IELTS: Introduce your answers, and speaking review.

21st July 2020

I Think I'll Go Home and Mull This Over Before I Cram It Down My ...

A good introduction is not just beneficial but imperative for an impressive IELTS response. Therefore, this blog will mainly, although not exclusively, focus on a strong opening gambit, an attention-grabbing prologue.

Useful expressions

If you need some time to think, employ one of these ‘time-buying’ expressions:

That’s a very interesting question 

Well, there is so much to say about that subject, where shall I start ? 

It’s funny you put that question to me because earlier today I was just thinking about …

Let me think …

How can I put it …

Well, I would say …

Quick warm up: What do you do in your free time ?

I meet my friends for coffee

One of my favourite things to do, if I have some spare time, is to hang out with my closest friends

Which answer do you think would impress the examiner ?

Now … your turn

Where would you like to visit in Viet Nam (or your own country) ?

DON’T answer immediately; introduce the answer by repeating or rephrasing the question:

Vietnam has many beautiful places but my choice would be Hoi An.

Vietnam is famous for it’s beautiful beaches, vibrant cities and amazing nature but for me, Hoi An is the one place I would love to explore.

1 Tell me about your hometown

Thank you for letting me introduce to you my hometown which is Da Nang, one of the biggest cities in Vietnam, although it is much smaller than Ha Noi or Sai Gon. 

2 Talk about a film you like

Talk about cinema or films in general DON’T immediately talk about your favourite film.

Watching films and going to the cinema is one of my passions, so choosing just one film is going to be terribly difficult, not to say impossible. However, if I have to select one film, it would be ‘Lost in Translation’, with Scarlett Johannsson.

3 Do you use computers at work or school ?

Laptops are an incredibly useful piece of technology. They can be used for work, hobbies, music and to stay in touch with friends.

Practice: try forming introductions for these questions

Home

  • Do you live alone or with friends / family ?
  • How long have you lived there ?
  • Is there anything you don’t like about living there ?
  • What sort of accommodation would you like to like in ?

Shopping

  • Do you like going shopping for clothes
  • Is fashion important to you ?
  • Do you have to wear a uniform at school or work ?
  • Where do you normally buy your food and why there ?

Free Time

  • Do you do any sporting activities ?
  • What do you like to do at weekends ?
  • What would you change about your daily routine ?
Nanci Griffith - Once In A Very Blue Moon (1986, CD) | Discogs
Once in a VERY blue moon by Nanci Griffith

Review … from my recent classes, make sure you have learnt these words and expressions:

Keep your nose to the grindstone' - meaning and origin.
Put your nose to the grindstone

endeavour (to try) // outcome (the result) // ubiquitous (everywhere) // tedious (boring) // fascinating (very interesting) // sky-high (expensive)

once in a blue moon (very rare) // put my nose to the grindstone (work especially hard) // achieve on merit (to get something by working for it) // burn the candle at both ends (work day and night) // give or take (about, approximately) // big time ! (absolutely, totally, very much) // I’ll mull it over (I’ll think about it) //

although // additionally // therefore // moreover // having said that // on the other hand

Rewrite the following using IELTS-language:

English grammar is (adverb) boring and I spend about two hours a day studying grammar. I work all day, and go to evening class and then study. I study all day and night.

I almost never have any free time. If I have free time, I go to drink coffee. Coffee shops are everywhere but in some the prices are not cheap.

My friend Tom never studies. His uncle will give him a job, but I want to deserve my job. Tom is (adverb) lazy. I tell him to try to study grammar, to work very hard / but / he never listens. He thinks video games are very interesting. He (adverb) says he’ll think about it but nothing changes

so the result will be a ‘FAIL’

AE 456 - Expression: Burn the Candle at Both Ends - Aussie English
Unique coffee spot La Viet in Da lat, Central Vietnam | Coffee ...

Coffee shops in Sai Gon are ubiquitous although in some, the prices are sky-high.

Finally, if you did well :

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino, July 26, 2019 ...

Subject Index: IELTS – subjects and language

An index of various IELTS classes and topics useful to IELTS students

Subject // Lesson // Date

How to pass IELTS (with flying colours) // IELTS // 26th July 2020 https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/07/26/ielts-how-to-pass-with-flying-colours/

Apple workers in China // IELTS // 30th July 2019

Australia // IELTS 5-6.5 // 21st August 2019

Complaints // IELTS: Making complaints // 24th July 2020

Electronic devises // IELTS speaking exercise // 4th March 2019

General // IELTS // 19th February 2019

General // IELTS: Final Review // 5th March 2019

Holidays from Hell // IELTS // 10th February 2019

IELTS introduction (survey) // IELTS // 31st December 2018

India // IELTS: Hello, India // 24th January 2020

Kindle // IELTS 5 – 6.5. Writing example // 15th March 2020

Making excuses IELTS // Speaking // small talk, making excuses // 12th May 2020

Manufacturing in Vietnam // IELTS // 30th July 2019

IELTS: Mindset first day warm up // IELTS: Mindset // 23rd June 2020

Plan a day: What my friends can so in Sai Gon / / IELTS 5-6.5 // 21st August 2019

Shopping // IELTS-level exercises //IELTS, theme: shopping // 5th August 2020

Tet Holiday // IELTS // 28th January 2019

Travel

Travel: airport to city centre // IELTS // 10th February 2019

Travel in two minutes // IELTS // 19th February 2019

Travel // IELTS 5-6.5 // 14th August 2019

Travel: my stay in Bangkok in pictures // IELTS // 10th February 2019

Travel: one day in Sai Gon // IELTS 5-6.5 // 14th August 2019 //

Travel: recommend a holiday // IELTS // 4th March 2019

What’s the story (lazy student) // IELTS // 7th January 2019

Yoga & exercise // IELTS writing practice // 25th April 2020

IELTS Project // Holidays prepare an advert, plan a day // IELTS // 16th June 2020

