one, the tests are identical. Also, just one last thing to consider. I think most of us nowadays feel more comfortable with typing on a laptop rather than pen and paper. So, this is probably another point or another vote in favor of going to do the computer-based test.

ADVANTAGES OF A COMPUTER-BASED LISTENING EXAM

Personally, I think the biggest reason why or the best reason you should take the computer-based one is because of the writing task. It just becomes so much better. You’re not going to get– it’s just easier to mark. For the examiners, it’s going to be faster. You can copy-paste. There are just so many more advantages and especially if writing using the Roman alphabet is not native for you then using the computer is just going to be infinitely better.

FINAL TIPS

Right. That is everything that I wanted to say in this tutorial. Let me just say a couple more things before we finish. If you are struggling with the writing or the speaking, have a look at the online courses. We are getting some fantastic results. It really does bring a smile to my face when we get the students’ email saying Ben, I passed. I’m going to Canada. I’m going to Australia. Yes, it just makes it worthwhile.

So, if you are passing, and if you are getting success from using our materials, please send us an email  obviously, if you’re on the course and you’ve passed– well, usually we here about that because we follow up and we ask because, as I’ve said before, we are intensely results orientated.

So yes, we’re getting a lot of success with that. So, come and join us if you need to pass fast or if you’re struggling or if you just feel completely frustrated, annoyed and infuriated and irritated by this whole IELTS saga.

Also, coming up very soon, we’ll be launching a second podcast. I still haven’t decided what to call it yet, but I’ll probably start asking you guys very soon. I’m torn between something related to strivers. Strivers to me kind of signifies what we are, who we are. Strife means to put in a lot of effort and to aim for better and I think that captivates or encapsulates all of us. That’s the one thing we’ve got in common.

We are– more specifically you are taking the IELTS exam to get to a better place; to join that university abroad, to get that permanent residency in Canada, Australia, or to start working in the UK or the US or wherever. Strivers– striving is what we’re doing to get there. Anyway, I will share more information about that soon.

The final thing, if you are struggling you can sign up and get more material at ieltspodcast.com. If you know a friend who’s going through a hard time with the IELTS exam, then tell them to get in contact. Share a link with them. And if you found this tutorial useful, please share it with your friends. Don’t be selfish. Spread the love so to speak.

That’s everything from me keep your head up. Keep your chin up. Keep working. You will get there. Have a good day and I wish you all the best with your IELTS journey. Take care.

[Music]

Female Voice: Thanks for listening to ieltspodcast.com.

Ben: I think that’s everything. Oh, you don’t have a copy of your IELTS certificate with you.

Student: Yes.

Ben: Oh superstar.

Student: I’ve got– yes.  So, which one do you want to see? I’ve got a collection here. 

The post Overview of the Listening Test, How the Scoring Converts to IELTS Band Scores, & Differences Between the Paper-Based and Computer-Based Test appeared first on IELTS Podcast.

Oct 19 2019

22mins

Play

How Does an Examiner Mark Your Speaking Test? Fluency and Coherence Criteria Explained (part 1/4)

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In this tutorial you will learn:

  • How to understand the way you are assessed in the IELTS Speaking exam in two criteria: Fluency and Coherence, and Pronunciation

This will help you in your IELTS Speaking exam because:

  • You will find out how exactly to improve the quality of your speaking. 
  • You will discover what is more important and what is not worth your attention in the Speaking exam.

In the IELTS Speaking exam the assessor listens to you – the candidate – as you answer the questions in the test, and then evaluates your level by comparing your performance to descriptions for each band. 

Candidates are evaluated on their entire performance, not separately for each of the 3 parts of the Speaking exam.

There are FOUR criteria that will be used to give you a mark on how you speak. Here we will discuss the first 1. 

  1. Fluency and Coherence
  2. Pronunciation
  3. Lexical Resource
  4. Grammatical Range and Accuracy

These criteria say what a speaker can do in these four areas. Band levels go from 1 – 9, and can take .5 too.

You will learn what they mean and get useful strategies how to perform better in each of them.

Each criterion comprises several areas. Have a look at what this one includes. 

  1. Fluency and Coherence
  • Fluency – how good you are at keeping talking at the right speed and whether you repeat yourself, hesitate, and/or self-correct.
  • Extent – how much you can say, and how much work is required from the examiner to extend the discussion. 
  • Coherence/cohesion – how good you are at connecting your ideas together using linking words and transitions.

Common Mistakes

Candidates’ answers are either too long or too short, or they sometimes speak too slowly or too fast because of the stress. 

Another extreme is trying to go back and correct every single mistake you make. 

Like is NOT a good linking word! Any overuse of highly conversational linkers like you know, and then he goes, etc. is not a good idea.

Useful Tips

Speak good English as much as possible before the test. You can do that with a friend or a teacher. 

For Part 2 you can prepare by playing ‘Just a minute’. Write tasks for each other, and then speak in turns for ONE minute without stopping. You should also focus on structuring answers by writing them rather than speaking. 

If you made a mistake: just GO ON. Or correct yourself quickly and go on. But don’t correct every single mistake; this won’t improve your score.

Should you say less or more? MORE is better, of course, but it will depend on the part of the exam.

  • In Part 1 make sure your answers are as long as one or two developed sentences. –the examiner is assessing where you are in this section, band 6 or 7? 
  • In Part 2 a long answer is needed but this is followed by another quick question, which needs a very short response. Take notes, structure your answer clearly and stay on topic.
  • In Part 3, give a developed answer. Support it with good explanation and examples. This section is more like an open dialogue with the examiner interjecting impromptu questions. You should though, do most of the talking.

Think of Part 3 as an oral essay with a structure. Make sure you have good linking words. Support your ideas with examples, if necessary. Make a conclusion to what you said.

Be careful of over using like as a recurrent linking word. Choose a more precise connector! Range is also important here. 

Answer the questions directly, long introductions are fine, and a great way to extend your presentation. Add relevant detail to explain or illustrate your answers. 

Some hesitation is natural but fill your “eeeeh” and “errrrm” thinking pauses with appropriate fillers (“Well, I’ve never thought about that…”. etc.) or make NO sound at all.   Also aim to use the same fillers native English speakers would use (we also hesitate!).

Make your language sound natural – connect your sentences by using appropriate tenses and connectors.

Yes, it’s ok not to tell the truth, as no one is going to check that. When you don’t remember something, just make it up! Do not stress over your lie though, and make sure you can keep it going (perhaps it’s another person’s story…). 

If you don’t understand the question, ask for a repeat or a brief explanation. If you don’t understand anyway, improvise as you can. Don’t EVER say “I don’t know” followed by no answer. Here is a useful tip, if the examiner asks you about something you have no idea about, then you can say: 

“Well I don’t know a lot about XYZ, but I can tell you about ABC, which is similar.”

EXAMINERS ARE NOT TESTING YOUR KNOWLEDGE BUT YOUR ABILITY TO COMMUNICATE

If you don’t know what else to say in Part 3, give examples, personal opinions, or present real-life cases.

You can download or listen to the audio version here:

|Direct Download Here | Stitcher | iTunes | Spotify | Soundcloud | Transcript |

YOU MAY READ THE TRANSCRIPT BELOW:

Female Voice: You are now listening to the IELTS podcast. Learn from tutors and ex-examiners who are masters of IELTS preparation. Your host, Ben Worthington.

INTRODUCTION

Ben: How does an examiner mark your speaking test? In this tutorial, we are going to look at two of the four criteria. The two we will look at today are fluency and coherence and pronunciation. In this tutorial, you’re going to find out exactly how to improve the quality of your speaking and what’s more is that you’re going to discover what is worth your attention in the speaking exam and what isn’t. How good is that?

Hi, there. My name is Ben Worthington from ieltspodcast.com. I’m quite excited at the moment because just before we jump into today’s tutorial, there are a lot of things I want to share with you.

IELTSPODCAST APP

Number one, we’ve got the IELTS podcast app that comes with transcripts for each of the audio tutorials, so you can just read along while you’re listening, match the sounds to the words, improve your vocabulary. This just makes it a lot easier. So, you can search for those in the iTunes store or the Google Play store. Just put– I think it’s IELTS podcast Ben Worthington or IELTS podcast BW English Services. That’s a whole new story. It’s something else.

KINDLE BOOKS

The second thing, we’ve got a lot of Kindle books coming out soon and we’ve got a very valuable one which basically has a lot of the information from the Jump to Band 7 or It’s Free course. We’ve put all of that into a Kindle book and it’s called Pass IELTS at Band 7, something like that. I didn’t want to use the same name, but the important thing is we’ve got this new book coming out. It’s selling on the Kindle platform.

By the way, if you don’t have a Kindle, I’d consider investing in one and I wouldn’t say buy, I’d say invest because when you make an investment you’re expected to get positive returns and this is something that like most educational investments, you will get a positive ROI; return on investment. Just like with any investment in yourself, whether it’s an investment to pass the exam, to take the exam, these are usually the best forms of investment; investing in yourself.

SIGN UP TO GET NEW IELTS MATERIALS AND DISCOUNTS

The final thing that I just want to mention is that also if you sign up to the site you’ll get lots of updates and lots of new material sent to you and of course discounts, special offers, and things like that.

Now, before we jump into this, I just want to mention that I’ve been exhausted with all these new projects coming out and then I was thinking why am I doing this? Why am I specifically making my life harder? Well, I think it kind of just– it comes down to three things in life if we just take a step back. We’ve got out health, our wealth, and relationships.

Those three are probably the most important things and they all need managing 24/7. And then it got me thinking that IELTS is like wealth. IELTS comes under the wealth section of those three categories especially paying the IDP British Council. It’s wealth for them, but it’s also wealth for you if you are investing in yourself and it also got me thinking further.

I was like okay, why are we taking IELTS? Well, we’re taking IELTS to strive for something better, strive for something bigger and I really like this word strive. I think it sums up our community quite well and I think it’s only in our community– we’re immigrants or we’re going to be immigrants. I’ve been an immigrant– I haven’t lived in England for the last 15 years, so I’m also an immigrant and it got me thinking.

My great grandparents were also immigrants and I think immigrants kind of make their life or we make our life harder than it has to be and why do we do this? Well, we do this because we want a better life. Our paths have crossed right now because you want a better life. You decided to take the IELTS exam and we’re basically making life difficult for ourselves because we want to improve it. We want it to be better. We want a better future and it just goes back to this word strive.

I think striving, aiming for something better and pulling yourself through to get somewhere else, to get to a better place, I think this is a life skill. My brother thinks cooking is a life skill and he is kind of right to a certain extent, but he hasn’t had this sort of like immigration experience. For him, he has strived in certain areas, but I think immigrants like us I think we really do strive.

We push ourselves and we put ourselves in uncomfortable situations and expensive situations taking the exam and going to a country where we’re not native speakers, but I think– I don’t think, I know for a fact that all this striving makes you stronger. So, keep striving. Keep pushing forward.

FLUENCY AND COHERENCE AND PRONUNCIATION

Right. Let’s jump in to today’s tutorial. As I said, we will focus on fluency and coherence and pronunciation; the two out of the four and in the next tutorial, we’ll look at lexical resource and grammatical range and accuracy.

Now, before we start this tutorial, I want to be– I want to make you aware that you will be evaluated on your entire performance, not separately for each part of the speaking exam. It’s a global evaluation. The next thing I want to say is that in the exam, the examiner is going to be listening to you. They will compare your level– compare your performance to descriptions for each band and these descriptions are basically like the criteria, the framework. This is what we are going to be diving into today, all right?

BAND LEVEL

As you know, the band levels go from band level 1 right up to 9 and they can go into those of point five as well. So, you can get 5.5, 6.5, 6, 7, 7.5 and so forth. Now, within the two criteria or within the four criteria we’ve just mentioned, we can dive down into more elements. So, we have fluency and coherence. Obviously, one part of that is going to be fluency.

So, this will cover how good you are at keeping talking at the right speed and whether you repeat yourself or whether you hesitate or self-correct. Now, let’s just go into those in more detail. So, the speed; I know that a lot of students– there are three types of students from my experience.

THREE TYPES OF STUDENTS

The one who cannot get started and kind of just freezes up and there are big pauses between each sentence and this is usually because they are a little bit worried about making a mistake and want to produce a grammatically perfect sentence, which is a shame because it’s inhibiting. The insistence on perfection is inhibiting and slowing down the actual fluency.

The second type are the ones that kind of just drag it on and they fill it in with lots of um, well, I used to play the guitar, but nowadays I play the um, um, saxophone. That’s really frustrating after a while to listen to and then there are the final ones who just blast you. …I was recently in Spain… just chitter chatter chitter chatter. Just … and these types of students usually do not have any problem with fluency, but usually they’ll be struggling with the accuracy whereas on the other end of the spectrum we have those who are really obsessed with the accuracy, but lack fluency. Obviously, the best place to be is in the middle, but speaking at a normal pace.

REPETITION

So, the other point regarding fluency is repetition and this will happen if you are a lower level speaking because you do not have that many– that much ability to say the same thing in different fashions.

The final thing is if you hesitate and this is probably more for the perfectionists who are worried about getting it perfect and then there’s the self-correct. By the way– and the people who self-correct themselves. By the way, it’s not bad to correct yourself at the end of the sentence, but do not retake the whole sentence back and then resay it because speaking doesn’t work like that. Speaking is a spontaneous activity.

It’s not like writing where we have the luxury of being able to go back and delete it or rub it out and then write it again and construct it in a different way. No, speaking once you throw it out there, it’s there forever, so to speak. It’s very difficult to take it back and more often than not, it usually ends up more confusing for the listener when you try and take it back. So, avoid that.

Whereas if you just make a slip up at the end of a sentence, for example, if you said my uncle loves a cars– I mean, my uncle loves cars then it’s fine. It’s fine; just minor corrections that aren’t really going to damage the flow of what you’re saying.

COHESION AND COHERENCE

Next point within the fluency and coherence criteria we’ve got cohesion and coherence, obviously. This is basically how good you are at connecting your ideas and using linking words and transitions. This reminds me of a new product or a new service we are developing and what we’re doing is we’re trying to make a framework for students to use to give their answers and this is exactly what we do with the writing.

It’s very powerful because once you’ve got this framework and you know how to use it, you just drop in your ideas and hey presto, you’ve got an essay. We’re trying to do the same with the speaking. So far, we’ve got a few expressions which I will share with you now that really do help.

So, one expression: if my memory serves me well, I did use to play a lot of childhood games. I did use to play with my brother and sister. We’d play board games…. So, if my memory serves me well or if I remember correctly or if I recall correctly that’s it, sorry. If I recall correctly, I remember a politician once said that pollution is the worst thing that ever happened– that has ever happened in our century.

So, this is just little phrases that we can drop in there. Another one is like this would be more useful for part 3. So, for part 3, imagine we get a question like why do you think society operates better with rules? Just these typical abstract questions.

Now, when we’ve got quite an open question like that, what we can do and this will really help you pick up the points for cohesion and coherence and it just sounds so much more elegant and you can really make it sound natural as well, which is key because we can’t just memorize chunks of words and then regurgitate them.

That doesn’t sound natural, but this framework, what I’m just about to share with you does help you a lot. So, what you can say is– so, we’ve got this question about laws in society and rules in society. What we can say is well, we can say well, I think rules in society are definitely beneficial and probably for two reasons.

Firstly, without rules it’s more than likely we would just descend into chaos and anarchy which is what usually happens in countries that are suffering from wars. Secondly, if you have rules then people know what’s expected of them and they know what to do or what not to do. When everybody is on the same page, it just makes the whole operation run better and smoother.

Hopefully, you heard what I did there. I said– I reflected the answer. I said society is going to be better with rules or society would– is better with rules because of two reasons. Firstly, secondly… And this structure, this framework forces you to connect your ideas because you’re building up your argument and it’s very similar to what we do in the essay writing one. I still haven’t released this framework yet. I’m working on improving it, but it should be coming soon.

So, yes. Just to summarize, cohesion and coherence how good you are at connecting and linking words and transitions and that’s why the framework is good because you force yourself and you link it between your first point and your second point and it just sounds like a better constructed argument, all right?

COMMON MISTAKES OF STUDENTS

Let’s have a look at some common mistakes that students do. So, they will either answer too much or not enough or they’ll speak too slow or too fast because of the stress of the situation. In these cases– I’ll give my suggested solutions for each one in a second.

Another common mistake is to go back and try and take back the mistakes that you’ve made and that’s not good because as I said, you can’t really go back in time and more often than not, when you try and explain what you just said, you didn’t mean it and you wanted to say it that way, it becomes incredibly confusing for the listener and we do not want this.

At the end of the day, this is a communication exam. Language is communication, so obviously, this is a communication exam and going back and trying to correct things obviously hinders your ability to communicate.

LINKING WORDS

Final thing: going back to linking words. Like is not too bad, it’s not perfect. There are different opinions in this. I don’t think it’s too bad. What is bad is the overuse of like and this happens with– this is going to sound weird, but if you speak with American girls, I can hear this a lot.

For example, so I was like in Canada and like there’re so many moose around and like so many Montana hills in there, Mounties and like, I was just like what am I going to do today? So, I was like I went down to the 24/7… That kind of speech and I’ve heard this a lot with some students.

You can use it for comparison and as a fill up, just don’t overuse it and the same goes for other conversational linkers like you know or– I can’t think of any at the moment, but overuse is the key here. So, I wouldn’t worry about avoiding them. Just avoid overusing them.

TIPS TO IMPROVE FLUENCE AND COHERENCE

Final part now of the tutorial. No, it’s not the final part. It’s the final part for fluency and coherence. Some tips to improve. Number one: obviously, you can speak with a teacher or a friend. When you do this, I would really consider offering some guidance to the teacher. I used to say take control of the class– take control of the teacher, but it’s not going to be very enjoyable experience for them if you’re just mandating how to teach you.

What you could easily say is just offer some guidance by saying look, I want to work on fluency. So, if it’s okay with you, could you not interrupt me when I give this– when I’m talking just for the first 20 minutes? And just write down my mistakes. That’s all I want. I’m going to work on fluency.

Likewise if your problem is that you don’t have a problem with fluency, but your problem is accuracy then tell the teacher and say hey, I want you to interrupt me and stop me every time I make a mistake. Also write it down and we’re not going to progress until and unless I’m saying it correctly. Of course, then it’s just a case of memorizing them and learning them.

Also, some other exercise is– and this is from a student who scored very high in the speaking. I think it was something like a band 8. What she did is she wrote out sample answers for all the cue cards that she could get her hands on.

What this did– she did it a couple of days before the exam, but what this did is that then not only did she build and improve and strengthen her idea generation capability but also if that cue card was going to appear on the exam, then she’d have already thought of an answer. She’d already have a rough idea of how to answer this.

This is another technique we are going to be building into the new Speaking Confidence course along with the framework. Once we finish the framework, we’re going to release it, but this is one of the modules. You’re just going to be writing out your answers and we’ll give you feedback on those answers that you’ve written out and ways to improve them.

MORE TIPS

Next tip: if you’ve made a mistake if you can correct yourself quickly that’s fine, but don’t correct every single mistake. It’s not going to improve your score. Next one: more is usually better in the speaking exam. A couple of sentences for part 1 because you are– even in part 1 the examiner is gauging where you are. The examiner is assessing; is this student a 6 or a 7?

So, give full developed answers and I think this is easier in part 1 because you know the topic. It’s probably going to be about you like where are you from? Are you a student? Are you working? Do you like holidays? Do you like studying? Do you like games? Do you like sports? Just stuff like this. So, one or two sentences.

This has got to be natural. You don’t want to make the examiner work. If you’re just giving one word answers, it’s not going to be a very enjoyable or productive day for yourself or the examiner, all right?

Part 2: you’re going to take notes. You’re going to structure your answer and you’re going to stay on topic. Here, we must stay on topic; very important. We also have a system for developing notes and designing your speech or your presentation. We’ve got a system for making notes on cue cards. It’s very effective and we’ve got to– this is what we’re doing at the moment. We’re just linking it into this framework and then that’s going to be powerful.

Next one: in part 3, we must be aware that in part 3 this is like an open dialogue, okay? Think of it as a higher-level conversation. Try and avoid the idea of it being a Q&A. It’s a dialogue. We’re both going to be participating. It’s going to be going back and forth and you are expected to be doing most of the talking here.

So, this is why it’s just good to develop your answers. This is why it’s probably good to call on additional frameworks that you might have learned such as– yes, it’s good for quite a few reasons. First, I think it’s good for this reason, for example, and also I think in addition to that we could also say this. So, we’ve kind of used those two points or those two sort of like that structure of giving two points and an example, but we’ve worded it in a different way, you see?

Now, the examiner might be interjecting with some impromptu questions, but this mainly– the burden is on you. The role is on you and one of the things we do teaching in the Speaking Confidence course is to go into details and to give examples. I’m not going to go into it much further because I’ve mentioned it before and it’s also on the course.

Right then, some more points. For part 2, introductions are fine. You don’t have to make a massive long introduction, but a reasonably long one is fine. Some other points: some hesitation is going to be natural. Even native English speakers will hesitate. I myself you’ve probably heard me hesitate at least twice on this tutorial and by the way, my hesitation and my uhm’ing and ah’ring reduced drastically when I improved the quality of my writing and even I was surprised.

Once I started getting clarity from improving my writing, my thinking improved and logically, my speaking improved afterwards. I thought that was rather revolutionary, but I can say I honestly think my thinking– how ironical I’m talking about how sharp I am and I botched it up.

Anyway, but I honestly think that I can articulate myself with a little bit– not with a little bit, but with considerably more precision and accuracy than my siblings, my brother or sister just because I’ve developed the skill of writing more concisely and being able to communicate with a pen what I want to say rather than just using speech all the time.

Anyway, moving on– you see the hesitation there. So, the final thing that I want to say is lying is okay. You can lie on this exam. The police will not come to your door the next day and say hey, you talked about your granddad, but you never had one. That’s not going to happen, but be aware like lying always– this always happens when you’re lying. You’re digging a hole.

So, if the examiner wants to pursue this topic that you just lied about, you’re going to have to invent more lying and for me, this is– you are digging a hole and you’ve got to keep track of your lies and it becomes very exhausting.

You might as well just tell the truth even if it’s boring, but maybe just go into some detail there to expand on the topic, but if you start off lying and the examiner starts asking you about that lie all of a sudden it becomes a massive lie and it’s harder to invent the material and then translate it and then say it. It’s much easier if you can just translate it and then say it. There are less stages involved so obviously, there’s less mental energy in there.

VERY USEFUL TECHNIQUE

Also, what you can do and this is a very useful technique is you can say, for example, imagine we’ve got the question about laws and rules in society for part 3. You can say well, to be honest because I’m rather new in this country and it’s very different from my own, this question about rules and lawlessness I’m not so sure I know that much about it, but I can talk about the rules and laws in my secondary school if that’s okay. I’d like to tell you about it because it is similarly related and the teachers were very strict… and then just go into it.

You don’t have to even ask for permission. You just say well, I don’t know that much about rules and laws in society, but I can tell you about the rules in my school. They were pretty strict. Remember this is a language exam. The examiners are testing your ability to communicate, not your ability to talk about– I don’t know, your favorite childhood toy or your favorite meal that you like to cook.

This is all just an excuse to hear your ability and as I’ve said a million times before, it’s an excuse– they’re giving you the opportunity to shine. They want you to pass. They want you to score. They want you to carry on striving and improving yourself and going for it. They honestly do want this and it’s your opportunity and your responsibility to give it to them.

For the pronunciation part, we’re going to put it into another podcast. We’re going to put it into part 2 and that will be available very, very soon.

Now, what I’d like to do is just thank you for listening. If you’ve enjoyed this tutorial, then please come over to ieltspodcast.com and sign up, get on the mailing list and we can send you updates, special offers, more information about passing. If you’re struggling with the exam, you can just email, tell us what you’re struggling with and we’d love to help you. We can send you some resources.

Also, if what we talked about before with regards to the Speaking Confidence course, then have a look. That course is currently included into the writing course. The writing course is the Jump to Band 7 or It’s Free, but that course is also– gets students who are already at band 7. It usually gets them fantastic results and they can get to band 8. We’ve had a couple get to band 9.

So, what I’m saying is that if that course was interesting, then go over to ieltspodcast.com and find out– you can find out more details. Don’t hesitate to ask us if you’ve got any questions related to this. It doesn’t include the framework yet. We’re still perfecting it, but it will be coming soon. That’s everything from me.

Just one last thing: if you know any students, if you know anybody else who is struggling with the IELTS exam, please get them to listen to us and we can help them too. So, share it with your friends and remember you’re doing this because you want to be better and it’s a matter of time until you get the results. You only fail if you give up. So, just keep on going.

I’m an immigrant. You’re an immigrant and maybe you’re not an immigrant now, but you probably will be an immigrant and this is what we do. This is what we do. We make our lives harder because we want to be better and I don’t see anything wrong with that. I think it’s defining. It’s probably the best word. Okay, that’s everything. Have a super day and keep on improving.

Female Voice: Thanks for listening to ieltspodcast.com

The post How Does an Examiner Mark Your Speaking Test? Fluency and Coherence Criteria Explained (part 1/4) appeared first on IELTS Podcast.

Oct 02 2019

34mins

Play

Part Three Tips: Giving and Supporting Opinions, Talking about Advantages and Disadvantages

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In this tutorial, you will:

  • find out what to expect in Part Three of the IELTS speaking test 
  • learn how to give and support opinions
  • improve your ability to talk about advantages and disadvantages

The speaking test is the same for both IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training and it always involves a face-to-face interview with a certified IELTS examiner – regardless of whether you take the paper-based or computer-based version of the test.

The speaking test lasts between eleven and fourteen minutes, and it is divided into three sections, with each section gradually becoming more challenging. There are four equally important assessment criteria:

Fluency and coherence – the ability to speak at a good speed and link ideas together 

Lexical resource – the ability to use a range of vocabulary appropriately

Grammatical range and accuracy – the ability to use a range of grammatical structures accurately

Pronunciation – the ability to be understood easily

Today, we’re going to focus on part three of the test. Part three lasts between four and five minutes and it is the most challenging part of the IELTS speaking test. 

The examiner will ask you further, more abstract questions about the topic in part two. He or she will begin part three by saying, for example:

We’ve been talking about a place you’ve visited, and I’d like to discuss with you one or two more general questions related to this. So, let’s consider first of all tourism in your country.

a) How do you think tourism has changed in your country in the last twenty years?

b) Do you believe this is a positive or negative development? Why?

c) In some parts of the world, tourism is having a negative impact on the environment. In your opinion, what can be done about this?

All these questions require you to give your opinion. To help ensure that you answer the questions fully, it’s a good idea to use this strategy:

First, give your opinion. Ideally, try to paraphrase rather than repeating the question, to show off your IELTS vocabulary:

Perhaps, ‘I think the tourism industry in Turkey has expanded dramatically over the last two decades.’

Then explain the reasons for your opinion…

‘Improved transportation systems around the world have made it easier to travel than ever before.’

… and provide examples:

‘In the past, tourists who wanted to visit Turkey had to fly into one of the major cities, such as Istanbul or Ankara, but these days lots of the towns along the Mediterranean coast have their own international airports! For example, you can fly directly from the UK to Bodrum, which is one of the most popular resorts in Turkey.’

Let’s try the same strategy with the second question.

First, give your opinion – paraphrasing if you can.

‘My feeling is that the advantages of this growth outweigh the disadvantages, at the moment at least.’

Then explain your reasons…

‘Turkey is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world and although it is not a country which is dependent on tourism, this industry still generates a significant amount of revenue.’

 … and provide examples.

‘Turkey just has so much to offer international visitors. Whether you want to visit historical monuments, bustling bazaars or stunning beaches, there is something for everyone. We obviously need to manage the impact which this increase in tourism is having on the environment, but I think we are heading in the right direction.’

These are some phrases you can use to express your opinion:

I think…

I believe…

In my opinion…

My feeling / opinion is that…

Here is another example of a set of questions you might encounter in part three:

We’ve been talking about a place you’ve visited, and I’d like to discuss with you one or two more general questions related to this. So, let’s consider first of all tourism in your country.

a) How do you think tourism has changed in your country in the last twenty years?

b) Do you believe this is a positive or negative development? Why?

c) In some parts of the world, tourism is having a negative impact on the environment. In your opinion, what can be done about this?

Let’s focus on the first question – which is asking for advantages and disadvantages. Again, to help ensure that you answer the question fully, it’s a good idea to have a strategy:

First, state an advantage:

‘In my opinion, one of the main reasons for the popularity of online shopping is that it’s so convenient.’

Then explain why it is an advantage…

‘If you want to shop at a shopping centre, you have the hassle of getting there, and shopping centres have fixed opening hours.’’

… and give an example:

‘However, if you shop online, you can shop from the comfort of your own home, at any time of the day or night.’

Then provide a second advantage:

‘Another positive aspect of online shopping is the fact that you have access to a much wider variety of products.’

An explanation…

Bricks-and-mortar stores only have so much space to store and display their merchandise, whereas online shops don’t suffer from the same constraints.

… and an example:

For instance, if you want to buy clothes, you will be able to find far more styles and colours to choose from if you shop online.

Then follow the same strategy to help you talk about the disadvantages.

Useful phrases include:

One of the main advantages / benefits / upsides (of online shopping) is…

Another positive aspect is…

One key disadvantage / drawback / downside (of online shopping) is…

Another negative point is…

You can find a lot more information about part three of the IELTS speaking test – and discover how to receive personalised feedback on your speaking – in our online course.

You can download or listen to the audio version here:

|Direct Download Here | Stitcher | iTunes | Spotify | Soundcloud | Transcript |

YOU MAY READ THE FULL TUTORIALS BELOW:

Female Voice: You are now listening to the IELTS podcast. Learn from tutors and ex-examiners who are masters of IELTS preparation. Your host, Ben Worthington.

INTRODUCTION

Ben: IELTS Speaking. A brief overview of part 3: giving and supporting opinions, talking about advantages and disadvantages. In this tutorial, you will find out what to expect in part 3 of the IELTS speaking test, learn how to give and support opinions, and you will be able to improve your ability to talk about advantages and disadvantages.

Hello, there. My name is Ben Worthington and I’m the owner/operator/chief executive whatever you want to say of ieltspodcast.com and thank you for tuning in today. As you know on this podcast and with these tutorials, we aim to improve your ability with all sections of the IELTS; be it the reading, the speaking, the writing, and the listening and we do this by offering you valuable practical tutorials that you can implement.

HOW TO SPEED UP YOUR IMPROVEMENT #1

Just as a side note, just before we get into this, I want to mention three things that I think will definitely speed up your improvement. 1) is a technique or not a technique actually, it’s just awareness that I kind of borrowed from a book I’m reading called Atomic Habits and one point that really struck me in this book was the  clarification of motion and action.

For example, if you are preparing for IELTS by just watching lots of videos on how to write a four-paragraph essay, how to write a five-paragraph essay, how to paraphrase, how to– if you are just watching videos on YouTube or just listening to tutorials or whatever, then you are in motion and you are using preparation as an excuse– as basically procrastination and this will not help you that much.

The reason is because it doesn’t really produce an outcome. There’s no output there. You’re just passively learning and basically, your preparation becomes procrastination. The danger here is that just sitting down and passively learning from these channels, from the media or just reading about– I don’t know essay writing, reading about the IELTS speaking test or whatever and it feels good and it delays possible failure, but you’re not really going to develop yourself as fast as action.

By action I mean actively learning. I mean speaking aloud maybe from a script, maybe just freestyling, so to speak, or actively writing and getting feedback. So, this is a very important element and the more you implement a sort of like action based preparation strategy rather than the passive strategy then you’re going to be getting closer to automaticity.

Automaticity is when you do it without thinking and this is when it starts to become embedded in your brain cells. The channels, the grooves are cut and they become deeper so all of a sudden it becomes an unconscious action.

For example, if you’ve been playing a sport, if you’ve been playing tennis, for example, you can just pick up the racket and you don’t have to think about– if you’re an intermediate player, you don’t have to think about your grip. You don’t have to think about how you hit it. It becomes automatic and this frees up resources so you can be thinking about other things. Maybe you can be watching the other tennis player. Maybe you could be thinking about the tennis player’s last few hits; they were all on the right-hand, for example, so you can maybe switch it to the left hand or whatever.

The point is that you want to be really getting into a frame of mind where your preparation is action orientated rather than passive. Now, don’t get me wrong. Passive learning is good especially for a language, but there comes a point where you have to maybe just close the browser or just put your phone down and start writing pen and paper or on your computer or whatever or start speaking. There comes a time where you’ve done enough of this passive learning and it’s time to start that action.

Now as I said, there is a time and a place for passive learning. This is usually to utilize what I call your downtime. So, if you’re on the bus, if you’re on the train or in the car or walking to work or just going on a walk on the countryside, whatever, then it’s a good time to listen to Benjamin Worthington. It’s a good time to use this downtime just to fill your brain with the vocabulary, ideas, tips, and success stuff like that, but eventually, you do want to be writing and speaking and doing practice tests and getting feedback.

So, if you feel you’re at that point and you might– I don’t know. Maybe you’re feeling guilty now that you’d be doing too much passive learning and that’s fine. If you’re at that point, then come over to ieltspodcast.com and we can give you some feedback on your writing and this will help you improve faster. It also shifts you’re learning from passively learning into actively learning especially if you’re doing the online course where you’re watching the tutorials and then implementing; writing your essays using that knowledge, using those tips, using that framework you’ve just learned and then sending it to us.

Our team of ex-IELTS examiners native speakers we can give you feedback usually in 24 hours and we’ll keep you going. We’ll keep pushing you forward and we’ll keep on improving your work by giving you some valuable feedback. So, that was point number one.

HOW TO SPEED UP YOUR IMPROVEMENT #2

Point number two– don’t worry. We are getting to IELTS speaking part 3. Point number two: download our apps; the IELTS podcast apps. Go to the App Store or the Play Store and I’m saying downloading the apps– I’m saying or suggesting that you download these apps because they now come with the transcript.

If you’ve got the transcript in front of you, then you can be reading at the same time as listening. So, you’re going to be– you’re going to start associating the sounds to the words. You could even pause the recording and then just say it again so you can implement like techniques of mimicking and also in the transcripts, there’s some links to the resources.

So, it kind of brings it a step closer to actively learning. Also, if you get in the podcast– if you get in the actual official app, then you’re getting updated when we’ve got new material and it’s quite a powerful way to improve your learning.

HOW TO SPEED UP YOUR IMPROVEMENT #3

Now, the third point. What I’m going to mention here is it’s kind of like a sketching-out of what we are still working on, which is a solid framework for the speaking. As you may have heard in the previous episodes, we have touched on this framework and here we’re mentioning sort of like details of this framework. It’s what we’ve discovered as we’ve– by trying and testing new strategies and I thought this would be useful for students to learn. So, let’s have a look.

As I said before, in this tutorial, you will find out what is expected of you in part 3 of the test, you’ll learn how to give and support your opinions, which is necessary if you want to be scoring high and also, you are going to improve your ability to speak about the advantages and disadvantages.

Now, just a very, very brief mention here that as you know the IELTS academic and IELTS general training involves a face-to-face interview with the examiner and it’s the same whether it’s paper-based or it’s computer-based. There’s going to be four parts that you will be tested on: pronunciation, grammatical range and accuracy, lexical resource, fluency and coherence. I won’t go into those details because I mentioned them in a previous podcast, but in this tutorial, we are specifically going to focus on part 3.

IELTS SPEAKING PART 3

We’re going to look at part 3 and this is the most challenging part of the speaking test and it lasts between four and five minutes. In this section, the examiner is going to be asking you more abstract questions about the topic that you spoke about in part 2.

