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 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 is an actor. He is most famous for playing James Bond. His wife is Rachel Weisz. She is also an actor.
Thandie Newton is an English actress. She has three children. She studied at Cambridge University. She was in Mission Impossible II with Tom Cruise.
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):
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.
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.
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.
Teaching Note: This could be used as a listening exercise. Read out the following information, then elicit answers. A simple test helps to build confidence, especially as IELTS listening can be very demoralising.
One of my favourite photos is of my friend Peter, who lives in Birmingham, England.
His wife took the photo last March. Peter is playing bass guitar in a studio. It looks like he is having fun. He plays in a band called ‘The Deep Six’.
I keep this photo on my computer in a file called ‘Music in Birmingham’.
What is the name of my friend ?
Where does he live ?
What guitar does he play ?
What is the name of his band ?
Where do I keep this photo ?
Activity 1: The student have to practice forming questions by asking me about the photo.
Activity 2: Read out the following information, then make a contest, who can answer first.
These are two of my friends, Mark and Tony. Mark is on the left, with the curly blonde hair and beard, Tony has short dark hair.
I took this photo last time I was in London, Christmas 2019 at my local pub.
Mark, who has tattoos on his arms, was in the army and now has a security firm (company) in the centre of London. Tony, on the other hand, lives from day to day, he does odd jobs, maybe some painting, maybe some construction, maybe some security work. He likes to gamble on horses, which is a popular activity in the UK.
I shot this on my iPhone and keep it because I live very far from my friends so can’t meet them very often.
As you can see, they are drinking beer, laughing and generally having a very happy time.
Now we progress, giving the information in a different order and with alternate vocabulary.
In this photo, which I was sent by email, we can see my London neighbour Arif and his sister Rita. It made me smile, because the T-shirts are ironic; they just don’t get on at all, in fact they fight like cat and dog.
Arif told me that their mother bought the shirts as a joke, and to make the point that living with them is driving her crazy. All the shouting and arguing, non-stop, 24/7.
Rita’s best friend Suzy was trying out her new camera, a Canon, and asked them to pose for her. The situation is getting complicated because Suzy likes Arif but Rita will be livid if her best friend starts dating her brother. I only received the email last week so I don’t know what is happening now.
I miss both of them, they are so friendly and funny. Arif always helps if I have a computer problem, as he works in IT, while Rita brings me special Indian food, knowing that I love spicy curry. Although she is a marvellous cook, she wants to be a business lady, a ‘mover and a shaker’. I’m sure she will do well, she is very determined and forthright. Maybe too much at times, she hates being contradicted or corrected.
Arif, who sent the email, informed me that after the photo, Rita left the room, changed clothes and threw the T-shirt away. That is so typical of Rita !
1 How did I get this photo ? // 2 Who sent it to me ? // 3 Who took the photo ?
4 Who are they and what is their relationship // 5 What is Arif’s job ?
6 What type of camera was used ? // 7 Describe Rita’s personality
8 If I wanted a physical copy of the photo, I would need to … what ?
Ask students to bring in a photograph which can be talked about it in class.
We are currently using Zoom for online teaching, so students could share photos from their computer and then get a conversation going. Encourage students to elicit more information and to push each other to speak more.
Obviously, only suggest this, as some students may be shy about sharing personal information
This blog will teach you how to talk about plans – what you will do later in the day.
The grammar will be future tense, and I’ll show you standard English and some everyday expressions.
I will … after work OR After work, I will … (standard English)
Example: I will play football after work OR After work, I will play football
watch a movie // cook for my family // go shopping // play computer games
When I finish work, I’ll (I + will = I’ll) … a contraction
Later, when I knock off work … (knock off = finish) a UK expression / phrasal verb
Make sentences, using these phrases. I give you an example:
I’m going to // I will (I’ll) // I plan to // I intend to // I’m thinking of …
After work, I’m going to a restaurant
Try to extend the sentence by giving more information:
After work, I’m going to take my family to a restaurant.
When I knock off, my family and I will go to a fast food restaurant because my son loves fried chicken and chips.
Now your turn:
What will you do after work ? See how long you can make your answer.
Tell me what you see in the photos.
I have some answers at the end of the blog.
After work, I plan to drink beer. // I intend to drink beer after work with my two best friends.
When I knock off, I’m going to stay home // After I knock off, I’m going to play computer games and eat junk food. // After work, I plan to watch TV and eat crisps, chocolate and cake.
Tonight, I’m thinking of singing karaoke. // Later, I’m thinking of meeting my friends and going to sing karaoke because it’s a lot of fun.
After work, I will take my girlfriend to a restaurant. // Tonight is special because I will take my girlfriend to a romantic restaurant. // This will be a special night because I intend to ask my girlfriend to marry me so I’m going to take her to an expensive romantic restaurant.
Life goes on as normal … or does it, indeed can it, should it ? The Scottish MP and First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, addressed the issue in a recent press conference. In her view, we all have to change our lifestyles and accept that there is a pandemic sweeping the globe.
The measures, including closing down restaurants and cinemas, are intended to stop the spread of Covid 19. The virus can easily spread in big cities such as New York, Tokyo and London.
Different countries have imposed different restrictions, and I’d like to focus on Vietnam where, as of 14.00 today, the 25th March, there are 134 reported cases but no fatalities. We shall examine what steps the Vietnamese government has taken, after a quick revision.
Remember, IELTS students have to be able to use these low-frequency words in order to pass the exam.
isolate // implement // significant // rely //
precautions // quarantine // regulations
Students are given three minutes to write three sentences using three of these words.
Now, once these words roll off the tongues of the students, we can move on; actions taken by the Vietnamese authorities.
Latest Updates from the Vietnam- Briefing.com website
What do you think about these measures ?
