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February 19, 2014


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Pls explain why you used "by 2009" not "in 2009" in this sentence: "“By 2009, the percentage of Internet users was highest in Canada” (“Internet Users as percentage of population”). I think we should use past perfect like "By 2009, the percentage of Internet users had become highest".

Many thanks

Dear Simon,
Thank you so much for very useful lessons. I wanted to ask you a question. What do you think if I have an American tutor to help me improve 4 skills for IELTS, especially writing and speaking? Or it would be better to have a teacher who use British English?
Hope to get your advice. Have a great day!

Million thanks to you Simon. I found it very useful.


You can use both in this case.


It really makes no difference. The most important things when using a tutor are:

1. They should be a native speaker, or what we call a 'near native'. This means someone whose English level is at IELTS 9 level. Only people at this level will pick up things like collocation errors.

2. They should be someone who really knows the test, preferably an examiner or experienced IELTS teacher. There are a lot of misconceptions about the test out there, and you need someone who will not waste your time looking at things that are not required.

3. They should be someone you like. If you enjoy spending time with them then you will get more out of your sessions

4. They should be 'on your back' at all times. This means you need someone who focuses very hard on your problems and forces you to confront them and overcome them. Remember, it is human nature to want to avoid the unpleasant things that stand in the way of improvement. A good tutor can be your guide through these tough times.

Good luck!

Hi sjm! Thank you so much for your answers. To be honest, I have been looking for a IELTS tutor for a very long time. I tried so many trial lessons for 30 minutes, full lessons for 60 minutes but haven't found anyone who really knows about IELTS, corrects all my mistakes in writing, or gives me good advices on how to improve. All my lessons have been online via Skype. I really wanted to study with an IELTS examiner but the problem is that many IELTS teachers say in some websites that they were/are IELTS examiners. However, I cannot check this information because they haven't been able to show me their documents or something like that to prove that they were/are an IELTS examiner. They told that it is impossible because there is a rule that examiners cannot advertise this information. Personally, I think that any IELTS teachers can say those things to get more students because we only have online lessons and the students cannot check their personality.
Could you please give me some suggestions? Do you know any IELTS examiners who offer online lessons? I really look forward to having online lessons with Teacher Simon but he doesn't teach online :(.

Thank you Simon for such valuable guidance. Look forward to more of them.

Thank you so much simon.I Think its very easy to understand and follow the same pattern in real exam situation. for the next paragraph we can write it like this..... On the other hand,the benefits..... In addition, Furthermore, OR However For example, Looking forward for your help and guidance sir!

Dear Simon,
Please answer this question. It really disturbs me. As I know, in IELTS writings I can write British words or American words, it's my choice. Does using both ones in an essay, for example "garbage" and "rubbish", low my score? Do I have to be consistent with using only British words or only American words? Hope to hear from you soon.
Thank you a lot!

Hi Simon:
It is so great to watch this video.You analysed this paragraph in detail and taught us how to write the main paragraph step by step.It is a wonderful idea to make these kind of video lessons,especially for the people who do not have the chance to attend your class in Manchester,I learned a lot.Thx so much and looking forward to your next video lesson.

Hello Simon
Thank you so much for the useful lesson.
In my opinion instead of using "Firstly, Secondly and Finally" we can write "In the beginning, In addition and Afterwards".

Hi Simon! Thank you so much for this wonderful and helpful website and ebook. I already achieved more than my desired score which is 7 and above in all categories and got overall score of 8. :D

Thank you very much for your useful video!

I find your lesson video easy to understand and remember. I feel incredibly excited while I watch this video. I hope you will created more and more video like this.

Have a great day!

To begin with
Additionally - Another possible "xxxx"

If we want to avoid " firstly, secondly ,finally" structure, we could use ;

The main reason for this...
Another reason.....
In addition / furthermore/ also

Wednesday, March 07, 2012IELTS Writing Task 2: firstly, secondly, finally

Hi Simon
Thanks heaps for this useful video. What would be your suggestion for the next body paragraph? What kind of language should be used in the next one instead of firstly, secondly and lastly. I also want to know the full topic and the essay as a whole to see how such a well-written paragraph fits within the essay. Is it an adv. and disadv. essay?

Hi Simon and sjm,

It was said that "Firstly, Secondly, Finally" are too weak and too many candidates are using it in their essays, we should use others like:
The main reason for this...
Another reason.

Is this correct?

What is the correlation of this listening-related video with writting task? With firstly, secondly, thirdly?

I am not sure if the following could be the alternatives for "firstly, secondly and finally":
First of all ....; In addition/Also...; Last but not least...?

dear simon
on 15 feb essay was on health will decline in future.....
in the intro i wrote
it is irrefutable that technology has made life of a layman easier,convenient and comfortable.There is an argument that in the future,people health will decline.I endorse the statement.
is it irrelevant ?
how much it affect my score because rest of essay i wrote was relevant...
plz answer this...i am worried

Dear Mr. Simon

We might use First, Furthermore and Also with threes ideas in the main second paragraph

Many thanks Sir!

Thanks a lot . I am not good at English studies . I read your lesson very day . I've made a bit progress . I cannot write a essay like this . As a result , I read it about 29 times , now I am already remember it . thank you teacher . It's very useful . I am a Chinese girl .nice to meet you.

hello Amandeep,
I took the test as well on 15 at Aston University . I disagreed with the statement as well . but I don't how well ive done I will leave till I get the result.though its not easy to get band 7.

Great video Simon , thank you very much , it's extremely useful.

Hi Simon thank you for another great lesson.
I've also come up with some suggestions but I'm not sure whether they are correct or if they could go together. Please feel free to correct me.

To begin with, ...
In addition, ...
Lastly, ...

For one thing, ...
Additionally, ...
Last but not least, ...

Hi Simon....

You said that we can completely agree or disagree in an opinion essay, but I read in IELTS ADVANTAGE BOOK that even if I completely agree with somthing, I should write about the other view.
SO which method is better ?????

If I need to write a paragraph for "the advantages of city life" and I have used "Firstly, Secondly and Finally" for the "disadvanges". I'd like to organize my paragraph like below:

Living in a city obviously has its advantages. ..
1. One of the adavantages of city life is that...
2. Another advantage which attract people to live in cities is...
3. Also, city life is ...

Is it proper, Simon?
I a not sure about how to inctroduce the 3rd advanage...


Hi Simon,
I took IELTS many times and always stuck at 6.5 band for writing. I am a registered nurse in US and wants to move to Canada. Any suggestions please??I have no idea what I am lacking and where I need improvement??
Email swarnjit_kaur@yahoo.com

Can not see the video in China.
So sad and disappointed ...

Hi simon
do you think this essay need more explaination of each points, like clarify why the cost in urban city is higher than the rural ones, why urban city lifestyles breed crime ??
my teacher often said, each points needs to be explained clearly enough. Not just list.
Thank you

Hi Mr.Smio
i want thank you for very usful lession...
have agreat day for you

Thank a lot for your video Simon!
I have just learned how to write an essay for ielts in recent time and i have had many problems that make me confused. This video was very very useful for me and a lot of students like me to understand more clearly about what information we should put into the essay and how to organize all of that.
You're so kind, love you!

Hi sir..m navdeep..n I visit ur link first day n it's very affective n helpfull got all ielts students.but I want one favour from u.could u plz tell me about reading because I have Soo much difficulty in reading..actually I find the location of ans.but prb is correct word..n I also get confuse in (no ,n.given).pl help me ..

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