Pre-IELTS challenge: creative writing, plan a day, pronunciation // Adult Class Level 3 // 30th May 2020

IELTS Games:

IELTS: warm up games // https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2019/02/25/ielts-warm-up-games/

Call My Bluff // IELTS 5-6.5 // 28th August 2019

Chinese Whispers // IELTS 5-6.5 // 4th September 2019

Role-play: shopping// IELTS 5-6.5 // 28th August 2019

What’s the Story ? (Chinese film) // IELTS 5-6.5 // 11th September 2019

Films

Chungking Express (film) // IELTS // 16th April 2019 /// IELTS // 4th March 2019

Ing …(film) // IELTS 5-6.5 // 4th September 2019

Lost in Translation // IELTS // What do you like this film ? // 6th April 2020

Not One Less (video clip) // IELTS 5-6.5 // 25th September 2019

The Owl and the Sparrow (Vietnam) // IELTS // 16th April 2019

Social Network // IELTS 5-6.5 // 4th September 2019 //

Star Wars The Last Jedi // IELTS // 14th January 2019

Take Care of my Cat (South Korea) // IELTS // 16th April 2019

Tokyo Story (Japan) // IELTS // 16th April 2019

Grammar

Adverb exercise // IELTS: use adverbs frequently // 3rd July 2020

Discourse Markers // IELTS 5-6.5 // 25th September 2019 /// IELTS // 7th January 2019 //// IELTS 5 – 6.5. Writing example // 15th March 2020

IELTS ‘ness’ or ‘ment’ ? // // 28th January 2019

Relative pronouns quiz // IELTS Review // vocabulary, discourse, sentence building // 25th June 2020

Relative pronouns // IELTS // 1st July 2020

Idioms

Expressions and phrases // IELTS // 19th February 2019

Idioms & expressions // Adult Speaking Class, Level 2, Part 4

Idioms: food // Adult Speaking Class, Level 3: food // 19th April 2020

Idioms: a piece of cake // Teaching Notes // 1st June 2020

Idioms: are you pulling my leg ? // Teaching Notes // 2nd June 2020

Idioms: everyday idioms, everyday // Teaching Notes // 3rd June 2020

Idioms: part 3 extended idioms use // Teaching Notes // 4th June 2020

IELTS // idioms and vocabulary games // Preparing for speaking test // 15th May 20202

Idioms (sweets) // IELTS // 19th February 2019

Sentence building & Vocabulary

Bad Day – create a narrative // IELTS: Lesson 3 // 19th January 2019

Cities, areas, descriptions // IELTS // 31st December 2018

Expressions and phrases // IELTS // 19th February 2019

IELTS: vocabulary building // IELTS: Vocabulary activities // 24th April 2020

What difference (definitions) // IELTS 5-6.5 // 25th September 2019

IELTS sentence building // IELTS //22nd July 2019 https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2019/07/22/ielts-sentence-building/

IELTS basic sentence building // IELTS // 28th January 2019 // // IELTS // 14th January 2019

IELTS complex sentences // IELTS, Mindset: Complex sentences // 30th April 2020

IELTS complex sentences // It’s not that complicated // 24th May 2020

IELTS describe a film // IELTS // What do you like this film ? // 6th April 2020

IELTS describe a gadget // IELTS 5 – 6.5. Writing example // 15th March 2020

IELTS // Quick-fire talking // Part 2 questions // 12th May 2020

IELTS // Review // vocabulary, discourse markers, sentence building // 25th June 2020

IELTS vocabulary & expressions review // IELTS: The story so far // 7th July 2020

Speaking exercises

IELTS: How to pass with flying colours // 26th July 2020 (using idioms and low-frequency words and expressions in your speaking test) https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/07/26/ielts-how-to-pass-with-flying-colours/

Complaining // IELTS making complaints // 24th July 2020

Electronic devises // IELTS speaking exercise // 4th March 2019

Like or dislike // IELTS // 16th April 2019

Music // IELTS // 16th April 2019

Music // IELTS 5-6.5 // 11th September 2019

Music // IELTS 5-6.5 // 25th September 2019

One of those days // IELTS // 14th January 2019

Phrases // IELTS // 21st January 2019

IELTS // Quick-fire talking // Part 2 questions // 12th May 2020

Small talk // IELTS 5-6.5 // 28th August 2019

IELTS // Speaking exercises // small talk & making excuses // 12th May 2020

IELTS // Preparing for speaking test // 14th May 20202

Video Clips

Australian hero – Aussie slang // IELTS 5-6.5 // 21st August 2019

Complaints // IELTS: Making complaints // 24th July 2020

Corona Virus Government video // IELTS 4 – 5 // Implementing precautions // 25th March 2020

Damn fine coffee // IELTS 5-6.5 // 4th September 2019

London street trader // IELTS 5-6.5 // 28th August 2019

Not One Less // IELTS 5-6.5 // 25th September 2019

Social Network // IELTS 5-6.5 // 4th September 2019

Vietnam – country in transition // IELTS // 30th July 2019

Vietnamese beer review (Sai Gon Red) // IELTS // 21st January 2019

Vietnam (unexpected things vlog) // IELTS 5-6.5 // 14th August 2019

Mark Wiens Kolkata, India // IELTS: Hello, India // 24th January 2020

Writing Examples

IELTS language // IELTS 5 – 6.5. Writing example // 15th March 2020

IELTS // Writing exercises // re-arrange poor writing // 12th May 2020

IELTS // IELTS 5 – 6.5. Writing example // 15th March 2020

Yoga & exercise // IELTS writing practice // 25th April 2020

IELTS: Complex sentences – it’s not that complicated.