To what extent do you agree with them and why ?
As a resident of Sai Gon, do these measures make you feel more secure, or more scared ?
As of March 25, Vietnam’s Ministry of Health confirmed a total of 134 cases of COVID-19. The latest cases were all linked to international flights. 19 cases were announced on March 22 itself – the biggest single day total.
Ho Chi Minh City authorities have ordered the closure of all restaurants (with a capacity of 30 people or more), gyms, beauty salons, barbershops from March 24 to March 31.
Vietnam has stopped exporting rice from March 24 to ensure national food security.
All international airlines have been asked to stop transporting overseas Vietnamese to Tan Son Nhat Airport in Ho Chi Minh City from March 25 to March 31 to prevent overcrowding at quarantine facilities.
Vietnam has suspended the entry of all foreigners from March 22 to limit the spread of COVID-19. The measure will not apply to diplomats and officials as per Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc. The Prime Minister also ordered the suspension of all international flights, though it’s unclear exactly when this will take effect.
The Health Ministry has advised all arrivals from March 1 to self-isolate at home if they have not been quarantined in a centralized zone in the past 14 days.
Vietnam and Cambodia have closed their borders from March 20 to further prevent the spread of the epidemic. The measures do not apply to official and diplomatic passports.
The Vietnamese government is expected to unveil a credit package of US$10.8 billion and a fiscal package of US$1.3 billion in March for businesses affected by the coronavirus outbreak.
Sentence order – exercises for you to practice rearranging the words in a sentence to make your English more interesting. This is especially useful for IELTS students.
Vocabulary – a feature just on boosting your command of the English language, and finding higher, or better, low-frequency words for basic English.
Increase vocabulary. The average native-speaker uses about 2 000 words. You can boost your vocabulary by learning verbs, adverbs and adjectives which can be easily found by a Google search. Also, use an online thesaurus.
Speak in longer sentences. Say what you want to say (make your point), then elaborate by giving examples, adding reasons and maybe an anecdote. Along with this, give the opposite view by using conjunctions such as ‘however’, ‘on the other hand’ etc.
Pronunciation. Many native speakers have a problem understanding English learners, so we will practise slow and careful enunciation, intonation and stress.
Genres (types of music): pop / rock / country and western / punk / classical / jazz blues / opera / R ‘n’ B / techno / rap
What kind of music do you like ? Ask your classmates, and try to keep the conversation alive for as long as possible. You can say what genres you like, then give examples of artists and special CDs or records. How do you buy music, how do you listen to it (computer, CD, iPhone, MP3 player ?) Do you play an instrument ? Would you like to play something ? Do you ever go to concerts ?
give in / turn off / start off / put out / cut down/ cut out/ put up with
1 I’m working too much, therefore I must _________ on my hours.
2 You can’t smoke here ! ____________ that cigarette.
3 We have to _________ so much noise and dirt here in Cat Lai (industrial area).
4 I always __________ to my wife when she demands something; it is easier !
5 Time to knock off. Before you go, make sure to _________ your computers.
6 For health reasons, my doctor advised me to _________ fatty food.
7 The film ___________ great, but soon became too complicated.
You are at a job interview and have to introduce yourself. Start by giving some facts, your educational background and how long you have worked in your current/ present job. Describe your personality and finish by saying what you like to do in your spare time.
I was born in …. and I graduated from …. University in 2019 with a major in Business Administration. Since then I’ve had two year’s experience in administrative work at ATHA and followed that with a stint in SLH Corporation.
I’m a very organised person, well-balanced and efficient. I’m hard-working and dedicated.
In my free time, I like to travel and I love to paint. In addition, I enjoy going out and having coffee with friends. I also support Barcelona and enjoy playing badminton after work.
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.
My home is a / an:
apartment and I live alone
rented room share with friends
house live with family
pros and cons – advantages and disadvantages
adverbs of degree (very, extremely, incredibly, remarkably, unbelievably)
I travel to work by:
Motorbike. It’s quite / rather far and extremely stressful.
Use Grabbike. It’s very convenient albeit rather expensive.
On the bus. Although it’s incredibly cheap, it’s not very pleasant.
Idioms and expressions
At work I find myself doing the same thing day in day out. It’s tedious.
Learning English is, for me, easy, a piece of cake. It’s very important and fun.
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 !
in my opinion, is vital for the future. It’s imperative we learn.
is a necessary task. It’s awkward and frustrating, but I need it.
is highly enjoyable and relaxing. I love to improve my mind.
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 sombre 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.
Increase your word power
Part 1: Match the basic words with others of similar meaning
For example boring = tedious
interesting / on time / forgetful / live (I live in) / smart (clever) / get (by hard work) attain / absent-minded /fascinating / punctual / intelligent / reside
unhappy / honest / not often / tired / place / reliable // exhausted / seldom / miserable / trustworthy / dependable / environment
small or unimportant / try / make / great / happy / not nice / / endeavour / jovial / prepare / insignificant / nasty / brilliant
John is so forgetful; he is _______________
German manufacturers are reliable; they are ____________
The increase is very small; it is _______________
The plane was on time; the service is very _____________
She is so clever; she is very ______________
Now make sentences with the new words. Put class into teams and they have to make sentences with five new words e.g. (for example):
After studying for three years, John attained his BA Degree.
Use these phrasal verbs in new sentences – BUT in the past or continuous tense.
give in / give up / put up with / put off / take off / start off
how can I put it ?
a fair comment ?
peer pressure ?
willing = happy to do something
concise = short and to the point.
sneaky = crafty, cheeky
I am __________ to help you with your homework.
Please be short and _________ when you give a speech.
The audience was only _____________ after the band played.
People can get cancer just by _________________ .
I have so much work to do and have a meeting with my boss; it’s a ______________