Today's lesson is longer than normal, so I've attached it as a document. Just click on the link below to download it.
Today's lesson is longer than normal, so I've attached it as a document. Just click on the link below to download it.
When writing a main body paragraph for task 2, I recommend aiming for five sentences.
Read the following 5-sentence paragraph. The essay question was: When choosing a job, the salary is the most important consideration. Do you agree or disagree?
On the one hand, I agree that money is necessary in order for people to meet their basic needs. For example, we all need money to pay for housing, food, bills, health care, and education. Most people consider it a priority to at least earn a salary that allows them to cover these needs and have a reasonable quality of life. If people chose their jobs based on enjoyment or other non-financial factors, they might find it difficult to support themselves. Artists and musicians, for instance, are known for choosing a career path that they love, but that does not always provide them with enough money to live comfortably and raise a family.
People often ask me about spelling and capital letters. Here's my advice:
Note: I don't recommend learning spelling rules. It's better to keep a list of your mistakes, and learn correct spellings by heart.
Read the following passage about the performer Houdini.
Harry Houdini (1874 to 1926) was a Hungarian-American illusionist and stunt performer, noted for his sensational escape acts. He first attracted attention as "Harry Handcuff Houdini" on a tour of Europe, where he challenged police forces to keep him locked up. Soon he extended his repertoire to include chains, ropes slung from skyscrapers, straitjackets under water, and having to hold his breath inside a sealed milk can.
In 1904, thousands watched as Houdini tried to escape from special handcuffs commissioned by London's Daily Mirror newspaper. Another stunt saw him buried alive and only just able to claw himself to the surface. While many suspected that these escapes were faked, Houdini presented himself as the scourge of fake magicians and spiritualists. As President of the Society of American Magicians, he was keen to uphold professional standards and expose fraudulent artists. He was also quick to sue anyone who pirated his stunts.
Are the following statements true, false, or not given in the text?
Improve the following sentences. All of them are about the 'teleworking' topic.
First, sorry if you couldn't access the blog yesterday. The provider that I use had to repair all of its sites after some kind of hacking attack!
The second piece of news is more positive. My IELTS courses in Manchester are now accredited by the British Council. This means that I will be able to offer more than just my Saturday courses. I'll have more news soon.
In Sunday's lesson I suggested answering in the following way if you don't know what to say:
"Well, I don't really know much about... because..., but I suppose..."
In other words, you admit that you don't really know what to say, you explain why, then you invent an answer anyway. Let's try using the formula above with an example.
What kinds of jobs might stop when the season changes?
Well, I don't really know much about seasonal jobs because everyone works all year round where I live, but I suppose that some jobs related to tourism must stop at the end of the summer holiday period.
Task 1 introductions should be fast and easy. Just paraphrase the question statement (rewrite it in your own words). If you practise this technique, you will be able to start the writing test with confidence.
Look at this question statement from Cambridge IELTS book 2, page 95:
The table below shows the figures for imprisonment in five countries between 1930 and 1980.
I'll change 3 elements of this sentence:
So, here's my paraphrased introduction:
The bar chart compares the number of people in prison in five different countries over a period of 50 years.
Sometimes, the best way to think of ideas for an essay is to start with an example. One good example can give you enough ideas for a full paragraph.
Look at the following question:
Should governments make decisions about people's lifestyle, or should people make their own decisions?
This question seems difficult, but if you take "smoking" as an example of a lifestyle choice, it becomes a lot easier. Here's my paragraph:
In some cases, governments can help people to make better lifestyle choices. In the UK, for example, smoking is now banned in all workplaces, and it is even prohibited for people to smoke in restaurants, bars and pubs. As a result, many people who used to smoke socially have now given up. At the same time, the government has ensured that cigarette prices keep going up, and there have been several campaigns to highlight the health risks of smoking. These measures have also helped to reduce the number of smokers in this country.
Here are my answers to some questions that people have asked me recently.
1. In this lesson, the advice for speaking part 3 was that it's fine to ask for help. Is it still possible to get band 7 or higher if you do this?
Yes, it's definitely still possible to get band 7 or higher if your answers are really good. It's not a big problem if you ask for one question to be explained in part 3.
2. In the speaking test, what should I do if I understand the question but I have no idea what to say in my answer?
You could use this formula: "Well, I don't really know much about... because..., but I suppose..." In other words, you admit that you don't really know what to say, you explain why, then you invent an answer anyway.
3. Is it ok if my pronunciation is a mix of British and American English?
Yes, that's fine. Just focus on speaking clearly.
4. In speaking part 2, can I ask for a different cue card?
No, I'm afraid you can't.
5. My teacher told me to avoid using the word "you" in the speaking test. Is this advice correct?
No, that advice is wrong. It's completely normal to use "you" in the speaking test. Look at answer 3 in this lesson.