The examiner is going to start by saying something like we’ve been talking about a place you’ve visited and I’d like to discuss with you one or two more general questions related to this. So, let’s consider first of all, tourism in your country. How do you think tourism has changed in your country in the last twenty years?

That might be the first question. The other questions will be similar in the difficulty. Do you believe this is a positive or negative development? Why? In some parts of the world, tourism is having a negative impact on the environment. In your opinion, what can be done about this?

Now, all of these questions require you to give your opinion. To ensure that you give a full complete answer, then I would recommend this strategy. First of all, you give your opinion and ideally, you’ll try and paraphrase it rather than repeating the question. So, let’s have a look at that question number one.

How do you think tourism has changed in your country in the last 20 years? I think the tourism industry in Turkey has expanded dramatically over the last two decades. Then we’re going to explain the reasons for our opinion. This is very similar to the framework we suggest for the body paragraphs in IELTS writing task 2.

By the framework we suggest I mean the framework in the online course. In the online course, we’ve got a framework and it’s been so successful. This is why we are developing a framework for the speaking as well. Let’s jump into it.

I think the tourism industry in Turkey has expanded dramatically over the last two decades. Now, I’m going to explain this. Improved transportation systems around the world have made it easier to travel than ever before. Then I’m going to give examples. In the past, tourists who wanted to visit Turkey had to fly into one of the major cities such as Istanbul or Ankara, but these days lots of the small towns along the Mediterranean coast have their own international airports. For example, you can fly directly from the UK to Bodrum, which is one of the most popular resorts in Turkey.

So, it’s a very complete answer and using this strategy, using this framework, we can be sure to give complete answers each time. Now, in the current Speaking Confidence Course we have a technique for paraphrasing, which I’ve mentioned before, but it ensures that we respond with the correct tense and it kind of forces you to use a similar structure, but it’s not as detailed and it’s not as rigid yet. We’re going to– as I said, we’re developing it.

Let me give you an overview. So, we respond by paraphrasing. Then I’ll give you the reasons and then I’m going to provide examples and as I said before, examples are gold. Why are they gold? Because they force you to go into more detail. They force you to use topic-specific vocabulary and it’s a good opportunity to slip in an anecdote.

It doesn’t have to be sort of like for example and then talk about maybe the infrastructure of the country like we just did. You could also say, for example, my auntie nowadays regularly captures direct flights from– I don’t know, Leeds Bradford Airport directly into Bodrum. I can give a personal anecdote.

By the way, you can’t give– it’s not advisable I don’t think to give personal anecdotes in the writing, but with the speaking it’s natural. So, don’t worry about it. You can do it. Let’s use the same strategy now for the second question.

The second question: do you believe this is a positive or negative development? Let’s see. Same strategy; we’re going to give the opinion– our opinion, give reasons, provide examples. My feeling is that the advantages of this growth outweigh the disadvantages, at the moment at least. Now, I’ll explain it. Turkey is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world and although it’s not a country which is dependent on tourism, this industry still generates a significant amount of revenue.

Now, I’ll provide my example. Turkey just has so much to offer international visitors whether you want to visit historical monuments, bustling bazaars or stunning beaches. There is something for everyone. We obviously need to manage the impact which this increase in tourism is having on the environment, but I think we are heading in the right direction.

Now, let’s just go back and I want to highlight some of the point-scoring aspects of this answer. Not only have we said that– well, first of all, we’re kind of directly answering the question, which is always good. My feeling is that the advantages of this growth outweigh the disadvantages. So, we’re kind of making it clear where we’re going, which is good.

Also, we did it in a fairly sophisticated way. We didn’t say it’s good. It’s not bad. We said the advantages outweigh the disadvantages, which is a little bit formal, but it’s okay. Then we qualify it; at the moment at least and it’s always good just to qualify your statements. It’s a good– it’s a useful technique.

Now, we’ve used the superlatives, which are always very welcome. Turkey is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Note we didn’t say one of the most popular places. We said tourist destinations. This is topic-specific vocabulary. Then we use a conjunction. We say although it’s not a country which is dependent on tourism… dependent on and this is a very useful phrase.

What it means is that it’s not maybe like a country like Cyprus where most of their money comes from tourism, I think. I’m not so sure about that, but there are countries that rely heavily on tourism. In this respect, Turkey isn’t one of them. It’s got lots of other industries, but then it says– then the speaker says this industry still generates a significant amount of revenue.

I like this. This is higher level. The student didn’t say generates a lot of revenue. No, we said significant. Why did we say significant? Because we are going to score high. We are higher-level students. …still generates a significant amount of revenue. This is a word that I regularly suggest students to use when I’m correcting essays and I see a lot. It can be very easily substituted for significant.

Now, going back to the framework, let me recap the framework. We have given our opinion. We are explaining the reasons and we’re providing examples. Let me say it again. I’m giving my opinion, I’m explaining the reasons, and I’m giving examples; a very complete answer. Let’s go.

Turkey has so much to offer international visitors and I’m not saying tourists because I’ve probably used that word a few times before. So, I’m going to say international visitors. Now, I’m using another conjunction. …whether you want to visit historical monuments… Now, I’m going to give you a list.

Lists is incidentally, another technique that we teach in the writing course. Lists are good opportunities just to stack your vocabulary. So, we say this, this, this, and even this. Never write that, okay?  It’s just too vague and don’t even speak like that, but what I– don’t speak exactly like that, but use that structure. So, I’ll give you an example. …whether you want to visit historical monuments, bustling bazaars or stunning beaches or even the balloon festival in the center. There is something for everyone.

So, that’s just a mini example there of the listing structure. We go into this in more detail in the course. Next sentence: we obviously need to manage the impact. So, we are kind of like going back to the question there. We obviously need to manage the impact which this increase in tourism is having on the environment, but I think we’re heading in the right direction. Note we say I think we are heading in the right direction. We don’t say I think it’s good.

The English language is immense with the amount of words and the amount of words available is increasing every single year, which is kind of weird. This just goes back to the idea of languages being living things, not stale structures. They are living. It’s developing.

Anyway, I think we are heading in the right direction. So, as I said before, a very useful structure. Give your opinion, explain your reasons, and then give some examples. These examples can be similar to the writing where we might state something quite factual or it can be something quite anecdotal. For example, my friends they love going to the bazaars and just finding counterfeit products and then battering with the locals. The locals are quite fierce batterers, I’ve heard. Just a little anecdote like that, a little story.

This reminds me actually, when I went to Turkey and I was battering with the men in the bazaar and I was arguing with a guy over some Asics trainers and then he wouldn’t give me the price that I wanted. So, I just left it and walked away and this is after like a good 5– no a good 5-10 minutes of arguing with the guy. I was like I don’t need it, doesn’t matter.

Then I just walked away and about five minutes later, I feel this tugging on my back and as I turn around I’m like what the heck is that? I turn around and there’s a little kid with a box of the Asics trainers and he’s like okay, okay. 35 lira or whatever it was. I can’t remember. It was probably more like 20, 15 euros. I was like okay cool, but I don’t know.

It’s just a funny memory and if I ever were in that situation to talk about Turkey and talk about the bazaar, I could just pull on this little anecdote and there’s lots of vocabulary there. There is battering, we’re talking about these Asics trainers, this kid following me, so on and so forth.

Anyway, some of the phrases that you can use to express your opinion include: I think, I believe, in my opinion or you can say my feeling or my opinion is that… I’ll just say those again; very similar to the writing, actually. I think, I believe, in my opinion, my opinion is that tourism is expanding a lot, my feeling is that tourism is very, very detrimental to the country. Note there I said detrimental. I didn’t say bad. Why did I say detrimental? Because we are going to be scoring high.

Let’s have a look at another set of example questions. The examiner might see something like this. We’ve been talking about shopping and I’d like to discuss with you one or two more general questions related to this. So, let’s consider first of all, online shopping. What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of online shopping? Next question: do you think the advantages outweigh the disadvantages? Third question: how do you think people’s shopping habits will change in the future?

Now, hopefully– not hopefully, but maybe you’ve paused the tutorial and you’re going to start thinking about your own answers. Maybe grab a pen and paper and write down some ideas. Let’s transform this tutorial into active learning rather than passive learning and trust me if you can do this, the more often you do it the faster you will improve. What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of online shopping? Here’s the structure. First, we can state an advantage then we’re going to explain why it’s an advantage and then we’re going to give an example. Then we could even provide a second advantage, a second explanation, and a second example.

At the very least, try and implement this structure. Once again, first state an advantage, explain why it’s an advantage then give an example. Let’s jump into it. In my opinion, one of the main reasons for the popularity of online shopping is that it’s so convenient. If you want to shop at a shopping center, you have the hassle of getting there and shopping centers have fixed opening hours.

However, if you shop online, you can shop from the comfort of your own home at any time of the day or night. The second advantage: another positive aspect of online shopping is the fact that you have access to a much wider variety of products. Bricks-and-mortar stores only have so much space to store and display their merchandise whereas online shops don’t suffer from the same constraints.

For instance– here comes my example. For instance, if you want to buy clothes, you will be able to find far more styles and colors to choose from if you shop online. Okay. So, in that example, using that framework, you’re going to give quite an extensive answer and you can also use the same strategy to talk about the disadvantages.

USEFUL PHRASES FOR SPEAKING PART 3

Right now, I’ll give you some useful phrases. One of the main advantages… I like this sentence a lot and it’s a phrase that we’re going to be incorporating into both courses; the Speaking Confidence Course and the Sentence Guide IELTS Writing Task 2 Course. It’s a very useful phrase. It’s one of the advanced– sorry. One of the main advantages or one of the most popular cities or one of the most interesting facts.

It’s quite an easy collocation to master. Usually, you can use it with a superlative and it’s quite easy. It goes back to what I’ve been saying before that if we can use it enough times, if we can repeat it enough times, it starts to sound natural, gets into the muscle memory and it frees up resources for you to start planning ahead and to think about more challenging aspects that you might be facing in the exam. Master that phrase.

One of the main advantages or one of the main benefits or one of the main upsides of online shopping is… One of the most interesting places I’ve ever visited is Peru, for example. Another positive aspect is… So, this is good for building up that answer. Another positive aspect of online shopping is the convenience. Another positive aspect of online shopping is the ability to compare prices with a click of a button. Another useful collocation there.

Another positive aspect of traveling abroad is the fact that you get to see new people, hear new languages, and taste new food. Of course, we can use the reverse of these. For example, one key disadvantage, one key drawback, one key downside of online shopping is the fact that you have to wait for your goods. One key disadvantage of online shopping is that you cannot actually touch the materials or that you cannot actually try on the clothes that you want to buy.

Final point: another negative point is that it’s difficult and costly to return the goods. Another negative point of traveling is that it could be argued as unsafe especially if you’re traveling on the road, whatever. So, those are some useful phrases you can employ to talk about the advantages and disadvantages and these are quite handy for part 3 of the exam.

Now, you can find out a lot more techniques, you can discover more strategies if you look at the IELTS Speaking Confidence Course and also you can get some feedback on your speaking as well. Also, we’ve got the essay correction service where we also give you feedback and as I’ve been saying for years now, feedback is the fastest way to improve.

That’s it for me in this tutorial. If you found this tutorial useful, it would be– I would be very grateful and it would be fantastic if you tell your friends about this if they’re struggling. If anybody comes to mind who you know is struggling with the IELTS, then send them this link. Send them some links about IELTS podcast and we can help them, too.

If you personally are struggling or you just failed your exam, then get in contact. Send us an email and we can send you some help. Remember to sign up at ieltspodcast.com. Get on the email list and we’ll send you some resources.

If you’ve got a Kindle, then we’ve recently released some new Kindle books. Have a look at the Amazon store there. We’ve got a topics and ideas book. We’ve got the writing book. We’ve got a vocabulary book coming out soon. There are lots of resources there. Get in contact and we would love to help you. This is what we do.

Okay. Take care. Keep your chin up. Keep struggling– sorry, that’s not the best advice, is it? Keep striving. Keep pushing. Keep working and you will get there. Have a fantastic day and take care. Bye-bye.

[Music]

Female Voice: Thanks for listening to ieltspodcast.com

The post Part Three Tips: Giving and Supporting Opinions, Talking about Advantages and Disadvantages appeared first on IELTS Podcast.

Oct 30 2019

34mins

Play

Follow the instructions!

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Follow the instructions!

In this tutorial I speak with an Ex-Examiner about the IELTS Reading exam. 

Cate is now living in Canada and shares with us how she helped hundreds of adult students pass the reading exam. 

In this tutorial she shares: 

– the easiest way to pass and prepare for the Reading exam

– the most important skills to master

– where most students lose silly points 🙁 

Follow the damn instructions!

Don’t assume that you know what to do in a question. Yes, reading the instructions is more useful than we may think.

Always make sure that you read the instructions carefully, CIRCLE or UNDERLINE the key word(s) in them and only then proceed to searching for the answer.

See the examples below with the key words underlined and the thinking of the exam taker.

Example: 

  • Choose NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from the text for each answer. – ok, it can be 1-2 words and they are from the text, I don’t need to come up with them myself
  • Choose NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS AND/OR A NUMBER from the text for each answer.- ok, it can be 1-3 words and there can also be a number, or no number at all,  and they are from the text, I don’t need to come up with them myself
  • You may use any letter more than once.- oh, I might have two As or let’s say two Ds, and that’s right

Choose TWO letters, A-F. – so this means out of 6 letters (ABCDEF) I must choose only two, not one.

You can download or listen to the audio version here:

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You can also watch the full tutorial here:


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YOU MAY READ THE FULL TRANSCRIPT BELOW:

[Music]

Female Voice: You are now listening to the IELTS podcast. Learn from tutors and ex-examiners who are masters of IELTS preparation. Your host, Ben Worthington.

[music]

INTRODUCTION


Ben: Hello there, IELTS students. In this tutorial, we’re going to be speaking with Kate. Some of you might be already familiar with Kate once you hear her. She’s been correcting essays every now and again for the online course where we offer feedback and students can improve. So, welcome to the podcast, Kate.

Kate: Thank you, Ben. Hi, everyone. I’m really happy to be here with you and I’m ready to share some of the things that I’m sure will help you in the IELTS exam.

Ben: Excellent. Before we jump into that, Kate, could you tell us a bit about your past experience because you were an examiner at one point, weren’t you?

KATE’S EXPERIENCE AS AN EX-IELTS EXAMINER

Kate: Yes. I was an examiner. So, I was a speaking examiner for a very long time and that gave me a lot of insight into how the exam works. In fact, it’s less scary than all of us might think. I taught at the university and yes, that’s kind of it. Most of my experience is of course teaching at the university and let’s say one-third of it is being an examiner.

Ben: Very interesting and at the university, you were teaching students lots of different skills I guess and also this included how to pass the reading exam and how to get the reading skills?

Kate: Yes, that is correct. Absolutely, yes.

Ben: Super. Super. Yes, because Kate and I, we’ve been– well, it’s been mainly Kate actually. I’m not going to take full credit for this, but Kate has been writing a book all about the reading. We agreed the content, what we were going to cover and Kate just jumped right into it and after a period of time, just emailed me the whole book and I was like wow! And it wasn’t rushed or anything like that.

It was just amazing, top quality material that we’ll be soon releasing on the Kindle Store. It’s like an e-book that you’ll be able to buy and download. Yes, that’s going to be coming out in the next few months, but before that, we’re going to talk about some of the content because there’s a very important section which Kate wrote which was really interesting actually about follow the *** instructions. We can’t say it fully because… yes. So, could you tell us more about follow the *** instructions, please Kate?

Kate: Yes, Ben, sure. The *** instructions are really important. You might think that this is very simple and well, you definitely always know what to do in a question when you take the exam or when you practice the exam, but the issue is that a lot of exam candidates assume that they know exactly what’s there in the question and they don’t pay attention to the detail and I would like to remind everyone that IELTS is a tricky exam because it tests your attention to detail and that’s a very simple skill in life.

So, actually don’t forget that you really have to give those *** instructions a good read. Why? Because the instructions might change. Sometimes it says choose no more than two words from the text. Sometimes it says choose no more than three words and/or a number and sometimes it doesn’t say from the text. So, if you don’t pay attention to that, you might do the wrong thing. It’s like going completely the wrong way.

Ben:  Yes and although this might seem quite logical and straightforward; read the question and make sure you are following it, but under exam conditions, logic can go out of the window and this is why I guess– this is probably why it’s really important. You could even pass your finger over each word or say it aloud to yourself just to really make sure that you are following the instructions. So, how did you know, Kate, that this was a very important rule?

Kate: Well, how did I know? I noticed from my exam candidates who would come to me after the exam and they would say, oh my God! I have realized that I didn’t do what I had to do. I did this, but I had to do that. It’s like yes, you noticed that too little too late and they realized that they rushed into the question. Rushing and feeling so scared that you don’t have enough time is the main cause of not paying attention to a simple– a thing as simple as the instructions.

So, yes, Ben, you said press your finger over the instructions. I would go even further. I typically say circle the key word, not just underline. Everyone can underline and I saw my exam candidates make the huge mistake of underlining everything. Oh my God! It’s just killing me when I tell them read the instructions, underline the key words and they start underlining every second word. Not like that, no. No. That’s why I stopped saying underline.

I say circle. It changes something in their minds. So, circle the key word. Circle the two words. Circle from the text and then say it to yourself. Pronounce it in your mind or whisper it to yourself. No one is going to kill you for whispering to yourself in the exam. No. And that helps you focus and focus and slow down just a bit is exactly what we need in the exam.

Ben: Absolutely. I completely agree there. Very much and what else can a student do to get ready for the exam and to make sure that they’re going to pass this exam, the reading exam?

Kate: The reading exam. Well, it always depends on how much you have. How long you have until the exam. Do you have two days or three weeks or three months? It greatly depends on that, but I would advise do two things at a time. 1) Expand your vocabulary and 2) practice the timed test. Again, trying to perform under timed conditions is the next best thing to the real exam. That’s the closest to the real exam. Shut the door. Tell everyone to just go away. Close the door, sit down, look at the clock, and focus.

And try to make yourself go slightly faster every time you take the test the next time. Every next test, try to do it a bit faster, a bit more fast because you have to do it slightly quicker because if you don’t develop this ability, you’re going to take too long and of course, there’s the huge load of other advice, but if I could summarize it like narrow it down, it could be this thing because that’s the main issue.

EXPANDING VOCABULARY

Ben: Excellent point. Yes, it just reminds me of what I used to say. Before I ask you about expanding vocabulary, I want to just mention something. If you’re starting with this exam, you don’t have to complete it in the set time. You can take an hour and a half, maybe a bit longer, and just work through the exam. Get familiar with it. Do it at your own pace and then as Kate said, aim to be shortening the time and doing it faster each time because if you just take it like when they set the exam time and you go through it the first time, you’re probably going to come up with a pretty bad score and it’s not going to be a very fair score whereas if you get familiar with the exam and then master the certain questions that you are struggling with and then start taking it under exam conditions.

Once you’ve got more familiar, once you’ve tried this question types a few times, once you’ve mastered them, then do it under exam conditions. I found in the past that that’s much easier and faster way to improve and also, you’re not beating yourself up as much. You got to be a little bit kinder with yourself, so to speak.

TWO WAYS OF APPROACHING THE IELTS

Kate: Yes and allow me to interrupt you. Exactly. The two ways of approaching the exam is getting acquainted with the test questions and all that. I call that practice mode. There are two modes; practice mode and exam mode. At first, you practice slowly figuring out the question types if this is completely new to you and that is practice mode. You take it slower. You understand how to think. You learn how to think and then when you get used to it, you take it under exam mode.

Ben: Absolutely.

Kate: So, two modes.

Ben: Yes, totally agree there. And you mentioned expanding vocabulary. How do you teach that? How do you teach students to expand and improve the vocabulary?

Kate: First of all, I tell them to go no further than the previous exam set that they practiced with. I ask them did you extract any new vocabulary from there and they say no, I just practiced the test. Well, that means you didn’t take advantage of the full test. I tell them to go back, forget the timing, forget the strategies, forget everything. Just focus on the words.

Try to absorb everything that you found new. Take from the test. Look at the context. See what they mean. See how they work and then I tell them– I teach them how to process vocabulary efficiently. I tell them not to make word lists. I tell them not to translate because IELTS is not a translation exam. It’s a synonym exam. It’s a paraphrase exam. That’s why you really need to make sure that you know how to say it in other words, not just how to translate. I tell them to collect synonyms and to make mind maps. I tell them to take their time and learn the meanings, not just focus on just going through the– rushing through the test.

Ben: And you said no making lists, no translating, but just expanding the vocabulary, making mind maps and I guess using the thesaurus as well.

Kate: Absolutely. Synonyms, mind maps, and simple explanations. Pictures where necessary and always get yourself a vocabulary book; I mean a note book where you would collect vocabulary. Take notes, draw pictures, write your synonyms and make the– connect words by topic, by let’s say a synonym like dominant. Let’s say the word look and all the synonyms for the word look with tiny notes with what each synonym means and how they are different because– you don’t need to write lengthy definitions. That’s [unintelligible 00:13:08.04].

THREE STEPS TO REMEMBER THE WORD 

If you want to look into vocabulary more closer and make sure that you remember some vocabulary that will be useful in the next test like lots of academic words and such. There are the three steps I call it. Define and give synonyms. 2) Find a good example. Find a genuine example from natural English language from a quality dictionary. 3) Get your own example with it and then believe me, you don’t need to go back to that word any more. Three steps and you will remember the word.

 And just one little thing. Don’t make effort to remember the word. Don’t try to remember it by heart. Just leave it soak into your mind. Study it. Look into the examples and then move on. The brain will do its thing. The brain knows how to work.

Ben: Very, very interesting. Good points there.

Kate: Don’t force the brain. Don’t force your memory. You don’t have to force it. You simply have to look into it.

Ben: Got you. Very good. Very, very good points. Now, you sent me the book a week or two ago and I saw that there is a big sort of like appendix of academic word– from the academic word lists. Can you share more about that and why you thought that would be useful to include?

Kate: Yes, as both IELTS academic and general training use reading passages from a variety of topics of general interest, but with a certain shift towards the academic side especially the third reading passage in general training and all three reading passages in IELTS academic, I thought it would be appropriate to introduce the focus on the academic word list just as I work with it when I taught English for academic purposes at university.

What’s the academic word list? That’s a certain list of words that turn out to appear in a variety of texts no matter the topic. It doesn’t really matter whether it’s history, anthropology, medicine, or space exploration. Words like concept or approach or you name it. There are so many that the entire lists will be useful and if you focus on a couple of lists because there are many lists from many sources that will help you no matter which test you’re taking.

One more piece of advice that I would give here is that you have to learn only one word typically the verb. Let’s say conceive, right, which means to understand or imagine. Of course, it means something else too, but it doesn’t really matter. But then, if you learn the verb and then you learn the word family of this word like concept or conceivable and you learn them all together, you’ve learned the whole bunch, but you only have to start from the first one, from the root word.

The root will be different. Sometimes it will change in the noun or in the adjective, but if you learn the main word, you have the whole family and that saves you time. That saves you time. That’s another tip for learning vocabulary that I would give.

Ben: Yes, absolutely plus with English, there’s a formula there. It’s usually going to follow a similar pattern to get the noun and not all the time because it is a little bit random in some respects, but usually, there is a pattern and sometimes you can just guess it just by being aware of the formula and once you know these formulae, you can expand your vocabulary exponentially rather than just do it in a linear fashion of learning like lists or going through– so, yes. That’s an excellent point there, Kate. What else could or should a student– a self-study student do when preparing for the reading?

Kate: Well, if the exam candidate has enough time, of course, they should read and they should do that to just develop the ability to cover large or spans of text with their eyes, but that’s a background activity. I call that background work. If you have the time, you should do that. If you don’t, then, of course, you should try and figure out how the test works and a very important thing that I realized my exam candidates told me and then I added this to my advice later was start from the easy things. Start from the test questions or types that you find the easiest. It doesn’t matter which part it is. Section 1, 2, or 3, but if you start with what you can do best, you will do it faster. You will do it more confidently. You will save time and effort. You won’t be stressed out.

Ben: And you recommend this strategy for all the tests or while preparing for the test?

Kate: I recommend it for both actually. For both and I know exam candidates who were super at ease with yes/no/not given. The terrible yes/no/not given. The true/false/not given. They said I find it easier. Okay. You like it. You do it. And if you know that you can do it faster than paragraph matching, than heading matching, go ahead. If you start with something that slows you down, it will slow you down.

Ben: Right. Got you. That makes complete sense. So, you just go for the ones that you– the easy ones and then come back and if you’ve got time, work on the harder ones.

Kate: Yes.

Ben: Good points there. Good points. By the way, listeners, there’s lots more of these strategies in the book that we’ll be launching very soon and also what I would recommend as well is that you try different strategies so that when it comes to test day, you’ve tested different strategies and you’ve found the one that works for you because maybe something I said you tried and it doesn’t work for you. Then try something else.

We’re talking, Kate and I, from our own experience and from experience teaching and helping lots of students and we’ve collected a lot of different strategies and it’s up to you to find out which ones work for you. I’m pretty certain most of what we’re saying is going to work, but just like Kate said though, you’re going to have your unique peculiarities and maybe you’ll find just like Kate said the yes/no/not given is easy or it’s horrible for you. You’ve got to just find out for yourself and this is what I was talking about with another tutor a while back which is basically taking responsibility for your own learning and finding out how to learn and rediscovering how to learn because a lot of us we haven’t been in that–

We just sit down in a classroom and the learning starts. Now, we’re self-study students– so, now that you’re a self-study student, it’s really critical, it’s really important that you find out how you learn as a person and then implement that strategy. So, yes. Kate, is there anything else that you would like to add or anything that you really like about the book that you’ve just finished?

Kate: Well, I like everything about the book because it’s the–

Ben: It’s my second baby.

Kate: Yes, it’s my second baby. The book is an easier baby. Well, I think we’re going to discuss this another time remind me if I’m wrong, the golden rule, right?

Ben: Yes, definitely. Definitely.

Kate: But, I would still like to start it here because that’s so global, that’s so important that everyone forgets and that’s directly connected to the vocabulary acquisition. Remember that the test contains all the right answers. It’s so obvious and it’s so simple that no one wants to believe that and I keep telling them and they don’t believe me. if you believe the test– the reading passage and if you go back to it and find that answer in other words in the actual reading passage and you confirm that oh, yes. My answer is the very same thing, but said in other words, you’ve got it. Just remember that that’s the case. The real answer is always hidden in the actual reading passage. Your business is to find it.

Just go find it, underline it, write the number of the question. It’s like oh, this is the answer to question 14 and my answer was let’s say option b) or option e) and this is exactly the words that say absolutely the same thing as the words in the answer. Yes, I know. Check. Never go back. The certainty of never going back and you know that it’s correct because this is how they plan the test.

This is how they do the test and actually, I’m happy to share that I have attended a couple of seminars where they explain how English tests are designed, be it Cambridge tests or IELTS tests. They are always designed a certain way and yes, there’s always a confirmation, a proof in the text and there’s always one answer. There is no ambiguity and if you think that both b) and e) might be the answer, it’s wrong. There’s always a distractor, but you will lead more about that in the book; about not paying attention to the distractors and all that.

Ben: Excellent. Yes. In the next tutorial that we record together, I’d like to ask you to expand on the golden rule and to expand on the structure of these English tests because that sounds very, very interesting. So, with that, thank you very much, Kate, for joining us today.

Kate: You’re welcome, Ben. [unintelligible 00:24:25.10].

Ben: It’s very good catching up and just one last thing for the students. if you’re struggling with this IELTS exam, as you’ve probably heard us, we’ve got resources on the Amazon Kindle store, we’ve got the online course that’s helping a lot of students improve their scores to Jump To Band 7 Or It’s Free.

We’ve also got a lot of materials and resources online at ieltspodcast.com and when you go there and you’re looking for your material, you can also sign up and we’ll send you a big jumbo PDF there full of sample essays and tips and all the rest of it.

So, yes, remember as well that if you are struggling, you’re not alone. You can come to ieltspodcast.com and we’ll be more than happy to help you. So, take care.

[Music]

Female Voice: Thanks for listening to ieltspodcast.com

The post Follow the instructions! appeared first on IELTS Podcast.

Dec 11 2019

25mins

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Self Study Students Will Love this Advice

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In this tutorial we cover: 

  • How a busy self study student can make time to prepare for the IELTS
  • Why Powerful Focus is essential (and how to get it)
  • How to keep motivated (useful for adult learners) 
  • How to get an INSTANT ROUTINE

You can download or listen to the audio version here:

|Direct Download Here | Stitcher | iTunes | Spotify | Soundcloud | Transcript |

You can also watch the full tutorial here:


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READ THE FULL TRANSCRIPT BELOW:

[Music]

Female Voice: You are now listening to the IELTS podcast. Learn from tutors and ex-examiners who are masters of IELTS preparation. Your host, Ben Worthington.

[music]

INTRODUCTION

Ben: Hello there, IELTS students. In this tutorial, we’re going to be speaking with Kirsten from the– what do you call it– fluentlanguage.co.uk and Kirsten has built up this awesome website which deals with learning a language, developing a habit of a language and speaking it fluently and Kirsten is going to be sharing lots of helpful advice and she knows what she’s talking about. She’s learnt eight languages and yes, absolute brainiac, insanely intelligence. So, welcome to the podcast, Kirsten.

Kirsten: No one’s ever introduced me like that. That’s possibly the best introduction I’ve ever had. Hello, Ben. Hello, IELTS listeners.

Ben: Yes, but eight languages; that’s just insane because I’m trying to learn a second one and I just keep bumbling it and falling over. So, somebody who’s learned eight that’s amazing, from my point of view anyway.

Kirsten: It just means I’ve been falling over for much, much longer than you probably.

Ben: I guess from what we were talking about last time like your community is the polyglot community so you’re probably like eight languages just like yes, I’ve learnt ten I’ve learnt five or whatever, but for outsiders, eight languages is just incredible. So, could you tell us about yourself and why you jumped into this world of language learning?

Kirsten: Sure. I live my life in the English language now, but originally, I come from Germany and I grew up and didn’t really have formal language lessons until I was 10. So, I grew up speaking German and speaking a dialect of German as well as Hochdeutsch; sort of standard German. So, I was kind of aware probably that people express themselves in different ways.

I remember like when I was 9 years old in school that we did if you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands before I knew English, before I knew really what it meant. I was just like this is so much fun. This is so brilliant. So, I think I’ve always had a thing for like the different sounds of other languages and then I was very lucky in secondary school because I had compulsory English and a compulsory second language choice of French or Latin in my school. So, I took French and then the school just like two years later they offered Italian. I was like cool, let’s go and then there was a chance of taking Latin again at a later stage and I was like cool, let’s go.

So, all the way through my life I think when someone’s offered a language, I’ve always gone like cool, let’s go. So, Italian and Latin and then I did Spanish later on. That was after school. I trained then I moved to England, studied English and French basically. Took an MA in Translation Studies and then for a while, I’ve just worked.

I had a job where I traveled a lot, but I didn’t really learn languages. So, I sort of went on break and then when I came out of my job and I became self-employed, I thought oh well, what can I do? What skills do I even have? German teaching? Okay. Right, let’s try that and that’s kind of when I realized how excited I am when adults learn languages and then how excited I am when I learn languages.

I kind of really, really came back to it  and that’s when I started doing– first I was doing Russian, then I started learning Welsh, and now I’m kind of playing around with Chinese although Chinese I’m finding so much harder. So, I’m still struggling and that’s how the language numbers sort of added up.

Ben: Got you. Wow! Wow! So, you just kept progressing. I was wondering because the last time we spoke, you picked up on my Spanish question tags and I was wondering hardly anybody picks up on that. Just for the listeners, as you probably know I’m from England, but I spent a lot of time in Spain and sometimes I use the Spanish structures even when I’m speaking English.

Kirsten picked up on this and I was wondering how she picked up on it, but now I know that you have studied Spanish to a certain level so that’s why it was pretty clear, right?

Kirsten: Yes and I always found question tags really fascinating because in English– when you’re learning English, you get taught how to do question tags because there’s a very firm structure, isn’t there? Right? You say a sentence and then you sort of just negate the verb, but you only do it with do or be, don’t you? So, I remember learning that and how exciting I found it and then how I had to learn that like– or how cool I found it in Spanish that’s they don’t do that. They just go no at the end of the sentence.

Ben: And it’s funny because it’s almost intuitive. If I speak like that, the listener always understands, no?

Kirsten: Just do it, Ben.

Ben: Just that’s it, but they always understand and it’s like intuitive even though it’s not the right structure and I think it just speaks a lot about like the capacity of other people to understand if they just– even if you don’t put in that much effort. So, yes. I’ve got some questions about Welsh, which I’ll ask you near the end because it’s from a meme that I received from a German friend and then I sent on to a Welsh friend and the Welsh friend– yes, exactly. It was kind of weird and the Welsh friend doesn’t even speak Welsh, but I thought I’d send it. Anyway, I’ll ask you about that later on.

What I’m really interested in is your focus is on adults and I guess adults usually are quite time poor especially when it comes to learning a language and I’ve got the same situation with a lot of my students. I get emails from them and they’re working full-time or studying full-time and it’s a real challenge to prepare for the exam and then to even budget the time necessary to not only to prepare for the exam but to learn the language. What solutions could you put forward or how would you help a student like that especially a self-study student who’s not going to an academy?

Kirsten: Absolutely. It’s a really interesting question. I think it’s very important and straightaway we’re asking a question here about not how to learn a language you know like should you do the verbs first or should you do pronunciation first? It’s much more fundamental. It’s much more basic in a way than that and much more about your life.

So, you have to start with who you are and what your life is like and how much time you realistically have. This is by the way when you work. I mostly work with English speakers who want to learn another language. This is I think why so many people pick up a language in retirement because you just have time all of a sudden or you feel like you have time.

So, the key tip for somebody who isn’t in retirement yet and you want to learn a language and you’re busy, the key tip for me is to go little by little. So, that means don’t expect yourself to sit down once a week and study a language for five hours straight even if that’s how it fits into your schedule, even if that’s how it fits into your diary. It’s not as helpful because your brain– the way forgetting works, the way our brain forgets is that your brain is better at learning stuff when you are reminded little and often.

So, allow yourself first of all to do something for only 10 minutes or 15 minutes. That is important. So, just kind of look at your diary and see where something can fit in and if you can only do 10 minutes of English, if you just can listen to a podcast or something like that for a little bit, that is better than nothing and that is actually better than adding it all up and doing it in one session during the week. Also, it’s better for developing your habit, right, so you continue to do it.

Ben: Absolutely. So, it’s like better to do 10 minutes every single day rather than just batch it all out on one day, one Sunday five hours, for example.

Kirsten: Yes.

Ben: Yes, that makes perfect sense from my own experience of learning Spanish as well. We’re just going to go a bit off-piece now. When you were talking about whether it’s better to learn the verbs first or the nouns or whatever, I was curious there. What would you say– do you have a methodology like if you’re teaching adults and they want to improve in their language or even start learning the language? How do you start? How do you do that?

Kirsten: Two things that I do now, like for me personally, something I really like to do is to– and I think this is because I’m German. So, I’ll explain this in a minute. Something I really like to do is start with pronunciation and just get my head around how to not be perfect, but just really know the different sounds in the language and how they relate to the different letters and this is why I say maybe it’s because I’m German because German is extremely consistent. What you see is what you say always.

