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IELTS Practice Sessions on Skype

I have helped many students successfully achieve the score they needed on the IELTS (International English Language Testing System) exam.  

Students take the exam for different reasons.  Many of the students I have worked with needed it as part of their visa application process because they wanted to relocate to Canada or Australia.  The other large percentage of students were taking it as part of the entrance requirement for a university program which would be taught in English.  Some students were asked by international companies to take the exam so the company could see exactly what level of English they had.  Lastly, some students just take it for themselves.  They want a goal to work towards and decide to take an exam to push themselves and for some, force themselves to study because they know that exam is coming up.  

SkypEnglish4U IELTS Sessions

Many students purchase IELTS books and use the endless resources on the internet to help them prepare for the exam.  That is great, and I definitely recommend reading anything you can about the exam, but that method doesn’t include speaking practice.  You can read all about the speaking section, possible question topics and example answers, but that is all passive learning.  If you really want to be ready for the speaking portion of the exam, you need to actually practice speaking.  Speaking by yourself in the mirror is a great way to get comfortable for the speaking section, but the mirror doesn’t make corrections and give you feedback.  

During my IELTS practice sessions on Skype, speaking and writing are the two parts of the exam that are  most efficiently practiced online.  As with all of my sessions, the student decides our path and  what they want to focus on.  For example, some may only want to focus on IELTS speaking part 2, while others want to focus on improving their writing and then fill the remaining time with speaking practice.  Each student is different, so I make sure that they are getting exactly what they need.

IELTS on Skype

IELTS Speaking 

During the speaking portion of the exam, you will have a one-on-one discussion with a certified examiner. The examiner will follow the test format with the 3 different sections, but will adapt their questions based on your answers to be as close to a real-life situation as a test can get.  This is why reading about possible test questions is not enough.  You really have no idea what they may ask.  

During our sessions together we can simulate an exam using actual IELTS questions used in past exams.  Part 1 starts with the general questions and topics.  For part 2, I will time you and give you suggestions on how to use the time wisely.  Finally, we’ll practice the part 3 follow up/conversational questions.  While we go over the different topics, I will make notes in the Skype chat box with vocabulary and grammar corrections and suggestions for you to see as we are speaking and also to review later on.

The speaking section is usually the part that students get the lowest score on because they don’t have experience with actual speaking.  Speaking out loud in English about anything will help you with this exam.  Opening your mouth is the first step.  I have worked with students who have never spoken English before our first session, but studied every IELTS book out there.  On the exam day, that knowledge that you learned from the book is not going to come out of your mouth all by itself.  You must practice using what you have learned.  

IELTS Writing

Whether you are taking the General IELTS or Academic IELTS, both require two different types of writing activities.  If IELTS writing is something that you are interested in practicing, I will send you the topic before our session and you write it on your own time and then we review it together using Google Documents (if you can not access this in your country, there are other ways to do it).  

Over the years, I have really noticed quick improvement from many students from using this ‘reviewing/editing together’ process.  With Google Documents, we both see the edits and changes, so it is an active learning process.  If you just send someone your document and they correct it on their own, YOU are not a part of the reviewing process.  It is much better to be actively involved and be able to discuss the changes and ask questions.

Writing is an active process.  You are using your knowledge to create something.  Many students don’t practice this section of the exam enough.  They think that because they can read well and understand most things, that then they can write well.  Another common mistake that students make is to not practice writing with the time you are allowed during the test.  I suggest that students start to practice writing with no time limit and once they start to feel comfortable with the essay format, start to keep track of the time.    

IELTS is an exam which was designed to test your level of English.  Everything that you read, speak, write or hear in English is going to help you prepare for the IELTS exam.  

Be Prepared

Because the examiner is a human, there is no knowing what questions they are going to ask.  You need to be ready to speak about anything and everything (not just the practice questions from the IELTS prep books).    

Taking a test is stressful all on it’s own.  Taking a test in a foreign language takes it to a whole other level.  Put your mind at ease and invest some time in practicing for the exam with me online and feel more comfortable with your level when you walk into the exam.

 

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italki Instant Tutoring

Do you want to practice your English (or any other language) NOW?

Click here > Sign up to italki and once you are all logged in, you can find native speakers who are available to speak with you immediately, no scheduling in advance necessary.

You’ll see FIND A TEACHER on your top menu of your homepage.

italki instant tutor
There are different filters for you to select when searching for the right teacher.  The language you would like to practice is the first on you need to select and then there are some other optional filters such as where the teacher is originally from, what other languages the teacher speaks, price and tags (such as IELTS, TOEFL or business).

Another filter is Availability.  If you want to speak with someone NOW, click on Availability and select ‘Instant Tutoring Available Now’.

italki instant tutoring

You’ll see all of the teachers available at that time listed.  You can adjust the filters according to what you are looking for and then select the teacher for instant tutoring.  Perhaps you prefer to speak with someone from the UK who also speaks Spanish, you can enter that into the filter, but that particular combination may not be available at that exact time.  The instant tutor feature is something that teachers can turn on and off based on their schedule.

instant tutor

The request will be sent to the teacher and they have 10 minutes to accept it.

