Today we answer a question from a listener who tunes into AEE every day but often gets distracted.

He asks us if this is ok for his learning.

We answer the question today.

“I have been working hard to improve because I want to reach the advanced level. I’d like to know about English immersion.

Is it effective to listen to English even when I am not paying full attention to what is being said?

I listen to AEE at my internship but sometimes I get distracted by noises around me or by silly things.

Can you help me with this please?

Is it ok to learn this way?”

 

There are two different ways to learn:

  • Diffuse learning: This is a resting state for our mind. We use it when we take a walk or a shower or when we go to sleep. We build connections between what we learned in focused learning.
  • Focused learning: Sitting down, studying, and being focused. Using transcripts or textbooks.

Read more about diffuse learning from the research of Terry Sejnowski

 

This listener is asking us about a learning state that is somewhere between both of these forms of learning.

We think it’s ok to listen to AEE when you are slightly distracted.

Our brains can’t handle constant focused learning especially now that we have the Internet.

If you don’t let your brain settle and relax you will burn out.

Don’t forget that you do need to spend some time using focused learning.

You can do that using the transcripts.

 

English advanced business English courseMove your English from Awkward to Charismatic at Work in Less than 30 Days

Using the Charisma Equation


Get The Charismatic Connector Advanced English Communication Course

  • Get more promotions and get the project assignments you want at work because you know how to communicate well
  • Make more money at work and feel better at the office every day
  • Build stronger professional relationships with the right English words and phrases
  • Develop a deep understanding of American business culture and how to use that knowledge to build CHARISMA
  • Learn the 5 strategies of our Charisma Equation to be more well-liked and popular at work

CLICK HERE TO GET INSTANT ACCESS TO THE COURSE

 

What is your opinion?

Do you use focused learning when you listen to AEE?

Let us know in the comments below.

Question #1:

On the Listening test if the answer should be in three words but I only write one or two words will it be considered correct or incorrect?

Answer #1:

This comes from not understanding the directions. You need to read the directions carefully. Read the additional notes too. If they say that some of the options may be used more than once then that is an important clue.

You need to take a step back from your practice tests. Take the time to enter an IELTS course. Learn strategies. Don’t jump into practice tests without reading the directions.

 

Get a 100% Score Increase Guarantee with our Insider Method

3 Keys IELTS courseAre you ready to move past IELTS and move forward with your life vision?

Find out why our strategies are the most powerful in the IELTS world.

When you use our Insider Method you avoid the BIGGEST MISTAKES that most students make on IELTS.

Click here to get a score increase on IELTS.

It’s 100% guaranteed.

 

Question #2:

One student asked us about the Oxford Comma or the Serial Comma in our 3 Keys Facebook group. He wanted to know what people’s opinions were about using it or not using it. This student wanted to talk about grammar with his fellow members of 3 Keys IELTS.

 

Answer #2:

On IELTS this is not important. Even at Band score 9 the examiner will not analyze your commas. As long as you choose a route and be consistent you will be fine.

**However! Pay more attention to capitalization and periods at the beginning and end of sentences. These aspects of pronunciation are important because you will get knocked down to a 5 if you don’t do this correctly,

 

Question #3:

If the answer is singular on the Listening test and the student writes it in plural is it wrong?

 

Answer #3:

Yes in this case it would be wrong. You must write it exactly the way it was said on the recording.

 

There are wrong questions!

Leave us your questions in the comments below.

Write your question to: Lindsay@allearsenglish.com

Are you working in customer service in the US?

Do customers get angry at your company?

Today find out how to show your empathy in English without badmouthing your company.

It’s a tricky balance but we’ll show you how to strike it today.

Our listener who asked us today’s question is working at a drug store in Dallas, Texas.

 

english native teacherAre you looking for a professional, native English teacher online?

Get a native English teacher online in seconds at italki.

Lindsay and Michelle recommend italki as our #1 English-learning solution online. Choose from more than 400 teachers to work on your business English or to pass your next big exam.

Get our special offer before it runs out! Go to italki and claim

 

Hiren’s question:

“Hello Lindsay and Michelle this is Hiren. I really enjoy listening to your podcast because they are informative and filled with energy.

I work at a pharmacy and many times I experience this situation when prescriptions are absurdly expensive and I really struggle to respond when customers get stressed out, angry, or sad.

What phrases can  I use to respond to all of these reactions without being critical to the company I work for.”

-Hiren, AEE Listener

 

Get the transcripts from today if you want to focus in and really learn the vocabulary that you hear in today’s episode.

Click here.

 

Today we are talking about empathy!

Hiren doesn’t want to “badmouth” the company but he also needs to empathize with the customers because they are in a vulnerable place.

 

How to respond to a customer with empathy:

  • “I understand”
  • “I know what you mean”
  • “I understand how you feel”
  • “I am so sorry that we don’t have a better solution for you”

 

Learn more here

 

How to show that it’s not in your control:

  • “Oh there isn’t a whole lot that I can do.”
  • “I’m afraid that’s the new price on _____.”
  • “I don’t have any control over these prices.”

 

Offer a solution:

  • “Can I connect you with my manager.”
  • “Would you like to speak to my manager?”
  • “Can I suggest another option?”
  • “Can you call ____?”

 

What do you think about today’s episode?

Let us know in the comments below.

Ed Katzman English cover letter business English

In today’s episode you’ll hear from our guest Ed Katzman who will give you the 5 C’s of storytelling that you must use in your job interview to get the job of your dreams.

Our guest will share the wisdom that he gained as a marketing and hiring professional in the corporate world.

 

Why should you use storytelling?

It goes back to the goal of the interview.

You want to be very specific in the way that you show them why they should consider you as a valuable candidate.

Why is it better to tell a story than to make a list of our accomplishments?

It’s because stories are convincing.

We want to stay away from generalizations and “cozy up” to specifics.

 

A good story:

The goal is to be easy to follow, to be engaging, to have a 5-element structure, and to make the story about 3 minutes in length.

We also want to have details that are linked together and that flow well.

 

5 steps to a good story:

  • S: Situational overview- show them why you are going to describe something significant
  • T: The task- what needed to be done and why was that important
  • A: Actions that you took and why. Here you can talk about the skills that you have in business and your personal skills and why those matter. Provide a view into your thinking. Creativity can come in a lot in this step.
  • R: Results- use specifics here. What benefit did you generate for your company and why is that important?
  • T: Transferable learning: What did you learn and what can you take to the new workplace that will be valuable?

 

The 5 C’s of a good story:

  • Connection
  • Content
  • Contribution
  • Creativity
  • Convincing

 

Ed’s Bio:

Hi, I’m Business English Ed. Communication is my expertise; Job Search and Business English are my specialties.

With over 35 years of business experience and 7 years teaching experience, I have  been helping people online since 2010, offering custom lessons designed to be relevant, valuable, and fun.

While most of my time is still spent working as a business consultant, I work with a limited number of highly motivated business professionals for a few hours a  week, with my focus being on the job search process and on general business English..

Why do I fit teaching in my schedule? Because I get great satisfaction helping people advance their careers. Because I am interested in languages. Because I like meeting people from other cultures and sharing experiences.

My business career has been spent in marketing and general management, in the industries of consumer products and services and software. I’ve worked in companies and as a consultant. I’ve worked for big international companies and small local ones. I’ve interviewed hundreds of people and had many job interviews myself.

I have degrees from top US universities: Yale, Stanford, and the National College of Education. I’m married, with two children, aged 21 and 15, and two dogs. I spend my free time with my family, playing with iPhone app programming, and studying Italian.

 

How to Work with Ed:

Step 1: Get $10 off your second lesson when you register here.

Step 2: Find Ed’s profile on italki: Click here

Do you know how to effectively, and impressively, fill those two minutes?

Today we’ll talk about what exactly happens on the test and how you should tackle it for the highest score.

To hit an 8, you must fill the 2 minutes without difficulty. You must also provide specific, interesting vocabulary, and structure your answer cohesively and coherently. You must also use emotion in your voice for a high pronunciation score.

Follow these strategies, practice them until they feel natural, and all of those things will happen!

 

IELTS Speaking Part 2- You MUST take notes!

This is a crucial part to being able to fill two minutes in a fluent, cohesive way.

On the test, the examiner will first give you the directions for Speaking Part 2, then give you a topic card, a pencil, and a piece of paper.

Then, you will have one minute to take notes on your answer.

Top tips:

  • Practice brainstorming- it’s a skill, and like any skill, it must be practiced.
  • Do not take notes in your native language- only write in English. Otherwise, when you have to start speaking, you will also have to start translating your notes while you talk.

 

100% Score Increase Guarantee with our Insider Method

3 Keys IELTS courseAre you ready to move past IELTS and move forward with your life vision?

Find out why our strategies are the most powerful in the IELTS world.

When you use our Insider Method you avoid the BIGGEST MISTAKES that most students make on IELTS.

Click here to get a score increase on IELTS. It’s 100% guaranteed.

 

 

IELTS Speaking Part 2 Strategies

Introducing your Answer

Teachers and textbooks are always telling students to introduce your answer like this: “Today, I’m going to tell you about…”

That is boring, folks, and will not impress the examiner.

Instead, watch this video for stand-out ways to introduce your IELTS Speaking Part 2 answer.

 

Common Topic #1: Describing People

Lindsay and I have come up with simple, 3 step strategies for all the common topics in IELTS Speaking Part 2.

What you should do when asked to describe people:

  • Describe what they look like
  • Describe their personality
  • Tell a story about the person

Common Topic #2: Describing Places

What you should do when asked to describe a place:

  • Describe how you got there/why you went there
  • Describe what it looks like
  • Tell a story about what you did there

Common Topic #3: Describing Events or Experiences

What you should do when asked to describe an event or experience:

  • Say exactly what the event/experience was.
  • Describe the situation/context.
  • Tell the story about the event or experience.

Common Topic #4: Describe an Object

What you should do when asked to describe an object:

  • Directly say which object you are talking about.
  • How you use it, why you use it, or why you want(ed) it.
  • Tell a story about an experience connected to the object.

To be honest, this question type is, for most people, the most difficult. You must practice! You can do this by simply sitting in a place, inside or outside, and try to describe every separate thing you see for 2 minutes.

For example, if I’m sitting at my desk, I see my computer, a family photo, and an antique mirror I bought in a super cool antique store. I could definitely talk about each of these things, by following this strategy, for 2 minutes.

Above All- Practice!

This is the most important part of getting an 8 in IELTS Speaking Part 2. Practice these strategies!

Get all the strategies you need for an 8 on all parts of the IELTS Speaking exam by getting into our course: The 3 Keys IELTS Success System.

What do you think of today’s strategies? Have you practiced them yet?

Tell us about your IELTS Speaking Part 2 experiences in the comments section below!

Today is Episode 500!

Today you get to hear from our listeners as we celebrate Episode 500!

“The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one.”

-Albert Hubbard

 

 

 

 

Why do you believe in Connection NOT Perfection!

  • My name is Krishtiwan and I am from Kyrgyzstan and I believe in Connection NOT Perfection because I won’t be perfect in English so I am trying to enjoy it through Connection!
  • My name is Savio and I’m from Brazil. I believe in Connection NOT Perfection because the most important thing to me is to be understandable.
  • My name is Sarah and I’m from the Philippines. I believe in Connection NOT Perfection because the urge to connect always supersedes the  power of Perfection.
  • My name is Vivian and I’m from Brazil. I believe in Connection NOT Perfection because everyone is a single person. All of the people have something to teach and something to learn from others. It’s a knowledge exchange.
  • My name is Juan and I’m from Colombia. I believe in Connection NOT Perfection because the non-native speaker learns by making mistakes. For that reason I listen every day to AEE.

Listen to the episode to hear the rest of our listeners!

 

Other responses from our listeners:

  • Connection NOT Perfection is true!
  • It takes 1,000 mistakes to get things done
  • Connection is the only way to learn a language
  • The most important is to be understood and charismatic, not perfect
  • It’s the best way to make friends
  • It’s a matter of being understood
  • Whoever doesn’t communicate well loses time and money
  • Connection NOT Perfection works for me
  • In this life, nothing is perfect but a bunch of things can be connected
  • Connection is about people and people aren’t perfect
  • If I could speak perfect English I would have no reason to hear your nice voices
  • We are human and we make mistakes
  • Our imperfections keep us connected to each other
  • It was so much fun hearing our listeners’ voices today!

 

All Ears English is about much more than just learning English.

We want to create a metaphor for life so that we can get things done in the world and so that people can love us.

That’s why we believe in Connection NOT Perfection in English learning and in life.

Leave your comment from Episode 500!

What do you like about AEE? How can we improve the show?

 

 

**Announcement! From now on we will be publishing this podcast on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. We will no longer be publishing on Thursdays. You can check our back catalogue of episodes or our IELTS Energy You Tube channel.

The reason we are reducing the number of episodes per week is that we need more time to spend with the students in our course.

Our schedules are getting busy and our priority is the students in our course.

Keep listening to IELTS Energy on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday!

 

100% Score Increase Guarantee with our Insider Method

 

3 Keys IELTS courseAre you ready to move past IELTS and move forward with your life vision?

Find out why our strategies are the most powerful in the IELTS world.

When you use our Insider Method you avoid the BIGGEST MISTAKES that most students make on IELTS.

Click here to get a score increase on IELTS. It’s 100% guaranteed.

 

We think that Part 2 Speaking questions about experiences or events is the easiest question type because you need to tell a story.

It should be easy to tell a story and it will push your pronunciation higher because the story is close to your heart.

 

The strategy:

  • Be direct- say what the experience was
  • Say why you went there and why you did it
  • Get into the story of the event. Use these linking words: First, in the beginning, after that, next, in the following moments, etc

 

Listen to the model answers on the recording of Lindsay’s and Jessica’s experiences.

What questions do you have from today’s episode?

The student that we are talking about today got a 7 overall but a 6 in writing.

He made some very specific mistakes:

“My mistake during my last exam was: #1 I did my task 1 essay in more than 20 minutes. It took me 30 minutes to complete it. #2 I didn’t have enough time to re-check both of my essays. Guys, please make sure you don’t repeat the same mistake that I did.”

“Don’t forget to use all of the speaking tips given by Jessica and Lindsay. My examiner was quite shocked when I answered one of my speaking questions using “super cool and awesome.” The examiner smiled when she heard me say that. I think that set the tone of the speaking test and I got a 7 in speaking.”

-3 Keys IELTS Student

 

Timing!

For Task 1 you cannot spend more than 20 minutes.

In our course we help you practice timing.

Two weeks before the exam you must sit down at least 3 times per week for 1 hour and practice the timing.

If you don’t learn how to do the timing correctly during your practice then you won’t be able to do it on test day.

 

100% Score Increase Guarantee with our Insider Method

 

3 Keys IELTS courseAre you ready to move past IELTS and move forward with your life vision?

Find out why our strategies are the most powerful in the IELTS world.

When you use our Insider Method you avoid the BIGGEST MISTAKES that most students make on IELTS.

Click here to get a score increase on IELTS. It’s 100% guaranteed.

 

You have 2-0 minutes for Task 1 but:

  • 3-4 minutes to plan. If you are doing the General Exam letter for Task 1 you need specific ideas for each bullet point (4 minutes). In the academic exam make sure you look closely at the numbers and choose the important numbers to put into your essay. We show you how to do this in our course.
  • 12 minutes of writing
  • 3-4 minutes to check

 

Writing Task 2:

  • 5 minutes for brainstorming
  • 30 minutes to write the four paragraphs (if your teacher tells you that you should write five paragraphs then they don’t understand IELTS. Find a new teacher.)
  • 5 minutes to check your work to get the highest vocab and grammar scores

 

Each step is important because each step is linked to part of your score.

 

What should this student do?

Go through our strategies again in our course.

Sit down and practice timing using our strategies.

You should know what it feels like to produce an essay in 12 minutes.

 

What questions do you have from today?

Let us know in the comments below.

Got it?

Get it?

Good!

Today find out how to say that you understand in English!

“I want to know about “I got it” and “you got it.” I hear these phrases all of the time in movies and books and on your show but actually I am not sure how they are used. Are they casual or formal? Can I use them with my boss? Can I write them in an email or a letter?”

-Erico, AEE Listener

What does it mean to say “I got it” or “You got it”?

It means “you understand” or “I understand.”

A lot of times people say “I got it, I got it.”

They repeat the phrase twice.

Would you use it with your boss?

It depends on your company culture.

Most bosses would be ok with an employee saying “I got it” but you might not say to your boss “You got it” because that could sound condescending.

Listen to your colleagues and observe what phrases they are using.

What can you say when you understand something?

  • Got it
  • I got it
  • Ok
  • Right
  • Cool

More formal ways to say “I got it”:

  • I see
  • That makes sense
  • It makes sense now
  • It’s clear now

Other ways to say “you got it”:

  • That’s it
  • You got it
  • Exactly
  • Perfect!
  • Bingo!

Listen to the episode to hear Lindsay and Michelle using these expressions.

What questions do you have from today’s episode?

Let us know in the comments below.

Today get another 3 Keys IELTS Success story!

Find out how a 3 Keys Success System student got an 8.5 in Writing!

Get more detail on exactly how he did it with 3 Keys Power Hour and 3 Keys IELTS Online course.

This student was motivated!

What did he do right?

  • He followed the study plan and learned the strategies
  • He had a VIP session with Jessica.
  • He joined the Power Hour.
  • He worked with native speaking tutors online to implement the advice Jessica gave him.

We also know that he still had time to go surfing and live his life.

You have to be organized like this student. You cannot use random resources to achieve your goal.

He followed our daily IELTS study plan and did not waste his time

On IELTS Writing you are graded on:

  • Task achievement/task response
  • Grammar
  • Vocabulary
  • Cohesion/coherence

This student was already high level.

His grammar was already fantastic.

His vocabulary was already good but we had to work together to focus it.

He had to channel his good vocabulary to build his high score based on what the examiner wanted.

Get a 100% Score Increase Guarantee with our 3 Keys IELTS Insider Method

Are you ready to move past IELTS and move forward with your life vision?

Find out why our strategies are the most powerful in the IELTS world.

When you use our Insider Method you avoid the BIGGEST MISTAKES that most students make on IELTS.

Click here to get a score increase on IELTS. It’s guaranteed.

Our course can help you improve your overall fluency even in the 30-day study plan.

In our course you will not only improve your testing skills but you will also improve your overall English skills.

The danger of being a high level student:

The biggest thing we helped him with was focusing his ideas and connecting them to the question.

The biggest danger of being a high-level student is that you want to make things too complicated.

It’s hard to get across these complicated ideas in such a short essay.

We work with high level students to be more direct in their reasons and to only choose what they need for the essay so that they can get the score they deserve!

What questions do you have from today?

Let us know in the comments section below.

Today you’ll find out about two tricky false friends in English that will cause you to make mistakes with your English and confuse people you speak with.

You’ll learn about the difference between “sensible” and “sensitive” and as a bonus you’ll find out how to choose a romantic partner!

Here is the problem: the word “sensible” in Spanish and Portuguese means the same as “sensitive” in English.

But in English the word “sensible” means smart or logical.

It does not mean the same thing as “sensitive.”

The trouble words:

  • Sensible: Someone who thinks through things in a smart and logical way, to have a good head on one’s shoulders, to be logical, to be grounded, to be a planner
  • Sensitive: Emotional, a “softie,” you feel a lot, you have a lot of empathy, you wear your hear on your sleeve, to be in touch with your emotions

All Ears English TranscriptsMake sure you understand every word you hear on All Ears English.

Bring your English to the advanced level with new vocabulary and natural expressions.

Get the transcripts from today’s episode.

Click here to download them instantly.

How can you find the right life partner?

Would you rather date someone who is sensible or sensitive?

Listen to the episode to hear Lindsay’s and Michelle’s conversation about how to choose the ideal person.

Should it be someone who is more sensible or sensitive?

What do you think?

Which characteristic would you rather have in a partner?

Have you learned the trick to answering them?

Probably not, because it’s my trick! And, as far as I know, no other teacher uses this technique.

Let’s start with the basics.

In order to answer any IELTS Reading questions, including T/F/NG and Y/N/NG, you need 3 reading skills.

3 Skills for IELTS Reading

  • Skimming: Reading bits and pieces of the text for gist, or general understanding
  • Scanning: Using your pen or finger to find specific information, like names, numbers, and key words
  • Reading for Detail: Reading very carefully to understand meaning and/or find an answer

Strategy for Answering T/F/NG and Y/N/NG

Let’s get to it. We’ve discussed this strategy for answering T/F/NG and Y/N/NG IELTS Reading questions before on the podcast, so I’ll summarize the strategy here as well as provide you with some examples of how it works.

First, you have to use your imagination to conquer this strategy.

Imagine that the passage is one person, and the question is another person. They are trying to have a conversation with each other.

If the two people, or the passage and the question, are talking about the same thing and they agree, the answer is True or Yes.

If the two people are talking about the same thing but they disagree, the answer is False or No.

If the two people are not quite talking about the same thing, or a key piece of information is simply not there, the answer is Not Given.

Examples of the Strategy for T/F/NG and Y/N/NG

Example 1

Passage: Paul saw an increase in his salary. He decided to use his extra earnings to buy higher quality food for his family.

Question 1: Paul used his new salary to pay for transportation passes for his family.

Now, PUT IT INTO A CONVERSATION.

Person A: “Hey, did you hear that Paul is getting a higher salary? He is using the money to by better food for his family.”

Person B: “No he isn’t! He’s using his new salary for transportation passes!”

So, you can see that these two people are having a conversation, but they disagree. The answer is F or N.

Example 2

Passage: Health experts toured his neighborhood, surveying people between the ages of 12 and 62.

Question 2: Health experts from other countries came to visit Paul’s neighborhood.

Now, PUT IT INTO A CONVERSATION.

 

Person A: “Did you know that health experts came to his neighborhood?”

Person B: “Yeah. Health experts came from other countries.”

Do you see what’s missing? Person B is adding new information about where the health experts came from. Nothing about this is originally given in the passage. So, the answer is NG.

Example 3

Passage: The incidences of disease among the locals significantly decreased.

Question 3: The health of the villagers improved.

Now, PUT IT INTO A CONVERSATION.

 

Person A: “Hey! Did you know that the local people didn’t get sick as often?”

Person B: “Yeah. The health of the villagers got better.”

The two people are having a conversation, or are talking about the same thing, and they definitely agree. So, the answer is T or Y.

For more information about how to increase your Reading scores, listen to this podcast episode.

And, for more detailed strategies and a solid system for using the 3 skills to answer every question on the IELTS Reading exam, get into our IELTS course that is guaranteed to raise your score3 Keys IELTS. 

What do you think of today’s strategy?

Leave us a comment below!

Here is what the student told us:

 

“Before taking 3 Keys IELTS  I was quite uncomfortable with Listening Section 3 so I found a You Tube video in which a teacher said that it was better to review and mark the third section while listening to the introduction of the Listening Exam. DO NOT DO THAT!”

 

We think this strategy is ridiculous.  This strategy will not work.

The motto of our course and our materials is: Simply. Practice. Succeed.

We believe that simple is best.

This teacher did not simplify the Listening test for the student.

This example is proof that we cannot trust all online IELTS teachers.

Just because the person has a strategy to teach you does not mean that the strategy will work for you.

 

3 Keys IELTS courseAre you ready to move past IELTS and move forward with your life vision?

Find out why our strategies are the most powerful in the IELTS world.

When you use our Insider Method you avoid the BIGGEST MISTAKES that most students make on IELTS.

Click here to get a score increase on IELTS. It’s guaranteed.

 

Getting on the right track:

Next the student made a good decision.

He threw that strategy away and he joined our course.

You should NEVER try to out-think IELTS. That is what this teacher’s strategy tried to encourage.

Do what they say on the CD.

They say, “listen to the introduction” so you need to listen to it.

The introductions are important to open up your brain box and build context for what you are going to hear.

In our course we give you all of the steps and practice exercises that you need to follow our strategy.

Our strategies work and the proof is in our success stories like Cheryll and Nadya.

 

Make sure this doesn’t happen to you:

If you find a teacher online who offers a strategy then send them an email and ask for some numbers before you follow that strategy.

How many students have used these strategies and gotten a 7 or higher?

How many success stories do they have?

Don’t blindly trust something that you find online, especially if it’s free.

 

What questions do you have from today’s episode?

Let us know in the comments section below.

Why should you go out of your way to listen to this episode?

It’s because today you’ll learn a super useful English phrase and that phrase is “To go out of one’s way.”

You can use this expression to talk about the kindness of both strangers and friends.

What does it mean to “go out of one’s way?”

We use this when someone does something to help that is somewhat inconvenient for them.

It means to trouble yourself in order to help someone else.

We could also say, “to go above and beyond.”

 

native English teachersAre you looking for a professional, native English teacher online?

Get a native English teacher online in seconds at italki.

Lindsay and Michelle recommend italki as our #1 English-learning solution online. Choose from more than 400 teachers to work on your business English or to pass your next big exam.

Get our special offer before it runs out! Go to italki and claim 10USD to go toward a FREE second English lesson at italki!

 

Chunks that we use:

  • “Don’t go out of your way”
  • “I don’t want to make you go out of your way.”
  • “I went out of my way for her.”
  • “You really went out of your way to do this.”

 

Listen to the episode to hear stories of situations that Lindsay and Michelle have encountered when someone went out of their way for them.

Leave us your sample sentence in the comments.

Today let’s talk about how traditional classroom learning for IELTS is different from online IELTS learning.

If you follow the traditional path your learning situation and your results may be different from when you choose to follow an online course.

Let’s look at some of the differences.

 

Community:

If you are afraid that you won’t be motivated to study because you have to do it online by yourself then you don’t need to worry about that.

In our online IELTS course we have built an amazing community of students who support each other.

You may not find this with a traditional classroom.

If you take a traditional course in a language school you can’t really meet with your fellow students after class or ask them a quick question unless you plan it out every time.

With our course or other online courses you can usually ask a quick question and connect with someone in the Facebook group.

You CAN have a sense of community with an online course.

 

3 Keys IELTS courseAre you ready to move past IELTS and move forward with your life vision?

Find out why our strategies are the most powerful in the IELTS world.

When you use our Insider Method you avoid the BIGGEST MISTAKES that most students make on IELTS.

Click here to get a score increase on IELTS.

We guarantee a score increase or you get 100% of your money back.

Click here to enroll now!

 

Extra help from the teacher:

In many online courses you can always get your questions answered by the teacher when you need it.

We have 3 Keys Power Hour where you can join other students and get feedback on your speaking or writing.

You can ask a question in Facebook.

You can also schedule a private VIP session.

When you are in a traditional school you may not be able to get extra time from the teacher outside of the class even if you need it.

 

A smarter use of your time:

In traditional schools you spend your classroom time listening to lectures.

This is a big waste of time.

In online IELTS preparation you listen to the lectures through video on your own time, whenever you want.

When you actually meet with Jessica, our IELTS professional and other students in our course you maximize your time because you practice what you have learned in the video lectures.

Online IELTS preparation is the best way to learn for a smart adult when time pressure matters.

 

You get structure:

In our course you get a 30 or 60-day study plan where each day is scheduled out and we tell you exactly what lectures and test practice to do inside our course AND we give you one outside activity to improve your general fluency outside of our course each day.

You need this because you won’t get the score you need if you don’t have the general fluency.

 

If you have questions about our online course then email Lindsay@allearsenglish.com

 

Let us know if you have any questions in the comment section below.

On one of our surveys we ask our listeners “how did you find our website?”

Most people say they found us through Google or You Tube but once in a while someone will say “Great!”

Some people are confused by this question.

If you respond to this question by saying great then you think we are asking you for your opinion.

We don’t usually use “How do you find ___?” to ask for an opinion.

It’s kind of old fashioned.

There are more modern, current ways to ask for an opinion.

 

All Ears English TranscriptsMake sure you understand every word you hear on All Ears English.

Bring your English to the advanced level with new vocabulary and natural expressions.

Get the transcripts from today’s episode.

Click here to download them instantly.

 

How to ask how someone found something:

  • Who told you about us?
  • How did you come across our site?
  • How did you hear about us?

 

How to ask for opinions about something:

  • What do you think of ____?
  • What do you think about _____?
  • How are you finding _____?
  • What are your thoughts on _____?
  • Any thoughts on ______?

 

What questions do you have from today’s episode?

Let us know in the comments section below.

It’s not easy to fill the two minutes.

You need to go out and have experiences to be able to come up with topics.

Today we’ll talk about how to describe objects in Speaking Part 2.

This is the hardest Part 2 question. This question is coming up more and more often on the exam.

We’ll give you an easy framework today so that you can get the highest possible score in this part of the test.

 

Get a 100% Score Increase Guarantee with our Insider Method

3 Keys IELTS course

Are you ready to move past IELTS and move forward with your life vision?

Find out why our strategies are the most powerful in the IELTS world.

When you use our Insider Method you avoid the BIGGEST MISTAKES that most students make on IELTS.

Click here to get a score increase on IELTS. It’s guaranteed.

 

The formula for object Speaking Part 2 questions:

1- Describe what it looks like

2- Describe how you use it and why you use it

3- Include a story that is connected to a person experience with the object

 

Question: Describe an expensive thing you want to own

Answer: Please listen to the audio to get Lindsay’s answer.

Let’s look at the strategies of Lindsay’s answer.

Vocabulary: The vocabulary was good because it was very specific

  • Zippy little hatchback
  • No frills
  • No add-ons

*These were easy to use because she described the car first.

Grammar: She used very high level and natural grammar constructions. You should write these down!

  • At some point I want to get this…
  • The reason I am thinking about this is….

 

Question: Describe something you bought but you never used

Answer: Please listen to the episode to get Jessica’s sample answer.

Vocabulary:

  • If my eyes fall on….
  • Infommercial
  • Smoothies

Another strategy: She also did a great job with specific details in describing how the object is used.

 

Now go and practice your answers to Speaking Part 2.

Join our course if you want to practice them in Power Hour.

Today find out how to check in with your friend in English and find out if they still want to go through with the plans that you have made.

Sometimes when you make plans you need to figure out if people still want to follow through with those plans when the day approaches.

However, you want to choose the right phrases to not pressure your friends and to get a sense of what they really want to do.

Today we’ll show you how.

 

Advanced business English course charisma communication skillsMove from Awkward to Charismatic in English in Less than 30 Days.

Become a charismatic English speaker.

Get more popular and well-liked at work.

Build better business relationships.

Use our special Charisma Equation!

Click here to enroll in this advanced English course now.

 

Phrases to Feel Out Plans:

  • “So what are we thinking for tomorrow?”- this phrase gives the sense that you are collaborating with the person on the plan.
  • “Still up for New Hampshire tomorrow?”
  • “Any thoughts on ___ tomorrow?”

 

Please listen to the role play between Lindsay and Michelle to see how these phrases are used naturally.

Leave us your questions in the comments section.

Thanks for listening to today’s episode!

Scanning is your best strategy!

Today get 3 ways to find IELTS reading answers quickly using our scanning strategies.

When it comes to skills like scanning you need to practice them over and over again.

If you are in our course then you can practice these skills in our system.

“When I do reading practice I get really worried because I cannot find the key words in the passage and it’s really difficult to remember the key words to find the answers.”

This comes down to scanning.

Remember that scanning is NOT reading.

We are not reading. We are just looking for information.

If you are looking at a train or a movie schedule then you don’t look at every movie at every time. You may only be looking for one specific movie. Your eyes drift over the information until you see what you are looking for.

 

100% Score Increase Guarantee with our Insider Method

 

3 Keys IELTS courseAre you ready to move past IELTS and move forward with your life vision?

Find out why our strategies are the most powerful in the IELTS world.

When you use our Insider Method you avoid the BIGGEST MISTAKES that most students make on IELTS.

Click here to get a score increase on IELTS. It’s 100% guaranteed.

 

 

How can this student solve her reading problem?

She needs to choose the way that she wants to scan based on what is comfortable for her.

Here are the three ways to scan:

  • Method #1: Drift over each line from left to right. Use your finger or pen and follow each line. You are not reading. You are looking for a picture. Drift over each line looking for the key word. You don’t do it over the whole passage. The answers are in order for a lot of the question types.

 

  • Method #2: Go from right to left with your finger or your pen. Don’t just use your eyes. Put your finger or pen at the end of the first line on the right. This tricks your brain to realize that you are not reading but you are scanning.

 

  • Method #3: Put your finger in the middle of the line. Move your finger straight down the middle of the paragraph. Let your eyes drift from right to left and left to right.

 

Practicing this is the only way to find out which scanning strategy is right for you.

In our course we have a whole lesson just on this skill so that you can figure out which method is right for you.

 

What questions do you have from today’s episode?

Let us know in the comments below.

When we hear this phrase it sounds a little bit formal. It’s not something to use all of the time.

It is better for business meetings and presentations in a more formal atmosphere.

It feels stiff when we use it in social and casual contexts. It could put distance between you and the person you are speaking with because it may tell the person that you want to keep things formal.

What does “in terms of” mean?

  • “Regarding…”
  • “Concerning …”
  • “In relation to ….”
  • As measured by …”

It can be used as a nice transition to move on to a new topic in a business meeting.

When it’s your turn to speak you can say “In terms of ….” and then you can expand on the topic that you want to talk about.

All Ears English TranscriptsMake sure you understand every word you hear on All Ears English.

Get the transcripts from today’s episode so that you can start to speak more naturally.

Click here to download them instantly.

More casual phrases to use instead of “in terms of”:

  • As far as a good kind of dog food, we could choose this one or that one”
  • “What do you want to do about dinner?”
  • “What do you want to do for dinner?”

*Listen to the conversation between Lindsay and Michelle about how to use “in terms of” when you ask about responsibilities when it comes to taking care of a dog.

Bonus phrasal verb:

To take off: This means to leave. You can use it casually when you say that you are leaving a place.

Please leave your sample sentences in the comments section below.

How would you use this phrases? Let us know.

When you invite someone for a day of hiking or a trip to the beach you might want to do in a way that doesn’t put pressure on them.

It’s not always good to use a formal invitation such as “would you like to ….”

Today get six easy and breezy ways to invite someone in a low pressure way in English.

 

 

All Ears English TranscriptsMake sure you understand every word you hear on All Ears English.

Bring your English to the advanced level with new vocabulary and natural expressions.

Get the transcripts from today’s episode.

Click here to download them instantly.

 

Phrases to invite someone casually:

  • “Hey how about some hiking?”
  • “Is anyone up for hiking on Sunday?” or “Anyone up for hiking on Sunday?”
  • “Let’s go mountain biking on Saturday. What do you say?”
  • “What do you think about a weekend trip to the White Mountains?”
  • “Do you want to go see a concert?”

 

Write out your practice sentences and leave them in the comments section below!

Let us know your questions from this episode.

On IELTS Speaking Part 2 you might be asked to describe a place.

Last week we did an episode about describing people in Speaking Part 2.

The strategy for describing a person was:

  • Talk about what they look like
  • Describe their personality
  • Tell a story about the person

Today we’ll talk about a strategy for describing places which is another common Speaking Part 2 question.

Here is your framework for describing a place:

  • Step 1: Describe how you get there or how you got there if you’ve only been there once and why you went there.
  • Step 2: Describe what it looks like. This should be organized. If you are describing a place then organize it from the front to the back door.
  • Step 3: Tell a story about what you did there.

Score Increase Guaranteed with 3 Keys IELTS Online Course

Are you ready to move past IELTS and move forward with your life vision?

Find out why our strategies are the most powerful in the IELTS world.

When you use our Insider Method you avoid the BIGGEST MISTAKES that most students make on IELTS.

Click here to get a score increase on IELTS. It’s guaranteed.

Listen to Lindsay and Jessica use this framework to describe places in Speaking Part 2.

Leave your questions in the comment section.

Have you experienced these, and felt a little lost? A tad confused? A bit unsure?

Not after today!

You can listen to a recent episode about IELTS mixed question types and the strategy to answer them, and then you can come back and read this article for more detailed examples.

3 Essay Types

Probably since the beginning of IELTS, oh so long ago, IELTS teachers and textbooks have taught you that there are 3 different essays you need to master.

The belief up until recently was that you could use one of these three to tackle every IELTS Task 2 essay question.

These 3 essays are:

  • Argument– Discuss both sides of an issue and give your opinion.
  • Thesis or Opinion– Mostly discuss your opinion, choosing one side. You still must acknowledge the other side, though.
  • Problem/Solution– Discuss the causes/effects/solutions of a problem.

As of this year, however, there have been more questions which do not fully fit in just one of these essay categories.

Examples of IELTS Task 2 Mixed Questions

People use the Internet for medical advice and to do medical check ups rather than directly meeting with doctors in an office.

Why are they using the Internet for this?

Discuss your viewpoints on this.

In order to answer this question completely, and get a high score on Task Achievement, you have to combine the essay strategies of Problem/Solution and Opinion.

If you see an IELTS Task 2 question like this, which presents an issue followed by two questions or two instructions, simply answer the first question/instruction in paragraph 2 and the second in paragraph 3.

So, to tackle this essay, you will discuss the causes of people seeking medical advice online in paragraph 2, and in paragraph 3 you will write about your opinion on this trend.

 How realistic is job satisfaction for all workers? 

Give your opinion on this and discuss the solutions.

This is a question similar to one found in the Cambridge IELTS practice test books. We discussed it in this lively and informative episode.

Again, you should approach this is in a clear and organized way. The simplest organization is always the best!

In paragraph 2, you will give your opinion on the likelihood that all workers can be satisfied in their jobs. (Impossible!)

Then in paragraph 3, you will discuss solutions to this lack of job satisfaction.

Some people feel that we are wasting our money in the Space Race. We need to spend money on earth.

Do you agree or disagree with this?

This was an IELTS Task 2 question from one of the Power Hour classes in our online course, 3 Keys IELTS.

In this question, we do not see two separate questions or instructions. This is a tough one!

So, we turn instead to the beginning of the question to help us organize our ideas and our essay. There are two different issues in the question.

Therefore, in paragraph 2 you should write about your opinion on whether or not we are wasting our money in the Space Race, and in paragraph 3 you should give your opinion on needing to spend the money on Earth.

More resources for mastering IELTS Writing Task 2

To find out the most simple, high-scoring Task 2 essay outline, watch this video.

 


 

Also, listen to this episode for high-level, academic linking words to use in your IELTS Task 2 essay.

What did you think of today’s advice? Have you seen mixed questions like these on the IELTS exam?

Write us a note in the comments section below!

 

Today we answer Kate’s question about how we use “by the time” and you’ll see three examples of how we use it in native conversation.

We are now offering the Premium Transcripts from this week’s episodes.

Click here to get them.

Here is Kate’s question:

“Greetings from Thailand! I am Kate and my English skills aren’t too good.

You both are my inspiration to learn an American accent. I have a grammar question to ask you both.

How do I use “by the time” in spoken and written English.

I hope to hear it soon on the podcast.”

-Kate, Thailand

Three situations where we use “by the time”:

  • It’s used for something that happened on or before a specific time that something else occurred.
    • “By the time I got to work I had already finished my coffee.”
    • “By the time we started recording today Michelle had already taught for two hours.”
  • It’s used when we talk about expectations or visions for the future
    • “By the time I am 35 I will have met the love of my life.”
    • “By the time I talk to you next I will have already traveled to India”
  • It’s used when we expect something to be completed by a certain point
    • “By the time you get home dinner will be ready.”
    • “By the time I see you next you will already be married.”

All Ears English Transcripts

Make sure you understand every word you hear on All Ears English.

Get the transcripts from today’s episode and become a natural English speaker 50% faster!

Using the Premium Transcripts is the single most effective way to become fluent with All Ears English.

Click here to download them instantly.

Do we use “by the time” in writing?

We might use it in a novel or in a journal.

You could apply this in a business context.

What do you envision for your life in the future?

Leave a comment below using “by the time.”

These idioms will help you when you get IELTS Speaking questions about health.

These health, nutrition, and fitness questions are common on the IELTS on the Writing and Speaking tests.

However the idioms that you’ll learn today will be better for speaking because they will be more casual.

 

Health Idioms:

  • “I’m not feeling like myself today.” We use this phrase when we feel slightly off. It could be a physical feeling or when something doesn’t feel right emotionally.

 

  • “I am draggin’ (dragging) a bit” : We use this when we feel a low level of energy.

 

  • “I go from boiling one minute to freezing the next”: This grammar structure would score you points on the speaking or on the writing test.  Check out this episode about how to exaggerate on the speaking test.

 

  • “To break out in a sweat” or “To break out in a rash”: We can use this when a condition first appears in or on our body.

 

  • “There is something going around” or “There is a bug going around”: This means that a cold or flu is being spread around your school, your neighborhood, or your city.

 

 

3 Keys IELTS courseAre you ready to move past IELTS and move forward with your life vision?

Find out why our strategies are the most powerful in the IELTS world.

When you use our Insider Method you avoid the BIGGEST MISTAKES that most students make on IELTS.

Click here to get a score increase on IELTS.

We guarantee a score increase or you get 100% of your money back.

 

 

If you are looking for a way to score extra points on the IELTS Speaking test you could make up a story and tell the examiner that you are sick using one of these idioms.

Click here to learn more about making up stories on the exam.

 

What questions do you have from today’s episode?

Let us know in the comments below.

IMG_4585-20(1)

Today you’ll get a 3-step framework for succeeding on the Speaking part of the TOEFL Exam.

Vicky is our guest today. She is one of the most popular teachers on italki.

Vicky focuses on TOEFL because she knows that a lot of students struggle with the speaking part of the test and she wants to help them achieve their dreams here in the US.

Vicky’s tips:

  • When you get a question you need to change that question into a statement to summarize what has been asked.
  • You need to only use the words that you hear in the question in your statement. This will help you to stick with the main idea and it will increase your score.
  • You need to use 3 details to explain the statement that you make and to support your answer.

These 3 tips apply to any question on the TOEFL speaking test.

The main idea is the most important part of your score.

Many students have a hard time figuring out the main idea or they will veer off into other topics.

This framework keeps you on the main idea.

 

The tips could even work in everyday English conversation.

 

Here is an example:

Q: Would you rather have a dog or a cat and why?

A: I would rather have a dog because A, B, C

 

All Ears English TranscriptsMake sure you understand every word you hear on All Ears English.

Bring your English to the advanced level with new vocabulary and natural expressions.

Get the transcripts from today’s episode.

Click here to download them instantly.

 

 

Vicky’s Bio:

Vicky Rivera has a Bachelor’s in Education and a Master’s in Education.  She was a full-time teacher in the public schools for 11 years and after that has been an online teacher for 2 1/2 years for italki.  She has an ESL endorsement to teach students from other countries.  She is also a Reading Specialist.  She is currently learning Spanish and Chinese.

 

How to work with Vicky:

  • Step 1: Register here to get a $10 credit for free after you buy your first lesson
  • Step 2: Find Vicky at http://www.italki.com/?ref=1325204 or search for “Vicky Rivera” in the search bar

 

What questions do you have for Vicky today?

Let us know in the comments below.

Get tips on how to answer two common Writing Task 2 questions that don’t fall into the problem/solution category or the opinion category.

These days in our private Facebook group students are asking questions about essay topics and questions that they find when the question doesn’t fall into any specific category.

Here is the first essay question that our students asked us about:

“People use the Internet for medical advice and to do medical check ups rather than directly meeting with doctors in an office.

Why are they using the Internet for this?

Discuss your viewpoints on this.”

 

Our students wanted to know if this is an opinion question or another kind of question.

This is more of a problem/solution essay.

You need to focus on directly answering the questions in each paragraph.

Paragraph 1: Causes of this phenomenon. It’s important to add specific examples.

Paragraph 2: Your opinion on this issue. Be specific and direct. Use examples to support your point of view.

 

*Any time there are two questions such as “what are the causes and what are the solutions?” you can always answer question 1 in paragraph 2 and question 2 in paragraph 3.

These mixed question types are not as hard as you think!

You have to make things clear and simple.

That’s what gets you a higher grade.

In our course we give you a specific system to answer these questions.

 

3 Keys IELTS courseAre you ready to move past IELTS and move forward with your life vision?

Find out why our strategies are the most powerful in the IELTS world.

When you use our Insider Method you avoid the BIGGEST MISTAKES that most students make on IELTS.

Click here to get a score increase on IELTS. It’s guaranteed.

 

Make sure you don’t overthink things on the IELTS especially when it comes to Writing.

This often happens to students that are highly intelligent and have a high level of English.

 

What questions do you have from today’s episode?

Let us know in the comments below.

Today find out how to take two English phrasal verbs to get more casual in English. By the way, remember that you can get the transcripts from today’s episode here.

Sometimes in English we can make a verb a phrasal verb and it will become more casual.

Today we’ll talk about these verbs:

  • Listen
  • Look

All Ears English TranscriptsMake sure you understand every word you hear on All Ears English.

Get the transcripts from today’s episode.

Click here to download them instantly.

 

What happens when we change these verbs to phrasal verbs?

  • Listen up: It becomes more casual and less serious or less stern. When we use “listen!” to get someone’s attention we are showing that we are starting to get irritated and we don’t have much patience left. When we say “Listen up!” we might be saying this to a large group of people in a casual and less serious way.
  • Look out: When someone says this to you it means that you should be careful. You may be in danger and there might be something heading toward you.

Listen to the episode to hear how Lindsay and Michelle use these phrasal verbs in a real English conversation.

Leave us your sample sentences in the comments below.

Thanks for listening today!

Katerina croppedToday you’ll get another 3 Keys success story.

You’ll hear how a new mom move up to an 8.5 in IELTS Reading.

You’ll find out how Katerina has juggled her time to prepare for the exam and to achieve this awesome score.

Katerina had never taken the IELTS before.

She wanted to take the exam so that she would be able to go abroad one day.

She found 3 Keys IELTS and fell in love with it.

She loved the road map/study plan in the course.

She chose the 60-day schedule.

She stuck to the schedule and did everything that was on the road map.

She didn’t need any other information or assignments.

 

*Advice from Katerina

“Concentrate during the exam.

Leave your thoughts behind and concentrate on your answer sheet.

You must focus to get the best possible score.

Leave everything else behind.

Be present in the moment.?

 

What were her scores?

  • Reading: 8.5
  • Listening: 7.5
  • Writing: 6.5
  • Speaking: 6.0

 

How did she get 8.5 in reading? There are 3 things that helped her get this score:

  • She knew what would be the most difficult part of the test (Y, N, NG) and Matching Headings. She focused on these two parts and she practiced a lot. She understood exactly how to find the right answers because she used our study plan. She thinks that without doing our course she wouldn’t have been able to answer these questions. In our course after students do the practice exercises you get another video to see why the answers are what they are.

 

  • She did a lot of extra reading practice. She had extra time after finishing the 60-day schedule. She divided the three weeks into 4 sections focusing on speaking, reading, writing, and listening. She was looking for material that was useful. She used newspapers three times per week and she is continuing to read as much as possible now, even after the exam.

 

  • She used advice that she got in the course. She learned in the course that if you don’t have the answer right away you should skip ahead and then go back later.

 

  • She left time to check. She marked difficult questions that she wasn’t sure about. In the last 5 minutes she went back to those questions and was able to figure out the correct answer.

3-Keys-IELTS-Box-Shot-900px- OPTIMIZED FOR WEB- smaller version

Are you ready to move past IELTS and move forward with your life vision?

Find out why our strategies are the most powerful in the IELTS world.

When you use our Insider Method you avoid the BIGGEST MISTAKES that most students make on IELTS.

Click here to get a score increase on IELTS. It’s 100% guaranteed.

 

 

The message from Katerina:

Time! You need a study plan. Our study plan in 3 Keys IELTS is working right now for hundreds of students and it also worked for Katerina. You need to organize your time with the study plan.

You also need to trust our strategies on the Reading exam that you learn in our course

 

What comments do you have from today’s episode?

Let us know in the comments!

Did you know there are simple steps you can take to do this immediately?

Many students make long, long lists of vocabulary words and phrases that they find in native speaker materials, such as newspapers and movies.

Although this is a great strategy for learning more words, students often do not use these lists correctly. So, while they are spending hours in compiling excellent vocabulary, they are not actually learning these words, let alone using them on the exam.

Today, I met with a student enrolled in our online IELTS course, 3 Keys IELTS, and I helped him to develop a strategy that he could employ mere hours before his Speaking exam to increase his IELTS Speaking Vocabulary scores.

Let’s be smarter about our practice and preparation!

Step 1: Make a list

Now, I know I just told you that lists don’t help. What I should have said is long lists don’t help!

First of all, you need a list of words that could be employed almost anywhere on the exam.

Think of how often you say “very” or “good” or “bad”.

Simply replacing these oft-used words will help to push your score to a 7 or higher for vocabulary, especially if you are using a variety of interesting adverbs and adjectives to replace them.

Watch this video for interesting, high-scoring adverbs that can take the place of “very”.

 

 

You should make two lists, and keep them both short! We can’t memorize and use 50 words at a time!

  • Write down 3-4 interesting, native-speaker like ways to say very, good and bad. Also, add 3-4 more topic-specific words/phrases/idioms for topics that are likely to come up on the IELTS Speaking exam.

For example, you should add 7+ vocabulary for topics of travel (like wanderlust), school (like cover a lot of ground), and health/exercise/free-time (like swagger).

  • Also, in Speaking Part 3, using a variety of high-level linking words will not only improve your Vocabulary scores, but also your Fluency and Coherence scores.

For example, many students use easy linking words, and all the examiner hears is, “and, and, because, because.” Don’t be that student!

Make a list of 3 linking words/phrases that you can use for the three most common linking functions, taking the place of and, but and because.

Step 2: Use the list while you practice

Obviously, simply writing down a list of words is not going to help you miraculously produce them on test day!

So, while you are practicing your answers for a variety of IELTS Speaking questions, use the list you just made. Literally stare at it while you speak, and force yourself to use as many of the words as you can.

One extra tip for the IELTS Speaking exam: speak more slowly than you do normally.

This will help give you time to think of vocabulary to use, and it will also allow you to draw out more interesting intonation and stress, raising your IELTS Pronunciation score.

 

Step 3: Practice! Repeat! Repeat!

Now that you have practiced using the vocabulary words that will increase your IELTS Speaking scores, you must make sure that you have learned them and can actually produce them on exam day.

Answer the same IELTS Speaking questions that you did in Step 2; however, this time, do not have the list in front of you.

Try to remember all the new words you have learned, and remember it’s OK to speak a little more slowly than usual while you search your memory for them!

What did you think of today’s strategy for increasing your IELTS Vocabulary scores?

Leave us a message in the comments section below!

We had a great question from a student in our course:

If I notice a mistake when I am speaking on the speaking test is it better to let it go or correct myself?

 

Our answer:

Yes! Definitely correct yourself. Native speakers do this all of the time. Using native-like phrases to correct yourself such as “Oh sorry I meant to say: ….”

 

Phrases to use to correct yourself:

  • Say the wrong phrase and then say “Or,….”
  • “Oh I am sorry. I mean…”
  • “Oh that’s not what I mean. I mean….”

 

3-Keys-IELTS-Box-Shot-900px- OPTIMIZED FOR WEB- smaller versionAre you ready to move past IELTS and move forward with your life vision?

Find out why our strategies are the most powerful in the IELTS world.

When you use our Insider Method you avoid the BIGGEST MISTAKES that most students make on IELTS.

Click here to get a score increase on IELTS. It’s guaranteed.

 

 

Another student question:

On Speaking parts 2 and 3 is it better to stop yourself talking or to have an examiner stop you?

 

Our answer:

In Speaking part 2 you should not stop talking.

You need to prove your fluency in this part.

A big part of your fluency score happens in this part of the test.

Keep talking!

The examiner expects to stop you.

 

In Speaking Part 3 it’s 4-5 minutes.

The examiner wants to ask you 4-6 questions.

You’ll make the examiners job harder if you make them stop you for every answer.

Show your fluency in Speaking Part 2 as we discussed above but in Speaking Part 3 you need to be more controlled.

In our course we give you a simple structure for Speaking Part 3 answers.

 

What questions do you have from today’s episode?

Let us know in the comments below.

James Weber italki ESL teacher

Do you have wanderlust?

Today you’ll meet our guest who has spent years traveling and learning languages without spending much money at all.

Find out why traveling and learning English is not as far out of your reach as you might think it is.

James is currently in New Zealand and he feels as if he is learning a new language even though they speak English in New Zealand because when he is on the phone he has to ask people to repeat.

He has a hard time understanding the accent.

James has been traveling off and on for the last nine years.

He recommends Peru, Japan, and Argentina.

James wants to show us how easy it is to find people around the world who can offer you work and host you.

He is going to offer 3 ideas to do it today.

 

All Ears English TranscriptsMake sure you understand every word you hear on All Ears English.

Get the transcripts from today’s episode.

Click here to download them instantly.

 

James’ tips for traveling and learning English “on the cheap”:

  • Choose your region or country: Europe is a great place to learn English because a lot of Europeans speak English well and you are likely to meet volunteers from around the world. Your common language with other international travelers will be English.

 

  • Try wwoofing: On this site you contact a host or owner of an organic farm and offer to work on location in exchange for room and board. James went to France to bake bread for a month. Normally you work 3-4 hours per day. A lot of farmers look for people during the high season.

 

  • Anticipate and start conversations with people you meet: You need to take the active role in this. It’s easy to travel and not talk to people around us. Get prepared in your mind before you go. Think of the types of conversations you’re going to have. People will ask you about your family, your country, your hobbies, etc.Traveling when you have a specific goal is not always meant to be comfortable. Step out of your comfort zone and start some conversations.

 

  • Try HELPX: Unlike wwoofing this is not limited to farming. You could find work taking care of people’s kids or many other jobs that you might enjoy.

 

**If you are ready to plan your trip and you need some help or if you want to prepare phrases and new vocabulary words for your trip, James is your best possible teacher.

Find out how to work with below.

 

James’ Bio:

James Weber is a world traveler from Wisconsin in the United States.  He has baked, cycled, taught and gardened his way across more than 15 countries.  He is currently in New Zealand climbing mountains and teaching English on italki.

 

How to Work with James:

Step 1: Register here for $10 off your second lesson

Step 2: Find James’ profile here

You’ll hear about the biggest mistake you might make on this part of the test and what you should do instead.

When examiners think about your score they start at a 6 before you say anything.

It’s up to you to move them above a 6.

You need to set yourself apart to get that 6.

Part of doing this is having a culture of thinking.

Aline is doing this. Go back to Episode 214 to find out how she is doing this by reading the newspaper every day.

Today we’ll look at an email we got from a listener.

The listener said:

“Since my childhood writing essays in my native language has been difficult. That is my weakest part. Some guys suggest that I learn good essays by heart which received a score of 9. I am planning to follow that suggestion but I don’t know whether this helps me or not.”

 

We disagree with the advice of memorizing essays.

There is no chance that you’ll get the same question. It’s a complete waste of time.

Topics are recycled but specific questions are not recycled.

It makes NO sense to memorize an essay.

 

3-Keys-IELTS-Box-Shot-900px- OPTIMIZED FOR WEB- smaller versionAre you ready to move past IELTS and move forward with your life vision?

Find out why our strategies are the most powerful in the IELTS world.

When you use our Insider Method you avoid the BIGGEST MISTAKES that most students make on IELTS.

Click here to get a score increase on IELTS. It’s guaranteed.

 

 

What happens if an examiner sees a memorized response?

You’ll score will be very low.

NEVER memorize an entire essay.

 

Can you memorize linking words and structure?

YES! You MUST do this.

In our course we have the four paragraph essay template.

It has the linking words you need to hit the 7 or higher for cohesion and coherence.

This makes your study plan much easier.

 

Let’s make sure this is clear: We are not talking about memorizing an essay.

We are talking about memorizing a structure and some linking words and transition phrases.

 

You need to trust a strategy like ours if you want to see success.

 

What questions do you have from today?

Let us know in the comments below.

Today you’ll learn about the word “actually” and how it can be one of the most dynamic words in the English language.

“I have been doing classes twice per week and during one of those classes I was talking about my current job and I said my “actual” job and my teacher corrected me. What should I have said?”

-Rodolfo, AEE Listener

Rodolfo fell into the trap of using “actually” as a false friend.

Rodolfo is from Brazil and tried to translate directly from his native language.

Today we want to show you what “actually” really means in English.

This word is super dynamic.

The best way to learn how to use it is to listen to native speakers.

We use it all of the time. If you can start using it naturally in the situations that we’ll show you today you will push your English to the advanced level.

All Ears English TranscriptsMake sure you understand every word you hear on All Ears English.

Get the transcripts from today’s episode.

Click here to download them instantly.

The important thing to remember is that “actually” DOES NOT mean “currently.”

Situations to use “actually”:

  • To disagree: “He thinks I am an expert in Spanish but actually I am only a beginner” or “He thinks I am an expert but I am only a beginner actually.”
  • To emphasize changing your mind: “Let’s grab a beer on Wednesday. Oh actually I have something on Wednesday. Let’s meet on Thursday”
  • To show surprise: “Can you believe he actually passed the test. He didn’t study at all.”
  • To add more information: “I met a funny guy on my hike. He reminded me of my friend John actually”

Other ways to say “now”:

  • At the moment
  • At this point
  • At this time
  • Up to this point

Other words that mean “actually”:

  • On second thought
  • In fact
  • The truth is
  • In reality
  • Also

Listen to the episode to hear the conversation between Lindsay and Michelle.

Leave us your sample sentences in the comments below.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAToday find out how Aline’s story will inspire you to jump two IELTS Writing band points!

You’ll hear the story of how she won the 3 Keys Writing Wizard contest.

Aline is working on her PhD so she is incredibly busy.

She is using our study plan with the 3 Keys IELTS course.

This has helped her get much more organized.

Before she entered our course she was not focused and she was using different textbooks.

She was headed in the wrong direction.

She says that the study plan has not only motivated her and organized her plan but it has improved her overall English.

 

3-Keys-IELTS-Box-Shot-900px- OPTIMIZED FOR WEB- smaller versionAre you ready to move past IELTS and move forward with your life vision?

Find out why our strategies are the most powerful in the IELTS world.

When you use our Insider Method you avoid the BIGGEST MISTAKES that most students make on IELTS.

Click here to get a score increase on IELTS. It’s guaranteed.

 

Aline was our first winner in our 3 Keys Writing Wizard Contest.

We were excited that she won because she has been enrolling in the Power Hour classes every month which is another opportunity to get feedback on Writing and Speaking for members of our course.

If we look at the first essay we ever saw from Aline and we compare it with her Writing Wizard essay we can see that she has improved by two whole band points.

In the Power Hours she got specific advice on how to get better at her writing and to correct her mistakes.

Aline also worked hard by using the strategies and doing plenty of practice exercises and practice tests.

 

What other habits have helped Aline?

She reads the newspaper in English every single day.

She is improving her vocabulary and grammar by doing this.

She is also becoming a better writing by reading the paper daily.

She is also getting great ideas for the Writing and Speaking test.

Aline said that she feels confident now about any question she might get because she has opinions and can provide examples from the real world.

She has built a culture of thinking for herself.

 

What else has she been doing?

She used the templates that she got in the course and memorized them.

These templates include linking words that will give you the score you need.

Next she applied the template through practice essays.

 

We are confident that Aline will get her 7 or higher, especially in her Writing.

Good luck Aline and congratulations on your hard work!

 

What questions do you have from today’s episode?

Let us know in the comments below.

Olly Richards I Will Teach You a Language

Today you’ll meet a polyglot who speaks 8 languages.

Our guest Olly Richards will show you what you need to do to move to the next level if you are stuck at the intermediate level of English.

Olly started learning new languages when he was 18 years old. He started with French when he was working at a cafe in London.

Olly’s tips on how to move beyond the intermediate level:

 

  • #1: You MUST speak. This can be the hardest thing to do but if you want to be able to speak you have to learn through speaking. Find a language partner or a tutor. Olly has participated in language exchanges while learning all 8 of his languages. It’s best to speak the target language at least 3 or 4 times per week.

 

  • #2: Have a fixed time every day to study. Many people look for a secret trick or “hack” for learning English but learning a language is not about special tips and tricks. You need to work hard every day and do the right things. Set aside a specific time every day to study English for about 45 minutes.

 

  • #3: Make English a part of your life. Ask yourself what you like in your own language. Do you like to go salsa dancing? Do you do yoga? Do you read anime? Olly suggests that you go and do those same things in English. When you do this you start to “live in English” and you connect your emotions and your heart.

All Ears English Transcripts

Make sure you understand every word you hear on All Ears English.

Get the transcripts from today’s episode.

Click here to download them instantly.

 

 

Olly’s Bio:

Olly Richards is from the UK, and speaks 8 languages. He is the founder of the popular website I Will Teach You A Language, a best-selling author, and runs language workshops around the world. You can also check out his language podcast on iTunes!”
 
Twtitter: @Olly_IWTYAL
What did you think about today’s interview?
Let us know in the comments below.

nadyabellasophia_peaToday find out how Nadya moved from a 6 to a 7.5 band score on her IELTS with 3 Keys IELTS Success System.

Nadya joined 3 Keys IELTS because she was inspired by our other success stories like Pedro and Renata.

Nadya came into the course with an overall score of 6.

After she took our course she got the following scores:

Listening: 7.5

Speaking: 8

Writing: 6

Reading: 8

———–

Overall: 7.5

 

How did she do it?

 

Reading

In the course she got the reading tip that she should not try to understand every single thing in the reading passages.

You don’t need to understand every word.

It’s all about timing.

You must have the strategies and practice them.

This is what Nadya did.

She also moved on to easier questions and just took a guess on the ones that she didn’t understand.

 

3-Keys-IELTS-Box-Shot-900px- OPTIMIZED FOR WEB- smaller versionAre you ready to move past IELTS and move forward with your life vision?

Find out why our strategies are the most powerful in the IELTS world.

When you use our Insider Method you avoid the BIGGEST MISTAKES that most students make on IELTS.

Click here to get a score increase on IELTS. It’s guaranteed.

 

Speaking

On the Speaking test she learned that she had to be prepared for any kind of topic.

She prepared every possible answer for every part of the test.

She gained confidence from the practice time that she put into it.

On test day she had to talk about the games that she played when she was a kid.

She made up some stories and it worked.

In our course she used the Anti-anxiety Module to learn how to remain confident and centered.

 

Listening

She prepared by using the outside listening resources that she got in our study plan and this helped her to get the extra practice she needed for her listening score.