English is not like that at all. In English, what you see could be five different sounds, twelve different sounds, right? But coming from Germany, I learned that pronunciation is really helpful because it then teaches me how to spell and then I can read and then when I read I can hear a word and when I hear a word, I can imagine the word. So, it all starts for me to come together in most languages.  

Now, I’m currently– like I said, I’m learning Chinese and there is this whole like layer of– like the tones I didn’t find too difficult. A lot of people talk about the tones with Chinese and it’s not– to me, it didn’t really break my head, but there being a whole other system where I can kind of see something, but from looking at it, I might know the meaning of something, but I don’t know how it sounds, that still is throwing me a little bit.

Ben: Right. Yes, yes.

Kirsten: So, that’s one thing, but I find pronunciation really helpful. The other thing that I do now and I think is really helpful if you’re learning English, for example, is just put yourself in front of something fairly simple and just ask yourself what you can understand. Give yourself a lot of input and just try and figure it out. Try and figure it out and just kind of go along the way. It could be a simple song. It could be if you happy and you know it clap your hands. That will be good actually because there are a lot of actions.

So, they teach you what different things mean, but it’s how I teach German as well. I’ve got this big German online course and it’s story based. So, we actually work with read the story and then I kind of unlock lots of different aspects of it.

Ben: Got you, got you, yes. What you’re saying about the pronunciation that definitely– it kind of almost mimics the natural way of learning a language because you start by listening for the first couple of years. You’re just listening. It’s just input, input and then you start reproducing the sounds and then, as you said, it kind of unlocks other parts of the language. Yes, very interesting.

So, another point that I found on your site was the power of focus. Why is this needed and how could a student get it?

Kirsten: By focus– when I talk about focus, either it’s very closely related to the idea of goal setting and all-round planning out what you’re going to do because if you’re self-taught or if it’s may be your first time teaching yourself a language or you just came out of school or any kind of institutional setting, what you are used to is you kind of turn up at a specific time, someone else has done all of the thinking for you and somebody else has done all of the planning for you and all you have to do really is kind of go here I am. Teach me. Teach me. Teach me, right? So, it’s actually less work.

So, when you’re teaching yourself a language, there’s this whole other level that you forget about because no one tells us that this happens. I have to learn it myself, but I can’t just get the book, sit down, and go right I’m going to do Polish now because what happens is when you sit down and you haven’t thought beforehand about what you actually want to achieve, Polish is just like a massive like swimming pool. You’re looking on the sea and you’re looking at you go right, I’m going to empty this now and you don’t really know what you’re doing and you don’t really know what’s going to be the most useful thing to do about it.

So, I talk in order to really be able to focus, I think you need to be able to give yourself the opportunity to sit down and know that what you’re doing is effective. A lot of students, a lot of people contact me and a lot of my clients and stuff talk to me and they want to know is what I’m doing really effective.

So, I work with people on setting yourself goals or setting yourself tasks for the next let’s say 30 days where you really think about okay, where am I stuck in English or what am I doing let’s say in English now? I’m working on removing ‘no’ from the end of my sentences just as an example out of thin air and you think okay, well that’s what I want to do. So, I want to– for the next 30 days, my focus is just on this. I want to speak without this. I’m going to practice lots of speaking.

And then when you have one little goal like that and you really think what do I want to do in the next weeks, it gives you the opportunity to think well, what am I actually going to do? Then you can get really specific about your actions and the different kind of small things that you will do. When you can do that, then it becomes much, much easier to find the time as well because you’re no longer thinking I have to learn all of English. You’re just thinking oh, I just want to practice some questions. I can take 10 minutes. Yes.

Ben: I love that. I love that. I have been saying similar stuff in the podcast in previous episodes about breaking it down into smaller bite-sized pieces. Just the other week, a student was talking about his schedule and how he got a spreadsheet because he was working shifts. So, like maybe two hours before work or an hour after work, he would just have it all mapped out, but the important thing and he was doing exactly what you were saying; sort of like assigning a task to each free space in his agenda–on his spreadsheet

So, when he sat down, like you said, he’s not going to just be like learning the whole of the English language. He’s just going to be focusing on practicing the use of articles, for example, and I think doing it this way especially for time-poor students they’re going to be able to fully maximize any free time that they do have and use it better. Also, it fits in with what we were saying before about developing a habit and trying to get it done daily rather than just a five-hour lump of time on a Sunday afternoon.

Kirsten: Absolutely and you know IELTS as a test, like most language-level tests, it kind of breaks it down for you already, right?  Because it splits language into reading, listening, speaking, and writing and everything that I do and how I work, I keep recommending that to people. Just think– you don’t have to do I’m only going to do writing because if you’re having a language lesson, of course, you’re practicing your listening too, but just think like what am I going to do for my reading this month? What am I going to do for my listening? What am I going to do for my speaking? What am I going to do for my writing? So, you already have it broken down. You don’t even need to like come up with a magical structure because it’s already there. So, it’s even easy.

Ben: Yes, yes. I mean if the student is really struggling, they can maybe break it down for yes/no/not given or whatever, but the framework is there. You’re totally right. The other thing what you said before about it’s basically learning how to learn because at school it’s just presented to you on a plate and like you said, you just turn up.

I think this is really important because I know personally that I learn better if there’s a system or some kind of methodology or some kind of program to follow. I’ve got friends who will learn a language better just by reading those bilingual books, you know, the dual path and just by reading it and getting familiar. I know a friend of my dad she just loves diving into the grammar. She’s just a grammar queen and just loves it and devours it.

So, I think what’s really important is to figure out like how you learn and in your case, like you said, for you it’s the pronunciation, but just learning how to learn and being aware of what works for you on a personal level. This brings me on to the next question about routine. How could a self-study student build this? On your site, you talk about an instant routine. Can you tell us more about that?

Kirsten: You know they–I’ll tell you why I had to learn this and where it kind of comes from is because I tend to resist routine and I tend to resist– I resisted all of this like routine, goals, getting organized. No, no, no. I’m lazy. I am just as lazy as everybody else, but possibly more. So, I was resisting the idea of routine for a long, long time until I realized this thing about if I don’t have any kind of structure and if I don’t have any kind of system and if I just think well, I’m an individual and I’m going to trust my gut, then essentially, I don’t do anything because discipline goes out the window.

So, you have to find this balance between being an individual, but also being disciplined and that’s not easy. I did some reading– a few years ago, I read a lot of research around motivation in language learning because I was really interested in that and just generally how languages are learned. For a while, I thought about doing– I sort of half wrote a PhD application that I never sent and then it–

Ben: Why not? Sorry, go on. Sorry, carry on. We’ll come back to this later.

Kirsten: I know it’s still somewhere. It’s still somewhere. I think I lacked confidence academically. We don’t go there.

Ben: No worries. No worries.

Kirsten: It’s not so useful for the listeners, but we can talk about it. Anyway, so all this research that I read kind of brought me to a few conclusions and helped me come up with a way of getting organized for myself. The other way that helped me personally was the bullet journal method and to start like writing down a bullet journal. So, I started making myself all these different trackers and structures and eventually, I kind of put them all together and that’s what’s the language habit toolkit now, but for me, it was the process of organizing myself. That’s where it started.

What I found was that the three most important parts of having a routine for me is not like every Monday morning, every Tuesday– I don’t really– routine doesn’t have to mean schedule, but it does have to mean a disciplined structure. So, for me, the good structure for language learning is to plan, track what you’re doing; just keep an eye on what you’re doing and review. So, at the end of a month or at the end of three months or whatever, however fast you learn; maybe at the end of the week, sit down and do a review.

That was kind of what I worked on. Then I started sharing it with other people and that’s how my method, if you want to call it a method, was created. It’s not about you must [unintelligible 00:22:36.22]. You must do this. You must speak straight away. For me, it’s much more about how do you get organized so that you don’t stop?

Ben: Excellent point there, excellent. I’m going to ask you about motivation and language learning just because that seems very interesting what you just mentioned, but I’d just like to talk about goal-setting. I think goal-setting is a skill in itself because when you get into– I mean when I got into it, I was like awesome! Goal-setting! And I put all these like crazy goals and then at the end of the week, I’d only accomplished five of them and I feel like a loser, a complete loser. So, a friend said okay, set three goals and after that, everything else is a bonus goal.

Doing it this way it was just much, much more effective and much more enjoyable, but also I think what you said  was really important is not beating yourself up about it and just accepting that okay, these are the goals. These are the bonus goals. If I don’t hit them, I’m not going to just throw the language– I’m not going to throw the dictionary into the bin. I’m going to give myself a little bit of leeway at least it when I’m getting started and then small steps and slowly those steps turn into paces and the pace turns into a walk and then before you know it you’re running, you’re sprinting, and you’re getting that momentum, which I think is another very, very important part.

So, motivation and language learning; what did you find when you were researching this, when you were jumping in, when you were in this?

Kirsten: One of the things that I found really fascinating was that motivation— two aspects about motivation. 1) It’s cyclical, so it kind of fuels itself. In other words, when you are feeling success, when you’re feeling a good result, you become more motivated. So, then you get more good results and then you get more motivated and then you get more good results and you get more motivated, right?

So, motivation it’s not some kind of magical thing that you have to– when people say I don’t have motivation after a period of long hard work, that’s natural. That’s normal, right? It’s not because you lack the willpower. It’s because you haven’t had a good experience for a while, which is why it’s so important to set your goals small because otherwise you don’t have success and then you think you’re being ambitious, but you’re just– it’s a recipe for disaster really. It just means you stop.

So, that was one thing and the other thing was that there are in a way two types of motivation: extrinsic and intrinsic. Extrinsic basically means the kind of things that come that are outside of you that you aim for. So, if you are– if you want to– Okay, so if your university says you have to have IELTS 6.5, then that is your motivation. That is something to aim for and that is one type of motivation.

If you now inside of yourself accept okay, I’m going to study for IELTS 6.5. That is my personal goal because I want to go to university and I see myself there and inside of me I fill all the goodness that my life will– I know what my life will feel like, that’s called intrinsic motivation and it’s generally more powerful and much more consistent. So, people find that when you are able to find motivation inside of yourself for learning languages, that’s when you succeed. That’s when you don’t give up and it really is true. Successful language learning they’re not magical. With eight languages, twelve, one language; it doesn’t matter. You are successful when you don’t give up. That’s the main thing.

Ben: Interesting. Yes. I usually ask why a certain student is– if I’m chatting with them online or emailing them and most of them it’ll be the extrinsic ones. I need IELTS to get into City of London University, for example. Every once in a while, it’s like I don’t need IELTS for anything. I just want to test my level and those ones who are taking it just to see how good they are at English or to see if they’ve improved, those would be the intrinsic ones, right? Is that right?

Kirsten: They are intrinsically motivated to achieve an external goal. So, the question then is like is getting to City meaningful to you? If you basically feel like I want to go to City to study finance because my mum really wants me to go to City to study finance, but really secretly, I want to do physics at my local. I don’t care. I don’t care about City. If you are that, then you will have a harder time motivating yourself, right? So, you have to find– and I usually call it a vision goal basically.

So, there is the vision goal. That’s not the task oriented one. That is really the one– the question is why is this meaningful to you? What makes it meaningful to you and also like who are you going to be when you’re successful? It’s very self-improving.

Ben: Yes, yes, yes. It like explains this– so maybe a student who’s got the goal of taking their family from Russia or from India, from wherever to live in Canada.

Kirsten: Yes. You have a vision. You have a big thing and if you think or you feel happy when you think about it and that’s a different kind of motivation. So, it comes from the inside even if it’s something outside that you want in your life.

Ben: Got you and it’s that motivation that you’re going to rely on and you’re going to use to sit down and write an IELTS task 2 essay about a subject that you really probably don’t care that much about, for example. Got you.

Kirsten: Good example, yes.

Ben: Yes, thanks and the other thing that I just want to remind the listeners about was the quick wins and just getting that momentum and getting in that positive feedback loop basically and just seeing how far you go and how you’re improving. Also as well, just as a side note that I think for some reason, I think a lot of us are hard-programmed to be sort of like negative and to beat ourselves up. I could ask anybody name me five faults you have as a person and they could instantly bam-bam-bam-bam five points. If I say any five good quality– five good personality traits you have, they’d be struggling and I think the default is to be negative against ourselves and this definitely translates when we’re learning languages.

So, I think we need to try and identify that when we hear it and not only recognize the errors but recognize the good points that we’re making. This is critical, as you’ve said just to keep that momentum, to keep the motivation high. All right.

So, next question: the language toolkit; this seems really interesting when I was looking at your site. Can you tell us about this, please?

Kirsten: The language– yes, language habit toolkit it’s called and it’s– people keep calling it the language toolkit, so maybe I should just rename one day, but it’s for building– the idea is it came out of this sort of a lot of reading that I did around habits and motivation. Okay. So, the language habit toolkit is a– it’s two things kind of put together.

So essentially, it’s my language learning method and I’m teaching it to you in this course that is kind of a course, but mostly built out of worksheets. So, like the professionally designed worksheets that I designed together with a friend who’s much better than me at graphic design. So, I came up with all of the structures and they’ve kind of pulled out of all the research that I did and they take you through– or everything that I was talking about today really. All this idea of planning really well, getting that focus, structuring what you’re doing so that you can also find the time and you can work out how to do it.

So, for example, there’s a weekly planner in there. So, if you have your week right in front of you, you can then go where does language learning fit in? There are different kinds of trackers because something I wanted to mention is like you said about it’s so important to be positive and it’s so important to look at ourselves at least neutrally, which is so hard already.

So, tracking is a great, great way of doing that and then– but it’s not just like okay, today I did this much. Today, I did this much. So, we track– in every of the templates, you track you’re listening, reading, speaking, and writing so that you can see which balance you naturally fall into because I find most people focus on the thing that they– either the thing that they find I am the worst or the thing that they like the most, but both ways, you don’t get balance. So, there’s a tracking system in there and then I guide you through a review process as well and it’s a whole sort of–

So, it’s a course that you can take that is very, very interactive. I didn’t want it to be you sit there and you have to learn, learn, learn. I wanted people to be able to take really quick actions straight away, which is why it’s very worksheet designed and it kind of takes you through the whole language learning process.

So, it helps you build that routine. It’s kind of like as if you have a planner that just kind of helps you along the way. So, if you have any kind of feeling where I find it hard to get organized or I don’t know what I’m doing or I don’t know if what I’m doing is effective, there will be something in there for you.

Ben: So, you can just sit down and get started straight away. You’re just following the next instruction, so to speak.

Kirsten: Yes, exactly and you do your routine and you don’t do somebody else’s routine. So, there are a lot of questions in there. It’s not the kind of course that you take where you don’t have to think because I don’t like that. So, it’s a good way for you to really start looking at evaluating your own language learning methods and kind of optimizing everything that you’re doing so that you can become a little bit more effective and you can get better results or maybe you could just have more fun, which to be honest, is the way to go to results in my opinion.

Ben: Absolutely. Yes, absolutely. If you’re enjoying it, you’re going to stick with it and you’re going to keep doing it. You’re going to come back and you’re going to be writing more essays, you’re going to be just progressing much faster because obviously, you’re going to be doing it more frequently. This is why I cringe when I see teachers just destroy the student and they’ll just say okay, you did this wrong, this wrong, this wrong and it’s like whoa! Give the guy a break. He’s just starting out. You didn’t say anything positive about them. Yes, I like this idea of the questionnaire and establishing what they did well and what they enjoy and also you said there are parts where they have to admit like what they need to improve. Is that right?

Kirsten: Yes. Yes. So, in the review process, you kind of look at like what worked over the last year, what didn’t work, how do I feel now and you also look at well, did I fall into– did I keep my study skills relatively in balance? The thing is really it’s not critical, but it encourages you and it gives you a structure for having an honest look at yourself and honest doesn’t have to mean negative, doesn’t have to mean scary. It’s just the way to move forward. Then out of that, the last thing we do is after this, you set some new goals so that you can go straight into the system again. So, it– you automatically– you’re always improving because you set some measures then you go and then at the end you’re like okay, what did I actually do? What worked? What didn’t work? And then there’s different– in the course, I give you different options for how to track depending on if you just want to check a box or you want to be writing down what you’re doing.

Ben: Very interesting. This is like TQM, no? Total Quality Management which like– No? So, you’re doing the question tasks– yes, have a look and it’s what like Toyota I think pioneered or Honda where they were just consistently and continuously improving and reviewing processes with the view to improve them. So, they just– yes and like after I don’t know if they did it in the same way, but it sounds very similar like they just review and say okay, how can this be done better? How can we improve this and then implement it, but continuously. That was the key; just continuously.

Kirsten: My husband works in– he’s a programmer. He works in software development, so he’s trained in Kanban and all those kind of methods and I think that influenced me sometimes because when I talk about my projects with him, I learn not that way and I come out of project management as well. So, there’s definitely a little bit of that there.

Ben: Okay. Interesting. Very interesting.

Kirsten: It’s a good way of bring– it’s a good skill to bring to language learning especially if you’re self-teaching.

Ben: Oh, definitely, definitely. I mean I think it’s absolutely critical if you’re self-taught or teaching yourself because if you don’t have the structure, you can just be diving all over the place and language is such a vast ocean as you were saying right at the beginning that you need to have a structured and organized approach. Otherwise, you can just drown in it literally.

Okay. So, Kirsten,

Kirsten: [unintelligible 00:37:22.27] motivation.

Ben: Sorry? We lost you there. Can you say that again, please?

Kirsten: [unintelligible 00:37:27.03] and also to set that vision so you do have the intrinsic motivation.

Ben: Exactly. That’s a very, very valuable point.

Kirsten: Yes, it’s a lot to balance.

Ben: The vision– yes, exactly. We’ve got the vision. I guess you could say– I don’t know if we just use an analogy of sailing. We’ve got the vision, which is sort of like the destination and how are we going to get there? We’re going to use the electronic mode or we’re going to use the wind sails and then we’re going to use the rudder, so to speak to steer it and without all of that in place, you’re never going to get to where you want to get to and without the self-correction along the route as well. Otherwise, it’s just like jumping into the pool with no orientation, with no sense of direction. It’s not going to be fun. Okay. So, we’re near the end and before you tell us more about fluentlanguage.co.uk, I want to ask you these questions about the Welsh language because I was a bit cynical when my friends sent me this, but do you know the word for ladybird?

Kirsten: No.

Ben: Oh, that’s a shame. A hamster?

Kirsten: No.

Ben: A badger?

Kirsten: No.

Ben: Oh, okay.

Kirsten: I know the word for butterfly. That’s a good one.

Ben: Okay, tell me the word for butterfly.

Kirsten: It’s pilipala.

Ben: Pilipala and what does it mean; pilipala?

Kirsten: I don’t know. I didn’t know that it meant something in particular.

Ben: Okay, because I’m looking at this list in front of me and ladybird is [unintelligible 00:39:07.14] or something like that. I probably just butchered it, but it means short red cow apparently and then hamster is [unintelligible 00:39:20.20] which means–

Kirsten:  [unintelligible 00:39:22.23] black pig?

Ben: Or fat cheeks. I’ve got here fat cheeks.

Kirsten: Okay. Oh, yes. Like [unintelligible 00:39:33.06]. Okay [unintelligible 00:39:34.12] that’s pigs [unintelligible 00:39:36.10].

Ben: Okay. Well, yes. The next one badger [unintelligible 00:39:40.00] which means earth pig.

Kirsten: Yes, [unintelligible 00:39:45.12]

Ben: Okay, so it is true. It is true because it has all these– yes, the words in English and the words in Welsh and then the translation of what it like literally means. Like freezer is [unintelligible 00:39:58.17] which is ice cell.

Kirsten: Yes.

Ben: And skunk is [unintelligible 00:40:04.09] which is stink dog. Yes, there’s quite a few–

Kirsten: And you know library is [unintelligible 00:40:10.06] where you get the [unintelligible 00:40:12.00] again at the end G-E-L-L that you’ve just seen with the freezer because that means book cell.

Ben: Okay. All right.

Kirsten: [unintelligible 00:40:19.02]

Ben: When I was reading it, it just reminded me of what you were saying in the first call we had which wasn’t recorded about opening up a whole new level. It reminds me that languages open up this whole new level, a whole new universe. A whole new like special glasses into a culture, into a country. Okay, good. I’m glad I got some closure on that because I was thinking that can’t be true. I’ll ask Kirsten, but you confirmed it. So, fantastic there.

Kirsten: I mean I didn’t know any of the three vocab words that you asked me about, so bad performance.

Ben: Oh, no. We got there. We got there. You spotted [unintelligible 00:41:12.04] which was–

Kirsten: That is pig. That is pig, but when you think about it, ladybird is a weird–

Ben: Excellent point, yes.

Kirsten:  –but in German, ladybird is Mary bug and lady is like Our Lady Mary, right? It’s a Catholic thing.  When you say like the Church of Our Lady in German that’s often [unintelligible 00:41:33.01] so like a St. Mary’s Church.

Ben: Yes, that’s a good point actually and you can do the same with dandelion because dandy means sort of like good and happy and then you got lion and there’s like a happy lion, which is equally as insane as the Welsh one which is lion’s tooth [unintelligible 00:41:52.10]

Kirsten: Yes, [unintelligible 00:41:57.16] okay.

Ben: And then dragonfly. If you break it down as well, it is kind of weird and in Welsh it’s [unintelligible 00:42:09.03] which is servant of the snake.

Kirsten: Oh, I didn’t know that. Oh, this is great. This is great.

Ben: I’ll send this over. I’ll send it over after the call. Okay. So, just to finish off, can you tell us about your site and tell us why we should go there, what we can find when we go to fluentlanguage.co.uk?

Kirsten: So, fluentlanguage.co.uk is sort of my home on the internet. It’s a website I run. I have had this website for seven years and I’ve been blogging for seven years. So, there’s a lot of blog articles answering any kind of questions about language learning. Once a month, I check in and I share my own language learning progress or non-progress, but usually I find something good. There’s also a link to my podcast. We’ve got 160 episodes of anything and everything interesting from the world of learning another language and also you can find links to all of my language courses and if you’re a language teacher, also some stuff about becoming a language teacher and yes, if you want to hire me as a language coach, you can also do that through there. So, it’s all in one place.

Ben:  Excellent. All right. Well, thank you very much, Kirsten, for coming on the show, for the ton of value and help and guidance and motivation for all the students.

Kirsten: Thanks for having me. It was so much fun. So nice talking to you.

[Music]

Female Voice: Thanks for listening to ieltspodcast.com

The post Self Study Students Will Love this Advice appeared first on IELTS Podcast.

Dec 07 2019

43mins

Play

How to upgrade your essay to Band 9 with collocations

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In this tutorial, you’ll learn

  • How to easily and simply ‘upgrade’ your IELTS task 2 essay to Band 9 by adding collocations or extra adjectives to your sentences.

  • How to use a few idioms to show the examiner you are a really confident writer.
  • How to use these adjectives to further develop your ideas which will help you to score highly in for both the Task Achievement and Cohesion and Coherence marking categories.
  • How to look at a sample essays and see how these upgrades REALLY CAN TRANSFORM a good essay into a GREAT essay!

This will help you in your IELTS because

  • By using collocations you can show the examiner you are using ‘natural and sophisticated English’ which is specified in the Band 9 marking criteria
  • You can show the examiner strength in ‘Lexical range and accuracy’ using high level words to develop your ideas.

You can download or listen to the audio version here:

|Direct Download Here | Stitcher | iTunes | Spotify | Soundcloud | Transcript |

READ THE FULL TRANSCRIPT BELOW:

[Music]

Female Voice: You are now listening to the IELTS podcast. Learn from tutors and ex-examiners who are masters of IELTS preparation. Your host, Ben Worthington.

[music]

INTRODUCTION

Daphne: It’s Daphne and I’m one of the new tutors at ieltspodcast.com. Thank you for choosing to listen to this podcast. So, what we’re going to do here is talking about simple upgrades. So, this is how you can easily add to your essay working on the C2 model and algorithm, which lots of you who are doing the course are familiar with.

What you’re going to do is– with these upgrades, just simply add a couple of high-level adjectives or an extra noun at the end of each sentence. This does two things, which IELTS examiners are always looking out for. Number one, they show that you have lexical range and accuracy. This is very important and one of the key criteria. This means that for a band 7, you can show you have a wide range and control of your vocabulary.

The second thing this does is adding these extra words help you develop your argument and show that you totally understand all the aspects of the question. So, in this way, you’re going to score really well on task achievement.

LET’S UPGRADE A STUDENT’S ESSAY TO BAND 9


So, in this essay, what we’re going to do is look at a student’s essay and this was a nice essay. It was about 6.5 probably, maybe 6, but very simply, I’m going to show you how we can upgrade it to get a better band score. So, the title of the essay is people are using a lot of online language translation apps. Do the benefits of these outweigh the disadvantages?

Okay, quite a simple title and obviously, very interesting. So, the student starts off with the importance of web-based language translation applications has grown over the past few years. So, very nice use of paraphrasing; hasn’t repeated the same words as are in the question. They’ve used web-based language translation applications, but can we improve that?

So, what I’m going to suggest is that we say the importance of web-based translation app– the importance and popularity of web-based translation applications has grown over the past few years. Why has it grown? So, let’s add in here due to globalization. So, that answers the question why is it such a good thing? Why has it grown?

Next sentence. People from the different geographical areas are vastly using mobile applications to learn and understand a foreign language. Now, we don’t want the word the different geographical areas and we don’t really say vastly using, but we do like the word vastly. That’s quite unusual and quite nice to put in. So, how about this?

People from vastly different geographical zones, educational backgrounds, and cultural beliefs are more inclined to use such mobile applications to learn and understand a foreign language. So, what we’ve done here is rather than saying people from geographical areas, we’re changing it to geographical zones and we’re adding in a bit more here; educational backgrounds and cultural beliefs.

So, not only are we using this lovely power of three so we’ve got three adjective-noun collocations. This shows a sophistication in your vocabulary and it kind of develops the essay as well. So, we’re saying it’s not just people in different places it’s all sorts of different people. Instead of vastly using, we’re going more inclined. That again I think is a nice addition.

And then the next line. So, introducing the essay is I strongly agree that its positives outweigh the negatives. I think we should signal here in this introduction where the essay is going. I’m suggesting I strongly agree that the positive– sorry. I strongly agree that the positives of this development outweigh the negatives.

Now, I don’t use pros and cons. I know some of you do write pros and cons, but I will always correct that because I think it’s too informal and in this essay, I will discuss this using examples of current apps and The Times newspaper or an article in The Times newspaper. So, we just changed that introduction a little bit. We got the same idea as what the student wanted to say, but we’ve added in some words and we’ve added these great collocations.

So, in this first main body paragraph here, on the one hand– this is the student’s sentence– on the one hand, there are ample evidences that mobile phone has given ease to the people’s life. Nowadays, people are migrating to different countries and dealing with overseas companies for business purposes, so learning a second language has become the necessity. Such mobile applications are facilitating them by providing a handy solution to their language barriers.

So, there is lots of nice stuff here. You can probably find– you can probably hear some mistakes, but there’s lots of good stuff here. So, it’s a nice strong topic sentence and it makes an interesting point, but we can upgrade this quite easily.

So, first sentence: On the one hand– now, we should be having there is ample evidence that… Now, instead of saying that mobile phone has given ease to the people’s life, I think we need to just clarify this. So, it’s not really the phone. It’s constant access to… So, constant access to mobile phones, so adding a nice adjective-noun collocation. Constant access and more information– So, I’m suggesting here– has been immeasurably beneficial… So, adverb-adjective collocation– …to both our social lives and business careers.

Rather than– they said people’s life, which should be people’s lives; V-E-S, let’s be specific. What aspect of their life? So, we’re saying social life and business careers. So, you can see that just these little collocations, these little nouns with an adjective are just not only improving your lexis but are developing the whole point of your essay as well. If you develop it fully, you’re going to get a higher mark.

Nowadays, people are migrating to different countries. Now, I’m asking myself why? …and dealing with overseas companies for business purposes. Okay. So, let’s expand this. Nowadays, citizens are migrating to different countries in order to build a new future. Okay, that’s easy. Add that in and it makes a big difference.

…and dealing with overseas companies for business purposes. So, again, let’s explain what’s happening. We’re adding these little clauses in to develop and expand our ideas. So, learning a second language has become their necessity. Now, I like that. Mobile applications are facilitating this. Okay, good. Maybe we can just say how.

So, I’m suggesting such mobile applications are facilitating them, i.e. the people, by providing a handy solution to their language barriers. So, handy solution it’s quite informal, but it does work okay and it sounds quite natural. So, here we go and there’s the example coming up. For example, Play Store and Apple App Store provide ample number of paid and unpaid apps such as Duolingo and there’s a list of the apps.

So, I’m just saying okay, what is so good about these apps? Yes, they provide them, but tell me more. So, my suggestion: For example, Play Store and Apple App Store advertise multiple paid and free-to-use apps such as Duolingo, whatever and then tell me what they do. I’m suggesting which instantly translate– a nice adverb-verb– instantly translate one language into another allowing crucial communication– so adjective-noun– be it social or commercial to happen seamlessly.

So, I’m putting in that nice adverb seamlessly at the end there. So, we’ve just put in, again, same thing we’re doing all the way nice collocations. So, adjective, adverb, verb, adjective-noun or adding an adverb it develops and it shows off. Therefore, it is advent that people’s lives is being made easy through this handy and ready-to-use solutions.

Okay. So, advent; this is not the right word here. We think we mean apparent, so I’m suggesting it is apparent that many key aspects of people’s lives are– plural– being made easier through these handy and ready-to-use solutions. I like handy. I think that’s fine, but use handy and ready-to-use. That’s perfect. Good.

So, coming on here– On the other hand, whether conversion app benefits the public or causes loss to a section of society has been debatable since its inception. Now, be very careful with this since its inception because it’s lightly thrown in without really thinking what does this mean. I’m just always– just kind of check these things that it makes sense. To me, that’s not quite in the right place.

So, here correction: On the other hand, whether language conversion apps benefit the public or cause potential losses to a key section of the– Now, they’re saying a section of society and they’re going to talk about teachers, so what I’m just changing this to is a key section of the education establishment because that’s more specific– is also a controversial topic for discussion. So, has been debatable since inception I’m changing to controversial topic for discussion; controversial meaning that we’re all going to have different opinions on this.

So, the student continues: A recent study has shown that the bilingual teachers or native language tutors have significantly lost their incomes as more people have started to use such apps instead of spending money on the tuitions to learn a new language. Very interesting point, very valid, great example here.

So, let’s just clarify this and tidy it up a bit.  A recent study published in The Times newspaper has shown that there has been a… Now, instead of talking about significant loss of income, I’m going to suggest significant reduction in demand for bilingual teachers or native language tutors, okay? So, a significant reduction in demand.

The word significant is such a useful adjective. We can use this in Task 1 on the bar charts and the graphs and it’s also a really nice adjective to have here. The significant reduction in demand for bilingual teachers or native language tutors as more people have started using such apps instead of spending money on the specialist tuition required to learn a new tongue, okay?

So, rather than spending money on tuitions, we’re saying the specialist tuition required. We’re adding in just a simple adjective, specialist, and then that makes it much clearer and it’s another nice adjective to put in.

So, they carry on: For an instance, free apps simply require basic registration details and e-mail verification to register a person as a student and earns through the advertisement. Okay, a little bit unclear that to me. I wasn’t quite sure what that was referring to, but can I suggest this? For instance, free apps simply require basic registration details and e-mail verification to begin compared to the many hours or even years needed to master an additional language to a proficient level of fluency. So, we’re saying the comparison. So, instead of using apps which can translate for you, of course, it’s never going to give you what working with a tutor is going to give you and that’s never going to get you as fluent as all these hours that you’re all spending working on your speaking skills. It’s never going to get you as good as that. So, we’re putting in here compared to the many hours or even years needed to master an additional language to a proficient level of fluency.

So, we’ve got nice collocations: master an additional language and proficient level of fluency. This is all more academic and higher level. So, we’re improving the lexis and we’re also developing our argument more fully. We don’t want the examiner to ask any more questions. We want to give them all the information we possibly can.

As a result, genuine professors and new entrant to the field suffers a lot, right? So, instead: As a result, despite the indisputable benefits of learning face-to-face… So, nice idiom here; learning face-to-face– …with talented and experienced professors– oh sorry. Learning face-to-face here we go talented and experienced professors, translators, and interpreters…

So, we’re not just talking about teachers. We’re saying professors, translators, and interpreters again, using the power of three words here– are having to fight to justify their relevance in this new world. So, justify their relevance in this new world. Good. So, I hope you agree with me that by adding in those three nouns and just changing these words a bit– so rather than saying they suffered a lot, we’re saying they have to fight to justify their relevance in this new world.

So, the conclusion: To sum up and conclude… I don’t think you need to sum up. I don’t like that. I would say to conclude, if the situation favors the online applications, it would be beneficial for the community at large. It really helps people to resolve the issue instantly as and when the support is needed. They will not be required to wait or approach others for the solution.

Now, I can see where this is going. It’s a little bit sort of complicated to read through. The cohesion is a little bit tricky here to understand, so we’re just going to clean this up. To conclude– and it’s nice to have an opinion in here– I believe that if the situation favors the relatively accurate easily accessible use of online translation applications which offer instant and quick solutions, these can be hugely beneficial for the community at large. I’m pausing there because I’m going to carry on. …and in the future, their flexibility and sophistication will continue to be improved.

So, rather than saying if the situation favors the online applications because that’s not very clear, I’m saying if the situation favors the relatively accurate easily accessible use of online translation applications. So, relatively accurate easily accessible. Again, so we’ve got relatively accurate. These are both adverb-adjective collocations. So, we’re putting two words together to make a nice expression which is a collocation. As you know, it recurs often. It’s very natural to people. It makes it easy to read.

…which offer instant and quick solutions. So, rather than just saying it resolves the issue instantly, we’re saying offer instant and quick solutions. This can be beneficial for the community at large and then you put in a nice prediction in here. In the future, their flexibility and sophistication… So, we’re saying these apps are flexible. …flexibility and sophistication will continue to be improved because, as we all know, sometimes when we use translation apps, it does not give you the information that you want.

FINAL TIP


Okay. So, thank you for listening. I know it’s difficult for you because I can see this essay in front of me and you can’t see it, but I hope just by going through this essay I’ve shown you some really easy ways that you can upgrade your essay. Always think, can I add an adjective here? Can I add two adjectives? Can I have an adverb and an adjective combination? Can I add a compound word?

So, anything you can add in terms of vocabulary will really, really help you and not only as I say in the Lexis but will really, really help your task achievement. So, you need to develop the arguments so the examiner has some no more questions. They understand it perfectly.

So, thank you for listening. Get on board with the course which is brilliant and the essay writing algorithm which Ben talks you through; really, really good and there are lots and lots of other stuff on the website ieltspodcast.com

[Music]

Female Voice: Thanks for listening to ieltspodcast.com

The post How to upgrade your essay to Band 9 with collocations appeared first on IELTS Podcast.

Dec 04 2019

18mins

Play

Henry jumps from Band 6 to 7

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Meet Henry! He jumped a whole band score! 

How did he do it? Getting feedback and improving his essay writing, and following the online course.

Henry is a very hardworking, smart and successful IELTS student from Mongolia, he now lives in Australia. 

In this interview he shares his favourite resources and podcasts. These include: 

I think the best take away from this episode is his attitude. 

Henry really impressed me when he explained how he reacted to getting feedback. 

After each essay correction, he would research online the exact grammar points he needed, do online exercises, and come back with a better essay and stronger grammar. Genius.  

It reminds me a lot of this quote: 

Hard work opens doors and shows the world that you are serious about being one of those rare – and special – human beings who use the fullness of their talents to do their very best. 