24th May 2020

Portrait of a confused asian girl standing | Free Photo

Following another speaking test, I’ve noticed that my students are still speaking simple sentences and thereby losing marks, whereas with a little work, not to mention a little, or a lot, of practice, this omission can be redressed.

Therefore today’s bog, in it’s entirety, will be devoted to the forming of longer, complex sentences, altering sentence structure and general tips to improve not just speaking, but writing as well.

As you should have noticed the above two paragraphs, rather like this third one, employ several clauses, that is, parts of a sentence to give extra information without the need of a full stop, serving as examples of how this can be achieved.

You will, no doubt, experience a feeling of triumph once you have mastered this technique which, I admit, does require some new thinking and extra effort on your part but will, without a shadow of a doubt, enable you to attain the score for which you are aiming.

And now, without further ado, let’s kick off. First, a warm-up. Of today’s three highlighted expressions, which would you use for:

1 When you are certain or 100% sure about something

2 To start immediately, with no more interruptions

3 Great happiness when you have achieved or won something

Answers at end of blog

Here are some standard IELTS-type questions, followed by a typical answer and then, by way of comparison, an extended response to demonstrate improvements.

1 Tell me about your hometown 2 How often do you go online ?

3 What jobs will be important in your country in the future ?

4 Tell me about a time you received good news

An average answer, which would probably result in a middle score, around 4 – 5 would be, to take one example, (Number 2):

I go online every day because I need the internet to help me study. I use the internet to check new words in English. I go online for information for my school.

black-girl-at-laptop-378x382 - GSDM

What do you notice about this ? Firstly, what are the mistakes ?

The candidate answers the question immediately, with no introduction. This is not necessarily wrong, but a sentence leading into the response will make for a longer answer.

The second sentence is not directly relevant to the question, though it is acceptable for providing more information. I advise students to be careful, in case they start deviating from the subject.

Lastly, the third sentence just repeats what has already been said, even using the same phrase “I go online“, and then explaining the reason for using the internet NOT how often it is used.

Here’s a different way of answering.

Well, that’s interesting because I have internet access at school, at home and on my phone so I would say I’m absolutely online every day. How much time I spend online varies from day to day, but I am probably online about three hours every day, sometimes more if I have a project or if I’m playing a cool game.

See how this answer only uses two sentences , but is much superior. Let’s break down how it earns points.

Initially, we have a short introduction and the question is answered directly in the first, extended sentence.

Secondly, the first sentence includes a list of three, so this is a chance to practise speech rhythm (one, two and three) – remember, you get points by HOW you say something as well as what you say.

Thirdly, the answer uses three everyday adverbs (highlighted). ‘so‘ can also be used as an adverb, but here it is a conjunction (a word such as ‘and’, ‘but’, etc).

Additionally, the sentences employs an expression, “from day to day,” which examiners like to hear, as it shows familiarity with figurative language.

Lastly, the candidate explains what the reasons for being online, and how it affects the time spent on the internet.

Now … your turn Try to answer the same question, following this pattern.

Now … let’s move on. Question 1, my hometown.

Vietnam Student Tour, Vietnam Student Trip, Vietnam Student Holidays.

This time, I will give you facts and you arrange in an answer.

My hometown is Da Nang. Fifth largest city in Viet Nam. Is in Central Vietnam. Near historic town Hoi An. Important port. Many tourists. Has a cable car and a dragon bridge. Famous for its beach.

Dragon Bridge in Da Nang - Attraction in Da Nang, Vietnam - Justgola
Dragon Bridge at Da Nang

Thank you for letting me introduce to you my hometown which is Da Nang, one of the biggest cities in Vietnam, although it is much smaller than Ha Noi or Sai Gon. My hometown is in the middle … in central Viet Nam, I mean, sorry, and had many tourists. They come to see many things such as the Dragon Bridge, go on the cable car or for swimming. Also, Da Nang is very near many famous places such as Hoi An. As it is on the coast, my hometown is also a busy port.

Check for

Introduction

Information in first sentence

Discourse marker ‘ although

Correcting a mistake in line 3

A list of three items in lines 4 and 5

Change of sentence structure in the last line: instead of saying, “My hometown is also a busy port because it is on the coast,” I started with the end of that sentence (it is on the coast) and replaced ‘because’ with ‘as’ (though because would also be all right to use).

To practise:

Rearrange these sentences, starting with the section in italics.

The London Tube needs repairing because it is so old.

Many people have to stay home because of COVID 19

We must buy vegetables because Jenny doesn’t eat meat.

Colin is now studying in Boston because he got an 8.5 in his IELTS test.

Meet the Five Harvard Students Who Testified in the Admissions Trial

Answers at end of blog

Answers:

1 = without a shadow of a doubt

2 = without further ado

3 = feeling of triumph

Because it is so old the London Tube needs repairing.

As it is so old, the London Tube needs repairing.

As the London Tube is so old, it needs repairing (notice how the pronoun ‘it’ moves).

Due to / Because of COVID 19, many people have to stay home.

Because Jenny doesn’t eat meat, we must buy vegetables.

As he got an 8.5 in his IELTS test, Colin is now studying in Boston.

Diversity and Inclusion: Colleges with the most diverse student bodies
Keep studying

IELTS Mindset: Preparing for the speaking test.