She found some great video series on You Tube and used that resource to get used to the natural English accents.

Check out Fun for Louie on You Tube.

 

 

Do you feel inspired by Nadya’s story?

Let us know in the comments below.

Today find out how meetup.com is curing loneliness in the United States.

Both Michelle and Lindsay like to attend meetups in New York City and Boston.

It’s a great way to meet people.

There seems to be a lot of loneliness in the United States.

In cafes you run into people just staring at their computer screens.

After 9/11 the founders of Meetup noticed that New Yorkers came together.

They wanted to see if they could use the Internet to get people off the Internet and to come together and build community.

What’s the most popular meetup in New York City?

Fashion and beauty meetups

We want to hear from our listeners!

What kinds of meetups are popular in your city?

Vocabulary to meet someone at a meetup:

  • “So is this your first meetup?”
  • “Are you a part of any other meetups?”
  • “Are you having a good time?” or “Having a good time?”
  • “Hey it’s nice to see you again. How have you been?” (This is called circling back and  you can learn more about this skill in The Charisma Equation)
  • “Hey how’s it going with _____?”
  • “Any updates on ______?”

What to say to the organizer:

  • “Hi, I’m Michelle. It’s my first meetup. Thanks for hosting. Why did you decide to start this meetup?”

Listen to the episode to hear a typical native conversation that could happen at a meetup.

Let us know in the comments!

What meetups have you been to?

How was your experience?

How can you show the examiner you deserve a 7 or higher right away in IELTS Speaking Part 1?

One of the most popular videos on our YouTube channel, IELTS Energy TV, describes 3 ways of impressing the examiner in Speaking Part 1 of the IELTS exam.

 

 

Today, I want to expand on these ideas and add some additional resources for carrying out this advice on test day, ensuring you get the highest marks you can on the IELTS Speaking exam.

1. Smile and Answer Immediately

Why?

Answering right away gets you higher scores for Fluency and Coherence, and smiling will help you and the examiner relax. This will aid you in having more natural sounding pronunciation as well.

How?

Relax! In our online IELTS course, 3 Keys IELTSwe have a whole module just to combat anxiety on test day, as this can be one of the biggest hurdles to get over. Nerves can actually bring down your IELTS scores!

Remember, also, that there is such a thing as nonverbal communication. Mark Bowden, a body language expert, gives the following advice to sound, look and feel more confident while speaking:

  • Smile
  • Don’t slouch
  • Don’t sit with your legs wide open
  • Use open gestures

Click here for more information on using nonverbal communication techniques to impress the examiner and increase your IELTS Speaking scores.

2. Do Not Say “That is a tough/interesting question”

Why?

Honestly, none of the questions in IELTS Speaking Part 1 are tough, and few are interesting. Therefore, saying this filler phrase will lower your Vocabulary scores and your Fluency and Coherence scores.

How?

First, you need to learn what are the appropriate linking words for each part of the Speaking exam.

Then, you should learn some new, interesting filler phrases that will get you higher Vocabulary scores, because they are what native speakers might say.

If you only use words and phrases that other students use, it is impossible to get a 7 or higher on the IELTS Speaking exam!

3. Give Personal, Specific Details Immediately

Why?

Providing specific information leads to using specific vocabulary, which raises your Vocabulary score.

Plus, talking about personal information helps you to be more expressive, leading to higher Pronunciation scores.

How?

Practice brainstorming and thinking of specific details and examples you could include.

For example, think of information that answers questions beginning with who, what, when, where, why and how.

If the examiner asks, “Did you enjoy studying math in high school?”

You could tell the examiner who your teacher was, what the subject was, when you took the class, where the classroom was located, why you liked/didn’t like it, and how you performed in the class.

 

Do you have any other ideas about how you could impress the IELTS examiner during your Speaking exam?

Leave us a message in our comments section below!

 

What is a collocation?

When we put two words together and we can’t explain why other words can’t be substituted it’s a collocation.

This increases your score because it shows that you understand natural English.

You need to memorize a short list like this one.

Test day is not the time to take risks so get to know these collocations well and use them on exam day.

 

Collocations for IELTS:

  • To safely assume: synonyms for “safely” do not work here. This means that we are sure about something.
    • “Because the cost of living is high in Boston we can safely assume that we’ll spend more than $1,000 per month on rent.”

 

  • To achieve an objective: To reach a goal.
    • “There are several ways to achieve these objectives.”

 

  • To become widespread: When something starts to become more common and we see it more and more
    • “Biking to work is becoming more widespread.”
    • “Food trucks have become widespread in Portland.”

 

  • In-depth analysis: To look at something on a deep level or to do detailed research

You need to learn these as chunks.

Use them in your journal when you are practicing your general writing fluency.

Use one of these collocations per day for a few weeks then start on a new list.

Let us know your questions in the comments below.

Today get 5 English idioms to describe something that is easy plus find out how hard it is to use transportation options like Uber, the subway, and the bike rental services in New York City and Boston.

5 Idioms to Say Something Is Easy:

  • “It’s a no-brainer”: We use this when we want to say that a decision is easy to make or the right thing to do is obvious.
    • “There is a blizzard outside and I need to get to Kendall Square. I’m going to get a car. It’s a no-brainer”
  • “It’s a cakewalk”: Something is very easy.
    • “That interview was a cakewalk. I am sure I got the job.”
  • “It’s a piece of cake”: Something is easy and simple. These days we don’t use this idiom as much.
  • “It’s pretty straightforward”: Something is clear and simple to complete and not hard to understand.
    • “It’s not very straightforward to assemble IKEA furniture”
  • “It’s clear cut”: Something is direct and clear.
    • “It’s very clear cut how to get to the person’s house.”
  • “Let me spell it out for you”: Let me explain this for you clearly. This can sound condescending if we use it with the wrong tone of voice.

*Listen to our role play conversation to hear how these idioms are used by natives.

 

Leave us your sample sentence in the comments below.

Plus you’ll get the single biggest mistake you could be making on the IELTS Listening Exam.

Here are the questions from our listeners that we’ll answer on today’s episode:

Question #1: On the Listening test if you write a noun in singular and the real answer is plural does it make the answer wrong?

Answer #1: Yes it’s wrong. You need to be careful with this. Spelling also needs to be 100% correct or it’s wrong. Focus on reading more to improve your spelling.

 

Question #2:What should I do with multiple choice questions?

Answer #2: In the multiple choice questions you look at the question before you listen and you underline key words. You listen for the key words because the answers are always next to the key words. Before you listen you also need to read the possible answers. You also need to eliminate wrong answers.

 

Question #3: How do I handle map discussion questions?

Answer #3: You need to look at the picture and describe it in your head before you listen.

Click here to learn more about IELTS Listening Map Completion Questions.

 

To get the full strategies and to practice them in our course, click here.

 

*Bonus! Don;t make the mistake of taking notes. That is a TOEFL strategy. You cannot take notes on IELTS. If you do you will miss the answer.

 

What questions do you have about IELTS Listening?

Let us know in the comments below.

Meaghan Jones English conversation and pronunciation teacher italki

Are you worried that people don’t understand you when you speak English?

Do you get self-conscious about your English pronunciation?

Today find out how to end this problem for good and get 3 awesome pronunciation tips from our guest Meaghan Jones.

You’ll also get one little-known site for practicing music lyrics to improve your pronunciation.

Meaghan works for large corporations in Brazil and teaches business English and social English.

She focuses a lot on pronunciation with her clients so she is going to help us with that today.

Meaghan’s tips on how to improve pronunciation:

  • *If you are from Brazil you should pick up English Pronunciation for Brazilians and if you are not from Brazil you should pick up a book that is targeted to helping people from your country improve pronunciation.

 

  • Use music for pronunciation: This is great because it’s a natural way to learn. Try Lyrics Training.  It is a game where you can listen and sing along and there is a gap where you have to type the word you hear.

 

  • Work with a native teacher: Record your voice and have a native teacher correct you. The native teacher can show you exactly where you’re making mistakes. You can use Sound Cloud and the teacher can write notes directly on the audio file.

 

Meaghan’s Bio:

Meaghan is from the US and lived mostly in California. After she graduated university from UC Berkeley, she moved to Zurich, Switzerland where she found she had a knack for the English language.

While studying for her masters in Political Science, she began to correct Phd and master theses for non native English speakers and gave informal English lessons.

After getting her degree, she decided she wanted to teach English in Latin America. Meaghan taught English in Santiago Chile for one and a half years and is now giving classes in Sao Paulo Brazil and online.

 

How to work with Meaghan:

  • Step 1: To receive $10 off your second lesson with Meaghan register here

 

What did you think of today’s episode?

What questions do you have for Meaghan?

Let us know in the comments below.

Today get the 3 things you must do to get that score higher.

Reading is frustrating.

A lot of students tell us that they can’t improve their score because they are bad readers or because they don’t like to read.

What does it mean to say that you don’t like reading?

You don’t have to read mainstream novels that you don’t find interesting.

If you find a type of reading that you enjoy you can build a culture of thinking.

You will also have great ideas for the IELTS Writing test and IELTS Speaking.

Reading genres like science fiction help us build our ability to come up with spontaneous and creative ideas.

Non-fiction can help you generate ideas and opinions on business, language, and globalization.

 

  • Step 1: Get into reading. Choose a type of material that you enjoy. You don’t have to read what everyone else is reading. Choose what you like and stick with it.

 

  • Step 2: Focus on test strategies. You cannot do this without strategies. You don’t have enough time to read every word and take your time finding the answer on the reading test. We offer this in our course. We show you how to tackle every question type in reading and then you get two practice tests to make sure you can implement what you learn. If you are in a class and your teacher gives you 5 steps or more then that teacher doesn’t know the test. You need a simpler system. Look for testimonials before you purchase a course.

 

  • Step 3: Practice, Practice, Practice. You can’t just watch a video lecture, do practice exercises and move on. You need to do the practice tests, take the strategies and use them over and over again. Practice tests should not be free. If a school is giving away practice tests then you should be suspicious of that school because the quality of the practice tests might not be high.

 

What resources do you use to prepare for IELTS reading?

What do you like to read?

Leave some suggestions in the comments section.

Today you’ll learn how to make small talk in English when it comes to the topic of travel.

Find out how to build a connection and get to know someone by asking about their travel plans.

Michelle is going to India very soon and she is excited. She was at a dinner party a few weeks ago and everyone was talking about travel.

Travel is such a huge way that people connect with each other and on this show our biggest value is Connection NOT Perfection!

Today get some phrases to start a great conversation about someone’s upcoming trip.

Questions to ask about someone’s trip:

  • ” (Are you) getting excited about/for your trip?”
  • “When are you flying out?” or “When are you heading off?”
  • “Are you going on a tour or are you on your own?”
  • “Are you all packed yet?”
  • “Is your trip all planned out or it spontaneous?”

How to respond to someone’s answer:

  • “Oh wow that’s so cool”
  • “Check out the markets at night. They are amazing.”
  • “I’ve never been there but I’ve always wanted to go.”

What trips do you have coming up? Where are you going? What are you doing on your trip?

Let us know in the comments below.

Today we look at Asako’s story:

“I don’t know why my score stays exactly the same as before and I am at a loss how to overcome it. That’s maybe because I have been studying by myself for a year and I do not have the confidence for the strategy that I got from websites. Yes, I am struggling with the score that I got last March.”

Asako’s score= overall 6

 

We see this kind of case all of the time.

Asako has done well in Listening (6.5) and Reading (6.5) but for Writing she got a 5.5 and Speaking was 6.

The worst part is that Asako is probably much closer to her target score than she thinks she is.

Many of the students in our course who sit down for a private session with Jessica can increase their score by a full band point after learning our strategies.

What can Asako do?

3 Simple Steps:

  • Step 1: Close your practice test books. We know you want to do a lot of IELTS practice tests but they don’t improve your score. If you haven’t done any preparation by learning strategies then there is nothing to measure with the practice test. You learn the strategies and use a study plan then you take the practice tests.
  • Step 2: Improve your overall skills: Work on your general fluency. Journal every day to improve your writing. Find outside resources. Watch movies and read the newspaper. Practice your speaking with a native speaking partner.
  • Step 3: Re-focus on the test: You need to choose one system and one path and commit yourself to that and use a daily learning plan. Allow yourself at least 30 days and preferably 60 days.

 

Are you in a situation like Asako?

Let us know your questions in the comments.

Today you’ll get a bunch of ways to say a couple of things in English.

We will answer a listener question about whether you should say “A couple things” or “A couple of things” and so much more.

Today our listener asked us this questions in iTunes:

“On a podcast episode you said you had a “couple things” to do or maybe was it “a couple of things”? I don’t know. The reason it’s confusing me is because my mind tells me that it would be logical to add “of” in the phrase. You would make my day if you gave me your point of view on this.”

-Fred, AEE Listener

To answer Fred’s question:

When we write this phrase we say “a couple of things” but when we speak we drop “of” because it’s faster and more natural to say it this way.

In American English we often try to find the fastest and easiest way to say something, at least when we are speaking in casual conversation.

Today we’re going to learn how to say how much or how many of something there is:

  • “A bunch of” or “a (whole) buncha”:
    • “I have a bunch of things to do today. I have a whole bunch of things to do today.”
    • “There are a whole buncha (bunch of) people in Starbucks today so it might take a while for me to get my coffee.”
  • “A couple of things”, “a couple things”, “a couple-a-things”:
    • “I have a couple-a things to say today”
  • A few: This is two, three, maybe four. It’s not an exact number.
  • “A lot of” or “A lot-a” or “a whole lot of”: A large amount of something
  • “A handful of”: 4 or 5 times, a number that you can count on your hand
    • “I have only met her a handful of times”
  • “So many” or “many”:
    • “There are so many people here”
    • “I lived in New York City for many years and then I moved to Boston”
  • “A ton of”: A lot of something, this is much than “a handful”
    • “There are a ton of overpriced products at Whole Foods”

*Listen to the conversation between Lindsay and Michelle to hear how these are used in conversation.

What comments do you have about today’s episode?

Let us know in the comments below.

Are you armed with all the knowledge you need to do this?

First Things First: Notes

 

 

 

 

In IELTS Speaking Part 2, the examiner will first give you the instructions, make sure you understand that you have a minute to take notes and tell you that you must speak for 1-2 minutes.

This is kind of a lie!

If you don’t speak for the whole 2 minutes, this will probably decrease your score for Fluency and Coherence, because it looks like you are simply unable to keep talking.

After the instructions, the examiner will hand you the booklet with the topic card, and also give you a paper and pencil for making notes.

YOU MUST TAKE NOTES!!

Some students just skip this step and want to start talking right away. When they do this, their answers are almost always unorganized, and they are usually unable to fill the whole 2 minutes.

When you take notes, it helps you think of ideas and vocabulary, and it really aids you in organizing your short talk.

 

Introducing your IELTS Speaking Part 2 Answer

 

Most IELTS teachers and IELTS textbooks give you a formulaic way to introduce your IELTS Speaking Part 2 answers. That is so boring!

Not only is it boring, but it sounds unnatural and awkward. It would not score highly or impress the examiner in any way.

Basically, do not say, “Today I’m going to talk about…”

Instead, try and paraphrase the topic and say something interesting. For example, you could say, “When thinking of a person I know who dresses well, the first person to come to mind is my friend Casey. She’s a rock star when it comes to clothes.”

 

Fill the 2 Minutes

How do you talk for 2 minutes in an organized way?

Follow our advice, and tell a story in IELTS Speaking Part 2.

This leads to many things which raise your score:

  • It is naturally organized from beginning to end, so you score more highly for Fluency and Coherence.
  • It allows your pronunciation to become more natural, reflecting more of your personality, so it raises that score as well.
  • It also helps you to share specific information, such as details, which usually lead to more specific vocabulary, increasing your Vocabulary score.

 

Learn Strategies for Common Topics

IELTS Speaking Part 2 will ask you to describe a person, place, event/experience or object.

Lindsay and I came up with a great strategy, for example, for describing people.

First, describe what they look like, then describe their personality, then you should tell a short story about that person.

In our course, we give you more strategies for tackling Speaking Part 2 and its common topics.

 

Do I need a conclusion?

Good question!

And the answer is… no!

Don’t worry about a conclusion. Just keep talking until the examiner asks you to stop.

What do you think about today’s advice for IELTS Speaking Part 2?

Leave us a message in the comments section below!

 

 

Lindsay and Jessica will answer these questions using a winning template for success on this part of the test.

On Speaking part two you might get questions about:

  • people
  • events and experiences
  • objects

If you get a question in Speaking Part 2 and you are asked to describe a person you need to first directly answer it.

  • Describe what they look like
  • Describe their personality
  • Tell a story about your relationship

*Do not veer in the wrong direction by talking about something that is related to your friend but not about your friend.

*Listen to the episode to see sample answers from Lindsay and Jessica using this framework.

In the sample answers Jessica used these great vocabulary words:

  • She is wiry
  • She is buff

 

Jessica also used great linking words such as :

“When I think of Abby the most immediate thing that comes to mind is….”

Leave us a comment about today’s episode.

Let us know your challenges in Speaking Part 2.

Today find out what to say to a friend in English if they are going through something tough to build that connection and offer your support.

My name is Minki Kim. I am really fond of listening to AEE. Yesterday I was talking with my friend and she has been in trouble with her manager by being falsely charged for something she hasn’t done.

She is trying to exculpate her innocence but the manager did not listen to her.

I didn’t know what to say to her to empathize with her.

I would really appreciate it if you could give me any ideas.”

-Minki Kim

 

Minki asked a great question.

We all need to know how to support people because we’re all going to go through loss or difficult situations like this one.

 

How to support someone when you hear bad news:

  • “Oh I am so sorry that happened.”
  • “Wow I am so sorry to hear that.”
  • “You must have been really (scared) (stressed out)”
  • “That must have been really stressful”
  • “I can’t imagine how you must be feeling right now”
  • “Oh I can’t believe that happened”- use this to show someone that you are on their side

 

To let them know you’re available:

  • “If you need to talk I’m around”
  • “If you feel like talking about it feel free to reach out”
  • “Let me know if you need anything.”
  • “Let me know if there’s anything I can do”

 

What other phrases do you know to show support and empathy?

Let us know in the comments below.

Here is the General Writing Task 1 Letter Question:

“You are a student at an English language school in Brighton and are living in private accommodation with other flatmates. You’ve not had hot water or heating for some time. The landlord’s workmen have tried to fix the problem but without success.

Write a letter to the landlord. In your letter state your reason for writing, describe the problems and explain how you feel, propose a solution, and risk the landlord to take action.”

Problem #1)

The first part that bothered our student about this question is “you have not had hot water or heating for some time.”

We can see why this is confusing.

He wanted to know if he had to choose between hot water and heating.

The correct way to deal with this question is that the person has not had hot water and also has not head heating for some time.

 

Problem #2)

The second part was that he didn’t know what it meant to “risk” the landlord to take action.

This is a strange way to use the word “risk” in American English.

In American English we would say “Challenge the landlord to take action.”

 

What can you do if you don’t understand a Writing question?

You can’t ask anyone to explain the question to you.

The examiners are not even at the center yet when you are taking the Writing test.

If you don’t understand a question you need to think about the situation and make your best guess about what it means using your own experience.

Open your brain box and pull up what you expect to happen in the situation.

Remember, so much of your success depends on your mind set when you enter the exam.

If you say to yourself “this is easy” then you will find it easy to figure out a tough question.

 

What questions do you have from today’s episode?

Let us know in the comments below.

Today find out about the big storm that hit New York City a few weeks ago and get the vocabulary you need to talk about snow in English.

What do New Yorkers do in the snow?

You could build a snowman, have a snowball fight, make snow angels, or sip hot chocolate indoors by the fire.

Expressions to talk about snow:

  • “It’s really coming down”: This means that it’s snowing hard. It can also be used to say it’s raining hard.
  • “I stayed inside and snuggled up”: This means to stay indoors and get wrapped in a blanket and get comfortable.
  • “Black ice”: This is a dangerous kind of ice because it’s hard to see it at night.
  • “To be snowed in”: To not be able to go out because the snow is so high that it might be blocking your door.
  • “Slush”: This is what you find on the ground after it has snowed. It’s more of a liquid and it’s hard to walk through.
  • “To sleet”: This is a colder rain with some ice mixed in. It’s not quite snow.

Have you gotten snowed in before?

Let us know your questions about how to talk about how the snow.

Found out why this is true today and learn what you can do about it so that you can get a higher reading score on IELTS.

Today you’ll get advice from Jessica and from 3 Keys IELTS students.

The Facebook group in our course is getting active.

A lot of our students have been asking great questions and Jessica replies but many students also respond to student questions.

Here is one question that a student in our course recently asked:

“Recently I have realized that articles from USA Today and the NY Times are too difficult and I can only understand 50%;  however, even if I translate each word it still looks like a bunch of un-linked words. What should I do to break through?”

 

Here is our feedback:

You should not try to translate every word. It is never going to be possible to translate every word. The point is to understand the meaning, the intent or the context.

On the IELTS you won’t understand every word. The people who write the test don’t expect you to understand every word.

You are making the mistake of trying to go from understanding small words to understanding the larger context. You need to do the opposite.

 

What to do:

  • Practice being ok with not understanding. Just do your best to get the overall meaning. It’s not about individual words.
  • Read for overall gist then go back and look up 3-4 words that are key for understanding and explore those words.

If you think too much about small problems and small details you will panic and you will get paralyzed.

You need to get used to being in the place where you are powerless and you can’t understand everything.

What do you think about today’s episode?

Let us know in the comments below.

Today find out how to stop always saying “really” and get a few different words that mean the same thing.

When you use these new words your English will sound more enthusiastic, more original and more interesting.

Adverbs are words that describe an adjective.

We might use the word “really” to emphasize something.

For example, that dog is “really” cute.

We can bump up our connection with people if we can use other words that mean something similar to “really” and we’ll find out how to do it today.

Words instead of “really”:

  • Totally: “I was totally exhausted after the work out today.”
  • Amazingly: “Those fries are amazingly delicious. Can I have another?”
  • Insanely: “That dress is insanely cute on you.”
  • Incredibly: “It’s incredibly cold outside.”
  • Completely: “I completely agree with you.”
  • Ridiculously: “The traffic was ridiculously busy.”
  • Super: “I had a super fun time at the party last night”

What other words do you know that mean the same as “really”?

Let us know in the comments section below.

Orginally Mark scored a 6.5 on his speaking test but after going through our 3 Keys IELT course and our speaking module he also met with Jessica for a VIP private coaching session to practice the speaking test.

During the VIP session he was able to get reassurance and review what he had learned in the course for a last-minute check in.

The three things that Mark did to jump from 6.5 to 8.5 on Speaking:

  • He relaxed and used his personality: Many students incorrectly believe that they need to speak like a robot with no emotion to show respect and be formal on the exam. They usually don’t have interesting ideas or a fun tone of voice. If these students talked with more energy in their voice and used their personality they would increase their speaking score with better pronunciation and fluency scores. This is what Mark did. He used his real personality and increased his score. In our course we show you what the examiner is looking for in terms of formality and informality in different parts of the Speaking test.

 

  • He invested in a system that works: He entered the 3 Keys IELTS Success System and went through most of the lessons. This is where he built his basic foundation of strategies that we crucial to his success.

 

  • He did a lot of extra fluency practice: He used a lot of our suggested outside activities and found resources based on his own interests to improve his vocabulary. He also lives in Australia and he participates in English-language activities regularly so he has made English a big part of his life.

 

Remember guys, if you don’t live in an English-speaking country there are still ways to practice English regularly. Currently many of the students in our course are getting together on Google Hangouts to practice together.

What questions do you have from today’s episode?

Let us know in the comments below.

Jonathan Huggins (1)

If you are a busy but driven English learner how can you manage your time and accomplish your goals in a smart way?

It’s never easy but today you’ll get some guidance on how to do it.

Find out today with our guest Jonathan Huggins who has worked with executives as an English language trainer for the past twenty years.

Jonathan learned how to manage time better when he was working with high-level clients who were super busy.

Jonathan is also on a mission to learn 52 new languages this year using some of the principles of time management that he will be teaching us today.

 

Jonathan’s Tips:

  • The 12-Week Year: Get this book. It helps you narrow down your timeline and get a lot of things done in a short amount of time. Each week becomes a month and you learn how to structure your schedule so that you accomplish more. Click here to get the book.

 

  • Start with a Big Vision: Imagine your life as a big vision. What would you do with your time if you could do anything? What would each day look like? You need to have a passionate dream to motivate you to stay focused no matter what. Jonathan says that we need to hold onto this “as if your life depended on it.” If you can use images to create this vision it will motivate your brain more.

 

  • Set your goals with SMART planning:
    • Specific
    • Measurable
    • Action-oriented
    • Result-based
    • Time- bound

Jonathan’s Bio:

I am an American English teacher from Southern California. I’ve been studying foreign languages for over 20 years and teaching Business English for over 10. I have a Teacher of English as a Second Language/Foreign Language certificate.

When I lived in Paris for 6 years, I studied Musicology at the Sorbonne Paris IV and I taught English in elementary schools and later at international companies, such as Société Générale, Air France, and Chanel. For the past 7 years, I’ve been living and teaching freelance in Mexico City for companies such as Baker & McKenzie, Carat Mexicana, Initiative, and Heidelberg.

Currently, I’m teaching English via Skype and italki.com and am looking for new students of all levels. I consider myself fluent in French and Spanish, and have also studied German and Russian.

My goal for this year is to start learning 52 new languages, one-a-week based on Benny Lewis’ “Speak in a Week” crash course.

 

How to work with Jonathan:

Step 1: Go to this page and register to get $10 for free to go towards your second lesson with a native teacher

Step 2: Find Jonathan’s profile here.

 

What are your comments on today’s episode?

Let us know in the comments below.

Do you know how to talk about sleep in English?

It’s a key topic that you can use with your family, friends, or even colleagues.

Today you’ll get phrases in English to talk about sleep.

How to say how you slept well:

  • “I slept like a rock”
  • “I was out cold”
  • “I was out like a light”
  • “I slept like a log”
  • “I slept like a baby”
  • “I feel so refreshed”
  • “I slept well”

 

How to say you didn’t sleep well:

  • “I tossed and turned all night”
  • “I feel like a zombie”
  • “I had a rough night”

 

How to talk about going to sleep:

  • “To drift off”
  • “To doze off”
  • “To fall asleep”: To actually begin to sleep
  • “To go to sleep”: This could mean going to bed
  • “To get some shut-eye” : I am going to get some shut-eye. I will email you back in the morning

*Listen to the conversation in the episode to hear Lindsay and Michelle using these phrases in a natural way.

What other phrases do you use when you talk about sleep?

Let us know in the comments.

Walking Questions on IELTS?

  • Do you enjoy walking around your city?
  • Do you think your city is good for walking?
  • Where should tourists walk to in your city?
  • How could your city be better for walking?

 

Walking vocabulary for IELTS:

  • Swagger: A walk that shows a lot of confidence. You can see their confident personality in the way they walk. “They have swagger” or “They swagger.”
  • To Meander: To take an indirect route and to walk slowly with no specific goal in mind and no specific time you have to be somewhere. “On the weekends I love to meander down to my favorite restaurant because I like to watch people outside on the weekend and take my time.”
  • To Wander: To go somewhere without a specific destination. You look at everything you can and get lost. “I wandered around Europe for a few years in my twenties.”
  • To book it: To go somewhere quickly.  This is a very native, casual, and natural expression. Use this on the exam anytime you are talking about hurrying to get somewhere.

 

Cycling Questions for IELTS:

  • Do people commute by bike in your city?
  • Should people listen to stuff on their headphones when they’re cycling?

 

Cycling Vocabulary for IELTS:

  • To break (broke) a spoke: A spoke is the metal tube that is on the bicycle wheel. Sometimes they bend or pop out.
  • To get a flat tire: To have your tire get a hole in it and lose air
  • To have a crutch: To have something you depend on that you don’t need anymore.
  • To have training wheels: (Same meaning as “to have a crutch” above)

 

Remember, if you impress the examiner on one aspect of the exam like your vocabulary it will raise your score across the board.

In our course we give you the right vocabulary words to use in one of the bonuses so you don’t have to worry about choosing your own.

Practice using these vocabulary words in the comments section below.

Do you know what you can do with your tone of voice when you speak English? Would you like to be more interesting when you speak?

Do you want to be able to pronounce American English and catch people’s attention with the way you say the words?

One key way to move your English to the next level is to start to use your tone of voice to create different feelings.

Today you’ll hear about a study done on tone of voice and understand what this can mean for you and your life.

A study was published in the Huffington Post called Changing Your Tone of of Voice May Boost Your Mood, And Here’s How

The study had some interesting findings.

They found that when people listened to people speaking with different tones of voice they felt the same way.

Their mood changed based on what they heard.

In the article they gathered perspectives from a lot of professionals in different fields.

Here is what one researcher said:

“There is a lot of emotional information contained in a person’s voice, such as change in pitch indicating happiness or sadness, increase in volume showing anger, vibrato indicating fear or stress, talking speed signaling excitement, and so on,” Johansson said in the article

The article also suggested that the insights from this study can be used to help people with anxiety and depression.

It can also be used to build confidence.

We use strategic words that convey confidence not just because of the way we want to come off to other people but because we want to hear ourselves using certain words to re-wire our brains to think of ourselves as a different person.

Some studies have found that just smiling can change the tone of your voice and it can lift your mood and anyone who hears you.

How can you improve your tone of voice:

  • Practice telling stories in different tones of voice: Try to be over-dramatic. You can always be bigger. Once you think you’re big enough in your voice you probably still need to be bigger. This would be helpful for you if you speak in a monotone way. This will help you to find your voice.
  • Listen to people: Notice changes in people’s tone of voice. Notice how they are feeling. It is a sign of social intelligence to be able to do this. Try to mirror your tone of voice with theirs.
  • Try to be upbeat: Even if you don’t feel upbeat you should try to “fake it” until you “make it” and you might start to feel it naturally.

*Listen to the conversation in the episode and hear stories being read in a few different ways with different tones of voice.

What do you think about this study?

Let us know in the comments below.

Testimonial Fernando 3 Keys IELTS student

Today you get to meet the 3 Keys Writing Wizard for the month of February.

Our Writing Wizard is Fernando and he is here to show you how to write an awesome IELTS Writing Task 2 essay.

You’ll also find out what motivates Fernando to work hard and how he has jumped a full band score since he entered our course.

 

Fernando’s goals:

He is aiming for a 7.

His exam is coming up on February 20, 2016.

He is not planning to move to a new country.

He is doing IELTS as a personal goal.

 

Why did he join 3 Keys IELTS:

He got tired of working with textbooks only.

He wanted to mix it up and find a different way to do it.

 

What was the writing wizard contest essay question?

“Should the government build free health facilities for citizens to get exercise?”

 

How did he become the 3 Keys Writing Wizard?

He has become a much better writer for IELTS because he has worked through the Writing module in our 3 Keys IELTS course.

Fernando’s biggest strength is his vocabulary.

In his essay he used phrases such as:

  • Preventative actions
  • Longer life expectancy
  • Evoke a new insight

These are clearly 7 or higher vocabulary phrases.

 

What has he learned in 3 Keys IELTS?

The most important thing that he has gotten from the course is the planning of the essays.

In his classes in traditional schools he was not taught how to plan his essays.

He has spent a lot of time looking closely at our sample thesis statements and even memorized some of the thesis statements to look for patterns.

 

Fernando’s advice:

Read as much as you can.

It helps with writing.

Fernando reads all of the time.

He likes to read science fiction.

He is an IT professional so he likes to read about technology.

He also tries to read articles about things that he is not as interested in such as business or sports to get prepared for the exam.

 

What questions do you have for Fernando?

Let us know in the comments below.

Are you preparing yourself to understand all of these different ways of pronouncing English?

IELTS is an acronym for the International English Language Testing System.

This means that the creators of the IELTS Listening exam do not just try and test your ability to understand one kind of British English, or Australian English, but also various accents from Canada, the United States and even New Zealand.

This fact is, understandably, daunting to many IELTS candidates! As a student of English, you are probably used to understanding North American English, or possible British English, but, being accustomed to just one way of speaking is not enough.

You need to practice understanding all of these accents.

But how?

Australian English Resources

For many students, the Australian accent is the most difficult to decipher.

That is because you just don’t hear it as much as North American or British accents.

So, practice listening to Australian accents!

British English Resources

You have definitely heard the British accent more than the Australian one, but it might still be difficult to comprehend at times.

It’s also worth remembering that there are many, many British accents. Some sound more Scottish, while others sound more “BBC”.

In this episode, we give you a few ideas for enjoying popular podcasts and TV shows that will prepare you for understanding British accents.

North American Resources

Of course, this accent is the easiest to understand for most students. You hear it in movies and on TV shows, and you sing along with it in popular songs.

So, here are a few extra tips for using entertaining resources to practice for your IELTS Listening exam.

  • Choose a TV series and get into it! The more you watch and learn about the story and the characters, the more you will understand.
  • Sometimes, you just need to practice understanding. So, the first time through an episode, it is OK to watch it with English subtitles.
  • The second time you watch the episode, watch it without subtitles. You’ll be amazed at how much more you understand!

Use Audioscripts

Did you know that in the back of your textbook, or in the online course you have chosen to prepare for IELTS, there are usually audioscripts, or tapescripts, which are word for word scripts of what is said on all four sections of the IELTS Listening exam?

Watch this video to learn how to use this extra tool to improve your understanding of different accents.

 

Know What to Expect on the IELTS Listening Exam

Most importantly, remember that you need to get balanced practice.

This means not only improving your overall comprehension, as using the resources above will do, but also knowing what exactly happens on the IELTS Listening exam.

You also, of course, need to learn the best strategies for tackling the IELTS Listening exam. For example, what should you do before you listen? While you listen? After you listen? Our course gives you clear, simple strategies, for every part of the exam.

As with any test, there are certain tricks that IELTS pulls every exam. Learn from a trusted IELTS professional so you don’t get tricked like all the other candidates in the room on test day.

So, use these resources, listen to my advice, and ace your IELTS Listening test!

What did you think of today’s article?

Leave us a message in the comments section below!

 

Today you’ll find out how to deal with the number 1 most embarrassing situation at a party or event in English.

We’ll give you all of the phrases you need in English to deal with this situation.

What should you do when you notice that someone has a piece of food in their teeth? Or when they have bad breath? Or when their tag is sticking out of their shirt?

Why does this embarrass us?

It’s because of mirror neurons and empathy!

As humans we have the ability to feel what others feel.

When others feel shame we also feel it.

Embarrassing moments in English:

  • Something stuck in your teeth
  • Your tag sticking out of your shirt
  • When you have something in your nose
  • When you have bad breath

What should you consider when you mention something to someone? What phrases can you use?

  • The tone of your voice, the volume of your voice. Say it like it’s no big deal. Don’t draw more attention to it than you need to.
  • “Excuse me. I think you have something in your teeth.”
  • “Do you need a tissue?”
  • “I’m going to have a mint. Want one?”

What other phrases do you know for this situation?

Let us know in the comments below.

The biggest mistake that students make is that they don’t trust a reading strategy like the one that we offer in our course.

If you do trust a solid strategy then the matching headings to paragraph questions should be quick and easy but a lot of students don’t want to trust strategies 100%.

Here is the key:

On the Matching Headings to Paragraphs section of the Reading test you have to trust that at least 75-80% of the answers are going to be in the beginning and the end of the paragraph.

Some students get into trouble by reading the whole paragraph just to make sure.

They end up changing their answer and get it wrong.

It’s not enough to know this strategy.

We have to use it through practice so that by the time we go into the test we already trust it.

You need to prove to yourself that it works so that you can feel confident on test day.

In our course we have an entire section dedicated to this part of the test.

 

What questions do you have about the Reading test?

Let us know in the comments section.

Michelle read an article on Elite Daily that suggested that people who are optimistic tend to be late because they think that everything will be ok or that they will be able to get somewhere on time.

Optimistic people might have a tendency to overlook logistics and assume they have more time than they do.

Do you think optimism could lead to carelessness? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

Phrases to say that you’re running late:

  • “I am so sorry. I am running late. I’ll be there in 5 minutes.”
  • “I’m running behind.”
  • “I’m a little behind schedule today. I apologize but I will be a few minutes late. Feel free to start without me.”
  • “I’m not going (gonna) to make it on time unfortunately. I’ll be there as soon as possible.”
  • “Hey I’m on my way but the train is running late. I’ll be there soon.”
  • “Sorry I got caught up with work.”

 

*Bonus phrase: “In the nick of time”

This means to arrive somewhere just in time or just before the time runs out.

 

What to remember from today:

  • If we’re optimistic we should be careful not to be lazy when it comes logistics.
  • Know your cultural expectations around time.
  • If you’re in the US try to be on time but if you aren’t then communicate that. Call ahead if you can or send a text.
  • When you say you’re going to be late do this: apologize, give a reason you’re going to be late, estimate when you’ll be there.

 

Which of these English phrases have you used? What are the expectations around being on time in your culture?

Let us know in the comments below.

Vanessa Speak English with Vanessa IELTS natural EnglishToday get 6 English study strategies for a higher IELTS score with Vanessa from Speak English with Vanessa.

Vanessa helps students stop talking like a textbook.

This is a great goal for you as an IELTS student because if you do speak like a textbook you will not get a higher score than 6 for vocabulary on the IELTS Exam.

Natural English is language that does not sound strange when native speakers hear it.

Examples of Natural English:

  • To keep doing something
  • “Pretty”: I am pretty tired, I am pretty happy
  • “Not that”: I am not that happy

 

Six Tips to Speak Natural English:

  • Listen to natural materials every day: This depends on your level. If you are a beginner and it’s hard to understand native conversation then start with something that is natural but don’t start with a TV show. You can try You Tube videos, podcasts, radio, audio books, audio files. This will increase your motivation. You’ll see real people speaking the language and you’ll want to participate.

 

  • Write new expressions in a special vocabulary notebook: Take a few extra seconds with the new expressions that you learn. This will help you think about the expression and focus on it. You could write a sample sentence about it. Read the words out loud.

 

  • Repeat a story and compare with the original: Choose a story that you can remember. Vanessa supplies links to short stories that are 2-5 minutes that you can listen to and try to use the vocabulary words in the context of the story. It’s natural to hear a new vocabulary word in the context of a story. This will also help you for IELTS Speaking Part 2.

 

  • Shadow real English materials once per week: This means to imitate a speaker directly. It should be a native speaker. You can just repeat exactly what the person is saying. Use the same pronunciation and intonation. You can use clips of sitcoms for this.

 

  • Get feedback as you speak: You can get help from Vanessa. She offers trial lessons. Go to Speak English with Vanessa to book a trial. There are also local English groups and you can find them on meetup.com

 

  • Learn from other people’s mistakes: Online you can find information about typical mistakes in English. For the IELTS Exam we talk in our course about the rookie mistakes. When we learn from other people’s mistakes we are able to avoid them.

 

To increase your score on the IELTS these 6 tips will help you on all parts of the exam.

Go to Speak English with Vanessa to get this free ebook!

 

Vanessa’s Bio:

Vanessa Prothe is a TESOL certified teacher who has been teaching English for the past 5 years in 3 different countries: the US, France, and South Korea. In 2014 she started teaching English online on her website www.speakenglishwithvanessa.com.

You’ll get two simple signposts that you must know to get higher listening scores.

Two tips:

1) Stress and intonation matters!

Paying attention to stress and intonation on the Listening test can help you get the answers. If you hear the person on the CD strongly or unnaturally stressing a word it will be an answer. This is built into the test. They encourage people to do it when they are recording. Listen to the episode to hear the example we talk about.

 

2) Distractors

This is a negative trick that IELTS uses a lot.

A: Which restaurant are we going to?

B: Let’s go to Indian. I haven’t had it in a long time.

C: Oh Indian food. I am so sick of it. Let’s go to a Mexican restaurant.

The answer would be Mexican restaurant.

Here you can pay attention to the tone of voice when person C says, “Oh Indian food.”

It becomes clear that the answer will not be Indian food and that you need to keep listening.

Don’t stop listening and move to the next blank when you think you have an answer.

 

Don’t take notes on what you hear during the Listening test. That is a huge mistake.

You should start to pay attention and use these tricks then take a bunch of practice tests when you have the strategies that you need.

 

Leave us a comment or a question below.

English spelling can be tough.

We do not always spell words the way they sound and sometimes two words can sound the same and be spelled differently.

Those words can have completely different meanings.

Even native speakers struggle with this.

Today we’ll help you clear up your confusion with three of the most common word pairs.

Tricky spelling pairs:

  • Cereal: The food that you eat in the morning (Cheerios, Wheaties)
  • Serial: A series of events, something that happens many times at once.  We use this in “serial killer.”
  • Break: To take a rest, to take time off or time away from something. It can also be used in a bunch of phrasal verbs such as “break up.”
  • Brake: The pedal in a car that stops the car.
  • Sight: Your vision or your ability to see. It can also mean your field of vision or something that is seen or a place or thing that is worth seeing such as “a beautiful sight.”
  • Site: The location of something. We can say “The excavation site.” The place where something is happening. This is also used when we say “website.”

* Listen to the episode to hear the role play conversation to see how these words are used!

What questions do you have from today’s episode?

Let us know in the comments.

You could be asked about travel on Speaking Part 1, 2 or 3 on the IELTS.

Five IELTS Vocabulary Words for Travel:

  • To get away: To escape, to go somewhere that is not your home. You can also use the noun “a getaway.” We might use this when we are tired of our day-to-day life and they need to get out and see something new.

 

  • To take the road less traveled: To do things differently and to think outside of the box.  This can be used on IELTS to talk about a time in your life where you made a choice that was not traditional.

 

  • To find a gem: When you find a place where only locals go and other tourists don’t visit. You can use this on Speaking Part 2 if you have to describe places you have traveled to.

 

  • To have wanderlust: To want to move around and see a lot of things around the world. To not want to stay in one place. You can also say “I had a bad case of wanderlust.”

 

  • To take a red eye: To take a night flight

 

Remember, the worst thing you could do on the IELTS is to sound like every other Band 6 student by using typical IELTS vocabulary.

Make sure you are using interesting and native vocabulary throughout the exam like the ones in today’s article.

 

What other native travel vocabulary do you know?

Share it below in the comments.

Australian English teacher David Peachy

Today our guest David is back and he is here to show you what you can learn from actors when it comes to learning English.

He’ll show you how to build your English -speaking stage presence.

David’s university degree is in theatre. He has also done some directing.

He has studied Russian, Italian, and Thai using these techniques.

What can we learn from an actor about language learning?

  • Get a director: You need to get real feedback. You need someone who will listen to you honestly and nicely. He or she needs to tell you how to improve. You could look for a language exchange. You could hire a teacher to work with you once every two weeks. Investing in yourself is the smartest move.

 

  • Slow down: A lot of students are eager to start speaking quickly right away. Musicians need to break down difficult and fast pieces first before trying to play it quickly. They go through it chunk by chunk and learn it. Later, they add the space. If you are learning English you should slow down to half speed. Stretch out your sentences. You can hear your pronunciation and adjust when you hear errors.

 

  • Learn to react: When actors work well together they have good chemistry. They respond in the right way to each other. If you are learning English and trying to think too much about vocabulary or grammar then you will stop speaking and stop reacting. To build this skill you can work with dialogues and improvised role plays when you learn a new grammar point or vocabulary word. Also keep in mind our slogan here to All Ears English which is Connection NOT Perfection!

 

David‘s Bio:

David comes from sunny Brisbane in Australia. He graduated with a degree in Theatre over 20 years ago, and has since travelled the world, learnt several languages, and taught general and business English in central Europe, Turkey, Russia and Thailand. He has also been an italki teacher for the past five years.

David is currently working with students to improve their natural speech, using vocal techniques from his theatre background. He also does speaking workshops for IELTS candidates, and is more than happy to have a general chat, of course!

How to work with David:

  1. Step 1: To get $10 for your second lesson with David, register here first
  2. Step 2: Find David’s profile. You can find David on italki.com at www.italki.com/peachey-teacher

 

What did you think of today’s interview?

Let us know in the comments below.

Are you making these mistakes, and setting yourself up to score below a 6 on test day?

I’ve even seen native English speakers who did not score highly because they simply were not properly prepared for the IELTS Speaking exam!

If you follow my advice, you can guarantee reaching the highest score possible on the IELTS Speaking exam.

Don’t bore the examiner with your vocabulary!

  • In order to score a 7 or higher for vocabulary, you MUST use idiomatic, interesting language. However, you must use these interesting words and phrases correctly!
  • Don’t trust the idioms from your textbooks. Many of these idioms are out of date, and native speakers simply do not use them anymore. In fact, using these idioms will lower your vocabulary score!
  • Try and learn idioms and vocabulary that native speakers currently use. You can do this by watching TV shows and movies, and writing down one interesting phrase you hear per episode or movie. Collect them in your vocabulary notebook, and practice them!

Don’t enter the IELTS exam unprepared!

  • Learn about each part of the exam, and what the IELTS examiner is listening for in each part.
  • For example, in Speaking Part 1, you should always try to answer in 3-5 complete sentences to score well in Fluency and Coherence, as well as Grammar.
  • In Part 2, you must take notes!

Don’t just study and listen- practice speaking!

  • Even the best students MUST practice a wide variety of IELTS Speaking questions to prepare for exam day.
  • You need to practice in two ways: general conversation will improve your Fluency and Coherence scores and your Pronunciation scores, and doing test practice with your vocabulary notebook in front of you will improve all your scores on test day.
  • Listen to this episode to find out how one student moved from a 5.5 to a 7 on her IELTS Speaking exam!

Get the test practice you need and improve your overall English with the best course available online, the 3 Keys IELTS Success System.

Do you have any questions about this advice?

Leave us a message in the comments section below.

Today we’ll show you how these idioms will bring your IELTS score down on Speaking and Writing.

The idioms that we’re going to give you today are overused and not interesting or new.

They are cliches.

They are on every idioms list that ESL teachers give out.

If you are using these idioms, especially on the Writing test, it’s not going to help your score.

You can get a 7 or higher for interesting idiomatic language but these idioms are not interesting because every student uses them.

 

Junky Idiom:

  • Broaden my horizons:

Better Idiom:

  • To get out of one’s head: To do something new and different or to stretch your  mind, to stop worrying or thinking or being anxious.
  • To change your mindset: To change your perspective on something, to change the way you think.

 

Junky idiom:

  • It’s raining cats and dogs: No one uses this idiom anymore in native English speaking countries. If you use this idiom it will not help your score. You will just annoy the examiner.

Better idiom:

  • It’s raining buckets
  • To be drenched
  • It’s really coming down: This can be used for snow or rain.

 

Junky idioms:

  • It’s a double edged sword
  • There are two sides of the coin

Better idioms:

  • There are pros and cons
  • There are benefits and drawbacks
  • There are good points and bad points

 

Why do students use these junky idioms?

When students use these idioms they haven’t studied with an IELTS professional who is teaching them correctly.

The student who uses these idioms is usually not higher than a band score 6.

They usually do not know where or how these idioms fit into natural sentences.

 

How can you find better idioms?

Another great way to find natural idioms that will not make the examiner roll their eyes is to listen closely to our conversation at the beginning of each episode of the IELTS Energy Podcast.

We always have a very natural conversation where we don’t slow down or change our vocabulary for students.

Make a goal of picking up one new word per episode and use it on the IELTS Exam where it’s appropriate.

 

Do you use junky idioms on the IELTS?

Let us know in the comments below.

Today find out two unexpected questions that one listener was asked in a job interview.

This listener is from South Korea and has been applying for jobs in New Zealand.

When we interview in a new culture there can be many questions that are unexpected.

We can learn a lot about the values of a company and even about the values of a culture based on the questions we get.

The listener has been on five job interviews and in every single interview he has been surprised to get questions about both passion and commitment.

This seemed surprising to him.

These are not typical questions in interviews in his home country.

This is not surprising to us in the United States.

These are common questions in American culture and probably they are common in New Zealand where he is interviewing as well.

Passion and commitment are a big deal when it comes to your career in the US.

Many people in the US want to have their career be their passion.

Tips on passion in your career:

  • Work in an area that you’re passionate about. We spend a minimum of 40 hours per week in our job. We have to enjoy it.

Phrases to say you are passionate:

  • “This work satisfies me because…”
  • “The thing I am most passionate about in my work is….”
  • “I am passionate about _____”

Phrases to show your commitment:

  • “As you can see from my previous work experience I am committed to my work”
  • “When I start a project I commit to it 100%”
  • “I like to see things through to completion”

We did an episode back in 2013 about passions versus strengths in our career.

Check it out here.

Also you can listen to Episode 220 with Laura Garnett about The Zone of Genius.

What’s the takeaway?

  • Be prepared for these questions about passion and commitment
  • Expect job interview questions to be different in a new culture
  • Use these phrases and prepare by thinking about what aspect of your career you are passionate about

Leave us a comment below!

Let us know what you thought about today’s episode.

Find out what a high quality question would look like and find out how to start asking better questions.

The quality of your question says a lot about the quality of your preparation.

We often get bad IELTS questions such as “How can I get a better Writing score?” or “How can I improve my Speaking for IELTS?”

These questions are bad because they are way too general.

They are general because they come from someone who hasn’t done any work in preparing for the test.

You need to put in the work on your own first then you will be able to start to ask better questions.

We understand that people want shortcuts but the only shortcuts that will actually work are test strategies that we have developed such as the ones in 3 Keys IELTS.

No one can tell you one simple trick or piece of advice that will make you pass the test.

 

Bad question: “Kindly tell me how to improve my writing and speaking skills”

This is not even a question.

Our writing module in our course is huge.

It takes a long time to build writing skills for IELTS.

This student simply needs to get to work in a good IELTS course.

 

Great question: “Next week I am starting the speaking section of our course and I am wondering if someone has created templates for the speaking test.”

This question is three levels deeper than the question above.

This student that asked the question is in our course.

He is asking for templates because he knows that structures, templates, and strategies are important.

 

Remember, it’s ok to not know what questions to ask but you must take the right steps to get into a good course with a good plan and good strategies.

The wrong action to take is to remain with superficial questions and try to take the test that way.

 

What kinds of questions are you asking?

Let us know in the comments below.

Today get an answer from a listener question about the difference between “some” and “any” and find out how you can close your grammar book and start learning in a new way as soon as possible.

” What is the difference between “some books” and “some book.” I want to know how to use them. I also want to know the difference between “any book” and “any books” as well.

-Erico

We use “some” when we don’t care about the quantity or the amount.

  • I got some books for Christmas.

When we say this we don’t care about the number of books.

It’s about the fact that I got books.

 

Other examples:

  • “You have some flour on your face”: It doesn’t matter how much flour is on the person’s face.
  • “It’s going to take some time before we can speak again”: We don’t know how much time.

 

We use “some” when something is unknown or unfamiliar

  • “Some guy came over and asked me where I lived”
  • “Some lady called for you and here’s her number.”

In both of these sentences we don’t know who the person is.

 

We use “any” in negative sentences or questions:

  • “You go shopping every weekend so no wonder you don’t have any money”
  • “Do you have any milk in the fridge?”

 

“Any ideas” versus “any idea”:

  • Do you have any idea how to use this app? Here we are looking for one specific response.
  • Does anyone have any ideas for our next marketing campaign? This is looking for a number of ideas.

 

Leave us a sample sentence in the comments below.

Practice this here!

Today find out what teachers don’t tell you about IELTS thesis statements for Writing Task 2.

The thesis statement is the most important part of the essay but it does not need to be complicated.

It should be short, clear, and concise.

A lot of student make the mistake of putting complex grammar structures in the thesis statement but those should be saved for the Writing Task 2 body paragraphs.

What questions do you have about Writing Task 2?

Let us know in the comments below.

Ed Katzman English cover letter business English

Today get 3 secrets to writing a cover letter that can win you the job in English.

Ed says that the cover letter is meant to be a bridge to the resume.

People usually put too much information in the cover letter.

They don’t appeal to the reader that way.

A cover letter is written like a newspaper article.

It has a lead, details, and a conclusion at the end.

Today Ed will tell us about this formula and how we can use it for job search success in English.

Remember, both the content and the visual look of the cover letter are important.

You need to direct people’s eyes to the important parts of the letter.

3 Tips for a Winning Cover Letter:

  • The hook: The cover letter is a tease to get them to read the resume. Your hook is your strongest selling point based on what the company needs or what the company does. Most people who write a cover letter do not write a proper hook.

 

  • Highlight a few of the most valuable points from your resume: Talk about specific accomplishments. Make it clear that you have delivered results. Make it a clear and understandable situation. Later you’ll expand on these points in little stories. Be as concrete as possible. Again, the point is to get them to read the resume.

 

  • Reach the right person with your materials: Start with someone you know in the company. If you don’t have that then try to get a referral to someone. It’s ok to ask for a referral if someone you know has a connection. The third priority is the hiring manager. Next you can try a top departmental or company executive. The last place you want to start is the HR department.

 

Don’t forget! The typical resume and cover letters get a 6-second review. You have to hook them and get them to move to the next step of the interview. Everything that you put into your resume or cover letter must move you forward as a candidate.

 

Ed’s Bio:

Hi, I’m Business English Ed. Communication is my expertise; Job Search and Business English are my specialties.

With over 35 years of business experience and 7 years teaching experience, I have  been helping people online since 2010, offering custom lessons designed to be relevant, valuable, and fun.

While most of my time is still spent working as a business consultant, I work with a limited number of highly motivated business professionals for a few hours a  week, with my focus being on the job search process and on general business English..

Why do I fit teaching in my schedule? Because I get great satisfaction helping people advance their careers. Because I am interested in languages. Because I like meeting people from other cultures and sharing experiences.

My business career has been spent in marketing and general management, in the industries of consumer products and services and software. I’ve worked in companies and as a consultant. I’ve worked for big international companies and small local ones. I’ve interviewed hundreds of people and had many job interviews myself.

I have degrees from top US universities: Yale, Stanford, and the National College of Education. I’m married, with two children, aged 21 and 15, and two dogs. I spend my free time with my family, playing with iPhone app programming, and studying Italian.

 

How to Work with Ed:

Step 1: Get $10 off your second lesson when you register here.

Step 2: Find Ed’s profile on italki: Click here

 

Leave a comment about today’s episode!

We want to hear your feedback

Do you know which linking words to use? Do you know where to use them?

 

 

 

Linking for IELTS Speaking Part 1

First off, you need to be clear on a very important aspect of scoring highly in this part for Fluency and Coherence.

Yes, you must use a variety of linking words, but, as Speaking Part 1 is made of informal, personal questions, you cannot use high-level, formal linking words.

Using the wrong linking words in Speaking Part 1 can actually lower your score!

For example, if the examiner asks, “Do you enjoy exercising outside?”

An inappropriate response would be, “To begin, I love running outside. Furthermore, I try to run for half an hour in the park near my house every morning. In conclusion, moving around outside is an essential activity for me.”

That was terrible!! Those linking words are too formal, and, thus, they sound very unnatural and grating to a native speaker, and the examiner.

A better, more natural response would be, “Actually, I love running outside. In fact, I try to run for half an hour in the park near my house every morning. Honestly, moving around outside is an essential activity for me.

So, in IELTS Speaking Part 1, you should use linking words and transition phrases like actually, in fact, to be honest, you know, well, for example and another thing is that.

 

Linking for IELTS Speaking Part 2

For the most fluent, coherent, and natural sounding response in Speaking Part 2, you should try and tell a story.

This is the best strategy for every topic the examiner gives you.

So, that means that your answer will naturally be organized by time, and you can use linking words such as firstly, at first, after that, following this, and then, next, finally and at long last.

How you choose to introduce your answer is another opportunity to impress the examiner, as I talk about in this video.

 


 

 

Linking for Speaking Part 3

IELTS Speaking Part 3 is more formal than the first two parts.

The questions are “abstract”, as IELTS says, which means they are about society and the world at large.

You might have to answer questions such as, “What are the advantages of living abroad?” or, “How do you think the education system in your country might develop in the future?”

In your answers, you should try and use the same linking words and transition phrases as in IELTS Writing Task 2.

An example response would be:

To be certain, living abroad has a great many benefits. For instance, one can immerse oneself in another language and learn it quite efficiently. A great example of this is myself, as I could speak almost no English when I arrived here one year ago, and, now, I can communicate almost anything that I need to or want. Moreover, gaining the perspective that living in foreign country provides is priceless in terms of one’s knowledge about the world and oneself.”

To sum up, securing a high score on the IELTS Speaking exam is not just about using linking words, but using them correctly.

What do you think about the advice in this article?

Leave us a message in the comment section below!

 

 

Today get your problem solved with our 5 practice suggestions.

It’s not easy to find Australian listening resources but we have found a few good ones.

It’s important to practice with all accents because all accents are on the IELTS Exam.

In our 3 Keys IELTS course we give you all 4 accents on our two practice tests.

  • Muriel’s Wedding: Go to imdb.com and look up Toni Collette. This is an indie film and it’s great.
  • Animal Kingdom: This is an indie flick from Australia. It’s intense and a great movie.
  • Crocodile Dundee: This series of movies is funny and entertaining.
  • All Ears English Episode 467: Interview with David Peachey from Australia. You can learn special Australian terms such as “heaps” and “mate”
  • Steve Irwin: He has passed away but he used to do a lot of shows about animals. His shows are amazing and inspiring. This is a resource that you could watch with your family.

 

How should you use these resources?

Watch or listen to them at first with subtitles.

Then take the subtitles away and watch the same thing again without subtitles.

You need to build your listening skills gradually.

Don’t be afraid to use transcripts.

 

Have you found any other resources to practice the Australian accent?

Let us know in the comments below.

Are you vegetarian?

Are you vegan?

Are you gluten free?

Today find out how to politely voice your dietary needs in English.

“Hi Lindsay I am James and I’m from China. I am a business major. I have been listening to your podcast for a month and I love it. I am going to the US this summer to improve my English for 3 months.

I have problems with my stomach that I can’t eat or drink anything cold.

I am wondering if I can get anything cold to eat or drink in the US.

Can you please talk about it in an episode?”

-James

 

Can you get hot water in the summer in the US?

Yes you can.

You can get hot water at a restaurant or you can go into a convenience store and ask for a cup of hot water.

They will probably give it to you for free.

 

Can you get hot food?

Yes you can.

You can get it anytime in the summer or winter.

Any restaurant is going to have hot plates except for a deli where they only serve sandwiches.

 

native English teachersCan’t find native speakers to practice English with you?

Can’t get your English corrected by your native-speaking friends?

Get a professional, native English teacher in seconds at italki.

For a limited time, italki is offering 10 USD in free English lessons. Click here to get your 10USD in italki credits before this offer runs out!

 

What are the common needs in the US:

  • Vegetarian
  • Vegan
  • Gluten free
  • Paleo diet

 

What to say if you are vegetarian:

  • Do you have any vegetarian options on the menu?
  • I don’t eat meat. What do you recommend here?
  • It looks amazing. I wish I could eat meat but I can’t. I am looking forward to the potatoes though.
  • Wow I wish I could eat meat. You have done such a nice job preparing this. Thank you.

 

What is Vegan?

Someone who doesn’t eat any animal products at all.

They don’t eat eggs, cheese, or milk.

 

What is Gluten Free?

Some people have an allergy to gluten if they have Celiac disease.

Recently it has developed into a trend.

Some people become Gluten Free even if they don’t have Celiac disease.

It can be expensive to get Gluten Free products at the grocery store.

 

Do you have any dietary needs?

Have you ever run into any challenges with eating while traveling?

Let us know in the comments below.

We all hang out in the private Facebook group and our students have some fantastic questions.

Today you’ll get three questions and three answers about IELTS vocabulary from 3 Keys students.

Question #1: A student asked us a question about a model essay sentence from a Change Over Time Task 1 question. Could you please tell me the meaning of this sentence and when to use it, “From 2o quarts and 15 quarts respectively in 1980 gas showed an initial fall and coal a gradual increase with the two fuels equal between 1985 and 1990”

Answer: This is a complicated sentence that is trying to express a simple idea. It’s confusing. It just means that gas started at 20 quarts and coal started at 15 quarts in 1980 and then gas started to fall and coal started to increase until 1985 when they became equal and they stayed equal until 1990.

There is a lot going on in this sentence.

We don’t recommend that you write complicated sentences like these.

It will bring your score down.

Instead focus on the message.

What do you want to communicate?

What is the main idea?

In your Writing don’t worry as much about the vocab and grammar.

It’s more important that you can communicate clearly.

Clear communication is the priority.

Don’t lose the meaning by getting lost in the words.

 

Question #2: Someone asked about the idiom “Making ends meet.”

This idiom means making enough money to survive and pay your bills.

They wanted to know if this idiom is formal or informal and where to use it on the test.

Answer: This phrase would be great to use in Writing Task 2 and anywhere on the IELTS Speaking test.

It could connect with many IELTS topics like jobs, income, being a student, etc.

 

Question #3: The student asked about “by contrast” and “on the contrary.”

They mean the same thing and they are used to link two contrasting ideas.

For example, “Lindsay loves non fiction; by contrast, Jessica loves fiction” or you could say the same sentence and swap in “on the contrary.”

Answer: Even though it’s not natural to use linking words you need to use linking words in speaking Part 3 and Writing Task 1 and Task 2.

Make sure you use the right linking words at the right time on IELTS.

 

Let us know what questions you have in the comments section below.

Australian English teacher David Peachy

Today you’ll meet our guest David Peachy from Australia and he’ll show you three English phrases you need to know if you want to talk with Australians.

We are excited to have David on the show today because we haven’t had many Australian native English speakers on the show!

David describes the Australian accent as warm.

They drop a neutral sound between the consonant and the vowel.

Listen to the episode to see what it sounds like.

Australian expressions you must know!

  • “Mate”: This means “friend.” This can be used with pretty much anyone. It’s a standard term. It can be used with strangers when we ask for directions. It’s used as a form of address.
  • “Heaps”: This means piles of something. It means “a lot.” You can say, “I have heaps of work to do” or “There were heaps of food in the fridge” or “There were heaps of people at the party.” This can also be used to mean “very much” so you can say “I am heaps pleased” or “It’s heaps scary.” You can also say “I love you (ya) heaps.”
  • “Yeah…nah”: This means “yes, no.” A lot of people get confused by this. This is about disagreeing with someone. They use it in conversations as a filler. It usually comes just before someone contributes a sentence to the conversation and wants the other person to stop speaking and to listen to them.