This feature is GREAT because it allows you to speak to a native speaker at your convenience.  So many of us have busy lives and scheduling in advance can be difficult.  Instant tutoring gives you the freedom to practice your speaking when YOU have time.

I’ve helped people prepare for job interviews, IELTS, TOEFL and even done some proof reading/editing while on ‘Instant Tutoring’.

Remember, the only way to improve your English is to use it, so go ahead, try it out!

 

 

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English on Twitter

Using English on Twitter is a great way to get daily practice and keep your English skills sharp.

Do you use Twitter?  If you do, you are one of 236 million monthly active users!  If you don’t, you should (go sign up and come back and continue reading).

How do you use Twitter?

Many people use twitter to share information.  Whether it is sharing personal things for friends to see or other information that you want the whole word to see, Twitter gives you that platform.  Some people just use twitter to communicate directly with other users and direct their tweets to them using their @username.

Practice your English on Twitter by reading English articles shared by people or watching videos about topics that interest you.  Communicate with people!  If you see a funny picture that someone shared, tweet back to them and tell them what you think.

Do you use #hashtags?

Twitter started the hashtag craze that we now see all over every type of social media.  This is where you really get the good stuff.  Do you like pizza?  Enter #pizza into the search box and every person that has ever used the hashtag #pizza is going to come up in the results.

Practice your English on Twitter by using hashtags that will bring you to an endless supply of helpful links.  Here are some of the ones I use (and they all link directly to the results on Twitter so give them a click, you’re welcome)

#English #LearnEnglish #ESL

#BusinessEnglish: Anything related to Business English / English used at work

#EngDaily: English should be practiced on a daily basis, so this # is for when you have a little bit of free time and want to get your brain going in English.

#EngGrammar: Any link related to Grammar

#EngVocab: Any link related to Vocabulary

#EngQuiz: Any active learning exercise/Quiz

#EngNow: Involves you NOW!  Practice opportunities, active learning exercises or videos

#EngPls: ‘English Please’ Anything in English.  A common # for learners who want to communicate in English.

Exam prep? #IELTS #TOEFL #TOIEC 

Do you have twitter friends?

As I mentioned above, some people use twitter to chat with their friends and other users.  Some people find it easier to express their feelings when they are using a ‘user name’ and people may have no idea who they really are.  Things can get messy, I suggest keeping it clean and not getting involved in any cyberbullying.  Use the anonymity to your advantage and get practicing, no need to be shy if nobody knows who you are!

Practice your English on Twitter by making friends with others who are learning English.  Get involved in discussions and answer questions from English teachers.  Use #EngPls and #Twinglish to find other learners just like you and get chatting.

Do you follow me?

YOU BETTER!  @SkypEnglish4U  Tweet to me with any questions you have and I will do my best to get back to you ASAP.

 

#EngVocab
platform(noun)  A place, means, or opportunity for public expression of opinion
Cyberbullying (noun) The use of electronic communication to bully a person, typically by sending messages of an intimidating or threatening nature
anonymity (noun) the condition of being anonymous.

*practice using these words in the comments section and I will check them and give you feedback*

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Using a whiteboard to improve your English

I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times… Surround yourself with English!  How about on the walls of your home!?!

White board for English

Invest in a small whiteboard (or a big one!) and use it everyday to write down new vocabulary words to improve your English.  Everyone has a different style of learning and remembering new words, so do what is right for you.  Here are some suggestions:

  • The definition
    • If you are at a high enough level, write the definition in English.
    • If you still need the help, use your native language– but try to use that the least amount possible.
  • Sentences using the new words
    • Anyone can memorize a word, but to actually be able to use it correctly is another story.
    • Look it up and take note of the sentence structure used in example sentence and BAM! you get a grammar lesson as well.
  • Common phrases or idioms that involve the word
    • You want to speak as natural as possible, so do a bit of research and see how the word is used in “real-life”.
  • Pictures
    • Have fun and draw something to help you remember the word.
  • Questions you think of and want to ask your teacher later on

This method is a great way to bring that passive vocabulary to active.  The small amount of time you spend writing the word and the sentences… that alone is going to help you to remember it, not to mention all of the times you will see it in the day.  Subscribe to a word of the day service and constantly be on the lookout for words to add to your board.  (click below)

http://www.learnersdictionary.com/

Merriam-Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary

 

Three – It’s The Magic Number

There is something special about the number 3, throughout history it has been a significant number and continues to be so today. The Egyptians built the Pyramids, the Bible talks of the 3 Wise Men and the Holy Trinity. There are 3 primary colours, 3 dimensions, 3 parts to time, we live on the third planet in our Solar System and there are 3 kingdoms on Planet Earth.

I could go on, but we would be here all day, so take a look at this page for more facts about the number 3.

