IELTS Oral Test: A refresher

17th September 2021

IELTS reading, paraphrasing, skimming, scanning in IELTS reading. IELTS  academic and general exam.

Tomorrow I have a class taking their IELTS speaking test. Thus, I present a reminder about what you need to say in order to:

ace the test

pass with flying colours

hit that baby right out of the ballpark

I will be listening for the following:

  1. Fluency – use of discourse markers. WITHOUT A WIDE RANGE OF DISCOURSE MARKERS YOU WILL NOT GET HIGHER THAN A ‘5’.
  2. Lexical resources – Low-frequency words (big words). Know synonyms and multi-syllable words to impress the examiner. Not to mention, a sprinkling of idioms, phrases, phrasal verbs. Paraphrasing is very important
  3. Grammar – it’s OK to make a few mistakes, grammatically, but what we want to hear are complex structures – basically, altering the structure of a sentence or including several pieces of information in one sentence by using relative pronouns.
  4. Stress and intonation – listen to native speakers and COPY how we speak, when we stress words, when we ‘swallow’ letters, our body language.

To elucidate:

Fluency – Ability to speak at length without noticeable effort. A good range of discourse markers and connectives. Answer is coherent and pertinent. Self-correction is totally acceptable.

Lexical Resources – A wide vocabulary to cover a variety of topics. Low-frequency words. Ability to form collocations. Use of everyday as well as less common idioms and expressions. Paraphrasing, by which I mean rephrase the question you have been asked – don’t just repeat the exact wording.

Grammatical Range – A combination of simple and complex sentences. Generally error-free. Verb tenses must be correct, and subject must agree with verb form.

Pronunciation – Must be clear and easily understood. Effective use of stress, intonation and rhythm. If you are telling a happy story, sound happy.

I have a whole range of blogs to assist, and you can find the index for IELTS here: https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/12/04/subject-index-ielts-themes-language-exercises-2/

Some specific blogs that may be of some help:

https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/07/26/ielts-how-to-pass-with-flying-colours/

https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/10/12/ielts-8-1-2-chasing-8-1-2/

For specific help with Part III of the Oral Test: https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/09/15/ielts-speaking-test-part-3-how-to-nail-it/

To help with L-FWs & expressions: https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2021/01/27/ielts-vocabulary-boosting-fixed-expression-theres-nothing-i-like-more/

Sterling Ielts School Student Png Images - Ielts Students Images Png  Transparent PNG - 378x456 - Free Download on NicePNG
Good luck – Best of British !

IELTS: Vocabulary boosting & fixed expression … there’s nothing I like more !

27th January 2021

IELTS Archives - Page 2 of 10 - IELTS Academic

No preamble, let’s just dive in; how to boost your lexical resources.

Firstly, replace all your basic verbs with ‘better’ ones, L-FWs as IELTS refer to them. Thus, fifteen of the most common English verbs:

  1. be
  2. have
  3. do
  4. say
  5. get
  6. make
  7. go
  8. know
  9. take
  10. see
  11. come
  12. think
  13. look
  14. want
  15. give

Activity 1: Assign three verbs to students (individually or in small groups). They must write a sentence (the more complex the better) utilising the substituted verb. Students can use a thesaurus for assistance.

Example: ‘give

I always donate my old clothes to charity.

Activity 2: Convert a simple sentence into a jaw-droppingly magnificent IELTS sentence, employing the whole spectrum of resources, by which I mean phrasal verbs, adverbs, LFWs, idioms etc.

30 signs you have WAY too many clothes

Example:

I always donate my old clothes to charity.

I have to confess that one of my passions is shopping, be it at a mall, a street market or online. As a young person, I adore buying clothes, though I have to restrain myself as many items cost an arm and a leg. Naturally, I accrue a vast wardrobe. From time to time I have a good sort out, sometimes being quite brutal. If I haven’t worn something for, say, two years, then I get rid of it. However, instead of simply throwing them away, or giving to siblings or cousins, I choose to donate to various charities such as UNICEF, Save The Children or Cancer Research. That way, I can contribute to improving the world.

Study the above example. Can you pick out the elements that differentiate this from a basic English class response ?

Write down new vocabulary and make a point of using new words.

Observe how points are introduced, and answers expanded.

How many phrasal verbs are you familiar with ? How about fixed expressions (here I added ‘From time to time‘) which brings us nicely to our next section …

Fixed expressions  

As far as I’m concerned // I can’t wait to … //

If there’s one thing that I (love, hate, detest) it’s … // I’m looking forward to … //

It may surprise you to learn that I … // It’s no surprise that … //

The first thing I’d going to do when I … // There’s nothing I like better than … //

Activity 3: Practice using these expressions

Example: After a hard day of teaching, there’s nothing I like better than watching a great movie. Only last night, I saw a fantastic film, ‘The Trial of the Chicago 7’ by Aaron Sorkin who is a highly respected American writer.