14th May 2020

As usual, I use bold font to highlight words, expressions and idioms that students can learn and then use in their everyday speech. Remember, some expressions are only used in some situations, but an IELTS instructor will always notice an attempt to use a wider variety of English.

Những lầm tưởng về IELTS Speaking - AMERICAN STUDY

Next week, one of my IELTS classes has their speaking test therefore this blog will help, I sincerely hope, to prepare them, and enable them to achieve a commendable result.

With that in mind, tonight’s class will just be practice, practice and … more practice.

I try to relax my students by telling them that passing IELTS is easy (that normally gets their attention). I have to elaborate; IELTS is easy because they

TELL YOU WHAT THEY WANT TO HEAR

Namely, vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation and para linguistics (body language, eye contact, stress, intonation, rhythm) and fluency (the ability to speak without overlong pauses) as well as answering the question relevantly.

Let’s break that down:

Vocabulary: low-frequency words // idioms // expressions //

Structure: complex sentences employing discourse markers and clauses

Let’s kick off with complex sentences. Here’s a link to a previous blog regarding just that subject; there are a number of exercises for students to practise:

https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/04/30/ielets-mindset-complex-sentences/

Now some tips on using various expressions and phrases to introduce and close your speech. Again, this is from a previous blog (IELTS 12th May 2020):

https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/05/12/ielts-quick-fire-talking/

The above blog gives an example of answering a question about laptops, then allows students to compose their own response on subjects of their choice.

Finally, here are some expressions that can be used to ‘spice up’ a student’s talk as they are all everyday phrases though some will be UK-specific as they are part of the common culture:

Not my cup of tea = a polite way of saying you don’t like something.

I can take it or leave it = have no strong feelings about something.

I’m really into it = like or love something very much.

It does what it says on the tin = something that does the job, no more, no less (this is from a UK TV commercial).

Does exactly what it says on the tin - Story behind the logo

Vocabulary game:

To pracise using low-frequency words, put students in teams, giving each team a set of IELTS words (or phrases, idioms). They have a set time, maybe a minute, to use as many as they can, speaking about any subject they choose.

Some students may prefer to be given a set topic, so choose typical general subjects such as shopping, food, their city or country, free time etc.

Words and expressions are:

ubiquitous // somewhat // not my cup of tea // significant or significantly // I can take it or leave it // exhausting // challenging // miserable // having said that // I’m keen on // all in all // consequently // allow me to explain // eventually // thrilling // put up with

Vocabulary booster

Find low-frequency words for these adjectives:

boring // repetitive // tiring // interesting // relaxing

Break A Leg: What Does "Break A Leg" Mean? | Useful Example ...

IELTS: Writing correction

12th May 2020

Writing practice

Review: 'Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am' Charts Her Life Through ...

Rewrite the following texts using new vocabulary, phrasal verbs or idioms, where appropriate. Feel free to change verbs into continuous. Correct the mistakes and use better syntax (sentence structure).

Tips:

  • Use clauses to combine sentences about the same subject.
  • Use ‘however’, ‘having said that’ etc in place of ‘but’.
  • Incorporate any new language style you have learnt on the course e.g. negotiation language, polite language, and see if you can use alliteration (words beginning with the same letter).

Warm up: Here’s a short exercise. Try to rewrite using as few sentences as possible, which will entail employing complex sentences, linked by discourse markers. An example answer follows.

My friend will come to visit me. In HCM. I will show him city. In my city is many things to show him. Him like market. I show him market. And restaurants. And museums. Many museum in HCM. I hope he will likes.

Remembering The Strong Voice of VS Naipaul - Bold Outline ...

My friend will soon pay me a visit here in Ho Chi Minh City and there is such an abundance of things to see and do, for example my friends enjoys markets therefore I shall take him to several, followed by some great local food in one of the countless restaurants. Additionally, he adores museums and we are spoilt for choice here with many fascinating exhibitions.

Now … your turn.

Firstly, this is one large chunk of text, no paragraph breaks, so organise the writing.

Avoid repeating the same word or words. Use a thesaurus to search for synonyms.

I’ve started you off with two example sentences however, the rest is up to you.

My name is Tony. I am 23 years old. I am a accountant. I very much don’t like my job. It is not exciting. Because I do the same thing every day. All day. I like travel. I like Thailand. I very want to go there. At there I can eat food spicy. I like football. I don’t like baseball. Sometimes I watch on TV football. I like very much listen music. I play piano. I play recorder. My friend asked me to be in his band but his music I don’t like. He is my friend. His music is horrible. He is very bad guitar man. I live in HCM. I don’t like sometime. Now it rain every day, very heavy. We have to live with bad rain. Every day. The traffic is bad. Much motorbikes. Air very not good. I like to shopping. I buy shirt. I have many shirt but I buy more shirt because I like shirt, I have red blue green yellow shirt and black. Today I gets email. Email is from friend. I have not see friend for long time. I was surprise.

Mo Yan in 2008

My name is Tony and I am 23 years old. By profession, I’m a accountant. However,I don’t like my job very much . I do the same thing everyday so It is not that exciting.

I like travelling and I really want to visit Thailand where I can eat spicy food as well as seeing golden temples. 

Who knows … maybe if you keep writing, you will become a Noble laureate like our writers

Toni Morrison

V. S. Naipaul

Mo Yan

Bob Dylan

Why Bob Dylan Deserves His Nobel Prize - Rolling Stone

IELTS, Mindset: Complex sentences

30th April 2020

The correct sequence of tenses for complex sentences

Today we’ll concentrate on building longer, more interesting sentences, altering sentence structure, and applying discourse markers and relative pronouns in order to be proficient in meeting the IELTS requirements.

Let’s kick off with some basic sentences, each containing one fact.