David‘s Bio:

David comes from sunny Brisbane in Australia. He graduated with a degree in Theatre over 20 years ago, and has since travelled the world, learnt several languages, and taught general and business English in central Europe, Turkey, Russia and Thailand. He has also been an italki teacher for the past five years.

David is currently working with students to improve their natural speech, using vocal techniques from his theatre background. He also does speaking workshops for IELTS candidates, and is more than happy to have a general chat, of course!

What questions do you have about the Australian accent?

Let us know in the comments below.

We are building a supportive community at 3 Keys IELTS!

A lot of students in our course are now connecting in our private Facebook group and are meeting to practice speaking together.

They are also supporting each other in the Power Hour where they give each other feedback on their speaking and writing along with Jessica.

We hold Power Hours every two weeks on Google Hangouts.

 

What happens on IELTS if you have a disability?

No matter what your disability is, IELTS is ready for you.

They have materials available for almost any disability.

One listener wrote in and asked us what band score he would get if he stutters on the Speaking test.

You can get the materials and support you need but you must tell the test center at least 3 months before your exam date.

You might need documentation from a doctor that proves that you have the disability.

 

Common disabilities:

  • Blind
  • Deaf
  • Stuttering
  • Physical handicaps
  • Learning disabilities

 

Do you have any other questions about disabilities on the IELTS?

Let us know in the comments below.

Are you wondering if we speak at a normal, native speed on All Ears English?

Today you’ll get the answer plus a few tips on how to push up your listening level to make more connections in English!

Many listeners have asked how to know what their level is.

Are you wondering this too?

First of all, think more about what you can do through English.

To what extent can you connect with people?

It doesn’t mean much when you write “advanced” or “intermediate” on your resume.

It’s more about what you are able to do.

Instead of writing a level on your resume we recommend you expand on that and say exactly what you have done in English at work. Doing this will give you more credibility in the eyes of the interviewer.

Have you led a meeting? Have you negotiated a deal?

If you really need a number then take the IELTS Exam.

It’s also about more than the language.

Get out of the old mentality that you are bringing into English from your school days.

Language can be rich.

We get to connect with someone that we couldn’t connect with otherwise.

If we are focusing on numbers and labels it will hinder the connection.

 

Do we speak at a normal pace on this podcast?

We don’t slow down our speed of speaking.

We use “stage voices.”

We use more enthusiasm than we would in real life.

In real life we might be more monotone and more calm.

We try to speak clearly.

 

Do we use complete sentences?

No. We start a sentence and then if we change our mind then we cut it off and move into a different sentence.

It’s not like sentences in a book.

We speak in a spontaneous way.

 

What should you do if you understand us but you can’t understand other shows?

  • Stop putting pressure on yourself to understand 100% of a conversation. You only need to get the basic gist.
  • Choose listening resources that have transcripts such as NPR. Also NPR does interviews with people using different accents.
  • Scaffold your learning: Start by making it easy then make it a little harder. Start with the transcripts then take them away.
  • Keep listening to All Ears English then expand out and find new resources

 

What do you think about today’s episode?

Let us know in the comments below.

Do you want a course on listening skills? Let us know in the comments below.

However, if they do pop up on exam day, are you prepared to write a high-scoring essay?

I was talking to a friend of mine who works at the IELP center at Portland State University, and, surprise surprise, we had a long conversation about IELTS!

For some teachers, like us, IELTS is actually an interesting topic!

She was saying that an IELTS tutor at her center came to her for some guidance on those pesky, confusing and, frankly, just odd IELTS Task 1 questions that ask you to write an essay about maps.

The tutor was trying her best to help her IELTS student learn how to write about these rare questions, but when she looked online for resources, she could simply find nothing that was clear enough to give her student.

So, I thought, let’s remedy that situation today! Here is what you need to know to score highly on IELTS Writing Task 1 map questions.

  1. First, there are two kinds of maps you might see on the exam.


As the video says, one map question gives you just one image of a map, and asks you to compare two places on the one map.

This is comparable to an IELTS Static Task 1 essay question, which asks you to compare numbers about one point in time, such as one year.

The other more common type of IELTS map question is the one which provides you with two maps. One map shows what a place looked like in the past, and the other map shows you what the place looks like now.

This is directly comparable to an IELTS Task 1 Change Over Time question, which asks you to write about numbers that change over time, such as sales numbers from 2001 to 2014.

So, at least the type of information you are comparing is not completely unknown to you.

2. Second, how does this knowledge help you? Well, if you have studied about what the examiner wants from you in IELTS Task 1, than you can apply that to your preparation for map questions. 

To get a high score for Task Achievement on a map question, you must include an overall trend.

For the static map, this will simply be choosing which of the two places on the map are more suitable for what the question asks. For example, “Overall, Site 1 is a more suitable location for a new school than Site 2.”

For the change over time map, the overall trend will note how the town or place has grown. For example, “Overall, the town has seen an increase in the size of the residential and business areas, while the amount of natural space has decreased.”

The overall trend should be the second sentence in your introduction. Please review how to write a stellar introduction for IELTS Writing Task 1.

3. For a high score in Cohesion and Coherence, you must organize the information into two clear groups.

So, paragraph 2 is about one group of information and paragraph 3 is about the other group of information.

For static map questions, write about Site 1 in paragraph 2, and Site 2 in paragraph 3.

For change over time map questions, write about the past picture in paragraph 2 and the other picture in paragraph 3.

4. To score highly in grammar, you must have a mix of sentence structures

For static map questions, you will have more comparative sentences, such as, “Site 1 has greater access to parking, while Site 2 is closer to public transit stations.”

For change over time map questions, you will use a mix of “there is/there are” sentences to describe what you see, and also compound sentences such as, “In 2015, the number of houses almost doubled, and the streets expanded in size to accommodate for the increase in traffic.”

5. For a good vocabulary score, the most important thing to remember is not to copy the all the words you see directly from the test question.

Also, you need to learn phrases such as, “in the left-hand corner,” “near the top of the map,” and “in the immediate vicinity.” Basically, you need vocabulary for describing locations.

For more lessons on scoring highly on all parts of the IELTS exam, try our course, The 3 Keys IELTS Success System.

Do you have any other questions or comments about IELTS Writing Task 1 Map questions?

Leave us a message in the comments section below!

Are you planning a trip to the United States?

Do you want to see places that are outside the norm? Would you like to meet local people?

In today’s episode we’ll give you our top recommendations about where to go when you are looking for non-traditional tourist spots.

“My name is Eduardo. I am from Brazil. Which parts of the US would you recommend for students to go? Everyone knows the most touristy areas but such a big country must have a lot more to explore. Is there something to do in Mississippi or Missouri? I would appreciate an answer from you.”

-Eduardo

 

Our Recommendations:

  • #1) Lake Placid: This was the site of the Olympics in 1980 and 1932. It’s in the Adirondack mountain range. It is a peaceful place that’s great for winter vacations and the fall foliage is amazing.
  • #2) Northern New England in the fall: The foliage is amazing. It’s famous for maple syrup. Try The Common Man for dinner if you are in Ashland because it’s a typical New England restaurant.
  • #3) Montana: Missoula, Montana is supposed to be amazing. It is beautiful. There is a lot of hiking and outdoor activities that you can take part in.
  • #4) New Hope, Pennsylvania: A cute town. They have lots of cute bed and breakfasts, cute little shops, etc.
  • #5) Lancaster, Pennsylvania: This is Amish Country. Read more about it here.
  • #6) Nashville, Tennessee: This town is famous for country music.
  • #7) Austin, Texas: This city is hot right now. They have a great live music scene. They are famous for great food trucks. The politics are very different from the rest of Texas. It’s considered a young, liberal crowd that is stuck in the middle of a very conservative state.

 

What other great places do you know that are less well known in the US?

Let us know in the comments below.

Today we’ll show you how to aim for an 8 so that you can get a 7 on the IELTS speaking test.

“Shoot for the moon! Even if you miss you will land among the stars”

Prepare for an 8.

Even if you don’t get it you will at least get a 7.

It’s important to set intentions.

You need to set high standards for yourself.

On IELTS speaking you are graded on 4 categories.

To get an 8 you need this:

  • Fluency and Coherence: Speaks with no hesitation except when it’s content related. A 7 is will have more pauses. An 8 only has a pause if you are trying to think of ideas. Coherence is about linking words. For an 8 linking is effortless. It sounds natural. A 7 student uses higher-level linking words and it sounds like a student, not a native speaker because the linking words are natural.  To shoot for an 8 in this category you should do more listening to native speakers using podcasts and other listening materials.

 

  • Vocabulary: An 8 candidate uses a lot of idioms and interesting words and phrases. A 7 uses some idioms and interesting words and phrases. A 7 also has more mistakes than an 8. To get an 8 here you should listen to all of our idiom and vocabulary episodes.

 

  • Grammar: An 8 will have almost all perfect sentences. A 7 has a lot of perfect sentences. Don’t spend too much time focusing on improving your grammar for IELTS. Read more about our grammar strategy for IELTS. Spend your time focusing on increasing your other scores and not this one.

 

  • Pronunciation: For an 8, use stress and intonation. Your words need to be connected like a native speaker. Also to get an 8 your accent should not be very obvious. In order to get a 7 you only need one of the following: connected speech, easy to understand speech, and minimal first language accent. Click here to learn more.

 

What questions do you have about this strategy?

Let us know in the comments below.

Is it your job? Is it my job? Whose job is it? Today learn how to find out in English!

Today we answer a listener question. How do you find out who is responsible for a task at work while maintaining your charisma and charm.

 

“I am now working on a position that requires me to write to people across departments. Sometimes I need to write to people to check if a particular thing is one of their duties or if it should go to another person.

What should I say?”

 

What can you say?

  • “These videos need to be uploaded to You Tube. Is that something your responsible for?”
  • “Every week someone on the team writes a new blog post. Do you normally take care of that?”
  • “Do you have any idea who is in charge of measuring conversion rates on our sales pages?”

 

*Listen to the audio to get the conversation between Lindsay and Michelle

 

Do you know any other phrases to find out what someone’s job is?

Let us know in the comments below.

We got a great question about whether or not you can include a quote in your IELTS Writing Test.

On the test you don’t have access to online quotes.

Examiners know that.

You can come up with your own creative ideas when it comes to quotes and research.

You won’t be marked down if it’s not real.

IELTS does not grade you on how correct your ideas are.

You can state something ridiculous but as long as it’s still about the topic you will be fine.

How can you do it?

  • Get specific and detailed
  • Include fake research from a known name like a newspaper or a university
    • “Harvard University published a study that….”
  • Make the research specific, you must include a number
    • “Harvard published a study in June of 2015 which said because males have 20% more muscle mass than females they are 20% more likely to succeed in athletic events”
  • Start with a simple idea and go as deep into the idea as you can to get more details

 

Where in the essay do you put made up quotes?

  • This made up research should be in paragraphs 2 and 3.
  • If you are making up a quote from a famous person you can use it at the end of your essay to conclude the point you are making.
    • “As Shakespeare famously said….”

If you work with a teacher who doesn’t know IELTS then they might incorrectly tell you that you can’t make up quotes but that is not the case.

Make sure your teacher really knows the IELTS Exam well.

Click here to learn more about how to choose a good IELTS teacher.

 

Have you included any fake research or made-up quotes on the IELTS Exam?

Let us know in the comments below.

Today find out how to hook people with your riveting stories in English!

Storytelling is a key skill if you want to become charismatic in English.

Do your stories fall flat?

Do you even know how to start your stories in English?

Get your storytelling problems solved with Lindsay and Michelle today.

Key strategies for storytelling:

  • Start with the person’s name. If it’s a group of people you can start with “Hey guys…”
  • Tell them that you have a story to tell then wait and see if they ask to hear it. You could say “So Michelle the scariest thing happened to me when I was hiking in the White Mountains this week…”

Adjectives to use:

  • The weirdest thing happened
  • The funniest thing happened
  • The scariest thing happened
  • The most bizarre thing happened

A great way to learn English!

Read and listen to stories to learn English!

Check out The Moth on NPR and you can also buy the book.

I really love reading the The Moth because the stories are human and real.

You can use stories to change the way you feel about learning English.

Let us know what your favorite stories are for learning English.

Leave a comment below.

Today find out how to deal with the energy slump you will experience in IELTS Writing Task 2 and how to deal with the entire day to get your best possible score.

You need to make sure that you set aside time to practice the entire exam during your preparation.

You need to see what it feels like to do the whole test.

It can be long and tiring.

It’s not enough to just do one section of the test under test conditions.

In our 3 Keys IELTS course we provide the Anti-anxiety plan to make sure that you know what to do in each section of the test when you get nervous.

Also a lot of students get especially nervous when it comes to the Writing Task 2 section.

Nowadays the IELTS is giving questions that don’t follow the traditional opinion question or other common question types.

You do need to know how to write the Argument, Opinion, and Problem/Solution essay but you might get a question that is a mixture.

In our 3 Keys Power Hours for students in our course they get a chance to practice this type of question.

If you get a double question you need to find the two separate parts.

Each part of the question gets a paragraph.

It might seem intimidating but it can be simple if you follow this plan.

 

What other tips do you have for surviving the long IELTS day?

Let us know in the comments below.

How do you avoid getting into a conversation when you run into someone who wants to talk?

What do you say in that moment to make sure the connection stays strong?

Find out today.

Depending on what you say in this situation you could ruin or strengthen the connection between you and the person.

Where else could this happen?

  • Local store, grocery store
  • Hair dresser
  • Running into a friend
  • With a colleague at the end of the workday but you are on your way to a class
  • On the street and you’re in a rush

What should we think about?

  • Don’t offend the person
  • Don’t make them think that you don’t want to talk about them
  • You don’t need to say where you’re going, what you’re doing

What can you say?

  • “Hey I wish I could chat but I have to run (I gotta) run”
  • “Sorry I’m in a rush/hurry. I have to get going.
  • “Sorry I’m on my way to ____.”
  • “I’m really pressed for time today.”

What phrases do you use to not get caught in a conversation?

Let us know in the comments below.

Jessica Beck has been working in the IELTS world for the past ten years and she is here to answer your questions using her expert IELTS knowledge.

Question #1:

“How many words do I have to write for each task on the Writing Test? How does the word count work? Do small words like articles or prepositions count?”

Answer #1:

“You need 150 words for Task 1 and 250 words for Task 2. If you go below these numbers then your task achievement / task response score will go down. Your vocabulary score might go down also.”

“All words count as part of your word count including articles and prepositions.”

 

Question #2:

“I am feeling nervous about reading Y/N/NG questions.”

Answer #1:

“The biggest problem is finding the difference between No/False and Not Given. Finding out if it’s True or Yes is easy because you can see if everything from the passage agrees. If it’s a False or No statement then all of the information is in the passage but it disagrees. It’s opposite. Not Given is when a key part of the information is not in the passage. It’s just not there at all. IELTS likes to throw in numbers that disagree including quantity or time or how often.”

 

Question #3:

“I am concerned about writing in scientific terms on the IELTS Listening test. Should I be worried about this?”

Answer #3:

“You don’t need to be concerned about high-level terms for the listening test. The answers that you are required to give will not be beyond an intermediate English vocabulary level. You might listen to something that is higher in level but you won’t need to write it in.”

 

*Pro tip:

IELTS uses the same tricks and traps over and over again.

You need to start looking for the patterns.

We give you these tricks in our course.

Click here to get into our course.

 

What other IELTS questions do you want to ask us?

Let us know in the comments below.

 

One of the most common topics on all parts of the IELTS exam, including Speaking, is education, or school.

Do you know some interesting vocabulary for this IELTS “hot” topic?

In order to get a 7 or higher for vocabulary on the IELTS Speaking exam, you MUST use interesting, idiomatic language.

In this article, you will learn 5 very useful, and very natural, idioms that native speakers use all the time, but students almost never use!

Therefore, using these idioms on the exam will really set you apart from the other candidates and impress the IELTS examiner.

 

Teacher’s pet

Definition: A teacher’s pet is a student who the teacher likes the best, usually because that student is very well behaved, does all the homework and gets good grades.

IELTS example answer: I was a teacher’s pet in almost all my classes, and this made some other students make fun of me sometimes. However, that didn’t bother me because I always got better grades than them!

 

Strategies Created By a Former Examiner

100% Score Increase Guarantee with our Insider Method

Are you ready to move past IELTS and move forward with your life vision?

Find out why our strategies are the most powerful in the IELTS world.

When you use our Insider Method you avoid the BIGGEST MISTAKES that most students make on IELTS.

Click here to get a score increase on IELTS. It’s 100% guaranteed.

 

A kiss-up, or to kiss up

Definition: A kiss-up is someone who always flatters, or gives compliments, to another person. In school, sometimes students kiss up to teachers to try and get better grades or, perhaps, get out of trouble.

IELTS example answer: Science was never my strongest subject in school, so I always tried to kiss up to the teacher at the beginning of the year. I would tell my teachers how young they looked, and sometimes I would bring them little presents.

Side note: This could be used to describe a person in any situation, perhaps a brother or sister who kissed up to your parents, for example. Get more idioms to describe family here, as this is another very common IELTS Speaking topic!

 

Draw a blank

Definition: When you cannot think of a word or idea, your mind is blank and empty.

IELTS example answer: The teacher asked me about the chapter we had read for homework, but I drew a blank. I suddenly could not remember anything about what I had read the night before.

Side note: This is also a great phrase for buying time on the IELTS Speaking exam!

 

Cover a lot of ground

Definition: This phrase means to go over a lot of material or information.

IELTS example answer: Although my test preparation class is only one hour, we learn a lot in that time. I’m amazed at how we cover so much ground in every class.

Side note: This could also be used when talking about work, such as when you describe a meeting in which you went over a lot of information.  

Get more idioms for describing work here, another very common IELTS topic.

 

Learn by heart

Definition: This is a lovely idiom which is synonymous with “memorize”.

IELTS example answer: In sixth grade, we had to learn all the states and their capitals by heart. I still remember all of them!

 

Part 3 Sample Answers

There is a good chance you’ll be asked about education on Speaking Part 3.

In this video, Aubrey provides band 9 sample answers for two IELTS Speaking Part 3 questions about education.

What is your opinion on the way languages are taught in schools?

What changes do you think will happen in the classroom in the near future?

She uses high level vocabulary.

  • Curriculum: The topics included in a course of study
  • Compulsory: required, mandated; something that must be done
  • Hit the books: study
  • Pass with flying colors: succeed

Practice using this vocabulary to boost your score for any education questions!

 

Watch the video now!

 

 

Takeaway

You definitely want to prepare to talk about education on IELTS Speaking.

This is an incredibly common topic on the IELTS exam!

You must be ready with interesting, idiomatic language.

Practice using today’s vocab and idioms.

Use shadowing to mimic the intonation of Aubrey’s sample answers.

For all the strategies you need, sign up for 3 Keys IELTS!

 

Can you think of your own examples for using these idioms?

Leave your ideas in our comments section below!

Here is the question:

“How realistic is the expectation of job satisfaction for all careers? How realistic is job satisfaction for all workers? How can people be satisfied in their work? Give your opinion on this and discuss the solutions.”

When you answer this kind of question with two questions in it you need to answer each question in a separate paragraph.

Don’t overthink it.

Organize it in a simple way.

Brainstorm about the first question first then start a new list about the second question and then those to chunks of brainstormed ideas will create your two body paragraphs.

When you choose your opinion you must choose the side that has the most supporting evidence.

During your brainstorming step you need to see if there is enough information to support your point.

If there is not enough information then you need to quickly switch to the other point of view.

Remember, IELTS does not care about your personal ideas and beliefs.

They only care about your English skills.

When you look for evidence remember to use your own personal stories or examples.

 

Have you gotten this question on your exam?

How did you handle it? How would you handle it differently after listening to this episode?

Today get some common non-textbook English phrases and find out what you should do when you hear them!

We’ll answer a question from our listener and we’ll clear up his confusion about some phrases that he’s hearing from his American colleagues but will never appear in a textbook.

“When I discuss something with coworkers and look for clarification my coworkers say “There you go” when I hit the point and understand it.

Also when I ask people to send me a document by email someone might attach the document and say “Here you are.” Can you explain what these phrases mean?

-Muhammed, AEE Listener

 

  • There you go: You understand it. You got it. Nice job!
  • Here you are: Here it is. Here you go. This is a little bit more formal.
  • There it is: This means “yes! we got it” or “we did it” It could be used in a basketball game when someone scores the final point or anytime you are working with a team and you do something great together.

 

Listen to the conversation in the episode to see how these phrases are used.

Let us know in the comments if you have ever tried to use these phrases.

When do we use the passive voice?

Academic writing

In academia we use it to make blanket statements such as “It is considered by many to be the most treasured artifact.”

These phrases are useful for IELTS Speaking Part 3 and Writing Task 2.

 

Newspapers:

We use the passive when we are focused on the recipient of the action and it doesn’t matter who did it.

For example, “The thief was arrested last week.”

Is there a grammar construction that you can connect this to in your own language?

If there is it will help you understand this better.

You need to get to know this form on a deeper level where you can produce it.

You need to learn it when it’s connected to context.

 

When we describe processes:

In Writing Task 1 you usually have to describe graphs but sometimes you get a nature  diagram or a manufacturing process.

In this case you have to use passive voice.

For example, you might have to say “The pencil is made in Des Moines and it is shipped to California.”

 

In our course 3 Keys IELTS Success System we show you in a step by step fashion how to prepare for questions like these. Get more information about our course here.

 

Leave us a comment or ask a question below.

Today find out how to react with charisma to an obvious and annoying comment in English.

What’s an annoying and obvious comment?

  • “Your face is red”
  • “What happened to your face?” (if you have a burn or a mark)
  • “You look tired”
  • “You’re soaking wet”
  • “You’re in a cast”
  • “You don’t look like you feel well”

Usually when people make these annoying comments they don’t mean to offend you.

Maybe they are feeling awkward and they don’t know what else to say or they are trying to figure out how to make conversation.

Today we’ll show you how to “brush off” the comment but in a polite way.

We’ll show you how to receive the comment then diffuse the situation by not giving the comment any more attention than it deserves.

3 Phrases to react to an annoying comment:

  • “Yeah, yeah it’s no big deal. My face gets red all of the time. So what’s going on with you?”
  • “Ha ha what else is new. Anyways, what have you been up to?” (be careful with this one- it could come off as rude if it’s used in the wrong tone of voice. To make sure it doesn’t sound rude you could say “What else is new, right?” to make it sound like you are including them in the joke and that they know you.
  • “Yeah it happens (happened). What’s the update in your life?”

Most of these phrases are a great way for you to change the subject in English.

*Listen to the episode to hear examples of how these phrases can be used in a real conversation between Lindsay and Michelle.

How do you normally react to annoying comments?

Let us know in the comments below.

“Hello everyone I have been using listening practice tests to check my score but I have realized that many are different. I have used  Road 2 IELTS and tests from IELTS Blog. My scores are very different on these practice tests. Which one matches the real exam better? Are there any other sources I can rely on aside from these two?”

Sometimes material writers produce tests that are more difficult than the actual test which can be helpful.

Our recommendation: Take your scores for both tests and average them.

If you do see a huge difference then stop using those tests.

Jessica has written more than 14 textbooks and she is well-practiced in trying to match level.

It’s very hard to do this.

When she wrote the practice tests for 3 Keys IELTS she referred to the Cambridge Practice Test books.

 

Are Cambridge Practice Tests a good resource?

The Cambridge series are a valid example of test practice.

They are the closest you’ll get to the real test.

Unless you can see who is creating the practice test there is no way you can know if it’s valid.

Our course has one professional voice.

The entire course was created by Jessica Beck.

Don’t mix and match various resources online because you won’t get consistency in the strategies that you are learning.

You need to focus on one course and build up your skills there.

 

What should you do?

  • Get into our course
  • Use Cambridge Practice Tests only after you have learned the test strategies in our course
  • Use our practice tests that have been professionally created by Jessica Beck (included in our course)

Where do you get your IELTS practice tests?

Do you know for sure that they are valid test practice? How do you know?

Let us know in the comments below.

When does it make sense to say “goodnight” in English at 1 pm?

When should you say goodnight?

What can you say instead of goodnight?

What are some other native expressions about the day?

Get all of this and more in today’s episode!

Today we have a great listener question. Here is the question:

“Generally I see people say, “Have a nice night” or “goodnight” in the middle of the day. It is so strange to me for people to say that in the middle of the day. Why do they do that?”

 

native English teachers

Can’t find native speakers to practice English with you?

Can’t get your English corrected by your native-speaking friends?

Get a professional, native English teacher in seconds at italki.

For a limited time, italki is offering 10 USD in free English lessons. Click here to get your 10USD in italki credits before this offer runs out!

 

Our response to our listener:

You are hearing this at your child’s school from the teachers and bus drivers.

They will say “goodnight” at 1 pm because the kids are leaving school.

They won’t see them until the next day.

This only happens at schools. This phrase is not used anywhere else this early in the day.

 

Phrases you can use to say goodbye during the day:

  • Enjoy the rest of your day: You could use this at any time during the day, at the drug store or if you run into a friend you can say this to someone
  • Have a great rest of your day:
  • Have a nice day: This would be used for someone helping you at a store.

 

What can you say when you leave work:

  • Goodnight: This depends on who you are saying this to. You can say it to your colleagues if you are leaving them but you wouldn’t say it to your partner if you are just coming home and greeting them at this time.
  • Have a great night: This means goodbye, it’s a nice casual and common thing to say
  • Have a good one: This is also very common and casual when you want to say goodbye
  • See ya tomorrow
  • Have a good evening

 

These can be used both day and night:

  • Have a good one
  • Take care
  • See you next time
  • See you tomorrow

 

Which of these phrases have you used?

Are you using any out-of-date phrases?

Let us know in the comments below.

You absolutely MUST use linking words on the Speaking test but using the appropriate ones at the right time, in the right part of the test is the key to a high score.

In Speaking Part 1 you have a 50% chance of being asked about your home. The question might be about the place where you live now or the place where you grew up.

If the question is: “Tell me about the house or apartment where you live now”

If you use linking words like “initially” or “subsequently” these are not linking words that are appropriate for Speaking Part 1.

They are too formal.

They would be much better for IELTS Speaking Part 3.

Also when you use an inappropriate word choice like this you distract the examiner and this will lower the other aspects of your speaking score.

Linking words to use:

Speaking Parts 1 and 2:

  • Use pronouns like “it” or “he” or “she”
  • Use easy linking words in Part 1 “and” or “but” or “also” or “such as” or “as well”
  • The key is to not repeat the same linking word again and again

 

Speaking Part 3:

  • Save the advanced ones for this part such as “initially” or “subsequently” or “this brings to mind the fact that”
  • You want to leave the examiner with a good impression. This is where you will “clench” the higher score and it will be fresh in the examiner’s mind and she or he will push you up to that 7.

Remember it’s not enough if you just know that you need to use these linking words.

You must practice them in mock Speaking tests.

If you are in 3 Keys IELTS Success System you will be invited to practice them in the Power Hour with Jessica and other students in the community.

Choose 2 or 3 linking words for each section and on your list mark the words based on which section you’ll use them in and why.

Have you used linking words on the IELTS Speaking test?

Let us know what linking words you have used in different parts of the Speaking test.

Today find out how to leave a party in English gracefully.

It’s a key skill if you want to maintain the relationships that you have built at the party and avoid offending the host!

Your textbook won’t teach you the key skills you need to exit a party in a respectful way.

You cannot just say, “I’m leaving.”

Why?

This sounds abrupt and it’s too plain.

The host might think that you had a bad time.

You also need to consider your body language, tone of voice, and your smile.

Phrases to say goodbye at a party:

  • “That was fun and I think we’re gonna head out.”
  • “Thanks so much for inviting us. We’re gonna get going.”
  • “Unfortunately I gotta get home.” or “Unfortunately I have to get home.”
  • “I wish I could stay longer but I have class in the morning.”

*Listen to the episode to hear these phrases being used in a real native conversation between Lindsay and Michelle.

Use these phrases in English the next time you leave a party in English.

Let us know how they work for you in the comments below.

Are you satisfying the requirements to reach the highest scores in your Task 1 answers?

You may be surprised to learn that every examiner, all over the globe, is looking for the same exact things in your IELTS Task 1 essays. In fact, the examiners themselves are constantly checked and trained, to ensure that the score you receive is valid and correct.

IELTS is a serious exam, and they are very straightforward about what you have to do to score highly in Writing Task 1.

Today, we’ll break down EXACTLY what the examiner is looking for in your writing, and also how you should best prepare to meet those expectations.

Task Achievement

What does the examiner want?

  • The key points must be clearly covered.
    • Academic: Include the most important numbers, and say why they are included. (i.e. The highest/lowest/biggest/smallest numbers.)
    • General: Talk about each bullet point in a separate paragraph.
  • Academic: An overall trend. This is the sentence that sums up the biggest changes, or the highest numbers, on the graph or chart.

How can you prepare to succeed?

Of course, you need specific strategies to prepare for and be able to confidently tackle any of the 3 question types that IELTS might throw at you on exam day. These include Change Over Time, Static, and, that wonky third category, Process/Nature Diagram/Map.

I wish there were an easy, magic, one-step method I could give you for preparing. However, unlike other parts of the IELTS exam, Writing Task 1 is unique to IELTS. You must find a trusted IELTS professional, who knows the exam intimately, to teach you the strategies and give you feedback on your essay.

Cohesion and Coherence

What does the examiner want?

  • Clearly organized ideas. In the IELTS Academic Task 1, this means organizing the numbers into 2 simple groups, which then make 2 clear body paragraphs. In the IELTS General Training Task 1, write about each bullet point in a separate paragraph.
  • A lot of linking words!

How can I prepare to succeed?

The key to succeeding here, and showing the examiner that you can clearly organize the information you are given, is to practice the brainstorming, or planning, part of the writing process.

A great and easy way to do this is to simply do an image search for graphs and charts. Then, you can practice circling the most important numbers to put in your essay, finding an overall trend, and organizing the numbers into 2 clear groups.

Lexical Resource (a.k.a. Vocabulary)

What does the examiner want?

  • Interesting and appropriate vocabulary.
  • Not too many repeated words.

How can I prepare to succeed?

To prepare for IELTS graph questions, the best thing you can do is read the business or finance sections in an English language newspaper.

In the IELTS General Training Task 1, where you have to write a letter, you must be aware of the difference between informal and formal vocabulary, and also be prepared with interesting, native-speaker like phrases for both situations.

Grammatical Range and Accuracy

What does the examiner want?

  • A variety of sentence structures, including simple, compound and complex sentences.
  • Not too many mistakes. (You can still have quite a few mistakes but, as long as the examiner understands what you want to say, you can still get a 6.)

How can I prepare?

Again, having an IELTS teacher who knows the exam very well and can therefore give you specific sentence structures for IELTS Task 1 will greatly increase the efficiency and efficacy of your preparations.

Other than that, reading high-level writing that includes these sentence structures, such as in the business and finance sections of the newspaper, will start you on your way to being able to produce the structures correctly.

Do you have any questions about today’s advice?

Leave us a comment below!

 

Today you’re going to find out how to use our crazy, outside of the box strategy to increase your score on the IELTS General Writing Task 1 Letter.

We’ll take a typical General Writing Task 1 question and we’ll show you exactly how to brainstorm to come up with interesting and creative ideas for your letter.

When you do this you get the examiner to think about giving you a 7.

Today we have an informal letter to a friend:

A friend has agreed to look after your house and pet while you are on holiday. Write a letter to your friend. In your letter to your friend do the following:

1- Give contact details for when you are away

2- Give instructions for how to care for your pet

3- Describe other household duties

To get the highest possible score you need to address all 3 bullet points in a balanced way.

Do one paragraph for each bullet point.

Remember to be creative. For example, a creative answer to bullet point 1 could be that you will be on a silent retreat where you cannot be reached by phone but your friend could contact the monk who would deliver the message to your bunk room.

**It’s important to not repeat yourself for both the Academic and General Writing Task 1 because the letter is only 150 words. With the letter you should take each bullet point and add new and creative information but don’t repeat information from other bullet points.

For bullet point two you could pretend that you have an asthmatic monkey and you need to instruct your friend on how to use the monkey’s inhaler.

Listen to the episode to get our brainstorming ideas for bullet point 3.

What questions do you have about the General Writing Task 1 Letter?

Let us know in the comments below.

What is happening in the US with the misuse of the word literally?

Find out how today and learn how to NOT jump on the bandwagon.

Today we are responding to a listener question:

“I don’t really know how to use technically, literally, basically. I see native speakers using these words when they gesture with their fingers by making air quotes in a conversation. It looks really natural to me but I am not sure when and how to use them.”

-AEE Listener

 

  • Technically: Use this when you are about to break something down or correct someone. You can use it if someone misuses something.
    • A: Oh Michelle I like your leather jacket.
    • B: Oh thanks Lindsay. Technically it’s not real leather. It’s vegan leather.

 

  • Basically: Use this when you want to simplify something and you want to give someone the basic essence of the message
    • A: Michelle can you help me with these instructions? I just read this manual and I am confused.
    • B: Oh Lindsay basically you need to make sure the cord is plugged in and turn on the TV. It’s not that hard.

 

What’s happening in the US with the word “literally”?

Literally means “in the strict meaning of the word” but now in the US people are using it incorrectly.

They are using “literally” when they actually mean “figuratively.”

It’s being used as an intensifier.

This happens all of the time these days.

For example, “I couldn’t believe how crowded the dance floor was. There were literally thousands of people there.”

We might say this when there were only hundreds of people, not thousands.

 

We found a great article in Boston.com called Literally, the Most Misused Word.

According to the article this mistake goes back to the 1920’s.

The article suggested that the reason for this is the fact that we are always looking for drama and “literally” creates a sense of drama. But when we use literally in this way it makes us sound unoriginal and not very articulate.

 

What should you do if you are using literally incorrectly? 

Use other intensifiers and do it in a different way.

Start your phrase with “It was incredible. There were so many people in the club!” or “It was astounding! There were so many people in the club.”

 

Have you picked up this mistake from natives?

Are you using “literally” incorrectly?

Let us know in the comments below.

Today we’ll expose an IELTS forum for its bad answers and bad strategies.

We’ll show what to do instead of relying on a forum to get your 7 or higher.

Today we went to the forum called AIPPG.NET and we found a thread that we think is offering very bad advice.

We recommend that you stay away from this forum.

We only see students answering other students’ questions and giving bad advice. Some forums do allow ex-examiners to answer questions and adminstrators monitor the threads for bad answers so we aren’t talking about all forums today but this one is particularly bad.

The question that we found is about time management.

The first piece of bad advice we found was one student saying that it doesn’t matter if you do not finish the reading or listening test. This is completely wrong. If you follow advice like this you will not succeed on the IELTS. You definitely need to finish both the listening and the reading tests.

The next piece of bad advice offered a very weak strategy or framework that sounds like it hasn’t been validated against the exam.

Remember guys, why would you waste your time and risk not achieving your dream by taking bad advice and trying to save a few dollars?

Leave us a comment and let us know if you use forums. Which ones do you use and which ones have you found that are bad? Let us know!

What is the difference between “despite” and “in spite of”?

Are they formal or casual?

Spoken or written?

What other phrases mean the same thing?

Get all of this and more in today’s episode!

These two words are quite formal.

They are used more for writing than for speaking.

When we write a professional email we might use one of these words.

 

What do these words mean?

They mean this: even though one thing happened, another thing happened

“Despite my 8 hours of shopping, I couldn’t find a Christmas gift for my mom”

“In spite of his crude sense of humor he succeeds at work”

 

What other words mean the same thing?

  • Even though: “Even though he has a crude sense of humor he succeeds at work”
  • But…still: “He has a crude sense of humor but he still succeeds at work”

 

Use these to talk about your life goals and visions:

  • “We are building this show to be great despite our limited budget.”
  • “I am continuing my cardio kickboxing despite the fact that I have tendonitis in my feet.”
  • “In spite of my lack of artistic ability I am still working on my coloring skills.”
  • “Even though I am a terrible bowler I like to do it.”
  • “I can’t understand everything native speakers say but I still communicate with my open body language and my smile”

 

Now use these phrases to tell us about your life visions, challenges, and road blocks.

Write your sentence in the comments below.

In today’s episode we answer a question from a listener who is confused about where to start and how to get on the right path for his best IELTS score.

Today’s question:

“I was told that I need to get a 7 on IELTS but I have never taken the exam and I don’t know if that is even possible for me. How can I know if a 7 score is possible? Where should I start?”

-IELTS Energy Listener

What can you do if you are in this situation?

You could buy a Cambridge practice test book but it’s not an ideal solution.

You won’t get a clear estimated score based on your number of correct answers on Listening and Reading. It’s vague because the difficulty of reading and writing changes slightly from week to week.

However, for speaking and writing there is no way that you can read your own essay and score yourself to see what score you might get.

You need to work with an IELTS professional.

This professional needs to know the scoring system. If you are working with someone who is an ex-examiner they can’t directly tell you what score you would get but they can give you a general idea. It’s very important to choose the right IELTS professional and make sure they know what they are talking about.

The advice we get will have a lot of implications. When you know your score range you will be able to plan your timeline, create your study plan, and know when to schedule your exam.

It’s very important to consider your strengths and weaknesses when you are first getting started with IELTS.

The people who are calm and calculated and work in a step by step manner end up getting the best score. This way of approaching IELTS should start even before you enroll in a course like 3 Keys IELTS Success System.

Before you get into a course you should learn what IELTS is. Check out our podcast episodes.

After you do that you can email us and you can meet with us for a 30-minute consultation so that together we can create a customized study plan and find out what score is possible for you and create a timeline for you.

Do you want to schedule an IELTS consultation with All Ears English?

Email Lindsay@allearsenglish.com

Are you at this stage?

Have you found someone to help you?

Let us know in the comments below.

Do you bore people when you speak English?

Maybe you are outgoing or even funny in your native language but do you feel that you don’t know how to be yourself in English?

Today get 6 ways to keep people hooked when you speak English.

We got a great question from a listener about this problem and we want to answer her question today.

“When I was in my country and speaking in my native language I was feeling confident but here I am not.

People around me are nice but I worry about my English. I can’t talk much so I can’t show my confidence. Generally I use my body language and my smile and I do my job and finish quietly. Every day is the same.

I am from Turkey and I am married. I have been staying here for 15 years. I just moved from Ohio to Chicago. I started work here. Before I was learning English from home. When I got my job here in the US I felt the need to speak English and I don’t want people to feel bored when they speak with me in English.”

-AEE Listener

We feel a lot of empathy for our listener here because we know how it feels to live abroad and to feel that the people around us don’t know who we really are. There are a few things we can do to stop boring people in English.

How to NOT bore people in English:

  • Surround yourself with the right people: It starts with who we choose to be around. You don’t have this choice at work but in your personal life you need to choose people who see the world in a similar way so that they can really understand you and appreciate you.
  • Say things in different ways: Build your vocabulary so that you don’t repeat the same phrases over and over. You want to show a variety of phrasal verbs, expressions and other ways to say things. We offer this in our course The Charismatic Connector.
  • Vary your tone of voice: The way to do this is to feel what you are saying. Say what you mean and mean what you say. If you don’t feel excited about something then talk about it less. Listen to a lot of native speakers and see what words they emphasize so that you can mirror their speech patterns and variation in tone of voice.
  • Ask more questions: Seek to understand people’s motivations for why they do things and what they believe. Find one common interest and dig deeper. This is the way to keep people hooked on you and the conversation by getting to know them better and asking them questions.
  • Use interjections: Use “hey” or “wow” or “woah” or “no way”
  • Have an opinion: “Oh actually I disagree…” or “I feel that….” You should strive to have an opinion because it keeps people engaged. It creates a more interesting conversation. Don’t always agree with people. People will value and respect you more if you can say that you disagree.
  • Open your eyes: Keep updated on what’s going on in the world. Have your own experiences out in the world. Build hobbies and interests outside of your work.

Leave us a comment.

What other tips can you offer to make sure you don’t bore people in English?

Let us know in the comments below.

Are you looking for a vocabulary victory on the IELTS General Writing Task 1 Letter?

Today get the exact vocabulary that you need on the General Training letter.  Should it be formal or informal?

Find out everything you need to know today.

There are two question types for the Writing Task 1 General Exam.

Sometimes you have to write a formal letter, to a bank manager for example.

Sometimes you have to write a letter to a friend.

The question was:

“In the informal letter to what extent should it be informal? “

Our answer:

Yes, slang is allowed. Bad IELTS teachers will tell you that you can’t use slang but that’s a lie.

To get your 7 you need to use informal phrases.

You need appropriate vocabulary and you must show the examiner a range of vocabulary.

In our course we guide you in deciding whether your letter is formal or informal and then we talk about the best possible vocabulary for each one.

Please avoid general words like “stuff” or “people” because you will miss the opportunity to be more precise and specific to show your vocabulary range.

What questions do you have about IELTS General Exam Writing Task 1?

Let us know in the comments and if you ask a good question we’ll answer it on the show.

What is the difference between the words “travel,” “trip,” and “tour”?

Today we’ll answer this question from a listener and we’ll talk about our top “bittersweet” travel memories.

“I read a passage about “trekking” and I am confused about the words “travel,” “tour,” and “trip.” Can you tell me the differences between these words?

-AEE Listener

  • Travel: This is used as a verb most of the time. Sometimes you can say “I love travel” and in that case you use it as a noun. If we use it in the plural form we can say “During your travels who did you meet?”
  • Trip: This is an event. It’s cohesive and there is a beginning and an end to it. “On your trip what did you do?” Sometimes we use this as a metaphor. We say “It’s been quite a trip” and this means it has been a crazy situation with a person or an adventure.
  • Tour: This is an excursion you can take when you are on a trip. You can travel and be on a trip but choose not to take a tour.

Listen to the episode to hear how these three words are used in a real English conversation.

Leave us a comment below and let us know how you like to travel.

Do you like to take tours when you travel?

Let us know in the comments below.

How are you going to meet your IELTS goals in the new year?

Your IELTS study plan can improve significantly this year, with these specific resolutions.

Speaking

  • Find someone to talk to! There are many places to find a speaking partner to increase your fluency and practice answering IELTS Speaking questions. Both of which you must to do improve your IELTS practice! Try local universities or websites like italki.
  • Get inspired! Listen to the success stories of other students, such as Cheryll, who was able to increase her IELTS Speaking score from a 5.5 to a 7!

Listening

  • Don’t be afraid of challenging yourself with difficult material. After all, if you don’t try to comprehend material that is above your level, you will never improve your IELTS skills. Try these activities to improve your listening comprehension.
  • Find material that engages and entertains you, and incorporate that into your life and your IELTS practice. With TV shows and movies, you can actually enjoy improving your IELTS Listening skills!

Reading

  • With Reading especially, even more so than with Listening, you MUST learn the strategies for answering all 40 questions in the 60 minutes allowed on test day. Find an IELTS course that can teach you these strategies and also provide  you with test-like practice.
  • Of course, you don’t only need Reading strategies, you need to understand what you read in English! Again, find material that engages and entertains you, anything from novels to comic books, to improve your Reading fluency.

Writing

  • Here as well, you cannot improve your Writing scores unless you have a trusted IELTS professional to teach you and give you feedback. Make sure you know what the examiner wants, on Writing Task 1 and Task 2, and find a way to improve those IELTS-specific skills!
  • Improve your IELTS Writing Task 1 vocabulary by reading the business or finance sections in newspapers. This is the best source for interesting, high-level vocabulary to secure that 7 or higher for Writing Task 1.

It’s your choice.

You can choose to continue preparing as you have been, which may be helping you, or it may actually be hurting your score. Or, you can dedicate yourself to improving your IELTS practice, and your future IELTS scores, by following the above advice.

For more information about the only online course that comes with a guaranteed score increase, try our course, the 3 Keys IELTS Success System.

Have questions about today’s advice?

Leave us a comment below.

Do you want some awesome and unconventional resources for improving your IELTS score??

Is your teacher boring?

Is your homework difficult to enjoy?

Today you’ll stop the suffering and use these three practice ideas to push up your score.

Huffington Post

We think this is a great newspaper because you get the news but it has an informal and conversational writing style.

You get opinions.

In other newspapers you only get data and facts.

The Huffington Post gets you thinking because you hear what other people think about things.

How can you practice? Choose an interesting article and read it out loud. This will help you improve your IELTS pronunciation.

Click here to get it

Inc. Magazine

If you are interested in entrepreneurship you can check out this resource.

Sometimes they publish infographics.

These could be useful to practice linking words for Writing and Speaking.

The topic of business comes up on IELTS Speaking Part 3 and Writing Task 2.

NPR.ORG

Check out Pop Culture Happy Hour.

There are a lot of questions in IELTS Speaking Part 3 about culture.

If you listen to this podcast you will create a culture of thinking for a higher IELTS score.

Remember, IELTS prep does not have to be boring!

It can be fun.

Get into our course and get fun activities that are directly designed to increase your score.

Have you tried these resources?

Did they help you?

Let us know in the comments below.

It’s New Year’s Eve. Tomorrow is officially 2016.

It’s time to reflect on 2015.

It’s time to look back on our year and think ahead to next year.

How do we want things to be different?

What can we change?

Today you’ll get six English questions that will make you think on New Year’s Eve.

Question #1: What was an unexpected obstacle from 2015?

“One thing I didn’t expect to run into was getting sick so much.”

 

Question #2: What was an unexpected joy in 2015?

“I was surprised and thrilled to participate in the Flags on 48 Expedition.”

 

Question #3: Use three words to describe 2015

“The three words I think of when I think of 2015 are…wedding, teaching, and learning”

 

Question #4: What was your biggest personal change from January to December?

“The thing that has changed the most about me is that I am thinking more about word choice and how that affects my confidence.”

 

Question #5: What was your single biggest time waster in 2015 and what is your plan to reduce or eliminate this?

“I spent a little too much time watching TV.”

“I wasted my time checking my email too much.”

 

Question #6: Who are the five people you spend the most time with? Is there anything you want to change about that?

“I spend a lot of time hanging out with ____”

 

Leave your responses to these questions in the comments below.

Let us know your thoughts and resolutions!

Today find out what the top IELTS students in our course do and learn how to model their habits to get the score you need.

We have seen some real and distinct patterns in the habits of the students who succeed with our strategies.

Let’s take a look at what they did:

Pedro: 7.5 Overall

Pedro, 3 Keys IELTS Success Story, band 7.5Pedro was calm and happy because he dedicated himself to our course wholeheartedly.

He did all of the practice that he was supposed to do and followed everything in the study plan and that’s why he was confident on test day.

He felt that the study plan really helped him to organize his time.

On the study plan you get two activities every day in both the 30 or 60-day plan.

One activity is test-specific and the other one is to help you build your general fluency.

Pedro has a family. He has a job. He has a lot going on but he was still able to take his studying seriously.

He went 100% in with the right system and now he has his target score.

Renata: Overall: 8, Reading: 9

She really invested her time.

If she had just watched the video lecture once and not engaged with the material she wouldn’t have gotten the 9 score that she did.

She also used Cambridge practice tests for extra practice.

Renata went deep with her practice, just like Pedro.

Renata also took the simple, clear outline that she got in the course for IELTS Writing, she practiced it in depth and it became completely natural to her. Pedro did this as well.

Rodrigo: 7 overall

He chose the 30-day plan.

He spent enough time in the course so that he really understood the 3 Keys strategies and not just what they are but how to use them on test day.

Now Rodrigo has the score he needs to enroll in an academic program in Canada!

Cheryll: 7  in Speaking

IELTS speaking success story 7She followed our study plan very closely and she also listened to our podcast regularly.

She took some of the vocabulary words and idioms that she learned on the podcast and used them in the 3 Keys Power Hour.

She inserted these vocabulary terms during the Speaking test to get a 7.

Top tips:

It’s all about dedicating yourself to the “job” of IELTS.

You need to combine the resources that we give you in our course and on our podcast.

Don’t waste your time on the resources that don’t work.

Take advantage of opportunities to increase your score by getting feedback from a real IELTS professional.

Ready to get into the 3 Keys IELTS Success System?

3 Keys IELTS Success System with guaranteeGet the INSIDER METHOD to increase your IELTS score– guaranteed.

Get the same proprietary strategies that helped these students reach their target score.

You can’t get our strategies anywhere else!

Click here to start your study plan now.

Imagine you are at a party.

You were at the same party last year.

You talked with the same person last year that you are currently speaking with.

How do you pick up the conversation again in English?

Find out in today’s episode!

In the past we have done episodes about how to start a conversation when you don’t know someone but today we have already met this person.

 

Phrases to start the conversation again in English:

  • “(It’s) nice to see you again. How have things been since I saw you last year?”
  • “Hi I think we met back in June. How have you been?”
  • “Hi great to see you again. What’s the update on ___? “
  • “Your name was ____ right?”
  • “Hey last time you mentioned ______. How is that going?”
  • “Anyways, it was great catching up with you.”

 

What questions do you have from today’s episode?

Let us know in the comments below!

Are you confused about timing in the different portions of the IELTS Speaking test?

Today we got a question from a listener:

“If I speak for more than two minutes in Speaking Part 2 will my score go down? Will the examiner stop me when the time is up?”

Here is exactly what will happen in Speaking Part 2: The examiner will say, “Now in this part I will give you a topic and you will have one minute to think about your answer and you have to speak for 1- 2 minutes.

***Warning! Those instructions are a lie because if you only speak for a minute your fluency score goes down. You do need to keep talking for the whole two minutes. The examiner is listening to you carefully the whole time. They won’t comment.

Don’t expect any response from the examiner. It’s your job to fill that whole two minutes.

For that reason we suggest you tell a story in IELTS Speaking Part 2.

At the end of the two minutes the examiner will put up her hands and will say “thank you” and may ask a follow up question.

You have to practice Speaking Part 2 because it’s very hard to fill in the time.

Two minutes is a long time.

When you practice with the right strategies you know exactly what two minutes feels like.

What should you do?

  • Get to know the specific functions of speaking part 2: Describe a person, place, event/experience, or an object

How can you prepare for Speaking Part 2?

Start with what the examiner wants then figure out how to give it to them.

It’s not as easy as just practicing your fluency because if you do that you may not be adding in everything that you need to get the 7 or higher that you need.

Many native speakers make this mistake- they do not include the linking words and they do not organize their answer in the way that the examiner wants.

What’s the biggest Speaking Part 2 mistake?

The biggest mistake that we see people making in Speaking Part 2 is focusing on the bullet points on the card.

Bad IELTS teachers will tell you to do this.

You DO NOT need to focus on the bullet points.

Do not even look at them.

If you stare at the card you won’t get the fluency and coherence score you need.

Your answer will be disconnected and you will not have a story or linking words.

Next, go deeper! Click here to get everything you need to know about IELTS Speaking Part 2.

Leave us your question or comment below!

4 Native Speaker Mistakes:

  • Advice versus Advise: Pay attention to intonation differences with these two words
    • Advice= This is a noun. We give someone words of wisdom or “advice.”
    • To advise: This is a verb. We can advise someone on how to bake something in the oven.
  • Your versus You’re:
    • You’re= You are.
    • Your= Something belongs to you

You’re the best podcast audience we could ever hope for. Your questions are articulate and thought-provoking.

  • Award versus Reward:
    • Award: A prize, a musician could get a Grammy Award.
    • Reward: Something that is given in exchange for hard work or merit.
  • Affect versus Effect:
    • Affect: This is used as a verb. How did the change in the economy affect you?
    • Effect: This is the noun. What is the effect of sugar on your body?

Practice your sentences in the blog comments!

Let us know which ones are still confusing for you.

Are you confused and lost when it comes to IELTS vocabulary? What words should you use and when should you use them?

Today you’ll get our expert advice on how to improve your IELTS vocabulary.

Today we have a question from an IELTS Energy listener:

“My biggest concern is whether the examiners look for fancy phrases in writing and speaking or whether it’s more preferable to use a natural, daily life style with vocabulary and structure.

At the test center where I go the teachers always give us really bulky words.”

-IELTS Energy Listener

Jessica’s response:

Jessica Beck IELTS Professional“In speaking you do not need to use only fancy words. To get a 7 or higher you must use a range of formal and informal words.

You can go online and look at the descriptors.

You need to use “interesting and idiomatic language.”

– Jessica Beck, 10 year IELTS Professional

In Speaking Parts 1 and 2:

Use more informal and natural language.

To do this you can start with a short list and take a few of them into the exam with you.

Check out some of our vocabulary episodes like phrasal verbs about age.

You need to start with the list but then you must practice them.

This will start to move the examiner’s mind up from a 6 to a 7.

Speaking Part 3:

You need to throw in Academic words and phrases in Speaking Part 3.

Remember you MUST practice using these.

Take it one step at a time.

Take a chance and try to use a new word when you practice your English.

It’s easier to get used to using these words in writing but you need to use this range of vocabulary on both IELTS Writing and IELTS speaking.

Also you MUST have linking words!

Practice them.

Get comfortable with them.

Ask your teacher!

When your teacher gives you a list of vocabulary and tells you to use them on the test you should ask your teacher why those specific words are going to increase your score.

If they can’t tell you why and how, then you should make a better choice when it comes to an IELTS course.

Ask us your questions in the comments below.

Why do Americans work so hard?

Today we’ll dig into the American work ethic and try to figure out why Americans work as hard as they do.

You’ll also learn 5 idioms that highlight the work ethic in the United States.

Do Americans live to work while other cultures work to live?

This is the common saying that a lot of people come back to when they talk about Americans and the workplace.

We think that work ethic differences come back to some basic cross-cultural differences like the idea that control over our lives comes from within or comes from external sources.

The Pew Research Center found that 57% of Americans disagreed with this: “Success in life is pretty much determined by forces outside of our control.”

This means that most Americans think that it’s in our control to be successful.

If you believe that then you are going to work hard.

“When asked about how important working hard is to getting ahead in life, 73% of Americans said it was very important compared with the global medium of 50% among the 44 countries that were surveyed.”

Pew Research Center Study

But there are real barriers to success around the world including class differences, corruption, racism, homophobia, sexism.

The American work ethic is also in our language.

Idioms about work in American English:

  • To work like a dog
  • To work yourself into the ground
  • Workin’ hard or hardly workin’
  • To pull your own weight

Listen to the conversation between Lindsay and Michelle where we use these expressions in the conversation.

Also, let us know your answer to this question: Is success more in your own control or outside of your control?

Let’s have a conversation about this.

Do you use false friends in English?

Today we’re going to talk about one false friend that we think is a major problem for a lot of Portuguese speakers.

Here is the WRONG phrase that we hear a lot: “I have a doubt + (the question)”

What is wrong with this phrase?

We use the word “doubt” when we are skeptical about something but it’s not used in English to ask a question.

Are you translating directly from your native language? If so then it’s a false friend and you need to stop!

If you have a question you can say:

  • “I have a question…”
  • “I’m wondering about something…”
  • “I have a quick question…”
  • “I’m confused about something…”

 

How do we use “doubt”:

  • “Don’t doubt yourself”
  • “I doubt it will rain tonight”
  • “Are you having any doubts about being abroad”

 

What about pronunciation?

Don’t pronounce the “B” in “doubt” just like in “debt” or “subtle” or “comb” or “numb” or “limb”

 

Have you made this mistake in English?

If so, hopefully you won’t do it again.

Let us know your questions below.

Today you’ll  get 7 stellar cinematic phrases for IELTS Speaking AND IELTS Writing plus a few more!

Get the amazing IELTS vocabulary that you need for these two parts of the test that will push your score higher than a 6 and up into the 7’s and 8’s.

You often find questions about movies and TV on the IELTS so today you’ll get 7 cinema phrases.

You won’t find these phrases in a textbook! They are real, modern, and up to date.

Examples of questions about movies in Speaking Part 1

  • Do you like the same movies you did when you were a kid?
  • Are new movies always better than old movies?

Speaking Part 2:

  • Describe a movie or TV show

Speaking Part 3:

  • Do you think violence in the movies affects children?

Cinema Vocabulary:

  • Dark: When a show or movie is sad or scary and it makes you feel bad and depressed about the world.
  • To be on the edge of your seat: When you are so involved in the story that you are leaning forward in your seat. It’s usually a thriller or a mystery when you don’t know what’s going to happen next.
  • To be completely in it: To be immersed in a movie or a show the whole time
  • It took me out of the story: When something like the format of the movie, the characters, or the music distract you from the story
  • To bomb at the box office: When a movie does not succeed at the theatre and it does not make much money.
  • Rom-com: romantic comedy
  • Dramedy: a funny drama
  • Chick flick: a movie that some women might like

Ok practice your sentences below.

Let us know what movies you have seen and how you liked them.

Does the IELTS Reading exam seem frightening?

Don’t worry- with these three simple tips, you can achieve the score you need on the IELTS Reading exam!

I understand- the IELTS Reading exam can seem huge and scary, and it is- if you don’t know what to expect, and you don’t prepare properly.

On the IELTS Reading exam, you have 60 minutes to get through 3 passages and answer 40 questions.

Each passage will be approximately 650-1200 words, and the passages are drawn from a variety of sources, such as newspapers, magazines and academic journals.

Practice the Skills You Need on the Test

There are only 3 reading skills you need to find all the answers on the IELTS Reading exam: skimming, scanning and reading for detail.

Did you know that you already know how to do these three things, and you use these skills every day?

Skimming is looking at an article quickly to get the main idea.

Scanning is using your finger or pencil to find very specific information in an article, like a name or a number.

Reading for detail is reading one or two sentences very carefully, word for word. This is how you find the answer and make sure it is correct.

Click here to learn more about these skills and how to use them on the exam.

Know the Strategies

In order to get through these three passages in one hour, and find all the answers, you need IELTS strategies. There’s no way around it!

There’s simply no time to read every word of all three passages and find the answers, so, you need to learn very simple strategies and practice using them as often as you can.

In fact, a student in our course recently got a 9 on the IELTS Reading exam, due to using our strategies.

Basically, you first have to skim the passage to get the gist, or the overall idea of what the passage is about.

Then, you look at the first group of questions. Here, you must read the directions, and underline key words.

Next, you employ your scanning skills to find the key words in the passage, because the answers are always next to a key word from the question.

Finally, you read the one or two sentences around the key word carefully, and this is how you find the answer.

Of course, this simple strategy must be practiced in order to help you on test day. Plus, you must learn slight variations of this strategy for the most difficult question types: T/F/NG, Y/N/NG, and Matching Headings to Paragraphs.

Improve your Overall Reading Comprehension

Of course, as we always say on our podcast, in order to get the score you need on IELTS, you must do two things: know the test strategies, and have a high level of English.

Doing reading practice tests will not improve your reading comprehension. In order to actually become a better reader, you need to read!

Challenge yourself to read high level material, such as what you will find on the IELTS Reading exam. Some excellent resources are: The New York TimesThe Huffington Post, and, for something a little more funny and entertaining, The Onion.

If you follow this advice, nothing will stop you on test day!

Do you have any questions about the Reading exam?

Leave us a comment below!

What TV shows should you binge watch to learn to speak more effectively and CONNECT in English?

You’ll find out the answer to this question and so much more in today’s episode.

Here is a listener question that we’ll answer today:

“Recently I am thinking about listening to the Friends audio version and I chose it because it’s my favorite sitcom but I am not sure if the phrases in it are still current today.

Do you think I can still use it?

Which program shows me the most up to date expressions?”

-Nicole from China

 

Our Response:

Yes, it’s still ok to use Friends.

The English phrases that they use are not out of date.

There might be some situations that are out of date like the fact that they didn’t have mobile phones when they created the show.

You would have to go much further back to shows from the 1950’s and 1960’s and shows that are in black and white, then you will find shows that you don’t want to mirror because the language will be old fashioned.

 

Other shows you can try:

  • Orange Is the New Black
  • Breaking Bad
  • Modern Family
  • How I Met Your Mother
  • True Detective (warning- this one is dark and the dialogue is hard to understand)
  • Seinfeld

 

It’s a good idea to choose a show that is HOT right now because it will be an easy way to get into conversations with native speakers.

Choose a show that thrills you and that sucks you in.

You want to be addicted to it.

You should want to watch it every week.

 

Can you use these shows to prepare for your next exam?

Yes you can BUT you need to do the right activities to supplement the show if you want to build real skills that you will get you your target score on the IELTS Exam. Every activity should be linked to the scoring system.

That’s why it makes sense to invest in an IELTS course where we’ll show you how to use the shows in a smart way so that you don’t waste your time.

 

What to consider when you choose a show:

  • Can you understand enough to get hooked or to get addicted (should be around 70-80%)?
  • Can you talk about it with other friends? Is it a popular show? Are people talking about it? Will you be able to add to the conversation?
  • Can you watch it regularly? Make sure that you have the time to get into it

 

How to start a conversation about a TV show:

  • Hey do you watch Orange Is the New Black? Who’s your favorite character? How far into it are you?
  • What shows are you into?
  • What’s your favorite show these days?

 

*Bonus phrase: To binge watch

This means that we consume a lot of a show.

We watch one episode after another and sometimes we watch an entire series in one weekend.

 

Do you like Friends or another TV show?

What phrases have you used to connect with native speakers around these shows?

Let us know in the comments.

Today we’ll show you how to stop feeling freaked out and panicked on the IELTS Listening exam and instead how to calm down and get the score you need.

To reduce your stress you can practice by using the audio script.

They are at the back of every practice test book.

A lot of students have no idea how to use them and most teachers don’t use them enough either.

What to do:

  • Practice understanding: Before you do a practice test just get used to understanding what they are saying in the audio. Listen and follow along on the tape script. Don’t even try to answer the questions. This will help you start with a clear head.
  • Get used to IELTS tricks: IELTS uses the same trips, quirks, and distractors on every test. They use the “negative turnaround” by someone changing their mind in the audio. By using the tape script you will start to pick up on these tricks and you’ll learn how to not let them lower your score. In this case you can do the practice test first but then listen again, look at the script, and compare your answers. Look at what you got right and wrong. Highlight patterns and expose the tricks!
  • Throw away your practice tests and watch a movie: You need to practice being calm. You need to strengthen your listening skill before you can approach test practice. Get your confidence back by listening to podcasts and doing other things. Build the general fluency and use balanced practice first then take your practice tests out again.

Are you stressed out about the IELTS Exam?

What is most stressful for you?

Let us know in the comments below.

Today we’re going to talk about something a bit more serious and somewhat sad.

We were really disturbed by what happened a few weeks ago in San Bernadino California.