The point I am trying to make is that we use the number 3 in many ways everyday without even realising that we are doing it, and in teaching it can be a very powerful weapon to have in your armour.

Think about it for a second or 3

Stories contain a beginning, middle and ending, and when we speak and use descriptive nouns we tend to use them in threes automatically. Presentations and reports normally include an introduction, main body of information and a conclusion. Our world seems to revolve around the number 3.

So, how can we use the number 3 in language lessons?

I am constantly working with a number of students who are preparing for IELTS speaking test, whose level of English is good, but they just need to show greater fluency on the day. The best little trick I can pass on to them is to think about the number 3.

What I mean is, when you are asked something about yourself, instead of just replying with a single answer such as, ‘I like to watch movies‘, what you need to do is think bigger.

In any answer, you need to think in threes, not in single nouns. So, let’s take movies, drinking coffee and reading as example personal traits, three not one. Next we need to add adjectives to each noun and where possible put them into a specific order of emotion, in order to end up with a response such as: ‘I like to read magazines and drink coffee, but most of all I love to watch movies.’

What you achieve by always thinking in threes is to actually help yourself to achieve greater fluency, which by return means a better score. However, it isn’t just nouns and adjectives that make us seem proficient and fluent. Idioms and phrasal verbs are just as important, and again 3 is the magic number to use. Try to introduce 3 simple idioms and 3 phrasal verbs, and to make sure that you practice using them before your speaking test, so that you understand how and when they are appropriate.

This method actually arms you with 3 tools for getting the score you need on your speaking test; always being able to answer questions with 3 responses, plus 3 idioms and 3 phrasal verbs to use. Interestingly enough, there are 3 parts to an IELTS speaking tests, so the idioms and phrasal verbs can be split equally between them.

 

For more on the Magic of 3, take a look at this video from EngVid.

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Contact Rachel today > http://www.italki.com/teacher/1394345

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Do you know your colloquial pairs?

Many of my IELTS students make a point of studying their idioms and phrasal verbs, mostly as it’s a clear cut way to show fluency and develop a more natural and advanced way of speaking English. However, there is something else which can also help here. This is the use of colloquial pairs. You will surely all now about ‘pros and cons’  from learning how to speak about advantages and disadvantages, and this is indeed a colloquial pair, however what about others? 

What is a colloquial pair? Well these are pairs of words that have a special significance, such as idioms or slang. You must take care not to put them in the wrong order however, as while these pairs may be understood in a reversed order, they will sound incorrect to a native speaker.

  • prim and proper
  • to and fro
  • odds and ends
  • hard and fast
  • tooth and nail
  • pros and cons
  • by and large
  • down and out
  • length and breadth
  • safe and sound

So, can I give you some examples? Well, I’m very ‘prim and proper’ about my colloquial pairs so I must make sure I use them correctly! I believe that ‘by and large’ these are phrases which are essential to add to your vocabulary if you want to speak like a native, and there is nothing we can do to change that! I’m afraid these rules are set ‘hard and fast’ and we can’t make any exceptions. 

Why not look the other pairs up online and see if you can use them?

 

RACHEL’S PROFILE

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IELTS

I have a lot of students who are studying for the IELTS exams, both Academic and General. A lot of them come to me after they have already taken it once and only scored 5.5 when they really want 6.5 or 7 for visa requirements to go to other countries.

They don’t understand why they only got 5.5 last time.

So we talk, and I listen, and we discuss the last exam, I test them on their grammar and vocabulary and then confirm to them that they speak very good English. However what most them don’t realise is that the IELTS is so much more than a normal English test when it comes to the speaking. There are extra marks that you can pick up quite easily, and if you browse thoroughly through all the online IELTS advice they will confirm what I am telling you here. It is not the quality of the grammar, but the fluency and cohesion of your response, the style and essence of your argument, the ability to hold a discourse at a deeper level. Ok, you say. So what do I need to do? Easy, I reply. Show them that you know how to use 4 things;

  • Phrasal verbs – often seen as the poor relative of the posher and more intellectual Latin derived verbs in English, they are nonetheless essential to show true levels of fluency in English.
  • Idioms – an absolute must to be able to converse like a native.
  • Paraphrasing – to show the examiner that you not only understand but can explain in another way
  • Give examples in 3s – 3 adjectives, 3 verbs, 3 nouns, 3 anything… as long as you always talk in three. It shows that you can not only give an example, but in fact have lots of ideas.

IELTS candidates can also score highly by…

  •  Getting straight to the point
  • Using a range of tenses – past simple, present simple and present perfect – with great accuracy
  • Using a wide range of grammatical forms such as a conditional sentence (If I…) and a cleft sentence (All I need now is…)
  • Answering all parts of the question
  • Avoiding over-formality and using expressions such as actually and pretty that are appropriate to conversational style
  • Providing a summarising sentence to wrap up the response
Finally, what does it take to achieve this? Practice! Just practice!