Robin S. Sharma 

Henry’s attitude also reminded me about this: 

You can download or listen to the audio version here:

|Direct Download Here | Stitcher | iTunes | Spotify | Soundcloud | Transcript |

YOU MAY READ THE FULL TRANSCRIPT BELOW:

Female Voice: You are now listening to the IELTS podcast. Learn from tutors and ex-examiners who are masters of IELTS preparation. Your host, Ben Worthington.

INTRODUCTION

Henry: Hello, my name is Henry. I’m from Mongolia and at the moment I live in Australia and I took the IELTS to extend my visa in Australia. So, I took online course from the IELTS podcast and then I’m really happy with Ben’s service.

Ben: Excellent, alright

Henry: Yes.

Ben: Thank you very much, Henry.

Henry: No worries, Ben.

Ben: Okay, so you want to extend your stay in Australia, correct?

Henry: Yes, that’s right.

Ben: I see. Did you say you are a student at the moment?

Henry: No. I came to Australia to study for my Master’s degree and I completed it last year. So, right now, I’m just living in Australia, working.

Ben: Interesting. May I ask what job you’re doing?

Henry:  Actually, my major is accounting, but currently I’m working in construction field. I work as a plan reader in a construction company, yes.

Ben: That’s interesting. Wow! Okay. I’m curious. We’re just going to go a bit off-topic now, but how did an accountant end up as a plan reader in a construction site?

Henry: Yes, it’s interesting and also a long story.

Ben: Okay. Okay.

Henry: Yes.

Ben: All right, no worries. We’ll talk about that another day. So, I guess you’ve taken the test a few times before, no, to get onto the Master’s program.

Henry: Actually, the first test was TOEFL. I took the TOEFL IBT maybe so many years ago and then before this time, I took the IELTS last year also to extend my visa and then that time I hadn’t got– I didn’t got any like the long period enough time to prepare it. I think I had only one or two weeks and I just familiarized myself with the IELTS structure and then like type of questions.

So, I really didn’t prepare it, just familiarize myself and then I just did okay with my first attempt and then I extended my visa and then I had to took it again this year also saying for same reason and then this time I had like one month and half to prepare it and then I got a much better result this time.

Ben:  Very interesting. I see. Could you tell us the results you got the first time, please?

Henry: Okay. So, I got a 6.5 that time and reading and listening is 6.5, speaking 7, writing 6.

Ben: Oh, I see. I see and this was just with like very minimum preparation and just basically familiarizing yourself with the exam.

Henry: Yes. I think my learning like my study in Master help with much about that. So, like without that, I couldn’t get that high score. So, like that time I just finished complete my degree; like after I completed my degree, one week I took the exam. So, I was fresh that time. So, I think that’s why I got the 6.5. Otherwise, IELTS is not easy test to take to get a good score.

Ben: Absolutely, but I know what you mean about being sort of like fresh because if you’re writing and using the language every day, then– and you’ve been like this for a good year or two and then you have to carry on using it in a test, it’s much easier than if you had stopped writing and you’ve just been speaking and listening in English, for example, for the last year and then suddenly you’ve got to get writing again because I don’t know about you, but when I’m writing in a foreign language it can go rusty. The skills can get rusty unless you are constantly using them and maintaining them. Would you agree?

Henry: Yes, that’s right. I totally agree with that.

HENRY’S BIGGEST IELTS CHALLENGES

Ben: All right.  What were the biggest challenges you had with the IELTS when you did do your test?

Henry: I see my weakest points are writing and speaking, but you know people don’t realize until they get valuable feedback like they don’t know how well or bad they are performing in like a specific section. So, I got to find out like how bad is my writing when I got feedback first time and then I was also surprised like wow! This is it. So, like I see some light like I can improve my writing because I got the feedback and I know my mistakes and so it was quite shocking when I got the feedback first time.

Ben: I see. I see. Are you talking about the feedback you got from our online course or from another–

Henry: Yes.

Ben: Okay.

Henry: No, no. I never took any other courses, so you are my first choice and yes, this is–

Ben: Got you. It’s like a high school romance; the first love.

Henry: That’s right.

Ben: Okay.  I know you’ve been faithful then that’s good to know.

Henry: Because–

Ben: I’m sorry.

Henry:  Before I chose your course, I was listening your podcast for many months like for a long time, so like I thought myself if I take the IELTS again, I’m going to take the course from the IELTS podcast. So, that’s why I didn’t look for the different courses, so I just straight went to your services.

Ben: Got you. I understand. Okay, that’s interesting and Henry, did you not get any feedback on your Master’s course?

Henry: Actually, in Master, they don’t tell you about the grammars and structure things. Only thing is like the content of it. You have to– it should have include this kind of information or like something like this, not like grammar-wise English-wise. Actually, I started learning English by myself. Never taught English by any teacher, so like grammar is my big weakness because like I studied only the essential grammar in use and intermediate and something like– I did these books by myself. That’s all the grammar I know.

Ben: Interesting, very interesting and just to dig into this a little bit deeper, so you got the feedback and then you knew which areas to work on and you studied those specific areas. Is that right?

Henry:  Yes, that’s correct. Yes.

HOW HENRY IMPROVED USING FEEDBACK

Ben: Got you and so once you had these areas identified because before you had no idea and once the essay correctors had identified them, how did you go about improving? What steps did you take?

Henry: First of all, my biggest mistake was articles. So, like I never know there is some kind of like specific rules for that. I just learn like observation– like through the observation, not through the like grammar or the specific rules. So, I started learning from Internet, so how to use, how to master articles in essay writing, something like this. So, I try to apply this new knowledge to my next answers. So, this is how I improve my writing like grammar-wise.

Ben: I see. Did you use English Grammar in Use? You said you used the Internet. Did you just go online and then just put something like how to use articles ESL or something like that?

Henry: Actually, the Grammar in Use is like I used it when I started learning English, not currently but I think you also included in your online course about some links, about the articles and grammar things. So, I go through this link and then I think in British Council or something very reliable sources and then a lot of like tests and examples. So, I learned much from that source as well.

Ben:  Excellent point there. Excellent point because we can– in the course, we can definitely identify your errors and we can give you help to improve them especially when it is IELTS related. If we can or if there is time, we will explain the grammar as well, but more often than not, it’s a good step to take to do exactly what Henry did and that is to research online because we can tell you the rule maybe in about 30 seconds, but that doesn’t mean that you’re going to integrate it and internalize it and use it perfectly the next time.

To get to using it perfectly the next time, you have to do– I’d strongly recommend you do what Henry did, which is to research online, find reliable sources and then do– I guess you were doing like online tests just to test your knowledge and looking for examples just to confirm and really just sort of internalize what you’d learned? Would you agree?

Henry:  Yes. Yes, yes, yes. That’s right.

Ben: Super. So, let’s move on to the next point.  What was your biggest challenge before you joined the online course? What was your biggest challenge with IELTS?

Henry: Biggest challenge was– I think it was like listening the answer and then writing the answer at the same time like in a listening section, I’m listening the speaker also I’m also reading the questions then I have to write down the answers while I am listening. That’s was my biggest challenge.

Ben:  Interesting. Tell us, how did you solve this?

Henry:  The only solution for this problem is practice. So, I found– you know the word like practice makes perfect?

Ben: Exactly.

Henry: So, this is the only solution. Yes, you have to practice every day.

Ben: Right and where did you get your practice tests from?

Henry: I bought Cambridge book from number 1-12 I guess. I only focused on that book because I think this is the most reliable source for the preparation.

Ben: Another good point there about using reliable sources. So, you worked through the whole book and you did practice test after practice test.

Henry:  Yes, that’s right.

Ben: Interesting, interesting. Now then, with the writing, would you say grammar was your biggest issue? What about like planning the essay or thinking of ideas or like timing? Any other issues you had with regards to that?

Henry:  Yes. I think writing as a whole is big issue for me. That’s right. These are all included there like timing. Also, you know the planning like I never planned my essay for my first attempt, so I just learned it for my second attempt and then it was like the essential thing to do in writing in order to get a higher score and like idea generation also is very important. Yes and I think the writing is very big issue for me.

Ben:  So, you would say planning was an issue.

Henry: Yes.

Ben: And idea generation.

Henry:  Yes.

Ben: Okay.

Henry: So, I think it’s all related to each other. If you can’t generate enough idea or correct idea, it takes a lot of time so you cannot finish your essay in time. So, it’s all related to each other. So, the writing is like very difficult. I think is very difficult for many students, not only for me. It’s very common.

Ben: Oh, yes.  It absolutely is one of the biggest pain points for IELTS students and a few weeks ago, we had an interview and a girl was telling us how she generates ideas and in the course as well. This is why we’ve got two important chapters about generating ideas and a system for generating ideas which you’d then drop into your plan which you then sort of like use the– drop into the framework. Is that what you did, Henry?

Henry: Yes, yes and the C2 template helps me a lot. So, I just practiced this template for any type of questions; just a little bit shifting it into the different style and then I just practiced it.

Ben:  You said shifting it; like adapting it, yes?

Henry: Yes. Adapting it to different question types.

Ben:  Got you. Got you. Okay, super. You found that that worked for you on the test day, correct?

Henry: Yes, yes. This is the main thing that helped me to get my desired score.

Ben: Got you. What score did you need?

Henry:  I need to have at least 7 in writing.

HENRY’S SCORES

Ben:  Okay, right and then can you tell us what score you got overall?

Henry: Overall, I got 7.5 this time and then I increased my writing from 6 to 7; one whole band score.

Ben: Super.

Henry: So, it was amazing.

Ben: Absolutely. Well done. Well done, Henry.

Henry: Thank you.

Ben: What about your other scores from your other results– from your other tests?

Henry:  Yes, I also increased a lot. Like in reading, I got 7.– no 8. I got 8 in reading and then 7.5 in listening and speaking 7. Only speaking stay same. You know, I didn’t prepare for the speaking.

Ben: Got you. Got you. You left speaking because you’re using it every day. Is that right?

Henry: Yes, almost, but you know in Australia we have a small community, so I work with people from the same country. So, I speak in Mongolia when I’m working so like there is not that much interaction with English speaker here as well. So, it’s also hard to practice English. People think like if I live in Australia they think like I am very fluent and then like every day speaking someone who is native speakers something like this, but it’s all different here.

Ben: I’m guilty of exactly the same. Like at the moment, I’m living in Poland and I can survive perfectly well without having to speak Polish. Even in the supermarkets, it’s self-service. So, I not interacting with anybody and then at the restaurants, I’m speaking English and they understand. It’s quite easy to get around without speaking the language. What about in your Masters? Were you not speaking all the time while interacting with the others?

Henry:  Yes, I speak in English when I’m at university, but I only go to school twice a week; two days a week, so it’s not enough to take my English to a high level. That’s why I always listen to the podcast on the way to my work because it takes like one hour each way so like two hours I’ve got. So, I always listen to the podcast; your podcast and also the BBC News and 99% Invisible. This is the podcast that I think one of the student who were in your podcast mentioned this podcast. So, I just searched on the internet and found the 99% Invisible. This is a really nice podcast.

Ben: Tell me about that. I can’t remember exactly what it is about.

Henry: It’s about like many different topics, any topics, but they explain and do some research about the topic and like very interesting. I think the one of your student who is a doctor in Australia I think mentioned this one.

Ben: Okay. I vaguely remember now. I think so. So, they go into a topic, they explain it like what would be a topic, for example? I don’t know like marine life in Fiji or something like that or?

Henry: Not that big topic, just the normal things like interesting facts. Some statue, why the statue is there, and then what is happening in the society because of the statue; something like this. Very interesting facts all around the world, not only scientific things. So, just normal life and very interesting.

Ben: Excellent and did that help you when you were thinking of ideas for your essays?

Henry: Yes, I would say like more help me for my listening because I always listening and then like if you listen like spending a lot of time listening to English podcast, you will turn– like your brain turn to English, like thinking in English. So, it helped me a lot listen and also maybe for my speaking as well.

Ben: Very interesting. Very interesting. Good points there. Good points. Okay. So, we are coming to the end of the test– end of the interview. You’ve done your test. Now, do you have any of other tips– no. What would you say to somebody who is on the fence and thinking about joining the online course?

Henry: Okay. I highly recommend the IELTS podcast services; online courses also the essay correction services because I got the score that I wanted through their help and also very good– you will get a very valuable feedback on your answers and then you will improve your score in very short time. So, I definitely recommend this online course.

HENRY’S TIPS FOR IELTS STUDENTS

Ben: Thank you very much for that, Henry. Thank you. I think we are now near the end of the recording. Just one last thing; do you have any other tips for students for the IELTS?

Henry: Yes. I’ve got one. The first is like practice makes perfect. You have to practice and like any skill you need to improve, you have to practice every day. This is the most important. Secondly, get feedback. This is another very effective way to improve your score in a very short time and you will save a lot of time and a lot of money and then it’s like the two main things to get the good score in IELTS.

Ben: Absolutely. I love that advice because it’s quite easy to think okay, I’m going to buy a book, I’m going to buy a course, I’m going to go to some classes, and then I’ll pass IELTS. It doesn’t work like that. You’ve got to do those things, but actually use them and put in the time, the effort, the energy and not only get the feedback but take action after getting the feedback as well.

Henry: Yes, absolutely.

Ben: Yes. I’m glad we’re on the same page with that, Henry. Okay. So, thank you very much, Henry. It’s been a pleasure talking with you.

Henry:  Yes, thank you so much. I’m really appreciate you invited me for this podcast. So, good luck with your– all the students for IELTS preparation and then thank you for your help.

Ben:  You’re welcome, Henry. It’s been a pleasure and good luck in extending your stay in Australia and I hope you end up being an accountant if that’s what you want, I guess. Is that what you want to do at the end of the day?

Henry: Yes, I haven’t decided yet, but thank you anyway.

Ben: No worries.

Female Voice: Thanks for listening to ieltspodcast.com

The post Henry jumps from Band 6 to 7 appeared first on IELTS Podcast.

Nov 30 2019

24mins

Play

Complete Guide To Matching Questions

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In this tutorial, you will:

  • learn how to tackle ‘matching’ questions more effectively
  • become more familiar with different sections of the listening test

Matching questions are common in sections two and three of the listening test. The instructions can vary so, as always, it’s very important to read them thoroughly. As with other types of questions in the listening test, you need to practise doing this type of task in order to improve

Here is an example of a matching task from section three. Remember – section three of the listening test is set in an academic context and involves a conversation between two or more people. You will have a lot of opportunities to hear more examples of section three if you sign up for our online course.

SECTION 3

Questions 21 – 25

What have the speakers heard about each of the following courses?

Choose FIVE answers from the box and write the correct letters, A-G, next to questions 21 – 25.

Comments

A not very useful

B enjoyable

C practical

D flexible

E fast-paced

F time-consuming

G boring Courses

      21 Project Management 

      22 Spanish Language 

      23 Cognitive Psychology

      24 Business Administration

      25 Creativity & Innovation      ________

     ________

     ________

     ________

     ________

Try to paraphrase the key words in the ‘Comments’ box so that you are better-prepared for what you are going to hear.

For example, instead of ‘enjoyable’, you might hear a synonym such as ‘fun’. Instead of ‘practical’, you might hear an antonym, such as ‘theoretical’. As you continue to broaden your IELTS vocabulary, this will get easier.

Here is the introduction to the recording:

You will hear two university students discussing the subsidiary subjects they can choose from in the second year of their degree courses.

And here is the recording:

Man: So, have you made a decision about what subsidiary subject you’re going to study next year?

Woman: No, to be honest I haven’t really given it much thought yet. We have got a few more weeks left before we need to decide. How about you?

Man: I’ve been mulling it over for a while – but I haven’t come to any conclusions. I don’t want to rush into anything.

Woman: Well, what choices do you have available in the chemistry department? I expect they are all related to maths or computing, are they? Not very interesting!

Man: Well, they used to be, but these days we can also choose things like Business Administration, Project Management or even something called Creativity and Innovation!

Have you heard any of the answers yet? No, that’s right! There is often a lot of extra information – but stay focussed! The answers are on the way!

Woman: Creativity and Innovation?! That sounds a bit different. What does that involve? 

Man: Well, I was talking to someone who did the course last year, and he actually put me off a bit.

Woman: Why? What did he say?

Man: He said that the lecturer was excellent, but he also told me that completing the assignments took up a lot of his time – and it’s only supposed to be a subsidiary subject, after all.

Woman: Well, how about Business Administration?

Man: Everyone says that’s as dull as ditch water!

Woman: Hmm…!

Man: I heard that the Project Management course is good, though – very ‘hands-on’ and not theoretical at all. So, I guess it will be a toss up between Creativity and Innovation and Project Management!

Woman: Right. Well, I think I’ve narrowed my choices down to two…

Man: But you said you hadn’t really thought about it!

Woman: Well, when you’re doing a degree in Education, there isn’t much choice. Most 

of the subjects are compulsory.

Man: OK, so what are the two options?

Woman: Either Cognitive Psychology, which might be good because I can do the classes online as well as face-to-face – or Spanish Language.

Man: And which way are you leaning at the moment?

Woman: In fact, I’m thinking of doing Spanish – mostly because I’ve heard that it’s fun! A lot of the lectures I’ve attended this year have been quite dry – so Spanish might be the breath of fresh air I’ve been looking for..!!

  1. How was it? Did you manage to answer questions 21 to 25? These are the answers you should have:

21 – Project Management – C. On the recording, the man said it was ‘very hands-on – and not theoretical at all’.

22 – Spanish Language – B. The woman said it’s ‘fun’.

23 – Cognitive Psychology – D. The woman said that you can do the classes online as well as face-to-face, so it’s flexible.

24 – Business Administration – G. The man said, ‘Everyone says it’s as dull as ditchwater’. Even though you probably don’t know the phrase ‘as dull as ditchwater’, you should know that ‘dull’ means ‘boring’.

25 – Creativity & Innovation – F. The man said someone told him that ‘completing the assignments took up a lot of his time’.

Hope you found this feedback helpful!

Questions 21 – 25

What have the speakers heard about each of the following courses?

Choose FIVE answers from the box and write the correct letters, A-G, next to questions 21 – 25.

Comments

A not very useful

B enjoyable

C practical

D flexible

E fast-paced

F time-consuming

G boring Courses

      21 Project Management 

      22 Spanish Language 

      23 Cognitive Psychology

      24 Business Administration

      25 Creativity & Innovation      ________

     ________

     ________

     ________

     ________

You can download or listen to the audio version here:

|Direct Download Here | Stitcher | iTunes | Spotify | Soundcloud | Transcript |


YOU MAY READ THE FULL TRANSCRIPT BELOW:

Female Voice: You are now listening to the IELTS podcast. Learn from tutors and ex-examiners who are masters of IELTS preparation. Your host, Ben Worthington.

INTRODUCTION

Ben: IELTS Listening: Matching Questions. In this tutorial, we will focus on how you can tackle matching questions more effectively and then we’re going to get familiar with the different sections of the IELTS listening test.

Now, the matching questions are common in Sections 2 and 3 of the listening test. The specific instructions can vary, so it’s very important to read it thoroughly and you probably want to get familiar with the different variations and you can do this by looking at practice tests.

Now, as with other types of questions in the listening test, you need to continuously practice this part or this test in order to improve. Now, generally speaking, I dislike giving vague and generic advice as practice practice practice and you will get perfect. We all know that we need to practice and it kind of loses its effect. It becomes trite, so to speak because it’s just overused.

I find that the best teachers help you get to this point of practicing practicing practicing because one thing is saying it then the other thing is actually doing it. Now, we all face challenges every day and we’ve probably all got our conscious saying we should be doing this, we should be doing that, we should be doing that.

What I found is that success or progress it comes from a small change repeated daily, not by blitzing it three days before the exam or if you’re going to learn a language, doing five days of six hours every single day and then doing nothing for the rest of the month will not be as powerful as doing it, for example, for 30 minutes every day for the whole month, all right? It has to be repeated daily and as I’ve said a million times before, repetition is the mother of all learning.

Let me give you an analogy. So, for example, a stone cutter– if you just look at a stone cutter, it’s the final– it’s not the final blow that breaks the stone. It’s the hundreds before that. It’s the repetition. Now, as I’ve been saying, I dislike saying practice makes perfect. So, what I’m going to do now before we jump into this IELTS listening, I’m just going to share a strategy or an insight.

So, we might have our goal to practice IELTS. That’s very vague. So, first of all, we need to make it specific. We need to say I need to go for IELTS band 7, IELTS band 8. That’s even better. A lot of you have probably already done that. Now, the thing is, if we just jump ship and let me talk about the Olympics; it is related.

Now, every athlete in the 100-meter sprint has the goal of getting gold. That’s a no-brainer. Maybe there’s a confused athlete who has the goal of going for bronze, but that’s very unlikely. So, if they’ve all got goals, but only one of them is going to get the results, then perhaps goals are not as important. Goals will give us direction, but we need an engine in order to get there. What kind of engine am I talking about?

Well, we need to focus on a system, all right? Systems or setting up your system will facilitate your success because we all know that there are lots of students with a goal or a target for band 7, 8 or 9 or even 6.5 sometimes, but the ones who get there are the ones who’ve got a system in place. Let me give you an example. So, you could have a goal of improving your IELTS listening or improving your writing. Now, what kind of system in place are you– what kind of system are you going to put in place in order to get there?

It could be I’m going to do an IELTS test every single day. That’s good. That’s good. That’s better than nothing, but it’s keeping to that system. You could say I’m going to write a single essay every day. That’s good as well, but don’t keep on doing that. It’s better to get feedback if you want to improve fast, but the important thing is that we get a routine.

ESTABLISH A ROUTINE


How do we establish a routine? Well, if we are struggling with writing an essay every day or copying out an essay every day or doing an IELTS listening test every day, then let’s break it down and let’s first focus on establishing this habit of writing out an essay every day. Break it down into small parts and we’re going to just do five minutes of listening practice every single day. Five minutes is easy. Anybody can do five minutes of listening practice every single day and then the idea is that we focus first on doing the listening practice first; the five minutes. That’s it. Once we’ve established this habit, once we’ve established this routine, now we can start extending it to doing 10 minutes and we can also do this with the writing.

So, first of all, we can copy out a single sentence every single day. Then we can maybe copy out a whole paragraph after a week, but the first victory is establishing that routine. Once we’ve got that routine established then we can start building on it. As it says in the book I’m currently reading, it says you do not fall to the level of your goals. You rise to the level of your systems.

So, this is why it’s very important to establish a system for your IELTS preparation. This is why we get a lot of success with the IELTS writing course Jump to a Band 7 or It’s Free. It is based on a system. We break down each writing task into small parts. Even the thinking, even the brainstorming of ideas, we break it down into small components and slowly but surely, you go through the course mastering each of these components.

So, just as a summary: if you want to improve with your IELTS listening or in any part of your IELTS preparation, first focus on your goal. Now, what kind of system are we going to put into place to achieve that goal? Then we break it down into its smallest components and then apply a routine, establish that routine even if it’s 2 minutes, 5 minutes a day, a word a day, a sentence today.

The first goal is to establish that routine and then we start building on that tiny action and you’ll see it’s much easier to establish and to keep the routine going. It’s much easier to commit to the process, to get the momentum going and then within a week, 2 weeks, you will find yourself writing more or listening to more parts of the IELTS listening test, for example.

Now, sorry I got a bit off-topic there. Let’s get back to the tutorial. We’re going to talk about matching questions. As I said, these are common in Sections 2 and 3 of the listening test. As I said before, we will read these thoroughly so we do not get mixed up and we do not blunder through the test writing full words or writing full numbers instead of placing the actual figures there.

SAMPLE AUDIO FOR IELTS LISTENING SECTION 3

Let’s have a look now at a sample audio– another sample audio or sample question. So, we’re in Section 3 and in Section 3, it’s going to be an academic conversation; something that’s related to maybe students something, education-based. There’s going to be two or three people. In this section, you’re going to hear lots of different opportunities and this is why it’s important to get to listen to more examples. Just get familiar with the test.

So, let’s go. Section 3 questions 21-25. What have the speakers heard about in the following courses? What have the speakers heard about of the following courses? Instructions– as I said, you read the instructions thoroughly. Choose five answers from the box and write the correct letters A-G next to questions 21- 25. It’s quite straightforward. I’ll just read it for you before we listen to the audio.

So, your options A-G are: a) Not very useful b) Enjoyable c) Practical d) Flexible e) Fast-paced f) Time-consuming g) Boring. Now, if you’re already familiar with the IELTS test– the listening test hopefully, you will be thinking of alternatives and synonyms and ways to paraphrase those comments or adjectives or nouns or whatever.

So, not very useful; what could we say instead of that? We could say they are useless. We could say impractical perhaps. You need to be thinking now different ways to say these phrases. Enjoyable; what could you say for enjoyable? You could say it’s fun. You could say it’s a pleasure. You could say maybe the adjective love: I love doing that subject. Practical: we could say possibly pragmatic. You could say it’s like real world. You could say it’s useful in the real world and so on and so forth.

So, just get into the habit of brainstorming different ways of saying the same term. Now, the courses: the courses that you’re going to hear about are Project Management, Spanish Language, Cognitive Psychology, Business Administration, and Creativity and Innovation. Let’s jump into it. So, at the beginning of the recording, you’re going to hear– you will hear two University students discussing the subsidiary subjects they can choose from in the second year of their degree courses. Let’s listen.

Speaker 1: So, have you made a decision about what subsidiary subjects you’re going to study next year?

Speaker 2: No. To be honest, I haven’t really given it much thought yet. We have got a few more weeks left before we need to decide and how about you?

Speaker 1: Well, I’ve been mulling it over for a while, but I haven’t come to any conclusions. I don’t want to rush into anything.

Speaker 2: Well, what choices do you have available in the Chemistry Department? I expect that they are related to math or computing, are they? Not very interesting.

Speaker 1: Well, they used to be, but these days, we can choose things like Business Administration, Project Management or even something called Creativity and Innovation.

Speaker 2: Creativity and Innovation? That sounds a bit different. What does that involve?

Speaker 1: Well, I was talking to someone who did the course last year and they actually put me off a bit.

Speaker 2: Why? What did he say?

Speaker 1: He said that the lecturer was excellent, but he also told me completing the assignments took up a lot of his time and it was only supposed to be a subsidiary subject after all.

Speaker 2: Well, how about Business Administration?

Speaker 1: Everyone says that’s dull as ditchwater.

Speaker 2: Hmm.

Speaker 1: I hear the project management course is good though; very hands-on and not theoretical at all. So, I guess it will be a tussle between Creativity and Innovation and Project Management.

Speaker 2: Right. Well, I think I’ve narrowed my choices down to two.

Speaker 1: But you said you hadn’t really thought about it.

Speaker 2: Well, when you’re doing a degree in education, there isn’t much choice. Most of the subjects are compulsory.

Speaker 1: Okay, so what are the two options?

Speaker 2:  Either Cognitive Psychology, which might be good because I can do the classes online as well as face-to-face or Spanish language.

Speaker 1: And which way are you leaning at the moment?

Speaker 2: In fact, I’m thinking of doing Spanish mostly because I’ve heard that it’s actually fun. A lot of the lectures I’ve attended this year have been quite dry. So, Spanish might be the breath of fresh air that I’ve been looking for.

Ben: Okay. So, how did you do? Did you manage to answer questions 21-25? So, for 21) we have Project Management. The answer was c). On the recording, I said it was very hands-on and not theoretical at all. Let’s go back. c) Practical, of course.

Next one: 22) Spanish language. The woman said it’s fun. So, what’s another word for fun? Enjoyable. 23) Cognitive Psychology; d). The woman said that you can do the classes online as well as face-to-face. So, it is quite flexible. You see here, we didn’t really have a synonym of flexible, but the general idea, the gist behind the phrase is that you can do online classes and face-to-face infers that it is flexible.

24) Business Administration; g). The man said everyone says it is dull as ditchwater. So, hopefully, you know that the word dull means boring. This is why it’s incredibly important to boost your vocabulary and as I said, we’ve got an exciting new program coming up soon about boosting IELTS vocabulary.

I’m quite excited about this, but I am testing out this system before– I’m testing out– this is a really good system. It seems quite straightforward. It seems quite powerful. It doesn’t seem like that much effort and it seems like minimum fuss as well. We are– I am testing it out at the moment. A famous polyglot showed it to me. Now, I’m testing it out and soon, we will be able to release this as a service. I don’t know yet what we’ll do with it, but it’s coming along. It’s in the pipeline.

25) Creativity and Innovation; f). So, the man here or the man who is me, wasn’t it? I said that completing assignments took up a lot of my time, so then it was obviously time-consuming.

Right, that’s everything for today’s lesson. By the way, these scripts are available in the IELTS App. They are available at ieltspodcast.com, but I’d strongly recommend you go into iTunes and look for IELTS Podcast App Ben Worthington. You get these new podcasts. You get updated immediately before anywhere else. You get the transcripts there and in the transcripts, there are also the links to the actual resources that we mention as well.

Remember if you found this tutorial useful, please share it with other IELTS students and if you are struggling, then you should come over to IELTS podcast, sign up. We give lots of resources and materials away for free and also when you sign up, you get the opportunity to email us and tell us what you’re struggling with and they will respond with some more resources, some more links, some help, possibly a special offer. It just depends. We get hundreds of emails every single day. I don’t know how long we can continue this service, but for the time being, we’re going to keep it going.

That’s it from me. Thank you very much for listening and remember, move forward with this. Implement that system that I recommended earlier. Just commit five minutes every day. That’s all you need to do and like I’ve said in previous podcasts, make sure it’s proper work. Watching a YouTube video is not proper work. It’s just passively learning. It’s almost like entertainment, but it feels good, but it’s not real learning.

Real learning is jumping in, getting your hands dirty, so to speak. So, pick up a pen, start transcribing, start writing, start doing five minutes of listening practice actively listening and you’ll soon see an improvement and that’s what it’s all about. Okay. Keep moving. Have a good day.

[Music]

Female Voice: Thanks for listening to ieltspodcast.com

The post Complete Guide To Matching Questions appeared first on IELTS Podcast.

Nov 27 2019

20mins

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Get Ideas for IELTS Task 2

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Get Ideas for IELTS Task 2

Meet Daphne! 

Some of you may recognise this name or her voice. She is one of the new essay correctors we have at IELTS Podcast.

Daphne and I have a very practical conversation about IELTS Writing task 2

In this tutorial we cover:

  • a methodology for organising your ideas 
  • advice for filling your mind with ideas
  • real examples and answers to recent questions 

Who is Daphne? 

She has been teaching IELTS for almost 7 years, in language schools based in UK to students of age 17 upwards, from all over the world, with all sorts of different reasons for taking the exam – Uni entrance/ jobs/ immigration – its is a ‘high-stakes’ exam! 

Which part of the exam do you think is the hardest? 

Specialism – Writing section- I love writing and I know that this is an area that most students find really hard for many reasons – not used to writing in own language – at least not in such a specific academic style, lack of experience, no real need to write in first language or in English, unsure of register- audience-suitable vocabulary. 

(DELTA exam part 3 dissertation on the writing module and course design.)

Which question are you asked the most by your students? 

How do I think of ideas for the Task 2 essay? Sometimes I don’t even understand the question!! 

So, this is a very important area to discuss and I think there are some really practical and simple things that out self study students can all do to help themselves with this really tricky problem. 

1.

Problem – no background or schematic knowledge– for example if I say to you that I went to New York last weekend – you will instantly picture skyscrapers, yellow taxis, lights on Broadway or something similar. BUT if you have never been there OR are not keen on American movies then you may have no image – no schematic knowledge – about New York which could make it hard for this conversation to move forward. 

Thinking of what to write is exactly the same problem – if you have never ever thought about some key environmental problems or if women should fight in the army in the same way as men or if it’s a good idea to get married when you are 25 or 40 then you will find it hard – and you are under pressure –  to get any ideas together let alone in the right order! 

Solution– start getting informed – a key part of your IELTS preparation is reading anything you can – newspapers, magazines, online material etc and thinking about what you are reading -not just sitting there! 

I am a massive fan of Podcasts and the Radio in general. In the UK, I listen to Radio 4 or the BBC world service all the time (including in the middle of the night) and the conversations, documentaries and subject focus is extremely wide ranging and inspiring. Everything from interviews with extraordinary inventors creating new solutions to replace fossil fuels to conversations with the parents of convicts. This material will make you THINK, QUESTION your own OPINION and I suggest you make a note of some key ideas or vocabulary as you go along. Also, it’s going to considerably boost your vocabulary. Also, we have a large bank of recent IELTS questions with sample answers, in our topics and answers tutorial page.

SO, what can Ss do when they are in the exam room and in a panic because the question means nothing to them? 

2.

Problem – no idea what to write about – first take a deep breath, then quickly get a pencil and piece of paper and ………..

Solution …….do a mind map. Even if you don’t really like mind maps I promise you this WORKS! 

….. explanation of how to do a mind map using this question – Uniforms should be compulsory in the workplace – to what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement. 

Centre of page circle – Uniforms at work – other circles on one side of the page labelled – PAST, PRESENT, FUTURE  TIME then more called PERSONAL, LOCAL, INTERNATIONAL

And some more on the other side more called SCIENCE, POLITICS, ART/ SOCIAL, EDUCATION, ECONOMICS

Now obviously you will not need ALL the circles for each essay and you would simply not have time BUT what I am trying to do is to jog your memory and get you thinking and so any ideas you have you scribble them down as fast as you can into the right boxes. 

For example – in the education box I am putting school uniforms – personally I think this is a good thing but you may disagree depending on your own education/ cultural background. I am putting military, police, scientists, pilots etc together in the international box as these are areas when a specific uniform is compulsory, and we take this for granted and I am quickly putting ‘dress down Fridays’ in the present time box as I think that as society has become more relaxed our norms have changed and that wearing a suit to work is not as common now as it was when my Grandfather or father went to work everyday formally dressed. 

I can see that this can trigger some good ideas but doesn’t it take a really long time? 

No – you can do this really quickly as you are literally only writing a few words in each box and will all that exam adrenalin and nerves you will find yourself thinking very fast! 

There are some extra benefits here too – firstly that you can easily VISUALISE your ideas- personally I am quite a visual learner and so I like to see where I am going! Secondly, once you have all those amazing ideas in front of you – it’s much easier to PLAN what you are doing to write about, which bits you don’t need and how you can fit your ideas into a framework. In the online course we have a straight forward easy to follow methodology for this exact problem. . 

So how can doing a mind map and this kind of brainstorm help you to get a higher Band score? 

There are key benefits to this kind of brainstorming and planning as far as helping your band score and they are mostly related to the TASK ACHIEVEMENT criteria and the COHESION and COHERENCE criteria. With your map in front of you, once you start writing you can / must keep referring back to your notes to make sure you are always on topic, answering the right question and not disappearing off and getting side tracked on a slightly different question. This can happen so easily especially when you are under pressure and you think your argument is brilliant! 

Additionally, there is no doubt that your essay will flow better – this is the key idea behind coherence and cohesion – if you have your ideas in the right order and you can argue a logical and well-developed essay. The examiner will be able to understand your key ideas and arguments more easily which of course will get you a higher score! 

SUMMARY 

WHAT TO DO:  Start to build you own ideas through reading, TED talks, Radio / Podcasts. 

IN YOUR PRACTICE ESSAYS: 

Start to do a mind map (and give yourself 2-3 minutes only!) then see if this helps you to generate some more ideas and write more fluently! 

If you need to know how to start your essay, this tutorial will greatly help.