Let's compare some of the formal and informal features in the two letters that you can see if you click here.
What should you do if you don't understand a question in the speaking test? Here are my tips:
In part 1, the examiner is not allowed to help you, but he/she can repeat the question. Just say: "Sorry, can you repeat the question please?" If you still don't understand the second time, try to say something related to the topic or any of the words that you heard. Try your best, then focus on the next question.
You are given a task card with the question written on it, so you shouldn't have any problems in this part. If there is a word that you don't understand on the task card, don't ask the examiner - he/she is not allowed to help.
In this part of the test, the examiner is allowed to rephrase the question. If you don't understand, just say something like: "Sorry, can you explain that question in a different way please?"
It's easy to make small mistakes when describing ages and age groups. Here are some examples that should help.
More than one person:
Age groups with more than one person:
If you miss the hyphens (-), it's not a big problem. It won't affect your score.
Sometimes it's possible to have a strong opinion but still write about both sides of the argument. Take this question for example:
‘Teleworking’, or the use of telecommunications to allow people to work from home, should be adopted by all employers in order to improve the quality of life of their staff. To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement?
Here's my introduction:
The current trend towards teleworking is a positive one in many respects. However, I strongly disagree with the idea that it should be introduced in all work contexts.
Can you see how this introduction allows me to write about both the positives and negatives of teleworking, even though I expressed a strong opinion? Which word in the question allowed me to do this?
Listen to the following tips about how to write a cover letter when applying for a job. Fill the gaps in the summary using no more than THREE words.
Address the cover letter to a ______ person, generally the person in charge of the department you’re applying to or the ______ in charge of the interview.
Avoid simply repeating the information in your résumé. Instead, use your cover letter to introduce and highlight your ______, curiosity, and your ______ in the field you’re applying to work in.
Keep it short, simple and ______, definitely no more than one page, and probably closer to half a page; three paragraphs should do the trick. Resist the ______ to ramble on, and instead ______ right into the interesting parts.
The exercise below serves as both IELTS reading practice and topic research for this week's writing lesson (about 'telework').
Fill the gaps in the passage with the following words:
commute, mobility, instant, efficient, remote, smartphones, locations
Telecommuting, ______ work, or telework is a work arrangement in which employees do not ______ to a central place of work. A person who telecommutes is known as a "telecommuter", "teleworker", and sometimes as a "home-sourced," or "work-at-home" employee. Many telecommuters work from home, while others, sometimes called "nomad workers", use mobile telecommunications technology to work from coffee shops or other ______.
Telework is facilitated by tools such as groupware, virtual private networks, conference calling and videoconferencing. It can be ______ and useful for companies since it allows workers to communicate over long distances, saving travel time and cost. Furthermore, with their improving technology and increasing popularity, ______ are becoming widely used in telework. They substantially increase the ______ of the worker and the degree of coordination with their organization. The technology of mobile phones allows ______ communication through text messages, camera photos, and video clips from anywhere and at any time.
One of the first things that the examiner will notice in your letter is its 'tone'. In other words, is your letter written in an appropriately formal or informal way, depending on the person you are addressing?
Compare the tone of the two letters in the document linked below. Make a list of the formal and informal features that you find. Click here to see the document.
I'd like to share some feedback that a student sent me recently. What I particularly like is that the student talks about "having good habits". For me, good habits are the secret to success!
I am so excited to tell you that I finally got 7.0 in writing! Additionally I got overall 8.0 which is my personal best score ever. While practising writing skills after your course, I remembered how you demonstrated writing, beginning with brainstorming, followed by organising the ideas, then putting it all into sentences. It seemed very easy and I tried to write as you wrote both in practice and in the examination. Magic happened. I finished writing task 2 with 5 minutes extra time! Unbelievable.
This clearly shows how your message of "having a good habit" is extremely powerful. I have applied this message in my daily life and hopefully I will pass medical examinations to be qualified as a doctor in this country very soon.
Thank you very much!
Here are three tips, one for each part of the speaking test.
Part 1: stop and smile
For part 1 of the speaking test, you need to get used to giving short answers. Many students find it difficult to stop speaking, and the examiner is forced to interrupt. My tip is to give your answer then stop and smile, showing the examiner that you are ready for the next question.
Part 2: tell a story
In the context of speaking part 2, a story is simply a long example to illustrate a point that you have made. If you’re describing a person, for example, you could tell a story to illustrate why you like him/her. People find it easy to keep speaking for longer when they have a story to tell.
Part 3: include an ‘if...’ sentence
Look at technique number 2 in this lesson. The 'alternatives' technique helps you to say more, and it also encourages you to add a conditional 'if...' sentence, which might help your grammar score.