Park So Yeon ( 박소연) - MyDramaList

Park So-yeon is from South Korea. She performed under the name ‘Soyeon’. She was in the band T-ara from 2009 – 2017.

One possibility is to make a longer, main sentence (an independent clause) then break it up with some extra but not essential information (a dependent clause):

Park So-yeon, who performed under the stage name Soyeon, was a member of the South Korean group T-ara from 2009 until they broke up in 2017.

Here, I employed a relative pronoun (‘who’) to introduce the dependent clause, and altered the sentence slightly, adding some extra words.

Another, more advanced, option, which I recommend experimenting with as it will impress the examiner, is to start with a dependent clause. Allow me to demonstrate:

Performing under the name Soyeon, the South Korean singer Park So-yeon achieved fame as a member of the band T-ara, with whom she played from 2009 until 2017.

You will, no doubt, notice that the grammar may have to change, that is altering the verb form, by which I mean transforming the simple past into present continuous.

Now, you can guess what’s coming, it’s your turn to practise. I realise that not all of you are so enamoured of T-ara and South Korean women as I am, therefore, for that express purpose, I have selected three examples and you merely have to choose the person that most interests or appeals to you:

Daniel Craig thừa nhận sẽ thủ vai điệp viên 007 lần thứ năm - Phim ...

Daniel Craig is an actor. He is most famous for playing James Bond. His wife is Rachel Weisz. She is also an actor.

Thandie Newton Net Worth | Black actresses, Beautiful celebrities ...

Thandie Newton is an English actress. She has three children. She studied at Cambridge University. She was in Mission Impossible II with Tom Cruise.

Taiwan's Tsai Ing-wen to visit US, angering Beijing - Nikkei Asian ...

Tsai Ing-wen is president of Taiwan. The official name of the country is the Republic of China. She has been president since 20th May 2016. She was the first woman to be president of ROC Taiwan.

Next stage is to introduce some information and then offer up an alternate view, that is to say, a critical response which can be achieved by the use of appropriate discourse markers.

Let’s focus on the most recent Noble prize laureate ( Literature):

Handke in 2006

Peter Handke is an Austrian writer. His first novel was published in 1966. The English title is ‘The Hornets’. Handke was critical of the Noble Prize. In 2014, he called for the award to be abolished. Many people were critical of Hendke winning because he had supported the Serbia cause in the breakup of Yugoslavia.

There is a lot of information here, some purely factual (dates, nationality) some regarding the reaction to the award.

The Austrian writer Peter Hendke, whose first novel ‘The Hornets’ was published in 1966, was awarded the Noble laureate in 2019 despite his previous comments calling for the abolition of the award. Furthermore, there was a lot of criticism surrounded the announcement due to Hendke’s support of the Serbians during the Yugoslavian war.

Alternately:

Although there was a lot of negative critical reaction, Peter Hendke, an Austrian writer whose first book was published in 1966, received the Noble Prize for Literature in 2019 in spite of the fact that he had previously called for the award to be abolished. The writer, whose first book was titled ‘The Hornets’, had additionally expressed views supportive of Serbia which caused a backlash once the winner of the award was announced.

Your Turn:

Either write about somebody famous, somebody you admire or write something about yourself, making sure to include something positive and negative.

Next time, we can work on introductions, how to respond to IELTS questions by leading into the answer as opposed to simply answering directly.

T-ARA Comeback Cancelled! - Soyeon And Boram Leave The Group But ...

IELTS: Writing practice. Yoga, health & well-being

25th April 2020

Asian girl does yoga on gym carpet. lotus pose. | Premium Photo

I know that yoga and exercise are popular activities among my students, so let’s use this topic for some sentence building.

IELTS candidates will be expected to speak for two minutes on a given subject, then engage in a dialogue with the examiner.

The candidate will feel more confident with an arsenal of phrases, expressions, idioms, discourse markers, and an impressive array of ‘low-frequency vocabulary‘ (big words).

The candidate, additionally, has to employ complex sentences and well-structured responses in order to boost their score.

As with music, practice is the key:

High Quality Stock Photos of "monk tai chi"

I set a test for one of my IELTS students, Ms Nguyen. As a warm up, I asked her to tell me about a place she wanted to visit, so this was similar to an IELTS speaking test, Part 1. Following that, I asked her to prepare a Part 2-style answer about a hobby which prompted her to relate her experiences regarding yoga.

To start, we went over some phrases and sentence structure. Ms Nguyen was recovering from a slight injury: how could she phrase this …

I’m not in any pain, but I’m only about 70% recovered.

I’m not in any pain, although I’m only about 70% recovered.

Although I’m not in any pain, I’m only about 70% recovered.

Although I’m only about 70% recovered, I’m not in any pain.

Here, we replaced ‘but’ with ‘although’, and then altered the word order.

Which sentence do you prefer ?

Exercise: Rearrange this basic sentence (sample answers at end of blog)

I’ve been to South Korea but I haven’t been to Japan

Part 1 exercise: tell me about a place you’d like to visit.

{Low-frequency words & expressions: extraordinary, outstanding nature, notwithstanding}

Japan:

16 Japan experiences every traveler should enjoy | CNN Travel

I like the culture, by which I mean sophisticated cuisine, outstanding nature and kind-hearted people. Good points notwithstanding, I am not so enamoured on the working culture which seems to be highly stressful especially compared to the norm in Vietnam.

Although I really like Japan, I am currently undecided as to whether to study there or not. On the plus side, the subject, sustainability, fits in with their life ethos. Additionally, the fee is lower for international students and, furthermore we will be supported by extra classes. Despite these benefits, I have some serious concerns over issues such as sexism as well as the constant pressure which leads to a high rate of suicide.