You can download or listen to the audio version here:

|Direct Download Here | Stitcher | iTunes | Spotify | Soundcloud | Transcript |

YOU MAY READ THE FULL TRANSCRIPT BELOW:

Female Voice: You are now listening to the IELTS podcast. Learn from tutors and ex-examiners who are masters of IELTS preparation. Your host, Ben Worthington.

INTRODUCTION

Ben: Hello there, IELTS students. In this tutorial, we’re going to be speaking with one of our star teachers, one of the essay correctors on our team who’s correcting tons of essays every single week and she’s an absolute star. This is why she’s on our team. So, welcome to this audio tutorial podcast, Daphne. How are you doing?

Daphne: Oh, hi, Ben. I’m fine. Thank you for that lovely introduction. Help. I am really enjoying working with you and working with all the students at ieltspodcast.com and thank you, everybody, for sending in such amazing essays.

Ben: When I got Daphne’s sample essay correction, which we ask teachers to send in in order as a part of the application process, I was more than happy and I was like yes, we found our star. I mean maybe I shouldn’t be telling Daphne that now, but as soon as I heard it, I was like yes, this is the kind of person we want.

So, let’s jump into it. In this tutorial, we are going to be sharing with you about how to think of ideas and how to get ideas for the lovely IELTS writing task 2. So, Daphne has been teaching IELTS for about seven years in language schools based in the UK for students like 17 and upwards and she’s got lots of experience with students taking this exam for different reasons. Maybe it’s for university entrance, maybe it’s for jobs, maybe it’s for immigration. 

WHICH PART OF THE EXAM DO YOU THINK STUDENTS STRUGGLE WITH?

So, Daphne, which part of the exam do you think students struggle with the most?

Daphne: Oh, Ben, it’s such a good question. I think the writing section is without any doubt the hardest bit. I love writing, but I know that for a lot of people writing is the hardest, hardest bit and there are many reasons for this. It’s actually not really surprising if we think about it.

Most people aren’t used to writing in their own language; definitely not in such an academic style. Most of us write emails rather than long essays about things. So, I think if you lack experience or if you don’t need to write in your own first language, let alone in English, it’s even harder.

Ben: Yes, I totally agree there. I totally agree and I’ll just share one thing that I think I’ve shared before on this podcast is that once I got good at writing and like organizing my thoughts and making my writing more concise, I almost instantly discovered an improvement in the quality of my thinking.

Like the brain fog evaporated and I got much clearer and crisper, not only my thinking but also in my speaking. So, I think this is an immensely valuable skill to develop, not just in English but also in your own native language.

So, which questions, Daphne, are you asked the most by your IELTS students?

Daphne: Again, one of the hardest things is– well firstly, what does this question mean? It takes a lot of effort actually to kind of unpick the question, which means breaking the question down into little sections. Quite often I find that students have got one half of the argument, get super excited, write a lovely essay, and then we look at the question again and go hang on, but what about the other half? There’s something missing here.

Ben: Yes.

Daphne: Yes, I think that can be quite tricky.

Ben: Yes, I totally agree. When I began like preparing students for IELTS, because I would write out essays myself and I would fall victim to this exact same problem and even worse, I would get excited about my answers and start developing them even further, but as you just said, forgetting a whole chunk of the question and just developing my train of thought and presenting solutions and I’d be like that is actually a really good solution.

But as I said before, it’s not really the quality of the solution. It’s just the quality of the communication. It’s the quality of the way it’s expressed and developed and, of course, as you just mentioned, is it actually answering the question. So, you said students struggle and will focus maybe on just one part of the question instead of the entire question.

Daphne: Yes. So, this is where we really come on to I think what we’re going to chat about, Ben, which is the planning and the brainstorming. So many of you say to me I don’t have time to plan. I know I only have 40 minutes for this essay, but what we want to show you is that honestly, in three minutes, you can think of some really good ideas.

Once you’ve got those ideas out of your brain and onto a piece of paper, you can quickly check back as you’re writing and almost cross off the ideas when you’ve put them in your essay and then you stay on task.

HOW TO GET IDEAS


Ben: Absolutely. This is a good point, but let’s just rewind a little bit. A lot of students can’t get ideas onto the paper. How do they solve that or how do you teach students to solve this, Daphne?

Daphne: There are two elements to this. The first element is something that you can start doing right now if you know you’re going to do your exam in the future even if your exam is in two weeks’ time. It is not too late. So, we would suggest start getting informed.

The key part of your IELTS operation is reading anything you can. So, this obviously helps with the reading section as well because you will get faster at reading and you’re thinking about what you’re reading at the same time. So, anything you can read like magazines, online material. We love National Geographic, but think about what you’re reading. Don’t just sit there scanning through. Think about reading.

If you’re traveling a lot, listen to podcasts, listen to the radio. So, I listen to radio; the world service BBC and the content is very diverse. So, that can give you some ideas. You think, you question your own opinion, and you can even make a note of some good vocabulary as you go along.

Ben: Absolutely, yes. This is the point that I was going to mention that sometimes sitting there watching a movie in English or listening or just reading a good book and sort of like passively doing it is better than nothing, but the real stars and to get more sort of like bang out of each hour that you put in to your preparation, if you’re actively reading, so you grab a pen and you start attacking that newspaper and circling vocabulary or if you’re reading online, like highlighting it, copy-pasting it into a vocabulary file or writing it down pen and paper.

It’s probably better to write it down pen and paper because you’ve got more senses involved. A sense of touch there and you’re writing it down and spending more time dwelling on that vocabulary phrase and you learn in context as well.

Daphne: I completely– sorry, Ben. I completely agree. One teacher said to me ages ago when you read you need to have a pen or a pencil in your hand and the pencil should be touching the page you’re reading and I don’t know if this is scientific, but the thought was that literally because your brain is sort of in contact therefore with the actual page, you are actively reading, which is what you’re saying. It’s active rather than passive.

Ben: Exactly. Exactly. I knew a tutor who specialized in learning difficulties especially with dyslexia and what she recommended was– like for spelling tests is that you actually get the word that you want to learn and you print it out maybe like in a really big font or you just write it out in a big font.

So, maybe you have one word per A4 sheet of paper and you just– while you’re saying it out, you go over the letters with your finger as you’re saying it to get a deeper– to internalize it and to increase the amount of senses.

Daphne: You’re kind of printing it into your brain, aren’t you?

Ben: Exactly, exactly, yes and she said she was getting some really good results from that, but the point Daphne and I are making is like the most sensors you can get involved, the higher the chances that you’ll remember it and also, it’s just much better use of your time if you can actively read or actively listen rather than do it passively.

And just one thing that I’d like to mention that of course, we’re all human and sometimes listening to the BBC or National Geographic and IELTS topics can sometimes be a bit draining. Sometimes we just want to escape into somewhere else and watch an exciting film or whatever.

This is okay as well, but what I wanted to mention was that if you can get lost into an addictive book like a turn-pager it’s called, this is really good because all of a sudden, you’ve got to finish this book, so you’re putting in five hours, six hours just desperate to find out the story, desperate to find out the end and you forget that you’re learning English.

This is also a good state to be in because it’s not then a chore. It’s like your leisure activity and you’re deeply– you’re practically hooked, which is–

Daphne: And that’s so true. All the time you’re reading like that you are just on– I know this is more on a vocabulary sort of Lexus level, but all the time you’re doing that, you’re noticing collocations, which are the words that go naturally together and you’re noticing fragments which might be four or five words which naturally sit together.

If you can get these nice collocations or fragments into your exam, that shows the examiner that you have a really natural command of the language. So, it’s a good thing to do.

Ben: Absolutely. I totally agree there. So, let’s get back to IELTS. We just sort of outlined a summary there for getting ideas, for filling your brain with information on IELTS topics. One last thing I’d like to mention is questions– find some recent task 2 questions and go through them. If you can’t get an answer for each one, if you don’t have an opinion on each of those questions, jump online and research that specific area.

So, what could a self-study student do, Daphne, when they’re in the exam room and maybe they’re in a panic because like the question and maybe– this is very common actually that a student– the mind goes blank and they are like oh, my word! What am I going to do in this situation? How can they solve this?

Daphne: Yes. This is the most horrible, horrible feeling and what I want to suggest today is making a mind map. Now, you may have done mind maps at school. A lot of people love them. Some people don’t feel too confident with them and I must confess I wasn’t a fan until a tutor of mine said you need to do a mind map and I started doing them and it really, really worked for me.

So, let me show you how this works. So, I’ve got a question here, Ben. This is about uniforms. So, the question says uniforms should be compulsory in the workplace. To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement? We all have maybe some ideas, but I’m thinking help! Exam! Quick! What do I do?

So again, with my pencil and a bit of rough paper, I will draw a circle in the middle, which is called uniforms at work. So, that’s basically what the question is asking me about and then I’m going to draw other little circles around it and label the circles. Now, the more you do this, the more you will get to know what the circles are.

So, it’s going to be quite quick. So, it may be past as in what did people do, present; what people do now and the future. Often, we forget to think about the future, but this can be a really important sort of aspect. Do these all relate to time?

Then there are other little circles on the other side which could be personal or international. It could be to go with the more sort of topics. It could be science, politics, education, economics. There are all sorts of different circles which you can label and we’ll write this down for you. Don’t worry. So, you can copy it out for yourself.

So, I’m thinking– let’s get back to this question. In the education box, I’m immediately going to put school uniforms. I went to school in England and in England, it is compulsory to wear school uniforms. So, I know I can talk about this. I know in a lot of countries you don’t have uniforms, so I think that’s going to be quite a good point to make.

I’m also going to put in another box to do with the military and the police–

Ben: Good point.

Daphne: –because some people have to wear a uniform. They might not like it, but they have to wear it.

Ben: Daphne, sorry just to interrupt you. So, Daphne mentioned a really good point there that she said okay in England, we have to wear uniforms at school. It’s compulsory. But maybe in your country it’s not compulsory. What I want to mention here for the listeners is that this is a point.

Even if you didn’t wear uniforms in your country, mention that, but don’t say in my country, we didn’t wear uniforms or we don’t wear uniforms. You just say in a lot of countries especially Asian countries, uniforms are not compulsory at school. It’s a valid point because you don’t have to wear uniforms to answer this question.

We’re just brainstorming ideas and maybe you can develop it further. What I’m trying to say is don’t just throw it out there. Don’t just get rid of it. It could be a valid point in your argument.

Daphne: Absolutely. Yes, I think you’re right, Ben. Actually, let’s pick up on that one because even if you think I have nothing to say, if you think back to what you had at school– so this is– you’re thinking about your past in a way, you go back to those circles which had past and present in.

You think that you used to have uniform and you know that on the international side, some people don’t have uniform. You can immediately start thinking well actually, why did I have uniform and was it a good thing and what difference does it make?

The thinking in the UK is that all students should be the same in terms of what they look like, but it’s also the discipline of you are working. Therefore, you’re wearing work clothes. So, you might think you have no ideas, but actually, you probably do have quite a few ideas.

Ben: Exactly. It’s just a case of developing it and being aware. Okay, we didn’t wear uniforms in our school. Let’s just write this down in– for example, in Denmark, it’s common for children not to wear uniforms. However, in other countries it is a very important part of the culture and has been standardized for the last 20 years or whatever and so on and so forth. Sorry to interrupt. Let’s get back to your–

Daphne: No, no, no. You’re absolutely there. As soon as you’ve got your ideas– so, my ideas in the little boxes were going to be school uniforms, the military, and police. I’m also thinking about the kind of present time dress-down Fridays. Now, this probably came from America. I’m guessing. I don’t know. But this is a kind of newish trend or fashion where on Fridays people don’t have to wear a suit and they can wear their own clothes.

So, I would write that today, society has become more relaxed, [unintelligible 00:18:06.13] have changed and that the traditional expectations have been modified. So, I could have a lovely sentence like that which basically says that it’s not the same as it used to be in the past.

Ben: Yes, absolutely. That’s a good point and phrases like dress-down Friday or casual Friday, this is a good example of your lexical resource and of your knowledge of this topic. So, if collocations and phrases like that come to mind when you’re brainstorming, write them down as well because you can easily drop or fashion a sentence around these collocations and pick up those points later when we go to developing the essay.

Daphne: Yes, absolutely.  Yes. So, shall we have another look at another title, Ben?

Ben: Yes. Yes, that’s fine.

Daphne: Yes? So, this is one I found the other day and this is really interesting. I think it’s very topical. The title says advertisements are influencing us in a negative way. It’s a very short statement. To what extent do you agree or disagree? I think this is quite relevant.

So, in my circles, in the big circle in the middle I’m going to put adverts; positive or negative. So, I can put a little plus or a minus literally. The other circles I think I might need for this are education, social because I want to talk about health. I could put health. It doesn’t matter– and economics.

I’m thinking about okay TV. What have I watched on TV? Which adverts have I seen like on my computer or as I’m walking around billboards, that kind of thing and there’s a lot of adverts for food and McDonald’s. In the UK, unfortunately, there’s a lot of unhealthy food around. There’s a lot of junk food. So, I want to write about that junk food.

This is a bad idea to have it advertised because it has a negative impact on health and I can just talk about obesity, which is a real epidemic, a real problem in many Western countries and has an also negative impact on the economy.

Ben: Absolutely, yes. Good point and I just want to jump in here that what you just heard there was Daphne developing the argument and this is a very important part of any band 7 or higher IELTS essay is your ability to develop the argument. So, just to recap there, we’re talking about advertisements and we’re talking about food industry advertisements such as and it’s important to drop in that example because then it becomes much more– it makes your argument much stronger.

Daphne:  Yes. It kind of grounds your essay, if you know what I mean. It’s real. It’s not just what we call airy-fairy sentences.

Ben: Exactly. So, I could say there are lots of advertisements in the UK food industry. That’s fine, but if I can give you an example and pinpoint an actual company that does a lot of these advertisements, now I’m using irrefutable logic in my argument and irrefutable real-world examples. It just makes my argument much stronger.

So, just to recap, we’re talking about advertisements; good or bad. I’m going to say it’s bad in this part of my idea generation. Now, I develop this idea. I say it’s bad because some companies especially the food industry advertise perhaps too heavily and this might have caused or might have contributed to the obesity epidemic and other disorders– other eating disorders such as bulimia or possibly anorexia and so on and so forth.

The only reason I mentioned those eating disorders or mentioned more eating disorders is because 1) it’s relevant and 2) I’m going to pick up points for the vocabulary and just for showing off to the examiner my knowledge of this kind of situation.

The point we’re making here is that in the idea generation phase, keep your eyes open and your brain aware of a chance to develop an argument. In my experience, these gifts of developing the argument, you have to be aware that ah and follow that train of thought because it’s not insanely– it’s not an easy task to develop an argument on command.

Daphne: That’s so true and a lot of it is your logic and then honestly, Ben and I, we’re not talking about anything super intelligent. This is general knowledge. We’re kind of developing your argument down the stream if you’re down the river if you see what I mean. It’s like what next? Okay, junk food. Okay, a list of this. Okay, this is this. So, when I’m doing some corrections, I may say to you you need to develop your argument a bit more and this is exactly what we mean.

Ben: Yes, exactly, exactly.

Daphne: There’s another point. So, that could be my first body paragraph, that one and the second argument I will probably use is that the power of some global companies and I am need to name some here because then you will immediately know what I mean. I’m thinking Nike, Apple, Sony, Toyota. There are some super enormous giant companies out there. Some of them have almost cult status. People want the newest Apple phone. People want the newest Nike shoes and they’re selling, not just great products but they’re selling a desirable lifestyle.

The danger from that is that it encourages consumerism. It is very tempting for people to buy things. If they buy things, then that might lead them into debt and that has negative economic consequences.

Ben: Yes, absolutely there. So, that’s another good example of developing the argument. So, we’re not going to talk about I saw an advertisement yesterday for my local restaurant because nobody can really relate to that unless they saw the advertisement as well, but if we’re talking about these sort of like big global companies; Toyota, Coca-Cola, Nike and all the rest of it, then everybody knows about them. Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the last 50 years, you know about these companies and you know the marketing they do.

And then what Daphne very clearly illustrated is like the dangers and the effects. So, we had like the cult following, which would probably be a good phrase to drop into that essay and then the negative consequences, which could be consumer debt.

When you were talking about this, Daphne, I started thinking about those payday loans and all this– yes, but then I was like actually, maybe I could be getting a little bit off-topic if I go down that street and talk about consumer debt, payday loans, and high-interest rates. I’m probably getting a little bit off-topic. So, this is an important thing that you have to be aware of when you’re generating ideas.

Although you’ve got to jump on this train of thought and ride it and take advantage of it to start to get these ideas for your essay, don’t stay on the train too long you miss your stop, so to speak because you can easily–

Daphne: I like your analogy.

Ben: It’s quite easy. I think we’ve all done this especially once you get to grips and you’ve really developed your idea generation muscle.

Daphne: Yes and I think actually, Ben, on that point because it’s very easy to get excited about something and keep going. I think just as a technical comment in the exam, you can show the examiner you have the knowledge.

So, you could put, for example, despite the fact that some advertisements are genuinely designed to educate and spread a positive message, the dangerous impact of cult brands cannot be overstated because of the risk of consumerism and economic debt or personal debt and you can stop there. You can just throw the words in; consumerism or personal debt and the examiner is thinking okay, great. Wow! That’s clever. You don’t need to then go on and explain what personal debt is.

Ben: Exactly, yes. Exactly. When you were saying it, I was visualizing the essay and then I was like okay, if I was writing this, I’d probably just stop there, as we said before. Just stop that train of thought and then maybe I’ll offer an additional point of view.

So, I’ll say something like in addition, advertising has also been linked to– In addition, advertising in such sectors as the beauty sector or cosmetic sector have been linked to lower levels of esteem because consumers are constantly bombarded with perfection or something like that. I need to develop it a bit more–

Daphne: I like that, Ben, yes.

Ben: –what I’m saying is that we can sort of like offer another idea, develop it a little bit more, stop and then develop another idea rather than keep developing, developing and developing because we run the risk then of going off-topic.

Daphne: Yes, yes. That’s absolutely right and then in a way going back to our little mind maps when you’ve made that point, cross it off the list, but keep looking back on it in the same way that you keep reminding yourself of the title of the essay so you stay on point. Exactly.

Ben: Absolutely, yes and I think in the online course, we encourage students to like dissect the question and build mind maps and brainstorm around sections of the question to assure yourself that you are staying on topic and that you’re going to get full points for task achievement. This breaks my heart when I see a really decent essay and it’s good English and it’s full of collocations, but it’s vaguely related to the essay.

This isn’t even– well, you could argue it’s not even an English language requirement because the English language requirement has been completed excellently because this is a beautifully written essay, but the student wrote about consumer debt, payday loans, and high-interest rates rather than the dangers of advertisements or the positive or negative parts of advertisement.

So, this is why it’s incredibly important to stay on topic and make sure you’re going to get full points for task achievement and you’re going to basically blow the socks off the examiner and make him sit up in his chair and think wow! This student has skills.

Daphne: Absolutely. Now, you are so right. You’re so right and so, for me, staying with this thing about making sure you’re on topic and task achievement, the mind maps for me are very visual. So, you can see what’s happening rather than your planning being in your head, which I know a lot of people say oh yes, it’s okay. I plan in my head. It’s fine.

If you plan in your head, you are much more likely to go off-topic, but if you’ve got these ideas just in little circles, you can see where you’re going in your essay and you can literally picture it. So, not only will you get better marks on the task achievement but for the coherence and cohesion, it’s going to be a lot better as well because you are organizing where you’re going.

Ben: Exactly. Exactly. That’s a key phrase there. The ability to organize your thoughts and then just to– well, to write them down and then organize your thoughts, it increases your chances of writing a coherent essay exponentially and just as a side note, I know I’ve heard of students who can do it in their head and they say– and that’s fine if you are confident and you’ve done it and you’ve been able to do it consistently and consistently generate high-quality essays just by planning it in your head. That’s fantastic.

Then for you, you don’t have to mind map or brainstorm or anything like that, but in my experience, people who can do that are very rare. They do exist, but they’re very rare and the other thing that I’d like to mention that mind maps– I personally use mind maps a lot. I use mind maps pretty much every morning, but I call it a brain dump. I just dump everything that’s in my mind onto a piece of paper so then my brain is empty and I can focus on the task in hand. So, I’m also a massive fan of mind maps.

Some students just after talking with successful students they said no, I’m more of a linear thinker, so I just like to write down bullet points. That’s fine as well. What we want to get across is that there are different ways to do this. You need to find out what works for you, but in our experience and for a lot of people, mind maps are the way forward, but it’s up to you.

You’ve got to take responsibility for your own education and find out what works for you personally. Don’t be a robot just following instructions.

Daphne: Yes, I agree with you, Ben, obviously. You can do it in a little picture. You can do it as little arrows for one point to follow another point. You can do it in a table. It doesn’t matter.

Ben: Yes. I’ll just mention one thing. In our online course, we are massive fans of brainstorming the question, dissecting it, like classifying it, dissecting it and then assigning ideas to specific parts of the question pretty much like what Daphne was mentioning before and then numbering the ideas in order that you will mention them in your essay just to make sure that there’s some logic there when you’re developing your argument.

Okay. Right then. Is there anything else you would like to add before we finish because we’re pretty much close to the end?

Daphne: Yes, let me just sum this up, Ben. What we’ve talked about is what you can do now. So, what you can do now is to build up your ideas and challenge your opinion. You can build up your ideas through reading or through radio podcasts. Also, TED Talks; Ben and I are massive fans of TED talks, which are brilliant.

You can practice as much as possible. Getting feedback. The online correction service we do is really, really good. So, you will have one of the tutors going through your essay with you, giving you really good feedback, which is a great way to improve.

Ben: Yes.

Daphne: And– Sorry.

Ben: No, just because I totally agree there, sorry.

Daphne: And then taking the time before you start writing; just 2-3 minutes to do your brainstorm and planning through your mind map and then you can concentrate on writing the essay. Then you’re not starting to write thinking okay well, that’s one paragraph. What on earth am I going to say next? You’ve done the planning and then you can focus on beautiful writing.

FINAL 2 TIPS

Ben: Just two things that I want to say that if idea generation and brainstorming is something that you struggle with, give yourself time and permit yourself to work on developing this skill. Don’t just say oh, I’m rubbish. Give yourself time and allocate time to develop this skill and you will see an improvement.

Second, keep developing it to the point that it becomes almost like muscle memory; that you just do it automatically and it becomes a skill in itself because once it becomes so embedded and ingrained in your thinking for answering task 2 essays, it kind of disappears into the background and frees up mental resources for you to focus on your essay and the language and the quality of your writing and it’s one of those skills–

What I’m saying is it’s one of those skills that can be internalized, so it’s not going to take up so much mental energy and once it’s internalized, it happens quickly and automatically and this is what a lot of successful students– this is the level they get to especially band 7 or higher– that it’s internalized and this allows them to focus on the actual essay writing and pick up the big points.

Daphne: Yes, absolutely. Thank you, Ben. Okay.

Ben: Yes, that’s everything. If you feel like this has been a very– if you feel like this has been a valuable tutorial for you, then you’ll probably love the online course because we go into this in a lot of detail and we know from personal experience after coaching so many students that this is a massive pain point and this is why we go into it in a lot more detail and with more– even more practical solutions on the online course. As Daphne mentioned before, we’re getting a ton of success with this.

Just one last thing with the essay correction; it really is like a tutor is there looking over your shoulder and guiding you and encouraging you just to write your best possible essay and keep on improving because without this feedback, you’re more or less on your own and it’s not fun preparing for this lovely exam on your own. It’s much better–

Daphne: It’s hard.

Ben: It’s tough. It’s tough and this is why we’re here just to help you and help you write the best essay that you can write and to get the best results that you can get and the results that you really deserve. So, I think that’s everything. Thank you very much, Daphne.

Daphne: Thank you, Ben. Good luck everybody.

Ben: Good luck.

[Music]

Female Voice: Thanks for listening to ieltspodcast.com

The post Get Ideas for IELTS Task 2 appeared first on IELTS Podcast.

Nov 23 2019

38mins

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IELTS Listening: Completion Questions (and productivity tips)

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IELTS Listening: Completion Questions (and productivity tips)

In this tutorial, you will:

  • become more familiar with section one of the listening test
  • learn how to tackle ‘completion’ questions more effectively
  • find out how to avoid some common pitfalls with this type of question

In section one of the IELTS listening test, you will hear a conversation between two people in an everyday social setting.

The conversation has a ‘transactional purpose’. This usually means that one of the people is finding out information from the other. Typical topics of conversations include asking questions about a course, booking accommodation or making an enquiry about an event.

There are ten questions in section one and most or all of them are usually ‘completion’ questions. With this type of question, you have to fill in the gaps to complete a form or a table. In the first section of the IELTS test the answers are usually one or two words long and focus on factual information such as names, places or times. You need to write words or numbers that you hear. Here is an example:

SECTION 1

Questions 1-6

Complete the table below.

Write NO MORE THAN ONE WORD AND / OR A NUMBER for each answer.

Restaurants in Wickford Name  Useful Information Comments  The Blue (1) ______ Near the ‘Save Money’ supermarket The food is delicious.

It’s quite expensive.

The staff are very (2) ______.  The Green Papaya Closed on (3) Thursdays. Excellent food.

Friendly, efficient service.

(4) Reservations are essential. Main Street Restaurant (5) 210 Main Street. Next to the police station. Quite new.

Easy to get a table.

The prices are (6) ______.

Before the conversation starts, you will be told who the people are and some information about the context. For this example, you might hear:

You will hear a woman who recently moved to the area asking a neighbour for information about some local restaurants.

You will then have 30 seconds to look through the task, and it’s important to make the most of this time. Reading through the questions can help you to make predictions about the answers before you listen. It doesn’t matter if your predictions are correct or not. The idea is that if you know what kind of information to expect, it will help you to extract the key points more easily. Practising this technique will help you to improve.

It’s clear that answer (1) is going to complete the name of the restaurant, and it may be spelled out for you. It’s important to be able to recognise the letters of the alphabet quickly, as you will only have one opportunity to write down the missing word. 

Here is an extract from the audio:

Man: One place you could try is The Blue Truck.

Woman: The Blue What?

Man: Truck. You know, like a lorry. T-R-U-C-K.

Woman: Oh, OK.

You could predict that answer (2) is probably going to be an adjective – perhaps ‘The staff are very efficient’, for example. Then when you listen to the audio, you will be prepared to extract the answer:

Man: Just one word of warning, though.

Woman: What’s that?

Man: Well, the food is delicious, but the staff are a completely different matter.

Woman: What do you mean?

Man: Well, I’ve been there several times and I’m afraid I have to say that they are very unfriendly. I feel like I’m inconveniencing them when I order something. It’s a real shame actually – especially when the food is so good.

Remember that your answers need to be spelled correctly – so if you write ‘THUSDAYS’ instead of ‘THURSDAYS’ for answer (3), it will be marked as incorrect. Pay attention to spelling as you expand your IELTS vocabulary.

Your answers also need to be grammatically correct – so if you write ‘RESERVATION’ for answer (4) instead of ‘RESERVATIONS’, it will be marked as incorrect. If you are correcting your own practice tests, be picky when you are giving yourself feedback! Alternatively, signing up for our online course can help to ensure that your practice tests are being marked accurately.

It’s very important to make sure that you follow the instructions, which in this example are:

Write NO MORE THAN ONE WORD AND / OR A NUMBER for each answer.

If you write ‘TWO HUNDRED AND TEN’ in words for answer (5) instead of ‘210’ in figures, it will be marked as incorrect. If you need to write numbers, it’s usually better to write them as figures not words, because you might make a spelling mistake.

‘Completion’ tasks can also appear in other sections of the test – not just in section one. The completion tasks you find in section one are usually straightforward and involve extracting simple facts to complete a form or a table.

If you encounter this type of task in other sections of the test, you will often need to focus on the main ideas and complete a set of notes – or perhaps a flow-chart – but the basic idea remains the same.

You can download or listen to the audio version here:

|Direct Download Here | Stitcher | iTunes | Spotify | Soundcloud | Transcript |

YOU MAY READ THE FULL TRANSCRIPT BELOW:

[Music]

Female Voice: You are now listening to the IELTS podcast. Learn from tutors and ex-examiners who are masters of IELTS preparation. Your host, Ben Worthington.

INTRODUCTION

Ben: IELTS Listening: Section 1 – Completion Questions. In this tutorial, you will become familiar with Section 1 of the listening test. We will look at how you will tackle completion questions in a more effective manner and we’ll have a look at some of the common pitfalls, some of the common mistakes.

My name is Ben Worthington. I’m from the UK as you probably know. Sometimes I say Huddersfield, sometimes I say Manchester. It depends on who I’m talking to. Anyway, let’s jump into this. I don’t think I need to tell you any more about me if you’re listening to the tutorial– if you’re listening to the tutorials on a daily basis, weekly basis, then you probably know a lot about me already.

This has just reminded me actually about one thing. If you could listen to a tutorial, one tutorial a day, just think how much of an impact that would have. Not only are you going to be improving your listening skills, obviously, but you will also be getting into the habit and learning– you’re getting into the habit of improving yourself daily, which I think is definitely good, but also you’re going to be learning more and more and more about the IELTS exam whilst simultaneously improving your language skills although rather passively.

Another point that I want to mention– don’t worry, we will be getting to section 1 very soon, but another thing that I would like to mention is that when you are training for the IELTS listening, nothing can beat doing the actual practice tests. However, these can become rather tedious and boring. It depends. If you’ve got your exam in 20 days, then they’re probably not tedious and boring. You’re probably just going to be devouring them. You’re just going to be listening to one every single day or even two or three because the pressure is on.

IMPROVING YOUR LISTENING SKILLS WHEN YOU HAVE TIME


However, if your exam is a long time in the future and you want to just be basically improving your listening skills, what I would recommend is that you find material about a subject that you love, for example, you could listen to David Attenborough when he’s narrating the Blue Planet series or the BBC Earth series. He’s got a very typical Received Pronunciation accent.

Alternatively, and this is one thing that I realized the other day is you can listen to possibly talk shows and maybe some comedies on YouTube, for example, and the good thing about these is that not only will it be light entertainment– it’s going to be easy just to watch maybe 10 minutes of some comedy sketch, for example, but you’re going to be exposed to a wide variety of accents very much like the IELTS listening test.

Of course, I think out of all the ones I’ve been watching, 90% were different UK– are different English– native-speaker English accents and especially regional ones. So, you’ve got a Yorkshire accent, Irish accent, a Scottish accent and then the specific program I was watching the Welsh accent and everybody was ripping on the Welsh guy. Everybody was taking the mickey out of the Welsh guy.

In the actual tutorial, I’ll post a few examples and you can watch them on YouTube. Obviously, it’s free, it’s light-hearted, it’s entertaining. Just take a break from maybe preparing for IELTS and have a chuckle.

IELTS LISTENING SECTION 1


Anyway, let’s get back into this. IELTS Listening: Section 1 – Completion Questions. Now, in Section 1, we will hear a conversation between two people and it’s going to have a transactional purpose. That means that there’s going to– one of them is trying to get information out of the other.

Now, typical conversations include asking about a course, booking accommodation or making an inquiry for an event, for example. Now, there are 10 questions in Section 1. Most of them or pretty much all of them are completion questions. This means that you have to fill in the gaps to complete a form or a table.

Now, in the first section, the answers are usually one or two words and focus on factual information such as names, places or times. Let me just repeat that. In Section 1, you are going to be asked to find factual information such as names, places, or times. So, as we’ve said in previous episodes, it’s good to develop your prediction skills and to be completely familiar with the prepositions related to each of those especially for the times: in 1993, on Monday, at 3 o’clock. Places: in Huddersfield, in the UK, at the bridge, for example.

 Anyway, let’s have a look at a sample Section 1, okay? We’ve got a table in front of us and in this table– it’s called restaurants in Wickford and just above that, we’ve got the instructions in capital letters saying no more than one word and/or a number for each answer. So, as we’ve said before, it’s usually best to– when we get a number is just to write that number. Don’t write out the word T-H-R-E-E for three. Just write the number 3.

So, along the top of the table, it’s restaurants in Wickford. Then we’ve got three sub-columns: name, useful information, and comments. So, one of the restaurants is called The Blue. Useful information: near the Save Money supermarket. Comments: the food is delicious, it’s quite expensive. So, we’ve got a table there showing the information. However, in some of the squares, there are blanks and this is your opportunity– not opportunity. This is your task to fill in those blanks.

For example, for the– I won’t give you the answers actually, but what we’ll do is we’re going to listen to a conversation between two people. You’ll probably recognize one of the voices and the prompt is you will hear a woman who recently moved to the area asking a neighbor for information about some local restaurants, okay?

So, you’ve got about 30 seconds to look through the task and it’s important to make the most of this time. Go through it, try and look for predictions, try and spot in which cases you’re going to need a number, in which cases you’re going to need an adjective and this will help you to extract key information points a little bit easier than as if you hadn’t.

Next one. So, as we can see from the table, it’s clear that we’re going to complete the name of the restaurant, so it might be spelled out for you. So, it’s important in this case, to recognize the letters of the alphabet. I know that for me when I was in Spain, that the vowel sounds always tripped me up because what was an e in English I think was i in Spanish. I always got those mixed up, so it’s good to have a look just to refresh the ABCDE.

Also, when I give somebody my last name, I usually have to spell it out and when I do I can see them struggling writing it down because I’m literally using the words of the alphabet. I think I’m making it easy for them, but these are slightly easy, but it’s a bit more challenging.

Before we listen to the audio, let’s just have a look at the questions again. So, in this table, in the first column, we’ve got the name and it’s The Blue something. So, we are expecting it could be The Blue Whale, The Blue Octopus, The Blue Train. We know it’s going to be some kind of noun I think. It’s unlikely to be something like The Blue Happy. It can– just doesn’t make any sense.

Anyway, in the next column, we’ve got useful information. So, we say near the Save Money supermarket. This is for The Blue something restaurant. If we look at the second column, it’s useful information is closed on blank. What does that mean? Closed on Christmas? No, because it would be closed during I imagine. So, it’s obviously going to be a day of the week. Closed on February? No. That doesn’t make any sense. So, it’s closed on something day of the week.

Next one. In the next column for The Blue something, the comments we have the food is delicious. It’s quite expensive. The staff are very… What are we going to expect here? The staff are very obese? Unlikely. The staff are very dishonest? Probably not. The staff are very unfriendly. The staff are very friendly. The staff are very helpful. The staff are very charming. Obviously, it’s going to be some kind of adjective and it’s– I was going to say it’s going to be positive, but that’s– you can’t really assume that, actually. So, let’s just say it’s going to be some adjective there.

Next one. In the comments for the second restaurant, The Green Papaya, excellent food it says, friendly efficient service, something are essential. What does that mean? Guns? Probably not. It’s going to be something to do with the restaurant trade. So, it could be bring your own drinks is essential. So, it’s obviously not going to be that. So, it’s something are essential there.

Final one. Main Street Restaurant. Useful information: blank Main Street. What’s that going to be then? Could it be the number of the street? Could it be King Main Street? Queen Main Street? I don’t know, but we’re going to find out soon and the final column it says– for comments for Main Street Restaurant it says quite new, easy to get a table, the prices are…

Now, this is quite straightforward. As we know, this is Section 1 at the end of the day, so it’s not going to be anything mind-blowingly difficult. The prices are unfair, prices are a rip-off, the prices are amazing, the prices are fair, the prices are unfair. It could be any of those, but it’s definitely not going to be a number, for example, or days of the week.

This is what we talked about when we’re talking about predicting the answers. So, let’s have a listen now and as I said before, you’re probably going to recognize one of the accents and if you can identify the second accent, then send it in and we’ve got a prize for the first people who can identify her accent.

