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Sunday, October 16, 2011


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2,and 5 are correct

Dear Simon

Can you creat Vocabulary line in Categories. For the reason that we can learn new words every day with 5 or 4 "band 7" vocabulary. Also can you explain how to learn new words by heart, because i always memorise new words in my brain.

Thank you in advance.


Number 2, 4 and 5

I think 2 and 5 are used correctly.

Other three should be corrected as below,hope I am right.

1.The amount of rainfall increased last month.
3. The UK experienced an increase in rainfall.
4. Rainfall has reduced this year.

The amount of rainfall increased last month

Last month saw an increase in rainfall.

An increase in rainfall was experienced by the UK.

Rainfall has reduced this year.

Income tax has reduced this year.

2,5 I think

2, 5

I would like to ask what is the difference between 4 and 5?

Only the second sentence is correct.

2,5 are correct
thank you, Simon!

I think 2 and 5 are correct.

Hi Simon,

I think 2-4-5 are correct

hi Simon,

I guess,it's 2 & 5

Hi Simon,

I think,1,4 and 5 are correctly used.

2 and 5

Hi Simon,

2& 5 are true

Hi Simon -

Very useful website! I'm actually a teacher, but I will be recommending students take a look at your resources - good stuff!

On a related note, I'm currently doing the DELTA (I work for the British Council in Taiwan) and I was wondering if I could use some of your material for one of my essays? Specifically, I'm writing about sequence essays in IELTS, and I'd like to borrow your essay about the water cycle for discussion and possible use in the classroom. Would that be OK? - credit given, naturally!


2 and 5 are correct.

The others should be:

1. The amount of rainfall INCREASED last month.
3. The UK EXPERIENCED an increase in rainfall.
4. Rainfall HAS DECREASED / HAS REDUCED this year. (I prefer 'decreased' because I normally use 'reduce' when someone is responsible for the reduction).
OR: There has been less rainfall this year.

We use 'is reduced' when someone is responsible for the reduction. So, 'taxes are reduced' by a government, but 'rainfall is reduced' is impossible.


Hi Erzhan,

That's a good suggestion. The only problem is that there are already a lot of vocabulary lessons in the speaking, writing and advice categories. However, I'll have a think about how to improve this in the future.

'Learn by heart' is just an expression - it really means 'memorise in your brain'.


Hi Jeremy,

I'm glad you like the site, and thanks for recommending me!

You're welcome to use my materials. Good luck with the DELTA.

Hi Simon,

Unless students have a certain level of English, I personally don't think that creating a "vocabulary section" is a good idea.

Just to give you an example, "cram schools" in Taiwan would give pages of "academic" vocabulary to the students, who are likely to memorize all those words without knowing how to use them appropriately or naturally. As a result, their essays and speaking answers would contain lots of awkward/unclear sentences/expressions and would look and sound very unnatural indeed.

I'm not saying that the quality of such materials is poor, but it is indeed detrimental to the students' learning process. Students nowadays tend to look for "shortcuts" to get high scores, and I think such attitude/mindset should be changed. We should, instead, keep encouraging them to do the hard work so that they can understand the language as a whole, and not by the pieces.

After all, the ultimate goal of each student is (or "should be") to communicate in English effectively, and not just to get a good score in IELTS.

I would suggest the following 4 steps to improve vocabulary:
1) Browse Simon's website thoroughly and look for good/useful vocabulary in all categories.
2) Take notes of those "band 7 phrases/vocabulary".
3) Use a good dictionary to double check and/or see how each word/phrase is used in a sentence.
4) PRACTICE BY MAKING YOUR OWN SENTENCES!!! I think this last one is crucial because students can not only learn how to use those words/phrases, but also develop the skills to write or say complete sentences in English quickly and without any mistakes.

Anyway, I hope you find my ideas useful and maybe you can also share your experience in this matter.


sorry for the long posting... I guess I felt like writing today... =o)

Hi Martin,

You put it perfectly! I think you've explained why I've always been instinctively reluctant to change the blog format or add a 'vocabulary list' page.

I agree that students would be tempted to see such a page as a shortcut, and I think that the current format of the blog forces them to do some 'digging' - the kind of hard work that promotes learning in a way that memorising lists doesn't.

Thanks for the long post - it's just a pity that it's way down in a list of comments below one lesson. If you don't mind, I might use it as the basis of an 'advice' lesson so that more students see it.

PS. Your 4 steps are spot on!

Hi Simon,

Thanks for your feedback!

You are definitely welcome to use my posting for an advice lesson. I'm very glad to know that I can somehow make a tiny contribution to your already-nicely-built blog.


Thanks Martin!

Hi Simon,

Can we use CAPITAL LETTERS for gap filling questions in both Listening and Reading?

For instance:

Can we write the full words and all letters in every word in CAPITAL LETTERS? Please let me know.



I almost browse the blog post here every day. I just see this sentence " I think that the current format of the blog forces them (we students)to do some 'digging'", and I'm really moved for your significant contribution made to
us.I'll Stand By You!

Hi Venky,

Capital letters are accepted.


Thanks Hope! I'm glad you like it.

Hi Simon,

I didn't understand the difference between 4 and 5, why we use “has reduced/has decreased” with the rainfall and ”has been reduced” with the income tax, please explain?

Hi Bakr,

"has been reduced" means that someone did it e.g. "Tax has been reduced BY the government".

Nobody reduced the rainfall, it just happened, so we say "it has reduced" or "it has fallen".

Thank you Simon, understood.

hi Simon
in the following question:
the number of foreign holidays was reduced to its lowest point
although it's not mentioned,the responsibility of an organization can be inferred. So, why do you say fell is correct?or is that more normal to use fell?

Hi Ela,

If you write "the number of foreign holidays was reduced" it means that the government or another organisation controls whether or not people can go on holiday. I don't think that an organisation would be responsible for stopping people from going on holiday.

When the newspapers write about this kind of thing, they never write "was reduced". They always write "the number of foreign holidays decreased/fell etc." It's very normal to use "fell" and you shouldn't use the passive in this case.

Got it.
Thank you

Hi Simon

I have exam in next month. But I am not sure about my grammar. But it is not poor too much. But unfortunately I am afraid about writing task. so what can I do for it?

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