POINTS TO CONSIDER:

Do you see how Ms Nguyen gave three examples in her opening sentence, and used the adjective + noun structure (‘outstanding nature’ etc).

Use of adverbs (‘highly’, ‘currently’).

Low-frequency words (‘enamoured of’, ‘sophisticated’, ‘notwithstanding’).

Discourse markers (‘despite’, ‘although’, ‘additionally’).

Moreover, see how Ms Nguyen utilises complex sentences. Keep these in mind as you read her second exercise:

Part 2 exercise: tell me about a hobby or activity you enjoy.

{I gave Ms Nguyen some time to prepare, and allowed her to use a thesaurus to look up better words. Having said that, there are still some little grammar mistakes; can you spot any ? Don’t worry, a few mistakes are to be expected.}

Yoga

Sống tích cực mùa Covid- 19: Sao Việt tập gym, yoga, chăm sóc da ...

Every yoga student has individual needs and abilities therefore the instructor will suggest a method suitable to our needs and requirements. This including advise to prevent us from harming ourselves or pushing our bodies too far.

To be specific, on Tuesday we shall concentrate on stretching our shoulders, neck and spine . We shall do this by adopting positions designed to facilitate this objective. Initially, I felt some soreness because it was an unnatural position. However, there are various levels and when one has mastered the first, they can progress, move on to the next.

If I have a great, productive class, I feel relaxed, calm and refreshed. Some people may overemphasis the benefits of yoga but for me, it isn’t that complicated. I find it a pleasing way to release stress from work and to keep myself active.

Otherwise, I tend to just stay at home socialising with my family, then watching my favourite documentary shows.

Yoga, despite being seen as a very restful and gentle past time, can actually be very dangerous including concussions, injuries and broken bones. Having said that, I know my limits and keep within those parameters.

In conclusion, yoga is my favourite activity as it not only helps my body to reduce stress and keep healthy, but also it is a fun way to occupy my free time and bond socially with my colleagues.

SAMPLE ANSWERS:

Although I’ve been to South Korea, I’ve yet to visit Japan.

I, so far, haven’t been to Japan, although I once travelled to South Korea.

I visited South Korea although I haven’t been to Japan.

Ms Nguyen’s mistake: in the first paragraph, she uses include in the continuous form, not the present simple (“This including advise,” instead of ‘this includes advise.’)

Adult Speaking Class, Level 3: Cultural differences

24th April 2020

IELTS Examination Jakarta

This blog is aimed at IELTS level students, or anyone who wants to learn how to speak or write in longer sentences.

This involves the use of complex sentences and discourse markers. Furthermore, a wide vocabulary is necessary to prevent repetition and to maintain interest as well as, of equal importantance, to make you feel that you are able to express what you really want to say.

One must not forget that when speaking, intonation, stress and body language will all help to make you sound more like a native-speaker.

To recap, a complex sentence uses different clauses (part of a whole sentence) to make a longer, more interesting sentence.

(I will write a blog just about complex sentences, with examples and exercises, in the near future)

Example: Thay Paul plays guitar. Thay Paul is from London. London is the capital of the UK

Thay Paul, who plays guitar, is from London which is the capital of the UK.

The bold text is the main clause, the plain text is a supporting clause. Which and Who are relative pronouns (Paul = who, & which links London to “capital of the UK”). Therefore, we have three pieces of information in one complex sentence.

Discourse markers link ideas together. Look out for ‘although’, ‘therefore’, ‘furthermore’ which should all be part of your everyday vocabulary.

For vocabulary, you can look at your work; could you replace a basic word with a better one ? Make use of a thesaurus, and note down any new words you encounter.

Now, moving on, today’s theme is cultural differences. This doesn’t have to mean travelling to a different country or continent, but even in the same country. For example, one of my neighbours told me about a business trip she took. Ms Phuong is from south Vietnam, but she had to travel to Ha Noi in the north. This is her account of the journey:

BIS Hanoi Students Ambassadors Raise Focus on Sustainable Issues ...

I asked Ms Phuong to tell me what happened.

What to do in Hanoi for 5 days – Hanoi guide for first-time ...
Hanoi old quarter

Last week I went to Hanoi and it was partly business, partly pleasure.

I wanted her to elaborate:

I went to Hanoi, last week, and it was partly business, partly pleasure. Although my expectations were low it turned out to be a greatly rewarding experience.

That was a great introduction, please continue:

I have mixed feelings

I was curious, so I allowed Ms Phuong ten minutes to gather her thoughts, write notes, then tell me:

I have a love-hate relationship, as I believe many south Vietnamese do, with Hanoi. On one hand, I really enjoy the cuisine, the flowers and the colonial architecture. Good points notwithstanding, I have one serious issue with the city and that is the work culture.

Being born in the south, I am used to long working hours, up to ten hours a day and, if need be, working on Saturday mornings. Southern workers tend to be highly focused on work and are always seeking ways to improve their performance. In contrast, workers based in the north seem to lack such a strong work ethic. The working day is limited (is capped) to eight-hours a day and, in my experience, this is a common practice. Furthermore, staff frequently go out for refreshment or leave early.

I noticed this while I was living in Hanoi, and when I return to the city on business. Fortunately, my staff comply with a strict office working policy; I encounter this issue when dealing with suppliers. I have to waste time waiting which makes me feel frustrated as there is nothing I can do to expedite matters.

NOW – what did you make of Ms Phuong’s answer ? I’m speaking in terms of the English, not necessarily the point she makes about Ha Noi.

(make of = think about).

