IELTS: Getting across the line: how to boost your vocabulary, plus class games.

5th January 2021

A-levels: Dip in top grades as thousands get results - BBC News

Obviously, teachers don’t want to overwhelm the students with an unmanageable amount of new language. Far better to serve up bite-size pieces, then practice, practice and practice. When the language has become second nature to the students, move onwards and upwards.

The first step is to elevate your language; replace basic common or garden verbs with ‘better‘ ( that is, low-frequency) words.

For example, the verb ‘try’. Instead, we can have:

endeavour

To keep trying, not giving up, we can use:

persevere or persist

Let’s take these new words out for a spin:

This year, I shall endeavour to learn Vietnamese. I’ve tried before but gave up as it was simply too hard. However, this time I’m going to persevere.

Can you think of an idiom that could be used to show someone planning to work much harder ?

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This is the only clue I’m giving you !

Onwards and upwards:

buy:

purchase

get a qualification or certificate by hard work and study:

attain // achieve

to get something without the need for work or study:

obtain (you can obtain the application form in room 7A)

say / said:

exclaim // express // remark (add -ed to form past tense)

use:

utilise (utilize USA) / apply

to eat, consume or do a lot of something:

devour (He devoured the whole pizza by himself // She loves reading, she absolutely devours books)

Transform this simple sentence into something more IELTS-like:

Sarah said that if she gets an ‘A’, her father will buy her a new iPhone.

Tony says he wants to get a visa which he can buy at the UK Embassy, so he can use his English skills in London.

Mary really wants to buy the ‘Fargo’ box set. She said it was the best TV show in years and she plans to watch all the episodes in one day !

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Similarly, boost your lexical resources with regards to adjectives.

basic:

fundamental // elementary

hard:

difficult // challenging

tasty:

delicious // mouth-watering // scrumptious

experience:

broaden my horizons // real-life knowledge // culture shock

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Signpost language: (To help the listener or reader follow you)

Firstly / To begin with / I’d like to start by …

Secondly / additionally / another factor is …

What’s more / furthermore / not forgetting

Obviously / clearly / it is evident that …

Moving on / I’d like to change the topic / Let’s turn to …

Finally / all in all / all things considered

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Class Games:

Put students into small teams. One teams challenges the other(s) to form a sentence using as many new L-FWs as they can. Award bonus points for the appropriate use of idioms or fixed expressions.

Students challenge each other to find a L-FW for a basic, prosaic verb or adjective. Teams are allowed a fixed time, say one minute, and are allowed to use a thesaurus such as here:

https://www.thesaurus.com/

Then the group has to use the new word in an IELTS-style sentence by which I mean, an introduction, a signpost word or phrase and, obviously, a suitable idiom (examples – ‘put’, ‘big’, ‘interesting’, ‘watch’, ‘boring’, ‘eat’)

Teams are given a mix of L-FWs, idioms & signpost language. After a short preparation time, they have to construct an inspiring, fascinating and jaw-droppingly brilliant sentence. Piece of cake, n’est ce-pas ?

One student from each group starts answering an IELTS question (travel, food, study, neighbourhood). At a given point, the teacher stops the student and another group has to continue, and so on. Monitor the correct utilisation of signpost language as well as fluency, not forgetting the all-important pronunciation features.

Quick Fire / Rapid Fire Round

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What is the correct word:

To get a certificate after study ?

Delicious food is …

London is brass monkeys in January so _______ bring warm clothes.

A L-FW for ‘use’

Strange behaviour – he is acting _______

Istanbul is famous for its covered market, known as a __________

Nose, jaw, mouth … use these features in phrases

Moving from Europe to Asia will undoubtedly result in a degree of ________ _____.

The unspeakably greedy child ______ all the doughnuts !

Actor Mark Hamill basically disagreed with everything in the film script.

