IELTS: Complex sentences – Practice and more practice

4th March 2021

Beautiful Asian Woman Playing Piano Stock Photo, Picture And Royalty Free  Image. Image 68225263.

The ability to use complex sentences, fluently and naturally, will greatly improve your IELTS score (in both speaking and writing). Therefore here’s a little exercise I used in last night’s class. Test your ability to speak in IELTS-style sentences.

Quite simply, take a basic subject and see how complex you can make it by adding information to every noun.

Show Don't Tell' -Providing the Power to Improve Student Writing

Good idea. Here is my friend Tony:

English Guy Stock Illustrations – 512 English Guy Stock Illustrations,  Vectors & Clipart - Dreamstime

Tony is from Liverpool. He is 32. He is a reporter. He works on ‘The Daily Talk’. This is shown on ICB network.

Remember, relative pronouns who / which / where / whose

Tony, who is 32, is from Liverpool, which is famous for football as well as The Beatles. He occupation (or profession) is reporter, working for ‘The Daily News’ which is a show broadcast on the ICB network, which is located in London, where Tony now lives.

You wouldn’t usually include so many clauses, but it is an exercise, similar to a musician practising scales. Ideally, in the speaking test, you will be able to use complex sentences at the drop of a hat.

NOW … YOUR TURN

Make a complex sentence about your hometown.

Sai Gon / Tp HCM

Travel to Ho Chi Minh City

Sai Gon: in southern Viet Nam / largest city in VN / population over nine million / many museums (such as History, War Remnants, Independence Palace) / traditional food (such as Phố) – what is Phố ? What is it served with ?

The Best Phở in Saigon - Vietnam Coracle - Independent Travel Guides to  Vietnam
Traditional Phố for my friend Silk Cords

Next, tell me about someone in your family.

Asian families dominate multi-holiday trend, survey says: Travel Weekly Asia

Who is that person ? What relation to you ? Where do they live, what is their profession ? Describe their physical appearance and personality and try to add an anecdote, to make your presentation more personal.

Finally, in last night’s listening practice, there was mention of the Hearst Castle in California:

Hearst Castle | San Simeon, CA 93452
William Randolph Hearst - Children, Quotes & Joseph Pulitzer - Biography


William Randolph Hearst, who was a very famous newspaper tycoon, lived in this castle, which is in California. Hearst was immortalised in the film ‘Citizen Kane’, a classic movie from 1941 by Orson Welles, who directed and starred in the film which is often cited as being the best film ever made.

New vocabulary and expressions:

Last night’s class produced these:

The weather is Sai Gon is sweltering and terribly humid

monotonous (mono = one) = very tedious

I don’t give a monkey’s = I really don’t care

occupation (better word for job) / profession = need to be qualified such as doctor, nurse, lawyer, pilot, chef etc

most notably = Orson Welles made many films, most notably ‘Citizen Kane’.

Idioms part 2: Are you pulling my leg ?

2nd June 2020

This blog is especially for my internet friend Silk Chatters, as she mentioned this idioms in a note. She has lots of interesting blogs, so have a gander at her page. Here’s a link to one of her blogs:

https://silkcordsblog.wordpress.com/2020/05/31/my-disgust-with-the-media-continues-to-skyrocket/

Idioms

Following on from yesterday’s blog, I’ve included some more everyday idioms, this time related to work. See how many you’ve come across. To kick off, many of my students are accountants. For that occupation we have:

Woman in Gray and White Pinstripe Dress Shirt Using Black Tablet Computer

number-cruncher = a slang term for an accountant

cooking the books = writing false information in accountants – a serious crime

What kind of work is accounting ?

Young bored office worker sitting at desk and working, she is ...

Exciting and adventurous … not really. My students complain that their work is uninteresting, boring and tedious. Idiomatically, we could say:

It’s like watching paint dry

same thing, day in, day out

same old, same old

How do you cope with pressure or cope with stress ?

How Accountants Can Combat Work-Related Stress | AccountingWEB

I will getaway from everything = Do something completely different

I take a breather. I take five (a short break from work)

I like to let off steam by

Ask each other: what do you do to let off steam ?

Massena man wins St. Lawrence University's first Amateur Table ...
Play table tennis
17 Complete – Sing Karaoke in Japan! | GATE20.com
Sing Karaoke
Bus travel to shopping spots| FlixBus → The new way to travel
Go Shopping

7 Best Apps To Watch Movies Together Online With Your Friends
Watch movies

Fun Holiday – Read a Book Day
Read a book … or many books
Good Times Bad Times - LED ZEPPELIN / Cover by Yoyoka , 8 year old ...
Yoyoka, aged 8, playing drums

Idioms

Keep an eye on (watch something carefully)

under the table = to give money to someone unofficially

kick the bucket = to die (informal) Did you hear ? Old Tom kicked the bucket.