How many complex sentences did you notice ? How about discourse markers ? Were there any words you didn’t know ?

Ho Chi Minh City - Wikitravel
Work meetings are more about therapy than productivity, study ...

Oh, no … we are not finished, not by a long chalk (not by a long way). Now it’s your turn. Write a short piece based on cultural differences or, if you prefer, write a rebuttal to Ms Phuong’s experience.

Guidance:

A short introduction

First point with reasons to support your view.

A contrary (opposite) view.

Short conclusion.

For those studying for IELTS, read it to yourself, and use a stopwatch … can you speak for two minutes ?

Say “Good bye” với 10 cách thú vị và ý nghĩa - EIV Education

IELTS (Mindset): Why do you like the film ?

6th April 2020

A typical IELTS question could be:

Talk about a film you like. Why do you like it, and what is the story ?

The 15 Most Moving Film Endings in Cinema History | Taste Of ...
Cinema Paradiso 1988 Italy

This blog will serve as a model to IELTS students to help with their speaking and writing skills.

IELTS has lots of ‘open’ questions, to enable the student to speak freely on subjects about which they feel comfortable.

In my last online lesson, I mentioned a film that I though a student would like, as she had chosen to speak about Scarlett Johannsson.

Loạt vai diễn làm nên tên tuổi Scarlett Johansson - VnExpress Giải Trí

The film in question is ‘Lost In Translation‘. Here is a little piece about the film.

Lost in Translation (2003)
An iconic shot from the opening of the film

NOTE:

Short introduction – do not answer the question immediately

Organised structure – one point per paragraph

A change of attitude – a critical view

Short conclusion

LOOK OUR FOR

Low-frequency words

Complex sentences – combining two or more bits of information in the same sentence.

Discourse markers – words to link ideas together

Adverbs and less common adjectives

So, without further ado, the question:

Talk about a film you like. Why do you like it, and what is the story ?

Lost In Translation - Tiếng thở dài của những tâm hồn lạc lối

INTRODUCTION – talk about cinema or films in general DON’T immediately talk about your favourite film.

Watching films and going to the cinema is one of my passions, so choosing just one film is going to be terribly difficult, not to say impossible. However, if I have to select one film, it would be ‘Lost in Translation’, with Scarlett Johannsson.

First paragraph. Information about the film and the main charcters.

The film, directed by Sophia Coppola, daughter of Francis Ford Coppola, was made in 2003, and takes place in Tokyo. A young, newly-married girl, named Charlotte, is alone in her hotel because her husband is constantly out working. Staying at the same hotel is a middle-aged, world-weary American actor, Bob Harris, in Japan to make a commercial for Japanese whiskey.

Second paragraph. The plot – what happens … and why.

Both characters appear to be suffering from culture shock and seem afraid to leave the security of the hotel. For example, despite seeming to be impressed by all the neon and energy of the city, Bob spends his night in the hotel bar with other tourists, while Charlotte reads and listens to music in her room.

Third paragraph. Develop the plot.

They meet in the hotel where age difference notwithstanding, they seem to get on extremely well, extremely quickly. Furthermore, they give each other energy and courage to venture outside. We learn that Bob is less than happy in his current life, while it becomes apparent that Charlotte is doubting her own marriage. At one point it look like they will get together. However, Bob decides to go back to the USA, leaving Charlotte, but not before they share an embrace on the street, in which Bob whispers something in her ear. We, that is the audience, do not get to hear what he said; we have to speculate.

Fourth paragraph: Something negative for balance.

Some people could be irritated that the final words are a mystery, other could be severely disappointed by this love story that never quite happens. The two protagonists return to their lives which will, possible, be unfulfilling. This negativity is like a black cloud on an otherwise bright, sunny day.

Conclusion: A short summary.

‘Lost in Translation’ is described as a romantic-comedy-drama. The characters are totally believable and likeable, while, technically, the cinematography is stunning. Furthermore, in my view, it is a charming, heart-warming, and life-affirming movie.

35mm Contest #22] Lost In Translation (2003) Cho Thời Gian Ngơi ...

IELTS 5 – 6.5. Writing example

15th March 2020

Image result for ielts

As I constantly inform my students, IELTS is not a typical English class … it is IELTS English by which I mean, students have to demonstrate a command of the language that includes a wide range of vocabulary, the confidence to speak fluently, the correct stress and intonation to keep your listener engaged, the ability to form complex sentences and link them with appropriate discourse markers. Additionally, a knowledge of how English is REALLY spoken, to wit, sounding like the student has been interacting with real native-speakers, not merely repeating verbatim from a text book, is a must.

Piece of cake, no ? (an English idiom – you will need to learn some basic expressions, phrases and idioms to make your spoken language more natural and interesting).

OK, let’s break it down. IELTS requires a lot of work, study and practice. Students that come to my class expecting to kick back and be entertained are in for a shock, and then some. As such, I will not be defining the idioms I employ in this blog, e.g. Piece of cake – YOU will have to look them up yourself.

Image result for ielts getting started

Don’t worry, young lady, I’m here to help you. Having said that, if you’ve been on a three-month course and you’ve left it to the last week to study … then you will probably fail, and deservedly so. Yes, life in the IELTS lane is tough, it’s dog eat dog (though ‘devour’ would be a more IELTS-friendly word than ‘eat’).

Where to start ?

OK, IELTS wants what they term ‘low-frequency’ words. Basically, look at your English; replace any basic adjective or verb or indeed noun, with a ‘better’ word, a word that would be used by the higher-educated native speaker. Your best tool here is a thesaurus of which there are many online, or downloadable for free.

Image result for thesaurus

It works thus: Let’s start with a very basic adverb ‘very’. This is too simplistic for IELTS, so type in the word and click enter.

