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February 25, 2018


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Hi Simon.
I was wondering... In speaking part 2, do I really need to talk about all the suggested topics in the cue card? I practiced some and only in the end did I realize that I had only mentioned 2 out of 4 or 3 out of 4, even though I did take 2 minutes.

Hello Simon,

Im wondering you as a native speaker how to deal with multiple choice questions in listening, especially in which having too long sentences! in TEST 1 of Cambridge IELTS 11 in part 3 you will find 10 questions of multiple choices! actually too long to read them ahead, I myself have big problems with those questions as I run of time mostly to read them ahead and it turns out quite frustraiting sometimes. It seems that it is a dead end to me.


You do not have to answer all the 'prompts' on the card. Most candidates answer only two or three of them. Don't worry about it.

A= 9 collocations
native speaker
work well
native languages
a vast store of
express ideas
second languages
grammar rules
individual words
wrong word

1 fall
2 instinctively
3 piece
4 the solution
5 in
6 express
7 as

A ideas
B this way
C a result
D know
E to this
F into the trap of ...
G together

Hi sjm,

I did not understand your "do not have to answer all the 'prompts'". If I do not answer my score will not be reduced?

1. Work well
2. Native languages
3. Vast store
4. Form sentences
5. Express ideas
6. Make the wrong word choices
7. Native speakers
8. Reread regularly


The 'questions' under the Task in Part 2 speaking are only there to help the candidate construct an answer. They are NOT there as part of the assessment and you are not marked on whether you answered them or not.

They are useful for candidates, especially lower level candidates, because they help them come up with ideas. These questions are always the most obvious and logical things that you would talk about.

Remember, the speaking test is NOT a knowledge test. You are graded on your delivery (pronunciation and fluency) and the quality of your language (the range of vocabulary you use, and your grammatical accuracy). As long as you are talking logically about the Part 2 topic, you are never penalised about specific content.

instinctively know
work well together
have a vast store
individual words
fall into the trap
groups of words

Thank you Simon!

native speakers/ native language
work well together
to think about
some people
express ideas
most of us
a second language
grammar rules/ individual words
fall into
as a result
part of
in my view
try to use

Good work Tae, DaNang, Trangdau, lilly and arch!

Hi Simon,

Your view is incredibly right and it's one of the key secrets to learning languages the easy way. I have come to know that secret just lately, but to tell you, it really works wonder! This way of learning languages is really effective when it comes to tenses. when one needs to express a particular thought, say for example it's in the future perfect tense, he would think a lot before convey what he wants, which is, otherwise, would be quite easy if he/she knows that a particular chunk of phrase which is "I will have been in the waiting lounge
for 1 hour by the time you arrive at the airport" which is the future perfect tense.

Another vital secret to learning English is "repetition" the more we repeat what we learn (words, phrases or even grammar) the more easy we will recall them when needed.

here are some chunks, collocations and phrases from your post:

native speakers
we don't usually
a vast store
refer to
it's incridible how quickly
express ideas
grammar rules
individual words
fall into the trap
native languages
part of the solution to the problem
in my view

Native speakers
instinctively know
work well together
native languages
a vast store of
in our heads
express ideas
a second language
fall into the trap of
native languages

Hi Simon,
Thanks for your wonderful website.I visited it almost every day for IELTS.
Actually, I have problem on using the e-book.I bought it from last August.
I believe it's a great resources to use.
I tired to study it topic by topic. However, when I really write some related topic, I just stuck with very basic ideas or words I have.
Don't know how to use the high band level vocabulary,collocations and phrases effectively.
Do you have some ideas about it?


Our brains need to hear or meet a collocation or phrase more than several times in order for it to sink in to our long-term memory, and keep on meeting the phrase from time to time to keep it active. It takes time, months and months, to make a difference.

I use listening material where the transcripts are available, such as audio-books, and listen over and over and over again, until the phrases sink in. TED talks would be good too. It is really a matter of fitting it into your daily routine somehow. I download onto an iPod so I can listen whenever convenient.

Thanks Sunita.
I am just worried about my writing skills.
Tried the second time but it seems no any progress on writing. Other three parts better than the first time.It's still need time to absorb and digest.

All in all,thanks for your advice and I'm now using the portable iPod as well:-)

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