Speaker 1: One place you could try is The Blue Truck.

Speaker 2: The Blue what?

Speaker 1: Truck, you know like a lorry. T-R-U-C-K.

Speaker 2: Oh, okay.

Speaker 1: Just one word of warning though.

Speaker 2:  What’s that?

Speaker 1: Well, food is delicious, but the staff are a completely different matter.

Speaker 2: What do you mean?

Speaker 1: Well, I’ve been there several times and I’m afraid I have to say they are very unfriendly. I feel like I’m inconveniencing them when I order. It’s a real shame, actually especially when the food is so good.

Ben: Okay. So, hopefully, you’ll be able to get at least the first two from those six questions we said earlier. So, we’ve got The Blue what is obviously The Blue Truck and then the staff are very something unfriendly. The next answers, we don’t have time for the script, but it was closed on Thursdays. Remember that to be able to get full points you need to be able to spell Thursdays correctly.

So, if you’re doing practice tests, which I strongly recommend you do, be brutal with yourself. If it’s not the exact answer that’s in the answer booklet, then don’t give it to yourself. Don’t trick yourself. It’s better to be harsh and keep improving rather than trick yourself into thinking oh yes, it was obvious what I wanted to say. No. Mark it as incorrect.

The next one: reservations. Unfortunately, we couldn’t say that either in the recording, but anyway, reservations. That’s some very typical restaurant vocabulary. Also, if you put reservation, you’re not going to get points. And the fifth one, something Main Street. Well, it was two ten; 210 and as we’ve said before, you need to write that down. 210. Do not write T-W-0 hundred H-U-N-D-R-E-D and ten. Do not write something like that. It has to be 210 and the prices are– as we said before, it’s going to be something like reasonable, are fair. It just depends.

FINAL TIP


Finishing up now, just one last thing I’d like to say is that these completion tasks can also appear in other sections of the test, not just in part 1. They’re usually quite straightforward and they usually involve extracting simple facts, completion– completing a form or a table. Now, if you encounter these types of tasks in other sections of the test, you’ll need to focus on the main ideas and complete a set of notes or complete a flow chart, but the basic idea remains the same.

Now, that’s everything for today. I just wanted to make this tutorial a bite-sized snack with some tips, some information, but the real muscle-building, so to speak, is going to be sitting down doing practice tests and not just aimlessly doing practice tests five a day or whatever.

Do your practice tests and then identify the parts where you lose points and then in the next practice test, just do that exact area and focus on that and then go back and do another whole practice test and then try to identify the types of questions that are tripping you up. Maybe it’s always part 3, maybe it’s always part 2 depending on your ability.

That’s everything from me today. Thank you for listening to us and as I said before, if you can identify the accent of that girl talking before, then send us an email and we can send you a surprise.

If you’re enjoying these tutorials, please share them with your friends. If you know anybody who might be struggling with the IELTS exam at the moment then, send them some links, send them some love and together we can help them pass.

If you are struggling with the IELTS exam, get in contact. Email us and we can definitely help you pass. We’ve got lots of students passing every single week. It’s going really well. We’ve got an amazing team of ex-IELTS examiners and– all native English-speakers correcting essays, doing fast essay corrections, giving feedback and seeing the students improve. It’s quite an enjoyable workspace at the moment.

The final thing I would like to mention is the IELTS writing course;  Jump to Band 7 or It’s Free. If you’re struggling with the IELTS exam, especially the writing, then you might want to have a look at that. As I said, we’re getting some great results. Every single week, we’re getting a thank-you email from a student who’s passed their exam. Sometimes they’re passing the first time, sometimes they need more essay corrections, but eventually, we get them there. We don’t give up on them.

We don’t do gimmicks either. We don’t do these gimmicks where oh lots of people want to join. Join the waiting list. And then you sign up to the waiting list and they say oh, by the way, students just passed, so this is free up– there’s an opportunity for you. We don’t do gimmicks like that.

We just want to get you through the exam and we want to get you out of our system as fast as possible. Join, get the exam, pass, do it– sorry. Join us, pass the exam, get the certificate, and move on. That’s what we want.

So, my name is Ben Worthington. Thank you very much for listening today and as I said, if you’ve got any problems, sign up to the email list. You’ll get our email address there and you can send us an email. Ask us your question and we can reply and help you. So, let’s keep moving forward. Let’s keep progressing. Let’s keep on improving and eventually, you will pass IELTS. Take care.

[Music]

Female Voice: Thanks for listening to ieltspodcast.com

The post IELTS Listening: Completion Questions (and productivity tips) appeared first on IELTS Podcast.

Nov 20 2019

21mins

Play

Sample Answers: Festivals and Traditions

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Sample Answers: Festivals and Traditions

In this tutorial we dive into special topic specific vocabulary for the IELTS Speaking part two test. 

Not only do we offer sample answers and generic idiomatic expressions you can incorporate into your speaking exam, we also highlight a few phrasal verbs. 

We also share how you can upgrade certain phrases and vocabulary to improve your score.

IELTS SPEAKING PART 2 

Describe a festival in your country. You should include: 

  • The reason or origin of the festival
  • When it is celebrated
  • What people usually do during the festival

Sample Answer: 

I would like to talk about the singles festival we have in China. 

If I remember correctly, I think the festival has its origins in a university dorm, and the male students started celebrating the fact they are single.  

I believe that this party or celebration quickly started to spread around the uni* and then on to other places. To be honest, I think it all happened quite quickly. 

It’s celebrated on the 11th of November, because the digits all look like singles, 1111. I also believe that this is a quiet time of the year for commercial retailers, this could be one reason why it caught on so fast. 

It is largely a commercial event, we have plenty more festivals such as Spring Festival, or the Chinese New Year festival, whereby there are lots of fireworks, gifts and communal eating. 

I think each region has its own particular way of celebrating, for example in the north they eat dumplings, whereas in other regions they give red envelopes which contain money. 

Sorry, I am getting off track, people will largely just buy things products, services and even holidays, this is all largely conducted through the internet. In fact if I remember correctly, I think it’s the biggest online shopping event in the world. 

Lots of online retailers such as Alibaba and JD.com launch massive campaigns and offer huge discounts to lure and attract single shoppers. 

I think they also target couples too nowadays, but I cannot be 100% certain about that. 

And that’s my talk about a festival in China, I hope you liked it. 

uni* For the writing “uni” is probably too informal, but for the speaking test it is ok. 

For the writing section we have a typical Task 2 question, and have made a rock solid plan for the essay. If you listen to the podcast or join the online course you will see how answering these types of questions is really quite straightforward.  

Sample Task 2 Question 

Most people have forgotten the meaning behind traditional or religious festivals; during festival periods, people nowadays only want to enjoy themselves. To what extent do you agree or disagree with this opinion?

How would we answer this? 

Split it up etc etc 

Most people have forgotten the meaning behind traditional or religious festivals

AGREE – emphasis has shifted to the more fun parts in SOME festivals 

Often neglecting their sombre or darker origins 

EG 

Halloween is now a commercial event, especially the costumes and trick or treating. 

but in the west many have forgotten it’s to remember the dead. The origin is a celtic or catholic tradition…  

Reason 1,2,3 + example 

during festival periods, people nowadays only want to enjoy themselves.

AGREE 

Reason – hectic lifestyle, more stress, 

EG 

Some festivals are designed for fun, water festival in Thailand 

And China singles day is about enjoying products and buying things and getting discounts… 

Therefore… 

Conclusion 

I think a balance is needed, because ultimately too much work and then dark festivals can mean an infer a sad life. 

Enjoyment should be included and even promoted, however, neglecting the roots of the festival is rather mindless and uncouth.

Special vocabulary table: 

instance of merrymaking

annual strawberry festival

tourists flock to the town

remember famous historical events

religious ceremonies

resembles

carnival

associated

gala

promoted

popularized

celebration

fest

festivity

fiesta

Useful phrases:

_______ is a _____ holiday popular among young Chinese people

 celebrate their pride in being single

There is no ceremony involved, at least that I know of 

Although it is a relatively new tradition, it has become a popular one in China now to celebrate this event.

You can download or listen to the audio version here:

|Direct Download Here | Stitcher | iTunes | Spotify | Soundcloud | Transcript |

YOU MAY READ THE FULL TUTORIAL HERE:

[Music]

Female Voice: You are now listening to the IELTS podcast. Learn from tutors and ex-examiners who are masters of IELTS preparation. Your host, Ben Worthington.

INTRODUCTION

Ben: IELTS Speaking and Writing Practice: sample answers. We are going to be looking at festivals. In this tutorial, first, we will look at a sample IELTS speaking part 2 answer for festivals and it’s going to be probably about the Singles’ Festival in China, which I will talk about more in a second and then we’ve got one of those lovely IELTS task 2 questions and I’ll just say the question now and you’ll instantly know what I mean when I say lovely.

SAMPLE QUESTION #2

So, most people have forgotten the meaning behind traditional or religious festivals. During festival periods, people nowadays only want to enjoy themselves. To what extent do you agree or disagree with this opinion?

Now hopefully, you heard my smile during the end and I was smiling because even when I saw this question, I’ve been doing this for years and I saw this I was like man, but fortunately, I know exactly what to do nowadays and I will share exactly the steps to take to break down my question, plan your answer, and write a strong coherent essay and there are quite a few tips in there as well near the end.

But before that, we are going to answer this beautiful IELTS speaking part 2 question. Describe a festival in your country. You should include the reason or origin of the festival, when it is celebrated, and what people usually do during the festival.

Now, I wrote out my answer beforehand and I think this is a fantastic way to prepare because I recognized that I was repeating the word origin numerous times in my answer and because I wrote it out, I recognized this and I went back and I changed it. I changed it and found what was similar and this is a very good way to improve your score.

So, I strongly recommend this practice of writing out your answers, going back and improving them because not only are you going to be brainstorming ideas you’re going to be brainstorming vocabulary. You can also go back and upgrade the language, which is what I did as well.

So, as I said at the beginning, we’re going to be talking about the Singles’ Festival, which is coming up very soon in China. So, let’s go into it. So, as I said, I planned this out. I wrote it and very important point here that I followed the bullet points. I’ve kind of used that as my structure and this will just make sure– doing this will make sure I’m going to get full points for task achievement.

If I started talking about pollution, for example, I’m not going to get any points unless I somehow connected it. So, just following these points makes sure that I stay on track and I get full points; following these bullet points. Right then, let’s jump into it.

I would like to talk about the Singles’ Festival they have in China. If I remember correctly, I think the festival has its origins in a university Don and the male students started celebrating the fact that they are single. I believe that this party or celebration quickly started to spread around the uni and then on to other places.

To be honest, I think it all happened quite quickly. It’s celebrated on the 11th of November because the digits all look like singles; 11 11. I also believe that it is a quiet time of the year for commercial retailers. So, this could be one reason why it caught on so fast. It’s largely a commercial event.

We have or they have plenty more festivals such as Spring Festival or Chinese New Year Festival whereby there are lots of fireworks, gifts, and communal eating. I think each region has its own particular way of celebrating. For example, in the north, they eat dumplings whereas in other regions they give red envelopes which contain money.

Sorry, I’m getting off track; back to Singles’ Festival. People will largely just buy products, services, and even holidays, I think and this is all largely conducted through the internet. In fact, if I remember correctly, I think it’s the biggest online shopping event in the world. Lots of online retailers such as Alibaba and JD.com launch massive campaigns and offer huge discounts to lure and attract single shoppers. I think they also target couples nowadays, but I cannot be 100% certain about that and that’s my talk about a festival in China. I hope you liked it.

There we go. Okay. So, there was a bit of a mix-up there. It’s describe a festival in your country and I did write it out originally as though it was in my country China, which obviously isn’t. My country is England, the UK, so you probably might have heard a few mistakes there. I wanted to talk about the Chinese festival, so I did kind of modify the answer there. So, that would have actually been a mistake. I would have been marked down. I should have been talking about a festival in my country. My country is not China, but anyway I wanted to talk about China.

SAMPLE ANSWER #1


Let’s jump into this answer because there are a few things that I think would be very useful and very practical for somebody who is practicing for the IELTS speaking or who is struggling with the IELTS speaking. Firstly, there are quite a few phrases there that you can use in any IELTS speaking answer. I’ve highlighted them in my answer and I’ll go through them now.

Number one: If I remember correctly… just a little collocation there. I can say that about anything. If I remember correctly, the world is round. If I remember correctly, President Trump is American. Obviously, you’ve got to use it within reason. The other phrase is I believe that… and it’s just a variation of I think that.

Next phrase: To be honest… This is a very common phrase in England. To be honest, I don’t know what time the bus is coming. To be honest, I don’t really know him that well. To be honest, I prefer vegetarian food. It’s very versatile.

So, using that little collocation like this will help you to sound more like a native speaker because when you start this, to be honest, the listener is already expecting the end, which is honest– to be honest and it’s very easy to use this as well. Another phrase, for example– you should be using this anyway because it’s going to force you to give an example, which like in the writing, it proves your point; makes your argument irrefutable.

Now, a very useful phrase which– I realized I was going off track with my speaking and this phrase is very useful probably more so for the IELTS speaking, but it’s fine. So, I said sorry, I’m getting off track. I’m getting off track and I just recognized the fact that I was talking about the other festivals, so I brought myself back on.

I don’t think I would have lost that– I don’t think I would have lost points for that. Maybe a little bit for going off-topic, but it wasn’t as if I was talking about Lamborghinis and Ferraris. I was still talking about festivals and it sounded natural, which is a key point.

Now, another phrase which actually we’d already used, I said if I remember correctly and also near the end, I used two phrases that you can use in your speaking exam tomorrow or today. I said I think they also target couples too nowadays… another phrase …but I cannot be 100% certain about that. What you’re doing there is not only are you hedging your answer, which means you’re avoiding a sweeping statement but also you’re adding this collocation that makes you sound more like a native English speaker.

Once again, it’s a copy-paste phrase and it’s very generic. It’s quite universal. For example, I think Trump is American, but I cannot be 100% certain about that because I’ve heard reports he’s an alien. I’m just joking. I’ve heard reports that he’s a tangerine. I’m sorry. Anyway, …but I cannot be 100% certain about that. It’s quite universal.

And then the final concluding phrase that just helps you signal to the examiner that you’ve finished so we avoid this awkward silence at the end. You just say and that’s my talk about a festival in China. I hope you liked it. In this case, of course. You’re not going to say that if you’ve been talking about Ferraris or Trump. So, and that’s my talk about Mr. Trump. And that’s my talk about Apple Computer Corporation. I hope you liked it. Just random examples there.

So, let me just give you all those phrases again. If I remember correctly, I believe that… To be honest,… Sorry, I’m getting off track. If I remember correctly… and I cannot be 100% certain about that. Now, we’re going to go through the talk and I’m going to give you examples of some topic-specific vocabulary and some useful phrases.

So, the first one was commercial retailers. I could have said it’s a big time of the year for shops or it’s a quiet time of the year for online sellers, but commercial retailers– In fact, I should have put online commercial retailers and it’s just very unique vocabulary; very unique to this topic.

The other phrase that I liked was caught on. That just means it got popular and in this case, it caught on so fast. This could be one reason why it caught on so fast. Caught on is a phrasal verb. Using phrasal verbs will help you expand your lexical resource score.

Next one: I used an example. As I’ve said before, examples help to describe your– they help you in your communication and help to describe your arguments or your case or your story. Each region has its own particular way of celebrating. For example, in the North, they eat dumplings. Now, the other good thing about this sentence was I said whereas and I’m using comparisons. …whereas in other regions, they give red envelopes which contain money.

So, we give an example and then we give a contrast and using conjunctions such as whereas will force you to make a comparison and as I’ve said before, these conjunctions of comparison are valuable not only in your speaking, not only in your writing part 2 but in academic part 1. In academic part 1, they are extremely useful because this is the basis of the task. You’ve got to compare and contrast or select key points.

Anyway, sorry I’m getting off track. I hope you heard what I did there. Anyway so, sorry I’m getting off track is another useful phrase. As I’ve said, if you do get off track, just pull yourself back on track. This is what you have to do actually in the speaking because if this was a writing– if I was writing an essay, I could just go back and erase or delete that sentence. With the speaking, you just cannot do that. Once it’s out there, it is out forever. There’s no taking it back.

So, the only way you can get back on track is just by admitting it and saying sorry, I’m getting off track. Let me get back to the Singles topic, for example. Then when I was writing this out, I said people will largely just buy things. This is all largely conducted through the internet. When I went and reviewed it, I thought things is so vanilla. It’s so boring. There’s no description there. People will just buy things online. That’s silly. It’s like a missed opportunity.

So, I changed it and I upgraded it to people will largely just buy products, services, and even holidays. So, I’m going to get points for just using that little structure of emphasizing with the even do this. This is a technique we teach in the online course, which is, for example, Germany, Russia, and even England celebrate this festival nowadays. It just emphasizes and gives you an opportunity to put in more vocabulary and boost that lexical resource score.

And then I repeated that well– in fact, if I remember correctly. So, the first one I used if I remember correctly and then I just elaborated it a bit more. I said, in fact, if I remember correctly, I think it’s the biggest online shopping event in the world and then I gave examples: Alibaba, JD.com and most people know about these especially, obviously, in China. They’re very popular services, very popular websites, very popular businesses and I just gave a description of what they do.

So, I think they launch massive campaigns and then offer huge discounts and this is what I was quite pleased about next. I said to lure; L-U-R-E and attract single shoppers. Lure is very similar to attract and it’s just more descriptive and it’s richer. It’s a richer way to explain it. It’s almost just like you’re setting a trap. If you’re luring somebody in, you’re kind of setting a trap and beckoning them to come in.

Attract is similar. Attract is just the act of sort of like waving your hand and getting their attention and then signaling, but if you’re luring them, then there’s almost like a surprise or something in store coming next. So, it’s richer vocabulary.

And then finally, as I said, we’ve got I think they also target couples and using the word target is a special marketing vocabulary and will also help you with your vocabulary score. Then near the end, we say again …nowadays, but I cannot be 100% certain about that; another copy-paste collocation that you could most likely use in your speaking exam.

And that’s my talk about a festival in China. I hope you liked it. I hope you liked it. There we go. You could also just pause and just say thank you. As I’ve said, just as before, we can do this to signal to the examiner we finished.

SAMPLE QUESTION #2

Now, let’s move on to IELTS writing part 2. I’m going to have to be very quick with this one because we are coming towards the end of the podcast. So, most people have forgotten the meaning behind traditional or religious festivals. During festival periods, people nowadays only want to enjoy themselves. To what extent do you agree or disagree with this opinion?

SAMPLE ANSWER #2

Let’s jump straight into it. So, how do we answer this? Following the technique that I teach in the online course, what we do is we split it up. This way, we can be 100% certain we’re going to get full points. So, first half: most people have forgotten the meaning behind traditional religious festivals. Second half the split: during festival periods, people nowadays only want to enjoy themselves.

I’ve got two sentences. These are my two body paragraphs. First thing I’m going to do is agree. Most people have forgotten the meaning behind traditional or religious festivals. I agree. I’m just going to go for the– I agree. Personally, maybe I completely disagree, but it doesn’t matter. This is a communication– language is a communication tool and the IELTS is a language exam. We’re only getting tested on our communication, not about our beliefs on traditional festivals.

So, agree, summarize. The emphasis has shifted to the more fun parts of a festival in some situations. For example, some religious or traditional festivals are very dark, so I cannot say that it’s across the board. I cannot say for every festival, people have forgotten the meaning because in some places and in some festivals and in some celebrations, they do celebrate the dead, for example. They remember war victims or war casualties and all of this.

So anyway, I agree. The emphasis has shifted to the more fun parts in some festivals and sometimes people neglect the origin of the festival. So, it might be the war. It might be remembering the dead and then I think of an example. Halloween is now a commercial event especially the costumes or trick-or-treating. These are just bullet points, but I wanted to get this phrase down because trick-or-treating and costumes is good vocabulary and then especially.

So, I’m going to talk about Halloween. But in the West– this is my phrase now. But in the West, many of forgotten that it’s to remember the dead. The origin is either Celtic or a Catholic tradition. I don’t know. That phrase– those two sentences, those are just bullet points.

Now later, I’m going to change but in the West. I’m going to change however, nowadays in the West, it is common that people have forgotten that the origin of the festival is to remember the dead, for example. So, as I said, I’m just planning this out and that’s my example that proves my point. By the way, Halloween comes from the Celtic I think it is, which is Hallows Eve, which I think you could probably trace back which means something about remembering the dead.

Anyway, paragraph two: During festival periods, people nowadays only want to enjoy themselves. Agree. I totally agree with this and I agree with this for this reason: because people have a hectic lifestyle, more stress, and working more hours than ever before. That’s my reason. I agree with this. People want to enjoy these festivals and the reason is because of hectic lifestyles. For example, some festivals are designed for fun; Water Festival in Thailand.

So, let’s see. So, it totally makes sense that people only want to enjoy themselves if the festival is designed for fun. Now, that would need some thinking about how to rephrase that for the paragraph. Furthermore, in China, they have a festival called Singles’ Day, which is about enjoying products and buying things and getting discounts. So, therefore, I completely agree that some festivals and some festival periods, people only want to enjoy themselves and the reason is because the event is designed for fun alone.

So, it’s a completely rational statement what the examiner wrote down and I completely agree with it. Some festivals are designed for pure fun. For example, the Water Festival in Thailand, Singles’ Day in China. So, I’ve got my bullet points and they need to be now dropped into a framework or dropped into an essay.

By the way, in the course, we’ve got a perfect framework with lots of universal statements. It just makes it so much easier. Also, we give you lots more examples on how to break down the question and what to do for each different type of question and we also build your idea generation muscle, which is insanely important.

Conclusion for this essay. Now, when I wrote the conclusion, I realized that I kept on using the word origin. The origin of the festival and I thought right, let’s pick up some more points and we’ll use a different word and we’ll talk about the roots of the festival. So, this is a very quick conclusion scribbled down. Later, I’m going to elaborate it and I’m going to use some more sophisticated academic phrases that the examiner wants to see and I’ll get those phrases from the framework in the online course.

CONCLUSION

Conclusion: I think a balance is needed because ultimately, too much work and then attending dark festivals can infer a sad macabre or a sad life. Obviously, I’m going to go back and improve this vocabulary. Enjoyment should be included and even promoted. However, neglecting the roots of the festival is rather mindless and uncouth. Uncouth means– let’s see. Uncouth means uncultured, lacking in good manners or grace. So, it’s kind of like uncultured.

So, I would definitely want to put that word in there because it shows the examiner I’ve got an expansive vocabulary and also I want to put in macabre. Let me just check. I think macabre– yes. Disturbing; causing fear of death. So, I might need to just test that out a few times beforehand. However, I got my conclusion there.

So, I’ve planned my essay. Now, I can put it into my framework and I know that it’s clear and cohesive. I know I’m going to pick up full points because of the framework. It’s just going to force the essay to be clear and cohesive. I know because I’ve gone through the online course; I made the online course. I’ve got a strategy to attack every type of IELTS essay question that comes.

The more I do this, the easier it gets. So, it becomes automatic so you can focus on your writing rather than stressing for ideas or getting frustrated because you’ve got too many ideas. With this framework, we just brainstorm and we drop them in and it’s straightforward and as I said before, soon we will have a framework for the speaking. I’m quite excited about that.

If you’ve been listening a lot recently, you’ll probably hear me drop statements in regarding the speaking framework. What we’re doing now is just pulling it all together. It should be launched soon as well as the vocabulary resource that’s in the pipeline and as well as the speaking app that’s in the pipeline. I think I’m just running around like a headless chicken at the moment.

Right. So, that’s everything from me and remember we’ve got the IELTS podcast app (Google / iOS) where you get all the podcasts and the transcripts with special offers for the course and for essay correction. So, I strongly recommend getting those. Also, we have the newsletter, so I’d recommend signing up for that. When you sign up, you get IELTS materials and you can email us and tell us what you’re struggling with. We’re more than happy to help you there.

Secondly, we’ve got the online course which I mentioned briefly before and the essay correction service. So, I just want to say if you’re struggling with this, you’re not alone. Together we can get through this and we can help you.

So, all the best with your IELTS preparation and remember to keep your head up high, to keep working, keep pushing, and you will get there. You will get there. Trust me. All the best and have a fantastic day.

[Music]

The post Sample Answers: Festivals and Traditions appeared first on IELTS Podcast.

Nov 16 2019

30mins

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Academic Writing Task One – Marking and Assessment

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Academic Writing Task One – Marking and Assessment

In this tutorial, you will:

  • become more familiar with Task One of the IELTS Academic writing test 
  • find out how this section of the test is marked and assessed

There are two tasks in the IELTS Academic writing test. You need to complete both of them, and you will have a total of 60 minutes. 

In the task instructions for task one, it says:

“You should spend about 20 minutes on this task.”

For most test-takers, this is good advice. Your score for task one only contributes one-third of your total mark for the writing section. 

In contrast, the task instructions for task two say:

“You should spend about 40 minutes on this task.”

Task two is worth two-thirds of your total score for the writing section.

Today, we’re going to focus on task one. As you may know, in task one, you will be presented with some kind of visual information, which is often in the form of one or more bar or pie charts, line graphs or tables or charts. 

In the task instructions it says:

“Summarise the information by selecting and reporting the main features and make comparisons where relevant.”

Questions involving maps, diagrams or processes are also possible, although less common.

You will be told to:

“Write at least 150 words.”

  1. You know that task one contributes one-third of your total mark for the writing section, you know what kinds of questions you should expect, and you know how long your response needs to be. 

But do you know what the examiners are looking for when they mark task one? 

If not, why not?! Far too many candidates simply write essay after essay, or re-take the exam over and over again, and are disappointed to find that their scores fail to show improvement. As the popular saying goes, this is the definition of insanity! 

In order to achieve the best score possible for your task one, it’s essential that you have a good understanding of the marking system. You can find the writing band descriptors for task one and two on the IELTS website, www.ielts.org, and you can receive plenty of useful feedback on your writing by signing up for our online course.

There are four areas of assessment: 

Task Achievement

Coherence and Cohesion 

Lexical Resource 

Grammatical Range and Accuracy 

These four areas are equally weighted, so each of them contributes a quarter or 25% of your total score for task one.

Task Achievement assesses how well you satisfy the requirements of the task. Essentially, you are just required to identify and report key information.

One of the key differences between achieving a Band 6 and a Band 7 score for task one is your overview. You need to ‘present a clear overview’ in order to be awarded a ‘Band 7’. It is definitely worth spending time learning how to write a good overview. You also need to ‘clearly present and highlight key features’, but many IELTS candidates find it easier to get this right. 

It’s also important to make sure that you write at least 150 words. Responses which are under-length will be penalised under ‘Task Achievement’. There is no upper word limit, but considering that you only have twenty minutes, it’s important to aim for quality rather than quantity, and you need to allow enough time to proofread and edit your essay.

The second area of assessment is Coherence and Cohesion. Examiners are trained to evaluate how well you have organised the information. In order to be awarded a Band 7, for example, you need to ‘organise information logically’ and there needs to be ‘a clear progression’ throughout your essay. 

The most logical way to organise a task one essay is:

Paragraph One – Introduction

Paragraph Two – Overview

Paragraphs Three and Four – Details

Even though you only have twenty minutes to complete task one, resist the temptation to start writing your response immediately. Minimal planning is needed if you follow the outline above but take a minute to make sure that you have understood the question. 

As you might expect, achieving higher scores for ‘Lexical Resource’ and ‘Grammatical Range and Accuracy’ demands more sophisticated and correct use of language and, again as you might expect, there is no ‘quick fix’ to improve in these areas. 

One point worth noting is the importance of natural use of language. The assessment criteria for a Band 7 score for ‘Lexical Resource’ include a focus on ‘awareness of style and collocation’. When you are learning IELTS vocabulary, don’t just learn words in isolation. 

Pay attention to common collocations – words which are used together frequently in natural English, such as ‘enrich, extend, expand or widen’ your vocabulary! Collocation dictionaries can be a great resource to help you with this.

Now that you have a better understanding of what the examiners are looking for, you should be in a better position to deliver it.

You can download or listen to the audio version here:

|Direct Download Here | Stitcher | iTunes | Spotify | Soundcloud | Transcript |

YOU MAY READ THE FULL TRANSCRIPT BELOW:

Female Voice: You are now listening to the IELTS podcast. Learn from tutors and ex-examiners who are masters of IELTS preparation. Your host, Ben Worthington.

INTRODUCTION

Ben: IELTS Academic Task 1: marking and assessment. Hi, there. My name is Ben Worthington and in this tutorial, we are going to focus on Academic task 1 and you will become more familiar with what’s needed from you and how it is assessed. Also, we’re going to look at structures for task 1.

Now, as you probably know, there are two tasks in the IELTS academic writing test. You’ll obviously need to complete both of them and you’ve got about 60 minutes. In task 1, the instructions say you should spend about 20 minutes on this task. That’s straightforward logical advice and then for task 2, it says you should spend about 40 minutes on this task. It says that because task 2 is worth 2/3 of your total score whereas task 1 is worth 1/3.

Just as a side note; most students and myself encourage this, but most students start with task 2 first. That’s just logical. That’s just– if you make a mess of your task 2 and you haven’t got any time to recover, then you stand a good chance of losing your 60% whereas if you make a mess of task 1, then you’ve already got 60% of the points sort of like scored to the best of your ability and in the bag, so to speak.

You’ve got it done and it’s out of the way and you’ve got 20 minutes left now to focus on task 1. So, even if you do mess it up, it’s not going to be as severe as running out of time if you would have messed up task 2. So, this is just another argument for taking the computer-based one because if you do have those horrible train crashes, then with the computer-based one, it’s much easier, quicker, cleaner to recover.

ACADEMIC TASK 1 INSTRUCTIONS

Let’s have a look at the instructions. So, it’ll say something like summarize the information by selecting and reporting the main features and make comparisons where relevant. I want to repeat that because it really is important. Summarize the information. Summarize. So, we’re not going to go through and list every single data point. This is a common error that students make.

HOW DO WE SUMMARIZE?

We’ve got to summarize and it tells us how. How do we summarize? Well, we select and report the main features. So, you need to know how to choose the right information. And then it also says make comparisons where relevant, but let’s just go back. Choosing the right information. In the online course we have for academic task 1, we have a whole chapter about choosing the right information because choosing the right information is a deal-breaker.

It’s the one that’s going to make or break your task 1. It’s also an area which a lot of students struggle with. We go into it in much more detail, but choosing the right information basically means following these instructions. So, we’re going to report the main features and then we’re going to make comparisons.

REPORT MAIN FEATURES

 So, how do we report the main features? Well, we use superlatives. We quickly identify the maximums and the minimums. From there, not only are we going to be using better high-scoring grammatical structures but we’ve got a ground as well to make comparisons and using comparisons, we’re going to be using conjunctions such as although and in comparison to. We’re just going to be using much better structures.

Moving on. Questions involving maps, diagrams, and processes are possible, too, but they’re slightly less common. Even so, in those cases, you can still use superlatives and obviously, you can still use comparisons. So, I’ll just give you an example. The most complex process shown on the chart was the production of tea or the most simple or the least complex process– the least complex chemical process was the production of ethanol. Imagining that we see some kind of process either showing tea production or chemical production of some sort with diagrams or maps, how do we show the maximums and the minimums?

So, we can state the most northerly point on the chart shows three palm trees or the least dense area of the map are the fields to the right of the housing estate. So, this is why in our academic task 1 course we really drill and we really emphasize the use of superlatives. They need to be mastered as do comparisons. If you get these two structures, if you nail these two structures, not only are they going to help you in your speaking but they’re going to help you in your task 2 as well.

They are just these advanced kinds of structures and this is why we need to learn them inside out, back to front, left to right, right to left. You just need to learn them to a level of automaticity so much so that they sound natural and automatic when you’re speaking. Also, so that they sound natural when you are writing. Likewise with the comparisons because comparisons are extremely useful when you’re doing your speaking and also when you are doing a task 2. So, just three very important points there.

FOUR AREAS OF ASSESSMENT

There are four areas of assessment: task achievement, cohesion and coherence, lexical resource, grammatical range and accuracy. Also, as a side note, I strongly recommend you go to ielts.org and you get to grips with the marking system. Write it out if you have to, but you really need to know what the examiners are looking for. Also, you can just see once you get to grips with it, once you write it out when you start training for academic task 1 or task 2, you’ll be able to see like okay, that was a natural use of a collocation or that was a natural use of language and you can start getting into the mind of the examiner, which would definitely help you.

So, just going back as I said: task achievement, cohesion and coherence, lexical resource, grammatical range and accuracy; each one of those is 25%. Task achievement will assess how well you satisfy the requirements of the task. What are the requirements of the tasks? Well– of the task, in this case.

As I said a few seconds ago, the requirements are summarize the information by selecting and reporting the main features and make comparisons where relevant. That is the requirement of the task. So, this is why it’s really important to make sure you’re choosing the right information and that you’re describing it properly.

Now, just before we dive into the differences between achieving a band 6 and a band 7, let me just give you a little bit of advice from the course in how to choose or how to know which information to include. I’ll give you two methods.

Number one is squint your eyes and blur the graph so you just see a rough outline. If you do this, you’re going to escape from the details. What a beautiful phrase, Ben. You’re going to escape from the details and you’re just going to see an overview. You’re going to see the maximum and the minimum and you can sort of like say okay, those are the points that I’m looking for.

Also ideally, you’ll be able to see any pattern that’s there. You might be able to see that the UK was leading France or you might be able to see that rainfall was higher in Scotland than it was in Wales. So, there’s that technique. If you’re doing the paper-based, you can hold it up and you can push it away from your eyes like from a fair distance and you’ll get a similar effect.

Also, another way which we strongly encourage in the online course is to force yourself to use the superlatives and the comparisons and I’ll say that again. Force yourself to use the superlatives. Not only are you going to pick up points for using advanced grammatical structures and good lexical resource but you’re also going to be fulfilling the task response of giving in an overview or summarizing.

When we’re summarizing, we want to be noting the maximums, the minimums and superlatives will force you to do this. For example, the highest amount of wine production in the world came from France and the country with the smallest amount of wine production is clearly Wales, for example, all right?

Now then, let’s move on to the key differences between achieving a 6 and a 7. As you know, we need to present a clear overview in order to be awarded a band 7. So, it’s definitely worth time in learning how to present an overview and this goes back to what I was saying before; just squinting your eyes.

So, you need to find out what technique is best for you. Maybe it’s just sort of like having a first glance at it. Maybe it’s squinting your eyes. Maybe it’s just going to– I think it’s called The Economist Data unit– Economist Daily chart; that’s it and there every single day, there is a chart and it’s described exactly like IELTS academic task 1. Sometimes it’s about oil production. Sometimes it’s about corn production. Sometimes it’s about GDP of each country, but there have a look at those daily charts and read them.

Copy them out word for word pen and paper. In this case, I’m going to promote pen and paper because you get that extra element like a kinesthetic element of touching it and writing it down. You get more senses involved in the process, which is good for learning. It’s not good for tests, but it’s good for learning. In the test as you know, do the computer-based. Anyway, go to The Economist Daily chart, identify their overview sentences, steal their overview sentences and you’ll be able to see good academic writing in the real world.

Right then, also, if you’re going for a band 7, you need to be able to clearly present and highlight the key features, which is another reason why in our online course we are pushing, insisting, and even returning essays back when they send them in for correction.

When they send them in for feedback, sometimes we send them back and we say look, you haven’t even included any superlatives. I’m not going to waste your time. Go back, rewrite it and then I’ll correct it. It might sound harsh, but this way, students learn and also, we don’t waste an essay correction for them.