A spanner in the works = a serious problem

In the right ball park (US) = not correct but close

On the right track (UK) not correct but close

Now, practice:

That’s not right but you’re …

I had to pay … to get the paperwork stamped

Can you … on the food while I answer the phone ?

Oh, poor Mr Jones, he … last week

That’s a real problem. It puts a …

Journey in Life: "Throw a spanner in the works" nghĩa là gì?
Throwing a spanner in the works. The young lady is holding a spanner

Idioms / expressions (money)

money doesn’t grow on trees

time is money

on the money = exactly right 

costs an arm and a leg = very expensive.

Don’t stop working ! _________________________________

I can’t stay in a 5 star hotel, it ____________________

Be careful with your clothes, I can’t keep buying new ones _______________________ Yes, she’s always right, always _________________

New idioms / collocations

to get hold of someone = to speak to or meet someone

Hell breaks loose = will be a lot of trouble

to be into something = to like something very much

more or less = not 100% but almost.

I beg to differ = polite way to disagree

In the next blog, we’ll look at how these idioms can be used in everyday conversations

Remember: don’t get caught cooking the books – or you’ll get a massive fine.

Consequences of the Enron Scandal

Taiwan: Listening special

12th April 2020

Hong Kong Journalists Under Pressure Over Taiwan WHO Reporting

Taiwan has featured in many online news clips recently. Here are some which caught my eye (made me notice) and which, furthermore, will be useful for students to practice listening to ‘real-world’ English speaking; the rhythms, stresses and intonations of everyday speech.

As with other blogs, I will drop in certain phrases or expressions, which I will highlight. In addition, there will be a lot of new vocabulary in the listening clips. Watch them in short sections, writing down any new words or phrases.

Feel free to ask me to explain anything you can’t understand

Additionally, I’d like to share a blog from my online friend, Silk Chatters, who is based in the USA, and writes extremely interesting articles. One such article, a blog which caught my eye, is about being critical when listening to news reports. Silk ends her blog with:

Question what you read and hear, and avoid a steady diet of one type of information, it’s as bad for the mind as eating only one type of food is for the body.

Here is the link to Silk’s blog: https://silkcordsblog.wordpress.com/2020/04/02/this-is-why-you-should-avoid-conspiracy-theories/

I know she will be delighted if you read and ‘like’ her blog.

In the UK, we pride ourselves on having a free press – newspapers, TV and other media are able to write what they want without fear of persecution (there are exceptions, naturally, but that is outside the scope of this blog).

However, newspaper readers generally know the political views of the paper they’re reading. In the USA I believe I’m right in saying that many TV news stations report the news according to their political opinions … or of those who own the station. For example, Fox News is seen as Republican (right-wing), while CNN is viewed as Democrat (left-wing).

Readers in the USA, please correct me if I am mistaken.

Therefore, when you see or read news, remember to ask questions and try to check the facts for yourself. A sophisticated readership will necessitate more sophisticated journalism … ideally … and what can be more ideal than the search for truth ?

Flag of the Republic of China - Wikipedia

The Corona Virus, COVID 19, continues to spread, and there are opposing theories as to its origins. The consensus is that it started in Wuhan Province, Mainland China. Taiwan, which is so close, has relatively few cases (at time of writing, 388 cases with 6 deaths compared to the official figures for China 82, 052 and 3, 339).

Relations between China and Taiwan are contentious (if you don’t know the history, the internet will help to fill you in – give you information)

Taiwan, whose capital is Taipei, “Shall be a democratic republic of the people, to be governed by the people and for the people.” Tsai Ing-wen is the President, and she features in our first clip: A YouTuber called Potter King met Tsai Ing-wen, and angered China by addressing her as ‘President’.

LINK: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lNrOxobXNx4

The President is shown here in a BBC interview, discusses relations between China and Taiwan:

China warned to show respect: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IZcG9jy0TWQ

We now move on to a video clip that went viral. Dr Bruce Aylward was asked about Taiwan being admitted to the WHO (World Health Organisation). This is what happened:

Senior WHO dodges question: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UlCYFh8U2xM&t=24s

The British newspaper ‘The Guardian’ covered the story here: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/30/senior-who-adviser-appears-to-dodge-question-on-taiwans-covid-19-response

‘The Guardian’ is seen as a liberal, left-leaning paper, and is probably more for the educated reader than mass circulation. As such, the language will be challenging but rewarding for English-language students.

In the interests of fairness, I will show the WHO reaction to the above interview, which was somewhat awkward or embarrassing, to say the least.

WHO response: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wFRHB-wP9SU&t=13s

Finally, the most important part: what do you think ?

Where do you get your information ?

Can you trust your sources ?

Can you think of any reasons why news may be altered, slanted, taken out of context or in any way distorted ?