A number of words will appear. As above, the darker-shaded words are what the computer’s algorithm indicate would be more suitable, while giving additional options in lighter shades.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating – so let’s try it: rewrite these sentences using low-frequency words:

I think Bangkok a better destination than Chiang Mai

She bought a cheap bag

The film was good

Stage Two

Linking ideas with discourse markers. I give all my students a print-out of common words and expressions that must be consulted and utilised. I hope that all my students take them home and study them religiously. Conversely they may use the paper to line the bottom of a bird cage. In all reality, the majority of students say, ‘Thank you,” have a glance, put said sheet in their bag and forget all about it. Consequently, several weeks later, the students are still resorting to ‘and’, ‘but’ with a possible ‘however’.

You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make the horse drink

Discourse Markers

Image result for discourse markers
I recommend my students learn at least two from each section.

Adverbs are incredibly powerful and so easily inserted into everyday text

I worked at another large and prestigious language centre, and had the pleasure of marking some essays by teenagers. From twelve pieces of ‘writing’, I found only ONE adverb.

Adverbs add information and interest to your language, but my students seem to avoid them like the plague. They may deign to insert a ‘very’ to please me … but it doesn’t ! I expect, nay, DEMAND more.

Without further ado

An example. IELTS will give students a very open-ended subject and then expect a well-constructed piece of writing, or fluent, coherent speech upon said subject, with no deviation, hesitation or repetition. It is a chance for the student to perform a solo, to demonstrate how much they have learnt and studied … or otherwise … generally it is ‘otherwise’.

Image result for reap what you sow

Time for an anecdote. I was teaching one class, and endeavouring to give them ample opportunity to speak and practice English. Nobody spoke. If I selected some students, they would make an appalling act of not having heard the question, or to answer in a single word. Some students even began laughing that teacher was asking the class but nobody was responding. Hilarious … but he who laughs last, laughs longest. I decided this class was a waste of my time (because it WAS a waste of my time) and left them to their fate … CUT TO some weeks later, it’s the day of their speaking test … suddenly, they are running up to me for help, “What should I say ?”, “I don’t know what to do”, “I’m going to fail.” Temptation was to tell them where to go ( that is an expression that does NOT imply direction !), but I gave them what help I could in the minute I could spare. Needless to say … most of the class were disappointed with their score, and no doubt, upon arrival at the family nest, were met were screams and derision. And no doubt they put the blame squarely where it belongs … on the foreign teacher !

The concluding line was an example of irony. I’m not going to tell you what irony is, look it up for yourself ! Do you want a fish or a fishing rod and knowledge of how to catch your own fish ?

Image result for give a man a fish

So now, a fairly run-of-the mill IELTS question:

Tell me about your favourite gadget

This piece is, as one would expect, quite lengthy and jam-packed with information and detail. I don’t expect you to write or speak at this level … but I expect you to TRY.

As you read, look out for:

Low-frequency words

adverbs

adjectives

discourse markers

complex sentences (sentences which coney more than one piece of information)

expressions, phrases and idioms

THEN – practice reading aloud. Not just once and, “Teacher, finished,” but again … and again … and again. Yes, this is not entertainment but it WILL help you get the score you want from IELTS

Image result for kindle fire

My Kindle

One of my favourite electronic devices is my Kindle, an ebook reader, which is small and light. I always take it with me when I travel; I’d be lost without it.

The Kindle is primarily a way to buy, store and read books in electronic format. At first, I wasn’t convinced; I liked reading real books. However, books take up a lot of space and, at least in the UK, are rather expensive. When I saw what a Kindle can do, and that so many books are free, I was hooked ! I had to get one. I bought my device in 2014 and I’m still using it today.

As mentioned, I use my Kindle for reading. Literature, including poetry, is one of my passions. Instead of going to a shop, I just browse the online store, click and wait for it to download. With reasonable wifi, this can just take a minute or so … then I can start reading. It is no surprise that ebooks are ubiquitous in the UK.

Although I read a lot, the Kindle is more than just an ebook. It has wifi so I can access the internet, can play music, write notes and play games.

The wifi is vital, especially when I travel. I can maintain contact with friends and family, watch YouTube if the hotel TV is less than enthralling, or read travel guides such as Trip Advisor. Naturally, I can also book tickets or make reservations and therefore pay significantly less.

I recently travelled to Thailand to meet some friends. I didn’t want to buy a new SIM card, and my friend only had an old phone, so there was a dilemma; how to stay in touch ? Thanks to my Kindle, I had email access, so we could plan when and where to meet. 

I can’t watch Vietnamese TV, due to the language barrier. Consequently, the Kindle plays an even bigger part of my life, as I need some way to relax after toiling away for hours at work.

The choice of books is amazing. In the stores, a single book can cost around £10, but recently I downloaded the entire output of the Russian write Tolstoy for less than £1.50 … incredible !

Kindles come in many shapes and sizes, so before you buy, you need to ascertain how you’ll be using it. For example, do you want a basic ebook reader, just for books, or the latest model with wifi ? This will, naturally, affect the cost. Then you have to decide upon the extras, for example how much storage space do you require, or a super-fast charger or protective case ? All of these bump the price up considerably.

If you’re interested in purchasing one, I have some information for you. I did a quick Google search and saw prices started at under 2 million VND, averaged around 5 million, but some were over 15 million. That, for me, is too extravagant.

In conclusion, my Kindle is very much a part of my life. It accompanies me everywhere. I simply don’t know what I would do without it.

Now … YOUR TURN

Write a piece about YOUR favourite gadget, using the above as a model

Best of British to you