The Trial of the Chicago 7 - Wikipedia
The Trial of the Chicago 7 movie review (2020) | Roger Ebert

IELTS: writing & speaking practice

19th August 2020

Replace the standard English words with idioms, expressions and low-frequency words

How English testing is failing Chinese students by driving numbers ...
Hello to my Chinese students

Speaking topic:

What do you do in your free time ?

[Suggested answers after photos]

I study at school many days. I study in morning and I study at night. When I have free time I like to meet friends and have coffee. I go to see movie but not very much.

Sometimes me and my friends go swimming. It is cheap. And I very like to read manga comics because I feel funny. Nothing more.

Foreign Education, Visas, Immigration & IELTS Coaching - Rao ...
Hello to my Indian students

Well, That’s an interesting question because I actually spend most of my time at school or studying. Most days I’m burning the candle at both ends. Having said that, when I do get free time, which is once in a blue moon, I love to just hang out with my friends, maybe go to coffee shops which are ubiquitous in my city. Although I enjoy movies, I rarely go nowadays.

Occasionally my friends and I go swimming because we don’t need much equipment and it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. Additionally, I really enjoy reading Manga comics, which are from Japan and are extremely popular, I believe, all over the world.

Canadians anticipate rise in demand from Mexico - Languages Canada
Hola to my Mexican students

Speaking topic:

What food is popular in your country ?

In my country are many foods, yes, we have pho, banh mi and Banh xeo. Yes. If you come to my country, you should have pho. Yes. Pho is noodles and soup and beef and vegetables. Yes. Also in my country we have banh mi. Do you know banh mi ? Banh mi is, banh mi is bread, yes, with many delicious things. It is cheap. Banh mi is sold on the street. And banh xeo I very like.

Vietnam's toughest exam - Chao Hanoi
IELTS students studying to go to New Zealand

Thank you for the question, because I can introduce you to some mouth-watering dishes from Vietnam. Allow me to mention just two which, in my opinion, are the most popular.

Firstly, we have pho, our national dish. Pho is noodle soup with different types of meat, with the addition of fresh herbs and vegetables. Don’t worry, you can find pho everywhere, it is ubiquitous.

Secondly, and great for a quick snack or food on the move, is banh mi which is … what’s the word ? Sandwich ? Yes, it is like a sandwich, filled with grilled meat, herbs and vegetables. The best thing is the price, which is really affordable. Again, you can pick these up anywhere in Sai Gon and it won’t cost an arm and a leg.

Speaking topic:

What country would you like to visit ?

Mô hình thi IELTS dành cho du học sinh New Zealand

The country I would like to visit is USA. I want to study in a big city in USA. I have family in USA. I will to stay with family. But I need the good mark in IELTS. I must work more harder. My family live in a big city. They say it is very cold and it is raining many days. In USA I will eat many fast food and I want to be in movies.

IELTS in the USA

It’s funny you put that question to me because just today I was thinking about where I want to study. I have my heart set on studying in the USA as I have some family in Seattle, which is a large city in Washington state. However, to follow my dream, I need a high score in IELTS, so I need to put my nose to the grindstone. May I tell you about Seattle, where I plan to stay ? Unlike Sai Gon, it can be very cold, and it frequently rains cats and dogs, although we also have a rainy season here in Vietnam. Once in the States, I will eat fast food which is mouth-watering. Having said that, I know it is unhealthy, but still delicious. Maybe I will be a movie star ? In USA, anything is possible.

IELTS: Speaking Practice

10th August 2020

To pass IELTS with flying colours you need to use low-frequency words, idiomatic language, discourse markers AND speak with natural intonation, stress and rhythm.

This means PRACTICE, PRACTICE & PRACTICE

TwoSet Violin Perfects Their Practice

So, without further ado, complete these idioms:

Once in _______________

Put (my, your etc) _______________     to the ______________

Burn (ing) __________________   at ______________

It’s raining _____________________

It costs ___________________________

Piece ________________

Now use them in a sentence:

A 4star hotel in Singapore _______________________ (very expensive)

Wear boots and a coat; it’s been ____________________ (very bad weather)

He parties all day and night! He can’t ________________ forever. (doing something for too many hours)

She is not academic, she’ll read a book ______________ (hardly ever).

If you are serious about IELTS, you’ll need to _____________________ (start working much harder).

Now – give me an adverb and a low-frequency word

EXAMPLE:

Teaching unmotivated students is terribly tedious.

Lazy Student Quotes, Quotations & Sayings 2020

Thai food is ______________ _______________

(very tasty)

After failing her test, she was _________ _________

(very sad)

Marvel films are _____________ _______________

(very popular)

My poor old grandma is getting ___________ _______

(very forgetful)

Practice saying these for correct intonation

Swami Vivekananda quote: Everything is easy when you are busy. But ...