WORD LIMIT

So, let’s move on. As I mentioned before, it’s important to know that there’s no upper word limit. However, you’ve only got 20 minutes. So, this is why it’s important to go for quality rather than quantity. So, as you know, 20 minutes that’s a short amount of time. If you’ve got a structure to follow, it gets much easier.

This goes back to what I’ve said in previous tutorials about muscle memory; about it becoming automatic. This is what we drill into the students for task 2. That first you do this, then you do this, then you do this. I think it’s like six, no five steps and boom! You just drop your ideas into the essay. Anyway, I’m going off-topic.

So, the second area of assessment is cohesion and coherence and here the examiners are trained to evaluate how well you’ve organized the information. For band 7, you need to be organizing the information logically with a clear progression throughout your essay. Now, here there are a little bit of different points of view for how you structure task 1.

I know that Ellen, part of our team, she recommends that students do paragraph 1 introduction, paragraph 2 you give an overview, paragraphs 3 and 4 you go into the details. She recommends this method because if you run out of time, then at least you’ve got the overview in the bag. At least you’ve got it done. So, if time management is an issue for you, it’s probably good you follow Ellen’s advice.

Personally, I prefer to teach that the overview is included at the end and I prefer the overview because a kind of– in my opinion, it gives a more coherent essay. We’ve got the introduction and we’ve got the details and we’ve got an overview. It seems more logical to me. At the end of the day though, it’s your choice. It’s your decision. You’ve got to take the responsibility. Test which one you prefer.

TIME MANAGEMENT

If time management is an issue, obviously Ellen’s is going to be more suitable for you. If it’s not an issue, then you might prefer mine. It’s totally your choice. It’s your responsibility. If I was totally correct, then there would be no need for Ellen. If Ellen was totally correct, there would be no need for me. So, it’s your responsibility to choose.

One other thing; also in the Academic Task 1 Course, we don’t just say paragraph 1 is an introduction, paragraph 2 the details. We give you the sentence structures and I will just divulge. Ben your vocabulary is so good. Sorry about that. It’s just that I enjoy using that word divulge. So, let me just divulge some information for you about how we teach Academic Task 1.

So, we insist as you’ve probably heard me say a few minutes ago, we insist on superlatives, superlative structures. We insist on comparisons and we insist on fancy sentences. Fancy sentences will be something like wine production in France was three times larger than that of Spain. Also, we insist on using whereas and while because these are comparisons which is, as we’ve said before, part of the task requirement is to make comparisons where appropriate.

Not only are you going to be– if we insist that you use whereas and while correctly, you will be fulfilling the task requirement because you’re making comparisons. Likewise, if we insist on superlatives, you are going to be getting nearer to giving an overview and it’ll also solve part of the problem of choosing the information. So, this is why our task 1 system is so robust and this is why it gets results because we insist on certain grammatical structures.

Now, just as a side note; an important side note. Those two structures that I just highlighted to you; superlatives and comparisons, it’s definitely worth your time learning these inside out, back to front, left to right, right to left, north to south, south to north. You’ve got to learn these, master them to a level of automaticity for two reasons.

Number one, if you learn them to a level of automaticity so it’s just automatic, it’s natural, it’s going to make it much easier to use them and it’s going to free up mental resources so you can select the right information, so you can manage your time, so you can check for mistakes, so you can check for opportunities to upgrade your essay. So, that’s reason number one.

Reason number two why you should learn those two structures because they’re incredibly useful for academic task 2 or general training task 2 because it’s superlatives, will help you with your grammatical range and accuracy. It’s the comparative structures such as while, whereas or in comparison to and although. Those conjunctions for making comparisons will also be useful for task 2 writing both also boosting your grammatical range and accuracy.

Furthermore, the icing on the cake is that once you learn these to such a thorough level, you can start using them in your speaking. You can start making the examiner sit up in her seat or his seat, start listening because you are going to be using some higher-level structures. For example, what kind of food do you like?

Well, when I was younger I used to eat a lot of Italian food whereas nowadays, I prefer Asian food. You see? It’s just so simple to use these comparisons and it just helps you so much and it makes your writing or you speaking so much more interesting and as I’ve said a million times, we’re going to be picking up points for grammatical range and accuracy.

FINAL POINTS

One final point before we finish is it’s definitely important to use these structures in academic task 1 in a natural fashion. This is why it’s important to learn them inside out, back to front. Not only are you going to be using them for other areas of your test but you’re also going to be using them– if you learn them to such a high level, they start becoming natural, which will help you with your lexical resource score, not just in task 1 but in task 2 and in your speaking exam.

Final point, when you’re learning your vocabulary, when you’re focusing on your vocabulary, don’t just learn them in isolation. Try to learn them in context and with the relevant collocations around them. I don’t have time to go into an example right now, but if you go to the IELTS vocabulary page, there we’ve got an introduction, which links to lots of other different resources you can use.

So, we go into detail about learning them in context, we go into detail about how to learn them in a thorough manner, how to memorize and just sort of like habits and rituals and systems you can put in place to achieve your goals.

Final point– let’s see. I think the final thing that I want to say is I’m just going to mention the computer-based test again because with the computer-based test you’ve got the opportunity to go back through your essay, not only correct it which is what basic tutors tell you to do. Go back and correct it.  Pick up some more points. No.

Smart tutors at ieltspodcast.com– now, this is true though. A decent teacher will tell you to go back and upgrade it. Look for opportunities to upgrade it and pick up even more points. So, not only are you doing your error correction but you’re also improving your work.

That leads me to the next point, which is if you’re keen on improving, if improving your work is good for you, the fastest way possible, the fastest way is to get feedback. The tutor can look at your essay and can tell you this is wrong, that’s not natural, that’s a train crash, that’s beautiful, that’s amazing, but you need to work on your use of articles.

Our tutors can do this and they love doing this and this is why we’ve got native English speakers and ex-IELTS examiners correcting your work because, not only can they give you the feedback and give you information regarding natural use of language but they can also give you insights into what the examiner will be thinking, which I think is invaluable.

And then if you combine that with a thorough solid program, a system for basically manufacturing, for outputting, for producing your task 2 and your task 1 essays– I’m not talking about paragraph one introduction, paragraph two… No. I’m talking about detailed systems, detailed requirements that, not only do we teach but we insist you use because they are known to get the high scores. They are known to deliver what the examiner wants.

Sorry, if I got a bit excited there, but I do get passionate about this. I do enjoy getting results. I’m results driven. Anyway, that’s enough from me.  Just one last thing regarding feedback; if you think feedback is something that you need, then send us an email. Tell us what you’re struggling with and we can give you a special offer regarding feedback, but you need to send us an email. You can get our email address once you sign up at ieltspodcast.com.

Second thing: if you know anybody who’s struggling, tell them to get in contact as well. Send them our link. Share our resources. You can help them, too. You’re not alone in this. You’ve got us and we can help you and your friends.

Final thing: have a look at the IELTS podcast Ben Worthington App. (Android appiOS app)

There you’ve got the full transcripts, which will help you to improve your own vocabulary especially when we do the essay commentary tasks because you can be reading through, you can hear the correct pronunciation, you can associate the sounds to the words, and it’s definitely better than just passively sitting there on YouTube, for example. At least there’s a little bit more activity involved, which will– as you’ve heard me say earlier, which would definitely help you learn faster. The more resources that are involved, the more senses that are involved.

Okay. So, that is everything from me today. Let’s keep on improving. Let’s keep on moving. Keep your head up high and just one last thing that I want to re-emphasize is that goals are important, but having systems in place; daily habits, daily systems that you’re following will get you there faster. That’s why we insist on systems in the online course.

That’s everything. So, just one last thing. Keep moving. Keep your head up high. You will get there. You will only fail if you give up and that’s a very positive note. You understand. All right, take care. All the best.

[Music]

Female Voice: Thanks for listening to ieltspodcast.com

The post Academic Writing Task One – Marking and Assessment appeared first on IELTS Podcast.

Nov 09 2019

27mins

Play

Advanced Speaking: Using Hypotheticals, Proposing Solutions to Problems, Agreeing and Disagreeing

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Advanced Speaking: Using Hypotheticals, Proposing Solutions to Problems, Agreeing and Disagreeing

In this tutorial, you will learn how to:

  • incorporate hypothetical language into your speaking 
  • propose solutions to problems
  • improve your ability to agree and disagree

In today’s podcast, we’re going to look at ways to improve the range of language you incorporate into parts two and three of the IELTS speaking test. First, we’re going to focus on ‘grammatical range and accuracy’.

Here’s an example of a part two question:

Describe a time when you were late for something important. You should say:
– when it happened
– how it happened
– how late you were

and explain what the result was.

Here is the first part of a candidate’s answer:

Well, this all happened a few years ago, when I was living in London. I had applied for a job with a new company and they had offered me an interview.

Unfortunately, I misread the address of the office where the interview was to be held. I had only glanced at it quickly and I had thought it said, ‘Queen’s Avenue’, which was about a ten-minute drive from where I was living… 

On the day of the interview, I was just checking the street number when I realised that it was ‘Queen’s Road’ – not ‘Queen’s Avenue’. When I looked at a map, it turned out that ‘Queen’s Road’ was miles away..!

Here is the last part of the response:

What a disaster! Looking back, I just can’t believe I made such a stupid mistake! If I had just read the address more carefully in the first place, I would probably have got the job!

The candidate wraps up his talk strongly, using the following sentence:

If I had just read the address more carefully in the first place, I would probably have got the job!

This is an example of a third conditional, which is used to talk about a hypothetical situation in the past. Here the candidate is saying that he didn’t read the address carefully – and so he didn’t get the job.

Making natural and accurate use of complex grammatical structures like this can help to improve your score for ‘grammatical range and accuracy’. Sign up for our online course for more suggestions!

We make third conditional sentences like this:

If + subject + past perfect, would / could / might + have + past participle

Let’s practise with a few examples. How could you convert these ideas into third conditional sentences?

a) I didn’t realise the office was in Queen’s Road and I didn’t allow enough time.

If…

If I had realised that the office was in Queen’s Road, I would have allowed more time.

b) I left home late and I was late for the interview.

If…

If I hadn’t left home late, I wouldn’t have been late for the interview.

c) I was late so they didn’t offer me the job.

If…

If I hadn’t been late, they would / might have offered me the job.

Now let’s have a look at incorporating a wider range of IELTS vocabulary into part three of the test. In this final part of the speaking test, you may be asked to propose a solution to a problem. 

For example:

Obesity is a problem in many countries in the world today. What do you think can be done about this problem?

Governments around the world are struggling to find solutions to problems like this, so it’s important to bear in mind that the examiner is not expecting you to have the ideal solution..!

You could respond by saying something like:

Well, firstly I think it’s important to recognise that there are no easy solutions.

Well, to start with I think we need to accept that this problem is not going to be solved overnight.

… and then move on to give your opinion.

In part three, you may also be asked to agree or disagree with a statement.

For example:

Many people are of the opinion that it’s the government’s responsibility to tackle the problem of obesity. Do you agree?

There are lots of different phrases we can use to agree and disagree. Here are some examples:

Do these people agree or disagree? How strongly do they feel?

‘Yes, I completely agree.’ – This person agrees strongly with the statement.

‘Well, I understand why some people feel this way, but I think…’ – This person disagrees.

‘I’m afraid I totally disagree.’ – This person is expressing strong disagreement.

‘Actually I think we need to take personal responsibility…’. – This person disagrees with the statement.

‘Well, I think they’re right to a certain extent.’ – This person agrees to some extent.

‘Well, I think it’s more complicated than that, actually…’ – This person neither agrees nor disagrees.

‘I would have to say that I think that’s absolutely true.’ – This person is expressing strong agreement.

‘I really don’t think that’s true at all.’ – This person strongly disagrees.

Now listen again and practise saying the phrases with the appropriate sentence stress and intonation. Record yourself and then give yourself some feedback on your pronunciation.Finally, what’s your opinion? Do you agree?!

You can download or listen to the audio version here:

|Direct Download Here | Stitcher | iTunes | Spotify | Soundcloud | Transcript |

You can read the full transcript below:

Female Voice: You are now listening to the IELTS podcast. Learn from tutors and ex-examiners who are masters of IELTS preparation. Your host, Ben Worthington.

INTRODUCTION

Ben: IELTS Speaking: using hypotheticals, proposing solutions to problems, and agreeing and disagreeing. In this tutorial, we will specifically look at how you can and will incorporate hypothetical language into your speaking. The irony there; I’m talking about advanced IELTS speaking skills and I can’t even pronounce the word hypothetical.

Anyway, also, we’re going to look at how you can propose solutions to problems and how you can improve your ability to agree and disagree. Firstly, in this tutorial, we’re going to look at a sample cue card. Then you will hear a sample answer and then we’re going to break down that sample answer and look at some of the point-scoring attributes that it has especially with regards to hypothetical language, which is basically the conditionals.

Let’s first have a listen to this part 2 presentation. Well, this all happened a few years ago when I was living in London. I had applied for a job with a new company and they had offered me an interview. Unfortunately, I misread the address of the office where the interview was to be held. I had only glanced it at quickly and I had thought it said Queens Avenue, which was about a 10-minutes’ drive from where I was living.

On the day of the interview, I was just checking the street number when I realized that it was Queens Road and not Queens Avenue. When I looked at the map, it turned out that Queens Road was miles away. What a disaster. Looking back, I just can’t believe I made such a stupid mistake. If I had just read the address more carefully in the first place, I would probably have got the job.

Now, let’s have a look– let’s focus on the last part of the presentation– of the response. The student says what a disaster. Looking back, I just can’t believe I made such a stupid mistake. If I had just read the address more carefully in the first place, I would probably have got the job. Now, this is a very strong way to finish up your presentation. If I had just read the address more carefully in the first place, I would probably have got the job.

Now, this is an example of a third conditional, which as you probably know, is what we use to talk about a hypothetical situation in the past. So, basically what this candidate is saying is that he didn’t read the address carefully, so he didn’t get the job. Now, if you can employ natural and accurate use of these structures, this will definitely help you improve your score for grammatical range and accuracy.

Let’s have a look at how we make these third conditional sentences. Well, we use if then the subject then the past perfect then would, could– then the modal verb would, could, might or have and then the past participle. So, in this case, it’s if I had just read the address more carefully in the first place, if I had just read and then I would probably have got the job.

Actually, this is an exercise that is going to be used on the speaking app we are developing. I know I said this a few months ago. We are getting there.  It’s taking time, but we are getting there. If you’re interested in this speaking app, then send us an email and we’ll put you on the waiting list.

TRANSFORMING THE SENTENCES

So, let’s transform these sentences. I didn’t realize the office was in Queens Road and I didn’t allow enough time. How would we say that? Well, as you probably just heard, if I had realized that the office was in Queens Road, I would have allowed more time. Next one: I left home late and I was late for the interview. So, if we start with if:  If I hadn’t left home late, I wouldn’t have been late for the interview.

If you go to the tutorial, you’ll see a few more of these and they are all of these exercises where you read the standard sentence and you convert it into a hypothetical statement or conditional. Actually, in the speaking app, there’s a whole exercise developed around this exact exercise of transforming these simple sentences.

The key to mastering this, the key to doing this is to reach a level of automaticity that means that you can use these phrases without even thinking about using them. That’s when they sound natural and you can use them like in automatic responses, but the key here is that we say them so many times or that we use them so many times that they just become natural and you’re not even consciously aware that you’re using them.

This is automaticity or some others say it’s fluency, but I honestly think it’s a bit like a sport. When you’re playing, you’re not consciously thinking about your moves. You’re just doing it. You’re making sure that– I don’t know, the racket is at 90-degree angle with the ball. It’s just something that you’ve done so many times that you can free up mental resources to be focusing on other things.

IELTS SPEAKING VOCABULARY

Let’s move on. Let’s look now at incorporating a wider range of vocabulary into your speaking test. Now, the examiner may ask you to propose a solution to a problem. For example, they might say obesity is a problem in many countries in the world today. What do you think can be done about this problem? Now, as I have said before, that this is a language exam and language is communication. So, you don’t have to worry about the quality of your answer.

I think I was reading online the other day that one possible solution to obesity is to close down the dog pounds, you know the dog shelters and let these dogs roam wild, so to speak, in parks, in the streets and then that would solve the obesity problem because– I shouldn’t be laughing, but the dogs could hunt down the bigger people because they wouldn’t be able to run away.

Sorry about that. Obviously, you wouldn’t propose something like that in the test, but what I’m saying you probably wouldn’t propose something like that because we’ve got to think of this as a job interview, all right? What I’m saying is that the quality of the answers doesn’t have to be sort of like government policy level answers. You just have to give a reasonable and expected answer.

My answer wasn’t expected; just shut down the dog pounds and let the dogs turn into wild dogs and take care of the big people. You could not say that in an exam. As I said before, you’ve got to treat this as a job interview. So, we need that level of formality.

Anyway, you could respond by saying something like: Well, firstly, I think it’s important to recognize that there are no easy solutions. That’s quite an easy copy-paste sentence. Another sentence: Well, to start with, I think we need to accept this problem is not going to be solved overnight and then we move into our opinion.

You could say something like this problem isn’t going to be solved overnight. For example, the U.S. Government has been struggling with this and they’re close to an epidemic at the moment. A few states in the U.S. have proposed a sugar tax. Other people actually think that they should just let the problem take care of itself and don’t believe that the government should actually have to do anything about it.

So, that example answer I just gave two points to it and then if I wanted to really develop it, I could give an example. I could say, for example, California I think a few years ago was seriously talking about a sugar tax that would definitely increase the cost of sugary drinks and other sugary products, but in the end I think big business got involved and lobbied against such a proposal so us just to keep the prices low regardless of the sugar content.

I don’t actually know if that’s true or not. I’d have to jump online, but the point is it sounds reasonable. Definitely more reasonable than letting dogs chase down the big people. Anyway, now what other kinds of questions could we get in part 3? Well, similar to task 2 in the writing test, we might have agree or disagree questions. For example, many people are of the opinion that it’s the government’s responsibility to tackle the problem of obesity. Do you agree?

So, it’s kind of similar to what we were talking about before. How do we respond? Well, in a natural fashion we say, there are lots of– we could start– sorry. We could say yes, I completely agree. Obviously, that means we agree strongly.

Next one: Well, I understand why some people feel this way, but I think… and then we develop our answer. So, we kind of acknowledge that point of view, but then we give our point of view. Other phrases we can use: I’m afraid I totally disagree and as with all of these statements what we’re going to do next is give reasons and then ideally giving examples that prove your point, that almost make it irrefutable and then we’ll– I don’t think a conclusion is necessary, but sometimes some people like to put that at the end.

Other phrases we can use: Well, I think they’re right to a certain extent… and then we just develop that answer a little bit more. They are right to a certain extent and that’s probably going to set you up for a conjunction afterwards.

Well, I think they’re right to a certain extent. For example, obesity is becoming increasingly dangerous. However, I honestly believe that people should be left to make their own decisions. For example, in countries or in regions such as Scandinavia, there’s no sugar tax and behavior that governments dislike or do not want to encourage they kind of just make it more expensive and plus there’s a whole cultural thing.

Anyway, about governments handling obesity, I think it could be done, but it largely depends on how they do it. For example, taxes are not the best way. Perhaps encouraging people to participate in sport would be a much healthier long-term way to do this. I did kind of get myself into a bit of a mess there halfway through because I was going to talk about taxes, but then I just pulled it back and I talked about governments doing campaigns and promoting healthy living.

MORE PHRASES

Other phrases we could use: I would have to say that I think that’s absolutely true. The government should definitely be controlling obesity because otherwise, it ends up becoming a much more serious epidemic. For example, if obesity isn’t controlled, then national health services have to deal with the consequences of obesity such as diabetes, heart attacks, and then there are all the heart operations that might be needed just as a result of obesity.

So, if the governments can tackle obesity before it starts, then it’s probably going to save them a lot more money and resources in the long run. So, there we had the reasons then we had the example and then sort of like summarizing statement of why it’s a good idea for governments to control or to handle obesity.

Next one: I really don’t think that’s true at all. Then we’re going to give a list of reasons, for example, why we dislike the idea of government handling obesity. Maybe we could talk about freedom of choice. Maybe we could talk about the nanny state. Then talk about all these different options and then give examples and we are on our way to scoring well, all right?

SENTENCE STRESS AND INTONATION

Now then, what I would recommend you do is just have a listen to those phrases again and perhaps you can record yourself and try and identify where you’ve put the sentence stress or where you’ve put the intonation. As we talked about in previous tutorials, that this is an important part of having full control of the English language. Now, what we need to be doing is stressing the important words. I won’t go into it right now. There’s lots of material about it at IELTS podcast.

Right, that’s everything for us today. I hope you’ve enjoyed this tutorial. If you want more speaking resources, then go to ieltspodcast.com and have a look at the Speaking Confidence Course. In this course, we look at how you can respond quickly and automatically. We look at strategies on how to attack part 2 and part 3. There’s the good old reflection method, paraphrasing methods, lots of different methods and frameworks and vocabulary in the course. We’ve been doing this for a while and we know what works, what gets results and what doesn’t work and we’re slowly refining and improving it and as you probably know, we’ve got a new part 2 framework in the pipeline coming soon.

IELTS ONLINE COURSES

The other thing I want to say before we finish is if you are struggling with the IELTS exam, then have a look at the online courses. We’ve got this Speaking Confidence Course. We’ve got the Jump to Band 7 or It’s Free writing course and we’re getting some fantastic results from both of those.

This is why we continuously interview the successful students, not only to get to know how they passed for them to disclose their strategies but also to inspire and just show you that this is possible, that you’re not alone and that we can do this together and it’s just a hurdle that you’re going to jump and you will pass and then you move on to the next obstacle. That’s the best way of looking at this.

FINAL MESSAGE

And final message before we finish: if you know any students or friends that are struggling with the IELTS exam, then share this podcast with them. I’d love to help them, too. They can listen to the tutorials while they’re washing the dishes, loading the dishwasher, cleaning the house, walking to work, on the treadmill in the gym, having breakfast, or whatever.  

I think the key here is to incorporate it into your routine, into your lifestyle. So, if you are always walking to catch a bus and then you’re on the bus and then you’re at work, then use that dead time, use that downtime to start improving your IELTS score.

Right. That’s everything from me. Thank you very much for listening. I hope you keep on improving and eventually you will get there. Take care. Thank you very much. Bye-bye.

[Music]

Female Voice: Thanks for listening to ieltspodcast.com

The post Advanced Speaking: Using Hypotheticals, Proposing Solutions to Problems, Agreeing and Disagreeing appeared first on IELTS Podcast.

Nov 06 2019

19mins

Play

Using Complex Sentences in Your Speaking

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In this tutorial, you will find out:

  • what is meant by ‘a complex sentence’
  • the importance of incorporating complex sentences in the IELTS speaking test
  • the importance of focussing on natural use of language

The speaking test is the same for both IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training and it always involves a face-to-face interview with a certified IELTS examiner – regardless of whether you take the paper-based or computer-based version of the test.

The speaking test lasts between eleven and fourteen minutes. It is divided into three sections, which gradually become more challenging. There are four equally important assessment criteria:

Fluency and coherence – the ability to speak at a good speed and link ideas together

Lexical resource – the ability to use a range of vocabulary appropriately

Grammatical range and accuracy – the ability to use a range of grammatical structures accurately

Pronunciation – the ability to be understood easily

Today, we’re going to focus on ‘Grammatical range and accuracy’ and, more specifically, the use of complex sentences. Let’s start by having a look at the parts of the band descriptors for Bands 5, 6 and 7 which relate to the use of complex sentences.

A ‘Band 5’ candidate uses only a limited range of structures and attempts to use complex sentences. A ‘Band 6’ candidate uses a mix of simple and complex sentence forms – and a ‘Band 7’ candidate uses a variety of complex sentences.

Clearly, it’s important to incorporate complex sentences into your speaking in order to achieve a higher score for ‘Grammatical Range and Accuracy’. But what exactly is a ‘complex sentence’? The good news is that complex sentences are not as complex as they sound! A complex sentence is just a combination of two or more simple sentences. You probably already know how to form some types of complex sentences.

Let’s look at some examples.

Perhaps the easiest way to form a complex sentence is to use conjunctions. Conjunctions are words which join sentences together – and simple coordinating conjunctions include words such as ‘and’, ‘but’ and ‘or’. ‘Because’, ‘so that’, ‘before’, ‘when’ and ‘although’ are also examples of conjunctions. Not too tricky, right?

Another way to link two simple sentences together is using a relative clause. So instead of saying:

“I live with a friend. I met her at university.”

You could say:

“I live with a friend, who I met at university.”

Here’s another example. Instead of saying:

“On my last holiday I went to Brighton. It’s a town by the sea.”

You could say:

“On my last holiday I went to Brighton, which is a town by the sea.”

The band descriptor for Band 7 includes using a variety of complex sentences.

Instead of saying:

“I don’t have much free time. I don’t do much exercise.”

You could form a complex sentence by saying:

“I don’t have much free time, so I don’t do much exercise.”

But if you wanted to really show what you could do, you could say:

“If I had more free time, I would do more exercise.”

Conditionals are also examples of complex sentences.

A common topic in part one of the speaking test is ‘food’. Here is an example question, and several sample answers:

What’s your favourite food?

My favourite food is lasagne. My mum is a great cook and when I was growing up, she used to make lasagne every Saturday. It’s not exactly healthy, as she uses plenty of cheese, but it’s absolutely delicious.

Can you see how this candidate has joined simple sentences together to form complex sentences?

Here is another example:

I think my favourite food is chocolate. I would probably eat chocolate every day if I could! I can’t remember a time when I didn’t eat chocolate, so I think I’ve probably been a chocoholic since childhood.

And one more:

Steak, I think. I know that it’s not very environmentally friendly, and I know that we are all supposed to be becoming vegans, but in my opinion, nothing beats the taste of a medium-rare steak.

Although it is important to incorporate complex sentences into your speaking, it’s also important to achieve a balance. Don’t feel as if you can only use complex sentences. Each of the sample answers you heard began with a simple sentence – and this is perfectly natural use of language.

It’s also worth remembering that there are three other areas of assessment, including ‘fluency and coherence’. It can be very difficult to speak naturally and at a good speed if you over-emphasise the importance of including more complicated language.

Focus on expressing what you want to say – and, if you know how to use these structures, you will find that you start to incorporate them instinctively.

Signing up for our online course will enable you to receive the feedback you need to help you improve.
You can download or listen to the audio version here:

|Direct Download Here | Stitcher | iTunes | Spotify | Soundcloud | Transcript |

YOU MAY READ THE TRANSCRIPT BELOW:

Female Voice: You are now listening to the IELTS podcast. Learn from tutors and ex-examiners who are masters of IELTS preparation. Your host, Ben Worthington.

INTRODUCTION

Ben: IELTS Speaking: using complex sentences in your speaking exam. In this tutorial, we will find out what is meant when we say a complex sentence. We’re going to look at the importance of incorporating these complex sentences into the IELTS speaking test and we will also look at the importance of focusing on natural use of the language. This is really important.

Now, as you probably know, the speaking test is the same for both that IELTS academic and the IELTS general training and it’s quite unique in the fact that it involves a face-to-face interview with a certified examiner and this is the same if you’re doing the computer-based or if you’re doing the paper-based.

Just as a side note, if you find that you get nervous in this exam, then it’s entirely your responsibility to solve this. You cannot blame it on the examiner. This might sound harsh, but it’s not the examiners fault that you are getting nervous. Fair enough; the examiner might be intimidating for you, but in all seriousness, if you are getting nervous in front of the examiner, then it’s your responsibility to solve this problem.

I think there are a few options. You can get familiar with the exam and probably do practice mock exams, speaking exams and with a personal tutor, possibly online, with a friend; your deal. You can have a look at the format of the exam and in this instance, one thing is knowing the format, but the other thing is actually working through the format. So, just be careful about that last tip I gave. It’s like you can’t learn to ride a bike by reading about it. You have to get on it and this is a similar situation.

Third way you could overcome your nervousness is to look at some breathing techniques such as diaphragmatic breathing where there’s a series of deep breaths. You can look online and research that. Then there’s a whole host of different ways to boost your speaking confidence. YouTube is a good resource as well, but as always, do not just sit there like a cabbage, like a vegetable absorbing all this information because it’s useless without action. You have to actually apply it.

I suffer from this as well. I think we all do and it’s a good way to avoid doing the actual work if we’re just there in passive mode absorbing information like a vegetable. So, my tip for this is just pick one of the techniques that you find from your research and implement it and then once you’ve got that mastered, you move on to the next technique.

You can add them together and you compound them, but learning about 20 different tips to boost your confidence possibly won’t work. It’s better just to have like one or two that you’ve mastered and then master another two and then slowly go about improving in that way. Okay, let’s get back to the topic.

So, the speaking test lasts between 11 and 14 minutes and as you probably know, is divided into three sections which gradually become more challenging. The examiner is going to be looking at basically four areas: fluency and coherence, lexical resource, grammatical range and accuracy, and pronunciation. I’m not going to go into detail there. I’m not going to go into detail of those three. I’m going to mainly just focus on grammatical range and accuracy specifically the use of complex sentences.

Let’s have a look at the band descriptors for bands 5, 6, and 7 and then we can have a look at examples. Now, a band-5 candidate will use a limited range of structures and attempt to use complex sentences, okay, attempt. So, they’re at least trying. A band-6 candidate uses a mix of simple and complex sentence forms, okay? So, a band-6 candidate uses a mix of simple and complex sentence forms whereas a band-7 student uses a variety of complex sentences.

So therefore, it’s clearly important we need to be incorporating complex sentences to get a high score. Now, what exactly is a complex sentence? Actually, it’s just a combination of two or more simple sentences. Let’s have a look at some examples. Perhaps the easiest way to describe a complex sentence is to use conjunctions.

CONJUNCTIONS

Conjunctions will join the sentences together. Conjunctions can be simple words such as and, but, or and then slightly more tricky ones, slightly, something like because, so that, before, when, although. So, these are quite straightforward and I imagine you’ve probably got a grasp of these already. I’ll give you a very basic example.

So, you could say I live with a friend. I met her at university or we could just boost it up. We could spice it up a little bit and we could say I live with a friend who I met at university. Can you see? It’s much, much better. Another example: On my last holiday, I went to Brighton. It’s a town by the sea. Slightly upgraded version would be: On my last holiday, I went to Brighton, which is a town by the sea. You see?

So, using the relative clause in that last one, we’ve managed to upgrade our speaker and I personally believe that you can get into the habit of doing this through practice and that’s what it needs to be. It needs to be an automated habit. It needs to be automatic for you to do this because as we’ve said before, speaking is spontaneous and we can’t go back and take back those words. So, it’s much better if it just comes out first time the correct way.

Now then, the band 7 band descriptor says– if you remember, it says using a variety of complex sentences. So here, instead of saying I don’t have much free time. I don’t do much exercise; we could say I don’t have much free time, so I don’t do much exercise. But if we wanted to really upgrade it, we could say if I had more free time, I would do more exercise. Can you see there? Conditionals are very good for getting that variety of complex sentence sort of like criteria.

COMMON TOPIC IN SPEAKING PART 1: FOOD

Now then, a common topic in part 1 of the speaking is food. So, a typical question could be what’s your favorite food? Here, we can listen to one simple answer. My favorite food is lasagna. My mom is a great cook and when I was growing up she used to make lasagna every Saturday. It’s not exactly healthy as she uses plenty of cheese, but it’s absolutely delicious.

Now in that example, what I did was I’ve joined lots of simple sentences together to form a complex one, okay? Here’s another one. Well, just to go back there, so we have when and we also got so when I was growing up. It’s connected that way and then in the second sentence it’s not exactly healthy as she uses plenty of cheese, but it’s absolutely delicious. You see? Let’s move on.

I think my favorite food is chocolate. I would probably eat chocolate every day if I could. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t eat chocolate, so I think I’ve probably been a chocoholic since childhood. So, just working backwards there, we’ve got since, we’ve got so, we’ve got when, we’ve got– that’s probably about it and also hopefully, you’ll have realized there’s a mixture there of sort of like a short sentence, a medium sentence and then a longish sentence. Similar to the writing; variety here because variety is what’s natural and it sounds– it’s the easiest for the ear.

If it’s just short sentences in the writing and in the speaking, it sounds quite staccato whereas if it’s long sentences, it’s a strain. It’s a strain for the listener. It’s a strain for the reader because they have to hold lots of information in their mind. Also, it’s just not pleasant, to be honest. Oh no, that’s not what I was going to say. Also, it increases the chances of a grammatical mistake the longer the sentence is. Just proved my point there. Anyway, let’s move on.

One last example: steak. So, what’s your favorite food? Steak, I think. I know that it’s not very environmentally friendly and I know that we are all supposed to be becoming vegans, but in my opinion, nothing beats the taste of a medium-rare steak. So, that was a good sentence actually. I like that. We’ve got some topic-specific vocabulary: vegans, medium rare. We’re talking about the environment and we’ve managed to link it together and we’ve put in a conjunction there as well and we’ve got a good collocation: nothing beats the taste of… or nothing beats waking up on a Sunday morning, nothing beats home cooking.

Now then, let’s just move on. So, although it’s important to incorporate these complex sentences into your speaking, as I was just saying before, we need to achieve a balance. This balance is kind of related to the variety and it just makes it sound natural and as I’ve said, this is true– thank you very much. This is true for both the speaking and the writing, all right?

Also, just one last thing. It’s also worth remembering the three other areas. We’ve got fluency and coherence, we’ve got– what were the other three now? Just off the top of my head lexical resource, which I just mentioned with the vocabulary and then the pronunciation, but what I wanted to say is that fluency and coherence is important, okay?

Also, as we’ve been talking about, so is using a wide variety and using these complex– so-called complex sentences and the key really is that we don’t want to be over emphasizing or entirely focusing on the complex sentences to the detriment of fluency and coherence. You see? So, this is why it’s really important to try and find this balance.

I’ve had students in the past just hell-bent and entirely focused on creating a grammatically perfect sentence so much so that it just didn’t flow because they just kept on stopping, starting or the pauses were too long while they organized it in their mind. The pauses were too long and it just wasn’t fluent.

So, this is why it’s good to learn these conjunctions or learn some sentences with these conjunctions, with these structures, but learn them to a level of automaticity so that they sound automatic. The easiest– the most straightforward way to do this is through repetition. Repetition is the mother of all learning. I’m not going to give you any gimmicks, just get into the habit of trying to use them.

Like I was saying before, when we’ve got a big task in front of us, for example, I don’t now– we’re going to overcome our nervousness in the speaking. For any big task, it’s usually easier to just break it down into its smallest components and then focus on each of the smallest– on one of the smallest components, master it, and move on to the next one. So in this case, maybe you’re going to master since or although or the conditionals and then once you’ve mastered, you move on to the next one.

IELTS SPEAKING CONFIDENCE COURSE

Now, just one last thing before we finish. In the IELTS Speaking Confidence Course, we do offer a range of confidence-boosting techniques and there are strategies and kind of a mixture of quick fixes and strategies to help you overcome the nervousness and also very specific strategies to buy yourself time.

So, you get the question and there’s this strategy, it’s pretty handy where it involves a little bit of repetition, but you give yourself those few seconds, you buy yourself a few more seconds and then you can start delivering your answer. Also, there’s the framework that’s coming soon and we’re going to be integrating that as well.