A group of people were killed at a social services center.

It comes back to the question: Why is it so easy for people to get their hands on guns in the United States?

Here are some vital statistics:

  • About 1/3 of all Americans with kids under 18 have a gun in the house
  • Rural residents and older adults are more likely to have a gun (more so than urban residents)
  • Republicans are more likely than democrats to have a gun

*Statistics are from the Pew Research Center

The New York Times published a front page editorial urging the government to end the epidemic of guns in the United States.

You can read the editorial here.

 

Guns in the English language:

  • “To jump the gun”- This comes from the idea of using guns in a horse race and it means to start something prematurely, before it’s the right time
  • “To ride shotgun.”- To ride in the front seat of the car.
  • “To be under the gun.”– To be under pressure for something such as a deadline
  • “To stick to your guns”– To stick to your morals and to do what you say you’re going to do, to be in integrity

 

Leave us a comment below. What is the situation with gun control in your country?

What do you think about the situation in the United States?

Let us know in the comments below.

Today you’ll meet a listener of our podcast who got a 7 on IELTS Speaking but a 5 on Writing.

Find out what went wrong and what she can do today.

We got a few emails from this student.

She wrote to us right after the exam and sounded confident and great.

She had used some of the stories from this podcast to entertain the examiner.

She took our advice and practiced it and got a 7 on IELTS Speaking.

That is the bright spot but then we got that common email two weeks later.

The listener’s email went like this:

“I am pretty much shocked. I got my scores: Listening: 6.5 , Speaking: 7, Reading: 6.5, Writing: 5

I don’t understand what the problem was with my writing. I used formal words. I used advanced grammar structures.”

Here is Jessica’s feedback on what you are doing wrong:

Jessica Beck IELTS Professional“The problem is this: You don’t have the writing strategies to give the examiner what she or he wants.

You might have the academic skills like vocabulary and grammar but this is not enough.

You need to know what the examiner is looking for to get a high score for Writing Task 1 for example. You are missing the strategies. 

Also it sounds like you were a confident student going in and that can be a problem if you are not basing your confidence on putting in the work.”

This student also made the mistake of only using our podcast and not using a step-by-step system to prepare for the exam.

Our podcast is not enough to bring you to your target score.

You MUST be in a solid system like 3 Keys IELTS Success System.

The danger of focusing only on your strengths:

Also this student was probably already strong in Speaking so she spent a lot of time and effort in preparing for Speaking.

Therefore, she probably ignored her real needs like IELTS Writing by not doing anything to prepare except for using some fancy vocabulary and grammar.

This is what happens when native speakers go into the test.

Should she get a re-score?

This student was thinking of asking for a re-score but we don’t recommend that.

It’s a bad investment.

Instead, she needs to admit to herself that she did not put in the time to prepare for writing.

Instead, take half of that money and invest in a course where your scores are guaranteed to increase.

This is a typical situation that happens to many people.

Don’t let it happen to you! Be smart the first time and get into a solid system.

To try our system click here.

If you have an interview in English coming up soon we’ll show you how to make an amazing first impression to get into your dream school.

“Since I am going to have a college interview can you make an episode about interviews? I want to know what clothes I should wear and how I can show my politeness.”

-Corinne

Today we’ll show you how to demonstrate your politeness at the beginning or at the end of the interview.

Those are the places where you can really make a strong impression.

 

What should you wear?

Michelle suggests you wear a business suit.

It gives a strong, professional impression on the interview. You need to create your own personal brand.

For a college interview you won’t find many applicants in a business suit so you can really stand out in this area if you put on a suit.

 

Powerful phrases to make an impression:

  • “Thank you for having me” – this could come at the end and at the beginning of the interview. You could use this when you first meet the person or when you walk out of the room.
  • “Pleased to meet you”
  • “I look forward to hearing back from you”– this can be used at the end of the interview just before you leave the room
  • “I’m confident I would be a good fit.”

 

Quick tips for the interview:

  • Prepare with the most common questions such as these:
    • “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”
    • “Tell me about a time when you were a team leader.”
  • Ask questions about the school: Research the school beforehand. You have to show that you’re interested. You should know why you are interested in this school more than others. You want to ask questions about those things. Colleges want to have a high acceptance rate so they want to know that you are likely to attend if you get accepted.

 

Click here to get the most common college interview questions in the US

 

What questions do you have about today’s episode?

Let us know in the comments below.

IELTS speaking success story 7Today we have another IELTS success story!

Find out how Cheryll moved her Speaking score from 5.5 to 7 using 3 Keys IELTS!

Today find out how she did it and how you can do it too!

 

What happened the first time she took the test? (before 3 Keys IELTS)

She got a 5.5 last August before taking our course.

She made the mistake of relying on You Tube lessons.

She didn’t have any plan to use to prepare in a step by step format.

“Lesson #1: You cannot gather random, free resources and expect to have a solid preparation plan especially for speaking and writing.”

On the day of the test she was confident that she would get a 7 because she had prepared so much but she didn’t get her 7 in Speaking until she joined our course in the fall.

Cheryll joined our course in the fall of 2015 and she came to the 3 Keys Power Hour three times which is only available for 3 Keys IELTS students.

Jessica saw Cheryll’s writing and speaking improve every single time she came to the class.

“Lesson #2: During the Power Hours with Jessica, Cheryll learned that she needed to speak as much as possible and try to tell stories about your life during the speaking test.”

Cheryll worked very very hard!

On the other parts of her exam she increased her score using 3 Keys IELTS by 1/2 point in her Writing.

She feels that she needs more practice before her next exam.

Her reading and listening scores stayed consistent.

Because she put in a lot more time into the speaking practice, now she needs to go back and put more time into the listening and reading practice.

 

Leave a message of encouragement for Cheryll!

We are very proud of her and her improvement and hard work.

We are confident that next time she can get the overall band score she needs.

Great job on your Speaking and Writing Cheryll!

IELTS Speaking Part 2 intimidates, frightens and freaks out many IELTS candidates.

Are you one of these people?

Not to worry! Today, you’ll get all the information to not only complete IELTS Speaking Part 2 with confidence, but also fulfill the examiner’s expectations for a high score.

What does the examiner want?

The examiner is listening for very specific things in Part 2.

Fluency and Coherence

The first category that the examiner will grade you on is fluency and coherence. This mainly has to do with linking words. This is the coherence part.

You must use a variety of linking words to organize your ideas in Speaking Part 2, not just, “and, and, because because.”

Also, the examiner will be listening to your fluency. Here, you simply need to keep speaking for the whole 2 minutes. Do not stop talking, until the examiner asks you to stop.

The best strategy for getting a high fluency score is to tell a story about the topic. When you tell a story, your pronunciation, fluency, and vocabulary scores all increase.

Stories are naturally organized in your mind, and they are an event that is personal and memorable. This allows you to add more specific detail and be more expressive.

Vocabulary

In order to score highly for vocabulary, you must use interesting and idiomatic language.

This should be easy to slot in during your Speaking Part 2 answer, because you have plenty of time to be descriptive, using interesting adjectives and idioms.

There are many idioms and phrases that express opinion, and you will naturally do this while you are speaking for 2 minutes.

Grammar

Don’t worry about grammar!

Basically, in order to get a 6 for grammar, you need to use a variety of sentence structures- simple, compound and complex.

However, you can still have quite a few mistakes and still get a 6. As long as the examiner can still understand you, even though you are making mistakes, you can get a 6 here.

In order to move from a 6 to a 7, you have to produce a high percentage of error-free, perfect, sentences. For most students, this is impossible.

It would take a year, at least, for most students to move from a 6 to a 7 in grammar.

Therefore- don’t waste your time! Invest your time wisely by improving your scores in the other categories.

Pronunciation

Here is your golden opportunity to improve your score quickly!

Pronunciation is the easiest category in which to achieve a 7 or higher.

The examiner wants to hear your personality. She/he wants to hear your voice go up and down (intonation) and your stress on important words.

This should be very fun to practice, actually.

  • You can create a whole confident character for yourself who enjoys speaking English with confidence.
  • You can also watch hilarious sitcoms, and try to copy the exact way the actors speak.
  • Also, you can read out loud every day for 5 to 10 minutes, and this will help you increase your fluency and your connected speech patterns.

It all leads you to a higher score.

For more information on Speaking Part 2, including example answers, check our our podcast, and check out our IELTS course, the 3 Keys IELTS Success System.

Do you have any questions about what the examiner wants to hear in Speaking Part 2?

Leave us a comment below.

Today get 5 incredible idioms that you can strategically insert into your IELTS Exam to get the score you need NOW!

We’re going to show you how to use English phrasal verbs with “look” to so that you can use “interesting idiomatic language” to boost up your vocabulary score on IELTS Speaking.

If you use at least two or three idioms you will get the examiner to start to think about moving your score up to a 7.

Most examiners start by thinking “6” and then using the right vocabulary is one thing you can do to push up to a 7.

  • To look up to: To admire someone. “I look up to my dad because he is a business owner and he has a good work ethic.”
  • To look down on: This is the exact opposite of “look up to.”  You could say, “I look down on people who don’t have a good work ethic” or “I look down on people who cheat.” This is a good for Writing Task 2 and Speaking Part 2.
  • To look after: To take care of something or someone. “I need to look after my health.” or “I looked after my niece this weekend.” This is good for all parts of the Speaking test when you talk about friends or family.
  • To look over: To review, to analyze, to read something when it has already been done or to check something. Here is an example: “I need you to look over my report before I turn it in.”
  • To look forward to: To be excited or enthusiastic about something that will be happening in the future.  “I am really looking forward to the soccer game and meeting new people this weekend.”

Now take this episode and listen again.

Write down all of the phrasal verbs and think about your own life.

Write down your own examples using the context of your own life.

Today find out what phrases you need for 4 different situations in English when you visit the bar with friends or colleagues.

One of our listeners asked us what vocabulary you need at a happy hour and we want to show you how to do it today.

A “Happy Hour” is usually an event that happens at a bar after work.

It usually goes from 5 to 8pm.

There are specials and reduced price drinks.

You might go with colleagues after work and stay for about 1- 2 hours.

Here in Boston the bars are not legally allowed to discount drinks during “Happy Hour” but in New York and most other parts of the country they can discount the drinks.

How to order a drink:

  • “Hey can I get a Sam Adams.” (more casual)
  • “I’ll have a martini.”
  • “I’ll get a glass of Malbec.”
  • “Could I have a Cosmopolitan.”

 

How much to tip:

You should leave about 20% of your total bill.

Remember that servers in the US don’t get paid very well.

 

How to make sure no one drives home drunk:

  • “Are you OK to drive?”
  • “Let me call you a cab.”
  • “Can I offer you a ride home?”
  • “Can I call you a cab?”
  • “You’re cut off.” (this means that the person can’t have anything else to drink)

 

How to say that you want to pay for someone’s drinks:

  • “I’ll get this round.”
  • “Let me get this one.”
  • “Let me get this one. You can get the next.”

 

What questions do you have from today’s episode?

Let us know in the comments below.

Your time is valuable!

There are wrong ways to spend your time and right ways to spend your time preparing for IELTS.

Today you’ll hear the story of a student who has spent the last 12 months working hard but doing the wrong things.

We think this is heartbreaking!

You’ll find out how our IELTS strategies could change everything for her.

The situation that this student is in is quite typical.

She is not alone.

Her main challenges are the Speaking and Writing.

“My problem is I need a 7 in all scores. My reading and listening are good.

They are always over 7 and sometimes 8.5 but my writing and speaking are really bad.

I just got a 6 in these two skills but I spent a year working on these.”

“I think my actual writing and speaking levels are still low now.

I can’t speak fluently and don’t know how to express my thoughts and often run out of ideas. In writing it’s hard for me to come up with ideas and support for them.

I have difficulties choosing the right words and finishing writing on time.”

What should this student do?

Don’t memorize vocabulary lists.

Don’t learn new methods to learn vocabulary words.

Get a good course that will literally give you the vocabulary that you need to increase your score.

Every single activity MUST be directly correlated to the scoring system.

If you are a hard worker you are in danger if you don’t get into a course because you might take your strong work ethic and work very hard doing all the wrong things BUT if you take your strong work ethic and put it into a good system then you WILL get your target score.

If you are creating your own activities and your own ways of getting a higher speaking score then that’s not valid test practice.

In our course we give you two activities every day and we tell you exactly how these activities are going to get you a 7 or higher.

For this student she could also benefit from finding another student in our course and private Facebook group to practice speaking and fluency.

This student should go with the 60-day plan to get her target score.

She has probably developed certain speaking and writing habits which are not working.

She’ll need to un-learn her old habits and learn new habits.

Click here to get into the 3 Keys IELTS Success System.

Are you in this situation?

Let us know what questions you have in the comments.

Do you want to know how to be polite in an American dining situation?

Today we’ll show you what to do and what to say in four typical dining situations in the US.

Listener question:

“When you finish a meal and you eat with your family or friends don’t you say anything?

Or is there something you say to indicate that you are leaving a seat?

In Japan we say Gochisosama deshita which is a thank you word for everyone and everything that brings food to you.

For us Japanese it’s a little awkward if people leave the seat without saying anything.

What should you say in the US when you leave the table?”

 

What do you say when you leave the table?

You can say “Excuse me I need to use the restroom.”

This is a more formal way of speaking.

You might use this when you dine with your colleagues.

You could also say “Excuse me I need to check on the pie.” or just “Excuse me for just a minute.”

 

What do you say when you first sit down to the table?

  • “This looks lovely”
  • “This looks wonderful”
  • “This looks delicious”
  • “This looks amazing”

 

What do you say when you want someone to pass you a dish?

  • “Would you please pass the sweet potatoes?”
  • “Would you mind passing the sweet potatoes?”
  • (If you reach over someone) “Excuse my reach”
  • “Could I reach over you?”

 

What do you say when the meal is over?

You want to thank the host and you don’t have to just say “thank you.”

You can be specific about what you really liked about the meal.

You can say:

  • “Oh that was delicious. I am stuffed.”
  • “Oh the sweet potatoes were amazing.”

 

Dining norms in the US:

  • Don’t put your bread on the table or tablecloth
  • Don’t slurp when you eat any kind of soup or when you drink something with a straw
  • Don’t burp at the table
  • Don’t point your finger directly at someone
  • Keep your elbows off the table (except for maybe when you’re having coffee and you are leaning into someone at a small table)

 

Are these dining norms the same or different in your country?

Let us know in the comments below.

What should you do the day or the night before the IELTS Exam?

Should you be doing practice tests?

Practicing your speaking?

What do world-class athletes do the night before a game?

They rest and relax.

They spend time with their families.

They do not go out and run sprints to prepare for the game the next day.

We are making today’s episode to help the students in our course or anyone who has put in a lot of hard work and has really taken time to learn solid strategies with a good IELTS study plan.

If you have worked hard in an IELTS course and it’s the night before the test you need to relax.

There is nothing you can do by this point to change your score. You have learned what you have learned.

If you try to work too hard on practice tests now you could actually lower your score because you might get a lot of anxiety if your practice tests scores are lower than you expect.

What should you do?

Go out in the evening (don’t stay out too late) and spend time with friends and family or stay home and watch a movie. Read a book. Maybe watch a movie in English.

If you have honestly done everything that we tell you to do in our study plan and you have participated in our 3 Keys Power Hours or Writing Wizard Essay Contest then YOU ARE READY.

Relax. Get a good night’s sleep. Go into the exam refreshed and ready.

Good luck!

If you want to join our 3 Keys IELTS Success System click here.

It is the spark that makes people like you.

That’s what everyone wants.

It’s a basic human need to be liked and to be accepted.

One key to being a charismatic person and to being liked by others is not only to be confident but to make others confident in themselves.

I bet you can do that easily in your native language but how can you do that in English?

We’ll show you how to do it today in English so that you can build better connections with people at work and have more success in your career.

 

Here are some phrases that you can use:

  • “I know you can handle this.”
  • “You have the skills that you need for this.”
  • “I’m fully/100% confident in you.”
  • “I know you can do it.”
  • “This is right up your alley.”
  • “This is in your wheelhouse.”

 

What other phrases do you know to instill a sense of self confidence in someone else?

Let us know your ideas in the comments.

On IELTS Writing Task 2, students are always asking for help with examples.

Do you struggle with this too?

Teachers always tell students that they have to add  specific details and examples in their IELTS Task 2 essays, but teachers don’t always tell students how to do this.

First of all, let’s back up a bit, to the stage in the writing process before you begin to write your essay.

This stage is the planning stage- and it’s part of a 3 step process.

The three steps are planning, writing and, very importantly, checking.

On our podcast, we talk about how important this process is, and how to manage your time while using this process for Writing Task 1 and Task 2.

The planning stage is what we’re focusing on today.

This is where you take 5 minutes to brainstorm your ideas and organize them before you write.

When you are trying to come up with ideas, try to be as specific as possible.

You can do this by thinking of information that would give further explanation regarding the who, what, when, where and why of the topic.

Here are a few examples:

If you are trying to come up with advantages for driving a hybrid car, you can try and think of answers to questions like:

  • Who would benefit from driving hybrid cars?
  • What does a hybrid car do for the environment?
  • When would it be beneficial to drive a hybrid car?
  • Where would it be beneficial to drive a hybrid car?
  • Why should people consider buying a hybrid car?

These are the questions that I think of to help my mind come up with more specific reasons and examples.

My brainstorm notes would look like this:

Advantages of hybrids:

  • environmentally-conscious people would feel good about themselves
  • cars use less fossil fuels, decrease pollution, CO2
  • people should start now
  • useful in places with high fuel prices, like $10/gallon
  • should buy to save planet

Now, the above ideas are only the beginning.

You now need to use your own life experience and knowledge to add more specifics.

This strategy is also useful on the IELTS Speaking Exam.

Advantages of hybrids:

  • environmentally-conscious people would feel good about themselves- my friend Tania carries a lot of environmental guilt, would be very depressed without her hybrid
  • cars use less fossil fuels, decrease pollution, CO2 
  • people should start now My neighbor just bought a Toyota hybrid last week.
  • useful in places with high fuel prices, like $10/gallon
  • should buy to save planet

But wait, there’s more!

You can also make up specific details and examples on the IELTS Writing Task 2 essay.

Yes, that’s right, you can lie on IELTS!

Remember, the examiner doesn’t care about the truth of your ideas- they only want to see your writing in English.

As long as those made-up facts are presented in an organized way, using interesting vocabulary, you will get a high score.

So, if we add some more made up facts, my brainstorm would look like this:

Advantages of hybrids:

  • environmentally-conscious people would feel good about themselves- my friend Tania carries a lot of environmental guilt, would be very depressed without her hybrid
  • cars use less fossil fuels, decrease pollution, CO2 I read an article in the New York Times that said if just 50% more people drove hybrids, it would decrease daily CO2 vehicle emissions  by 75%.
  • people should start now My neighbor just bought a Toyota hybrid last week.
  • useful in places with high fuel prices, like $10/gallon In the Netherlands, as of July 2015, gas prices had topped $10 a gallon. If I had to pay those prices, it would cost me $140 to fill up my gas tank every week.
  • should buy to save planet

Of course, your brainstorm will not be as complete as the above example.

However, as long as you have 3 of these ideas in your brainstorm, you will have a very strong, well-supported and high scoring IELTS Writing Task 2 essay.

Your next step from here is to practice!

Look at some example IELTS Task 2 questions, and give yourself unlimited time to brainstorm specific reasons, details and examples.

At this stage, you don’t even have to worry about writing the essay- just focus on practicing this one specific step in the writing process.

The more specific, the better!

You can learn more about Writing Task 2 in our IELTS course, 3 Keys IELTS.

Do you have any questions or ideas about today’s post?

Leave us a message in the comments below!

Renata 3 Keys IELTS Success story IELTS band 8Today we have a 3 Keys IELTS Success Story!

Learn about the two things that Renata did to get a 9 on IELTS Reading and an overall score of 8 on IELTS!

Let’s learn from Renata to get the secrets to this amazing score!

How did Renata get an 8?

She did two things: She chose the right course and she worked hard!

Renata knew that she was naturally a slow reader so she had to really work hard on those reading strategies that we present in our course.

To prepare she kept practicing with the techniques in our course and by the end of her preparation she was much better.

During the test she felt like she could manage timing well on the IELTS Reading.

Before taking our course Renata had no idea how to get started with IELTS.

She didn’t know what to do each day.

She worked very hard in our course.

She spent a lot of time with the video lessons and really focused well.

 

What is Renata going to do now?

She and her family are involved in the immigration process to Canada.

She kept focused on her dream of immigrating to Canada throughout the course and this helped her put in the number of hours that she needed to in order to build her skills.

 

What was most helpful for test day?

The day before the test she did the rookie mistake lessons in our course one more time.

She did all of the module summaries again in the course.

She reviewed our templates for the Writing test.

She had a very graphic vision of how the Writing Tasks should look because she had prepared and memorized the structure thoroughly.

She was fully, 100% prepared when she walked into the test!

 

What questions do you have from today’s episode?

Let us know in the comments below.

We have heard “I reckon” being used by Australian native English speakers.

It’s not used at all in the US except for in old country western movies.

Today we’ll show you five ways to use “‘I guess” to express different feelings and communicate different ideas.

When we use “I guess” sometimes it can show that we’re not sure about what we are saying and if we’re not careful it could communicate a lack of confidence.

Pro tip! Be careful when you’re mirroring the speech of native speakers.

Sometimes native speakers convey a lack of confidence in their voice and you don’t want to repeat the way they sound.

Listen to a variety of voices to avoid this pitfall.

How to use “I guess” in English:

  1. At the beginning of a phrase to show that you’re unsure. “I guess it’s at the end of the street”
  2. At the end of the phrase to show that you’re unsure. “There’s no other way to get there I guess.”
  3. To make an assumption and put it into a question. “Oh you’re not coming home for Christmas I guess.”
  4. To let someone down lightly and empathize. “So I guess all of the New Years tickets are sold out.”
  5. To reserve your agreement, to show that you don’t agree with someone. “Yeah I guess Macy’s is a good place to shop but it gets so crowded there around Christmas.”
  6.  To take a guess. “Can you guess what’s in this bag?”

Listen to the episode to hear how “I guess” is used in real conversations.

What did you think about today’s episode?

Let us know in the comments below.

Today you’ll learn about 5 IELTS preparation approaches that destroy your score.

We’ll show you why it’s almost too late for one listener to get their target score but we’ll show you how you can turn it around if you are in this situation too.

“To tell you the truth I have never been that bad in English but IELTS is bringing out the bouts of anxiety within me.

I feel I am lagging behind in all four modules.

In the mock tests I have just about managed to score Band 6 in Reading which makes me panic about the whole situation.”

 We get a lot of responses like this one.

First of all, he needs to take a step back.

Slow down.

Think about how you are going about this.

It sounds like you have a high level of English.

Mistake #1: Your first mistake was in thinking that your high level of English was enough. It’s not. You need strategies and you need to know what the examiner is looking for.

Mistake #2: Maybe you thought you would practice a few times to see what the exam looks like with the Cambridge practice tests.

Mistake #3: You don’t have any reading strategies. You don’t have time management skills on reading.

You are now in a downward spiral of anxiety which is taking your further away from your target score because of your first three mistakes. Here’s more from your letter….

“Writing is something which obviously has no standard marking and so is the Speaking part, both of which I do hope to pull of with ease and get a 7 in both.

My biggest fear is the Listening module.

My problem with Listening is the recording is too fast for me to follow and jot down the answers.”

You have awesome vocabulary so that’s a huge advantage for you that you could use on your next test, but…..

Mistake #4: You have done NO research on IELTS. How can you say that Writing and Speaking have no standard marking system? Of course there is a strict standard marking criteria that examiners must follow and you MUST learn it to score high.

We know that you are trying to prepare and the mistakes that you have made are common for so many students but you need to realize that you must ask for help sometimes.

Even for a native speaker, you need to know what the examiner is looking for on Writing Task 1 and in Speaking Part 2.

It’s not logical or obvious.

The instructions can actually be misleading.

If you are studying with an IELTS professional then you’ll know exactly what you need to do to get the score you need because we know what you need to do to get that score.

And it gets worse….

“I’ve watched several videos with tips on Listening and Reading but I find it hard to improve since I am doing self study and I only have 20 days left I feel that I am panicking more than ever.

Thanks for taking the time to read.

I hope I get Band 8.5 in my first attempt but my innermost desire is to get Band 9.”

Mistake #5: You are doing self study and you have said that it’s not working. You can’t prepare for IELTS by yourself. Why are you continuing to use those self study videos if they aren’t working? STOP and change your approach!!!

Mistake #6: Now that you only have 20 days (and no plan) you are panicking and looking for help. It’s basically too late. If you had 30 days you would be OK but if you continue on the track you’re on for the next 20 days you WILL NOT get your target score.

This situation reminds of a situation that a native speaker would get in.

This person has the English level he needs but he cannot do it by himself.

A native speaker would probably assume they could prepare by themselves too but they also wouldn’t get a great score.

What do you think about this situation?

Are you in a similar situation right now?

Let us know in the comments below.

It’s almost the weekend! Are you feeling great?

Do you want to know how to talk about the upcoming weekend in English with your friends or colleagues?

Today you’ll find out how to do it.

Phrases to talk about the weekend:

  • Thank goodness it’s Friday
  • Happy Friday, Happy weekend
  • Enjoy your weekend (this would be used at the end of a conversation)
  • What are you up to this weekend?
  • Have a great weekend!
  • I’m so glad it’s the weekend
  • I’m really looking forward to the weekend
  • TGIF = Thank Goodness It’s Friday

Listen to the episode to get the conversations between Lindsay and Michelle!

Leave us your sample sentences below.

Can IELTS Writing feedback actually hurt your score?

Yes it can!

We’ll show you how it can hurt you if you get bad writing advice in today’s episode.

When should you get writing feedback?

Where should you get it?

One of Jessica’s students made the mistake of getting feedback from her mother who did not know what the examiner looks for when it comes to writing.

As a result, she was getting good grammar tips but she wasn’t getting ready for IELTS but when she started working with Jessica she got the 7.5 she needed right away. She only had to meet with Jessica twice and she got her 7.5.

As we have seen in this example you have to work with someone who knows about the IELTS Exam.

If you already have the English skills that you need for the life of freedom that you are looking for, all you need is simple feedback from a good IELTS professional to get your target score.

One key is to learn the strategies before you get feedback.

You need to make sure that you build the foundation first then invest time and money into getting IELTS feedback.

You can use our strategies from our 3 Keys IELTS course or you can try to put together your own strategies.

What questions do you have about IELTS Writing?

Let us know in the comments below.

Are you a pushover?

Do you want to “put your foot down” more often?

Today find out how to say what you prefer to do in any situation using the right English phrases.

It’s important to say what you really want to do when you prefer to do one thing over another.

This can be hard to do but the phrases you’ll get today will help you be assertive and direct while maintaining connections that matter to you.

The key to becoming a leader is being direct about what you want to do while saying it in the right way and not sounding rude or immature.

Phrases you can use:

  • I think I’d rather….
  • I’d rather…
  • It would be better to…
  • Let’s do this…
  • I’d prefer to do this/that…

 

Listen to the conversation and then leave us your sample sentences below!

Today  INSTANT study plan created for one 3 Keys IELTS student!

What happens when plans change?

Today find out how to deal with IELTS preparation surprises and changes.

If you are in a course like ours you can get immediate answers to your questions like these.

Our student got into the following situation:

“When I applied to 3 Keys IELTS I made a mistake.

I wanted to get started quickly but I hadn’t booked my test.

I had planned to do the test in December 2015 but I found out that there were no spaces available in 2015 in Brazil.

My test will be on February 20th 2016. I started my 60-day study plan in October but I have 90 more days. I am afraid I will get rusty before my exam.

What should I do? “

This doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It could be an opportunity.

You now have more time to prepare.

Instead of two months to prepare you now have four months.

For now, go back to focusing on your general fluency skills with our extra activity recommendations in our study plan.

Then, two months before the exam you should go back and start the study plan again and do the test-prep strategy activities.

What questions do you have about today’s episode?

Let us know in the comments below.

We got a great question from a listener named Simon.

Simon wanted to know why we say, “What will we be doing?” or “Where will they be meeting?”

Great question Simon!

The key is to understand context and know what situations we would use this in instead of other forms of the future.

In formal situations like an organized event or a meeting we would be likely to use this tense.

For example at a conference we might use this tense a lot.

At a conference it is a structured, pre-planned event, where a lot of time blocks are scheduled out and we know what will be happening at specific times.

We use this when we are certain that things will be happening at a specific time.

Examples:

  • I will be leaving for the airport at 2 pm
  • We will be meeting in the Green room for the keynote speech
  • We’ll be serving breakfast in the cafe between 8 am and 10 am tomorrow morning. Will you be joining us?

 

Listen to the conversation and role play between Lindsay and Michelle.

Leave us your questions in the comment section below or write your examples!

Jessica bought a new car! She got a VW Beetle!

Today you’ll get four things you can learn from Jessica’s car-buying experience about the IELTS Exam.

What should you consider when you buy a car and when you take IELTS?

  • Consider your motivation: What do you want to do with your life? What will the IELTS get you? Will it get you freedom? Opportunities? Always keep the big dream in mind so that you can stay motivated. Think big when you consider this. What will happen because you are able to get an academic credential? Will your family be in a better financial situation? Will you become a leader in your community? Focusing on these things will keep you on track.
  • Put in the research and be an educated shopper: You probably don’t know much about how to choose a good IELTS course just like Jessica didn’t know how to buy a car. But she put in the time and learned the key questions to ask to find out about the quality of the cars. You also need to know the right questions to ask a potential teacher.
  • Don’t assume you can do it by yourself: Jessica had to ask a friend to help her inspect her new car and you need someone to show you what you don’t know about IELTS. Reach out and get help. Make sure that the person you ask knows the test and does not also teacher other exams.
  • Make sure you have personal support and someone to answer your questions: In our course we have a private Facebook group and we get back to you within the same day or the next day. You need some level of personal support in the course you choose.

Do you have a question from today’s episode?

Let us know in the comments below.

The holidays are coming up and if you are living in the US then maybe you are wondering if you should send your friends or colleagues a Christmas card or a New Year’s card. Good question!

One listener wrote in with this question:

“Is it weird to send Christmas cards to my American friends because I am not a Christian? 

Is there some American standard for Christmas cards?

I just want to say thank you and keep in touch next year.

Is it better to send a Happy New Year card?”

-Eri, from Japan

 

What should you do?

  • Look at the context: Some social circles give cards and gifts but others do not. Some groups do Secret Santa and some groups don’t do gifts at all.
  • Ask someone in the group: Don’t be afraid to ask. Say, “So do we usually do gifts or cards?”
  • Stay on the safe side: If you are really concerned just send a Happy New Year card. This won’t offend anyone and it will be positive and forward- thinking.

 

What happened at Starbucks?

This year Starbucks took off their holiday decorations and just kept the red cup.

Some people were offended that they did this and called it the “War on Christmas.”

 

What do you think about what happened at Starbucks?

Let us know in the comments below.

Recently, a shocking case emerged in the IELTS test center where I work.

A candidate entered the test center, gave the finger print, and then somehow switched places with a candidate who looked similar to him.

The candidate he switched with had a very high level of English, and was paid a handsome sum of money for this deception.

This ‘professional’ candidate made it through the Listening, Reading and halfway through the Writing, before a proctor became suspicious.

The proctor had helped check in the real candidate in the morning, and, while walking around checking ID’s during the Writing exam, she took a double take when comparing the student to his passport picture.

She asked him to accompany her to the administrator’s office, and this paid test taker told the truth immediately.

He was afraid of getting in trouble himself.

After all, he didn’t care about the real candidate.

He had already received his payment.

This insane series of events got me thinking about why the ethics of honesty and sincere effort are so important, and how we can bring our ethical life into our IELTS preparation.

1. Be honest about who you’re placing your trust in

This professional candidate, the fake person, did not care about the person who paid him the money.

He confessed right away, preferring to save himself than lie any more for the real candidate.

You, as an IELTS candidate, need to place your trust in an IELTS professional before you take the exam.

A teacher who can not only help you pass the exam, but also greatly improve your English ability at the same time.

Think about it: what if the person had actually gotten away with this crime?

Then, he would go to an English-speaking university, and not understand a thing.

Then, he would fail all of his classes, and still be forced home in disgrace, still having achieved nothing.

When you place your future dreams of immigration or prestigious study in someone else’s hands, make sure they deserve it.

Research the teacher and the course, and don’t be afraid to ask tough questions.

Then, work hard, and make sure you deserve the highest possible grade on the IELTS exam.

2. Be honest about the amount of work it takes to reach your goals

The dishonest student chose the easy way, the short cut, the loser’s way out.

And now that his scheme has been uncovered, he cannot take the IELTS exam again.

Therefore, he may not be able to attend the university of his choice, never get the position he’s hoping for, and never have the pride in himself that he so hoped for in the future.

You are a good person!

You will not make these same mistakes.

As an adult, you have enough life experience to know that there is no magic key to success.

Sure, we may get helped along our path by luck or good timing, but it’s our work ethic that allows us to use this luck and timing along our unique path.

If you need to get a 7+ on IELTS, if you want to create a better life for you and your family, there is no shortcut.

There are many opportunities to waste time, however, and that is why choosing a proven IELTS course with a sound and solid study plan is just the beginning.

The rest is up to you: only by completing all the activities, investing your time according to the study plan, and putting your best effort into the test practice, will you reach your goals.

You can hear how one student used our course to achieve a 7.5 on IELTS here.

3. Be honest about your strengths and weaknesses, and use them!

In our case study of today, the student should have been honest with himself about his lack of English skills, and focused on improving himself.

Instead, he thought his clever plan would be his strength, his savior; however, it only got him into a more dire situation.

Lindsay and I talk exactly about this pitfall in your IELTS test preparation journey in this episode.

You have to be honest with yourself first and foremost.

Are you better at Listening than Speaking?

Then you must force yourself to face your fears, and seek out a speaking partner.

Do you try a practice reading test, fail, and blame the material instead of yourself?

Stop.

Find a professional who will teach you the strategies you need, such as in our online IELTS course, and practice, practice, practice.

4. On the Speaking exam, be honest about what’s happening with you

Sometimes, we have to admit defeat before we can gather our strength to move on.

Perhaps this is where our poor student went awry.

He tried a practice test, performed abysmally, and tried to lie his way out of his problems.

Being honest is actually one IELTS strategy unique to IELTS Energy and All Ears English.

On this podcast we discuss how you can use your blank and nervous mind to your advantage on the IELTS Speaking test. We have a strategy for everything!

In short, you have to trust in yourself- that your hard work, determination and honesty will not only lead you to the IELTS score you need, but guide you in achieving all that you dream of in the future.

Let’s go!

What do you think about today’s article?

Let us know in the comments below!

Today we’ll show you how to add this tiny phrase to your repertoire to put a positive spin on what happens in life.

Americans have a reputation for being overly optimistic and positive.

We did an episode about this a few years ago called Does American Optimism Annoy You?

We did another episode on how to use “yet” to put a positive spin on your goals and dreams.

But today we’ll show you how to use “at least.”

We think you can become more successful at work if you are optimistic.

In fact, our language and word choices can determine our thought patterns so we can indeed create our own reality.

What we pay attention to is what actually exists so if you want to bake this mindset into your English phrases you could insert “at least” into your phrases.

Examples:

  • “I got yelled at by my boss today but at least I still have a job.”
  • “You can’t visit your friend in the hospital but you can at least send flowers.”

 

Listen to the conversation between Lindsay and Michelle to get examples on how to use this in a real situation.

 

What do you think?

What other phrases could you add to your English repertoire to be more positive?

Let us know in the comments.

Today you’ll hear the rumor that pulls people’s IELTS Speaking test scores  down to a 2.

You’ll also find out how to make sure you don’t get a low score and what you should do instead of following this bad advice to get the highest possible score.

There is a rumor that students repeat which says this: “Using memorized phrases could lower your score.”

But this doesn’t make sense because to some extent all phrases have to be “memorized” to learn them.

But if you memorize a full 2-minute speech before the exam and you launch into your memorized speech and it has nothing to do with the Speaking topic and question then of course you will get a terrible score because those aren’t your words and your answer is not relevant to the question.

Don’t ever memorize whole answers because you don’t know what the questions will be.

That is  RIDICULOUS waste of time.

Now, what about the transition phrases we talk about?

You do have to memorize them.

Memorization is inherent in learning vocabulary in some ways.

Everything we say has been memorized at some point but just memorizing them is not enough for you 7 or higher.

You need to see and understand how to use these phrases in context.

The reason that phrases can sound memorized is that they are used in the wrong context.

Type your transition phrase that you want to use on the test into Google search and let Google show you how these phrases are used. Look at the top 5 Google examples.

So, memorization is important so that you use the phrases correctly but you also have to see them in context so that you know when and how to use them if you really want to score high on IELTS Writing and IELTS Speaking.

Any questions from today?

Let us know in the comments below.

What is an invigilator?

What does their job have to do with timing?

How could they impact your score on Reading and Writing?

One of our listeners was in the Reading exam a few weeks ago and he got thrown off by the person who was keeping the time.

He thought that the invigilator would remind him after 20 minutes had gone by but maybe he misunderstood what this person was going to do so this caused him to get thrown off and confused.

The “invigilator” is supposed to do the following:

  • Control the morning exam by checking your passport
  • Fingerprint you
  • Check your belongings and give you a ticket
  • Give you the rules
  • Tell you what time you can enter the test room
  • Assign you a desk
  • Control the time during the test (they should give you clear instructions and write the time on the board). They should write the time remaining at 60 minutes, 40 minutes, and 20 minutes left.

What you need to know:

Sometimes these invigilators are not trained professionals.

They might be college students trying to make extra money.

They have many tasks to do.

For this reason they might not do everything right.

They might make a mistake.

They might forget to write the time warning on the board.

Don’t rely on the invigilator:

Timing is YOUR responsibility.

Keep your eye on the clock in the room.

If the invigilator makes a mistake and you don’t time your test correctly because of that then you won’t be able to do the test again. You won’t be able to blame it on anyone.

Take on some of the responsibility yourself and you will see a higher score.

How to avoid problems with timing:

It’s important to prepare under test conditions so that you know what 20 minutes feels like and what 40 minutes feels like.

You need to practice timing yourself doing each step (plan, write, check) to get a sense of the correct timing for each step.

This should become second-nature by the time you walk into the test because you need to have done it many many times before test day.

Do you have any questions about today’s episode?

Let us know in the comments below.

What can you learn about speech patterns from the story of a gay man from New York City?

Today hear about a documentary about a gay man who hired a speech therapist to get rid of his gay-sounding voice and find out what this means for you as a learner of English.

This weekend we watched a movie called Do I Sound Gay and it reminded us of some of the challenges that our listeners go through when they want to get rid of their own accents from their home countries.

We can draw parallels between what this man went through and what you might go through if you relocate to the US and try to start a life for yourself.

What is a typical “gay male voice”?

Of course this might be a stereotype in itself but here are some of the characteristics according to speech therapists:

  • Careful pronunciation
  • High, rapidly changing pitch
  • Lisp
  • Nasal tone
  • Breathy tone

 

In this documentary the man tried to figure out how and when he started talking with this voice and started trying to get rid of it.

He was “covering” as linguists would say. He was trying to cover up his natural voice.

He was doing activities and exercises to get rid of his speech patterns.

Eventually he stopped doing the exercises because he realized he was disconnected with himself.

 

Is “covering” always healthy?

Sometimes covering can be healthy.

Healthy covering is getting pronunciation training to have more success in business and be understood in everyday situations when we are living in a new country.

There is also a difference between having an accent and having good pronunciation.

The idea of developing a 100% American accent is not always the thing to work toward.

Sometimes covering can he unhealthy if you are spending a lot of time trying to stop being the person you are. It can also become a form of aggression that we display to ourselves by not allowing anything but “perfection.”

 

What does this mean for you as an English learner?

  • Ask yourself, is your desire to change your pronunciation coming from a healthy place or an unhealthy place? Are you feeling vulnerable? Maybe you are feeling scared if you are living in a new country and you don’t want to stand out and you prefer to blend in?
  • Are you looking for perfection or connection? Do you want to learn in a way that helps you connect with people or do you want to be “perfect”? What are your priorities? What are your values?
  • Are you looking for a connection to yourself? If we are feeling disconnected to ourselves or our bodies we could see a therapist or do yoga or meditation. What are you actually looking for? Is “perfect” English pronunciation really the solution?

 

The extent to which you want to lose your original accent when you speak English is your own personal choice but we are asking you to reflect on that question today.

 

What do you think?

Let us know in the comments below.

What is the toughest IELTS Writing Task 2 question?

It’s a question that combines opinion, argument, and problem solution questions.

How can you tackle it so that you get the score you need?

Today find out how to deal with this question to get the highest possible score on IELTS Writing Task 2.

Normally the way we approach Task 2 is by looking at the different types of essay that you might have to write.

The three types are:

  • Argument Essay
  • Problem/Solution Essay
  • Opinion Essay

But the problem is that sometimes IELTS gives you a combo question.

What should you do if you get that type of question?

Don’t think about writing a specific type of essay for this type of question.

Answer the question directly instead.

For example, here is a typical question:

“Some people feel that we are wasting our money in the Space Race. We need to spend money on earth. Do you agree or disagree with this?”

This question does not present two opinions so it’s less clear.

So in this case, since there are two parts to the question you can talk about sentence 1 in paragraph 2 and sentence 2 in the next paragraph.

First, talk about the fact that yes, we are wasting money on the Space Race.

The second part of the question is: “We should be spending money here on earth.”

So address that part in the next paragraph.

If you see a question with two parts then don’t waste your time thinking about what kind of essay to write.

Instead just directly answer those questions in the two body paragraphs.

You can use this strategy on every single question for Writing Task 2.

You still need to practice the 3 different types of essay structures before you can start moving things around like we’re showing you in this strategy.

You need to know the strategies and rules before you can break them.

What questions do you have from today?

Let us know in the comments below.

What should you do if someone doesn’t reply to your email?

How do you ask them if they got it and give them the “gentle nudge” in English to get them to respond?

We’ll show you exactly how to do it today so that you can get the message across and still maintain that connection.

What should you think about?

  • What is your relationship with the person? How well do you know them?
  • What is the timing? You need to get this right and not make them feel pressured
  • How can get their attention just to give them a friendly reminder without nagging

How can you maintain the connection but also be somewhat direct in English?

One useful key word here is “just.”

We have already talked about this word. Check out this episode.

Even though we can eliminate “just” in many contexts to sound more direct, when it’s a follow up email you can use it strategically to be more polite in English and to not come off as nagging or bothering someone.

By saying “just” you are recognizing that you are not the only thing in the person’s life.

Phrases to use:

  • “Hey just checking in. I emailed you last week. Did you get (receive) my email?”
  • “Hey I haven’t heard back from you. What’s going on?” (this is more direct and less formal)
  • “Hi I sent you an email last week about the party. Hope you can make it. Please let me know either way.”
  • “I emailed you last week about the meeting on Friday. If you could get back to me by this Wednesday that would be great.”

What phrases do you use in English to remind people to get back to you?

Let us know in the comments below.

Are you worried that you will “lose it” on the map completion questions on the IELTS Listening test?

This kind of question is rare but it does happen and it can be tough.

However, today you’ll find out what happened to one student in this part of the IELTS test and learn how you can make sure this doesn’t happen to you too.

What happened to this student?

The student got lost and didn’t know where he was on the test.

He didn’t know where on the test the speaker was referencing.

He skipped the initial step of looking at the question before he listened.

He didn’t use his prediction strategy to see what would come next.

The skill you need to succeed on this type of question:

Prediction strategies: On a map completion question all of the answers are in order so all you have to do is follow along in order.

What should you do to follow along? Before you listen find question #1 right away. Circle it and then circle all of the questions in order so that you see where all of the questions are.

You need to start predicting direction words in your head.

Look at where things are on the map and describe it to yourself in your head before you listen.

These are the signal words.

Read more about prediction when it comes to IELTS Listening and Reading.

You can get maps online to practice this.

Also get more tips on this in the IELTS Brain box episode here.

How can you practice this?

Go to a tourist office in your city and get maps in English.

Highlight all direction words on the map.

Go back and describe the map in your own words.

You could extend this into speaking test practice by engaging in conversation with the person who works at the tourist center by asking them some questions about the map.

What questions do you have about this strategy?

Let us know in the comments below.

What should you do when the barista at Starbucks or another coffee shop gets your order wrong?

Today find out how to correct them and fix the problem in English without ruining the person’s day.

Do you spend a lot of time at Starbucks?

Lindsay is a Starbucks bum. She goes every day to the Starbucks down by her house.

Sometimes when you go a cafe the server gets the order wrong.

How do you fix the problem and get the correct drink without making the server feel bad or ruin their day?

Phrases to correct the server in English:

  • “Actually I asked for hazelnut.”
  • “Excuse me I think my order got confused.”
  • “Ya know what, I think there was a mistake.”
  • “Sorry I think I got the wrong order.”

What other phrases do you know when it comes to fixing your order at a cafe?

Please share them in the comments below.

What should you do when you receive your IELTS results?

After two long weeks of nail biting and bated breath, your IELTS results were released.

With dreams of 7’s, or even 8’s, you opened the envelope, or clicked on the appropriate link, and your face fell.

No 7’s.

Maybe a 6 or two, but definitely not the scores that you need to send in to the immigration agency, the admitting committee for your university, or the overseas job recruiters.

I know this is not ideal, but there is good news! You can still reach your target scores!

3-part IELTS Masterclass

Ready to get our free 3-part IELTS Masterclass?

Learn the top ticks, tricks, and secrets you need for success

Click here to get Video 1 instantly

Analyze your strengths

You got your results, and, hopefully, they’re not all bad!

Perhaps you scored a couple 6’s, maybe in the Reading and Writing, but you still couldn’t get beyond that 5.5 for Speaking, and Writing was maybe a 5.

Chin up!

The good news is that you have nowhere to go but up!

So, start by being positive.

List your strengths for each section of the exam.

For example, in Speaking, you feel like your fluency was actually ok, but you know that you need to learn a wider range of vocabulary.

You can use your strengths and weaknesses to help you improve, for example, even if you feel like you are an introvert, and you believe this inability to be gregarious is holding you back, use it to your advantage!

We did a podcast on this specific topic, analyzing your personality type and using it to help formulate your study plan.

The fact is that you most likely do have a strong base of English skills, and you can build on that.

You just need to right guidance from a IELTS professional.

Analyze your weaknesses

If you’re reading this article, you probably didn’t hit that target score in every section of the IELTS exam.

Good news! You can still get there!

Remember that almost nobody hits their target score on their first attempt, and, if this is your second, third, or even eighth attempt, it’s time to change the way your are preparing.

This video is a good place to start: Why Do I keep Getting a 5.5?

See the full video lesson below.

You cannot keep doing the same methods of preparation, the same IELTS prep class at the local language school, the same Cambridge practice test book at home, and expect to get different results.

If you are strong in fluency, for example, or vocabulary, but you still can’t get beyond that 6 in Speaking or Writing, maybe you need to focus on pronunciation.

Most likely, if you are a good student who simply cannot reach the score you need, even after preparing, you are just missing some key information about the test that your teachers and your books aren’t giving you.

In fact, unfortunately, some teachers are actually passing on the wrong information to their pupils, directly hurting their scores.

On our podcast, we’ve heard many cases of this, where a teacher is claiming to be an ‘ex-examiner’ in some cases, charging higher fees, and actually sabotaging their students’ preparation.

Learn how to improve in the areas you need.

You cannot teach yourself what you don’t know.

You must admit that there are areas for improvement, and find a teacher who can bring you up to the level you need to be for the exam.

There are strategies that only a real IELTS professional can teach you, for example, which numbers the examiners wants to see in Writing Task 1  or what the examiner wants to hear specifically in Speaking Part 2

For Speaking and Writing, the fact is that you cannot improve those areas by yourself.

You need to learn from someone who knows, intimately and in great detail, what the examiner is looking and listening for on the writing and speaking tests.

That’s why in our course 3 Keys IELTS, for example, every piece of advice stems from the descriptors that the examiner uses to give you band scores.

Likewise, Reading and Listening skills can be practiced at home in your room, but, you still need an IELTS professional who can teach you the simple strategies you need to feel confident on test day.

On our podcast, we discuss some of these specific reading and listening strategies.

Make a study plan

On our podcast, we are firm believers in plans, lists and organized preparation.

When we have a huge goal before us, like passing the IELTS to get our Masters degree and bring our skills home to improve our town and support our family, we cannot expect to reach any of those targets without putting in the work.

However, at the same time, you don’t want to just start ‘working’ when you’re actually wasting your time with the wrong resources.

In this episode, https://www.allearsenglish.com/ielts-study-plan-create/, we explain how to start forming an IELTS study plan for yourself so you don’t waste your time and money.

The video below also provides some valuable advice on how to create a study plan.

In short, you know you have to work hard, but you’re not sure what exactly that looks like in terms of IELTS preparation.

In 3 Keys IELTS, we have 30 day and 60 day study plans, which outline two activities you can do daily which strengthen every English skill for the exam and give you all the strategies that you need.

Basically, if you need to improve by half a band score, make a 30 day plan.

If you need to improve by one band point, try a 60 day plan.

If you need more improvement than that, allow yourself 3 months of preparation before you retake the exam. (Of course, if you are not working, or studying something else, and have lots of time to practice, you can reduce this.)

Schedule a new IELTS test date

After analyzing your strengths and weaknesses and making a study plan, you know that you will be ready for the test in 1-3 months, depending on your situation.

Don’t wait to schedule your next exam, though, because many test centers are booked up months in advance.

Find out when IELTS is testing again in your area.

Refer to this blog post for dates and advice on scheduling.

Why aren’t you understanding what you read?

IELTS Reading is a major stress point for a lot of IELTS candidates.

Today you’ll get a simple, 3-step activity to help you increase your ability to understand what you read and to also increase your vocabulary!

You must NEVER expect to understand every word you read.

You don’t need this to get a high score on IELTS and you don’t need it to succeed in English in everyday life.

What you do need for IELTS is comprehension strategies and you also need test strategies.

We have noticed a bad habit.

What many students do is they try to translate the meaning of a sentence or passage word for word.

This does not work and we see it all of the time so we need to stop doing this!

We know that you want to learn vocabulary but you can’t take vocabulary by itself.

It needs to come through other things like listening or reading but with this bad habit, when you try to translate words you are not focusing on context like you should.

Focus on Connection NOT Perfection.

What is the writer trying to convey  to us?

What is the feeling that we should feel?

Read between the lines.

Understand the feeling and the gist.

Even try to understand what’s not being said.

What is the undertone?

This is what you are aiming for even if it does not come right away.

This connects directly when you answer Yes/No/Not Given Reading Questions.

Don’t focus on individual words and sentences.

Start by understanding the context and work backwards from there.

So how do you do it? Good question! We’ll show you how to do it now.

3 steps to get better at reading comprehension:

  • Step 1: Read the whole article and essay, read for context and take a minute to think about what you just read (without your dictionary) and do not underline any words or phrases. Next, try to summarize the ideas in your own words, what is the author trying to tell you?  Think about it.
  • Step 2: Dictionary step! Read it again and choose 3 or 4 key words that you think are important for comprehension and then use your dictionary. You can write the translation but we prefer that you avoid that.
  • Step 3: Next read the whole thing again, don’t underline or translate and then add to your summary again.

This framework helps you focus, step by step, on what you are reading and adding new meaning each time.

Any questions about today’s strategy?

Let us know in the comments below.

Things don’t always work the way we want them to.

Today find out what to say in English when something stops working or when someone misbehaves.

Michelle has been having problems with her headphones lately.

Her headphones have been “acting up.”

Gustavo, one of our listeners, asked us if we can say, “My email server is goofing off” but we can’t say that.

If you use the phrasal verb “goof off” you need to be talking about a person with a personality who is misbehaving.

What do you do when your computer “acts up”?

 

Phrases to use for people misbehaving or things not working:

  • To act up: This can be used to describe a person or a thing not working well. For example, “That kid started acting up at the restaurant” or “My computer is acting up.”
  • To mess up: You can say this for a person, “I messed up on my IELTS Exam.” Sometimes we could use this when we talk about an item for example, “My phone keeps messing up.”
  • To not work: This is only used for an item. “My watch isn’t working.”
  • To give someone problems: You can say this for both people and things. “My friend is giving me problems” or “My microphone is giving me problems”
  • To goof off: This is usually used for a person only because they need to have a personality to goof off. “Stop goofing off in class.”
  • To mess around: This is only used for a person, not a thing.

 

Listen to the role play conversations to see how these are used in a real conversation!

Let us know your questions in the comments section below.

Today you will get 3 habit changes that will directly increase your IELTS Writing score and will give you unstoppable confidence on test day.

Are you typing your IELTS practice essays? If so then you are making a big mistake!

This is not the way you should practice.

You must make your practice as close to exam conditions as you can and then on test day you will be ready.

You need to practice correctly!

If you are using Microsoft Word here are the problems:

  • You won’t be typing on test day so it’s not realistic practice
  • If you are also using spell check then you are not getting used to looking for your own mistakes and that will bring your score down

You need to hand write your essays first then you can type them into the spell check to find mistakes to learn that way but you can’t type out your essays the first time.

If your IELTS teacher asks you to email them all of your essays (typed) and you never practice writing an essay with a pen and paper then there is a problem with that class and that is a red flag regarding the quality of the teacher and the course.

Go here to the IELTS Writing exam paper and use this for your practice.

The best way to make sure anxiety doesn’t bring down your score is to prepare as close to exam conditions as possible many many times before test day.

Also practice the correct timing:

  • Writing Task 1: 20 minutes
  • Writing Task 2: 40 minutes

You must be able to plan, write, and check in those times to get the highest score.

There is no other way to get the score you need.

When should you start practicing timing.

If you have a few months, don’t start timing yet.

You need to learn strategies, practice grammar, spelling, etc. before you can do it under test conditions, especially for Writing Task 1.

You also need to know what to proofread for first then two weeks before the exam you start putting yourself under test conditions with a timer.

If you do it this way, by the time test day comes you will be GOLDEN!

If you have done everything right in your preparation then test day should be straightforward and not stressful.

That’s what Pedro said after he took our course.

He said that he knew exactly what to expect because he had been told what to expect in the course.

What questions do you have from today?

Let us know in the comments below.

Today find out how to save your friend from an embarrassing moment in English!

Do you have trouble pronouncing people’s names in English or does your friend have that problem?

Today find out how to correct them without making them feel bad in English.

Here are some phrases you could use:

  • “His name is hard to pronounce…”
  • “Oh the pronunciation is kind of hard…”
  • “My mom made that mistake too.”
  • “Actually the way you pronounce it is….”
  • “The pronunciation is actually ____”

 

If your friends are making pronunciation mistakes then don’t be afraid to correct them!

It’s better to have that short moment of awkwardness than to realize later that they have been continuing to make the same mistake over and over, especially because names are so important.

Also if you struggle with names, check out Episode 277 with Alan Headbloom on how to remember someone’s name.

 

Leave us a comment below!

Today we are going to directly answer a question that we received from a listener about some advice that he received from an ex-examiner of the IELTS Exam in a book that he purchased. Here is the question from our listener:

“When I was reading a book called IELTS Speaking I came across some tips. What I got confused about is that the author suggested candidates use as many linking phrases as possible in Speaking part 2. He also said that content is not important for Part 2. He recommended focusing on linking phrases instead.”

-IELTS Energy listener

Is this advice true?

First of all, when it comes to the advice about linking phrases, yes, they are important to use on the Speaking test.

It does feel unnatural to use them.

We don’t normally use them in everyday conversation BUT if you want to score a 7 or higher for fluency and coherence, the examiner does listen to your linking words so you must use transition phrases such as:

  • Nevertheless
  • Subsequently
  • Having said that
  • Not only…but also
  • He, she, it, they (pronouns)
  • This means that….

How can you practice these?

Find an academic linking words list online.

Choose three linking words from each category that are high level.

Write them down and as you are talking, make yourself use these words.

If you don’t practice it you won’t do it on the exam.

You need to make these phrases part of your repertoire.

So that advice about linking words is correct that our listener got.

However, the ex-examiner also said that “content is not important” and we don’t agree with that.

Content is super important.

Your ideas need to make sense.

They need to directly answer the question.

Just focusing on using linking words will not get you a 7.

It is sometimes ok to transition into another topic if you can’t stay on the topic but you need to at least start out by answering or attempting to answer the question.

We have talked about how to answer the question if your mind goes blank in previous episodes.

When it comes to your fluency and coherence score and your vocabulary score it’s important to at least try to address the question directly.

You also need to create your culture of thinking when you prepare for IELTS so that you’ll have content in your mind to answer the questions.

What questions do you have from today’s episode?

Let us know in the comments section below.

Do you know how to use the phrase “take for granted” in English?

We can use this phrase when we don’t appreciate someone or something in our lives.

Listen to this role play between Lindsay and Michelle to see how we use “take for granted” in a natural way.

Other vocabulary:

  1. Newness wears off
  2. To wake up
  3. To fall into a routine

What do you take for granted?

Let us know in the comments below.

Are you lying to yourself about IELTS?

Today find out if you are doing this and how and why you should stop doing this.

Remember, just because you say to yourself that you studied or that you did our study plan, that doesn’t mean that you really did it or that you went deep enough with the material.

The recommendations on our study plan are not suggestions.

They are commands.

Every recommendation in our study plan is designed to help you increase your score.

Don’t waste your time complaining.

Spend that time building your IELTS skills.

Also if you just take a practice test without learning strategies then you are not preparing.

What questions do you have about today’s episode?

Sabrina Fletcher online English teacher

Today find out how meditation could change your English-learning life.

Sabrina takes a different view on how we should learn languages.

She believes in using a contemplative approach.

This means that as we learn English we need to understand that we already have all of the knowledge we need inside of us.

However, sometimes the mind interferes with our learning process and makes us nervous and anxious.

 

native English teachersCan’t find native speakers to practice English with you?

Can’t get your English corrected by your native-speaking friends?

Get a professional, native English teacher in seconds at italki.

For a limited time, italki is offering 10 USD in free English lessons. Click here to get your 10USD in italki credits before this offer runs out!

 

Today Sabrina will give us 3 ways to use contemplative learning to improve our English skills:

  • Use meditation: Sit in silence for 30 seconds and concentrate on your breathing. This will help you relax and prepare to be present during your lesson.
  • Use a mindfulness bell: Use a bell that goes off at times that you determine. When it rings it serves as a reminder to be present.
  • Keep a Journal: It could be a gratitude journal or you could use it to review what you have been learning.

Sabrina’s Bio

Sabrina Fletcher in an English teacher who specializes in teaching conversational English. She helps low-intermediate through advanced English learners learn to speak REAL English that they can use in conversations with REAL native English speakers.

In her unique conversation, American pronunciation, and writing courses, she uses meditation, visualizations and art to help students feel relaxed while speaking – therefore helping them speak English well!
She also writes articles and posts videos about conversational English on her site Speak English Live with Sabrina.  (www.speak-english-live.com)

 

How to Work with Sabrina:

Step 1: Please register here to get $10 off your second lesson.

Step 2: Find Sabrina’s profile on italki and schedule a lesson

Are you getting ready to take IELTS?

If so, it’s a great idea to know upcoming IELTS test dates.

Knowing your test date will help you create your IELTS study plan so you’ll know when to start learning strategies and when to start practicing under test conditions.

The best way to get your 7 or higher fast is to prepare well.

You want to focus on strategies that are directly linked to the scoring system.

Be careful when you choose an IELTS course or an IELTS tutor.

You need to ask the right questions to see if the tutor really understands the test as well as they should.

Read on to get the information you need regarding test dates but remember that reserving your test date is only step 1. Come back to this blog and podcast for more tips and strategies.

IELTS is usually offered three Saturdays a month and sometimes on one Thursday.

However, not every IELTS test center observes every test date, and may only offer the exam once or twice a month.

Please go to ielts.org to research your local test center.

Also, you should know if you are taking the Academic (A) or General (G) exams, as Academic is offered more than General.

Please see the list below to find out what test dates are offered for the rest of this year (2015) as well as for all of 2016.

(A)= Academic

(G)= General

November 2015

19 Thursday A

21 Saturday AG

December 2015

3 Thursday A

5 Saturday AG

12 Saturday AG

19 Saturday A

January 2016

9 Saturday AG

14 Thursday A

23 Saturday AG

30 Saturday A

February 2016

13 Saturday A

18 Thursday AG

20 Saturday AG

27 Saturday A

March 2016

5 Saturday AG

12 Saturday A

19 Saturday AG

31 Thursday A

April 2016

2 Saturday AG

16 Saturday A

21 Thursday A

30 Saturday AG

May 2016

7 Saturday A

19 Thursday AG

21 Saturday AG

28 Saturday A

June 2016

4 Saturday AG

16 Thursday A

18 Saturday A

25 Saturday AG

July 2016

9 Saturday A

14 Thursday A

16 Saturday AG

30 Saturday AG

August 2016

4 Thursday AG

13 Saturday A

20 Saturday AG

27 Saturday A

September 2016

3 Saturday A

10 Saturday AG

15 Thursday A

24 Saturday AG

October 2016

8 Saturday AG

13 Thursday A

22 Saturday A

29 Saturday AG

November 2016

3 Thursday AG

5 Saturday A

19 Saturday AG

26 Saturday A

December 2016

3 Saturday AG

10 Saturday AG

15 Thursday A

17 Saturday A

One way to be prepared to get your 7 or higher on IELTS is to make sure you know the facts about your testing center beforehand.

When you have the information you need about what’s going to happen on test day, you are able to focus on building the skills that you need.

Check out today’s article for information on the testing centers for IELTS.

1. When they give IELTS exams

IELTS exams are offered three Saturdays a month and one Thursday a month.

However, not all test centers will administer all of these exam dates, due to not having enough candidates sign up or other staffing/scheduling issues.

Go to www.ielts.org to find the test center near you and look at their test dates.

Pay attention as well to which exam(s) they are offering.

The Academic Exam is offered on every test date, but the General Exam is not.

In addition, some test centers are so busy that they are booked up for the next two months, or more.

Try to schedule your exam at least 3 months in advance to secure the date that you desire.

2. Your options for Speaking exams

In general, the whole IELTS exam (Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking) is completed in one day.