Speaking Practice – use discourse markers to extend your speaking and to link ideas.

Try to use: although / consequently / therefore

Describe something you own which is very important to you. 

You should say: 

where you got it from

how long you have had it

what you use it for

explain why it is important to you. 

  • You will have to talk about the topic for 1 to 2 minutes. 
  • You have one minute to think about what you’re going to say. 
  • You can make some notes to help you if you wish. 

Rounding off questions 

  • Is it valuable in terms of money? 
  • Would it be easy to replace? 

This could be a physical object, a memento with sentimental value, or an abstract noun such as health, happiness etc.

Small talk …. Try to talk for as long as possible – then change subjects:

your home town / your favourite holiday / family / favourite hobby / a great place to visit in your city / some terrible things about your city /

Adult Speaking Class, Level 3: Home is where the heart is.

8th June 2020

Today, lots of new words to help you describe the area in which you live (the area you live in). For my classroom-students, I can listen to pronunciation and help them with natural rhythms but online students should use a dictionary with sound … then practice, practice, practice.

Vocabulary booster

Where do you live ? What’s the area like ?

Căn hộ Homyland Riverside | Gia Phát Investment
Apartment block in District 2, Sai Gon
Two-up two-down - Wikipedia
Two-up, two-down houses in UK
Happiness Full Hanok Guesthouse, Jeonju, South Korea - Booking.com
Traditional house in Jeonju, South Korea
South Side Chicago Neighborhoods | South Side Chicago Projects ...
The Projects, South Side, Chicago
Istanbul Buildings - Turkish Building Design - e-architect
Apartment in Istanbul, Turkey
Lagos shanty megastructures
Lagos, Nigeria … a plan for the future ?

Remember to link words together – it’s called ‘chunking’ in IELTS language.

I live in a: 

quiet, residential street. Peaceful at night.

lively and busy commercial area, many shops

dirty and dusty industrial part of town. Very noisy.

What Happened To County Kilburn? | Londonist
How would you describe living here ?

My home is a / an:

apartment and I live alone

rented room which I share with friends

house and I live with my family

Things you wanted do know when visiting an Indian home for dinner ...
Their home is _____

advantages and disadvantages pros and cons 

adverbs of degree

(quite, rather, very, extremely, incredibly, remarkably, unbelievably) 

I travel to work by motorbike. It’s quite far and extremely stressful.

Using Grabbike. It’s very convenient albeit rather expensive.

On the bus. Although it’s incredibly cheap, it’s not very pleasant.

Bangkok by Bus: A cheap way to see the top sights,or simply get ...
does she get to work ?

Idioms and expressions

At work I:

find myself doing the same thing day in day out. It’s tedious.

am always busy, attending meetings or writing reports.

have a variety of different jobs, I don’t have time to get bored !

Asia business woman success celebration keeping arms raised at ...

Notice the collocations

In my free time I:

enjoy watching films and playing sports. I am competitive !

adore hanging out with my friends and family.

love shopping. I can spot a bargain and I hate being ripped off !

Spice Souk, Old DUBAI - UNITED ARAB EMIRATES | Visit dubai, Dubai ...
What does she like doing … ?

Learning English is, for me:

easy, a piece of cake. It’s very important and fun.

vital for the future. In my opinion it’s imperative we learn.

a necessary task. It’s awkward and frustrating, but I need it.

highly enjoyable and relaxing. I love to improve my mind.

English Classes - International Linguistic Program - Destination ...
An international English class in Canada

The War Remnants Museum is

extremely popular with tourists, a major attraction in the city.

well laid-out and organised. The exhibits are fascinating.

very somber and thought-provoking. Well worth a visit.

educational and essential. We can discover much there.

not suitable for children, though I would recommend it to adults.

Ho Chi Minh City: where bikes rule the roads | Mascaras and Backpacks

Increase your word power

Match the basic words with others of similar meaning (synonyms)

For example boring = tedious

interesting / on time / forgetful / live (I live in) / happy / unhappy / get (a qualification) /

reside / punctual / fascinating /absent-minded / jovial / miserable / attain /

smart (clever) /place / tired / reliable / great ! / try /

brilliant / exhausted / intelligent / endeavor / environment / dependable /

honest / make / bad (evil) / small / unimportant / not often /

prepare / seldom / nasty / insignificant / trustworthy / minute

Now make sentences with the new words e.g. (for example)

After studying for three years, Jenny attained her BA Degree.

Beautiful Chinese Graduate Stock Photos - FreeImages.com
Congratulations, Jenny !

Music vocabulary

What do these words means ?

rhythm / melody / lyrics / beat / solo / orchestration

Genres (types of music):

pop / rock / country and western / punk / classical / jazz / blues

Music time 

Listen to Paul McCartney’s ‘Another Day’. 

