Today I'm attaching a document about the 'family history' question in last week's lesson. Open and download it to see some tips and my full essay plan.
Here are two common questions about the IELTS listening test:
Here are my answers:
Read the following passage about the meaning of 'genius'.
A genius is a person who displays exceptional intellectual ability, creativity, or originality, typically to a degree that is associated with the achievement of an unprecedented leap of insight. Various philosophers have proposed definitions of what genius is.
In the philosophy of David Hume, a genius is seen by others as a person disconnected from society, who works remotely, away from the rest of the world. For Immanuel Kant, genius is the ability to independently arrive at and understand concepts that would normally have to be taught by another person. Arthur Schopenhauer defined a genius as someone in whom intellect predominates over "will". According to Bertrand Russell, a genius possesses unique qualities and talents that make the him or her especially valuable to society.
Match each of the following statements to one of the philosophers below.
1. A genius is someone who does not require instruction.
2. We tend to regard geniuses as solitary figures.
3. A genius has the ability to make an exceptional contribution to society.
On the 1st January this year I set myself two aims. The first was to make 10 video lessons for YouTube, which I managed to do.
However, one of my students reminded me of the second aim: to do some "live" video lessons or to record some of the lessons that I teach here in Manchester.
Although I didn't achieve the aim of doing this by February, I'm still working on it. I'm aiming to start producing a course of video lessons (where you'll see me teaching) from September. Let's see if I can achieve the aim this time!
There were a few nice bits of language that you might have noticed in yesterday's speaking lesson:
These phrases made my answers sound very natural and "native-speaker-like". Try using them in your own sentences.
Here are some part 1 questions with example answers. Remember to keep your part 1 answers short and simple.
1. Do you like reading?
Yes, I like reading a lot. I read all sorts of things, including novels, newspapers, magazines, and online articles.
2. Do you usually read for leisure or for work purposes?
Well, I have to do a certain amount of reading as part of my job, but I probably read more for enjoyment. I pick up a newspaper most days, and I usually have a book on the go.
3. What was your favourite book or story when you were a child?
The first book that I remember really enjoying was '..........'. It only took me a few days to read because I liked it so much that I couldn't put it down.
4. Do you think it's important that children read regularly?
Definitely. I think reading is possibly the most important skill that children learn. The ability to read opens the door to all aspects of education.
Let's look at an introduction and overview for the line graph below.
The graph below shows changes in young adult unemployment rates in England between 1993 and 2012.
Introduction and overview paragraphs:
The line graph compares levels of unemployment among 16 to 24-year-olds with overall unemployment figures over a period of 20 years in England.
It is clear that the proportion of young adults who were unemployed at any time between 1993 and 2012 was significantly higher than the overall proportion of adults without work. Unemployment rates for both groups of adults were consistently higher in London than in the rest of England.
Can you see examples of paraphrasing in my introduction? Can you see which two main points I chose for my overview?
Here's a recent exam question that was given to me by one of my students:
In some parts of the world it is becoming popular to research the history of one's own family. Why might people want to do this? Is it a positive or negative development?
Try planning some ideas. I'll share mine next week.
As well as doing IELTS listening test practice, anything else that you listen to in English will help to improve your 'ear'. I recommend using websites like YouTube for daily listening practice: choose a topic that you find interesting, and search for videos about it.
For example, I'm interested in language learning (of course!). Here's a YouTube video that I found and watched yesterday:
If you found this video interesting, watch it a second time and note any new or useful phrases that you hear. If you didn't find it interesting, search for something different. As the speaker says at the start of the film, the key is to expose yourself to as much "comprehensible input" as possible!
How can you improve your reading? Here are 6 tips:
I'm sure you can think of other suggestions. Be creative with your reading practice, try to enjoy the learning process, and trust that you will improve if you persist.
People often ask me whether it's ok to use phrasal verbs in the IELTS writing and speaking tests.
My answer is yes; phrasal verbs are generally fine. In Friday's speaking lesson I used the phrasal verb to grow up, and the 'multi-word verbs' to take place and to make sure. In this essay, I used the phrasal verb to result in.
It isn't true that all phrasal verbs are informal. Read this article for a full explanation.
Did you write the good vocabulary from yesterday's lesson in your notebook? Here are the words and phrases that I think you should have noted down:
Describe a family celebration that you remember. You should say
- what you were celebrating
- who was present
- what you and your family did to make the celebration special
- and why you enjoyed the occasion.
Here's my sample answer:
Try this exercise using the essay in last week's lesson:
You can learn a lot by doing this exercise. Apparently, this is how Benjamin Franklin worked on his writing skills! He describes the technique in chapter 2, paragraph 6 of his autobiography, which you can read here.
Listen to the information about a university visiting day.
Fill the gaps below using a maximum of three words and/or numbers.
1. The minimum notice period to arrange a visit is ______.
2. You may send your booking form by post, fax or ______.
3. If there are no places for your first choice, you will be offered an ______.
4. On arrival, you should go to the ______ between 9 and 9.15.
5. The maximum number of guests is ______.
If you want to improve your IELTS reading score, the most important thing to work on is your knowledge of vocabulary. Exam techniques are of little use if you don't understand the words that you are reading.
I tell my students to keep a vocabulary notebook, and to use a dictionary to find meanings and examples of usage. Here are some words and phrases that we noted in an IELTS reading lesson that I taught last week:
To help my students, I tried to explain the meanings and to give some example sentences. Can you write your own sentences to show that you can use the vocabulary above?
Notice where we put the "s" on the end of a word and where we don't:
Are some people naturally better at learning languages?
Maybe, but in my opinion, good language learners are people who enjoy practising the language as much as possible. I've never taught a "language learning genius" who learnt English without hard work and lots of practice!
Everyone who keeps trying passes the IELTS test in the end, so don't give up!
Before I write my own sample answer to last week's question, let's look at some sentences written by students. Can you suggest corrections or improvements?
I often meet students who have learnt ten different ways to paraphrase "the graph shows". If you look in a dictionary, you'll find many synonyms for the word "show" (e.g. display, exhibit, parade, depict, convey). But is it a good idea to use these synonyms?
The answer is no.
First, most synonyms of the word "show" are not appropriate for descriptions of a graph or chart. The phrase "the graph exhibits" will look very strange to the examiner. Second, if you learn ten synonyms, you'll probably waste time deciding which one to use.
I tell my students to remember just two synonyms for "shows": compares and illustrates (e.g. the bar chart compares; the diagram illustrates). It won't help your score if you use a strange synonym that you found in a dictionary.