This means, though, that after a grueling three hour exam session in the morning, you have to wait around and fill up to 6 hours before your designated Speaking interview time.

Some centers are now offering Speaking exams during the week before or the week following the exam, so this might be a better option for some candidates, especially those who live far from the test center.

3. The area around the test center

As mentioned above, it is common for candidates to have to kill time in or around the test center before their Speaking exam.

Look at a map online of your test center.

Find a cafe or restaurant for lunch, a coffee shop for energy boosting if needed (and with wifi so you can also let your brain relax and watch a video), and make sure to locate a park or other pedestrian area so you can have a walk and get those positive endorphins flowing prior to your interview with the examiner.

4. What the acoustics are like

Not all test centers are created equal.

Some are in buildings which feature rooms with quite poor acoustics, and it may make the Listening Exam more of a challenge.

Try to find students who have taken the test there before and ask them how the Listening Exam was.

If the acoustics are poor and echoey, you may want to ready yourself by doing some listening practice in a similar environment, such as school gymnasium.

5. Rules for what you can/cannot bring with you

IELTS test centers are very strict about what you are allowed to bring into the examination room- usually no more than a pen/pencil, water bottle with no label and your passport.

Make sure to familiarize yourself with your local test center’s rules and requirements.

 

How are special requirements made?

Additionally, let the test center know if you have any special requirements.

In this video, Jessica explains what “special requirements” are on the IELTS Exam, and how you can arrange for these if needed.

If you are vision-impared, hearing-impaired, or differently-abled in any way, IELTS will help you take the Exam.

Remember, though, you must organize this with the test center administrator 6 weeks before your test!

 

Watch the video now!

Do you know how to deal with the toughest Reading and Listening questions on the IELTS Exam?

Today you’ll get a strategy that will pull you through the toughest parts of the Reading and the Listening tests and help you come out with a 7.

The big idea here is that you have to be an active test taker on the Listening and Reading versus being a passive student who waits for the answers to come to them.

When things get tough toward the end of both sections you need strategies to help you.

You don’t have time to read everything on the Reading and understand it all.

In our course we outline the 3-step strategies you need for Listening and Reading and specific question types.

However, an essential part of every strategy for Listening and Reading is prediction.

Why is it essential?

It forces your mind to be active.

It lets you know what to expect on the Listening and what answers to look for on the Reading.

This strategy  cuts out so much time wasting.

We talked about this when we discussed our brain box strategy for Listening.

This helps us comprehend quickly.

It’s all about speed and timing on the IELTS.

The faster we can predict and activate our brain box, the faster we can get the answer and move on.

Listen to the episode for examples of how we predict what parts of speech to expect when we begin reading.

What questions do you have about today’s episode?

Soongjae wrote in with these great questions:

“What are the cultural characteristics regarding age in the US?

Can those of a different age still be considered friends?

Does age affect how people act in relationships?”

Great question!

We did an Episode about how to talk about your age in Episode 177.

In English we don’t have too many special phrases that we use when we talk to someone who is older or younger than we are.

In the US people of different ages can be called friends and we don’t address people differently when they are of a different age.

Listen to the episode for more!

What follow up questions do you have from today?

Do you want to move beyond IELTS in your life?

The best way to do that is to get your 7 or higher and the best way to get your 7 or higher on the IELTS Speaking test is to use idioms as much as you can.

What kind of idioms?

Well today we will show you five nature-related idioms that will get you your target score and will impress the examiner.

Remember guys, when it comes to IELTS, learn vocabulary and expressions in context.

Do not attempt to memorize a list of words or study the dictionary.

It’s too easy and it won’t get you a high score.

#1) Down to earth

Someone who has their feet planted firmly on the ground and thinks about life in a practical, realistic way.

#2) To become second-nature

Something becomes natural to us.

It becomes so natural that we could do it in our sleep.

Riding a bike could be second-nature to us.

#3) Mother nature

This is great if you are talking or writing about the environment.

You need to paraphrase a lot on the Writing test.

#4) To be good-natured

To be easygoing and easy to talk to.

Someone who is not easygoing might be short-tempered.

#5) To be a natural at something

When you don’t have to work hard at something and you are naturally talented.

Practice using these phrases in your own samples sentences below in the comments.

Do you get confused about how to use “other,” “another,” and “others” in English?

Our listener Naomi wrote in and asked us how to use these three words.

Great question!

Another:

We use this to talk about one more. We use it with a singular noun.

  • “I want another plate of food”
  • “I’ll have another beer”
  • “Let’s take another question”

 

Other:

We use this with a plural noun.

  • “There are other people here.”
  • “I want to see other people”
  • “Are there any other options?”

 

Others:

This takes the place of the noun that comes after “other.”

Instead of saying , “other people” you can just say “the others.”

 

 

Listen to the episode to get more examples.

Write your examples in the comments below.

Do you have any follow up questions?

Will your Speaking score go down if you go off topic on the IELTS Speaking test?

Great question! And we’ll answer it for you today.

We’ll show you how to veer off the topic without losing points using transition phrases.

One of our listeners said during her Speaking test she had spoken without pausing but she went a bit off topic and she didn’t use the linking words that she needed.

When you start talking about a totally different topic right away you will lose points because your answer won’t make sense and you will lose cohesion/coherence and vocabulary points.

However, if you start talking about the topic then later you start to wander to another topic that is fine.

You need the transition phrase to say that you are going to into another topic.

That would increase your score because of the linking phrases and you would not lose points for cohesion and coherence if you did it this way.

Use transition phrases such as:

  • “Side note…”
  • “You know, this makes me think of….”
  • “This reminds me of….”

Keep in mind that this kind of wandering off topic is NOT ok on Writing.

Every single sentence must be related to the question.

You will lose points if you don’t stay on topic for Writing.

Listen to the conversation and role play between Lindsay and Jessica to see how transitioning into a different topic can be done well with good transition phrases.

One of our listeners asked us how to disagree politely with your boss in English

This is a great business English topic and a great question.

When we talk about how to disagree in English, we always need to consider culture.

It’s not just the country culture that we’re in but what about company culture?

Some businesses have an open culture and you can feel comfortable disagreeing but other companies are much more serious and you can’t disagree with someone above you.

Regardless of where we work, we need to be able to speak up and defend our point if we disagree with what’s happening at work.

Phrases to politely disagree with your boss:

  • “I have to disagree.” This sounds a bit less confrontational because we’re taking one step back from saying “I disagree.”
  • “Can I share my opinion?” This would be a softer way to get into this conversation
  • “I have a slightly different perspective.” When we add “slightly” to this we are taking one more step back, making it more indirect
  • “Actually, I can’t completely disagree.” In this phrase using “actually” softens the phrase.
  • “I need to respectfully disagree”
  • “I’m not on board with that” or “I can’t get on board with that”: To be on board with something means that you are agreeing to participate and that you approve of it.

Listen to the conversation between Lindsay and Michelle so that you can hear these phrases being used in a real situation.

What do you think about these phrases?

Have you tried them? How did they work for you?

Today you’ll get the two biggest mistakes that immediately lower your Task 1 Writing score.

Find out what they are so that you can get the highest possible score on your IELTS Exam.

The common mistakes are that people don’t include what they need in their introduction in Writing Task 1.

Let’s talk about the introduction to Writing Task 1.

It should only be two sentences:

  • Sentence 1: Re-phrase the test question
  • Sentence 2: Have an overall trend

If you don’t put the re-phrase of the test question in  your introduction you will lose points for cohesion and coherence.

To do this you only need to look at the test question and change the words.

BUT you cannot copy the test question.

If you use the same words that you see in the test question then your score will go down.

Those words will be taken off your word count.

This happens for both Writing Task 1 and Writing Task 2.

Check out this episode on how to paraphrase in Writing Task 2.

For the second sentence you need the overall trend.

In our course, the 3 Keys IELTS Success System we show you how to write the overall trend.

What this does is it summarizes the information.

How do the numbers change?

What is the biggest trend you notice when you look at the table.

This MUST be part of your essay.

The examiner looks for it.

Remember that there are three different question types: Change Over Time, Static, and the Nature Diagram/Map question.

In our course we show you examples of everything you might see in Writing Task 1 and you learn exactly how to find the overall trend quickly before you start writing your essay.

That’s why we need strategies and we need to practice them.

What questions do you have about today’s episode?

Let us know in the comments.

Don’t just say, “I don’t like it.” You want to mix it up and say something more interesting to connect with people.

Today get five interesting ways to say this in English.

Today we are not talking about what we say when we are actually in a restaurant.

Today’s phrases can be used when you are just generally talking about your food likes and dislikes with your friends.

Five Ways to Say You Don’t Like a Kind of Food:

  • “I don’t care for wine”: This sounds a bit more formal, polite, respectful and articulate. Use this in a more formal situation with your colleagues at a business lunch.
  • “I don’t like olives” : This is very direct and casual. We could use this around people we know well or around kids.
  • “I’m not a huge fan of licorice”
  • “Corn on the cob is/are not my thing.”
  • “I usually pass on burgers”
  • “I’m going to pass on the bread” : This can be used if we are at the dinner table and we don’t want to eat something but this could come off as rude if you are in a more formal situation or if the person has put in a lot of work cooking the meal so be careful with this one.

Listen to the episode to hear the expressions being used between Lindsay and Michelle.

What other ways do you know to say that you dislike something in English?

Do you ever get into a conversation where the person you are speaking with goes off on a tangent?

Maybe they don’t even realize that they have gotten away from the topic but you need to bring them back.

You don’t want to get side tracked.

Find out how to bring someone back to the main objective of the conversation today.

In a more informal situation like at a party it’s great to go off on tangents because that’s how you build relationships and build great conversations.

A few weeks ago we talked about how to use “anyways” which can be used in different situations when the atmosphere is awkward but today we’ll talk about something that is related but slightly different.

Here are some way to bring someone back from a tangent:

  • “So you were saying….?”
  • “OK so anyways….”
  • “Where was I?”
  • “Where were we?”
  • “So what were you saying?”

 

In American culture we tend to get down to business right away when we enter a business meeting whereas in other cultures we know that there is more relationship building required and in that case it would be ok to go off on a tangent.

Pay attention to culture when it comes to going off on tangents.

 

What other phrases do you know to come back from a tangent?

Have you ever tried to use them?

Let us know in the comments below.

Today we’ll show you how to BECOME a native speaker for that native speaker 9!

Today find out how you can step into a native speaker character and pretend to a be a native speaker to get more confidence on the IELTS Speaking test.

What can it do for you when you create a new character for yourself when you speak a new language?

You can become empowered, less self-conscious, and step out of your old way of thinking and being to become a new person.

This is a powerful learning methodology called “Suggestopedia” that is used by great English teachers all over the world.

This is also a great strategy if you have hit a wall and you can’t get above a 6 in IELTS Speaking.

If this is you then you need a new way to attack the Speaking test and this would be a good way to do it.

How to create your character:

  • Pick your own name: Make it a native speaker’s name. Make it something you like and you want to identify with.
  • Choose the city that you want to live in: Choose a city that fits with your own personality. New York is for high-powered business professionals or artists.  If you want to have a more laid-back life, you can be from Portland.
  • Choose the character you want: Do you want to be relaxed and cool or high-strung and achievement oriented?
  • Choose a dream job for the character: It could be something you will never have or it could be your target job for the future.
  • Consume media that your character would consume: Find authentic newspapers from your character’s city and read a lot of them as part of your preparation.

Examples:

Jessica would be a journalist from Madrid because she wants to write in her career.

Why should you do this?

It gives you confidence which improves your fluency and raises your pronunciation score.

Also when you’re in the test and your mind goes blank you can go to this personality and think about how they might answer it.

This will help you come up with stories and will help you avoid silence.

Make a character board!

Make this real.

Create a board and cut out materials and photos that describe this special character.

What is your character?

Describe him or her in the comments below.

We want to see your examples!

Do you feel insecure when you speak English?

Is there a big voice in your head that criticizes you?

Does it tell you that you are not good enough?

Or that you cannot speak English?

Today find out about our theory on how you can quiet the critical voice in your head by challenging yourself more, not less.

That voice in your head can make you feel like you can’t be spontaneous or like you are not good enough.

In order to quiet the voice you need to be challenged to a certain level.

The thing that we are doing cannot be too easy.

If it is too easy there is too much time and space in our minds for the voice to show up and start to sabotage you.

If you are repeating the same phrases and words that you have always used then you aren’t using much mental energy on the language.

The trick is to challenge yourself more, not less!

How can you challenge yourself more:

  • Ask yourself, “How can I continue this conversation a little bit longer?” Add one more piece to the conversation to challenge yourself more. Extend yourself just a little bit more.
  • Take something that you already know how to say and think of a new way to say it. Don’t fall back on the same phrases. It’s safe to do that but safety is not always good for you.
  • Think of a new phrasal verb or idiom to replace the word that you always use.

So if you feel that the voice in your head is strong when you speak English it could be that you are not challenging yourself enough.

So put into action some of our tips today and let us know how it goes.

What do you think about this strategy?

Have you tried to implement these tips yet?

Let us know in the comments below.

Why is paraphrasing a golden opportunity for a 7 or higher on IELTS Writing?

We have talked in the past about how to paraphrase in the Speaking test.

Today we’ll talk about where and when you should paraphrase on Writing Task 2, especially on the Argument Essay and how you can get better at it.

On Writing Task 2 you have to mention all parts of the question in your essay.

For example, if there are two sentences in the question such as “Some people say that studying art in school is very beneficial. However, other people say that it should be an elective because it doesn’t benefit everyone.”

In your essay you have to explore both sides of the question and you can’t copy the question word for word. Why? If you do that those words won’t be counted as part of your essay.

They’ll be taken out.

When you paraphrase you need to use new words and show the examiner your ability to come up with parallel expressions.

It’s an opportunity to show off your vocabulary and stand out as a 7 candidate.

*Important!

When you paraphrase it doesn’t have to be amazing words. You can paraphrase in simpler language and it’s still going to help your score.

For example, say “drawing lessons” instead of “art classes.”

*Tip- you need a lot of phrases to use when you talk about opinions:

  •  “Some argue that…”
  • “Some are of the opinion that…”
  • “A certain portion of the population believe that…”

Examples:

  • “It is generally believed that” = “Most people think that”
  • “Some people are born with certain talents” = “A certain portion of the population is born with natural abilities.”
  • “However it is sometimes claimed that any child can be taught to be a good sports player or musician” = “Some people feel that anyone can learn to be good at athletics.”

What do you think about today’s episode?

Do you know how to paraphrase on the IELTS?

Leave us a comment below.

Are you stuffed up?

Are you coming down with something?

Today find out how to talk about being sick in English.

If you are living in the US or if you do a business trip to the US and you get sick, you need to know how to talk about it in a casual and natural way to stay connected with people.

In the US, we are often very private about being sick.

If we have something serious we are likely to keep it private unless we are talking with a close family member.

See our Episode 422 for more about privacy in American culture.

How can you say that you’re sick?

  • “Hey I’m not feeling well this week.”
  • “I have come down with a cold.”
  • “I thought I was over it but I am not.”
  • “I’m feeling a little under the weather.”
  • “I’m not feeling so hot today.”
  • “I have a sniffle today.”
  • “I’m stuffed up today.”
  • “I feel a little light-headed.”
  • “I’m achy.”

How to respond:

  • “I’m sorry to hear that.”
  • “I’m sorry you’re not feeling well.”
  • “Do you feel achy?”
  • “I hope you feel better soon.”
  • “Get well soon.” (this is only used for cards and balloons, not spoken)

What questions do you have from today’s episode?

Let us know in the comments section below.

Today find out how to read your way to a better IELTS score!

Today get 3 reading questions that one 6.5 reading candidate asked us and learn how to push this score of 6.5 higher.

The more you read, the higher your IELTS score will be.

Seek out reading topics such as science, health, and technology.

You don’t need to worry about reading about politics.

You won’t find politics on IELTS.

Start paying attention to these different reading sources.

Create a culture of thinking.

Push yourself to read about and think about ideas that you wouldn’t normally think about.

This can also help you create better conversations.

We had another reading question from a student who has done all of the Cambridge IELTS books 1-10 and he is frustrated because he is at a 6.5 and can’t get higher than that.

Just doing practice test books won’t get you beyond that 6.5.

Instead, challenge yourself with native speaker reading material and balance that with strategies.

In our course, 3 Keys IELTS we have boiled down every section into simple steps.

You can’t just keep doing the test with no strategies and expect to get better.

Read this article to learn about a common reading worry for all IELTS students.

Is your reading score stuck at a 6.5?

What will you do differently after today’s episode?

Let us know in the comments below.

Many language schools and private universities offer test preparation courses.

They are usually quite intense schedules, with many hours packed into a short amount of time, and sometimes they follow similar formats to regular ESL classes.

Additionally, there are many tutors online, and in real life, who market themselves as “test prep specialists.”

With so many options available, how can you make sure you choose the course that will get you results?

We’ll show you how in today’s article.

Why is “test prep specialist” a myth?

Firstly, allow me to dispel the myth of an instructor or private tutor as being a “test prep specialist.”

This is impossible.

In order to truly prepare another person for an exam, the teacher has to be intimately familiar with the test format, question types, scoring systems and examiner expectations.

Knowing this much information about a variety of tests would require decades of experience with each exam, which, if you are not studying with someone who is 100 years old, is impossible.

Personally speaking, I’ve been working with IELTS for over a decade, and it took me at least half that long to really develop the appropriate systems and strategies for my students to use on the exam.

I can’t imagine reaching my level of knowledge about the IELTS exam AND TOEFL AND TOEIC AND SAT AND GRE, etc.

There are, to be certain, some test taking strategies that are applicable to some if not all exams; however, each exam has a very unique set of expectations and guidelines that have to be followed in order to reach your target score, and move beyond it to the dreams you want to achieve in your life.

Basically, when faced with the numerous options available in IELTS preparation, you have to choose a course and teacher that is ONLY IELTS.

The class cannot also prepare your for TOEFL, for example.

The test-taking strategies, question types and format vary significantly between these two high-level exams, and one class teaching both tests will not prepare you fully for either one.

You can save yourself a lot of money and time if you choose the right course. Follow these three steps to do it.

Step 1) Make sure your teacher knows IELTS

Secondly, do not be afraid to ask questions about the person teaching the class.

She or he must be an IELTS professional and know what the examiner is looking for.

For instance, she or he must be able to answer these questions:

  • How is a 6 for grammar different from a 7?
  • How can I ensure a 7 or higher for vocabulary on the Speaking exam?
  • What does the examiner want to see in Writing Task 1?
  • How can I plan my Writing Task 1 answer in less than 3 minutes, in order to definitely hit the scoring criteria for a 7 or an 8?

If the teacher cannot answer these questions in a simple, clear, direct way that is immediately understandable to you, do not trust this person to prepare you for the test.

Step 2) Get success stories

Also, try to find students who have previously been through this course and subsequently achieved their target score, and thus were able to immigrate or attend a reputable university and obtain their degree.

On our website, for example, you can see student testimonials from candidates who enrolled in our system, diligently followed our 30 day study plan, and achieved 7.5s and 8s.

Most courses, in traditional classrooms and online, will not be able to offer you this proof of success, let alone the guarantee of a score increase, as 3 Keys IELTS Success System our course, does.

Step 3) Invest in your own success

In short, you realize that you have to invest in your future.

You cannot prepare for IELTS on your own.

Nevertheless, you do not want to waste your money and time on lessons that simply will not prepare you for success.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions and spend time researching before you choose.

Just because the course comes with a recognizable name and a high price tag does not mean it works.

What questions do you have from this article?

Have you made the mistake of hiring the wrong IELTS teacher?

What lessons did you learn from this mistake? Let us know in the comments.

Are you giving people TMI (Too Much Information)?

Today you’ll find out why privacy is a huge value in American culture and how to avoid making cultural mistakes when you visit the US.

We have lived in many different parts of the world such as Japan, Argentina, Guatemala, and Paris.

During our travels we have noticed that Americans seem to value privacy more than other cultures in the world.

Why?

What does this mean for you if you visit the US?

Find out more today.

What is TMI?

TMI means Too Much Information.

It’s a common acronym in the US that we use when someone has shared a bit too much.

For example, Michelle had a student once who told her that she had diarrhea.

This could also be called the “overshare.”

Greetings:

When someone asks us, “how are you?” we don’t say much. We just say “good, how about you?”

This is another example of the American cultural value of privacy.

We don’t want to share too much.

Maybe we don’t want to be vulnerable.

Asking about Someone’s Job:

When the economy was bad in the US, a lot of people avoided asking, “What do you do?” because many people were unemployed and we don’t want to embarrass people.

There can be a lot of shame if someone is unemployed.

We don’t want to put people “on the spot.”

Extended Families:

Sometimes we don’t share much with extended family members.

In Lindsay’s case, her extended family is not close at all.

She lives very far away from her extended family.

Compared with other cultures, it seems to us that our families are much more distant than extended families from other cultures.

Pregnant?

In the US we don’t share with our families that we’re pregnant until after the first three months.

The reason is that miscarriages are common during the first three months. We may only share this information with our partner and the doctor, often not even our parents or siblings.

What topics/questions should you avoid?

  • “How much money do you make?”
  • “How much money do you have?”
  • “Are you married?” “Do you have kids?” “How many kids do you have?”
  • “How old are you?” – don’t ask anyone this question if they are older than 19 or 20
  • “How much do you weigh?”
  • “Who did you vote for?”

What surprised you in today’s episode?

How is your culture similar or not?

Let us know in the comments below.

Pedro, 3 Keys IELTS Success Story, band 7.5Today meet a 3 Keys IELTS student who got a 7.5 on IELTS his first time taking the test.

His name is Pedro.

He is from Peru.

His goal was a 7.

It’s very rare to get a 7.5 on your first try with the IELTS.

How did he do it?

He chose the 3 Keys IELTS Success System because he had been listening to our IELTS Energy Podcast and found it useful.

He had previously bought some IELTS practice books with practice tests and vocabulary words.

Pedro found out that 3 Keys IELTS works.

“On the day of IELTS nothing surprised me because previously in the program you gave me all of the information that I needed for every part of IELTS.”

 -Pedro Ramirez, Peru

He says that you need to make a promise with yourself to study and prepare a lot.

He needed some kind of discipline and the 30-day study plan was what he needed.

The study plan:

How did the study plan help him?

He liked the fact that he got all of the necessary tips for the test and how to be prepared for everything.

He also liked the idioms, linking words, and vocabulary words that he needed to use on the test to get the score he was aiming for.

 

Timing:

He also found that the course helped him for timing.

The 3-step strategies that he used, especially for Reading and Writing, helped him to manage time well on the test.

“With the correct preparation, IELTS is not a monster. With the correct programs and books you can be prepared. Forget about the rumors and practice. Study. Prepare.

-Pedro

 

Pedro’s preparation:

He worked very hard. What helped him the most was doing a lot of outside reading.

He read articles from the Washington Post, Boston Globe, New York Times.

He followed sports writers in Twitter.

He watched TV programs in English including his favorite series.

 

Final tips:

  • Practice without headphones, using speakers, choose a big room that is similar to the test center
  • Read a lot
  • Get a good study plan and follow it closely
  • Dedicate yourself to your goal
  • Choose a good course and do your work to prepare

 

We are so proud of Pedro’s accomplishment!

Leave us a comment or question below if you have a question about Pedro’s study plan.

Remember, you can try out our course for just $1 for the first 3 days.

We have created a key strategy to help you deal with a blank mind on IELTS Speaking Part 2.

Learn about the common traps and how not to fall into them in today’s episode.

On Speaking Part 2 you will be asked to describe a person, a place, or an object.

The best strategy when you have a blank mind on Speaking Part 2 is that you should always immediately tell a story.

When you are asked to describe an object you can tell a story about when you bought it, why you bought it, what your life was like without it and after it, and what it means to you.

Or if you want to buy it you can describe why your life isn’t complete without it.

This makes your pronunciation sound more natural so it increases your pronunciation score.

How to practice this?

Sit in your house and choose an object.

Stare at it.

Come up with a story that you can tell about the object.

Practice describing the object and your story about it for the full 2 minutes.

Do you need to answer the bullet points on the card?

No! You do not need to address these points.

They are just meant to give you suggestions.

It’s a rumor if someone tells you that you need to answer these bullet points. Find a better IELTS Professional if your tutor is telling you these rumors.

Sometimes it hurts your score if you do address all of those points because your answer will sound disconnected and it will not flow from idea to idea.

This could hurt your score.

How can you fill the whole 2 minutes?

Two minutes feels a lot longer than it sounds.

How can you make sure you speak long enough?

Practice under test conditions.

If you can’t think of anything else to say, go to immediate personal experience.

When is the next time you’ll use this object?

Or you can go back and give more details about the story- how you felt when you first got the object, for example.

If you stop too early and the examiner asks you if there is anything else you can say, just reply: “Actually there are a few more details I could add” and keep going.

Your score will be fine for fluency and coherence because you will show that you are flexible in that situation and you will also increase your vocabulary score by taking advantage of a chance to use new phrases.

Leave us a comment below.

Have you used this strategy on Speaking Part 2?

How did it go for you?

What is confidence and how can you get more of it when you speak English and when you are out in the world?

We have been defining confidence in the wrong way.

What does confidence actually mean and how can you build it?

We have been reading a lot about Evolutionary Psychology.

There is a lot to learn in this field because so much of what we do has been hard-wired into us through years of evolution.

We have to know the actions and behaviors that our ancestors had and took hundreds of years ago to understand ourselves today.

In the past on this show we have said that confidence is about nonverbal communication. and we have also talked about the “fake it til you make it” theory which means that if you pretend to be confident you will become more confident eventually.

However, we think these techniques don’t really give you much confidence.

They are only icing on the cake.

They are not the foundation.

If you already have confidence then it helps to show it through your body language but it will not give you confidence if you haven’t developed skills.

Geoffrey Miller from the University of New Mexico talked about the definition of confidence.

Here it is:

“Confidence is the realistic expectation you have about being successful at something given a) your competence at it and b) the risk involved in doing it.”

What does this mean for us?

It means practice makes perfect (or almost perfect).

Confidence is not built by wishful thinking, visualization, or motivational quotes.

If you already have confidence then those will help you perform better but if you don’t have the foundation of skills then you won’t succeed.

 

You don’t need to be “over-confident’ by taking crazy risks.

Should you speak English immediately as a beginner or right when you learn a new word or term as an intermediate or advanced speaker? Maybe not!

Instead you can build confidence by taking small, gradual actions toward practicing on a daily basis.

This is great news because it means that we can actually build confidence.

It’s under our control if we are intentional about it.

 

How can you build confidence:

  • Set small, daily goals: “Today I will make eye contact and start three conversations in English at work”

 

Anyone can have confidence if you choose one domain of your life and focus on skill building.

Is it your English conversation skills? Your IELTS or TOEFL Exam?

Then you need to write down your specific goals and execute on them.

Come back to us after a few weeks or a month and let us know how your confidence-building experiments went.

What is the difference between “things” and “stuff” in English?

Flavia from Brazil asked us this great question and we are excited to answer it for our listeners!

What you need to know:

  • We don’t say “stuffs” with “s”: Stuff is already plural. It means more than one thing. It’s uncountable. We say “You have a lot of stuff” or “There is so much stuff in your trunk.”
  • “To stuff”: This can also be used as a verb. It means to fill something with materials. We use “stuffed animal” to describe a soft toy that is filled with cotton. We might also eat “stuffing” at Thanksgiving.
  • “Things”: This is countable. We can say “thing” or “things.’ This is sometimes more formal than “stuff.”

 

Listen to the conversation and role play between Lindsay and Michelle to understand how we use “things” and “stuff” differently in a typical conversation between two new college roommates.

Leave us your questions below.

Today you’ll get five fantastic phrases that you can use when you’re feeling frightened on the IELTS Exam.

There are a lot of places on the IELTS Exam such as Writing Task 2 or on the Speaking test when you have to describe a scary movie or differences between your culture and another culture.

You might also see some of these idioms that we’ll teach you today in a Reading test passage if you had to read a movie review or a blurb on why horror movies are bad for kids.

All of the idioms we’ll teach you today will definitely get you the 7 or higher that you need.

Remember, you need interesting expressions on the IELTS to get a 7 or higher and these idioms are perfect for your target score!

Fear Idioms for IELTS:

  • To be a scaredy cat: someone who is easily frightened
  • To scare the pants off someone: To scare someone in a very extreme way
  • It gives me the heebie-jeebies: it gives you shivers
  • To make someone’s blood run cold: When something serious and terrifying happens
  • To be afraid of your own shadow: This can be used in a sarcastic way to make fun of someone who is easily scared.

Listen to the episode for examples on how you can use these on the Speaking, Reading, or Writing Tests.

Leave us your practice sentences below.

If you want to get a 7 or an 8 on your IELTS Writing test then you need to use the right prepositions, especially to describe graphs and charts in IELTS Writing Task 1.

Today get the prepositions and the sentences that the examiner wants to see on this part of the test, especially for Change Over Time questions.

Key phrases and prepositions:

“From ____ to ______” (“….from 1980 to 1990”)

“Between ______ and ______” (“….between 1980 and 1990”)

Remember, you must show numbers in your essay when you talk about changes.

For example, you can say “The population increased from 100 to 300.”

You can also say how much something changed by.

For example, you can say “The population increased by 200.”

You also need to tell the examiner the highest point and the lowest point.

For example, “The population peaked at 1 million in 2015.”
Another great vocabulary word is “bottomed out.”

For example, “The population bottomed out at 300,000 in 2014.”

You need to use interesting phrases, vocabulary, and idioms to get a 7 or higher.

Sometimes even native speakers can get a 6 in Writing Task 1 because they don’t know that they have to use idioms to describe numbers.

Now come up with your own example!

Look at a chart or graph in the newspaper and share your phrases to summarize it.

Do you make mistakes in your sentences when you write emails in English?

We received an email from someone and we noticed a few key mistakes. We want to correct those mistakes now and make sure that you don’t make these mistakes yourself!

Here is the sentence: “Kindly, what about the price of one session?”

Two ways to improve this sentence:

  • Using “Kindly”: When you use “kindly” it sounds old fashioned. My grandmother used to say “kindly bring me my sherry.”Instead of “kindly” you could start the sentence by saying:
    • “Would you mind telling me the price?”
    • “Could you tell me the price?”
    • “What is the price?”
    • “Do you mind telling me?”
  • Using “What about…”: When you say this it’s being used at the wrong time. “What about” is used as a follow up question and not as the first question. You need more context to ask this question.

Listen to the conversation examples in the episode to see how to use “what about” correctly.

Leave us your questions in the comments.

You want a band 7 or 8 on the IELTS.

One simple technique can get you that score faster than any other framework, strategy, or method.

Today we’ll show you how to use this technique to get the score you need and get your dream life.

On the IELTS Energy podcast, Lindsay and I often talk about creating and promoting a “culture of thinking”.

This idea came to us as we heard more and more students saying they just felt they didn’t have ideas for the Speaking and Writing answers, or they were faced with topics in Listening and Reading that they had never been exposed to before.

I would define a culture of thinking as the notion of an educated and open-minded society.

A group of people who are thirsty for new ideas and information which can give them insights into themselves and the world around them.

As Lindsay and I talked about this more and more, we realized that encouraging students in this endeavor had a much larger scope than the IELTS exam.

What are the other ways in which a “culture of thinking” can help you reach your dreams?

Find out in this article!

It can help you before the exam

Keeping this goal in the back of your mind while you prepare for IELTS will help inform and guide your study plan.

Searching for information which pertains to a culture of thinking will lead you to resources such as NPR (www.npr.org), a non-profit media outlet in America, and high-level newspapers such as the New York Times (www.nytimes.com).

Both of these example resources contain such a wide scope of shows and articles that you cannot help but be exposed to topics and information that you never would have come across before.

Plus, spending time with these native speaker resources will push you out of your comfort zone in your preparation, and force you to learn complicated vocabulary items that you can reproduce on exam day.

It can help you during the exam

Firstly, you never know what topics will be on the Reading exam, or Listening Sections 3 and 4.

Material for the Reading exam can be drawn from newspapers, magazines or journals, and the last two sections of the Listening are more ‘academic’, according to IELTS.

So, the more exposure you have to a plethora of topics, the better prepared you will be.

Plus, on the Speaking and Writing, when you are asked for your opinions on topics you, honestly, probably don’t even talk about in your native language, let alone English, you will now have something to say and write.

Furthermore, you will be able to support your opinions and ideas with very specific examples and details that you have read or heard, impressing the examiner with your high-level resources.

It can help you after the exam

On a fundamental level, gaining new information and ideas helps you to gain new perspective on your own life, culture and society.

You become a more well-rounded individual who can be a more productive member of the community, and a person who can share and teach valuable information to friends, family and neighbors.

Plus, when you do get your high IELTS score and enter into an English-speaking university or immigrate to an English-speaking country, you will be able to carry on conversations in groups of Americans, or Canadians, or Brits.

You will be an interesting person that people want to talk to.

So, for numerous reasons, you should seek to create a culture of thinking: for yourself, and the world around you.

So go now and start creating your culture of thinking!

It’s not as hard as you think.

It also helps to surround yourself with the right people, who are also interesting in being in this culture.

Leave a comment below and let us know how it goes.

Time, time, time!

It’s such a commodity in American culture!

You can’t waste people’s time in the US, especially in the large cities like Boston, New York, or Los Angeles.

It’s important to let people know when you start an English conversation with them that you won’t take much of their time.

It’s a solid way to start the conversation when you show that you respect their time.

Phrases to use:

  • “Hey, real quick…” or “Hey, really quick…”
  • “(hey) one quick thing…”
  • “I’ll be brief with this but….”
  • “Just one thing…”
  • “This will only take a second…”

Show us your sample phrases in the sentences below.

Let us know your questions from today’s episode.

When it comes to the IELTS Listening test, you’ll want to know exactly what to expect so that you can relax and get the best possible score.

Knowing what to expect will help you feel more confident and able to focus on the recording which will help you get a better score.

There are two key things that you need to expect when you take the Listening test.

Find out what they are today.

Details on the sections of the test:

There are always four listening sections.

There are two types of conversations.

There is a monologue and there is a dialogue.

Section one is a dialogue. Section two is a monologue. Section three is a dialogue.

With section four, it’s a monologue and an academic topic.

That’s why section four is the hardest.

The difficulty of the topics gradually increases.

Sections one and two are more general- planning a party, renting an apartment, or visiting a friend.

In sections three and four the topics focus on academic or professional ideas.

These topics are more high-level.

What accents should you expect on the exam?

Ten years ago it was only British accents but these days you’ll find all English accents on the test.

You’ll hear American, British, Canadian, Australian, and New Zealand accents.

You might even hear a Scottish accent.

You need to prepare by listening to podcasts from different countries. Find a TV show from a different country.

Click here to learn more about how to prepare with different accents.

Don’t worry, you won’t come across very rare accents but you do need to seek out different accents to prepare.

Also, when you prepare you need to listen to lectures like TED Talks and get used to listening to a monologue, one person speaking the entire time.

How to prepare for IELTS Listening?

When you prepare for the IELTS Exam, make sure that the IELTS professional you are working with really understands the different sections of the Listening test.

Your teacher should also find outside resources for you to improve your general listening skills.

When it comes to the Listening test and every other section of the test, you need balanced practice.

That means that you prepare by learning test strategies and also building your general fluency skills.

What questions do you have after today’s episode?

Let us know in the comments below!

Today get four terrific answers for IELTS Speaking Part 3 when you get a question about transportation on the exam.

Listen to the episode to get the sample answers.

A few things to remember from today:

  • Remember, your Speaking Part 3 answer doesn’t have to be too long. If the examiner stops you it’s fine. That’s their job.
  • Use linking words like “having said that…” to transition to a different side of the point that you are making.
  • Use “to sum up” to finish up your answer
  • Use natural phrasal verbs like “end up in”
  • A good speaking answer summarizes what has been said at the end. This keeps your answer organized and will help your fluency and coherence score and will keep you on topic.

Let us know your questions from today’s episode.

Leave us a comment below

What are you afraid of?

Do you know how to talk about your fears in English?

Halloween is coming up in just a few days!

Learn how to talk about your fears in English today.

Phrases to talk about what you’re afraid of:

  • “I have a fear of…”
  • “I am afraid of…”
  • “I am scared of…”
  • “I get really freaked out by…”
  • “I am terrified of….”

 

Write in the comments what your fear is.

What are you afraid of?

Let us know below.

Read more about fears.

Are you afraid of success??

Click here to learn more.

Are you making any small talk topic taboos when do you do business across cultures? Find out today!
Small talk can be a tricky topic when it comes to interacting across cultures.
While one topic is polite and almost required in one culture it can be a huge taboo in another culture.
Today we have a special guest on the show to clear up any small talk confusion you might have.
Jennifer Kumar works as a cross-cultural trainer and coach in India.
She works primarily with Indian professional who do business with American companies.
Key differences in small talk between India and the US:
  •  Greetings: In the US we tend to say “Hi, how are you?” but in India they might say “Did you have your lunch?” The common response is “Yes, I had my lunch and it was good.” If you say “No I didn’t have my lunch” then people may get concerned and may want to offer you food. This is very different from American culture. Common mistakes that Indians might make when they answer “how are you?” is that they might give too much information and details when it’s more of a greeting, not a question.
  •  Asking people where they live: In the US we might ask a general question, like “Where do you live?” but in India they may build on this question and ask “What street do you live on?” “What side of the street do you live on?” but in the US these more specific questions would feel like an invasion of privacy.
  •  Asking about the person’s relationship or marriage status: In India it’s much more common to ask “Are you married?” If you ask an American this question too early they might think you are romantically interested in them. On the other hand, if this question isn’t asked in India then people may become offended. This is an example of a drastic difference in small talk across cultures!

Clearly, small talk can create problems if don’t look beyond vocabulary and grammar.

We need to look at culture on a deeper level.

What topics are acceptable?

How are certain questions received in different cultures?

 Let us know your questions in the comments section below.
Jennifer’s Bio:
 
Jennifer Kumar, is the Managing Director of Authentic Journeys based in Kochi,India.
She has provided cross-cultural preparation for over 2,000 global offshore or expat professionals working with Americans.
While about 70% of those served work offshore, remotely with their US, Canadian or English counterparts, the other 30% go onsite to client sites in the US, Canada or the UK for short, long-term or permanent expat assignments.

Today you’ll get four phrasal verbs to break your score ceiling for the IELTS Exam!

In the past we have shown you other phrasal verbs and idioms for a 7 or higher when you talk about work, family, or your hometown.

Today find out exactly how to push your score higher than you ever imagined with four phrasal verbs using “break.”

You could also use these phrasal verbs in the Writing test in your body paragraphs.

You could say, “Let’s now break down this topic and examine it in detail.”

Four phrasal verbs with “break”:

  • To break it down: To divide something into small pieces, to examine it in a more simple way, to look closely at something.
  • To break out: To start singing such as “I broke out in song when I got my 7 score” or this could mean to develop a lot of acne on the face, “Kids in middle school always broke out in zits.”
  • To break up: To end a relationship or to split a period of time or an object into smaller pieces. You could use this on Speaking Part 2 when you describe an experience or if you describe a movie or a song.
    • Sample sentences:
      • “IELTS test day is broken up into a few different time chunks”
      • “I don’t mean to break up this meeting but I have to make an announcement.
      • “I broke up with my boyfriend last week.
  • To break in: To enter a home or building without being invited with the intention to steal something.

Have you used any of these phrasal verbs on your IELTS Exam?

Let us know in the comments below.

Your preposition problems will be over when we answer today’s question!

Well, not completely but we’ll give you a few good tips to conquer those pesky prepositions in English.

Bonus!

You’ll also find out how to agree with someone’s plans in English using natural English chunks.

AEE Listener Question!

“I am confused about the differences between “to me,” “for me,” and “with me.”

-Naomi, Japan

Naomi, today we’ll clear up your confusion and we’ll show you how to use these prepositions and chunks to agree with someone’s plans.

Our best advice is to treat these as chunks.

Learn the most common ones and link them to a conversation situation if you can.

Always listen for those same chunks after you have learned them.

Think about how natives are using them.

Then go out and try to use them in a conversation.

Some people believe you should start using a phrase right away but we think it’s better if you wait a while and listen to the phrase being used by natives.

Then when you feel comfortable you can start to throw them into the right context.

 

native English teachersAre you looking for a professional, native English teacher online?

Get a native English teacher online in seconds at italki.

Lindsay and Michelle recommend italki as our #1 English-learning solution online. Choose from more than 400 teachers to work on your business English or to pass your next big exam.

Get our special offer before it runs out! Go to italki and claim 10USD to go toward a FREE second English lesson at italki!

 

Here are the key phrases to agree with someone’s plans:

  • “That’s fine with me”
  • “That sounds good to me.”
  • “That’s alright with me.”
  • “That works for me.”

*Remember, learn the whole phrase as a chunk and use them in specific conversation situations.

Don’t try to figure out which preposition belongs.

Listen to the episode to see how Lindsay and Michelle used these in real English conversations.

Leave us a comment below or practice forming your own sentence.

Want to get your target IELTS Writing score?

Today we’ll give you four illustrious phrases that will impress the examiner, make you stand out as exceptional, and will get you your target score

We’ll show you where on the exam you can use these phrases and why they’ll increase your score.

We’ll pull these phrases from great quotes about writing.

Check it out below!

Quote #1) “Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader. Not the fact that it’s raining but the feeling of being rained upon.”

Vocabulary you can use on IELTS: “Evoke sensation”

  • Evoke: To bring about, to call up, to create
  • Sensation: A feeling

You could use this phrase in Speaking Part 3 and Writing Task 2 when you are talking about your own opinions.

For example:

  • “Looking at art can evoke sensations within me”
  • “Violent video games evoke tragic sensations within me.”

Quote #2) “I think all good writing is a struggle. To write as well as you feel you can has to be a struggle, almost by definition, because you could always improve.”

Key words to use:

  • “Struggle”: A huge challenge, something that’s not easy to do (great for Writing Task 2 or the Speaking test)
  • “By definition”: It is defined by something. You can use this in your introduction on IELTS Writing Task 2 to introduce a topic. Anytime we want to say that something means something else, we can use this. Another example: “New York City, by definition, is a hectic place.”

Quote #3) “We write to taste life twice- in the moment and in retrospect.”

Key words to use:

  • “In retrospect”: Considering something after the fact, looking back on something. You can use this anytime you are talking about your own actions or someone else’s actions in the past that should not have happened.

For example, “I went to college in Virginia but in retrospect I should have gone to college in California.”

You could also say “this is so retro” and this would mean that something reminds you of the past.

“Bell-bottoms are so retro”

This is easy to use!

Anytime you are talking about a regret you can throw it in there.

Remember, high-level vocabulary phrases like these WILL get you a 7 or higher and maybe even an 8!

Now practice on your own.

Leave your comments below.

Are you taking IELTS for the first time?

If you are new to the world of IELTS, you probably have some questions.

The information below should serve as a good introduction for you, and also help set you on the path to reaching your IELTS score and whatever goals lie beyond!

What does IELTS stand for?

IELTS is an acronym for the International English Language Testing System.

Why are there two different versions?

The Academic version is for candidates who need a certain score to enter university.

These are usually non-native English speakers who want to attend an English-language university.

The General version is for candidates who need a certain score to work in another country, immigrate, or for other visa requirements.

Where can I take the test?

Go to www.ielts.org to find a testing center near you.

Testing centers are all over the world, usually in language schools or universities, and sometimes in British Council or IDP offices.

When can I take the test?

Exams are offered 3 Saturdays a month and sometimes on Thursdays.

However, not all testing centers offer that many exams.

You have to check with your local center.

How long is the exam?

The first three sections of the exam, Listening, Reading, and Writing, are finished in a 3 hour period in the morning.

Then, the 15 minute Speaking exam is usually held in the afternoon on the same day.

Sometimes, though, centers offer Speaking exams the week before or the week after.

How long should I prepare for the exam before I take it?

This all depends on your English level.

If you are an intermediate student, you should prepare for at least 3 months.

If you are upper-intermediate to advanced, you could get by on a 60 day or a 30 day study plan.

However, no matter what level, preparation is intense.

You need to study 5-6 days a week, and do a wide variety of activities which strengthen your overall English ability and your testing skills.

Is the test in American or British English?

Both! The Listening exam will feature a variety of accents.

The Reading, also, will feature passages drawn from both American and British publications.

The version of English you speak/write with also doesn’t matter- if you spell ‘color’ or ‘colour’, you get the same amount of points.

As long as the language is correct in either American or British English, you will be fine.

What are the examiners like?

The examiners are almost always native speakers, and they can be male or female, young or old.

Keep in mind, though, that the examiners have all undergone exactly the same training, all over the world, and they are checked and rechecked constantly to ensure they are following the testing requirements and grading correctly.

The examiner you speak to on test day could be serious or relaxed- do not let a serious face make you nervous.

Just remember to smile and be respectful and nice, and the examiner will do the same.

IELTS is hard.

Preparing for IELTS can be hard.

But don’t become an IELTS victim!

Today we’ll show you why it’s important not to become a victim and why you have no time to make excuses.

You’ll get six key phrases that you might be using if you’re a victim and find out how to change your mentality if you’re on the wrong track.

Here is the key thing to remember: You always have the choice about how you’re going to look at something.

Are you going to look at the negatives or are you going to look at the positives?

When you are looking at the negatives, it’s just laziness.

We say that because it’s easier to look at negatives than it is to just stop talking, put your head down, and do the work.

It’s also weakness.

You need to make the stronger choice and the stronger decision to focus and spend your time preparing for your exam.

Here are the thoughts and actions that you are having/doing if you are an IELTS victim:

  • You trust the wrong people when it comes to IELTS instead of getting the facts: We received a message where the person had been told by a friend that there would be headphones provided at the exam. It would only take a few minutes to do the research yourself to see if this is true. Instead, the student relied on bad information from his friend and it probably affected his score. This is laziness. If he had taken the time to verify that information he would have realized that that is a myth and he would have prepared accordingly.
  • You are blaming other people: If you don’t get the results you need, it’s your fault! This sounds harsh but it’s true. It’s your responsibility to make sure you get on the right track to your target score.
  • You waste time saying that you don’t have time: This is not a valid excuse if your dreams are strong enough. Sleep one hour less every day to prepare. You had the time to come up with a dream of moving abroad. So now make the time to get the dream. Anything worth having is not easy. Don’t waste time thinking about your lack of time. To save time, invest your money into a course that will tell you exactly what to do every day, like our course, the 3 Keys IELTS Success System.
  • After the exam you say, “Oh the examiner was so mean!”: Sometimes examiners are grumpy.  Maybe they had a difficult candidate just before you. They are people too. They are still grading you on the same things as the “nice” examiners. Look at this as a challenge. If you think the examiner is grumpy, smile even more. See if you can change their mood. Don’t look outside yourself. Don’t blame other people for your difficulties.
  • You say, “the acoustics of the room were bad”: Sometimes this can be true. Research the test center beforehand. If you find this out, book your test at a different test center. This may be the only time when you want to listen to any information about which test center is “easier.” The other thing you can do is make sure your practice under test conditions does not always happen in situations where the acoustics are perfect.  Acoustics are never perfect in real life when you are speaking English! Why should they be perfect in the exam center? You could practice your listening in a large gym where there would be a lot of echo. This would get you ready for a possible bad acoustic situation on test day.
  • You complain about timing: You say, “oh they didn’t start the test on time” or “Oh my speaking test was so late and I fell asleep beforehand.” The best thing that you can do with timing is show up at least 45 minutes early. Get there early enough and let them take care of it. As far as the Speaking test time, yes, it can be late. In our course we have an entire bonus module which gives you information about how to deal with that long gap before the Speaking test. You need to have a plan for this time.
  • You say that the Reading topic was unfamiliar to you: Yes, you may get a random topic on the Reading test that you have never heard of. That is ok. Its about preparation. Read as widely as you can before the test. But you can’t know everything and IELTS doesn’t expect you to. All you have to do is get the right Reading strategies and practice them enough before the exam.

Taking the IELTS is like running a marathon.

We have to reach deep within ourselves.

Why? Because the dream life that is on the other side is worth working for, isn’t it?

The most successful people in life do not let the difficulty of this sidetrack them.

It is not going to be easy and it shouldn’t be easy. Don’t be a victim!

Go get your target score.

Do you want to become awesome at English conversation?

Do you want to make it your superpower?

Today we’ll show you how to do it.

We’ll also add a bonus in today’s episode where we’ll talk about how you can identify what you’re really good at in life and build a life and a career around that, rather than trying to get better at skills that don’t come naturally to you.

Today we’ll read a question that we got from our listener from South Korea, here it is:

“Sometimes I have a hard time keeping the conversation going with people and I think it’s mostly because I have little to say when it comes to replying to others.

I try to come up with follow up questions but it doesn’t work. But when I listen to Lindsay interacting with guests it seems like she’s really cut out for the job. She seems to always have something to say. How can I talk like Lindsay?”

Soongjae, South Korea, AEE Listener

 

Lindsay’s formula for great conversation:

  • Collect facts about everything and store them for conversation later: To make good conversation it helps to know a little bit about a lot. Have a lot of information and cultural knowledge in your head. For example, I know from talking to friends that Austin, Texas has a great live music scene so when I meet someone from Austin, I will pull up that fact and see how it relates to that person. For example, “Oh I heard Austin has a great live music scene. Are you into live music?” You can build a lot of random facts if you travel a lot. If you can’t travel internationally then the key is watching the news, reading books, staying open to what is going on out in the world.

 

  • Make it about the other person: Be interested in the other person and listen well. It’s too easy to get caught up in our own heads and in our own world. If you’re not interested in that person then stop talking to them. Be “all ears.” That idioms means to listen well (in case you didn’t know!)

 

  • Find your own connection style: My connection style is digging for the person’s unique vision or their “why.” I always like to find out what motivates people and why they have chosen their hobbies or their career path. I like to find the reason or vision behind the person’s interests. But maybe you connect by using humor or by being animated. Maybe you use silence to build connection. If you love people then that’s another connection style. Focus on the fact that you just enjoy forming a new connection. When you find your connection style, grammar and vocabulary becomes much less relevant and all of a sudden, you are really communicating.

 

  • Treat everyone the same way: Don’t show that you’re intimidated by anyone. My friend Diego is from Ecuador. He can walk into a room and talk to anyone (native speakers or non-native speakers) and he’d use the same tone of voice that he uses with his friends. He’s respectful but he doesn’t give the impression that someone is above him. This has allowed him to build a career as an art curator in New York City.  He doesn’t get scared in these situations so he can build amazing connections. Be on the same level as everyone else. This may be hard if you come from different cultures especially if you are from a culture where there is a very hierarchical structure in place but see if you can implement this into your style in your own way.

 

 

native English teachersAre you looking for a professional, native English teacher online?

Get a native English teacher online in seconds at italki.

Lindsay and Michelle recommend italki as our #1 English-learning solution online. Choose from more than 400 teachers to work on your business English or to pass your next big exam.

Get our special offer before it runs out! Go to italki and claim 10USD to go toward a FREE second English lesson at italki!

 

 

How can you find what you’re good at it?

On some level we all need to be able to build conversation skills.

But Lindsay is exceptionally good at conversation so she has built her career around this podcast and around teaching people how to communicate better.

She is trying to leverage her skills as much as possible.

If you don’t feel that conversation is one of your core natural talents then you don’t need to build a career that is based on it.

For example, don’t go into sales and marketing.

Don’t go into communications.

Instead, find out what you do well and build a career around that.

How can you figure out what you’re good at and build your career and life around it?

We have already talked about this with Laura Garnett when we talked about the Zone of Genius.

We also recommend using the Strengths Finder 2.0 assessment to figure out what you’re natural talents and skills are.

“Your personality is your greatest differentiator.”

-Sally Hogshead

Here are some ways to find your natural skills:

  • Ask yourself: What did you do as a kid? What activities did you take part in? What did you enjoy most? What made the time pass fast? Michelle used to pretend to be a teacher and she would put on plays (performance) and now she works as as a performer on this podcast.

 

  • What skills did your parents reinforce? Lindsay’s parents reinforced verbal communication skills. What did your parents applaud or encourage you to cultivate. Whatever that is has probably become a deep skill of yours where you may be exceptional and not even know it.

 

  • What satisfies you deeply? For Michelle she feels a deep sense of relaxation around music. What is the activity that makes you feel peaceful? What feels natural to you? Find that activity and allow yourself to do more of it. You don’t have to get paid for it. Just do it a little bit more each day.

 

  • Step into your talent: There may be a moment where you can become a leader using this special talent or skill.  It may be a career opportunity or a chance to build an organization of some sort. Don’t be afraid to step into the spotlight at that time. You will be ready if you have followed the advice above.

 

So today we have shown you how to become better at conversation.

Everyone needs basic skills in this area.

At the same time, if conversation doesn’t feel natural to you then don’t build a career or a life around it.

Instead, go back and think about discovering your own “superpower” and what you do better than anyone else.

Build your career or hobbies or life around that.

 

Today let’s finish with a quote:

“Find your God-given talent, cherish it, refine it, and find a way to get paid for (or to help a lot of people with it)”

-Unknown

 

What’s your superpower?

Tell us in the comments!

 

Today get the three top strategies for the best preparation for both TOEFL and IELTS!

Jaime Miller from English Success Academy is back on the show today!

She has been working with TOEFL students for more than five years.

She knows TOEFL!

She’ll talk with Jessica about some insider tips and strategies that works for both exams so that you can

IELTS Writing:

For Task 1 you describe a bar chart or a graph in a short essay.

Task 2 is your standard 4-paragraph argument essay.

TOEFL Writing:

TOEFL has an opinion essay also but the first writing activity is very different.

You don’t get the bar chart. You listen to a lecture and read a passage about an academic debate. You summarize how the two people speaking view the topic differently.

Final Tips:

  • #1) Pick a system! You can blend different strategy systems. It will hurt your score. Jamie suggests that you choose a teacher or a school and then master the concepts from that school. Don’t leave that school or system until you have gotten the score that you need. Many teachers don’t even know what the test graders want. Do your research in the beginning and then commit to it.
  • #2) Support your ideas with examples from your life: Use your own life as the place to start. Have you lived in different countries? What have you done in your career? When you get a writing topic you usually have something you can say about it. On the TOEFL, just writing stories about your life is too simplistic. Jamie believes that it’s better to use a “research style” to report your own life experience. To do this you can make your own experience a generalization.
  • #3) Look at sample essays that have scored high: Read good models! Make sure the person who wrote the essay has taken the test or knows the scoring system very well. Looking at these essays will help you start thinking in the right direction.

If you need help with TOEFL, go check out what Jaimie has available to help you!

TOEFL English Success Academy Jaime MillerJamie’s Bio:

Learn more about Jaime Miller on jaimemiller.com, an online school that matches motivated students with dedicated teachers for private, customized online lessons.

Jaime knows why some students get TOEFL speaking scores of 26 or higher, while others are stuck with scores of 24 – and she creates customized exam study plans that get results.

Kevin English literature tutor

In today’s episode you’ll find out how to use literature to deepen your fluency and connect with other English speakers.

Practicing grammar and vocabulary are not the only ways to improve your English.

Try grabbing Shakespeare or Walden!

Today let’s meet Kevin.

Kevin is an English teacher with a passion for literature.

He helps his students use literature to dive deeper into the English language and strengthen their skills.

Today Kevin is going to show us 3 things we can do to use literature to push to the next level.

3 Tips:

  • Tip #1) Make sure you’re choosing literature that is relevant to you:  Don’t use Shakespeare if it doesn’t interest you. There are no correct titles to pursue if they are not right for us. How can you find the right literature for you? Librarians are great for this task. Go ask a librarian. You can also look online. There are forums. You can ask your friends. Don’t trust a single source of authority. There are good books everywhere.
  • Tip #2) Stop after you have made a list of 10 new words: Every time you come across a new and interesting phrase or word write it down. Make sure that these words get transferred into your active memory. Dedicate some time to using these words in your speech over the next few days. This will help build your active vocabulary quickly.  It’s a great idea to work with a teacher online to solidify these words into your vocabulary repertoire.
  • Tip #3) Get a community to motivate you. Try a book club. This group will make sure you have a goal. You can discuss the new vocabulary with them. You will also start to understand new layers of the story that you may not have caught the first time. Another thing to do is take lessons with a teacher to really deepen your vocabulary.

 

Kevin’s Bio:

“Hi, I’m Kevin!

I’m a professional, CELTA qualified English Language and Literature tutor. I grew up in Birmingham, England and have been teaching ever since graduating in English Literature from the University of Cambridge 2 years ago. He is based in Berlin. I teach both online and offline, for all ages and abilities, though I specialise in high level studies. If you’re interested in taking your linguistic, literary and cultural understanding to the next level I’d love to hear from you! You can find me athttp://www.italki.com/kevinsexton

“Kevin is a professional, CELTA qualified English Language and Literature tutor. He grew up in Birmingham, England and has been teaching ever since graduating in English Literature from the University of Cambridge 2 years ago. He has taught English and German in several schools and is now based in Berlin. Our guest today is Kevin Sexton Let’s get to the show

He teaches both online and offline, for all ages and abilities, though he specialises in high level studies. If you’re interested in taking your linguistic, literary and cultural understanding to the next level he’d love to hear from you! You can find him athttp://www.italki.com/kevinsexton

 

How to work with Kevin:

  • Step 2: After you have registered please search for Kevin’s profile, send him a message, and schedule a lesson.

 

What did you think about today’s episode?

What are your favorite books? Why do you like them?

What book do you want to read in English this year?

Do you want to be in control on the IELTS Listening Exam?

Do you feel out of control when you listen to English?

It can be a scary feeling.

Today you’ll find out how to create a confident relationship between you and your English listening skills.

Are you worried that you won’t understand what they say on the Listening test?

Maybe you will feel like you are drowning and your IELTS dreams will go out the window as you forget to listen to the rest of the test.

We’re going to give you three steps that you can take at home to increase your listening comprehension.

Today we’re not talking about IELTS strategy or skills.

This is just how to improve your general listening skills.

Our tips to build listening confidence:

  • Step #1) Listen to a movie and put the subtitles on: This will improve your listening because you are increasing your chances of understanding. We practice in an easy way first with this step then we get better then we move to the next level and challenge ourselves more. This can be a simple You Tube video, a TV sitcom, a drama, or anything else. Choose what is interesting to you. We suggest “Wild” or “Into the Wild.” These are both great movies that will inspire you and keep you interested. You will forget that you are watching a movie and that you are practicing English. These movies will make you cry. When you have tears running down your face you are not thinking about grammar anymore
  • Step #2) Listen to a podcast/TED Talks/Radio with your eyes closed: This will increase your comprehension. You will absorb the sounds of English. Practice immersing yourself in the sounds. On the test you are not expected to understand every word so don’t put that pressure on yourself. You need to change the way you think about listening comprehension. Don’t be a perfectionist. Create a new way to feel when you listen to English. Try the All Ears English Podcast.
  • Step #3) Watch or listen with no help or tools: This is your last step. No subtitles. No crutches. You could do this with the same resource that you used for step 1. You could also choose something new and watch it fresh from the beginning. Relax. Try to watch something for pleasure. Choose something that is good quality. Connection NOT Perfection! That means you want to connect with the movie as art. Don’t obsess over understanding every word.

What are your tips and tricks for improving your listening comprehension?

Let us know in the comments below.

It’s important to be able to talk about your interests and passions in order to connect with people.

We’ll show you how to do it today.

Why do we need passions in life?

The word “passion” is a big word and can stress people out.

It’s ok if you have a lot of smaller passions or interests. It doesn’t have to be something huge.

“Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.”

-Oprah

I think Oprah is right.

When we find something that we love it gives us energy.

It comes from a deep place inside of us that is honest and true.

It feels very natural to participate in your passion.

It’s not work. The wind is at your back.

It is better to have one passion and focus heavily on that or is it better to have many passions and just enjoy all of them?

Michelle thinks it depends on what you are using your passion for.

Some people want to have their work be their passion.

Other people want to explore their passions outside of the workplace.

If it’s your work then Michelle thinks you should focus 100% on it but if it’s a hobby then maybe it’s better to keep it lighter and use it to build a dynamic life.

Phrases to talk about your passion:

  • “I’m (really) into…” = I’m interested in.
    • Example: “I’m really into comedy”
  • “These days I’m jazzed about…”
    • Example: “These days I’m jazzed about entrepreneurship, testing ideas, and the marketplace.”
  • “I feel passionate about…”
    • Example: “I feel passionate about cooking.”
  • “I get really fired up about…”
    • Example: “I get really fired up about comedy.”

What are you passionate about?

Practice what you learned in the episode today.

Write your responses in the comments section below.

Wondering how you can impress the examiner on IELTS Writing Task 1?

Today we’ll give you three sentence structures that are very high level and will get you the target score that you need for your grammar score in this task.

This is the most important thing to consider when it comes to grammar on the IELTS.

Remember that on Task 1 you will have to write about numbers and you need to show your ability to compare the numbers.

Today you’ll get two different complex structures and a compound structure.

On test day you don’t have to take risks.

Just use these structures and you’ll do fine.

Grammar structures:

  • Structure #1) “As X increases, Y decreases.”- this is higher level because most students don’t use “as.”
    • Sample: “As the population of Taiwan increased to hit 20 million in 2014, the population of Cambodia decreased to hit 500,000.”
  • Structure #2) “In contrast to Y increasing, X actually decreased.”- here if you use “actually” it further emphasizes the contrast. It sounds more high level if you use this word.
    • Sample: In contrast to the population in Taiwan increasing, the population of Cambodia actually decreased at the same time.”
  • Structure #3) “Y increased; however, X decreased”
    • Sample: “The population of Taiwan increased; however, the population of Cambodia decreased.

How can you practice these?

  • Look for graphs in the media. Look at The Economist or The Wall Street Journal and try to apply these sentence structures to what you see. Take a graph about sales, population, politics, the economy, stock prices and write out what you see using these structures.
  • Think about trends in your own life of change. For example, “As I run more miles every day, my weight decreases”

How can you use these structures to comment on trends in your life?

Leave your example in the comments section below!

Let us know your questions in the comments below.

job interview english

Do you want to get your dream job?

If you are interviewing for a competitive position then you need to have a smart formula to follow to persuade the interviewer and convince them that you are the right person for the job.

Learn the SMART formula to get your dream job in English today.