Okay. So, that’s everything from me today. If you’ve got any questions, send us an email. If you know anybody who’s struggling with the IELTS exam, please tell them to get in contact or share them the podcast. Also, I’d have a look at the IELTS podcast Ben Worthington app: (Android app / iOS app). That’s great because it comes with the transcript, it comes with them some special offers and I think it’s really beneficial to be listening and reading at the same time, associating words and sounds to words, to seeing the correct pronunciation and expanding your vocabulary as well.

Now, that’s everything for me today– from me today. Wow! I’m just totally butchering my own language, aren’t I? Anyway, that might be good confirmation that even native English speakers have off days. So, don’t beat yourself up if you are also butchering the English language. Okay take care and keep your head up and keep working. All the best.

[Music]

Female Voice: Thanks for listening to ieltspodcast.com

The post Using Complex Sentences in Your Speaking appeared first on IELTS Podcast.

Nov 02 2019

18mins

Play

Part Three Tips: Giving and Supporting Opinions, Talking about Advantages and Disadvantages

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In this tutorial, you will:

  • find out what to expect in Part Three of the IELTS speaking test 
  • learn how to give and support opinions
  • improve your ability to talk about advantages and disadvantages

The speaking test is the same for both IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training and it always involves a face-to-face interview with a certified IELTS examiner – regardless of whether you take the paper-based or computer-based version of the test.

The speaking test lasts between eleven and fourteen minutes, and it is divided into three sections, with each section gradually becoming more challenging. There are four equally important assessment criteria:

Fluency and coherence – the ability to speak at a good speed and link ideas together 

Lexical resource – the ability to use a range of vocabulary appropriately

Grammatical range and accuracy – the ability to use a range of grammatical structures accurately

Pronunciation – the ability to be understood easily

Today, we’re going to focus on part three of the test. Part three lasts between four and five minutes and it is the most challenging part of the IELTS speaking test. 

The examiner will ask you further, more abstract questions about the topic in part two. He or she will begin part three by saying, for example:

We’ve been talking about a place you’ve visited, and I’d like to discuss with you one or two more general questions related to this. So, let’s consider first of all tourism in your country.

a) How do you think tourism has changed in your country in the last twenty years?

b) Do you believe this is a positive or negative development? Why?

c) In some parts of the world, tourism is having a negative impact on the environment. In your opinion, what can be done about this?

All these questions require you to give your opinion. To help ensure that you answer the questions fully, it’s a good idea to use this strategy:

First, give your opinion. Ideally, try to paraphrase rather than repeating the question, to show off your IELTS vocabulary:

Perhaps, ‘I think the tourism industry in Turkey has expanded dramatically over the last two decades.’

Then explain the reasons for your opinion…

‘Improved transportation systems around the world have made it easier to travel than ever before.’

… and provide examples:

‘In the past, tourists who wanted to visit Turkey had to fly into one of the major cities, such as Istanbul or Ankara, but these days lots of the towns along the Mediterranean coast have their own international airports! For example, you can fly directly from the UK to Bodrum, which is one of the most popular resorts in Turkey.’

Let’s try the same strategy with the second question.

First, give your opinion – paraphrasing if you can.

‘My feeling is that the advantages of this growth outweigh the disadvantages, at the moment at least.’

Then explain your reasons…

‘Turkey is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world and although it is not a country which is dependent on tourism, this industry still generates a significant amount of revenue.’

 … and provide examples.

‘Turkey just has so much to offer international visitors. Whether you want to visit historical monuments, bustling bazaars or stunning beaches, there is something for everyone. We obviously need to manage the impact which this increase in tourism is having on the environment, but I think we are heading in the right direction.’

These are some phrases you can use to express your opinion:

I think…

I believe…

In my opinion…

My feeling / opinion is that…

Here is another example of a set of questions you might encounter in part three:

We’ve been talking about a place you’ve visited, and I’d like to discuss with you one or two more general questions related to this. So, let’s consider first of all tourism in your country.

a) How do you think tourism has changed in your country in the last twenty years?

b) Do you believe this is a positive or negative development? Why?

c) In some parts of the world, tourism is having a negative impact on the environment. In your opinion, what can be done about this?

Let’s focus on the first question – which is asking for advantages and disadvantages. Again, to help ensure that you answer the question fully, it’s a good idea to have a strategy:

First, state an advantage:

‘In my opinion, one of the main reasons for the popularity of online shopping is that it’s so convenient.’

Then explain why it is an advantage…

‘If you want to shop at a shopping centre, you have the hassle of getting there, and shopping centres have fixed opening hours.’’

… and give an example:

‘However, if you shop online, you can shop from the comfort of your own home, at any time of the day or night.’

Then provide a second advantage:

‘Another positive aspect of online shopping is the fact that you have access to a much wider variety of products.’

An explanation…

Bricks-and-mortar stores only have so much space to store and display their merchandise, whereas online shops don’t suffer from the same constraints.

… and an example:

For instance, if you want to buy clothes, you will be able to find far more styles and colours to choose from if you shop online.

Then follow the same strategy to help you talk about the disadvantages.

Useful phrases include:

One of the main advantages / benefits / upsides (of online shopping) is…

Another positive aspect is…

One key disadvantage / drawback / downside (of online shopping) is…

Another negative point is…

You can find a lot more information about part three of the IELTS speaking test – and discover how to receive personalised feedback on your speaking – in our online course.

You can download or listen to the audio version here:

|Direct Download Here | Stitcher | iTunes | Spotify | Soundcloud | Transcript |

YOU MAY READ THE FULL TUTORIALS BELOW:

Female Voice: You are now listening to the IELTS podcast. Learn from tutors and ex-examiners who are masters of IELTS preparation. Your host, Ben Worthington.

INTRODUCTION

Ben: IELTS Speaking. A brief overview of part 3: giving and supporting opinions, talking about advantages and disadvantages. In this tutorial, you will find out what to expect in part 3 of the IELTS speaking test, learn how to give and support opinions, and you will be able to improve your ability to talk about advantages and disadvantages.

Hello, there. My name is Ben Worthington and I’m the owner/operator/chief executive whatever you want to say of ieltspodcast.com and thank you for tuning in today. As you know on this podcast and with these tutorials, we aim to improve your ability with all sections of the IELTS; be it the reading, the speaking, the writing, and the listening and we do this by offering you valuable practical tutorials that you can implement.

HOW TO SPEED UP YOUR IMPROVEMENT #1

Just as a side note, just before we get into this, I want to mention three things that I think will definitely speed up your improvement. 1) is a technique or not a technique actually, it’s just awareness that I kind of borrowed from a book I’m reading called Atomic Habits and one point that really struck me in this book was the  clarification of motion and action.

For example, if you are preparing for IELTS by just watching lots of videos on how to write a four-paragraph essay, how to write a five-paragraph essay, how to paraphrase, how to– if you are just watching videos on YouTube or just listening to tutorials or whatever, then you are in motion and you are using preparation as an excuse– as basically procrastination and this will not help you that much.

The reason is because it doesn’t really produce an outcome. There’s no output there. You’re just passively learning and basically, your preparation becomes procrastination. The danger here is that just sitting down and passively learning from these channels, from the media or just reading about– I don’t know essay writing, reading about the IELTS speaking test or whatever and it feels good and it delays possible failure, but you’re not really going to develop yourself as fast as action.

By action I mean actively learning. I mean speaking aloud maybe from a script, maybe just freestyling, so to speak, or actively writing and getting feedback. So, this is a very important element and the more you implement a sort of like action based preparation strategy rather than the passive strategy then you’re going to be getting closer to automaticity.

Automaticity is when you do it without thinking and this is when it starts to become embedded in your brain cells. The channels, the grooves are cut and they become deeper so all of a sudden it becomes an unconscious action.

For example, if you’ve been playing a sport, if you’ve been playing tennis, for example, you can just pick up the racket and you don’t have to think about– if you’re an intermediate player, you don’t have to think about your grip. You don’t have to think about how you hit it. It becomes automatic and this frees up resources so you can be thinking about other things. Maybe you can be watching the other tennis player. Maybe you could be thinking about the tennis player’s last few hits; they were all on the right-hand, for example, so you can maybe switch it to the left hand or whatever.

The point is that you want to be really getting into a frame of mind where your preparation is action orientated rather than passive. Now, don’t get me wrong. Passive learning is good especially for a language, but there comes a point where you have to maybe just close the browser or just put your phone down and start writing pen and paper or on your computer or whatever or start speaking. There comes a time where you’ve done enough of this passive learning and it’s time to start that action.

Now as I said, there is a time and a place for passive learning. This is usually to utilize what I call your downtime. So, if you’re on the bus, if you’re on the train or in the car or walking to work or just going on a walk on the countryside, whatever, then it’s a good time to listen to Benjamin Worthington. It’s a good time to use this downtime just to fill your brain with the vocabulary, ideas, tips, and success stuff like that, but eventually, you do want to be writing and speaking and doing practice tests and getting feedback.

So, if you feel you’re at that point and you might– I don’t know. Maybe you’re feeling guilty now that you’d be doing too much passive learning and that’s fine. If you’re at that point, then come over to ieltspodcast.com and we can give you some feedback on your writing and this will help you improve faster. It also shifts you’re learning from passively learning into actively learning especially if you’re doing the online course where you’re watching the tutorials and then implementing; writing your essays using that knowledge, using those tips, using that framework you’ve just learned and then sending it to us.

Our team of ex-IELTS examiners native speakers we can give you feedback usually in 24 hours and we’ll keep you going. We’ll keep pushing you forward and we’ll keep on improving your work by giving you some valuable feedback. So, that was point number one.

HOW TO SPEED UP YOUR IMPROVEMENT #2

Point number two– don’t worry. We are getting to IELTS speaking part 3. Point number two: download our apps; the IELTS podcast apps. Go to the App Store or the Play Store and I’m saying downloading the apps– I’m saying or suggesting that you download these apps because they now come with the transcript.

If you’ve got the transcript in front of you, then you can be reading at the same time as listening. So, you’re going to be– you’re going to start associating the sounds to the words. You could even pause the recording and then just say it again so you can implement like techniques of mimicking and also in the transcripts, there’s some links to the resources.

So, it kind of brings it a step closer to actively learning. Also, if you get in the podcast– if you get in the actual official app, then you’re getting updated when we’ve got new material and it’s quite a powerful way to improve your learning.

HOW TO SPEED UP YOUR IMPROVEMENT #3

Now, the third point. What I’m going to mention here is it’s kind of like a sketching-out of what we are still working on, which is a solid framework for the speaking. As you may have heard in the previous episodes, we have touched on this framework and here we’re mentioning sort of like details of this framework. It’s what we’ve discovered as we’ve– by trying and testing new strategies and I thought this would be useful for students to learn. So, let’s have a look.

As I said before, in this tutorial, you will find out what is expected of you in part 3 of the test, you’ll learn how to give and support your opinions, which is necessary if you want to be scoring high and also, you are going to improve your ability to speak about the advantages and disadvantages.

Now, just a very, very brief mention here that as you know the IELTS academic and IELTS general training involves a face-to-face interview with the examiner and it’s the same whether it’s paper-based or it’s computer-based. There’s going to be four parts that you will be tested on: pronunciation, grammatical range and accuracy, lexical resource, fluency and coherence. I won’t go into those details because I mentioned them in a previous podcast, but in this tutorial, we are specifically going to focus on part 3.

IELTS SPEAKING PART 3

We’re going to look at part 3 and this is the most challenging part of the speaking test and it lasts between four and five minutes. In this section, the examiner is going to be asking you more abstract questions about the topic that you spoke about in part 2.

The examiner is going to start by saying something like we’ve been talking about a place you’ve visited and I’d like to discuss with you one or two more general questions related to this. So, let’s consider first of all, tourism in your country. How do you think tourism has changed in your country in the last twenty years?

That might be the first question. The other questions will be similar in the difficulty. Do you believe this is a positive or negative development? Why? In some parts of the world, tourism is having a negative impact on the environment. In your opinion, what can be done about this?

Now, all of these questions require you to give your opinion. To ensure that you give a full complete answer, then I would recommend this strategy. First of all, you give your opinion and ideally, you’ll try and paraphrase it rather than repeating the question. So, let’s have a look at that question number one.

How do you think tourism has changed in your country in the last 20 years? I think the tourism industry in Turkey has expanded dramatically over the last two decades. Then we’re going to explain the reasons for our opinion. This is very similar to the framework we suggest for the body paragraphs in IELTS writing task 2.

By the framework we suggest I mean the framework in the online course. In the online course, we’ve got a framework and it’s been so successful. This is why we are developing a framework for the speaking as well. Let’s jump into it.

I think the tourism industry in Turkey has expanded dramatically over the last two decades. Now, I’m going to explain this. Improved transportation systems around the world have made it easier to travel than ever before. Then I’m going to give examples. In the past, tourists who wanted to visit Turkey had to fly into one of the major cities such as Istanbul or Ankara, but these days lots of the small towns along the Mediterranean coast have their own international airports. For example, you can fly directly from the UK to Bodrum, which is one of the most popular resorts in Turkey.

So, it’s a very complete answer and using this strategy, using this framework, we can be sure to give complete answers each time. Now, in the current Speaking Confidence Course we have a technique for paraphrasing, which I’ve mentioned before, but it ensures that we respond with the correct tense and it kind of forces you to use a similar structure, but it’s not as detailed and it’s not as rigid yet. We’re going to– as I said, we’re developing it.

Let me give you an overview. So, we respond by paraphrasing. Then I’ll give you the reasons and then I’m going to provide examples and as I said before, examples are gold. Why are they gold? Because they force you to go into more detail. They force you to use topic-specific vocabulary and it’s a good opportunity to slip in an anecdote.

It doesn’t have to be sort of like for example and then talk about maybe the infrastructure of the country like we just did. You could also say, for example, my auntie nowadays regularly captures direct flights from– I don’t know, Leeds Bradford Airport directly into Bodrum. I can give a personal anecdote.

By the way, you can’t give– it’s not advisable I don’t think to give personal anecdotes in the writing, but with the speaking it’s natural. So, don’t worry about it. You can do it. Let’s use the same strategy now for the second question.

The second question: do you believe this is a positive or negative development? Let’s see. Same strategy; we’re going to give the opinion– our opinion, give reasons, provide examples. My feeling is that the advantages of this growth outweigh the disadvantages, at the moment at least. Now, I’ll explain it. Turkey is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world and although it’s not a country which is dependent on tourism, this industry still generates a significant amount of revenue.

Now, I’ll provide my example. Turkey just has so much to offer international visitors whether you want to visit historical monuments, bustling bazaars or stunning beaches. There is something for everyone. We obviously need to manage the impact which this increase in tourism is having on the environment, but I think we are heading in the right direction.

Now, let’s just go back and I want to highlight some of the point-scoring aspects of this answer. Not only have we said that– well, first of all, we’re kind of directly answering the question, which is always good. My feeling is that the advantages of this growth outweigh the disadvantages. So, we’re kind of making it clear where we’re going, which is good.

Also, we did it in a fairly sophisticated way. We didn’t say it’s good. It’s not bad. We said the advantages outweigh the disadvantages, which is a little bit formal, but it’s okay. Then we qualify it; at the moment at least and it’s always good just to qualify your statements. It’s a good– it’s a useful technique.

Now, we’ve used the superlatives, which are always very welcome. Turkey is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Note we didn’t say one of the most popular places. We said tourist destinations. This is topic-specific vocabulary. Then we use a conjunction. We say although it’s not a country which is dependent on tourism… dependent on and this is a very useful phrase.

What it means is that it’s not maybe like a country like Cyprus where most of their money comes from tourism, I think. I’m not so sure about that, but there are countries that rely heavily on tourism. In this respect, Turkey isn’t one of them. It’s got lots of other industries, but then it says– then the speaker says this industry still generates a significant amount of revenue.

I like this. This is higher level. The student didn’t say generates a lot of revenue. No, we said significant. Why did we say significant? Because we are going to score high. We are higher-level students. …still generates a significant amount of revenue. This is a word that I regularly suggest students to use when I’m correcting essays and I see a lot. It can be very easily substituted for significant.

Now, going back to the framework, let me recap the framework. We have given our opinion. We are explaining the reasons and we’re providing examples. Let me say it again. I’m giving my opinion, I’m explaining the reasons, and I’m giving examples; a very complete answer. Let’s go.

Turkey has so much to offer international visitors and I’m not saying tourists because I’ve probably used that word a few times before. So, I’m going to say international visitors. Now, I’m using another conjunction. …whether you want to visit historical monuments… Now, I’m going to give you a list.

Lists is incidentally, another technique that we teach in the writing course. Lists are good opportunities just to stack your vocabulary. So, we say this, this, this, and even this. Never write that, okay?  It’s just too vague and don’t even speak like that, but what I– don’t speak exactly like that, but use that structure. So, I’ll give you an example. …whether you want to visit historical monuments, bustling bazaars or stunning beaches or even the balloon festival in the center. There is something for everyone.

So, that’s just a mini example there of the listing structure. We go into this in more detail in the course. Next sentence: we obviously need to manage the impact. So, we are kind of like going back to the question there. We obviously need to manage the impact which this increase in tourism is having on the environment, but I think we’re heading in the right direction. Note we say I think we are heading in the right direction. We don’t say I think it’s good.

The English language is immense with the amount of words and the amount of words available is increasing every single year, which is kind of weird. This just goes back to the idea of languages being living things, not stale structures. They are living. It’s developing.

Anyway, I think we are heading in the right direction. So, as I said before, a very useful structure. Give your opinion, explain your reasons, and then give some examples. These examples can be similar to the writing where we might state something quite factual or it can be something quite anecdotal. For example, my friends they love going to the bazaars and just finding counterfeit products and then battering with the locals. The locals are quite fierce batterers, I’ve heard. Just a little anecdote like that, a little story.

This reminds me actually, when I went to Turkey and I was battering with the men in the bazaar and I was arguing with a guy over some Asics trainers and then he wouldn’t give me the price that I wanted. So, I just left it and walked away and this is after like a good 5– no a good 5-10 minutes of arguing with the guy. I was like I don’t need it, doesn’t matter.

Then I just walked away and about five minutes later, I feel this tugging on my back and as I turn around I’m like what the heck is that? I turn around and there’s a little kid with a box of the Asics trainers and he’s like okay, okay. 35 lira or whatever it was. I can’t remember. It was probably more like 20, 15 euros. I was like okay cool, but I don’t know.

It’s just a funny memory and if I ever were in that situation to talk about Turkey and talk about the bazaar, I could just pull on this little anecdote and there’s lots of vocabulary there. There is battering, we’re talking about these Asics trainers, this kid following me, so on and so forth.

Anyway, some of the phrases that you can use to express your opinion include: I think, I believe, in my opinion or you can say my feeling or my opinion is that… I’ll just say those again; very similar to the writing, actually. I think, I believe, in my opinion, my opinion is that tourism is expanding a lot, my feeling is that tourism is very, very detrimental to the country. Note there I said detrimental. I didn’t say bad. Why did I say detrimental? Because we are going to be scoring high.

Let’s have a look at another set of example questions. The examiner might see something like this. We’ve been talking about shopping and I’d like to discuss with you one or two more general questions related to this. So, let’s consider first of all, online shopping. What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of online shopping? Next question: do you think the advantages outweigh the disadvantages? Third question: how do you think people’s shopping habits will change in the future?

Now, hopefully– not hopefully, but maybe you’ve paused the tutorial and you’re going to start thinking about your own answers. Maybe grab a pen and paper and write down some ideas. Let’s transform this tutorial into active learning rather than passive learning and trust me if you can do this, the more often you do it the faster you will improve. What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of online shopping? Here’s the structure. First, we can state an advantage then we’re going to explain why it’s an advantage and then we’re going to give an example. Then we could even provide a second advantage, a second explanation, and a second example.

At the very least, try and implement this structure. Once again, first state an advantage, explain why it’s an advantage then give an example. Let’s jump into it. In my opinion, one of the main reasons for the popularity of online shopping is that it’s so convenient. If you want to shop at a shopping center, you have the hassle of getting there and shopping centers have fixed opening hours.

However, if you shop online, you can shop from the comfort of your own home at any time of the day or night. The second advantage: another positive aspect of online shopping is the fact that you have access to a much wider variety of products. Bricks-and-mortar stores only have so much space to store and display their merchandise whereas online shops don’t suffer from the same constraints.

For instance– here comes my example. For instance, if you want to buy clothes, you will be able to find far more styles and colors to choose from if you shop online. Okay. So, in that example, using that framework, you’re going to give quite an extensive answer and you can also use the same strategy to talk about the disadvantages.

USEFUL PHRASES FOR SPEAKING PART 3

Right now, I’ll give you some useful phrases. One of the main advantages… I like this sentence a lot and it’s a phrase that we’re going to be incorporating into both courses; the Speaking Confidence Course and the Sentence Guide IELTS Writing Task 2 Course. It’s a very useful phrase. It’s one of the advanced– sorry. One of the main advantages or one of the most popular cities or one of the most interesting facts.

It’s quite an easy collocation to master. Usually, you can use it with a superlative and it’s quite easy. It goes back to what I’ve been saying before that if we can use it enough times, if we can repeat it enough times, it starts to sound natural, gets into the muscle memory and it frees up resources for you to start planning ahead and to think about more challenging aspects that you might be facing in the exam. Master that phrase.

One of the main advantages or one of the main benefits or one of the main upsides of online shopping is… One of the most interesting places I’ve ever visited is Peru, for example. Another positive aspect is… So, this is good for building up that answer. Another positive aspect of online shopping is the convenience. Another positive aspect of online shopping is the ability to compare prices with a click of a button. Another useful collocation there.

Another positive aspect of traveling abroad is the fact that you get to see new people, hear new languages, and taste new food. Of course, we can use the reverse of these. For example, one key disadvantage, one key drawback, one key downside of online shopping is the fact that you have to wait for your goods. One key disadvantage of online shopping is that you cannot actually touch the materials or that you cannot actually try on the clothes that you want to buy.

Final point: another negative point is that it’s difficult and costly to return the goods. Another negative point of traveling is that it could be argued as unsafe especially if you’re traveling on the road, whatever. So, those are some useful phrases you can employ to talk about the advantages and disadvantages and these are quite handy for part 3 of the exam.

Now, you can find out a lot more techniques, you can discover more strategies if you look at the IELTS Speaking Confidence Course and also you can get some feedback on your speaking as well. Also, we’ve got the essay correction service where we also give you feedback and as I’ve been saying for years now, feedback is the fastest way to improve.

That’s it for me in this tutorial. If you found this tutorial useful, it would be– I would be very grateful and it would be fantastic if you tell your friends about this if they’re struggling. If anybody comes to mind who you know is struggling with the IELTS, then send them this link. Send them some links about IELTS podcast and we can help them, too.

If you personally are struggling or you just failed your exam, then get in contact. Send us an email and we can send you some help. Remember to sign up at ieltspodcast.com. Get on the email list and we’ll send you some resources.

If you’ve got a Kindle, then we’ve recently released some new Kindle books. Have a look at the Amazon store there. We’ve got a topics and ideas book. We’ve got the writing book. We’ve got a vocabulary book coming out soon. There are lots of resources there. Get in contact and we would love to help you. This is what we do.

Okay. Take care. Keep your chin up. Keep struggling– sorry, that’s not the best advice, is it? Keep striving. Keep pushing. Keep working and you will get there. Have a fantastic day and take care. Bye-bye.

[Music]

Female Voice: Thanks for listening to ieltspodcast.com

The post Part Three Tips: Giving and Supporting Opinions, Talking about Advantages and Disadvantages appeared first on IELTS Podcast.

Oct 30 2019

34mins

Play

IELTS student from Vietnam goes to Canada with Band 7!

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Tina from Vietnam is sitting her IELTS for the fifth time but she’s finally confident that she’ll get the score she wants.

IELTS Podcast has been helping foreign students to get great marks on their IELTS tests for years, the first step to following their dreams abroad.

One such student is Tina, a Vietnamese citizen who wants to emigrate to Canada.

When Tina came to us, she had already sat the IELTS four times. One written, three computerised. She battled most with the writing section and was stuck with a score of 6.5. This was despite the fact that she was using English every day at work.

Tina had bought several books of tests and put in plenty of practice. She finally realised that to do well in the test she needed to learn exam techniques. That’s when she came to IELTS Podcast.

If you listen to the interview, you’ll learn

  • The biggest benefits of taking this course
  • Why she recommends computerised testing
  • How idea generation and essay feedback helped Tina to raise her game
  • How her improved English writing skills spilled over into her work environment
  • Get tips on how she improved her English skills in all aspects of the exams
  • The techniques she used for each of the four test aspects of the IELTS exam

You can download or listen to the audio version here:

|Direct Download Here | Stitcher | iTunes | Spotify | Soundcloud | Transcript |

YOU MAY READ THE FULL TRANSCRIPT BELOW

Female Voice: You are now listening to the IELTS podcast. Learn from tutors and ex-examiners who are masters of IELTS preparation. Your host, Ben Worthington.

INTRODUCTION

Tina: Hi, everyone. My name is Tina and I’m from Vietnam and I have recently taken the IELTS general training module for the Canadian immigration program.

Ben: Awesome. All right. Do you have a target date for when you want to be in Canada for?

Tina: To be honest, I didn’t really have a target date, but when I decided to apply for the program I tried to get the IELTS result as soon as I could.

COMPUTER-BASED OR PAPER-BASED

Ben: Right. Okay and just out of curiosity, did you take the computer-based one or the pen and paper?

Tina: To be honest, I think the first time I took the pen and paper and then the last three on the computer ones.

Ben: Right, so it’s been four in total until you got the grades you wanted.

Tina: Yes. That’s right.

Ben: Got you. And did you find the computer one a little bit easier?

Tina: For me, I think computer one is easier than the paper-based.

Ben: Yes, this is what I’m hearing. I think if I took the test, I would definitely do the computer one because well, there are just so many advantages especially when you are coming to the writing; the copy, the paste, and you got the–

Tina: And also the reading as well. So, you can just copy the words from the text and paste in the answer.

TINA’S CHALLENGES

Ben: That’s fantastic. That’s a good tip. All right. Let’s see. What challenges did you have with these tests, with these IELTS tests?

Tina: To be honest, I have studied English for a while and then I’m using this almost every day, but my biggest problem was in the writing. So, I was stuck at 6.5 for three of them.

Ben: Right. I see. So, you’re using English every day for work?

Tina: Work, yes.

Ben: Got you. And I guess you are not writing academically for work, are you?

Tina: No, definitely not.

Ben: What kind of English are you using for work communication? I guess this is like standard neutral. I guess.

Tina: Yes, communication, conversation, a little bit of presentation and emailing.

Ben: Right, so nothing like what they’re asking for in the IELTS exam.

Tina: No, definitely not.

Ben: Right and then how were you preparing for the exam beforehand?

Tina: In the beginning, I would just buy those Cambridge practice tests set and then just go on with that for all the other three skills because I have never taken IELTS before. So, just to get an idea about a structure and then for writing mainly I just choose some reading online on tips and things events try to write a few paragraphs.

Ben: I see and with the other areas, what were your specific scores for reading, speaking, and listening?

Tina: I think for reading and listening I got both 9.

Ben: Wow! Very good. Excellent. And for the speaking?

Tina: I think speaking I only got like 7.5 because I don’t even know the structure and I didn’t really practice on that at all.

Ben: Okay. Wow! That’s surprising. I would have thought it would have been a little bit higher. So, what was the– are you still there?

Tina: Yes, I’m here.

Ben: Okay, sorry because I closed the window and when I closed the window and then it was quiet. Sorry about that. So, with the reading and listening, your preparation was mainly using the practice tests from the books.

Tina: Yes, that was it.

Ben: Right and so, I guess if you had a couple of books you probably did about– I don’t know, 20-odd tests. Would that seem right?

Tina: Yes, I think around that. I think I got like 10, 11, 12, 13 before four tests I did all of them before it reached 16 in total.

Ben: 16! Wow! Wow! And after each test, did you review and analyze where you were losing the points or did you just keep pushing–

Tina: Yes.

Ben: Okay and then you worked on that specific area.

Tina: Right. So, I just want to figure out what is the trick here or just to get used to that flow and also the timing as well because IELTS and other kinds of tests are about how well you do the test. It’s not much even about your knowledge or your English capability as well.

Ben: Yes, yes. I always say to students there are two skills– you’re getting tested on two skills: your ability to do the test and your language skills. This is why like I’ve said a million times, students can be– like even native English speakers can fail the test because they don’t know how to write in an academic fashion which is similar to what was happening with you. So, for your writing, you said that you were just researching around online and finding some tips and then applying it to your essays. Is that right?

JOINING THE IELTS ONLINE COURSE

Tina: Yes, so that was it and then I also register for one online course as well like for a few hours tutoring.

Ben: Right. Okay and what– was the course helpful for you?

Tina: At first I thought it was, but to be honest, it wasn’t that much helpful. So, that’s why I failed the test. I took it from the very first test. I failed it three times. So, I’m saying it’s not that much helpful.

Ben: It’s not been that good. Okay and then what sort of like changed in your mind when you thought hey, I need to sort of like change my strategy here, I need to find something else? What was the trigger?

Tina: Well, after– at first, I was like okay, maybe I’m not well prepared so I’m trying again to do it the second time and then after a second time something is kind of wrong, but I think I can try again and getting better with it. So, I tried a third time and then okay it’s really wrong. I need to get a structure because I cannot really find materials online that getting people from 6.5 to 7. Most of them are reaching to 6.5 and that’s it.

Ben: Yes, yes. To get from– to jump from 6.5 to 7, you need to put in some work. A lot of students– and it’s not a case of just knowing like how to write an IELTS essay. It sort of like it’s a case of doing– knowing how to write it, but write it with the correct grammar and without the spelling. It really is kind of like a fusion of both the exam skills and the language skills and a lot of students do not know how to– a lot of students don’t know how to write the essay and they don’t know where the errors are that they are committing. So, you were getting– you ended up joining our course, correct?

Tina: Yes, that’s correct and I am happy I did.

Ben: Okay. Super.

Tina: That’s why I’m coming back [unintelligible 00:08:13.04].

Ben: Do you remember– well, what was the biggest benefit from joining the course?

Tina: For me, the biggest problem for me is the ideas; how to structure your ideas that you need what IELTS expecting and yes. So, normally before I used to start like okay, I only have one idea. How can I write it and in a specific format that I’m being asked to?

Ben: I see. I see. And then after watching the tutorials and getting some feedback you learned how to generate ideas and organize your thoughts would you say?

Tina: Yes, definitely. It is like– it worked out amazing. I have only one idea, but I was able to write two paragraphs with it. It helps you to develop the ideas.

Ben: Do you remember your exact question?

Tina: Until now I don’t remember exactly, but I think it was about– one question was about I think that current trend is about people are buying more things that they don’t need and why is that and how is that affecting your personal life and social?

Ben: Interesting. Wow!

Tina: Things like that.

Ben: That’s very interesting. So, you just used the structure and the strategy from the online course. You applied that and after applying it was it quite straightforward for you?

Tina: It was really helpful because I– with that type of question I was a bit stuck. What should I write? When I came to the test something wrong and I’m just applying this structure and I just sit down and I just followed that and I finished it and when I came back home I feel like I’m kind of confident with the result, so the results should be all right.

Ben: Super. And you completed all the essays, right, that we asked you to write?

Tina: Yes and then I didn’t have time to go over it again as well.

Ben: Okay. So, you sort of like worked through the course, sending in your essays, getting feedback and then you went back and reviewed the course again?

Tina: Definitely. Yes.

Ben: Super. Super. Which was your favorite part of the course, if you don’t mind me asking? Would you say it was the idea generation or feedback or?

Tina: I would say both. The idea generation is one and then before I learn the course I was like okay, I don’t have ideas to write and I don’t know what to write and then at the end of the course, I end up– well, close to the end, I end up writing essays that are longer than even expected and I feel like I may not have time in the exam and then I have to ask for feedback on is there any way I can cut it down. So, and then I have to practice on cutting down the ideas, work it out in the correct way.

Ben: So, we kind of opened up a Pandora’s Box. It was just like once it’s switched on it was almost impossible to switch off.

Tina: Right.

Ben: Super and just a few more questions. Would you say your writing skills have– your general writing skills have kind of like improved and carried over into your sort of like every day English like work environment? Would you say that?

Tina: Well, I do think it is actually helping my normal daily writing as well. I was writing kind of casual and so this helped me to structure my writing better.

Ben: Super. Yes, I must admit when I was learning this, which is like a long time ago, but I found an improvement in not only the quality of my writing but also in the quality of my spoken communication and sort of like in my thinking processes. It got clearer and sharper as well. I was writing a lot at that time and also just trying to get to grips with all the tutorials that I was learning and writing in a succinct manner, writing sharper, writing more concise. All right, back to IELTS. What tips would you give to any of the students struggling in each of the disciplines? So, I guess for reading and listening it would be practice tests, yes?

TIPS FROM TINA

Tina: Yes. For reading and listening, I think it’s mainly practice and there are tips on those that you go from top to bottom. That how it’s normally structured and go with the computer-based because for reading you can copy and paste. You don’t have to worry about spelling mistake and it saves you time as well.

Ben: Excellent tips there. And for the– well, just like IELTS aside, you said you are using your English for your work every day and are you listening to a lot of English when you finish work as well?

Tina: Yes. I do watch movies, American movies and those kinds of things. So, yes. So, I do.

Ben: Wow! Okay. So, you have pretty much completely immersed into an English speaking environment even though you live in Vietnam, right?

Tina: Yes.

Ben: Okay. Cool. All right then, so we’ve covered reading and speaking. What about– Sorry, reading and listening. What about the speaking?

Tina: Well, for me speaking— because I don’t know if I can give any tips to people who are actually learning English, but for me, I’m using it almost every day. The only thing I feel like is trying to be natural. You don’t need to think of like stories, that’s too fancy story to tell the examiner. Just natural even sometimes we asking you something you don’t even know you just say well, honestly I don’t know and then you explain some related things around it.

Ben: Yes, yes. Exactly. Good point there. Good point. I think a lot of students get really worked up. What if they ask me something I don’t know or I can’t speak and I think– yes, it just comes to being natural and even if possible, a little bit charming I think would definitely– it wouldn’t work against you and it definitely helps. Be natural and confident. So, do you have anything else that you would like to add? Any tips for students?

Tina: Well, my last tip is also favoring to your courses. It is really helpful to take the course and you have to make sure that you do the homework.

Ben: Exactly.

Tina: That definitely helps.

Ben: Thank you. Thank you. Yes. This is so true. You can’t take the course and then just watch all the videos and turn in to the exam. It’s highly unlikely you’re going to see that much of a change. So, yes. It’s a case of putting in the work, getting the feedback, and improving your essays.

Female Voice: Thanks for listening to ieltspodcast.com

The post IELTS student from Vietnam goes to Canada with Band 7! appeared first on IELTS Podcast.

Oct 26 2019

16mins

Play

Speaking Part Two: Get a ‘Band 9’ Score (+ tips)

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In this tutorial, you will find out:

  • what to expect in Part Two of the IELTS speaking test 
  • how to get a ‘Band 9’ score in this part of the test..!

The speaking test is the same for both IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training and it always involves a face-to-face interview with a certified IELTS examiner – regardless of whether you take the paper-based or computer-based version of the test.

Today, we’re going to focus on the second part of the test, which lasts between three and four minutes. Part two is an ‘individual long turn’. The examiner will say:

‘I’m going to give you a topic and I’d like you to talk about it for one to two minutes. Before you talk, you’ll have one minute to think about what you’re going to say. You can make some notes if you wish. Do you understand? 

Here’s some paper and a pencil for making notes – and here’s your topic. Please don’t write anything on the booklet. I’d like you to desc