Two words that mean to keep trying

To watch someone or something very closely

Two words for difficult

Signpost language to be used as a conclusion

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IELTS, Speaking Test Part 3. Theme: Education

24th September 2020

Part 3 of the speaking test can be tremendously daunting. However, with some tricks up your sleeve, you will be able to ace the test, pass with flying colours and do yourself proud.

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An expression meaning to have a great idea or plan to help you be successful

I covered this in detail in a previous blog: https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/09/15/ielts-speaking-test-part-3-how-to-nail-it/

So this is a brief summary, the ‘Cliffs Notes’ version, if you will.

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Cliffs Notes are guides for students studying Literature. There are many similar concepts online, for example Sparknotes.com

Right off the bat, relax … be cool. You merely have:

1) To demonstrate you understand the question

2) To demonstrate you have IELTS-standard language to respond

3) To reply based on either your opinion or experience. YOU DECIDE

As per usual, let’s kick off with a killer introduction. Prepare some expressions so you can adapt them for the specific question. To refresh your memory:

Well, that’s a very complicated question …

What a hard question, I may have to think about this …

I’m not sure I know how to answer that because I don’t have enough information, however …

Next stage is to explain how you’re going to answer:

in my experience

allow me to tell you what I do

I can’t speak about other people, but I …

Finally, exactly, spot on; you answer … only now, YOU are in control, you are in the driver’s seat. Respond in a way that will earn you points. We want to hear low-frequency words, idioms, phrasal verbs, vernacular (“big time !”). Furthermore, frame your answers in complex sentences, use body language and intonation and stress. If you can illustrate your response with an anecdote, all the better.

Should I Take an IELTS Class?

Examples

What do you think schools will be like in the future ?

This type of question invites you to give YOUR thoughts (“In my opinion,” etc)

Well, I’m currently in my last year of high school, so this is a very pertinent question for me. Naturally, I can’t foresee the future however, I could offer some predictions though, of course, this is just my opinion.

To start with, I can only speak about …… (say your country) as I don’t know enough about the educational systems in other countries.

For me, I feel that technology will play a greater part in schools, such as using the internet, working on tablets and joining online groups. Personally, I’m in a small Facebook group to help with learning English and I find it tremendously helpful and rewarding.

On the other hand, this can be extremely expensive. Providing tablets for a whole school will cost an arm and a leg, so maybe this will only occur in private schools. Furthermore, as the population increases, there will be many more students. This could lead, inevitably, to larger class sizes.

I really hope our system continues to improve although we have to be realistic; higher standards means higher costs … but I feel it will be worth the expense.

Now, that was quite a long reply but let’s break it down:

The first paragraph personalises the question, as well as adapting an introduction expression.

The second explains how you are going to answer.

The third states your main point. Moreover, it includes an anecdote (this doesn’t have to be true).

The fourth gives an opposing view – thus affording you the chance to use a discourse marker, to alter your body language and intonation, and to throw in an idiom for good measure. Also, some L-FWs, which are always impressive (if used correctly).

The final paragraph is to conclude and is, as you can clearly see, purely personal. Did you also notice the poetic repetition ? Allow me to point it out – “Higher standards means higher costs.”

Use this as a model … and now

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Thank you, Princess

4th August 2020

Last night, after a three-hour IELTS class, another IELTS student was waiting to speak to me. It was one of my ‘Top Cats’, someone of whom I’m expecting great things.

The student, who I call Princess as she is so elegant, polite, refined and respectful, presented me with the following gifts:

September is a special month in Vietnam what with Independence Day (2nd), the anniversary of Ho Chi Minh’s death (also the 2nd, though some say 3rd) and the Mid-Autumn festival which this year falls on the 13th.

Why you should visit Hanoi for Mid-Autumn festival | The Independent
Mid-Autumn Festival in Ha Noi
Mid-Autumn Festival - Be completed with moon cakes
Mid-Autumn Moon cakes

Thank you my Princess … see you next week 🙂