Job interviews can be nerve-wracking and scary but if you work with someone like Keiran or use the formula he’ll talk about today then you’ll have a much better chance of getting the job that you want.

 

Keiran’s Tips:

  • Research the company: If the interviewer meets with ten people and you are the only person who knows the company history then you can stand out right from the beginning. The person running the interview wants to know that the company matters to you and that you are a good fit.

 

  • Be concise and have a powerful answer: Have some answers ready in advance. How did you help the business that you worked at before? How did you make the customers happier? Paint a picture with details and exact situations and examples. You can’t be vague.
    • Set up the situation: Talk about your past experience, the work environment, the industry.
    • Task: What task were you faced with? What did you have to do?
    • Actions: What actions did you take to confront the challenge. What exactly did you do? How did you make the customers happy?
    • Results: Keep it as concise as possible. You never want to bore the interviewer. Just answer with impact and move on to the next question.

 

  • Have good questions: Remember that you are interviewing them too. Be selective or at least convey the sense that you are selective in where you are going to work. Show your value. Have your questions prepared. This will help the employer see you differently. There are certain ways to form your questions that are tactful and assertive at the same time.

Remember, in interviews words are key. If you say “I think I can do a good job” instead of “I can do a good job” it conveys weakness.

Watch out for weak words!

You need to work with a teacher to prepare to make sure you aren’t using weak words.

Keiran’s Bio:

I’ve always been teaching or coaching in some way or form. I started as a swim instructor at the age of 16,  I taught swimming to children, teenagers and adults for about 8 years. After completing my university education in psychology at McGill, I traveled to South Korea where I taught children and adults for 2 years. Shortly after living in South Korea I moved to Mongolia where my wife gave birth to our daughter while I continued to teach voluntarily. We returned home and I started working for a large company selling conference tickets to directors and VPs of fortune 500 companies. It was a brutal job which didn’t work out but I learned a lot about how important it is to be prepared for  interviews. I returned to teaching in language schools for a while until I got into teaching online which is where I am now.

Want to work with Keiran?

  • Step 1: Register as a new user to get $10 off your second lesson. Click here.
  • Step 2: Find Keiran’s profile and send him a message to schedule a lesson.

 

Leave us a comment below.

What do you think about this framework?

Have you used it?

Let us know.

Do you experience awkward silences when you speak English?

How can you fill these silences, connect with the person, and make it feel a bit less awkward?

Find out how to use “anyways” today when there is an awkward silence and when you want to get the conversation back on track.

Listen to the audio to get examples of how Lindsay and Michelle use it in a real conversation.

When do we use anyways?

  • When we want to get the conversation back on track
  • When there is an awkward moment and someone has said something strange

What else can we say?

  • “In any event”
  • “In any case”
  • “At any rate”

Leave us a comment below.

Have you used “anyways” or “anyway” in your conversations in English?

Let us know.

Always Be Confident (ABC) in front of the Examiner!

How can you do it and why does it help your score on the IELTS?

Find out today.

This ABC (Always Be Confident) strategy especially helps on the Speaking test and the Writing test.

If you are starting to feel uncomfortable you can use this strategy.

Check out this video about how to take up more space when you want to increase confidence.

What to do:

  • Sit up straight: This will automatically change your brain and body chemistry. You will appear confident. Put your shoulders down and back. Face the person on their level.
  • Remember that your opinion is never wrong: No one is going to judge your opinions. Don’t doubt yourself because when you do that you will lose the specificity. If you have an idea or an opinion that pops up then say it. Don’t second- guess yourself. Own your ideas!
  • Your life is excellent material: Use your own experiences. Tell stories. That is the only resource you have to come up with strong examples. This is for the formal and informal parts of the exam. Even on Writing Task 2 you are asked to support your ideas with personal opinions.  Go into the exam with the mindset that you are a rock star and that you want to share your stories and your experiences.

-Jessica Beck, IELTS Energy Podcast

Need a little extra help?

In our course the 3 Keys IELTS Success System we offer a speaking test success day plan as a special bonus where we show you what to do to remain calm and confident on the day of the exam while you are waiting to go into your speaking test.

We also have an entire module called The Anti-anxiety Plan which gives you 3 steps to deal with anxiety on the test.

Leave us a comment below.

What is your biggest challenge with confidence on the IELTS Exam?

Let us know!

3 Keys IELTS Success SystemToday we have a guest on the show.

We are honored to have 3 Keys IELTS student Fatima Hassan on the show!

Fatima took IELTS for the first time this summer after taking our course.

Her scores were:

Listening: 6

Reading 6.5

Writing: 5

Speaking: 6

________

Overall: 6

 

What was Fatima’s biggest challenge on the Writing test?

In Writing Task 1 she had a timing challenge.

She took too much time to brainstorm.

She felt pressured by the time and she got nervous.

Because of the timing issue she wasn’t able to write the essay in an organized way.

 

How did Fatima prepare?

She learned how to analyze graphs in our course and how to structure her essays but she did not have a chance to practice timing on the Writing test.

It’s important to sit down three times per week and give yourself 1 hour to complete the two full essays during your preparation.

The timing is what killed her score.

She didn’t realize that the time was passing as fast as it was.

 

What should she do now?

She will go back and practice writing the essays under test conditions.

She will also spend more time practicing the basic writing strategies that we teach in our course.

She is also thinking about reading more business articles.

Even though these articles are not super interesting, she does feel that she is building her vocabulary using these materials.

We are confident that Fatima can get the score she needs next time if she implements the suggestions we made today and if she follows the daily study plan!

 

Good luck Fatima!

We respect your dedication and hard work!

We know you can achieve your dreams if you keep working hard!

 

Leave us a comment below!

Are you working as hard as Fatima is in your preparation?

Let us know.

Is it possible to get bad advice from big IELTS brand name courses?

Yes it is! Why? Sometimes these brands enroll teachers in test prep courses when they don’t know the test as well as they should.

How can you protect yourself from being a victim of bad IELTS advice?

Read today’s article to find out.

Here’s the story…

Recently, a listener of our podcast wrote in with some worries.

This students had been enrolled in a test preparation course at the British Council, and, during a practice speaking  exam, was given some advice which differed from advice that we give on the IELTS Energy podcast.

First of all, let me say that I have 100% confidence in everything I say on the podcast, on our IELTS Energy TV YouTube Channel, and in our 3 Keys IELTS Success System course.

I have been involved professionally with IELTS in a variety of capacities and positions, including teaching webinars for IDP Australia, for over a decade.

I know this student who wrote in is confused, because, since the British Council is one of the organizations involved in creating IELTS, the student felt that any advice given by one of their staff must be correct.

The first way I can debunk this worry is to state that the British Council has schools and offices all over the world.

They have thousands of staff members and teachers.

It is impossible for every one of their staff members and teachers to be an IELTS professional.

The British Council, in fact, gives many exams besides IELTS, such as the TKT, a test for teachers’ teaching skills, and TOLES, a test of legal English.

It is impossible for every teacher to know well all the exams that the British Council gives.

And, any teacher there may be called upon to teach any number of test prep classes for an exam they give, so the specific advice they give may be true for TOLES, for instance, and not IELTS.

What happened?

Let’s use our listener’s questions as examples of how a teacher at a name brand school may not necessarily provide you the best information, just because they work at a school with a respected name.

In Speaking Part 2, the student was asked to describe a museum.

As the student does not go to museums, he/she made up a story which ended with going out to dinner with friends after the museum tour.

This was a fantastic answer!

It sounds well organized, fulfilled the 2-minute requirement, and told a story about the topic.

However, the teacher told the student that he/she should have talked about all the bullet points and shouldn’t have talked about dinner because it didn’t relate to the topic.

How do we know the student got bad advice?

I know the band descriptors very, very well.

I know exactly what the examiner needs to hear in order to give you every score, from a 0 to a 9.

And, nowhere, NOWHERE, in the descriptors does it say the student must talk about the bullet points. (They are only there to help with ideas. The examiner does not care about them.)

Also, a fluent student, such as a native speaker, would naturally mention that dinner followed the museum tour.

It is a fluent and coherent way to communicate, and, as such, would rate highly for this category.

More bad advice….

The bad advice didn’t stop there, however, in the Speaking Part 3 practice, the student answered a question about graffiti being good or bad.

The student gave specific examples of both sides being true. Then the teacher told him/her that he/she could not support both sides in the answer.

That’s ridiculous!!

That advice has no connection, whatsoever, to the Speaking score descriptors.

In fact, the student’s answer sounds like it would actually rate quite highly, judging from the specific support and vocabulary used.

Again, this teacher gave horrible advice, and none of it is true as far as IELTS is concerned.

Who can you trust?

So, how do you know who to trust?

That’s the question.

In this case, I would challenge the teacher to tell me EXACTLY where in the band descriptors this advice came from.

There is a publicly available band score descriptor table on the British Council site, that can be referenced at any time.

And even though the Examiner’s table has more information and detail, the teacher should still know this in order to give correct and useful feedback.

Don’t blindly trust a name

Don’t trust a name just because it’s a name.

Research the teacher, the course and the material first before you invest any money, and don’t pay extra just for a recognizable name that may not help you anyway.

Be confident in your decisions, and do not sit by passively while someone pretends to be a professional.

Challenge them and receive the instruction you deserve.

Have you made the mistake of trusting a big brand name and then found out that the professional you were working with didn’t have the credibility that you thought?

Let us know your stories in the comments below.

What do Americans think about smoking?

What does it mean for you if you are visiting the US or moving here on a work assignment?

The way we view smoking in the US has changed a ton in the last thirty years.

Find out more today!

 

Is it a taboo in the US to smoke?

It’s not completely a taboo yet but it’s getting to that point.

A taboo is something that is looked down upon in a society.

First of all, we want to acknowledge that smoking is a real, medical addiction.

We understand that you can’t just snap your fingers and quit.

 

Smoking in the 1980’s:

You could walk into a restaurant and they would ask you “smoking or non?” so most restaurants had a smoking section.

These days we rarely see a smoking section in a restaurant, at least in the Northeastern part of the US.

 

Smoking in the 1990’s:

It was much less of a taboo in the ’90’s.

It was almost considered cool and of course it was considered fashionable and sexy back in the 1930’s, 1940’s, etc.

Back in the 1980’s we had the Just Say No campaign which was run by the DARE (Drug Abuse Reduction Campaign).

As early as age 8, 9, 10, they taught kids in schools to say no to drugs and smoking.

 

What are the laws?

The smoking laws are different in every state but 81% of the US lives under some kind of smoking ban, whether it’s a ban from the city or the state.

Click here to read the laws.

 

What should you be prepared for if you are a smoker in the US?

You should know that people might judge you.

People are going to have an opinion especially if you are walking around and your smoke gets into someone’s face they might say something to you.

Try to walk away from the group of people that you are with.

Observe the norms in the places where you hang out.

It depends on your social group.

 

What do you think about today’s episode? Are you a smoker?

If you have been to the US what was your experience?

Let us know in the comments below.

The IELTS is all about timing!

If you don’t know how to manage your time well on all four sections then you will not get the score you need.

Today we’ll talk about the timing strategies you need for success.

Timing strategies for IELTS:

  • The Listening test: Follow what they say for the timing. Remember that you have ten minutes at the end to transfer your answers. That is crucial to remember.
  • The Reading test: You need to practice timing before test day for the Reading (and for all of the tests). You have three passages. The first step is skimming. Take one minute to skim the passage. Read bits and pieces to get an understanding of what they are talking about. If you don’t take that minute your brain won’t be ready when you look at the questions. When you are searching for answers don’t take more than one minute on one answer. Skip to the next question if it’s taking too long.
  • The Writing test: Practice timing for all 3 steps. Plan. Write. Check. If you have 20 minutes for Task 1 then it’s 3 minutes to plan, 14 minutes to write, and 3 minutes to check. Make sure you leave time for all steps.
  • The Speaking test: Here the examiner controls the time for you. You have to be aware of how much the examiner wants to hear. In Speaking Part 1 you should give 2-5 complete sentences. In Speaking Part 2, take the full minute to plan. Take the full 2 minutes to talk. In Part 3 every answer should be 30 seconds, more or less.

Remember, the foundation of your timing strategy is having a solid strategy system for all parts of the test.

In our course we teach you 3-step systems for each part of the test.

You can learn more about our course here.

Leave us a comment below!

What questions do you have about IELTS timing?

When you lose a thought in your head while you’re speaking English and your mind goes blank there are things you can say to build the connection between you and the other person.

Does this happen to you often?

You don’t need to fear that moment.

Instead, you can use that moment to build the connection.

We always say that it’s about Connection NOT Perfection!

Everyone forgets things!

What to say when your mind goes blank:

  • “It’s on the tip of my tongue”: This is used not only when we forget our thought mid-sentence but also when we are trying to recall facts, figures, or names.
  • “I completely lost my train of thought”: This is great because its natural and you are using descriptive language.
  • “What was I gonna (going to) say?”: Another great way to show the person what is going on in your mind and to ask them to help you recall what you were going to say.

 

Have you used these phrases before in a conversation with a native English speaker?

Let us know if they helped you build the connection with the person!

On the IELTS Speaking test  and the IELTS Writing test the examiner wants to hear you make contrasts!

It is a high-level language skill that will immediately impress the examiner so that you can get the score you need.

You need to be able to give a balanced opinion.

You need to recognize that the other side has some points. This shows that you really know how to communicate in English.

You can use these phrases that we’ll give you today in Speaking Part 3 and Writing Task 2.

If you use these phrases you’ll get a 7 or higher for fluency on the Speaking test and a 7 or higher for cohesion and coherence on the Writing test.

This makes your answer more organized and organization is super important.

So make these phrases a part of your repertoire!

We have chosen these phrases because they are more interesting than your typical “6” phrases and will get you a better score.

You need to go beyond the typical phrases to get a 7 or higher.

Phrases to show contrast:

1) “Having said this…”

  • Q: How healthy is your country’s food?
  • A: Well, I suppose you could argue that my country’s food isn’t healthy. Having said this, there is a new trend now toward vegan or vegetarian food and there is a new restaurant in my neighborhood. I feel great when I eat there!

2) “At the same time…”

  • Q: What changes will happen in the education space in the future?
  • A: Well I think we’re moving towards technology for every kid in the classroom. At the same time I know there are a lot of school districts who can’t afford that kind of technology.

3) “On the other hand…”

  • Q: Why do people like watching television
  • A: Clearly television is addictive and people like it because they like to see beautiful people and escape their lives. I can understand that. On the other hand, I think it would be better if people would read a bit more.

4) “Nevertheless…”

  • Q: How do most people travel long distances in your country?
  • A: Well I’m from the US where long distances are long. In my country people generally fly nevertheless there is a romantic notion of the road trip. Americans love road trips. Both ways are still used today.

Have you used these phrases on your Speaking or Writing tests?

Let us know in the comments below!

Are you looking for some other great IELTS resources on the web?

Video lessons are a great way to prepare for IELTS.

In today’s episode we’ll show you where to find information about IELTS to supplement what you read and listen to here at IELTS Energy and All Ears English.

Preparing for IELTS with video lessons is a great idea because it will keep you engaged and you need to be engaged and motivated in order to remember what you learn!

So grab some of these video lessons and get started today.

#1) Eng Vid

This is an excellent resource for video lessons.

The lessons all feature a teacher in front of a white board, writing notes on it and talking; so, if you are used to a traditional learning environment in a classroom, this would be a comfortable and familiar resource for you.

Most of the lessons are from 10 minutes to 20 minutes long, and they are also available on YouTube.

Plus, below the video on the engVid site, there is a quiz button.

You can take the quiz after watching the lesson.

Visit here

#2) British Council

There are 6 videos here, and they are all quite short- less than 4 minutes.

There are quick tips for every module of the exam, including grammar.

In addition, since they were created by the British Council, one of the organizations involved in governing IELTS, you know you can trust the information.

All the videos are also on YouTube.

There are a couple downsides, however.

The videos are all illustrated, so you don’t see a real person talking, making it a bit difficult to understand.

Also, quite high level vocabulary is used, so these videos would be good for a student who is already at an upper-intermediate level.

Lastly, there is no practice or quizzes provided.

Visit here

#3) IELTS Liz

This website features many, many videos.

The teacher in every video is Liz, who is British, so watching these videos is good practice for understanding that accent.

In every video, Liz sits in front of a whiteboard, talks and takes notes.

Video lessons range from 5 to 30 minutes, and there are tips for every part of the exam.

Most of them seem like lessons you would get in a traditional classroom, with a teacher standing at the board, asking you to do something and then writing the answers on the board.

There is not a lot of movement, so it may be difficult to become engaged in the videos.

One great thing, though, about this site, is there is a blog as well with free practice lessons.

All videos are also on YouTube.

Visit here

#4) Academic English Help

These videos are from another website, but I recommend watching them on YouTube, because the original site will interrupt your browsing by trying to sell you their course.

However, these free videos on YouTube can be very helpful, and most of them come with transcripts that you can read before, during or after you watch the lessons.

The lesson videos are all from 5 to 35 minutes, and are about many different aspects of the exam.

Most of them feature the same male teacher with a North American accent.

He appears on the video with a plain white background in the beginning, and then there are slides which he narrates.

Most useful, in my opinion, are the example Speaking Exam videos so you can learn what will happen during your own Speaking exam.

Visit the site here

#5) IELTS Energy TV

On this YouTube channel, there are many short videos, less than 5 minutes, with tips and specific advice that is easy to understand and consume.

I am biased towards loving this channel because… the teacher is me!

The channel is called IELTS Energy TV for a reason- I love to talk about IELTS, and this comes through in my videos.

There are additional resources, such as our podcast, on allearsenglish.com.

Check it out!

Click here

Do you need a digital detox?

Today find out how to invite your friends to take part in a digital detox weekend where you leave technology behind and enjoy being together or being out in nature!

Lindsay took a digital detox weekend on an island on Lake Winnepesaukee a few weekends ago.

When she came back she felt a deep sense of relaxation. She felt more creative and more motivated.

Would you like to take a digital detox weekend too? Get the right phrases to invite your friends below.

 

native English teachersAre you looking for a professional, native English teacher online?

Get a native English teacher online in seconds at italki.

Lindsay and Michelle recommend italki as our #1 English-learning solution online. Choose from more than 400 teachers to work on your business English or to pass your next big exam.

Get our special offer before it runs out! Go to italki and claim 10USD to go toward a FREE second English lesson at italki!

 

Phrases to invite your friends to a digital detox weekend:

  • “Why don’t we try disconnecting this weekend?”: This is not forceful. It’s not saying that it’s imperative. It’s just making a suggestion.
  • “Let’s swear off technology for the weekend, what do you say?” If you add “what do you say?” or “what do you think” at the end of your statement then you are asking the person what they think and it makes the statement a bit softer.
  • “Let’s do a tech boycott”:
  • “I think we should stay away from our phones this weekend. Are you in?” When you use the question “are you in?” it makes it sound like you are going on an adventure. Give this one a try!

 

Did you try using these phrases with your friends?

How did it go?

Describe your digital detox experience for us in the comments below.

There is one cool trick that you can use to get yourself a higher score on the IELTS Speaking test.

If you use a strategic pause when you deliver your speaking answers it will give you a sense of momentum and it will allow you to re-center your mind.

If you slow down your answers will be more organized.

You will be more fluent and coherent.

You will use better vocabulary.

It’s never a bad idea to slow down on the Speaking test.

This  may also help us feel more centered in our body and less anxious.

Remember, this doesn’t mean that we are pausing due to lack of words.

This is a strategic communication device.

Find out exactly what you need to do every step of the way to get your target score.

Stop guessing what you should be doing to prepare!

Click here to get the checklist.

How to use the strategic pause in the Speaking test:

  • Pause after a heavy “well” + pause: You could also use a smile just after or during the pause. Why does this help? It impacts our natural-sounding pronunciation and it would show the examiner that we are aware of how native speakers sound. This is completely different and much better than saying “ugh…umm…”
    • Example:
      • Q: What do people in your culture think about the importance of being on time
      • A: Well…..I think it’s important to be on time but my friends don’t since they are always making me wait for them. On the other hand, I show up at least 10 minutes early every time we meet.
  • Use the phrase “wait for it” + pause : You can use this when you are about to say something surprising. This would immediately put the examiner in the mind frame of a 7 for you for vocabulary as well as fluency and coherence. If you can add a sarcastic point like a surprise after saying “wait for it” then you will definitely impress the examiner because you’ll be using a very high level language tactic.
    • Example:
      • Q: What is your job?
      • A: Wait for it….I am a clown on the weekend. Yep, I go to birthday parties and I know how to juggle.

Leave us a comment below.

Have you used the dramatic pause in your Speaking test?

How did it work?

When is “hello!!” not a friendly greeting in English?

Sometimes we use “hello” to greet someone.

Other times we use it to get someone’s attention.

It’s often used with an abrasive tone of voice and you hear it in large cities like New York City and Boston.

Find out how to know the difference today- and learn how to respond appropriately every time.

How to tell the difference between the two “hellos”

Pay attention to the tone of voice of the person speaking to you.

When someone is saying “hello” to get your attention or to get you to wake up their voice is usually kind of irritated and sometimes it feels rude.

Listen to the episode to hear the difference in our voices.

People might also say this to you if something is flying towards you, like a soccer ball.

Where does this come from?

It comes from Back to the Future!

Biff would always go around and bang Marty McFly on the head and he would say, “Hello, McFly!”

Watch the clip here!

What do you need to know about this?

The most important thing to remember is this: “Hello” is not always a greeting.

Sometimes people are using it to get your attention.

The way to tell the difference is by listening to the tone of voice.
Leave us a comment below!

Have you ever heard someone say, “hello!” in a more abrasive way, trying to get your attention.

What should you do if you get a broad topic like globalization on the IELTS Exam?

Today we’ll show you how to get specific quickly, for a higher Speaking score.

How should you prepare for the hot topic of globalization for the IELTS?

This is a huge topic!

Even for native speakers who believe in the culture of thinking it takes them a long time to figure out how to approach this topic because it’s so broad.

As we have said in a previous episode, it’s always good to go back to your personal stories when your mind goes blank on the IELTS.

Also, when you connect the separate ideas that come to mind on a topic like globalization you need to use great linking phrases.

If the questions ask you about both advantages and disadvantages, it’s great if you can link both ideas together and weigh both sides of the idea.

Listen to our examples in the episodes and listen to how we talk about globalization.

The most important thing to do is break it down into manageable chunks and examples.

Break it down into smaller pieces such as:

  • Shopping
  • Food
  • Religion
  • Language
  • Gender roles
  • Marriage
  • Exercise
  • Media and movies

Practice thinking about this.

Write down the above topics and compare your culture 10 years ago to your culture today.

We are sure that many of the changes will be due to globalization.

Write down some practice answers.

The key to mastering this topic is to be specific.

Grab onto a personal experience and a specific example and you will immediately feel much more comfortable.

DO NOT try to be general in your answer.

Your fluency and coherence scores will go up if you do this.

Leave us a comment.

How has globalization affected your country?

Let us know in the comments below.

Do you get confused between “look,” “see, ” and “view”?

These three verbs can be confusing.

They mean similar things but they are used in different, very specific ways.

Today we want to start with a great quote:

“The only way to assure long term comfort is to create continuous, short-term moments of discomfort.”

-Tim Ferris

You should set up situations in your daily life that are a little bit uncomfortable so that you can stretch your limits and boundaries and open your life up to new opportunities.

How can you do this:

Look at your goals.

See what you can reach for.

View every day as a new way to create discomfort and create a satisfying life.

What’s the difference between look/see/view:

  • Look: When you actively move your head and try to point your eyes in a specific direction.
  • See: This is more passive. I might see someone go by but I am not going to actively try to look at the person
  • View: More formal and can be used to talk about a movie or a show or an event. There are also a lot of related phrases and other ways to use this verb such as:
    • To come into view: To be able to see something
    •  A viewing: An event where you have a chance to see a home that is for sale, something is on display
    • The view: The scenery
    • In my view: In my opinion, the way I see it
    • My point of view

Listen to the conversation in the episode to get the differences between these verbs in a few role plays.

Leave a comment below and practice these three verbs.

Show us that you understand the differences.

Do you listen to IELTS rumors?

Do you let IELTS rumors get you scared and push you off of your center?

Today we’ll show you why you need to stop listening to rumors and what you should do instead.

We’ll tell you who to listen to for the best possible score and who you should ignore.

There are people out there who spread rumors and the rumors they spread are due to their own insecurities.

Common rumors that go between students include:

  • “IELTS Center A is easier” or “IELTS Center B is the best place to take IELTS”
  • Certain topics that were used on the exams in previous weeks

What should you do?

  • Evaluate the source: Who is giving you the information? Do not pay attention to anyone that is not an IELTS professional.
  • Evaluate the nature of the comments: Are they giving you basic logistics or is the comment more emotion based? People make comments and start rumors when they are nervous and anxious.
  • Choose a system that works and follow it: Don’t take pieces of separate systems. Don’t go back and forth between courses or systems. Choose the one that works for you. It should have a good daily IELTS study plan. The study plan will keep you busy so that you won’t have time to think about the rumors that you have heard. If you are just grabbing free materials on the internet then you might have a problem focusing because there is no step-by-step plan.
  • Focus on what you need to know: You must learn what the examiner wants and how to give that to them. Those are facts and discrete practice points. The examiner wants to hear linking words. Practice using them. Don’t just say “I need to be more fluent.” Be specific and not general.

Keep your head down and keep working.

Don’t let yourself get pushed around by rumors and other people’s emotions and fear.

Follow your own path.

Have confidence in it.

Don’t let people distract you from that path.

In today’s episode you’ll find out how to become free when it becomes to your fear of rejection so that you can start more English conversations and accomplish anything you want in life.

Today we are honored to have an exciting guest on the show!

Jia Jiang is a sought after TEDx speaker and author of “100 Days of Rejection.”

He did an experiment where he tried to get rejected every day for 100 days and today he will tell us what he learned and what it means for us.

Why did he do this experiment?

He felt that fear of rejection was holding him back from accomplishing his life dreams.

Then one day his business proposal was rejected so he decided to go out and try to get rejected every day for 100 days.

He asked for free food re-fills.

He asked to have a special doughnut made in a unique shape.

He asked to play soccer in a stranger’s backyard.

His goal was to get over the fear of rejection but he found that a lot of people started to say yes to him.

Jia found that the fear of rejection was worse than rejection.

He started to have the mentality of having fun and letting the world reject him.

Next he started to experiment on how to get a “yes.”

He wanted to know if there was anything he could do to turn around a “no” and negotiate to get a “yes.”

 

“We think we are the center of the universe. We think that everyone is looking at us, judging us, everything we say, that’s why we are so afraid.

Somehow (we think) we have to perform and make sure people like us.

The thing is, it’s that type of mentality that really holds you back.

If you want to speak English, the only way to do it is to go out and speak.”

-Jia Jiang

 

Three things you can do to become “rejection proof”:

  • Go look for rejection: What if you turn your fear of rejection on its head and go look for it? Jia asks, “Is it still scary?” What if you tried to exaggerate your foreign accent? Try to speak like someone who just barely learned English and see how people react. Most people will be very nice to you.

 

  • Do something weird: Ask for something strange. Go to Starbucks and when you order a coffee, ask for a discount. Say, “Can I get a 20% discount?” Try to negotiate. Offer to write them a great review. Offer to pay for the next person in front of you. Come up with ways to chat. You’ll find that behind the counter is a human being. You’ll learn that rejection says more about that person than you.

 

  • Ask “how”: Instead of asking, “Can I get a 15% discount?” ask “How can I get a 15% discount.” This invites the other person to help you. Most people are nice and they want to help. They are scared to say no. They don’t want to feel bad about saying no.  State your motivation and ask them how they can help you make something happen. For example, “How can we practice English together?”

 

Jia’s Bio:

Jia is the founder and CEO of Wuju Learning, a company that trains organizations to become fearless through rejection training. He is also known as the Rejection Guy.

Jia’s story started when several years after his career in the corporate world, he took a risk and stepped into the unknown world of entrepreneurship, which resulted in everyone’s biggest fear…REJECTION.

This became the catalyst that set Jia on the path to his true calling. To conquer the fear of rejection, Jia embarked on a personal quest and started a video blog to face 100 Days of Rejection. His journey revealed a world that was hidden in plain sight, a world where rejection can become an advantage instead of a setback, and where there are opportunities behind every rejection. It has become Jia’s mission to help others to discover that world for themselves.
Jia is the author of the bestselling book Rejection Proof, How I Beat Fear and Became Invincible Through 100 Days of Rejection. Jia holds a Bachelor of Computer Science from Brigham Young University and a Master of Business Administration from Duke University.

Visit Jia’s website here

 

What have you done to get over your fear of rejection?

Let us know in the comments below.

Accept it.

Own it.

Stay centered.

Today you’ll find out how to do it in English.

When someone gives you a compliment and you reject it, it shows a lack of confidence and it causes the person who complimented you to feel awkward.

They might feel like they need to give the compliment again in another way.

Phrases to accept a compliment in English:

  • “Thanks I really appreciate that.”
  • “Thank you.”
  • “Thanks for that (compliment).”

How can you use the compliment to deepen the connection:

  • Give them a compliment if it’s genuine.
  • Accept your compliment and change the subject. “Thank you. So what’s going on with you?”
  • Accept it and move on and make a comment about your shared surroundings.

Do you reject compliments when you get them?

Let us know in the comments below.

“Always Be Thinking!” if you want a great score on the IELTS!

What does this phrase mean and why does it matter when it comes to IELTS?

Last week we did an episode about the environment as an IELTS Speaking topic and we realized that this topic overlaps and intersects with health and a bunch of other topics.

If you can articulate on the Speaking test how these topics link together and move from one topic to the next as you build your answers then you will impress the examiner.

It all starts with creating a culture of thinking.

How to connect topics with linking phrases:

  • “Oh that reminds me of…” (use this if one topic brings another topic to mind)
    • Example: “When we talk about public transportation it reminds me of the obesity crisis that we have in the US.”
  • “That makes me think of…”:
    • Example: “The pollution crisis makes me think of the lack of public transportation in my city.”
  • “Oh (XYZ) just came to mind!”
    • Example: “Oh! Our new mayor just came to mind because he is a huge fan of public transport and he is going to start a new train line.”
  • “Interestingly enough, this also has to do with…”
  • “In my mind, the concept of (X) intersects with (Y)”

Pro tip!

When you think of a concept that comes to mind because it relates to what you are talking about, you should use the intonation of surprise in your voice! This will get you a higher pronunciation score.

When you are talking with native speakers and discussing topics, always be thinking about how topics connect with other topics.

Remember, it’s “ABT: Always Be Thinking!”

What do you think about the ABT strategy?

Have you used it on the IELTS?

Did it work for you?

Today you’ll find out why you should surprise the examiner and how to do it with three easy phrases for a higher Speaking score!

One great way to set yourself apart from other students from your culture is to surprise the examiner.

Acknowledge the norms for a particular topic, articulate that, then surprise the examiner with a different answer.

You can use high-level phrases to do it.

Why does this work?

It’s an opportunity to use interesting vocabulary and you will keep the examiner awake, alert, and interested.

This could be done in Speaking Part 2 and 3 and in IELTS Writing Task 2.

Here are some examples and key phrases:

  • Examiner: What do you usually do on the weekends?
  • Student: You think I’ll say that I like to go to night markets but actually I don’t really go to night markets very often. I like to go for night bike rides. It’s not normal but that’s what I like to do.
  • Examiner: What is your favorite food from your country?
  • Student: Ok well you are expecting to hear that I love ramen but actually my favorite food is okonomiyake.
  • Examiner: What is your favorite food from your home country?
  • Student: I know everyone from my home country says Kabsa but that’s actually not my favorite food. My favorite food is Biryani.

Let us know in the comments if you have tried this strategy.

How did it work for you?

We want to hear your feedback!

Do you want to be more powerful in the business space in English?

If you do the right things, you can achieve this goal but you need the right skills, knowledge, and tools.

Today we have a guest on the show!

Leann will give you three things that you can do NOW to become more powerful, effective, and impressive while using English in the business space.

Today the global market is competitive. You must have strong business skills. Listen to today’s episode to get the skills you need.

 

The three secrets to being a more powerful business professional in English:

 

  • “Talk the talk” of your field: Get the key vocabulary and idioms for your field. If you are in insurance you need to know “liability” and “premium” and “policy.” You also need general business idioms such as “to think outside of the box” or “to take the bull by the horns.” If you can speak the language of your colleagues and partners in English-speaking countries then you can connect with them faster and have more success in business.

 

  • Immerse yourself in business materials: You can also listen to specific business podcasts and TED Talks.  Also read business articles. Go out and research companies in the field where you want to work. Research the business plan of Microsoft or Amazon to see what strategies they use. Do a mock interview with your English tutor. Resources we recommend:
    • Marketing Smarts
    • Entrepreneur on Fire
    • Forbes
    • Fortune
    • The Economist

 

  • Get your business emails right: Make it brief, to the point, formal, and polite. It should not be more than five sentences. Show the recipient that you value their time. Get right to the point. Keep it formal. Make sure your email has no mistakes with grammar or spelling. Read it aloud before you send it. It’s a balance of being present, accurate, and formal. Key email vocabulary for business emails:
    • “I look forward to your reply.”
    • “Respectfully yours…”

 

Leann’s Bio:

Leann has been a professional Italki teacher since 2013. She has over 10 years experience teaching ESL (English as a Second Language) at the community college/university level.

She has Lifetime Teaching Certificate in Adult Education and Literacy. She also holds a Masters Degree in TESOL (Teaching English as a Second Other Language).

Her specializations include  Academic English, Conversational English, Business English, TOEFL and IELTS Test Prep, Accent Reduction and more.

She currently lives in Texas.  Born and raised in Central Illinois.  She has also lived in Florida and Missouri.

 

How to reserve a lesson with Leann:

Sometimes, when there is such a big task in front of us, such as preparing for IELTS, it can be difficult to even get started.

Then, when we actually jump on that road, start working through our study plans one task at a time, we hit a wall.

We feel like we are investing so much time and energy that we lose our motivation to keep moving ahead.

So, today, we are going to look at 5 motivational quotes, and connect them directly to our IELTS practice.

Choose your favorite one and hang it on your wall!

Take positive steps toward achieving your dream, and feel better about yourself and your practice

#1) “What you do today can improve all your tomorrows.”

Ralph Marston

Can watching a movie today really help you improve your IELTS score in the future?

Yes! Of course!

Find a way to enjoy your English practice and still directly connect it to the exam.

For example, after watching a movie, write a 4-paragraph essay about it.

You describe two sides in the body- one paragraph which talks about why the movie was fantastic, and one paragraph which talks about why the movie was terrible.

This would mirror the Argument essay you may have to write in the exam.

Get a simple checklist. Find out exactly what to do.

Stop wasting time on the wrong activities.

Click here to get your checklist now!

2) Aim for the moon. If you miss, you may hit a star.”  -W. Clement Stone

Even if all you need is a 6 or a 6.5 in IELTS, aim higher!

Learn what the examiner is looking for in order to get a band score 8, for example.

Then, you will move your practice to a higher level, and challenge yourself.

Even if you don’t end up getting an 8, perhaps you’ll at least get a 7!

3) “Don’t watch the clock. Do what it does. Keep going.”  -Sam Levenson

This is good motivation and a good guide for your Speaking exam practice.

Remember that in the Speaking exam, the examiner will control the time for you.

You don’t have to worry about that.

Just remember that the examiner wants to hear you speak English, so never, ever, give one word or one sentence answers.

Keep going!

4) “It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.”   -Confucius

Remember this motivational advice when preparing for the Writing exam.

In the months leading up to the exam, do not worry about timing.

You should go slowly, taking all the time you need to plan, write and check your essays, following the advice and strategies of your teacher.

Then, when the exam gets closer, you can start timing yourself and worrying about speed.

Try to only start timing your writing two weeks before the exam.

5) “In order to succeed, we must first believe that we can.”  -Nikos Kazantzkis

This is so true!

If you don’t believe you can hit that 7+, you won’t be able to.

Analyze your strengths and weaknesses, and be honest with yourself about the work it will take to improve.

But always, always believe you can!

Which of these quotes is the most inspiring to you?

What part of IELTS are you struggling with the most?

Let us know in the comments below.

think like lawyer when you learn English

Today find out how to think like a lawyer when you learn English!

Today we have Michael Chambers on the show. Michael used to be a litigation lawyer and now he helps English students communicate more powerfully.

How to think like a lawyer when you learn and speak English:

  • Prepare well: If you prepare well you will be able to deliver your speech in a calm and constructive way. This gives you confidence. Preparation makes you strong. Make it easy on yourself by being well prepared. Also, tell your listeners what you are going to say. Structure it by using transition words such as “first,” and “next” and “last.” Make it easy for your listeners.
  • Use formal and powerful expressions, collocations, and idioms:
    • “We need to consider all aspects…”
    • “We shouldn’t accept that at face value.”
    • “It is under warranty.”
  • Speak slowly and use pauses: This builds confidence and creates a dramatic effect. It can also intimidate people if you use it in negotiation. It also buys you some time to think and prepare. It makes people wait to hear and wonder what you are going to say.

 

Michael’s Bio:

Michael worked as a litigation (torts) lawyer in England for 12 years before moving into full-time online English teaching in summer 2014. 

Since then, Michael has taught more than 1,250 sessions on Italki to students worldwide, and has completed a Cambridge CELTA course to qualify as a TEFL teacher.

Michael provides regular commercial proofreading services to a European energy company, writes website content for Italian businesses, and gives regular language support to a local community charity in his current home town of Birmingham, where he got married last year to Belinda, a cardiac nurse.
Originally from London, Michael has an RP accent, is learning Italian, and is interested in developing his teaching career in the areas of pronunciation, advanced writing, financial and legal English.

 

How to Book a Lesson with Michael:

Step 1: Register here to get $10 off your second lesson

Step 2: You can see Michael’s Italki profile here : http://www.italki.com/teacher/1544642

Are you worried about the IELTS Reading test?

One student asked us this: if you don’t read the whole passage how are you going to know what the answers are?

We have already talked in general about Reading strategy and steps to follow on the test but today we’ll focus on this specific question.

It doesn’t seem logical to take a reading test and not read everything.

Why do we give you the advice to not read everything?

There is not enough time to read everything.

You have 40 questions that you have to answer and there are 3 passages that are between 600 and 900 words each.

They are not easy.

You have to do all of this in one hour.

You cannot read every word so you MUST have a strategy.

So how do you find the answer?

Understand the key words and scanning strategy.

Key words are nouns, important dates, names, numbers, or anything that stands out as being important.

The tricky part is being able to recognize a synonym for the key word.

If a key word is “high level education” then you also need to scan for “tertiary education” and “higher education.”

This is why you need to have a robust vocabulary.

Read the newspaper!

This will help you.

How do you scan?

You move your eyes over the page and look for something very specific.

You are not reading.

The word is a picture that you are looking for.

There is not enough time to read the whole thing and you will be distracted if you try reading.

*Hot tip! Use your finger or pen and move backwards over each line so that way you cannot read it because it’s not natural.

Let your eyes drift over each line, looking for the specific key word.

You must practice this strategy. This is not a natural skill.

What questions do you have?

Have you tried this strategy yet?

Let us know!

This is Episode 400! We are happy to hit this key milestone! Thank you for being a listener of All Ears English. We love our listeners!

Do you know how to navigate friendships and boundaries in the American workplace?

Find out how to connect and when not to connect at your job in the US in today’s episode.

We found an interesting article in the NY Times by Adam Grant. The article is called Friends at Work? Not So Much.

The article said that in 1985, 50% of Americans had close friends at work but by 2004 that number dropped down to 30%.

This tells us that these days the people at work are no longer our “second family.”

The vibe or atmosphere at work is more polite but impersonal.

However, it really depends on your field.

Michelle used to work in radio and she worked with a close-knit group of friends so she had a different experience.

Why have Americans become impersonal at work?

  • Careers are changing: We no longer stick with the same company for our entire career. People freelance, they have multiple jobs, they switch jobs quickly. They don’t have a chance to develop the type of connections that they used to.
  • Virtual work and flex time are more common: A lot of people are working from home where it’s much harder to build close relationships.
  • People don’t feel the need to build new connections: The article suggested that if you can be on Facebook all day with your Facebook friends then why should you bother forming new friendships at work?
  • Protestant work ethic: This goes back to US history. The term “goofing off” means to play around and to not work. Historically this has been looked down upon in US culture.

What should you keep in mind if you work in the US?

  • Know the boundaries: Don’t ask about people’s relationship or family status. It’s rude to say, “So are you married?”
  • Ask people what you can call them: Don’t assume you can use their first name or their title like “Dr.” or “Mr.”
  • Try to have in-person meetings when possible: Make an effort to get to know your colleagues and see what happens. If you are working online from home, meet them once per month in a cafe.
  • Try to open up at work: Start small. If someone asks you how your weekend was they might not expect much of a response but say more than “it was great.” Instead, give them bits and pieces like “I went hiking” and see how they react. Do they ask a follow up question? Do they share something about themselves?

Leave us a comment.

What do you think?

What’s the workplace culture like in your country?

Do people tend to become close with their colleagues?

Are you throwing money down the toilet with your IELTS preparation?

If you don’t get the target score you need and then you immediately sign up for another exam two weeks later then yes, you are throwing money away and you need to stop doing it!

Let’s get smart.

We’ll show you why you should not invest in $600+ per month in taking the IELTS three times and what you should do instead.

Don’t take the exam more than once in a month. Just re-taking the test is not going to change your scores.

Sometimes people’s scores decrease when they do that.

You need testing strategies and you need solid English skills. It’s an English proficiency exam.

Read the story of Biff who took the test too many times and wasted his money.

Go about this logically. You know it’s a hard test. You know that your scores won’t increase within two weeks.

What should you do instead?

Wait at least one month before you take the test again.

You also need to get into a solid course that teaches you a good strategy system. These strategies are what will change your score along with increasing your fluency.

If you have already signed up for a class or worked with a tutor, don’t sign up for that class or work with that tutor again.

Try a different method. Don’t just register to take the test again and again.

You can try our course which is much more affordable than the price of taking the exam 3 times in a month.

What questions do you have?

How many times have you taken the test?

What methods have you tried?

Do you want to know how to invite someone to join your group in English?

Today you’ll hear a fun story and you’ll get English phrases to invite someone to join you.

Last weekend Lindsay went hiking and had an interesting experience.

A group of people invited her to join them in their Flags on 48 project.

In this project, groups of 5-10 people summit the 48 mountains that are over 4,000 feet tall in New England the weekend after September 11th.

They carry the parts of the flag to the top of the mountain and then assemble it.

They fly the flag for two hours in memory of the people who died on 9/11.

  • “Hey you’re welcome to join our group” or “You’re welcome to come with us.”
  • “Why don’t you join us?”
  • “Would you like to tag along with us?”

Listen to the conversation in the episode between Lindsay and Michelle to hear how we use these phrases to invite someone to join our group.

Next, if someone is inviting you, how do you know if the person really wants you to join them?

Sometimes in American culture we extend invitations but we don’t actually mean it.

Click here to find out if the invitation is real.

Have you used these phrases to ask someone to join your group?

Leave us a comment below.

Do you need to prepare for the IELTS Speaking and IELTS Writing tests?

Try setting up an IELTS mastermind group!

This will help you bring your IELTS skills to a whole new level and get the feedback you need.

We now offer IELTS Power Hour for members of our course, 3 Keys IELTS Success System.

Remember! A mastermind practice group is not a tutorial or a lecture!

You should have already prepared by learning strategies (preferably the same strategies as other people in the group).

You come into the group already knowing the strategies but being ready to practice them.

Participating in this kind of group can give you a huge boost in your IELTS motivation.

Today we’ll show you how to design your own group.

How to design your own IELTS mastermind group:

  • Choose people in your group carefully:  Get people in the group who are ahead of you in level and in understanding of the test. Send an invitation out on Facebook and say what your previous score was and what your target score is. If you get members of a higher level then you they will push you and motivate you to stretch your limits.
  • Know the strategies beforehand: This is not a lecture or a class. It’s a practice group. You learn your strategies, listen to lectures, and get to know what the examiner wants through video lessons before the practice group meets. Next, you come together with people in the group and you practice and put into play what you have learned. This is the best way to maximize your time and be smart about your preparation routine.
  • Have a good facilitator: Even though you are giving your peers feedback, you need someone who is facilitating the group who knows the scoring system and what the examiner is looking for. Be smart when you choose your IELTS professional. They can’t just be a native speaker. They must understand the scoring system very well. The facilitator will also make you feel comfortable and will create a positive atmosphere in the group so that everyone feels inspired and motivated.

Go and set up your own IELTS mastermind practice group now!

If you can’t set up your own then you can join our course and you will be invited to join one of our 3 Keys IELTS Power Hours every month.

Leave a comment below and let us know if you have created your own mastermind!

Typical and common answers get average scores on the IELTS Speaking test!

Do you want to stand out in the examiner’s eyes and be unique to get a higher speaking score?

Do you know how to do that?

Today we’ll show you exactly what you can do to surprise the examiner with your answers.

On the IELTS Energy podcast, we often talk about surprising the examiner, standing out from the crowd, and showing your own unique English abilities on the Speaking and Writing exams.

This is important because examiners interview many people in one day.

You want to make them notice you and think, “Hey, wow, this student is interesting and different!”

The most common band score among candidates is a 6, and, if this is what you are aiming for, just keep studying like every other student and you’ll probably be fine.

However, if you are looking to get a 6.5 or higher, you need to show the examiner that you have special English abilities, and that you are of a higher level than other students.

To stand out from the other students and impress the examiner, try these strategies:

#1) Don’t give the same answers as everyone else from your culture/country.

We recently did an episode about this, and gave many additional example answers in addition to those provided below.

The strategy here is to not blend in with the crowd- stand out!

For example, if the examiner says, “What is your favorite sport?” and I don’t want to sound like every other American, I could say:

You think I’ll say American football or basketball, but it’s actually soccer.

 You’re expecting me to say American football or basketball, but it’s actually soccer.

I know a lot of people from my country love American football and basketball, but I actually love soccer

#2) Use some words or phrases that native speakers use.

Slang, for example, is not taught in most textbooks or IELTS classes, so other candidates will not be able to use it.

In order to get a high vocabulary score, you must show the examiner that you have range, using informal and formal words and phrases.

For example, if the examiner says, “Who is your favorite famous person?”

I could say:

Oh, goodness, that’s a tough one.

My mind goes blank sometimes when I’m put on the spot, even with easy questions!

Well, right now, Amy Schumer is my number one celebrity.

Her comedy is so on point and honest. She’s not afraid to stand up for her opinions.

#3) Provide support for your answers with news items you heard on the radio or read in the newspaper.

We talk sometimes about creating a “culture of thinking.”

We use this phrase to describe a society who reads and/or listens to the news about current events, both national and international.

By reading an English-language newspaper at least once a week, you will have tons of interesting ideas to use on the Speaking and Writing exams.

Plus, you will increase your vocabulary knowledge, and more quickly understand a wide a variety of topics that come up on the Listening and Reading tests.

For example, if the Writing Task 2 question asks me to talk about people who believe in global warming and people who don’t believe in global warming, I could say:

Traditionally, it has been a more conservative stance to claim that global warming and climate change was a false assertion of only a minority of scientists.

However, recently, the Pope, leader of one of the most conservative and enormous organizations in the world, the Catholic Church, asked his followers to make efforts to curb the impending environmental catastrophe.

In fact, NPR broadcast the Pope’s speech to Congress, where he addressed issues such as climate change as shocked the world.

To sum up, in order to increase your chances of gaining the highest score possible on the IELTS Speaking and Writing exams, show that you are unique from other students.

Impress the examiner by being different and get your target score!

 

Discussing surprises on IELTS

You may also be asked to talk about surprises on IELTS, and you need high level vocabulary for this!

In this video, Aubrey shares high-level vocabulary for talking about surprises.

Synonyms for surprised:

  • Dumbfounded
  • Astounded
  • Awestruck
  • Flabbergasted

Synonyms for sneaky:

  • Stealthy
  • Furtive

Idioms for making someone feel special:

  • On cloud nine
  • Feel like a million dollars

Watch the video now!

Have you given typical answers or have you surprised the examiner before?

Let us know in the comments section below.

Sometimes you’ll get questions about the environments on the IELTS Exam.

The questions might come on the Speaking test or on the Writing test or there may be a passage about it in the Reading test.

How can you prepare for these questions?

Make sure you know some great vocabulary words that are related to the environment.

Today we’ll show you the words you need to know to get your 7 or higher when it comes to questions about the environment.

Movies to watch:

  • Erin Brokovich: She is an environmental activist and she changed the legislation in a small town and supported people in the town who were being made sick because of corporate pollution. This movie is inspiring and you could bring this into Speaking Part 3.
  • Food, Inc,: This movie highlights the issue of food production in the US. They explore Genetically Modified Food and how it’s affecting our economy and our health. If you watch this movie and look into the topic more you will have a great answer if you get a question about the environment in Speaking Part 3.

Terms to use on the exam:

  • Farmer’s Market: An open-air market where farmers come directly to the city to sell what they have grown on the farm. They sell “locally grown” food.
  • Environmental activist: Someone who is fighting to bring about change when it comes to the environment.
  • Fracking: A new technique that is being used in parts of the United States. They drill deep into the rock using a liquid pressurized tube. Please go here to learn more.
  • Carbon footprint: This is how much pollution you are personally responsible for. Riding a bike or taking public transportation both reduce your carbon footprint. There are a lot of places on the Speaking test where you could use this term.
  • Throw- away culture: As consumers we throw things away after using them once. This creates more pollution and waste in the environment.

What other terms do you know that focus on the environment?

Let us know in the comments below.

Michelle just got married!

Have you ever attended a wedding in the United States?

If you do attend an American wedding someday, there are 5 things that you should keep in mind to have a successful experience!

5 Things to Remember if You Attend an American Wedding:

  • Make small talk: You will meet a lot of new people at the wedding. You may or may not be sitting with people that you know. You need to introduce yourself while you are sitting and eating or waiting for the ceremony to start. Try this phrase:
    • “How do you know the bride/groom”?

 

  • Know that the bride and groom are busy: Don’t be offended if the bride and groom don’t have much time to talk with you. They have a lot going on. They have to greet everyone. You can briefly congratulate them but don’t feel bad if they have to rush off.

 

  • Pay attention to the dress code: Usually weddings in the US are formal. If you’re not sure what to wear you can reach out to someone in the family of the bride. On the wedding invitation they state the dress code. “Black tie” is the most formal kind of event. A man would wear a tuxedo. A woman would wear a long gown. If the attire is “Black tie optional” then the formal wear is not required, a woman could wear a cocktail dress. If you are a woman don’t wear white.

 

  • Place the gift in the right place: When you enter there will be a gift table or there will be a box where you can put your gift. If you don’t see a table or a box then you should ask someone in the bridal party. Don’t walk up to the bride and give her the gift directly. There will not be an opportunity to open gifts with the bridal party. They will open it later.

 

  • Enjoy yourself! A wedding is a special and happy occasion. Get up and dance. Let your hair down. Don’t be too stiff. Use it as another chance to connect with someone. Practice your English. It’s such a cool experience to go to a wedding in another country.

 

Have you been to an American wedding?

How did it go?

What happened? 

Tell us a story about your experiences.

Do you want to make your English pronunciation more natural?

Our guest today is Shellye Thomas.

Shellye is a classically trained singer and an English pronunciation coach.

How to pronounce clearly in English:

  • Carry your line: When we speak we don’t use abrupt stops between the words. Carry the air through the whole sentence. Start at the beginning of the sentence and breathe at the end of the thought. Connect all of the words. Keep it flowing especially when you use consonants such as the “F” sound.
  • Get good content to emulate and open your vowel sounds: Vowel sounds are the most important sounds in English. Make sure you stay open with these sounds.  Get a podcast where you hear a native accent. Listen to one sentence and the try to mirror what you hear. You can also use TV shows or movies.
  • Use a song: This is not only a great way to learn pronunciation but also to learn the language and new vocabulary words. Follow your interest to get the right song for you. Keep the air going throughout the thought when you emulate the

Remember there is nothing wrong with having an accent.

You just want people to understand you.

American people love hearing accents but if you open your vowel sounds and carry your line people will be able to understand you better.

Shellye

Shellye’s Bio:

Shellye is a classically trained singer with a minor in theater.  She loves to work with people on their accents and help them be effective with their English. 
She feels that English is very much like singing and follows the same basic principles.  Shellye also has 25 years of high level corporate experience which she finds beneficial when working with her business professionals. 
She also loves to work with people to change their syntax in writing and conversation.  She’s fun loving and enjoys every minute she spends with her students. 
If you’d like more information on how you can schedule some time with Shellye, please email her at EnglishwithShellye@gmail.com
She has also started a Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/Englishwithshellye/
Be sure to check out her page, it’s new, but information will be added soon and you can post your questions to her page and we can all learn together. 

One listener asked us how to use the word “figure” so today we’ll show you how to use it in real English conversations.

Our listener said that he was confused about all of the different ways to use this word.

Today we’ll show you five of the most common ways to use it.

 

5 Ways to use “figure”:

#1) I figure- I think, I assume

#2) To figure out- To seek out and find information,

#3) To figure in- To account for, to consider something in an equation

#4) Your figure- Your body, your shape

#5) The figures- The numbers

#6) Go figure- It’s obvious, expected

 

Listen to the episode to see examples of how each phrase is used in a real English conversation.

What questions do you have from today’s episode?

Let us know in the comments below.

Today you’ll find out how to be the highest scoring IELTS candidate EVER!

And you’ll find out how to exaggerate on the IELTS Speaking test and why that will help your score.

Native speakers exaggerate all of the time, especially Americans.

We did an episode about American optimism last year.

Why does exaggerating make your score go up?

When you exaggerate you say interesting things.

You use language that you didn’t learn in a textbook.

You also show feeling in your voice when you exaggerate and that will help your pronunciation score.

You sound enthusiastic and positive which helps your score!

How to exaggerate:

  • “Ever”: “I had the most delicious cup of coffee ever!
  • “In the whole world”: “The restaurant by my house has the best tacos in the whole world”
  • “In the history of ____”:  “That was the most difficult cycling class in the history of all cycling classes.”
  • “Of all time”: “Life Alive is the best restaurant of all time.”
  • “Super”/”totally”/”absolutely”: “My apartment is super close to the university. It’s super small but I totally love it. It’s absolutely the best apartment ever.”

How do you plan to use exaggeration on your IELTS Speaking test?

Let us know in the comments below.

Do you know how to confirm your plans if you have a meeting or an appointment set up in English?

Today you’ll find out exactly how to do it.

It’s great to confirm plans when it’s about a business meeting or a professional appointment when the details are up in the air.

When it comes to your social life it may be less important.

Find out how to do it today.

How to confirm your plans:

  • To touch base: “I wanted to touch base with you and check and see if we’re still on for Friday at 8pm at the Red Sox game?”
  • To check in: “I wanted to check in. Can you still meet tomorrow morning for coffee?”
  • To check and make sure: “I called to check and make sure you can make it to our meeting on Tuesday”
  • To confirm: “I just wanted to confirm our business lunch for 1 pm at the Four Seasons.”
  • To be sure we’re still on: “I’d like to be sure we’re still on for this weekend.”

What happens if you want to change the plans at the last minute when someone tries to confirm with you?

Listen to this episode on how to change plans.

Any questions from today’s episode?

Let us know in the comments below.

Do you have tons of IELTS questions?

Today we’ll give you 5 answers to your 5 super common IELTS questions!

We’ll give you all of the information you need to get to your target score.

Question #1) What should I do if I need a 7 but I can only get a 5? 

Answer: You need to invest in a course. It’s simple. When you invest in a step-by-step system you will not waste your time. You will get the strategies that you need.

Start with the 7 Easy Steps to a 7 or Higher.

Question #2) What should I do if I don’t have time to proofread?

Answer: You must have a strategy for writing that allows time for proofreading.  It should be built into your routine when you do test practice and exercises. Two weeks before the exam you need to start practicing under test conditions and this would include proofreading your essays. Make sure you have a good IELTS professional to show you how to break down your time on the test.

Question #3) Which test is easier- the Academic or the General Exam?

Answer: Look at your goals. What are the requirements for the goals? For immigration you probably need the General Exam and for education you probably need the Academic Exam. The Academic Exam is harder than the General. The Reading test is harder. The Writing Task 1 question is different. Don’t waste your time thinking about which one is harder. Choose one. Commit to it. Learn a strategy system. Pass the test and move on.

Question #4) Do I need to answer all questions on the card in IELTS Speaking Part 2?

Answer: No! You don’t have to answer those questions. The bullet points on the card don’t need to be answered. They are there to provide ideas. It won’t factor into your grade if you ignore the questions on the note card. Did your teacher tell you something different? If so, this teacher does not know IELTS. We recommend you stop working with them.

Question #5) On the morning of the test I feel nervous. What can I do?

Answer: You need some relaxation strategies to help you. Plan for this ahead of time. In our course we created a Test Day Plan that tells you what to do to release the anxiety right before the Speaking test. You need to plan ahead of time so that you know what to do when you are in this situation.

What questions do you have about today’s episode?

Let us know in the comments below.

Have you ever heard a Boston accent? You will today!

Today you’ll hear a real Boston accent and you’ll get 3 clues to know for sure that you are speaking to a Bostonian.

The Boston accent is linked to our history.

In 1621 Boston was settled by British people who came from 25 miles southwest of London and for 15o years  Boston was a very British city.

The accent has changed from British but you will see the similarities to the British accent if you listen closely.

 

How to know you are speaking to a Bostonian:

  • They drop their R’s: If someone says “Wow, that’s a wicked “bummah” (instead of bummer) then you know they are from Boston. Other examples of dropping the R are: “Pahk the cah in the Hahvad Yahd” (instead of Park the car in the Harvard Yard).
    • ** Bonus! They use the word “wicked”: This term can mean that something is incredibly good or it can be added to show that something is extreme. For example, a Bostonian might say that “it’s wicked cold” and not just “it’s cold” which means that it’s extremely cold.
  • They say “all set?”: When they say this they are asking you if you are ok or if you need any help. This might be used at a restaurant. The waiter might ask, “all set?” to ask if you need anything else?
  • They say “Grinda” (Grinder): This is a large sandwich that contains meat and vegetables. In other parts of the US we might say ” a sub sandwich” or just “a sandwich.”

 

Do you want to watch some movies to hear more of the Boston accent?

  • Good Will Hunting
  • The Town
  • The Departed

 

Languages marks us!

When we hear someone we make assumptions about where people are from and we may have certain stereotypes.

Diana has had a few challenges where she has tried to order food using the Boston accent but people couldn’t understand what she said.

It can be frustrating when people don’t understand what you are trying to say, even when you have been in this city your whole life.

 

Diana’s Bio:

Diana Lynch is an ESL writing instructor and has been teaching for the College of Arts and Sciences at Boston University for the past five years. 

Diana has taught both graduate ESL writing classes and undergraduate classes and continues to research and write about composition and culture and the challenges faced by international students within the university.

She holds a Master’s Degree from Tufts University in Educational Studies.

When Diana is not teaching or researching she can be found tending her garden, writing short stories, and cooking for friends.

She lives in Cambridge, MA.

 

What questions do you have from today’s episode?

Let us know in the comments below!

Are you wondering how to choose an IELTS course?

Today we’ll give you our top 6 tips for choosing a great course that will help you get to your goal!

#1) Think about your priorities:  What is important to you? What do you need? What are you looking for? Do you want to save money? Are you willing to spend more money to get quality? Are you willing to drive across your city to a school? Do you have time to do homework? If traffic is terrible in your city then consider an online course.

#2) Consider both online and offline options: The possibilities with online learning are enormous. The goal of an online course is usually to save your time and the goal of an offline course is to fill your time. Which makes more sense?  A teacher in an in-person course might waste your time. They may fill the time with activities that aren’t related to the test because they have teaching hours to fill. We like the fact that online courses give you control over the content. You can go at your own pace. You can listen to a lecture more than once to make sure you understand it. It’s important to know yourself. If you study online there is more responsibility so make sure that you are self motivated and committed to your course if you choose the online option.

#3) Find a clear study system with simple steps to follow:

  • Strategies: You must have clear and simple strategies to approach the test.
  • Step by step plan: The course should give you a step-by-step plan. It should be organized into the sections of the test. The writing module should be dense. You need a lot of skills for that part of the test and it should have examples for all of the different types of writing questions. If you rely only on free materials you will not get this step-by-step strategy system and you will get on the wrong track. When you invest in a course, you are investing in a clear system.
  • Created by an IELTS specialist: Make sure the people who create the course know the test.  There are a lot of people out there who say they know IELTS but they don’t. They can’t know IELTS if they also know TOEFL, TOEIC, etc. You need an IELTS specialist.  IELTS is complicated. The teacher needs to know strategies, timing, what the examiner is looking for. There is a lot to know before you can teach it. Don’t hire the wrong teacher. It will be reflected in your score.
  • Balanced practice: Be willing to spend money and invest in a good course that offers balanced practice. This means that the course should assign you work that helps you build your general English as well as your test strategies and knowledge.
  • Daily learning plan: The course should tell you exactly what to do each day to get the practice and preparation that you need.

#4) The course should have documented results or a guarantee: Do they stand behind their material by offering a score increase guarantee if you do all of the work? Are there testimonials of people who have taken the course before and have achieved their target score? Look for social proof! Talk to people who have taken it.

#5) Make sure there is a community of test takers: This can be online or offline. For an online course it’s great to have a private Facebook group where you can ask questions, share your target score, and get support from other test takers. Be careful with the large textbook publishers who put their courses online. They aren’t adding the extras that you need when you are online like the community. In many cases they are just taking their textbook content and putting it online. They are selling you the download without much support.

#6) Make sure there is good support: Some of the bigger names are test- taking factories. If you email someone for support you won’t talk to a teacher. You will talk to a customer service person who won’t give you a personalized answer and the person will not know IELTS. They will just refer you back to a part of the course. Is there someone you can go to personally and ask for advice. Don’t get fooled by the big brand names! They don’t always offer the support that you need.

What courses are you currently considering?

What questions do you have about our tips today?

Beware of the Over-prepare! Here is a story of a student who got on the wrong track!

Once upon a time, there was student.

This student wanted desperately to get a 7.5 on the IELTS exam.

In fact, this student, let’s call him Biff, was a quite high-level English student, having completed every level in the local language school.