What do you think of it ? How does it make you feel ? Would you dance to it ?

Talk about the music and the lyrics (words); were they easy to understand ?

Adult Speaking Class, Level 2, Part 6

24th January 2020

Contents

Dialogue: speaking practice with phrasal verbs.

Listening Practice: Vietnamese speaking English // Vietnamese urban legends

Vocabulary: agreeing to an extent

Writing exercise: condensing text (‘1001 Nights’)

Listening Practice

Vietnamese culture: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tBAi_b__l_c

Image result for weird vietnamese customs

Do you agree with the video ? To what extent ?

BONUS: can you spot any English mistakes ?

I agree totally / I agree to an extent // I disagree // I disagree strongly

She makes a good point // She misses the point

She is spot on // She is way off // In my experience …

wierd = unusual / strange

Now, your turn. Do you agree with these statements:

Learning English is so important if you want a good job.

People who drink and drive should go to prison.

An African football team will win the World Cup before 2040.

Nobody should have to work more than 25 hours a week.

Men and women should earn the same money for doing the same job.

New Vocabulary / expressions

looking up = getting better (things are looking up).

Since we got a new manager, things are looking up.

Match the basic words on the left with words on the right, then complete the sentences with the right-hand words:

interesting // intelligent

on time // fascinating

forgetful // miserable

tired // punctual

smart (clever) // exhausted

unhappy // absent-minded

John forgot his keys again; he’s so _________

The documentary about ocean life was __________

Tony has been very ____________ since his girlfriend left him.

It would be incredible if Vietnamese students could be __________

EXTRA:

ubiquitous = everywhere. In Viet Nam, coffee shops are ubiquitous.

incessant = never ending. The karaoke noise is incessant.

rewarding = doing something that makes you feel better about yourself. Nursing doesn’t pay much but it is tremendously rewarding.

Image result for asian nurse

Creating sentences

Use these new adjectives with some of these nouns:

coffee shops / motorbikes / Vietjet / construction work / German trains

charity work / AI (artificial intelligence) / swimming / British weather

Meaning, pronunciation, structure

What is happening here?

I am thinking about a holiday.

Meaning: Am I having a holiday ? Where will I go ? Is it certain ? Alone / with friends ?

Pronunciation: In speech, we would contract “I am” to I’m and link “abouta

Structure: What tense is being used … why ? Will it happen ?

Try these: Make as many questions / possibilities as possible

He’s having his car repaired

She having a dress made

He looked at a new apartment

My cousin will be applying for universities

I’m not sure about taking the new job.

Image result for car being repaired

Urban legends

stories that maybe aren’t true but people believe them

[urban = city // rural = countryside // haunted = a place with ghosts ]

Ten scary Vietnamese urban legends:

Project: Do you know any of these tales / legends ?

Do you know any other Vietnamese legends ?

Have you even been to the places in HCM City ?

Writing exercise

Image result for scheherazade

Painting by Ferdinand keller ‘Scheherazade und Sultan Schariar’ (1880).

1001 Nights

The main frame story concerns Shahryār ruling in “India and China”. He is shocked to learn that his brother’s wife is unfaithful; discovering that his own wife’s infidelity has been even more flagrant, he has her killed. 

In his bitterness and grief, he decides that all women are the same. Shahryār begins to marry a succession of virgins only to execute each one the next morning, before she has a chance to dishonour him. 

Eventually the vizier, whose duty it is to provide them, cannot find any more virgins. Scheherazade the vizier’s daughter, offers herself as the next bride and her father reluctantly agrees. 

On the night of their marriage, Scheherazade begins to tell the king a tale, but does not end it. The king, curious about how the story ends, is thus forced to postpone her execution in order to hear the conclusion. The next night, as soon as she finishes the tale, she begins (and only begins) a new one, and the king, eager to hear the conclusion of this tale, postpones her execution once again. This goes on for 1,001 nights.

This is quite a long introduction; how could you reduce it to three sentences ?

Some stories in English can be found here: http://www.storynory.com/category/fairy-tales/1001-nights/

Image result for arabian nights book
Image result for arabian nights book illustrations

Dialogue

Speaking practice:

Mark At last ! Can’t you be punctual just once in your life !

Craig I’m here now, aren’t I ? You look so miserable, why are you fed up ?

Mark I need some coffee. Where can we get some ?

Craig Anywhere, coffee shops are ubiquitious here. What the hell ?

Mark What’s up now ? Your complaining is incessant ! 

Craig My money got all soggy ! I have to put up with so much.

Mark Oh, get over it ! Some people have no money. Do you help charities ?

Craig It sounds rewarding but after work I’m too exhausted !

Mark You are just talk. Put up or shut up !

Image result for two men bickering