Any teacher who spoke with Biff was sure he was at the upper-intermediate to advanced level in his English abilities.

Biff had big dreams.

He wanted to study marketing in a respected university in England, then take his degree back to his home country.

With these skills, knowledge of Western culture and business practices, as well as being fluent in English, he would definitely land a dream job, making his parents and future wife proud.

He would also be able to provide an enviable life for his future wife and children.

However, in order to achieve these dreams, Biff needed, first, to pass the IELTS exam with at least an overall band score of 7.

Of course, Biff is an overachiever by nature, so he is aiming for a 7.5.

Seeing as Biff is already confident in his English ability, he decides that all he really needs is test practice.

So, he goes to a bookstore and purchases 10 test preparation books.

Actually, these books are not really test preparation, as they only have sample tests and no tips or strategies.

Biff works through the first couple books, and is pretty happy with his results.

On the reading and listening portions, he is consistently getting at least 34 out of 40 answers correct.

He decides to just go for the exam.

So, he pays his fees and takes the test.

Two weeks later, he gets his scores: Writing 6, Speaking 7, Reading 6.5, Listening 6.

“What!” he thinks.

How is this possible?

Biff decides he needs to practice more.

So, he goes through all 10 books, many times.

He does at least 2 full tests a day.

After a week or so, he finds that his scores are actually going down!

He is now only getting 25-30 out of 40.

But, how is that possible?

He’s practicing so much!

Shouldn’t he improve?!

What is Biff doing wrong?

He is not approaching his preparation correctly.

It doesn’t matter what level of English you have, or how advanced you think you are.

If you do too much test practice, your scores will go down.

I’ve seen it a million times!

What you must have, in order to get the score you need on IELTS and, ultimately, achieve your dreams, is a BALANCED IELTS study plan.

You must work on your weaknesses, maintain confidence in your strengths, and work on you testing skills AND your overall English ability.

In our course, 3 Keys IELTS Success System, we provide you with a 30 day and a 60 day study plan.

For 5-6 days a week, you are given one activity that improves your testing skills, along with one activity that improves your overall English.

Every task and activity in this course is aimed at improving your testing confidence and your English ability.

The modules provide simple strategies for even the most difficult parts of the test, such as answering Y/N/NG questions, and also give you the motivation you need to work hard and keep increasing your testing and language skills.

So, don’t be like Biff!

Don’t over-prepare on one side, and actually make your scores decrease.

Improve your scores AND your English ability with a balanced study plan and a solid course.

Have you prepared for IELTS like Biff?

Let us know in the comments!

How are you doing it differently now?

Find out how to score a 9 with these sample Part 3 IELTS Speaking test answers.

Today Lindsay and Jessica will demonstrate great ways to answer common speaking questions using idioms, expressions, interesting vocabulary, and great intonation.

Q: What is your opinion on the way that languages are taught in schools today?

Listen to the episode at 4:00 to hear the sample response.

In this example Jessica weighed two different sides of the topic, gave details, and was specific.

She also gave strong opinions which is important for a high score on IELTS Speaking Part 3.

Q: Why do you think different cultures have different table manners?

Listen to the example at 6:30.

In this example Lindsay used adjectives such as “striking” and “fascinating.”

She gave a personal example which is a great way to answer Speaking Part 3 questions.

Q: How are eating habits now different from eating habits in your country in the past.

Listen to her example at 8:00

In this example Jessica told a personal story and compared two examples.

Q: Is water pollution a problem in your country?

Listen to the sample response at 10:00

Lindsay used idioms such as “sick as a dog.” You need to find a way to insert idioms in this part of the Speaking test.

One thing to remember: Slow down when you respond to Speaking Part 3 questions so that you can include idioms and expressions that might not come to your mind immediately.

There is nothing wrong with a few seconds of silence.

What are your questions from today’s episode?

Let us know in the comments below.

Are you making this huge mistake when you ask for directions in English?

Stop making this mistake now!

What’s the mistake?

Many English learners approach English speakers and ask, “Charles River?” or “Brooklyn Bridge?”

It is lazy and can sound rude when you just use the name of your destination as your question.

You need to add more details and make your questions a bit more nuanced in order to come off as polite and friendly.

In today’s episode we’ll show you some better ways to ask for directions in English.

Here are some better ways to ask directions in English:

  • “Hi where is the Charles River?”
  • “How do I get to the Charles River?”
  • “What’s the best way to get to the Charles River?”
  • “Hi is the Charles River nearby?”

 

Leave us your sample sentences in the comments!

Ask us how to get somewhere and practice.

What should you do after you get your IELTS score?

What should you do if the scores you get are not as high as you wanted?

Today find out what to do and what NOT to do with Lindsay and Jessica.

We DO NOT recommend asking for a re-score if you aren’t happy with your score? Why? It costs a lot of money. You will probably not see a score change. Instead of asking for a re-score, the smarter thing to do is to spend that money on a course and use it to learn strategies that will guarantee you a better score next time.

Also if you didn’t get your target score, don’t waste your time feeling bad.

Most people don’t get the score they need the first time.

Focus on the positives. Maybe you got a 6.5 in Listening and 5 in Writing. So, your Listening is strong. Now you need to focus on Writing.

Figure out what was missing in your preparation before the test.

You could have done something differently to get a better score.

Don’t use the same study schedule and study activities again.

Change your study plan.

Be honest with yourself. Did you put in as much as effort as you should have in your daily study plan?

If you didn’t do enough, add on some extra time to your study schedule before your next exam.

Remember, you can’t teach yourself what you don’t know.

Find an IELTS professional who can tell you exactly what the examiner wants.

The professional or the course should be able to teach you solid strategies for the exam.

Don’t only use free content. If the content is free then there is probably a reason for that. It might not be the best content.

Make sure you have a clearly mapped out study plan.

You should know exactly what to do every single day to improve not only your testing skills but also your general English.

Also don’t be afraid to leave the classroom.

You don’t need to study in a traditional IELTS classroom.

Try an online IELTS course.

How are you going to change your strategy if you don’t get your target score the first time?

Let us know in the comments below.

How do you describe someone who is ambitious in English?

This summer and fall we have been teaching you how to go deeper when you describe personality.

We showed you how to describe someone who is an extrovert or introvert in English.

We also showed you how to describe a mean person in English.

Today we’ll show you four ways to talk about someone who has goals and dreams in English.

Someone who is ambitious:

  • Driven: Something is driving the person. Something is pushing them forward.
  • Motivated:
  • Goal oriented:
  • Hard working:
  • Determined: To stick to your guns, to keep following and moving towards your goal.

 

Someone who is not ambitious:

  • Lazy
  • A slacker
  • Passive
  • Lost

 

Now describe yourself or your friends and family members in the comments.

Who do you know who is motivated, determined, or goal oriented?

Your biggest IELTS worry will be solved today!

Do you worry that your mind will go blank on the IELTS Speaking test?

Are you afraid that the examiner will ask you a question and you will have no idea what to say?

Are you concerned that this will bring down your speaking score and your overall IELTS score?

Don’t let this happen to you!

Don’t worry!

We are here to help.

Today we’ll show you the best technique for what to do if your mind goes blank and how to use this technique to get your 7 or higher on the IELTS.

**Click the audio player above to meet Lindsay and Jessica and to listen to this episode!

Get the 7 Easy Steps to a 7 or Higher on IELTS!

Are you confused about where to start and how to prepare?

Get our 7 step checklist and make it easy!

Click here to get it now

Why does your mind go blank?

You are nervous.

You are anxious.

You are analyzing your answers while you are speaking then you hit a wall and you can’t be spontaneous.

You can no longer be confident.

Here is the strategy to use when your mind goes blank:

The problem is that you don’t know which direction to go in to think of ideas.

Instead of getting stuck there you should go straight to your personal examples.

Talk about yourself.

Tell your story and how it relates to the question.

If you practice this enough and get good at this strategy it will definitely help increase your score on the test.

Steps to use this strategy:

  • Step 2: Go straight to a personal story or something that has happened in your life. Tell what happened in your life, give your point of view, and add details. You can also add idioms, expressions, and interesting vocabulary here. It’s OK if you start by stumbling as long as you go straight into your personal experience quickly.

 If this happens to you then you need one direction to go into right away.

Start immediately talking about yourself with personal examples so that you don’t waste any time.

Go straight to your own life examples.

It’s easy to talk about yourself and it will increase your fluency instantly for a 7 or higher on Speaking. “

-Jessica Beck, IELTS Professional at All Ears English

Example #1:

Question: Why do we need role models?

Answer:In my personal experience we need role models because there are so many times when we don’t know which direction to take.

Personally, my dad is a great role model because he is also an entrepreneur and he has spent his life building up a successful business.

His example has helped me take my own direction in life. That’s the reason I think it’s important to have good role models.”

Key phrases from this example:

  • “In my personal experience…”
  • “Personally,…”

Example #2:

Question: How have shopping habits changed over recent years?

Answer: “Oh that’s a good question. Wow. Well, if I use myself as an example, I used to do all of my shopping in traditional stores.

I guess that’s true for most people in the world but these days I have bought an Amazon Prime membership and that’s a huge motivation for me to save time.

I spend two minutes, go on Amazon, buy something awesome, and it’s shipped to my house two days later so I’d say that’s how shopping habits have changed.”

Key phrases in this example:

  • “If I use myself as an example…”
  • “I used to…”

Example #3

Question: In your country why do people watch so much television?

Answer: “Oh that’s a good question. Well, in my opinion, the reason that people watch so much television is that they have a passive attitude.

So when I was a teenager, I used to watch a lot of TV.

I watched 90210.

That was a classic and a bunch of other shows that put garbage into my head. I just wanted to sit back and receive the ideas.

I think that’s the reason that people are watching a lot of TV.

They are lazy, not just in the physical sense but in the intellectual sense.”

Key phrases in this example:

  • “Well, in my opinion…”
  • “So when I was a teenager…”

Example #4:

Question: Do you think the types of sports that are popular will change in the future?

Answer: “Wow, that’s tough. I’m gonna say yeah. Just take my city, for example. If you look, I think in general, say, even five years ago, a lot of people in Portland were all about basketball.

I see a big change in the types of sports that people are into and passionate about. Soccer is becoming huge. Even women’s soccer.

After the women’s world cup our professional women’s team sold out every game. That would have been unthinkable last year.

I’m going to say more people are going to support women’s sports.”

Key phrases in this example:

  • “I’m going to say yeah…”
  • “Just take my city, for example…”
  • “I see a big change in….”

Lindsay McMahon IELTS Energy Co-host, All Ears English“The examiner will note the change in your voice when you talk about your personal stories.

Your voice will become relaxed, fluid, and loose.

You will sound more like a native speaker.

This will cause the examiner to give you a higher score in pronunciation and general fluency.”

-Lindsay McMahon, Co-host of IELTS Energy Podcast

What changes in your voice when you use personal examples?

The examiner will notice a change in the flow of your voice if you use personal stories, experiences, and examples.

You will become more relaxed and confident and loose.

You will feel more free to add details without worrying that you will make a mistake.

It will sound like you are just having coffee with a friend.

How can you practice this?

Get used to talking about your personal stories, experiences, and opinions out in the world and at social events.

Be confident that your life is interesting enough to share.

Open up about yourself and practice this with people you meet.

Have you used this strategy on your IELTS exam yet?

Let us know in the comments below.

What other questions do you have about IELTS?

Write your comments!

What should you say when you’re unsure of your plans in English?

Today we’ll show you one native English phrase to express your uncertainty about your social life and your plans.

When you aren’t sure what’s going to happen you can say that your plans are “up in the air.”

Learn more by listening to the episode.

 

native English teachersAre you looking for a professional, native English teacher online?

Get a native English teacher online in seconds at italki.

Lindsay and Michelle recommend italki as our #1 English-learning solution online. Choose from more than 400 teachers to work on your business English or to pass your next big exam.

Get our special offer before it runs out! Go to italki and claim 10USD to go toward a FREE second English lesson at italki!

 

Sample sentences:

  • “My plans with my friend were up in the air until he actually arrived in Boston.”
  • “With the wedding everything was up in the air so I couldn’t make plans to hang out with my good friends.”
  • “Things were up in the air with my plans and unfortunately they fell through.”
  • “Next summer is still up in the air. I have a loose vision of what I want to do. It’s going to be a commitment to make the choice.”
  • “Is anything still up in the air with your wedding?”

 

Practice this phrase in the comments below!

Did you know that using idioms can move your IELTS Speaking score form good to great!

In today’s episode find out exactly how to do it and what idioms to use.

Are you worried that the examiner will use idioms in his or her questions?

Don’t worry about this.

The examiner will not use idioms.

However, you should use idioms in your answer.

Use interesting idioms to get a higher score on speaking!

Listen to this episode to know what to do if you don’t understand the examiner’s questions.

Here are five idioms you can use to express your opinion about things that are good:

#1) “Out of this world”

  • “Have you seen any good movies lately?”
  • “Yes I saw a great movie. It was out of this world.”

This can also be used to talk about food. For example, “My dessert was out of this world.”

#2) “The most incredible (thing) ever!”

Examples:

“This is the most incredible apartment ever!”

#3) “It’s one in a million.”

Out of a million people, this person is the best.

Example:

“My favorite soccer player is Renaldo. He is one in a million.”

#4) “I couldn’t be happier with (thing)”

Example:

“I couldn’t be happier with my neighborhood.”

#5) “It is mind-blowing.”

Example:

“The ideas in this book are mind-blowing.”

“I just attended a mind-blowing TED Talk.”

These idioms exaggerate your point.

It’s a good idea to exaggerate because it puts more feeling into your tone of voice.

This will get you a higher pronunciation score.

What questions do you have about today’s episode?

Let us know in the comments below.

Are you wondering what your goals are and what you should be aiming for on IELTS Speaking Part 2?

Today find out exactly what the examiner will be listening for on this part of the exam.

In Part 2 of the IELTS Speaking exam, the examiner will give you directions, telling you that you can make notes for one minute, and that you should speak for one to two minutes.

They will then hand you a piece of paper and a pencil for notes, and a booklet.

The booklet will be open to a specific page, and there is a card printed on the page.

The card looks like this:

Describe your favorite place to exercise.

You should say:

  • where it is
  • what it looks like
  • what you do there

and explain why you like it.

This is the topic you must speak about, and you cannot turn the page or choose another card.

The phrase at the top of the card tells you to describe something, usually a person, place, object, event or experience.

The bullet points underneath give you ideas of what to say.

**You DO NOT have to talk about the bullet points in your Part 2 speech.

These phrases are only there to help you, the candidate, be able to talk for the whole two minutes.

Many students are surprised when they hear that the bullet point questions are not important, but it’s true!

In fact, many examiners do not even look at this part of the card, because these questions have nothing to do with your grade.

The examiners have a lot to think about while they listen to you talk, and these questions are not important.

So, here is what the examiner is listening for in Speaking Part 2:

  • Fluency and Coherence: Although the examiner tells you to speak for one to two minutes, you must speak for the whole two minutes to score highly in this category. This is the fluency part of the grade. Another factor of fluency is not having a lot of pauses, or fillers. Fillers are words such as, “uh, um, like, yeah, you know.” The coherence grade is based on how well your ideas are organized, and how many linking words you use. That is why, if you can, telling a story in Speaking Part 2 is a good idea. Stories are easily and clearly organized, using time linking words, and they make it easy to keep talking for the whole two minutes.
  • Vocabulary: Seeing as this is still not a formal, academic topic, you are not expected to produce these kinds of words. The examiner is listening for interesting words and phrases that are less common among students. These are words that you probably did not learn in your English textbook; rather, these are words and phrases that you picked up from TV, movies, or native-speaker friends. For example, “My closest friend in the world is Megan, and, honestly, I can’t imagine not having her in my life. I’ll tell you about her personality first. She is super sweet, and she would give anyone the shirt off her back if they asked….”
  • Grammar: Many candidates are nervous about their grammar, because it is not perfect. Well, guess what- it doesn’t have to be! In fact, all the way up to band score 8, you are expected to have some errors that stick around. Having said that, you cannot have loads and loads of mistakes. Pay attention to improving your accuracy in the obvious areas, such as verb tense and singular/plural nouns. Those are mistakes that the examiner will notice, and you can improve these errors on your own by recording yourself and paying attention to these specific points. Other than this, the examiner is listening for varied sentence structure. Try to use more relative clauses (which, that, who, when, where clauses) and other types of dependent clauses (because, so, although, etc.). Listen to this episode about our grammar philosophy for IELTS.
  • Pronunciation: To score well in this category, you must put emotion in your voice. This is your chance to show some personality. The examiner wants to hear intonation in your voice, or your voice going up and down, and stress, or emphasis on important words. For example:

↗                 ↗

I absolutely love my best friend. She’s amazing!

Now you know what your goals are for IELTS Speaking Part 2.

Follow the guidelines above, stick to a clear strategy system, and you will reach your target score.

Your path is clear! Now you just have to work hard and put in the required time.

We think you can do it!

Leave us a comment below.

What questions do you have from this article?

There are traps on the IELTS Listening test!

These traps will lower your score!

But don’t worry.

We’ll show you how to identify them and how to avoid them in today’s episode.

Today we’ll show you the 5 things that could hurt your score on the Listening test.

Top 5 IELTS Listening Traps:

Trap #1) Trying to figure out your score while you are taking the test: If you are doing this then you are not paying attention to the listening and you are not identifying key words, listening for them, and listening for the answer. If you use too much mental space trying to calculate your score you will lose points! Don’t do it.

Trap #2) Writing your answer and second guessing yourself: Don’t doubt your answer. Go with your first thoughts. If you write an answer and then go back and change it then it’s probably going to be wrong. If you do this you will miss the next answer. The test doesn’t stop for you. You will lose points if you do this. If you MUST change your answer, you will have time to change it later.

Trap #3) Not following the test instructions and the strategies: You are not smarter than the test. The test will tell you exactly what to do. Follow the steps. Some teachers have different advice here. Some teachers tell you to use the answer checking time to look ahead at the next group of questions. We don’t believe that you should skip ahead and do this. You need the time to check your answers. You will be able to catch spelling, grammar, and logic mistakes.

Trap #4) Taking notes while you’re listening: IELTS is not TOEFL. On TOEFL you take notes but on IELTS you don’t. You do not have the time. If you take notes you will be missing the next answers. Do not take notes. Make sure you work with an IELTS professional who will give you the right advice on this.

Trap #5) Stressing out because you don’t understand every word you hear: Even native speakers don’t understand every word that they hear in English. You just need to get the answers. IELTS won’t surround the answer with so many tough words that it’s impossible to understand. You will understand enough to get the answers. Don’t waste time stressing about this.

Try to find listening practice that you enjoy in your free time.

That will give you the confidence that you need on test day.

Have you fallen into any of these Listening traps?

Let us know in the comments below. What will you do differently next time?

Today find out how to start an English conversation with a friend of a friend!

Sometimes you might know someone indirectly.

Maybe you have heard something about the person but you are meeting them for the first time.

How can you start that conversation smoothly without feeling awkward?

Today we’ll show you four ways to do that in English using the information that you already have about the person.

Phrases to start the conversation:

  • “So (our common friend) tells me that you’re a (hobby, job)”
  • “Oh so I heard you’re from (home city)?”
  • “Aren’t you working as a (job)”?
  • “Oh you’re a (job) right?”

The key goal is just to get the person talking.

Say one of these phrases and let them start talking.

That is all you need to do to start that connection.

What other phrases have you used to start this type of conversation?

Let us know in the comments below.

You have a 50% chance of getting questions about your hometown on IELTS Speaking Part 1.

Today you’ll get sample answers to common speaking answers about your hometown.

The first question on IELTS Speaking Part 1 is always about:

  • Your hometown or your current city OR
  • Your work or studies

Here are some typical questions for Speaking Part 1 about your hometown:

  • Where did you grow up?
  • How long did you live there?
  • Why did you like your hometown?
  • Why did you not like your hometown?
  • Does your family still live there?
  • Where are you living now?
  • How is your current city different from where you grew up?
  • Why did you move to your current city?
  • What are the main industries in your city?

Remember, in today’s role play the person asking the question responded a bit but on the actual test the examiner will not respond with a comment.

Tell us about your hometown?

How would you answer some of these questions? Use the same level of detail, intonation, and interesting vocabulary.

Are you an adventurer?

Today we’ll show you three things you can learn from an American adventurer that we admire.

You’ll also learn three new idioms from our conversation.

In today’s episode Lindsay and Michelle talked about a boy named Chris McCandless who decided to escape everyday life to spend time in the wild, living off the land.

The story is called Into the Wild.

This move strikes a chord with many people who watch it.

Many fans of this movie look at their own life and realize that they are not spending enough time in nature.

What can we learn from Chris McCandless?

  • Know what you want, have a specific goal in mind: Stick to your guns. If you have a goal, don’t let anyone sway you away from it. Chris knew that his ultimate goal was to live on his own in Alaska. A lot of people told him not to go and that it would be too dangerous but he stuck with his goal and eventually went on his adventure.
  • Enjoy and appreciate nature: Chris spent all of his time outdoors and he loved “to be one with nature.”
  • Connect with people: Chris made incredible eye contact when he talked to people. Even though he was running away from some of his relationships with family members by going on the trip, he formed some strong relationships while he was traveling. Chris really touched people.

 

Idioms from today’s episode:

  • To strike a chord
  • To stick to your guns
  • To be one with nature
  • To touch people

 

Practice using the idioms below by creating sentences in the comments below!

In American culture it’s good to be opinionated!

It’s good to have preferences for certain things over other things because it makes people respect you.

The same is true on the IELTS.

You need to be able to express your opinion in a few different sections on the IELTS Exam.

On the Writing test you need to put your opinion in the essay on Writing Task 2.

You must show a strong “position” or opinion to get a 7 or above.

On the IELTS Speaking test it doesn’t carry the same weight of importance to share your opinion but you are asked about your opinions, especially in Speaking Part 3.

So if you are going to show strong opinions on the IELTS then you need to develop strong opinions.

We have already shown you how to create a culture of thinking for IELTS.

You need to read newspapers, watch the news, read books, and expose yourself to what is happening out in the world.

Here are some phrases to express your opinion:

  • “My frank and honest opinion is that…”- using the word “frank” is a good way to stand out because it’s less common vocabulary
  • “It is my firm belief that…” – this shows an awesome grammar structure and good vocabulary
  • “To my mind/in my mind…”
  • “I’m inclined to believe that…”

Practice opportunity!!

Go right now to iTunes and leave us a review for the podcast.

Tell us your honest opinion about our show and use these phrases! Click here to go to iTunes.

We appreciate your review.

Do you know how to use “whatever” in English?

American English speakers use it all of the time but it’s important to know how to use it in the right places and with the right tone of voice.

With this word, tone of voice is key to getting your point across accurately. Today we’ll show you how to do it.

Meanings of “whatever”:

  • To say that you are flexible and open to different options or ideas
  • To show that you are indecisive or wishy-washy
  • To show frustration or anger or resentment

“Whatever” is used a lot by teenagers. It was especially common for teenagers back in the ’90’s. Watch the movie Clueless to hear it used this way.

Sample conversations (listen to the episode to hear these):

L: I think we should get a new website look.

M: I personally like the yellow but whatever you want.

*with this response Michelle used an upward intonation to show that she was interested in the question but wasn’t sure how to respond, she was flexible.

M: Lindsay did you really get stood up last week? What are you going to do?

L: Ughh whatever. I am not going to get in touch with him. He can contact me

*In this case Lindsay’s tone of voice indicated that she was frustrated and annoyed. Listen to the episode.

 

Leave us a sample sentence in the comments below!

Use whatever in one of the three ways!

We want to see your examples.

Are you wondering what verb tenses and grammar forms matter on IELTS?

On our podcast, IELTS Energy, and in our course, 3 Keys IELTS Success System, we tell people to not worry so much about their grammar on IELTS.

There are many reasons for this.

First of all, if you are trying to improve your speaking and writing score, your time is better spent on improving your fluency, coherence, vocabulary and pronunciation.

These categories provide more reachable ways to make your band score jump higher.

In the category of grammar, however, it is not easy to internalize and produce new and more complex structures with few mistakes.

Many people who study English for years, and are considered fluent, still make grammar mistakes.

Native speakers still make grammar mistakes!

Having said that, there is one part of grammar that you must think about when speaking and writing.

This is verb tense.

Errors in tense and time are very noticeable to the examiner, and, if you make too many of these mistakes, it could severely impact your score.

Remember, you do not have to have perfect grammar to get a 7.

To score a 6 for grammar, you are actually allowed quite a few grammar errors, as long as you are using a variety of sentence structures.

However, if the examiner notices too many errors, your score may drop down to a 5.

With that in mind, I’m going to provide examples below of where the most common verb tenses are used on the test.

The fewer mistakes, the better!

Present Simple

This tense describes general truths, habits, and descriptions of things or events that are currently happening.

Speaking Part 1

Tell me about your apartment.

Student: “My apartment is near the university. It is quite small, but comfortable. I live there with two of my friends, and we like to throw parties there sometimes.

Speaking Part 2

Describe a person who you think is intelligent.

Student: My friend Marta is super smart. She goes to school at Harvard University, and she wants to be a doctor. It’s interesting, because I think most people as smart as Marta do not have good social skills. Marta, however, loves going out dancing and she has a lot of friends…

Writing Task 2 / Speaking Part 3

Some people think that reading comic books, or graphic novels, is only for children, and mature adults should not be wasting time on these things. What is your opinion?

Student: These days, comic books are definitely not just for kids. There actually exists a specific literary vehicle called the graphic novel that many novices mix up with comic books, but they are far from the same. Graphic novels feature many adult themes and violent scenes, and are written and drawn by some very well respected artists in their own right.

Past Simple

This tense describes actions or things that are finished in the past.

Speaking Part 1

What did you do yesterday?

Student: Yesterday, I had school, actually. So, I woke up around 8 in the morning, grabbed some coffee on my way to campus, and went to 3 classes in a row. It was pretty tiring, to be honest.

Speaking Part 2

Describe a place you went to that was really quiet.

Student: Last year, I visited Taipei with a friend. My friend, Chloe, had some meetings to go to, so I tagged along for a little vacation. One day, when Chloe was at work, I decided to go to the mountains and hike. It was incredible! The trail started right in the city, practically, and I could bike there easily from my hotel…

Writing Task 1

The graph shows the amount of students in three different majors from 2000 to 2010.

Student: In 2000, the number of students in the tech courses stood at 3,000. Then, in the next 5 years, this number rocketed to over 1 million.

Present Perfect

This tense is usually used to introduce information about a past experience. It is almost always followed by the past simple to give details about the experience.

Speaking Part 1

Do you travel often?

Student: I have traveled to over 30 countries, by myself. I went to Europe for the first time in 1998, then I traveled around India in 2001.
Remember, do not worry too much about having perfect grammar.

That is nearly impossible.

However, you should also not make basic errors, such as those with verb tense.

Do you have any questions about grammar on IELTS?

Leave us your question or practice your own sentences in the comments below.

Are you worried about multiple choice questions on the IELTS Reading test?

Today you’ll find out how to reduce stress and handle multiple choice questions when they come up on the IELTS Listening and the Reading test.

This can be stressful because you are faced with four possible answers.

You are trying to keep all of the different information in your head while you are listening to the recording or reading the passage.

A test strategy that you need here is elimination!

It’s often easier to find the wrong answer than it is to find the right answer.

Before you start listening and reading, read the question and look at the answers.

Trust your logic.

There is often one answer that is not logical, it does not make sense.

Put an “X” next to that.

This could reduce stress.

Next, don’t look for the answers.

Listen for the key words from the question.

When you hear the key words or see them in the passage, pay close attention because the answer is always next to the key words.

If you are left with a few answers, use your logic to make an educated guess about what the right answer is.

Remember, the key to using this skill on the test is to practice it as much as possible before the exam within a larger system and with well-written exercises.

These exercises should focus on specific skills and strategies and not just the test practice.

What questions do you have about multiple choice questions?

Let us know in the comments below!

A great way to connect with more people is to use natural American English expressions.

Today you’ll get four expressions that include the word “speak.”

Here are today’s expressions:

  • “Speak of the devil” When we are talking about someone and then they contact us by phone or they show up. This does not mean that the person is “the devil.” This is usually used when the person is close to you. It indicates that it’s a coincidence that the person showed up at that time.

 

  • “To speak ill of someone” : To say something bad about someone. This is a common expression but it’s a bit more formal. It could be used more in writing.

 

  • “Speaking of….”: This will help you transition in your conversations. Use this to move to the next topic when you find a common link. Our goal with English is Connection NOT Perfection. Use this phrase to change the subject from a boring topic and bring it back to getting to know someone better.

 

  • “Speak your mind”: To say what you think and to say it firmly and with confidence. You can also use this to invite someone to speak by saying, “Go ahead, speak your mind.”

 

Leave us a sample sentence.

Practice these phrases in the comments below.

Do you know how to write an awesome concluding paragraph on your IELTS Writing test?

Earlier this year we showed you how to write an introduction and how to write a body paragraph.

Today we’ll show you how to write a concluding paragraph that will get you the 7 that you need!

Your conclusion only needs to be a few sentences.

You can start it with a phrase like:

  • “In sum…”
  • “To conclude…”
  • “In summary…”

If you use a phrase like “In conclusion…” you may get a band 6 because that is a common textbook phrase.

If you try new phrases like the ones above then you’ll be likely to get a 7 because you will go beyond the textbook.

Next, give a one-sentence summary of your main ideas.

“To conclude, the government should pass a law requiring citizens to exercise to alleviate the obesity epidemic.”

Remember, don’t repeat the same words.

Learn how to paraphrase and show the examiner that you have enough vocabulary to not repeat yourself.

In the last sentence you should give your opinion about the future of this problem.

Start by saying:

  • “It is my belief that…”
  • “It is my firm belief that…”
  • “In my opinion…”

What questions do you have about writing a concluding paragraph?

In our 3 Keys IELTS Success System we go into much more detail on how to write this.

Follow the steps and get the score you need!

Time is so important, especially in American culture!

We spend a lot of time asking what time it is, talking about times for appointments, and worrying about being on time.

Since we talk about time often, today we’ll help you to avoid sounding strange when you talk about time in English.

Last week we talked about how to not sound awkward when you use numbers to talk about money, years, phone numbers, etc.

Today you’ll get four tips on how to talk about time in English.

 

Tip #1)

Do not say “zero” when you talk about time.

For example, you can say “It’s three-o-four” when it’s 3:04.

 

Tip #2)

In American culture we say “It’s three thirty” for 3:30. You could say “it’s half past three” but it’s much less common. In British English it’s common to say “half three” but we don’t say that in American English.

 

Tip #3)

If it’s 3:15 you can say “it’s quarter past three” but it’s a little bit old fashioned.

If it’s 2:45 you can say “It’s quarter to three” or “quarter of three.”

If it’s 3:20 you can say “It’s three twenty”

 

Tip #4)

We don’t use military time in the US.

When you use military time people will understand it but we don’t use it.

Instead use 10 am or 1o pm to tell the difference between the morning or the evening.

 

What questions do you have about today’s episode?

Ask us in the comments below.

Are you ready for the IELTS Speaking test?

You can prepare by knowing what the specific Speaking topics are and selecting two to three idioms that you will use if you get those common questions.

If you use idioms on your Speaking test you can dramatically increase your vocabulary score.

We have already shown you how to use work idioms, happiness idioms and party idioms and today we’ll show you some great idioms to use if you get a question about museums or art.

If you can throw these idioms in at the beginning in Speaking Part 1 to give an immediate positive impression and then at the end in Speaking Part 3 you will be sure to get an increased vocabulary score.

Here are 5 art/museum idioms that you can use:

  • “A work of art”: Anything that could be considered art. This can include a song, a painting, or a photograph.
  • “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”: If you think something is beautiful then it’s beautiful. You could use this to talk about something that you like that other people don’t such as a painting or a piece of clothing, etc.
  •  “To paint a picture with words”: To describe something very clearly, specifically, and directly. To help someone envision something through words.  You can use this expression to describe what a great author does in your favorite book.
  • “A picture is worth a thousand words”: If you talk about photographs that you have taken this would be a great idiom to use.
  • “A starving artist”: The idea that if you follow what you love it’s not going to be easy, especially if you are working in a creative field such as painting, photography, writing, or music. This is a romantic notion in American culture.  A “starving artist” lives a life with minimal comforts to be able to do their creative work.

Remember, on the IELTS Speaking test you need to be as specific and descriptive as you can.

Check out these articles to learn how to describe someone with integrity and how to describe someone’s temperament.

Now, practice using these idioms in a sentence and leave your sentence in the comments below.

Do you have any questions from today’s episode?

Have you visited a museum as part of your IELTS preparation?

Let us know about your experience in the comments below.

In American culture we tend to misunderstand introverts.

Find out what it really means to be introverted and find out how to get more nuanced when you describe personality types in English.

A lot of people think that introverts are just shy but research has shown that introverts are not always shy.

Introverts get their energy from being alone and extroverts get their energy from interacting with people and other forms of stimulation like music and bright lights.

Today we’ll give you a bunch of vocabulary terms that you can use to describe different personalities.

You can use these nuanced terms on the IELTS Exam for a higher score or in your everyday conversations.

Check out the vocabulary terms below!

 

Ways to describe extroverts:

  • Social
  • Outgoing
  • Gregarious
  • Talkative
  • The life of the party

 

Ways to describe introverts:

  • Shy (be careful, this does not apply to all introverts)
  • Introspective
  • Thoughtful
  • Withdrawn (this has a negative connotation)
  • Quiet

 

Leave us a comment!

Practice using one of these terms to describe a friend or family member.

We want to see your examples below.

Did you know that adding a tiny word to your English phrases and sentences can change your mindset?

The way we communicate can affect the way we think.

Why not focus on building a growth mindset by adding the word “yet” when you talk about goals that you haven’t quite accomplished up to this point?

Carol Dweck, a researcher from Stanford, discovered two types of mindsets:

  • Fixed mindset: This person thinks that intelligence or talent will create your success rather than how hard you work. They believe that your intelligence is “fixed” and it will not change. People with this kind of mindset will spend more time measuring their intelligence rather than focusing on increasing their intelligence. This person thinks that only talent causes success and effort doesn’t have much to do with it. This person believes that your future is reliant on the traits that you already have.

 

  • Growth mindset: These people believe that success can be built through hard work. They love to learn.  They believe they can change their future if they work hard enough. They can increase their intelligence and skills.

We talked about Carol Dweck’s research when Sarah Scala came on the show to talk about grit and resilience.

 

What can you do to cultivate more of a growth mindset?

You can add the word “yet” to your sentences when you talk about something that you haven’t done or don’t have.

Examples:

  • “I have always wanted to travel to Australia. I haven’t made it to Australia yet.”
  • “I haven’t met the love of my life yet.”
  • “I haven’t found my language exchange partner yet”
  • “I haven’t achieved a four-hour workweek yet.”

 

Now leave us your phrases in the comments.

What are you working toward that you haven’t accomplished yet?

Let us know!

Today we’ll show you how to follow the directions to get the highest possible score on IELTS Writing Task 1.

All Task 1 questions look the same.

They ask you to describe what the charts says.

They ask you to summarize the information by looking at the main features and making comparisons where it’s relevant. Many students get confused by this line of instructions.

These instructions don’t tell you how to organize the information.

It’s kind of vague and this does not tell you what they are expecting.

Don’t worry! You don’t even need to pay attention to this sentence.

Instead, you need to know what the examiner wants.

You need to be writing about the key features.

Learn what they are and how to organize them.

For example, if it’s a COT (Change Over Time) graph where you are looking at population change between 2000 and 2015. You need the following:

  • Key features: What are the topics (populations)
  • Main points: Specific numbers- highest, lowest

Next you need to organize this information. You also need to use grammar structures that are more complex and interesting vocabulary.

Most people make this more complicated than it needs to be.

However, you do need to have a step by step system for organizing and writing out your essay.

You should work with a qualified IELTS teacher to practice using a solid system.

What other questions do you have about this?

Let us know in the comments section.

Do you know how to use the phrase “might as well” like a native speaker in English?

If you start using this phrase as well as others like “long story short” or “worse comes to worst” you will be able to connect with people because you will no longer sound like a textbook!

Today we’ll give you one more phrase to add to your repertoire.

The phrase “might as well” or “may as well” can be used to say that you are going to take a logical action.

Here are some examples:

  • “You might as well get to the beach now because November is coming”
  • “I’m closer to the Jersey Shore than Long Beach so I might as well go there instead.”
  • “I figured I might as well (just) go to the beach and do my work.”

 

Write your sample sentence in the comments section below!

Let us know if you have any questions about today’s episode.

Do you think that IELTS writing is the same as academic writing?

The two are not the same and if you work with a teacher who does not understand the differences between the two you will end up with a low Writing score.

We recently got upset when we heard that one of the students in our 3 Keys IELTS Success System  got bad advice from an IELTS teacher who disagreed with our advice that students should use interesting adverbs in their essays.

#1) All advice must be connected to the scoring system:

The problem here is that the teacher is giving the student advice according to what works on academic essays but IELTS is different from other academic essays.

The teacher is not working from the perspective of the IELTS scoring system. He or she is probably an academic writing teacher.

Every single piece of IELTS advice must be connection to the scoring system.

Ask your teacher, “How is this piece of advice going to get me a higher score?”

For example, on an academic essay you should not use “I.”

The professor generally does not want to know your opinion on something.

However, on IELTS you often need to share you opinion and argue your point of view.

If you do not do this you will get a lower score.

#2) Stick to one system, don’t confuse yourself:

Even if you do find an IELTS teacher who really understands the IELTS scoring system it’s better not to try to work with many different teachers who all use different systems.

You need to choose one system with one professional who has real experience and only follow that system.

You cannot try to follow two or three different strategy systems.

You will get confused and this will lower your score.

#3) Invest in a course and get a better chance of success:

Also, don’t rely only on free advice when it comes to IELTS.

If you invest in a course you will be much more likely to focus your time and energy on getting the maximum results for your investment.

What is your experience?

Are you working with more than one teacher and trying to follow more than one system?

Let us know in the comments below.

Are you worried that you don’t have the reading skills that you need for the IELTS?

You already have all the reading skills you need to do well on the IELTS exam.

In fact, you probably employ all three skills in your daily life, even when you are not preparing for the test.

Of course, you are using these skills in your first language; nevertheless, they transfer easily to English.

In today’s article, I am going to explain what these three skills are, when you use them in your “real” life (not preparing for IELTS), and how these skills will help you on the exam.

#1) Skimming

What is it?

Skimming is reading for gist, or main idea.

This is when you read only parts of an article, essay or story to understand, in general, what it is about.

When do I use it?

You use this when you first look at a newspaper, for example.

There are so many long articles in the newspaper, and most people don’t have time to read every word of every article.

First, you read the headline and decide if it interests you or not.

Then, if you find a headline that interests you, you read the first couple sentences.

If you are still not sure of the value of the article, you may skip ahead, reading a couple sentences in the beginning, maybe the end of the article.

By doing this, you have a good overall idea of what the article is about.

Also, when you are reviewing a chapter for a test, or a sales report before an important meeting, you skim.

You reread the title, then a few sentences in the beginning, middle and end of the chapter or report.

This gives you enough information to jog your memory, bringing to mind the details and data that you read at an earlier time.

How do I use it on the IELTS exam?

Skimming is actually the first thing you do when faced with a passage.

As soon as the exam starts, go to Passage 1 and spend 1-1 ½ minutes skimming.

This helps you understand the overall idea of the passage, and will help you access the information and vocabulary you already know related to it.

Then, when you look at the questions, you understand what they are about and what they are asking for.

#2) Scanning

What is it?

Scanning is, actually, not reading.

Reading is slow and scanning is fast, as I like to tell my students.

Scanning is when your eyes are roaming, or wandering, over words to find specific information, such as a name or a number.

When do I use it?

We scan a lot in our daily lives.

Say, for example, you access your work schedule online.

You are not going to read every name and time carefully.

Instead, you are going to scan the document, only looking for your specific name.

Or, perhaps you are looking at a schedule for a movie theater.

You know what movie you want to see, so you scan for that title, then look carefully at the times given.

How do I use it on the IELTS exam?

Scanning helps us find the location of the answers in a passage.

It doesn’t tell us what exactly the answer is, but it tells us where we can look for it.

After you identify the keywords in the questions, you scan for those key words.

Use your finger or pencil to help your eyes move over each line.

The answers are always next to keywords from the question.

#3) Reading for detail

What is it?

Reading for detail is what we think of when someone says the word “reading.”

That is to say, reading for detail is when you read every word of a text carefully.

When do I use it?

Hopefully this is part of your daily life!

If it isn’t, you should incorporate it into your routine for at least 10 minutes a day.

We read for detail when we read for pleasure, or for fun, such as when we enjoy a novel, a comic book, or an interesting essay.

When we study, though, we also do this.

I think you are doing it right now!

Textbooks, practice materials, articles related to our field of study- all of these things people read word for word.

How do I use it on the IELTS exam?

This is the skill you employ after you have scanned for and found the keyword.

After you find the key word, you read the sentence containing the keyword carefully.

Then, compare it to the question.

If the answer is not there, it will be in the sentence immediately before or the sentence immediately after.
As always, with any testing skills, PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!

Click here to learn how to become a faster reader.

What additional questions do you have about IELTS Reading?

Let us know in the comments below.

Do you sound awkward when you use numbers when it comes to years, money, and phone numbers in English?

Today we’ll show you how to stop sounding awkward and start sounding natural!

Years:

  • I was born in 1981: We don’t say “I was born in one thousand, nine hundred and eighty one” instead we say “I was born in nineteen eighty one.”

 

  • I was born in ’81: You can shorten a year by just saying the last two numbers of any year.

 

  • We are in 2015: You can say “we are in twenty fifteen” or “We are in two thousand fifteen.”

 

Money:

  • My rent is $330: We don’t say “My rent is three hundred and thirty dollars” but instead we say “My rent is three-thirty”

 

  •  My coffee cost $3.24: We don’t say “my coffee cost three dollars and twenty four cents” but instead we say “my coffee cost three twenty four”

 

 Phone numbers:

 

  • 347-554-1774: Sometimes we group together the last four digits of a phone number. We also group together the first sets of 3 numbers. You could finish this number by saying “seventeen seventy four” or by saying “one seven, seven, four”

 

  • We say “o” rather than “zero” when zero comes in a phone number, for example 352-2301

 

What other questions do you have about using numbers when it comes to money, phone numbers, and years?

Let us know in the comments below.

Are you under the “illusion” that you are preparing for IELTS while spending time on social media?

Today we’ll talk about how to spend your time well and use social media to your advantage to pass the IELTS!

In our 3 Keys IELTS Success System our students get to join a private Facebook group where they can ask Lindsay or Jessica any questions they want.

This is a great way to build community and get support but make no mistake- while you are in Facebook, you are not preparing for IELTS.

To really prepare for IELTS you need to be spending time learning strategies, doing test practice, and following a daily study plan.

It is fine to spend time in the Facebook group or on other IELTS-related social media sites to “blow off steam,” reduce stress, and get some support but don’t tell yourself that you are actually preparing for IELTS during that time.

Your buddies on social media cannot give you your 7.

Only the examiner can give you 7 if you show that you have built the right skills and used the right strategies.

Don’t waste your time!

Go beyond the surface level of social media to get your target score on the IELTS.

Spend your time learning strategies, practicing them in structured exercises, and doing test practice.

Let us know your questions or comments below!

Do you spend your time preparing in Facebook groups and on social media?

How is it helping or hurting your score.

Do you want to be more spontaneous when you make plans in English?

Do you want to be able to make and change plans quickly in English?

Today you’ll get some solid English phrases that you can use when your plans change.

Here are some great ways to say that your plans have changed:

  • “Oh hey, quick change of plans….”
  • “We decided to make a change actually…”
  • “I think we’re going to change it up….”

What other phrases do you know to make changes to your plans in English?

Let us know your ideas in the comments below.

Do you feel overwhelmed on the IELTS Listening Test?

It’s hard when you have to listen, read, and write all at the same time.

Do you want to feel more confident on IELTS Listening?

Today find out how to manage it all with confidence and a clear head.

To conquer this challenge you need:

#1) Test strategies: Follow the directions.

Do what they tell you to do! 

You need to know what to expect.

You will hear the introduction which will tell you what kind of situation you are going to listen to and who is going to talk.

Pay attention to this introduction!

Don’t skip ahead and look at the questions.

At this time you can open your brain box and pull up the vocabulary that you already know.

This will put you one step ahead when it comes to the Listening test.

Next you’ll have time to look at the questions. Be active. Circle key words.

Know what you are listening for- is it a name? a number? a date?

Have that information in your head when you start listening.

Next you will listen to the conversation and listen for the answers.

This part is scary but if you do the two steps that we described before this, you will reduce your anxiety and you will be ready to write down the right answers.

Next you are going to go back and check your answers when the instructions tell you to do it. Don’t forget that your first answers are usually correct!

Don’t second guess yourself.

Don’t try to ignore the instructions or outsmart the test.

#2) Test practice:

After you have done step 1 and you have gotten good at the steps and strategies, next you can do test practice.

Get a booklet of practice tests and practice under test conditions.

Don’t skip step 1 because it you don’t learn the strategies then you will never increase your score through test practice.

Actually you will hurt your score and your confidence.

#3) General listening practice:

Get great listening material such as podcasts or You Tube movies or Ted Talks.

Don’t just stick to ESL material.

Listen to material designed for native speakers.

Try to listen to at least 15 minutes of English every single day and you will get more comfortable with the sounds of native English.

What questions do you have about the Listening Test advice?

Let us know in the comments below.

Today we have Jaime Miller from English Success Academy back on the show for Episode 3 in a three-part series.

A few weeks ago Jamie told us about the differences between IELTS and TOEFL Writing.

Today you’ll hear about the differences between TOEFL and IELTS when it comes to the Speaking test.

What happens on IELTS speaking?

The biggest difference between IELTS and TOEFL with speaking is that on IELTS you are talking to the examiner.

IELTS is split up into three parts.

Speaking Part 1 includes easy questions about your hobbies, your job, your family.

In Speaking Part 2 you are given a topic card and you have one minute to brainstorm then you must speak for 1- 2 minutes.

In Speaking Part 3 the questions are more difficult but they are not personal questions.

You’ll get questions about society and the world.

This requires more high-level language.

The entire test is 11-14 minutes.

Learn more about IELTS Speaking here.

What happens on TOEFL speaking?

On TOEFL students are speaking into the computer.

There are six parts on TOEFL. It starts with personal questions for the first two parts.

In the third task you look at a campus dialogue. You are at an imaginary university and you listen to a dialogue between two people debating a recent change on campus. When you respond you summarize what you understand about the change.

In the fourth task you have a short reading passage. You get a new concept to look at. It will probably be something that you are not familiar with.

The sixth task is a lecture from a professor talking about a new concept. You need to summarize what you listen to.

The entire TOEFL Speaking test takes about 20 minutes.

A few tips to remember for both exams:

  • Never try to memorize answers for the exam
  • Be sure to get balanced practice (general fluency and test strategies)
  • Follow a clear, daily study plan

TOEFL English Success Academy Jaime MillerJaime Miller creates and teaches private, customized online lessons. Learn more at jaimemiller.com.

Jaime knows why some students get TOEFL speaking scores of 26 or higher, while others are stuck with scores of 24 – and she creates customized exam study plans that get results.

What questions do you have about the differences between TOEFL Speaking and IELTS Speaking?

Let us know in the comments below.

Do you drink soda?

Do you know how to ask for a soda in a restaurant in English?

Do you know the difference between “soda,” “pop,” and “soft drinks”?

Today we’ll show you what we call soda in different parts of the world and we’ll talk about some controversial laws that ban consumption of large size soda in the United States.

In 2013 New York City banned the sale of the Big Gulp, a large size for a soda at 7-11.

Read more about it here.

Is it ok for New York City to ban a large size cup for soda? What do you think?

Names for soda around the United States:

  • “Pop”: This term is used for soda in the Midwestern part of the United States.
  • “Coke”: Sometimes just the word “Coke” is used as an umbrella term meaning soda. This is used in parts of the Southern United States.
  • “Soft drink”: This is used in more upscale restaurants instead of saying “soda.”

 

What do you think about the New York City ban on the Big Gulp?

Let us know in the comments.

Do you want to know how to be confident on the IELTS Listening Test?

Here is the answer: Prepare!

If you ask anyone who gets that magic score of a 7 or higher on the listening test, they will tell you that they practiced listening.

They didn’t just practice the listening exam, however.

Students who understand what they hear on the exam worked hard to strengthen their overall listening ability as well, outside of textbooks and test practice.

With that in mind, here are five activities to give you confidence on the listening exam.

All they require are a computer or smartphone, paper and something to write with.

Ready to get started?

Check out these resources below!

#1) Listen to a podcast, an IELTS listening practice test, or any recording of spoken English with an audio script.

Try to write out what you hear- word for word.

You can pause it anytime to write.

Compare your notes with the audio script.

Notice any words that you didn’t understand, and listen to that part again.

#2) Close your eyes and listen to a podcast, an IELTS Listening practice test, or any recording of spoken English with an audio script.

Listen again and follow along in the audio script.

#3) Choose a video that has subtitles or closed captioning (look for a button or icon with CC on it to turn on the closed captioning subtitles). Watch it with the subtitles so you can read and listen at the same time.

Watch the same video again with NO subtitles/closed captioning.

#4) Choose a song you like. Read the lyrics online, and sing along.

Try these websites for some great ideas to get started.

#5) Choose a song you like. Try and listen and write the lyrics as you hear them. You can pause the song at anytime to write.

Compare your notes with the lyrics.

Listen to the song again and sing along.

What else should you do?

Besides these activities, you should still watch movies and TV shows whenever you like, without turning it into a listening practice activity.

Just choose something you are interested in, watch, and enjoy!

Also, when you are doing IELTS test practice, do the listening practice test a couple of times.

After you do the test the first time, circle the answer you got incorrect.

Then, check the audio script, or tape script, and find the answer that you missed.

Next, you can listen to the whole thing one more time and follow along with the answers, listening for the correct ones.

Finally, you can listen for the last time, and follow along with the audio script.

This will help you get used to the speed at which they speak and the different accents that are used on the IELTS exam.

Most practice exams come with an audio script, so use it!

On test day, just remember to follow the directions.

The IELTS exam is very well designed, so just listen to what the person on the CD tells you to do, and do it.

For example, when she/he tells you to look at the questions 1 to 5, only look at those questions.

When the person tells you to check your answers for a section, check those answers.

Do not go ahead to the next section.

Try to work in as many of these activities as you can every day, working on improving your overall listening ability for 10 to 20 minutes a day.

That’s not too much time- and the investment will pay off on test day!

Good luck and let us know in the comments if you have any questions!

Do you get confused between “take care of” and “care about” in English?

These two phrases are easy to confuse but it’s important to know the difference and start using them correctly.

 

To take care of:

To help someone who might be vulnerable physically or emotional.

You take care of your pets and you take care of your children.

You might also take care of your house or take care of your health. You can take care of your body or your mind.

This is an action.

We also say “take care!” as a way to say goodbye.

 

To care about:

This is about your feelings regarding something.

You can care about your friends without taking care of them.

You can care about the environment without taking care of it.

This is a feeling, not an action.

 

Listen to the episode to hear the differences between the two expressions.

Leave a sample sentence below.

In today’s episode we’ll show you how creating a vision board will help you stay focused on your IELTS goals and the life that you want after you get your target score.

Making a vision board can help you focus your goals, keep track of how you are using your time, and feel good about what you are moving toward.

What is a vision board?

It’s a physical representation of what you want your life to look like.

Use images that represent what you want to be doing in your ideal life.

Why does this matter for IELTS?

When you are preparing for IELTS you need to keep your vision board in front of you.

You know that aspects of your ideal life, such as moving to a country like Canada, will only happen if you get your target score on the IELTS.

By seeing the vision board every day it will remind you to keep working hard.

Have you created your vision board yet?

Snap a picture of it and share it on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/allearsenglish

Share your vision board with the community!

In today’s episode you will get the exact way to organize your time for IELTS Writing Task 1 and IELTS Writing Task 2.

Are you worried about time management on the Writing test?

When it comes to time management, here is what you should NOT do:

DON’T skip ahead to Writing Task 2 and spend most of your time on that. Many bad IELTS teachers suggest this but the problem is that if you do this you won’t have enough time for Writing Task 1.

Instead here is what you should do: DO complete the essays in order.

Complete Writing Task 1 first because it’s shorter.

Get it out of the way and use it as a warm up.

Do what the exam tells you.

Start with Task 1.

How to manage time on Writing Task 1:

We have three steps in the writing process.

We need to plan, write, and check.

It’s good to make sure that you spend enough time planning.

Spend 2-3 minutes planning for Task 1.

Write out a solid essay and plan. Brainstorm.  You must do the planning to get a high score in task achievement and cohesion and coherence (organization).

Spend 15 minutes writing.

Spend the few remaining minutes checking your essay. You must check your work to get a high score for vocabulary and grammar.

Each of these three steps are necessary to get a high score in Writing Task 1.

How to manage time for Writing Task 2:

In IELTS Writing Task 2 spend 5 minutes brainstorming and planning. There are no bad ideas. Try to write continuously for the full five minutes.

Spend 30 minutes writing.

Leave 5 minutes to check. Look for spelling mistakes and repeated vocabulary.

When should you start timing your test practice?

Don’t prepare under test conditions until you have learned the 3-step strategies and practiced them thoroughly.

At that time you can start worrying about time management but not before then.

In the 3 Keys IELTS Success System we go into more detail about this system and exactly how to use it. Check this page and watch the video to learn more.

What questions do you have?

Let us know in the comments below.

Today you’ll find out how to begin a conversation when you are about to explain something in great detail in English.

If you use the phrase “You see,…” it will show people that you are about to explain something or go into detail.

It can also be useful when you want to defend your choices or voice your opinion in English.

Here are the three ways that you can begin your explanation:

  • “Ya (you) see, ….”
  • “Well see,….”
  • “See,….”

 

Here are some phrases from our conversation in the episode:

L: Why do they make the train routes so confusing in New York on the weekends?

M: Well see, they do a lot of construction on the weekends because they figure it’s the perfect time to do it. Not as many people are going to work.

 

M: Why are you having so many break ins in your neighborhood?

L: Ya see, it’s because there are some homeless shelters near my neighborhood and in my neighborhood there are a lot of nice homes. So people from the homeless shelters are coming up and breaking into home.

 

Have you used “you see” in conversations with native speakers yet?

Let us know in the comments how it goes if you try using this phrase.

You already know that using phrasal verbs on your IELTS Speaking test will push your score higher. Today we’ll show you 6 English phrasal verbs using “keep” that you can throw into your response on the Speaking test.

These phrasal verbs will set you apart in the examiner’s mind as a student who goes beyond the textbook.

We have done episodes showing you English phrasal verbs using get and idioms about sports, work, and others.

Here are the phrasal verbs with “keep” for today:

  • Keep going- to continue moving
  • Keep (it) up- to continue moving or to maintain appearances
  • Keep at (something) – continue to do something
  • Keep out – do not enter
  • Keep off- do not get on
  • Keep away- do not get close

Go to Google Images and get examples of signs so that you can remember what these phrasal verbs mean.

Listen to this episode again.

Pay attention to the questions that we ask each other.

Answer these questions yourself using these phrasal verbs with keep.

What questions do you have from today?

Let us know in the comments below.

Is integrity important to you?

It’s important to us!

Do you want to know how to describe someone who is honest or dishonest using more specific English vocabulary words?

By going deeper with your vocabulary words you can connect more with people and create a better description of someone.

A few weeks ago we talked about how to use specific vocabulary words to describe someone who is mean in English.

Today you’ll learn some new English vocabulary terms to describe integrity and personality.

If you are taking the IELTS exam then using specific vocabulary words on your IELTS Speaking test or your IELTS Writing test will boost your score so this episode is for you!

 

How to describe someone who is dishonest:

  • Manipulative: Someone who understands the human mind and tries to control your mind to control what you do in order to serve or help that person in some way.
  • Sneaky: More often used to describe someone who is young and who takes little, dishonest actions.
  • Deceptive: Someone who hides things, who leads someone in the wrong direction.

 

How to describe someone who is honest:

  • Trustworthy: Someone who can be trusted with a secret or who is reliable.
  • Dependable: Someone who will always show up when they are expected to show up, someone who can be expected to deliver what they promise on time.
  • Loyal: Someone who will be true in a relationship, who will not cheat. We can also use this term to refer to a dog who has been well trained.

 

Practice these adjectives!

Please tell us about the people in your life.

Leave your comment below.

Do you have trouble coming up with ideas for the IELTS?

If so, you are not alone!

Many students struggle with this.

Today we’ll show you how you can be more creative, come up with ideas faster, and where you get resources online to move toward these goals.

If you come from a culture where coming up with ideas is not emphasized then you can train yourself on how to do it.

The worst thing that you can do is to put up a mental block, assume that you can’t do it, and not even try.

Don’t assume that you can’t do it before you have even tried!

Start by going back to our episode on how to brainstorm and come up with details for IELTS.

Remember, you can always fall back on this framework:

  • Who
  • What
  • When
  • Where
  • Why

Next, find some writing topic ideas!

Where can you find them?

Go to creativewritingprompts.com

This website will give you tons of creative ideas to get your ideas flowing and to base your essays on.

Go to this website, choose a topic, and just start writing.

Get a journal and grab one of these topics every day and write.

Here is another idea:

You can also check out writingforward.com

You’ll get lots of advice, angles, and tips on the task of creative writing.

Don’t worry if this doesn’t seem like it’s direct IELTS practice.

These activities are going to help you get better at brainstorming and coming up with ideas.

 

To get better to coming up with ideas:

– remember HOW to brainstorm (who, what, when, where, why, how)

– know where to look for brainstorming ideas (see the websites above)

– start practicing- take out your pencil and a journal

Check out our other IELTS Writing episodes here

Have you tried using these sites to improve your ability to come up with new ideas in writing?

Let us know in the comments.

In today’s episode you’ll learn how to talk about the things that you regret using a great American English idiom.

You’ll also get a few more English idioms about eyes and eyesight.

Earlier this summer we learned a few other expressions such as “long story short”  and “worse comes to worst.”

Here is today’s key expression: “Hindsight is (always) 20/20.”

What does it mean?

It’s related to the concept of eyesight.

When eyesight is 20/20 it means that we have perfect vision.

We use this when we talk about things that we regret.

When we look back on something it becomes clear that we took the wrong action and we know what the right action would have been.

However, we didn’t know it at the time and maybe we couldn’t have known it.

 

More idioms with “eyesight”

  • An eye-opener: Something that is shocking or sobering, something that surprises you. “Arianna Huffington had an eye-opening experience when she passed out on her desk one day due to lack of sleep.”
  •  To see eye to eye: To agree with someone, to see things the same way someone else sees them. “Do you see eye to eye with your fiance when it comes to wedding planning?”

 

Try using these idioms in your own sample sentences.

We want to see your examples in the comments below.

Do you struggle to find time to learn English?

Is time your most valuable asset?

If so then today’s episode is for you.

Today Derek will show us 3 ways to be more efficient with our English learning routine:

  • Tip #1) Learn how to self correct when you are speaking. This is the best way to get better at speaking while focusing on both fluency and accuracy. You want to be making mistakes because it means that you are pushing yourself but you want to correct them on your own.
  • Tip #3) Don’t pretend that you know everything. If you are 80-90% sure that you know what someone is talking about but there is a tiny bit of doubt you should still ask. Don’t assume that you understand a word because you might get yourself into trouble. Use these phrases:
    • “Let me see if I got this…”
    • “I am sorry could you explain that a bit more.”
    • “Let me make sure I have that correct.”
    • “Let me see if I understood that.”
  • Tip #3) Study the types of mistakes that you make. Try to relate your mistakes to a wider area of study. See if there are any patterns in your mistakes. Know the difference between a random error and a systematic error.
    • Systematic error: A grammar mistake that keeps happening
    • Random error: A preposition mistake or another small mistake

Derek’s Bio

I was born and raised in the state of Colorado in the United States of America. I’ve travelled extensively throughout the States and I also lived in Memphis, Tennessee for a short time. I’m essentially a nomad, so I’ve had the chance to live in Brazil for more than two years, Colombia for about 9 months, Europe for over a year, Mexico for another 9 months and now I’m headed back to South America.

I graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder in December of 2010 with two bachelor’s degrees, one in physics and the other in Astronomy. Shortly after I graduated I moved to Rio de Janeiro where I earned my International Diploma in English Language Teaching (IDELT), which is an accredited TEFL certification, from Bridge Linguatec based in Denver, Colorado USA.

I have been teaching English as my primary profession since February 2011, first in Rio de Janeiro and then Salvador in Brazil. I have taught English to students of every level, from zero level beginners to the very advanced. I’m very patient and I try to make students feel relaxed and enjoy themselves in my classes. We always seem to have a fun time.
I speak Brazilian Portuguese and Latin American Spanish.

Today we have Jaime Miller from English Success Academy back on the show!

Jamie is back for episode 2 in a 3-part series.

Last week she chatted with Jessica about the overall differences between IELTS and TOEFL.

Today Jessica and Jamie talk about the main writing differences between IELTS and TOEFL.

They will also talk about what “integrated” means on the tests and what this means for you as an IELTS or TOEFL test taker.

On IELTS there are fewer writing tasks and they are more straightforward.

On TOEFL there are two different types of tasks.

The first one is the integrated task.

They want to know if you can read something from a textbook and take notes, listen to a lecture, and then respond to what you have read and listened to.

You may have to notice the similarities and differences in the arguments and write about them and talk about how both points of view disagree.

Here they are testing your ability to talk about and analyze a debate.

In the TOEFL integrated task you should not give any opinions.

In IELTS Writing Task 1 you are asked to analyze information from a graph or diagram of numbers and you need to describe what is going on.

Writing Task 1 is 20 minutes and you need to write 150 words. If you write more than 150 words you will lose points.

On Writing Task 2 for IELTS you write an opinion essay and the second task for TOEFL also asks you to write an opinion essay.

Another big difference is that on IELTS you have to write by hand and on TOEFL writing you type your answers.

We’ll be back next week to explore more differences between TOEFL and IELTS!

TOEFL English Success Academy Jaime MillerJamie’s Bio:

You can learn more about Jaime Miller and her private, customized online lessons at jaimemiller.com.

Jaime knows why some students get TOEFL speaking scores of 26 or higher, while others are stuck with scores of 24 – and she creates customized exam study plans that get results.

Do you have any questions about today’s episode?

Let us know in the comments below.

Teachers, classes and textbooks are full of useful advice on how to get high scores on the IELTS exam.

Some of this information is useful, of course, but some of it is also too general to actually help you.

For example, teachers always tell students to “organize your ideas more clearly” or “use better vocabulary,” but do you know how to do this?

So, today, I’m not only going to tell you what to do, but what NOT to do.

I’m also going to tell you exactly what these gems of wisdom will do to affect your IELTS Writing Task 1 score.

#1) Do NOT write fewer than 150 words. If you write fewer than 150 words,

    • your Task Achievement score will automatically go down.
    • you will not have enough room to show a range of vocabulary, because you simply will not write enough words, so your vocabulary score will fall to a 5 or lower.
    • you will probably not have enough room to show a range of sentence structures, because you simply will not write enough sentences, so your grammar score will fall to a 5 or lower.

#2) Do NOT start describing the numbers right away in your essay.

  • Just like any academic essay, you must start Task 1 with an introduction. In the introduction you MUST rephrase the test question. If you do not do this, you risk not explaining clearly what the graph is about (for the Academic exam). This means scoring a 5 or lower on Task Achievement.

#3) Do NOT just state numbers.

  • You must describe the numbers, not just list them. You have to say why the number is important, such as describing it as the highest or the lowest. If you just list numbers, you will get no more than a 5 for Task Achievement.
    • For example:
      • WRONG: In 2013, the number of classes reached 100.
      • RIGHT: In 2013, the last year shown, the number of classes reached an all time high, with 100.
    •  You must also use linking words to join the sentences. If you do not, you will get a 5 or lower for Cohesion/Coherence.
      • For example:
        • WRONG: Numbers hit 700 in 1980. Numbers fell to 20 in 1990.
        • RIGHT: The number of full-time workers increased to 700 in 1980, the highest amount during the period. Then, 10 years later, this number fell to 20, reaching the lowest point.

#4) Do NOT use the same sentence structure over and over. If you do, you will get a 5 or lower for Grammar.

  • Some students memorize one or two structures, like “There was a decrease in 2014,” and use this same sentence structure throughout Academic Writing Task 1 so they are sure to not make any grammar mistakes. Well, even if there are no grammar mistakes, if you do not use varied sentence structure, the examiner can give you no higher than a 5 for Grammar.

To make sure you don’t make any of these mistakes, please read these rules more than once.

Then, the next time you practice a Task 1 essay, please check your work for these four things.

If you follow these rules, you are on your way to higher scores!

Check out our other articles on IELTS Writing Task 1

What questions do you have about IELTS Writing Task 1 Academic Essay?

Let us know in the comments below.

What is paraphrasing and when do we do it on IELTS and in our everyday lives?

Paraphrasing is when you use different words and vocabulary to express an idea.

In our daily lives we might use paraphrasing to tell our friend about our weekend.

We might summarize the whole weekend into three sentences.

Maybe we saw a movie and we will paraphrase the story in a short way.

When we read we also need to paraphrase to tell people what we have read in the newspaper or in a magazine.

We also might summarize our favorite novel.

When you are in an academic class at your college or university you are going to need to take notes during the lecture. This is a form of paraphrasing.

You may also need to paraphrase a lecture for a friend who missed a class.

When we write papers at the college level we also paraphrase when we add outside research and citations to a paper.

When do we paraphrase on IELTS?

In IELTS Writing Task 1 and IELTS Writing Task 2 you have to paraphrase an idea, word or phrase in different ways.

If you use the word “school” in one paragraph then you need to use different words in the rest of the essay like “academic institution” or “university” or “college.”

How do we paraphrase on the IELTS Speaking test?

Part of getting a good vocabulary score is showing range and flexibility and that is how we can push up our entire speaking score. Try not to repeat the same word more than two or three times. Instead, try to say it in a different way.

You can also paraphrase what the examiner asks you on Speaking Part 1, 2, and 3 before you answer.

Why would you want to do this?

It would impress the examiner with your flexibility and it would give you more time to think and prepare your answer.

How can you practice paraphrasing for IELTS?

Read a newspaper and summarize it in your own words. Tell a friend about the article.

Create a culture of thinking.

Surround yourself with people who like to talk about what they read and see in the news.

Do you feel comfortable paraphrasing?

What questions do you have about this?

Let us know in the comments below.

Are you making mistakes with your facial expressions and gestures when you visit the US?

Today Mark will show us the top 3 facial expressions and gestures that he has seen in parts of Latin America that you should avoid if you want to connect with American people when you visit the US.

Three facial expressions or body language gestures to avoid in the US:

  • Using a puckered lip gesture to point at something or someone (pucker means to bring your lips together and hold them tight). In American culture this looks very strange. We might use an eye or a head gesture to draw someone’s attention in one direction or another but we don’t use puckered lips.
  • Calling someone to come toward you by pulling your arm out straight, pointing your palm down, and moving your fingers toward you in a downward gesture. This is rude if you use this gesture in the US.
  • Kissing as a greeting. If you kiss an American on the cheek as a greeting they will feel awkward. Use a handshake instead or if there is a large group you could wave.

What should you do if you don’t know what gestures to make?

Observe. Sit back. Wait for other people to use their gestures and then do what they do.

Mark Esposito’s Bio:
From New Jersey, USA. B.A. Spanish Translating/Interpreting. ASL interpreter and instructor.
TEFL/TESOL Certificate for teaching English.  
Teaching English and Spanish for over 25 years.
I Worked as a Sign Language Interpreter for about ten years.
My wife and I are both teachers on italki. I’ve lived in 6 countries, including Spain and 5 Latin American countries. I’ve been living out of the U.S. for the past 15 years.
How to book a lesson with Mark:
  • Step 2: Search for Mark’s profile in people search: Mark Esposito

Today we bring you IELTS Energy Episode #100!!

We’ll give you 5 tips for improving when you think you can’t and we’ll tell you about a special invitation at the end of the episode.

The easiest way to get a 7 on IELTS Speaking is by working on your pronunciation!

For the next 100 hours you are invited to claim your special bonus called Power Packed Pronunciation with Jessica Beck. If you get into our 3 Keys IELTS Success System within the next 100 hours you will also get this super cool bonus. It’s a 5-minute video where Jessica will show you exactly how to increase your pronunciation score during the Speaking test.

Click here to get the course and your bonus now!

Offer ends on Monday August 17th!

Do you feel like you are plateauing with your IELTS preparation?

Are you not getting any better?

Can you say everything you need to and understand everything you hear?

But maybe you can’t understand difficult articles that use academic English.

Today we’ll show you 5 things you can do to get out of your comfort zone and push past this plateau in order to hit that 7 IELTS level.

Remember, you need to action on these points every single day.

It’s easy to do it once per week or just once per month but what are you doing every single day?

5 things to do:

  • Reading: You need to expose yourself to higher level words. Read the Washington Post or the Huffington Post or the New Yorker. If you don’t read these kinds of materials you won’t get a chance to see these high-level words that you need for the IELTS Exam.
  • Listening: Listen to what native speakers listen to. Try TED Talks on You Tube. Search for a specific topic that you are interested in. A lot of native speakers listen to NPR.org. You can find music, news, comics. Listen to The Moth Radio Hour and Snap Judgment on NPR.
  • Take a class: Take a class in a topic that is not focused on ESL. Take a cooking class in English. Take an art class. Go to EdX from MIT and take it online.
  •  Writing: Challenge yourself to write a short story. Interview someone in your family and write a biography about that person. Research a topic that interests you and write a short report on the topic. Take something that you like to read in your native language and translate it into English.
  •  Speaking: Push yourself to talk to native speakers. It’s easy to talk to other English learners but try to find a tutor or a language exchange for free where you can really hear correct English. Find a site where you can get a native partner online or in your city.

If you do these five things or even just one or two of these things you will have a much better chance of improving your IELTS score.

Let us know which of these activities you are already doing. How is it going?

Mt Liberty

Life is like mountain climbing!

Today find out how to accomplish big dreams by putting one foot in front of the other and taking life one step at a time.

Here is today’s quote:

“Never measure the height of a mountain until you have reached the top and then you will see how low it was.”

-Dag Hammarskjold

 

Don’t be afraid to set big goals.

Don’t consider big goals to be insurmountable.

If you go ahead and accomplish your goal you will look back and realize that it wasn’t actually that hard.

In this episode Michelle told us that when she first moved to NY she felt that it was too hard to get around the city.

She didn’t know how to take the subway to meet friends or which train to take.

It all felt like a huge task.

She got lost.

Now, looking back on those days she doesn’t think it’s so hard.

Do you ever tell yourself, “I could never be fluent?”

Be careful when you say this.

Don’t just assume that you can’t do it.

Give yourself a chance.

Take the first step.

Do it one step at a time.

If you are taking an exam like the IELTS, this means that you need a step by step system or a course where someone can hold your hand and take you through the steps that you need.

Henry Ford says, “Whether you think you can or you can’t you’re right.”

 

How are you approaching your big dreams?

Are you taking them one step at a time or are you giving up on them before you even start?

Let us know in the comments below.

If you want to move your English to the next level then you need to make sure that each word adds value.

Today we’ll show you why you need to avoid being redundant in English  and we’ll give you seven phrases to avoid in order to speak more powerfully.

What does it mean to be redundant when you speak in English?

It means that you use two words that say the same thing.

Each word should bring something new to the table.

 

Seven redundant phrases that you should AVOID in English:

  • In my opinion I like chocolate”: Here you don’t need to say both “in my opinion” and “I like” because we know that when you say “I like” you are voicing your opinion.

 

  • “I like the fact that I live near in a fun area and also in addition I love the fact that I am right between Harvard and MIT”: In this conversation I said “also, in addition.” Using both of those words is not necessary because the words are saying the same thing.

 

  • “The best top colleges in the US are Harvard, Yale, Dartmouth”: Here we said “the best top colleges” and those two words mean the exact same thing. Instead of using both words you can just choose one. You can say “the best colleges are..” or “the top colleges are…:

 

  • “It’s critically important to think like an entrepreneur with your career in New York”: The words “critical” and “important” mean the same thing. You don’t need to use both.

 

  • “In graduate school we collaborated together all of the time to get projects done.” It isn’t necessary to use both “collaborate” and “together” because the word “collaborate” implies that you are working together with other people.

 

  • “In my past experience I have co-taught with other teachers.” The words “past” and “experience” have similar meanings. You can just say “in my experience I have co-taught with other teachers.”

 

  • “The reason why crime went down in New York is that the graffiti was taken off the trains.” This is a common redundancy that is used all of the time by native speakers. The word “reason” implies “why” so instead you can say “the reason crime has dropped..” or “the reason that crime has dropped…”

 

When you speak English you want each word to have value.

Less is more with the words that you choose when you want to speak powerfully and connect with people in English.

Do you know any other common redundancies in English?

Let us know in the comments.

What are the daily and weekly habits of the most successful IELTS students who get a 7?

Today you’ll find out exactly what smart students do to get their seven.

Students who get a 7 make English a part of their everyday life.

They don’t keep English at a distance.

They use it as entertainment.

They explore their interests using English.

They don’t think of it as work or “studying.”

Success is usually not the result one single action. It is often the result of multiple actions taken over an extended period of time.

What are those actions for a 7 IELTS student?

Find out below!

7 habits of highly successful “7” IELTS students:

  • #1) They are committed: They have a specific goal. They promise to work every day. They are intentional about the score they want. They share their commitment with someone in their life. They hold themselves accountable.
  • #2) They are not afraid to start random conversations and speak: When they run into someone they know in an English-speaking place, they start conversations and continue speaking. If they don’t live in an English-speaking country, they find a way to practice with a native conversation partner. They speak every day despite their fear.
  • #3) They plan a specific time every week to practice what they have learned each week: They are intentional about using new phrases or expressions in their practice conversations. They don’t cancel their practice sessions. They show up and get comfortable with the language.
  • #4) They have something they enjoy reading: A successful “7” student has a habit of reading. They like to read. They find reading material on a topic that they are passionate about. They use blogs, email newsletters, newspapers, and magazines.
  • #5) They watch movies and TV: They have a favorite TV show in English. It is part of their lifestyle to follow sitcoms that they consider fun. They don’t think about watching TV in English as studying. They consider it entertainment.
  • #6) They learn how to organize their thoughts into an academic essay for Task 1: Strategies are important for 7 students. Especially for the Writing test, you MUST learn what the examiner wants. You cannot just work on your general English.
  • #7) They know the IELTS exam: They know the test. They know the strategies, they have a step-by-step system, they know how the timing works. They work with a qualified professional or find a good course to help them.

Which habits do you currently have?

Which habits are you going to adopt moving forward?

Let us know in the comments below.

When we are practicing for the Speaking exam, we must remember what the examiner wants.

Today, we are going to focus on hitting that 7 or higher on the Speaking test in two ways:

  • Fluency and Coherence (having organized, specific ideas)
  • Vocabulary (not repeating words/ideas, using specific vocabulary)

The best way to hit a 7 or higher on Speaking Part 2 is to tell a story.

For some kinds of questions, this is easy, such as describing a movie, TV show, or book.

However, we can also turn our 2-minute answer into a story when we are asked to describe a situation or event.

Often, these questions begin with, “Describe a time/occasion when…”.

Below we’ll look at Speaking Part 2 on the exam, step by step.

 

Step 1:

Before you give your answer, you have one minute to plan and take notes.

The examiner will tell you the topic, hand you the booklet with the topic card on it, and also give you a pencil and piece of paper.

Then, you have a full minute to write down your ideas.

This is a crucial time, and I’ve seen many students who do not use this time well.

This is your chance to plan your answer so write down everything you think of- details, words, examples, everything.

When you choose to tell a story as your Part 2 answer, this first planning stage is easier as well.

Just start at the beginning of the story, and move through the story in your head, writing notes on everything that comes to mind.

Remember, there are no bad ideas!

Let’s look at an example:

Describe the last movie you saw in the cinema.

My notes:

 

  • Jupiter Ascending
  • mina kunis, channing tatum, future, sci-fi
  • maid in new york, russian, dad killed
  • lives with mom, aunt, all maids
  • tatum werewolf alien, comes earth
  • aliens try kill mina, saved
  • space family controls all planets, uses people as medicine, never grow old
  • three siblings control all, want kill/mary mina, she owns earth, forget why
  • lots action, flying shooting, earth, tatum rocket rollerblades
  • he saves her, they fall in love, she’s still maid

 

Now, you can see all the specific details I wrote down in my notes.

Also, my notes are organized by bullet point, from the beginning of the movie to the end.

Also notice that I did not remember everything (this was not the best written movie!), and that is fine.

Again, your ideas are never wrong on the Speaking exam– all the examiner wants is to hear you speak English.

 

Step 2:

After one minute for note taking, the examiner will ask you to start talking.

When you are talking, you must use linking words.

You are allowed to look at your notes, so you should do this if you forget what to say.

That is why you take notes! Use them, and keep talking!

An example answer with linking words looks like this:
Today I will tell you about a movie I saw recently named Jupiter Ascending, by the Wachowskis, the people that made the Matrix movies.

The Matrix movies are classics, but, sadly, in my humble opinion, they have not been able to replicate that genius.

Especially in this movie, Jupiter Ascending.

It was really pretty, but the story, writing and dialogue left a lot to be desired.

So, it starred Mina Kunis as a maid of Russian descent who lives with her mom and aunt in a small room in New York, very poor.

Channing Tatum is the other big name, and he’s a werewolf alien hybrid creature, who has crazy rocket rollerblades that he flies around on.

We find out in the beginning of the movie that Mina’s dad was a scientist, killed in Russia, although we don’t know why, and her mom came to America.

She actually gave birth to Mina/Jupiter on the ship.

There are many additional characters, but the ones that matter are three siblings who are, I think, sort of royalty in space, and they actually own all the planets.

For some reason, I forget why exactly, they have to get Mina in order to harvest Earth.

Oh, by the way, by “harvest” I mean they destroy the planet and use all the life as fuel for their immortality.

Yeah, pretty crazy.

Anyway, about 20 minutes into this disaster of a film, Channing wolf comes to Earth, saves Mina, but then loses her as one of the siblings grabs her.

One brother wants to kill her, the other brother tries to marry her, and the sister tries to befriend her.

The whole complex tale culminates in lots of shooting action and explosions on Earth that no Earthling seems to notice, with Channing rocketing around on his ridiculous rollerblades.

Of course, in the end, Mina and Earth are saved, her and Channing Tatum fall in love, even though he’s half dog, and she chooses to still be a maid.

All completely unbelievable, and this is from a girl who really digs her sci-fi.

 

Step 3:

Read my answer again and write down all the linking words/phrases.

Then, use them to practice telling your own story.

 

Good luck and have fun!

Get more episodes and articles on IELTS Speaking here.

 

What questions do you have about today’s activity?

Please let us know in the comments below.

Do you know someone who is mean?

Would you like to be able to describe that person in more specific terms in English?

You are at the right level to expand your vocabulary and use more specific words.

Don’t just use general terms.

If you want to connect with people, you need to be specific so they know exactly what you want to say!

On the IELTS Exam, the fastest way to get a 7 or higher on Speaking or Writing is to use specific vocabulary words.

In today’s episode we will show you 5 different words that you can use to describe a mean person in English.

 

native English teachersAre you looking for a professional, native English teacher online?

Get a native English teacher online in seconds at italki.

Lindsay and Michelle recommend italki as our #1 English-learning solution online. Choose from more than 400 teachers to work on your business English or to pass your next big exam.

Get our special offer before it runs out! Go to italki and claim 10USD to go toward a FREE second English lesson at italki!

 

How to describe a mean person in English:

  • Rude: Not polite, short-tempered, to have a short fuse
  • A jerk: Someone who has a bad character and does not treat people with respect. We use this term more to describe a guy.
  • Selfish: Someone who only thinks about themselves
  • Cruel: Extremely mean and calculated in the bad actions that they take against you
  • Abusive: Someone who inflicts physical, emotional, or sexual harm on someone

 

Do you know anyone that you can describe using these terms?

Let us know in the comments below.

Can you write a quote by a famous person in your IELTS Writing test essays?

Can you quote someone famous on the IELTS Speaking test?

The answer is yes! You can use quotes on your Writing test and in the Speaking test. It could add a layer of depth and it could make your answer more interesting for the examiner.

However, you need to make sure that the quotes are introduced well and fit naturally into your essay or your speaking answer.

It’s ok if you don’t know the person’s name who said the topic.

If you can express the fact that you don’t know the name by using an idiom, you can score extra points.

For example, you can say, “The name of the person who said this slips my mind.”

If the quote doesn’t fit with the topic that you are covering, don’t try to force it into the essay.

Here are some of our favorite quotes that you could use:

“You are the average of the four people that you spend the most time with.”- Jim Rohn

This quote could be used in Speaking Part 1 for most questions.

What does this quote mean for your IELTS preparation?

Be careful who you spend time with when you are preparing for the exam.

Be around people who believe that you can pass the test and who support you and encourage you to work toward your goal.

“It’s not how much time you have. It’s what you do with it.”

Be smart about how you spend your time preparing for IELTS.

You need a clear study plan and you need to use the right materials.

How are you spending your IELTS preparation time?

Who are you surrounding yourself with? Do these people motivate you and inspire you to keep reaching for your IELTS dream?

Let us know in the comments below.

Today you’ll learn about one unique American speech habit that you can use to introduce ideas or to share quotes.

In English we use “like” in a few different ways.

  • It can be a filler word. “So, like, what are you doing tonight?”
  • It can be used to say “such as.” I enjoy foods like sushi.
  • It can be used to report an idea or something that you said. “I was like, ‘wow, we should take some time off.’”

Today we are going to focus on the third way that “like” is used when we use it to report what we said or what we thought in a past conversation.

In the episode Lindsay and Michelle used this expression in a few different ways. Listen to the episode to get the details!

To talk about something that was said in the past:

  • “I was like ‘wow, I gotta check that out.’”
  • “My mom heard the story and she was like, ‘oh yeah just take my car.’”

To tell a story that happened in the past using the present tense to pull people into the story and to hold their attention:

  • “On Saturday we’re hiking and we get to the top and it’s cloudy. My friend is like, ‘let’s just wait and see if the clouds clear’ and within a few minutes the clouds did clear.

Have you heard Americans use “like” in this way in English conversations?

Have you tried using it yourself?

Let us know in the comments below.

TOEFL English Success Academy Jaime MillerToday we have a guest on IELTS Energy!

We are happy to have Jaime.

Jaime is a TOEFL professional and in today’s episode she chats with Jessica about the main differences between the TOEFL Exam and the IELTS Exam.

Today is the first of a series of three episodes where Jaime and Jessica will tell you about the key differences between the two exams.

What are the differences between TOEFL and IELTS?

One of the biggest differences between IELTS and TOEFL is that on TOEFL it sometimes make sense to take notes while on IELTS there is no opportunity to take notes because you will miss answers and waste time.

Jaime has a 21-day course which helps students with this note-taking skill.

On TOEFL you are on a computer the whole time. On IELTS you don’t use a computer.

 

Are there any other reasons to take TOEFL if you aren’t going to university?

Some pharmacists, physical therapists, or doctors may need to take it if they want to get promoted within their career field while they are working in the United States.

 

What kinds of question types do you find on each test?

TOEFL has ten different types of questions for reading and the listening section has six different types of questions.

On TOEFL the reading and listening can vary from test to test. You may get 3 or 4 passages for reading. In contrast, IELTS has three passages for every test. It’s always 60 minutes and it’s exactly the same every week.

On TOEFL you drag and drop your answers for reading and listening but on IELTS you need to listen and spell the answer correctly or it’s counted as incorrect.

 

What topics are common for TOEFL and IELTS?

TOEFL has a lot of questions about physical and life sciences, history, psychology, anthropology.

A lot of the topics are from the academic perspective and may be harder for some people who are not used to that type of question.

Some people think that IELTS questions are a bit easier but the third reading passage for IELTS is a bit more academic.

 

Jaime’s Bio:

Jaime Miller is the director of an online school that matches motivated students with dedicated teachers for private, customized online lessons. Jaime knows why some students get TOEFL speaking scores of 26 or higher, while others are stuck with scores of 24 – and she creates customized exam study plans that get results. Learn more at jaimemiller.com.

 

What questions do you have about today’s episode?

Let us know in the comments below.

Do you want to score a 7 or higher on IELTS Speaking?  

To get that high score you need to use idioms when you respond to the questions in Speaking Part 3 and Writing Task 2.

You may get a question about work-life balance in these parts of the test.

You could also use happiness idioms in Speaking Part 1 when you talk about how you feel about your life.

Using idioms will push your vocabulary score to a 7- guaranteed. We have already shown you how to use idioms to talk about work, parties,  sports, and travel.

Today you’ll get 5 idioms that you can use to answer questions about happiness on the Speaking test.

5 Idioms:

  • “Keeping up with the Joneses”: Keeping up with your neighbors, maintaining an image of success by having the material possessions that your neighbor has or something even better such as a flat screen TV, a pool in the backyard, or a nice car.
  • “Livin’ the dream”: When someone has an amazing life that you admire. They have the life that you want. This would be different for everyone, based on what you think a dream life is.
  •   “To be on cloud nine”: To be very happy. This would work well in Speaking Part 1 and Part 2. If the examiner asks you the following: “Do you like your apartment?” You could say, “Yes, I am on cloud nine in my new apartment.”
  • “To jump for joy”: To physically jump because you are excited and happy
  • “To be a happy camper”: Someone who is content at this moment. “Getting to sleep in until 10 in the morning really makes me a happy camper.”

Remember, use these idioms as much as you can on the Speaking test and you will get the 7 that you need!

Please leave your questions or comments below.

If you don’t entirely agree with someone, there are ways to express this in English.

Get four ways to slightly disagree with someone in English today!

Here are the 4 ways to disagree slightly in English:

  • “Not exactly”
    • Q: You must have a glamorous life, you live in New York!
    • A: Not exactly. My life is actually pretty average. I work hard and I go to the movies like normal people.

 

  • “Not really”
    • Q: It sounds cool to run your own business. Is it?
    • A: I mean, not really. It’s a lot more work than people think. I work a lot and when I am not working I am thinking about work.

 

  •  “Not quite”
    • Q: So you went to Montreal this summer? You must have eaten a lot of maple syrup, right?
    • A: Not quite. It’s too sweet for me.

 

  •  “Not so much”
    • Q: Your hair is so straight. It must be easy to take care of
    • A: Not so much. I use a hair straightener. It takes a lot of work.

 

Go out and use these four expressions to slightly disagree with someone in English.

Let us know if you have a question in the comments below.

American English pronunciation and phonics expert Martha Bashir

Today we have a guest on the show.

Our guest is an expert in phonics, the sounds of English and English pronunciation.

Martha will give you three actions that you can start taking today to sound more natural when you pronounce the sounds of English.

What is phonics?

Phonics is knowing the sounds that the letters make in different words.

 

3 Tips from Martha:

  • Tip #1) Read out loud. When you read out loud you hear the sounds that the letters make. Because you are used to listening to English you can catch yourself if you pronounce the words incorrectly. If you are worried that you are making mistakes then try using poetry because the words rhyme. Martha recommends poems by Robert Louis Stevenson.

 

  • Tip #2) Write your words down. When you write or type you are slowing down. Also say the sounds while you write it down. It’s not important what you write about. It’s about writing down new vocabulary words. Keep a resource of the words that you are learning so that you can review them.

 

  • Tip #3) Look for patterns in words. Eighty percent of the English language is logical. Don’t get hung up when words that don’t seem to fit the patten. Here is a pattern: The feature picture was about a treacherous journey. The pattern is the “TU” is read as “CH.” If you notice this pattern you can apply it to other words and save study time and energy.

 

native English teachersAre you looking for a professional, native English teacher online?

Get a native English teacher online in seconds at italki.

Lindsay and Michelle recommend italki as our #1 English-learning solution online. Choose from more than 400 teachers to work on your business English or to pass your next big exam.

Get our special offer before it runs out! Go to italki and claim 10USD to go toward a FREE second English lesson at italki!

 

Martha’s Bio:

My name is Martha and I am from the state of Pennsylvania in the United States. I have a 4 year degree in elementary education. 
I taught in a private school for 8 years before I was married.  Now I have 5 children of my own and I have been teaching  them in my home for the past 9 years.  
 
I have 17 years experience in teaching phonics to beginning readers. I understand the challenges of learning English as a foreign language firsthand because I live in a bilingual home. My husband was not born in the United States so for him English was not his native tongue. 

I started teaching on italki  on June 20th of this year and since then I have taught over 100 sessions and now have nearly 50 students.   I have found that I really love teaching English as a foreign language.  Because of my background as a homeschooling teacher I find it easy to adapt lessons to fit my students needs.

Phonics is my specialty.  I believe phonics is the key that helps to decode the English language for speaking, reading, spelling and writing purposes.

 

How to book a lesson with Martha:

  •  Step 2- Search for Martha’s profile. Go to the bottom of the page on italki, click on Learn English, search for “Martha.” Martha recommends you book your lesson for a Saturday because her schedule is more open on those days.

To get the IELTS score you need you must not only work hard but you need to work SMART!

Today we will talk about whether it’s better to study for 3 hours at a time, 1 hour at a time or to study in small chunks when you have free time during your day.

To answer this question you need to know yourself and the way that you like to consume information and think about ideas and strategies.

Do you prefer to study for a short time and then go out and do something else or do you do better when you go into more depth?

Remember, regardless of how much time you spend on your tasks, don’t try to multi task by listening to a podcast and also checking your email. That is not a way to put quality attention into the task.

It’s ok to study for a short time but you need to go deep into the material.

When you split up your study time, sit down for one hour and set a goal. For example, during this time I am going to sit down, review this lesson video, write a sample essay, and check it.

Be very specific in what you are going to do.

The most important thing to remember is to be intentional about what you are going to do during your study time and then break up your study time based on how you like to consume information.

Be smart about the time you invest but work hard when you are working!

What is your study schedule?

Let us know in the comments below.

Today you’ll learn a very cool English expression that natives use to describe a very bad situation.

The expression is: “Worse comes to worst”

What’s the difference between “worse” and “worst”?

  • Worse: Comparing two things. The Boston T is worse than the New York City subway
  • Worst: This is a superlative. When one thing is THE worst. The worst thing about the subways in New York is the rats.

“If worst comes to worse”

  • Q: “Where are you going to sleep on your trip?” A: “If worse comes to worst I will sleep in my van.”
  • Q: “When are you going to see your family?” A: “I’d like to try to see them soon but if worst comes to worst I will see them this fall.”

Another way to say this: “Worst case scenario, I’ll sleep in my van.”

Listen to the episode to get examples of how to use “worse comes to worst” in realistic English conversations.

If you want to learn another cool native expression, check out our Episode 352 on how to use “Long story short.”

Remember, the more that you use these natural expressions, the more you will connect with people through English.

Leave us your comments below.

What questions do you have about this expression?

Have you ever tried to use it?

If you are not planning to apply to a university or immigrate to a new country should you still take IELTS as a personal goal?

Today Lindsay and Jessica ask this question and give you some hints and ideas about how to use IELTS to build your general English skills.

We think this is a great idea!

If you are planning to do this you can take the General Exam.

It’s a way to create a goal for yourself and create a study plan.

You will also create accountability for yourself to keep reaching toward your goal.

You could also add your IELTS score to your Linked In profile and possibly attract the attention of some international companies.

If you choose this plan, be careful!

Make sure that you take it seriously.

Keep your end goal in mind.

Try creating a vision board for your ideal life and think about how IELTS plays into that.

What do you want to do?

  • Do you want to be able to go to the theater in London and understand every word?
  • Do you want to be able to read a classic novel?
  • Do you want an international recruiter to find your profile on Linked In?

How can you make sure that you take your goal seriously?

Invest your money in a good course.

If you put your money into your goal you are much more likely to follow through on this goal.

Are you planning to take the IELTS as a personal goal?

Leave us a comment below and let us know.

Today is Lindsay’s 34th birthday! Let’s celebrate!

We are asking for 34 reviews in the iTunes store for Lindsay’s 34th!

Please go to the iTunes store now and leave a review for All Ears English- click here.

Today we’re going to talk about 7 questions that you should ask yourself at a turning point or a milestone in your life.

Another example of a milestone could be a graduation, a birth, a wedding, or another important day.

Here are the 7 questions you should ask yourself:

  • When was the last time you laughed?
  • When was the last time you cried?
  • How do you define success and what daily actions do you take to become successful?
  • What is your purpose in life?
  • What would you do if you didn’t need to work for money?
  • Where do you want to be at this time next year or in five years or in ten years?
  • What am I doing to strengthen my relationships? Am I surrounding myself with people who uplift me?

 

How would you answer one of these questions?

Let us know in the comments below.

Are you worried that you will not understand a word on IELTS Writing Task 2?

A lot of students are worried about this happening.

We have already shown you what you should do if this happens on the Speaking test.  Today we’ll talk about what to do if it happens on the Writing test.

Here is what you SHOULD NOT do:

1) Do NOT explain that you don’t  know the meaning of the word in your essay

Unlike the Speaking test, the Writing test is academic and formal.

If you don’t know the meaning of the word you cannot explain that you don’t know the word in the essay.

You cannot write “I am sorry I hope I understood the meaning of this word.”

That would be considered more casual and would not work on the Writing test.

2) DO NOT pretend to know the word and use it

Also, don’t pretend that you know the word and throw it into a bunch of different sentences if you don’t know how to use it.

That strategy also will not work. It will be obvious that you don’t know what you are writing about and your score will drop quickly.

What SHOULD you do:

Don’t worry about that specific word. Look around the word. Take what you DO understand and use that.

Play to your strengths.

Consider the words that you do know in the question and work with those.

It will not kill your score completely if you don’t understand it.

As long as you respond to all of the other parts of the question you can still get a good score.

Has this ever happened to you?

Did you have an experience where you didn’t know the meaning of a word in IELTS Writing Task 2?

Write your questions in the comments!

On the IELTS Speaking test the best way to push your speaking score to a 7 or higher is to use idioms and phrasal verbs.

If you use these terms the examiner will be impressed and will most likely give you extra points in the vocabulary section.

Today we are going to show you some phrasal verbs with “get” that can be used to describe connections between people or relationships.

#1) To get over

When you are feeling sad about something you need to “get over it.”

This means that you need to stop feeling sad and move on.

#2) To get around

To avoid something.

With this phrasal verb you can say “there’s just no getting around it.”

This means there’s no way to avoid something.

You can also use this phrasal verb in the physical sense when you want to avoid an obstacle in the road or on the sidewalk.

Example: “There was something in the road but I got around it and kept going.”

#3) To get away

This means to escape or to take a vacation and go somewhere else.

Sample sentence: “My friend is busy in New York and it’s hard for him to get away”

#4) To get along with

To have a good relationship or connection with someone.

Sample: “Do you get along with your siblings?”

#5) To get across

To communicate an idea.

To make someone understand something.

Sample answer: “I was mad at my friend and it was hard for me to get across why I was angry.”

Choose two of these phrasal verbs and practice them.

Plan to use them on your IELTS Speaking test if you get questions about relationships or for any other questions where they might fit.

Phrasal verbs with “get” could work for a lot of speaking answers.

What other phrasal verbs do you know with “get”?

Let us know in the comments below.

Are you an optimistic English student?

This week I worked with a student from Italy.

He inspired me because he only paid attention to his improvement.

He noticed that he was starting to understand spoken English a bit better.

What effect did this have?

It made him more motivated to keep improving and keep working on his English.

This created a positive feedback loop and now he is on track for even more improvement.

In contrast another student could have noticed the areas where he or she was not improving.

He could focus on that and that would have a negative effect on motivation and his future improvement.

 

Here is a great quote:

“Everything you see or hear or experience is specific to you.

You create the universe by perceiving it so everything in the universe you perceive is specific to you.”

-Douglas Adams

 

What do you think about this topic?

Do you see the glass as half empty or half full?

Let us know in the comments below.

Tarle Speech and Language Jennifer Tarle English Pronunciation

Today we have a guest back on the show to talk about American English pronunciation!

Jennifer Tarle from Tarle Speech and Language is here to help you with your consonants in English!

Jennifer was on the show last month and she gave us 3 immediate action steps to improve our English vowel sounds.

Today we’ll talk about consonant sounds in English.

What is a consonant?

Consonants have a very specific place that they are made in your mouth (with your lips, with the tip of your tongue, with the back of your tongue).

They also have a specific manner in which they are created.

Sometimes the air stops in your mouth or the air continues.

Today we’ll find out the biggest mistakes that students make with English consonants.

 

Mistake #1) Touching the tip of the tongue to the teeth

With the “TH” sound you should not touch your top or bottom teeth and keep the air moving.

If you touch your teeth you won’t pronounce the sound properly.

 

With the “S” sound you have the tip of your tongue between the top teeth but if you make the mistake of touching your teeth you will make the wrong sound.

With the “SH” sound, if you touch the tongue to your teeth you will say the “CH” or “T” sound.

With the “Z” sound you need to avoid touching the tongue to your teeth or you will say the “D” sound or the “J” sound.

 

Mistake #2) Not paying attention to voicing

Many students don’t pay attention to whether their voice is vibrating in certain sounds.

Most people only struggle with this at the end of the word.

For example, the “S” sound is not voiced. You don’t feel any vibration in your voice. In contrast the “Z” sound does create a vibration in your throat. You need to pay attention to how these sounds are different.

Also “K” is not voiced and “G” is voiced.

You should clearly feel the difference if you put your hand on your throat.

 

 

Mistake #3) Making mistakes with specific sounds

  • “SH” versus “CH”: With the “SH” sound your tongue doesn’t touch your teeth but with the “CH” sound it quickly touches your teeth then it pulls back
  • “W” versus “V”: A lot of Indian students struggle with this as well as European students. This goes back to spelling confusion. For the “W” sound round your lips like you are blowing someone a kiss. With the “V” sound we gently bite our bottom lip.
  • “V” and “B”: Japanese and Spanish speakers make this mistake as well as Romanian students. For the “V” you are gently biting your bottom lip and for the “B” sound you are squeezing your lips together and then releasing.

 

What English consonant sounds do you struggle with?

What questions do you have for Jennifer?

Let us know in the comments below.

 

Jennifer’s Bio

Tarle Speech and Language was founded in 2005 by Jennifer Tarle in order to empower individuals at all stages of life through better communication skills. Jennifer is a Certified Speech Pathologist with over 19 years of experience in speech-related training and  pathologies.

Jennifer earned a BS degree and an MA degree in Speech Pathology from Kent State University. She is licensed in CA, IL, & OH, is certified with the State Boards of Education in IL and OH, is certified by the IL early intervention system, holds the Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA), and has earned several AHSA ACE Awards for continuing education.

Jennifer is a self-published author of accent workbooks, audio CDs, DVDs, and iBooks.  Materials are designed to be easy and effective.  Products are all downloadable so that you can practice on the go!  She distributes her pronunciation materials solely through www.tarlespeech.com and iTunes.

Jennifer recently launched a new website with more free Minute of Speech videos and tips on how to improve your speaking clarity.  She also introduced a new product line of  downloadable sound packages.  Each package includes instructions on how to make a sound, practice word lists and sentences, and audio & video examples.  Clients can design their own program or buy a quick start guide to address the top three vowel and consonant mistakes for each language.  

Introductory through advanced classes on foreign accents are taught throughout the city of Chicago, via video conferencing, and throughout the world.  To help even more people, she launched a video podcast, The Minute of Speech, in 2007.  It is available on iTunes, YouTube, and at www.tarlespeech.com.  She implemented her Tarle Speech pronunciation and accent reduction program at the Nanjing University of Science and Technology, Nanjing, China and at E4TG in Tokyo, Japan.  Contact her to schedule a consultation or class.

Jennifer strives to help individuals to improve their lives through better communication.

Do you need to move your IELTS score from a 6 to a 7?

Last week we showed you how to move from a 5 to a 6 on Speaking.

Today let’s talk about how to move from a 6 to a 7.

It’s not an easy jump but with today’s episode you will get on the right track.

We’ll show you exactly how to spend your time to move your score up to a 7.

To make this jump you need to push yourself and do the right things when you prepare.

Remember, just listening to this episode will not increase your score.

Here is what you need to do:

#1) Fluency and coherence

To get a 7 you need to be flexible with your linking words and use the linking words correctly.

In Speaking Parts 2 and 3 use linking words to organize your ideas in your responses. In Speaking Part 1 you don’t need to use linking words because it’s more casual.

In Part 3 use more high-level linking words.

The other key is your ability to keep speaking. A “6” student will say “um,” “well” and will hesitate.

A “7” student has no problem continuing speaking.

This kind of student is confident and does not hesitate.

Get some speaking models and sample answers. Read them out loud in front of the mirror.

Get a native speaker to practice with. Work with an IELTS professional.

#2) Vocabulary

This is an easy way to push up your score.

You need flexible vocabulary. Use idioms, phrasal verbs, and expressions.

Check out our episodes on work idioms for IELTS Speaking, family idioms for the Speaking test and others.

However, remember that you need to practice these new vocabulary terms in real conversations and in your practice tests.

Be specific and use the right terms. Do not use general terms like “people” or “things.”

Make your vocabulary interesting and “native like” and you will be a “7” student in this category.

#3) Grammar

This is not a great area to focus on because it’s very hard to get a 7 on grammar.

To get a 7 you need to have mostly error-free sentences. It’s very hard to do this if you have a short amount of time to prepare.

Make sure you have a variety of sentence structures.

It takes years to make this jump so you might want to spend your time on other areas when it comes to the Speaking test.

Learn more about our IELTS grammar philosophy at All Ears English.

#4) Pronunciation

This is an easy way to increase your Speaking score.

This is fun to improve and it’s totally possible.

You can’t do it in a day or two but with a good study plan you can do it in a few months.

To get a 7 the examiner needs to understand you.

You can still have your accent but it shouldn’t affect the examiner’s comprehension.

If it’s easy to understand you then you will get a 7 for pronunciation.

The next thing is the intonation and stress.

Put emotion in your voice.

Tell stories in the Speaking test that you care about so that you will have feeling in your voice.

Check out this episode on How to Be a Drama King or Queen on the Speaking test.

Remember, these tips are just the starting point.

We are showing you what you need to focus on but now you need to get the daily study plan, do the practice exercises, and put in the time.

If you want more information on our course which contains all of these focus areas, check the video at the top of this page and get into our course for $1 for the first 3 days.

Let us know your questions in the comments.

Do you get nervous during the IELTS Listening test?

Are you afraid that you will lose control during the Listening test and you won’t understand anything?

Are you worried about the different accents on the test?

Today we have a fun solution for your problem!

The trick is to get into a TV series.

You’ll have fun with it and you’ll forget that you’re practicing your English. By the time you get to the test you will be comfortable with different English accents.

You can find great series and other resources on Netflix.

Should you use subtitles when you watch these series?

Yes, you can turn on the subtitles for the first couple of episodes until you have gotten used to the accent.

After you have gotten used to it you can turn off the subtitles.

TV Series:

#1) Almighty Johnsons

This is a fun TV series that is made in New Zealand.

You can read more about it here.

#2) Downtown Abbey

This is a popular British TV show.

It’s a great chance for you to get used to the British accent.

Learn more about it here.

#3) Dr. Who

This is also a British series. Learn about it here.

Jessica loves this one. Check it out!

#4) Call the Midwife

#5) Sherlock

Podcasts:

#6) Real Life Radio

This is a great podcast where you will hear the Australian accent. The guys who run this show are fun and you will finish every episode feeling motivated and ready to learn more.

Get more information here.

#7) Luke’s English Podcast

You will hear the British accent on this show.

Luke has fun and entertaining episodes where he talks about a variety of topics.

#8) Ron at English Funcast

Ron is a comedian and his podcasts are fun! He explains jokes and tells funny stories. He is from Canada so you will get to hear some small pronunciation differences between the American and the Canadian accent.

Get more listening resources here.

How to handle the Listening test:

In addition to practicing your general fluency and listening skills, you also need to do Listening test practice.

When it comes to test practice and the actual test, don’t take notes during the test.

When you have time to look at questions, underline the key words (names, numbers, verbs).

Next, predict answers. What do you need in the blank? Are you listening for a noun or for an adjective?

When they start speaking, follow along with your pen and fill in the answer as soon as you hear it.

You will have time to go back and check your answers.

By the time you get to the actual IELTS exam, you should be comfortable with hearing different types of accents.

Make sure that your study plan includes balanced practice which allows you to improve both your general fluency and also your test strategies.

Listening practice can be one of the most enjoyable parts of your IELTS study plan so grab some great resources and get started!

What other listening resources do you know?

Let us know in the comments below.

Do you get confused between “grow” and “grow up” in English?

Today we’ll show you how to know the difference and use each term correctly.

We’ll also throw in some bonus English phrasal verbs with “grow” to help you sound more natural when you speak English with natives!

 When do we use “grow”?

We use this to talk about something getting physically bigger or longer. We can say “My grass is growing” or “My bank account is growing.”

Examples of “grow”:

  • “Does your hair grow fast or does it grow slowly?”
  • “What’s the best way to grow a business fast?”
  • “What should I do if I need to grow my bank account?”

When do we use “grow up”?

This is only used to talk about people becoming more mature.

Using “grow up” implies that the thing is human.

Examples of “grow up”:

  • “Where did you grow up?
  • “What movies were popular when you were growing up?”
  • “What was your favorite meal as a kid growing up?
  • “What’s the best thing about watching your niece grow up?”

Bonus phrasal verbs with “grow”:

  • “To grow into”: When a child gets big enough to wear clothing that had been too large before.
    • Sample sentence: “Oh don’t worry if that shirt is too big right now. He’ll grow into it.”
  • “To grow out”: To allow something to get long naturally
    • Sample sentence: “Are you going to grow out your beard this summer?”
  • “To grow out of something” To become too mature for something
    • Sample sentence: “I used to be a stubborn kid but I grew out of it.”
  • “To grow apart”: To no longer be close with someone because your lives diverge and you have different interests
    • Sample sentence: “My friend and I grew apart after high school because she got married and I moved to the city.”

What other phrasal verbs do you know with “grow”?

Let us know in the comments below and tell us if you have any questions from today’s episode.

Do you use the phrase “I wonder if…” to make a polite request in English?

If you use this phrase for that purpose it makes you sound old fashioned and irrelevant.

Today get six alternative phrases to make a request that are more up to date and modern.

 

native English teachersAre you looking for a professional, native English teacher online?

Get a native English teacher online in seconds at italki.

Lindsay and Michelle recommend italki as our #1 English-learning solution online. Choose from more than 400 teachers to work on your business English or to pass your next big exam.

Get our special offer before it runs out! Go to italki and claim 10USD to go toward a FREE second English lesson at italki!

 

Here is the phrase that you should avoid using: “I wonder if you could tell the correct word” or “I wonder if you could get me a drink.”

This phrase sound old fashioned and indirect.

It does not sound strong enough.

Actually the phrase “I wonder if…” is used to contemplate or ponder something. It’s not used to make a request in modern American English.

For example, we might say “I wonder if there is life on other planets.” or “I wonder if I will ever get married.”

 

Here are some better phrases to make polite requests in English:

  • “Do you mind…?.”
  • “Would you mind…?
  • “Could I…?”
  • “Would it be ok if…?”
  • “Would it be possible…?”
  • “Would you be willing to…?”

These are better and more modern ways to make a request in English.

Listen to the episode to get role plays of Michelle and Lindsay using these phrases in a real conversation.

 

What other ways do you know to make a polite request in English?

Let us know in the comments below.

You want to score a 7 or higher on IELTS, right?

If so, when you choose an IELTS teacher you need to be careful!

Recently we have heard a lot of bad advice from IELTS teachers.

Students come to us and ask if the advice that they heard is true.

In today’s episode we are going to tell you the most common myths that students are hearing from bad IELTS teachers.

Myth #1) You need to speak British English on the IELTS

This is incorrect! If someone tells you this, run away from them!

They are not a qualified IELTS teacher.

The IELTS is an international exam.

Even though the company that makes the IELTS exam is a British company, it does not matter.

You can spell in British English or American English on the Writing and the Listening test.

On the Speaking test you can speak in any accent you want.

The accent doesn’t matter on the Speaking test.

What matters is being understood.

If you can be understood by the examiner, you will get a better score.

Read more here

Myth #2) You cannot make up facts on the Speaking or Writing test

This is also a lie.

Of course you can make up facts.

In many cases you have to make up facts and create fake research to support your ideas.

The examiner knows that you don’t have access to the internet.

Also, the examiner will love it if you are creative and spontaneous.

They will be more likely to give you a higher score if you are able to keep it fun and interesting by adding your own facts and statistics to support your ideas.

Myth #3) You should take notes while you listen

This is wrong.

There is no time to take notes on the Listening test.

You should not take your attention away from the Listening to write things down.

You should instead follow along, stare at key words that you underline, and predict the answer.

Myth #4) You must ALWAYS use high-level academic words for the entire Speaking test

You should NOT use formal, academic vocabulary for the entire Speaking test.

You only need academic vocabulary for Speaking Part 3.

For Speaking Parts 1 and 2 you should be using casual slang and natural idioms and expressions.

Myth #5) You should write a 4-paragraph essay format for Writing Task 1

No! This is also a myth.

Teachers will tell you this if they are not familiar with the IELTS exam. They will tell you to write the IELTS essay in the same way that they write a traditional academic essay but that is not the right way to do it.

There are very specific ways to do Writing Task 1 for the IELTS and you can learn more about it here.

If you hear any of these myths from your IELTS teacher you should stop working with them.

Why? If they are telling you one of these myths then they are probably telling you other things about IELTS that are incorrect.

You should not waste your time and money with someone who is a general test-prep expert and teaches TOEFL, IELTS, and other exams.

Has a teacher ever told you these myths?

Tell us in the comments below.

Do you like to party?

On the IELTS Speaking test there are a lot of questions about parties and celebrations.

If you get a question like this you should use idioms and expressions to boost your vocabulary score to a 7 or higher.

Today we’ll give you 6 idioms to increase your score with these questions.

Here are 6 great Speaking test idioms for questions about parties and celebrations:

  • To get down: To dance, to have fun, to enjoy, to get crazy
  • To throw a party: To host a party, to invite guests
  •  To crash a party: To show up uninvited, to go when you are not supposed to be at the party
  •  To be the life of the party: To be the person that everyone is looking at, to be entertaining everyone, to be the center of attention, telling jokes, making the party fun
  • To be a party pooper: Someone who doesn’t have fun at parties
  • To be a wallflower: Someone who is shy and stands in the corner at a party and does not socialize very much
  • To be a party animal: Someone who loves parties
  • To let your hair down: To relax, let loose, have fun, loosen up, chill out and have a good time

Use these idioms on your speaking test if you get a question about parties and celebrations. Why? When the examiner hears idioms like these they automatically push your vocabulary score up.

This increase in your vocabulary score could push your entire band score up and might mean the difference between a 6 and a 7.

Want more episodes like this one? Get idioms for questions about work

What idioms do you know that can be used to talk about parties and celebrations?

Let us know in the comments below.

Do you feel happy in your life?

Do you feel happy at work?

We watched a video on the Today Show that showed us the three numbers that help us be happier at work.

What do you think about these three actions? Do you agree that they could make you happier at home and at work?

Here are the three numbers:

  • FIVE: 5 minutes of meditation. Meditation has been found to change your brain. Try focusing on your breath for just ten minutes a day.

 

  • THREE: Write down 3 good things in your life every day. What are you grateful for? What are the simple things in your life that you appreciate?

 

  • ONE: Do 1 act of kindness every day
    • “Oh let me help you with that.”
    • “How can I help?”
    • “Do you need any help?”
    • “I’m around if you want to talk.”

 

Do you feel happy at work?

Could you implement these three numbers into your life to make your day better?

Let us know your ideas in the comments below.

To get that 7 or higher on IELTS you need to use idioms in your answers.

In other articles we have talked about idioms to talk about work, idioms to discuss technology, and idioms to talk about sports and exercise.

If the examiner feels that your vocabulary is above and beyond what you would read in a textbook, he or she is likely to give you extra points for vocabulary which could bump up your entire speaking score.

The best way to prepare to use idioms on the IELTS Speaking test is to learn at least 2 idioms for each speaking question type and practice using them with a native speaker or with an IELTS professional.

Today we’ll give you four idioms that you can use when you get speaking questions about family.

You might get any of these questions:

  • How many people are in your family?
  • Do you all live together in the same house?
  • What do you like to do together as a family?
  • Who do you get along with the best?

In this article I will give you four great idioms that you can use to talk about your family on the Speaking test.

#1) It runs in the family

This means that a character trait or a physical feature is found in many people within the same family.

Here is a sample sentence: “I like to be active and I participate in a lot of marathons and road races. It runs in the family because my dad also runs in marathons sometimes. We often train for the big races together.”

Here is another example: “My dad has high blood pressure and I started to develop it this summer. I guess it runs in the family.”

#2) Flesh and blood

This means that you have the same genes and that you are related.

We usually use this idioms when we want to say that we will support someone if they are in our family regardless of their actions.

You might answer a question like this: “Even though my sister can be annoying sometimes I always stand up for her when she is in trouble because she is my own flesh and blood.”

#3) Sibling rivalry

This means that you and your sibling (brother or sister) often compete.

You might compete with your sibling on academic achievements, athletics, or you might compete for your parent’s attention.

Here is how you could use this on the Speaking test: “My brother and I get along well now that we are adults but when we were kids we had a major sibling rivalry and we would compete with each other constantly.”

#4) The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree

This means that a son or daughter might repeat the behavior that they see in their father or mother.

This is often used to describe negative actions that a son or daughter might take that resemble the actions of their parent.

Here is an example: “My sister is just like my father. She jumps from job to job and can’t settle on one career path. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”

Remember, using idioms on the IELTS Speaking test is one of the easiest ways to increase your score.

Practice the idioms in today’s article with a native speaker or an IELTS professional and you will be on you way to your target score.

Good luck and let us know in the comments if you have any questions.

Are you worried about using the present perfect on your IELTS Speaking test?

Many students get stressed when it comes to grammar tenses like this one.

Today we’ll show you how to use the present perfect and the simple past to respond to typical Speaking questions for a 7 or higher.

We’ll give you some simple and easy rules to follow on the test.

We use present perfect to describe achievements and accomplishments in the past.

How is present perfect different from simple past?

With the present perfect it doesn’t matter when the accomplishment happened. For example, “I have traveled to more than 30 countries.”

With the simple past, the time that the event happened is important and the specific details are given. For example, “I went to Mexico in 2005 and I ate Mexican food.”

In Speaking Part 2 when you introduce a story and at the beginning you might use present perfect to introduce the overall experience and then when you get into specific details you can use the simple past.

You should mix in both tenses to get a more dynamic and interesting answer and a higher grammar score.

Sample Answers:

Q: Do you enjoy going to museums?

A: Yes, I have been to many museums. When I lived in New York I went to a museum every week. When I went to Italy I also spent a lot of time at museums because they are famous there. I think it’s great to go to museums and see works of art that we don’t get to see every day.

Q: What books do you enjoy reading?

A: Good question. I love reading books. I have always loved reading science fiction and horror. I have read every book by Steven King. The last book I read by him was Full Dark No Stars. I read it and scared myself before I fell asleep every night.

With both of these sample answers we mixed the present perfect and the simple past in the same idea to introduce different parts of the answer and to add details and main ideas. This is what you need to do on your Speaking test. Practice writing down our sample answers here and create your own using the same grammar structures.

What questions do you have about using present perfect and simple past on the IELTS Speaking test?

Let us know in the comments below.

Do you get confused between “remember” and “remind” in English?

We hear students make this mistake all of the time and we are going to fix it today!

Let’s talk about the difference between the two words:

  • To remind: To tell someone about something. This usually involves two people or the person and something else that helps the person “remember”
  • To remember: This only happens with one person. There is information that the person recalls on their own without anything that “reminds” them.

 

Here are some common phrases:

  • Would you remind me your name?
  • Will you remind me to take out the trash on Wednesday night?
  • Did you remember to stop at the post office?

 

Listen to the role play between Lindsay and Michelle to get some great examples of how to use “remind” and “remember.”

 

Do you have trouble with these two words?

Let us know in the comments and write your sample sentences!

Do you ever want to escape a bad conversation in English without sounding rude?

Sometimes you start a conversation but then you realize that the person is not very interested in you or they are not interesting to speak with at all.

Last week we learned some phrases to continue the conversation in English.

Today we’ll give you 7 English phrases to get out of the situation gracefully without burning bridges.

Here are some phrases to end a conversation politely:

  • “Ok well have a great night.”
  • “Have a good time.”
  • “Ok I’m going to get a drink.”
  • “Ok take care”
  • “I’m going to go mingle around a bit but have a great night.”
  • “It was great talking with you.”
  • “I’m going to go grab something to eat so I’ll talk to you later.”

What other phrases can you use to end a conversation in English?

Let us know in the comments below.

Do you need to move your IELTS Speaking score from a 5 to a 6?

In today’s episode you’ll find out exactly what the examiner listens for and how to use this information to push up your score.

There is a big difference between a 5 and 6 on IELTS Speaking.

Here is what the examiner looks for:

  • Fluency and coherence: If you can keep talking and speak for the full two minutes and if you can use complete sentences you can get a 6. You will also get a 6 if you don’t use “um” and “uh.” If you use linking words then you can get a 6. On the other hand, if you speak slowly, pause often, use “um” or “ugh” or “like” then you will get a 5 for this grading category. Remember, fluency is the ability to keep talking and that is what you need to get a 6.
  • Vocabulary/Lexical Resources: If you have enough vocabulary to get your ideas across you can get a 6.  It may be wrong but the examiner understands what you want to say. If you can talk about familiar topics such as personal topics (going to the movies, shopping) with the correct vocabulary but when you get to unfamiliar topics in Speaking Part 3 you don’t have enough vocabulary words then you will get a 5. People who get a 5 here also use general words like “stuff” or “things” or “people.” These vocabulary words are too broad. Practice being specific with your choice of words and you will get a 6 in this category.
  • Grammar: To get a 6 you need a mix of sentence structures including compound, complex, and simple sentences. You can have some mistakes and still get a 6. Don’t focus on small grammar rules like prepositions. Read more about grammar on the IELTS here.
  • Pronunciation: This is the easiest place to improve your score. Someone who gets a 5 talks like a robot with no feeling in their voice and all of their words sound exactly the same. To get a 6 you need to put some feeling in your voice. Practice varying your tone of voice in your English conversation practice and you’ll be ready to do in the test.

A student who gets a 6 is able to get their ideas across and the examiner understands most of what they are saying.

A student who gets a 5 cannot communicate their ideas and be understood, especially when they get to Speaking Part 3

Are you ready to move your score from a 5 to 6 on IELTS Speaking?

Let us know what your study plan is in the comments below.

Today you’ll find out what English phrase you should eliminate from your vocabulary and you’ll get 5 or 6 new phrases to replace it with when you agree with someone in English.

Do you use the phrase “Very well” when you want to say that you understand or that you agree?

If you are using this phrase it sounds old fashioned, stiff, formal, and out of date.

There are some better phrases that you can use.

Instead we recommend the following phrases:

  • “Ok that’s fine.”
  • “Ok, agreed”
  • “Ok got it.”
  • “Ok sounds good.”
  • “Ok sounds great.”
  • “See you then.”
  • “Yeah that works.”
  • “That’s cool.”

 

https://www.allearsenglish.com/italkiAre you looking for a professional, native English teacher online?

Get a native English teacher online in seconds at italki.

Lindsay and Michelle recommend italki as our #1 English-learning solution online. Choose from more than 400 teachers to work on your business English or to pass your next big exam.

Get our special offer before it runs out! Go to italki and claim 10USD to go toward a FREE second English lesson at italki!

 

Listen to the role plays between Michelle and Lindsay in this episode to see exactly how these phrases are used.

 

What other phrases do you know to agree with someone in English?

Let us know in the comments below.

Today we are talking about the key differences between IELTS Writing Task 1 for the General Exam and the Academic Exam.

For the General Exam you will have to write a letter.

It is easier than the Academic Exam because they tell you exactly what to write.

There are a number of different letter types and you should practice them all in your preparation plan.

For the letter task you will get a situation and you will have 3 bullet points that you must talk about in your letter.

Make a paragraph for each bullet point.

Make sure you talk about each bullet point in your letter because that is part of your task achievement grade.

One common type of General essay question is the letter of complaint. For example, you could get a situation where you have stayed at a hotel and you had a problem.

Now you have to write a letter of complaint explaining what happened. You’ll need to be able to use formal vocabulary for a letter like this.

Remember these tips for the letter of complaint:

  • You need to include specific details of your stay
  • Use formal vocabulary that sounds polite
  • Use interesting vocabulary such as idioms, specific words, expressions, phrasal verbs
  • You must address all 3 bullet points to get the 7 or higher
  • You need to show a mix of sentence structures. You can’t just use simple sentence structures
  • You need to have paragraphs and you must use linking words to organize your ideas

Letters of complaint are always formal so you need to use high-level, polite language.

You could use the following:

  • “Would you mind if…”
  • “Would it be possible to…”

What questions do you have about writing a letter of complaint on the General Exam?

Let us know in the comments section below.

Michelle used to be a stand-up comic!

She performed at improv events and open mic nights around New York City.

There is so much to learn from comedians about how to communicate well in English

Here is what you can learn from a stand-up comedian about how to be a better English learner:

  • Be flexible: Never memorize things.  Keep your language alive. Don’t make it static and dead. Language is dynamic. It is ok to memorize small chunks but you need to be able to plug them into spontaneous and flexible conversations. If you notice that something is not working then you need to be able to change quickly.

 

  • Be playful: Be light on your feet. When someone doesn’t understand you, don’t take it too seriously. Use more of an experimental attitude toward language. If comedians tell a joke that “bombs” then they keep going. You can do the same with your English. If you make a mistake, keep going and “roll with the punches.”

 

  • Be self-deprecating: Make fun of yourself or “poke” fun at yourself. Don’t take yourself too seriously and don’t take life too seriously. If something makes you look bad then you are ok with it. Remember, Connection NOT Perfection!

 

What do you think?

Can you apply some of these ideas to your English learning skills?

What is the difference between the IELTS Academic Exam and IELTS General Exam?

Today we’ll show you the major differences and we’ll tell you exactly what to expect on the General IELTS Writing test.

There is not a huge difference between the IELTS Academic and the IELTS General Exam.

The Reading test is slightly easier and the Writing test for Task 1 is different and the Writing Task 2 essay topic might be a bit easier.

On the IELTS General Exam for Writing Task 1 you will need to write a letter.

The key is to make sure that you use the right tone when you write the essay based on the goal of the letter.

For example, you might have to write a letter of complaint to return a product.

In this case you would need some formal vocabulary in the letter.

For Writing Task 1 on the IELTS Academic Exam you will see a graph and you will need to write about it.

We’ll give you more details on how to write an essay for the General Exam in future episodes.

Are you taking the IELTS General or the IELTS Academic?

Let us know in the comments below.

John Fotheringham Language Mastery Show

Today we have a special guest on the show.

Our guest is the creator of The Language Mastery Show.

Today John will show you how to take learning into your own hands using exchanges and paid lessons to hit that higher level of English that you are looking for! Check out John’s tips below.

 

Tip #1) Get a language tutor

You must apply what you are learning on your own through a book or a podcast.

John recommends italki. Apply what you are learning in your independent study with your native English tutor.

Try out different phrases that you hear and ask your tutor for connections.

When you know you have a meeting with a tutor coming up you are more likely to put in the time every day to prepare.

Thirty minutes is a good amount of time for a lesson.

 

Tip #2) Try lang8.com

This site will help you practice your writing.

It’s another great way to put into practice what you learn through reading and listening.

A lot of students overlook the importance of practicing writing.

You submit your essays to be corrected by a native.

You also correct essays in your native language.

Using the site is free if you are also helping people learn your native language.

You can submit a term paper, a blog post, a journal entry, even an email.

 

Tip #3) Try Rhinospike.com

You submit text and you have native speakers record the text in audio format.

The idea is that you get to hear what you write being spoken by a native speaker.

This is free because you also record something in your native language that someone else has submitted.

 

What do the most successful students do?

They are motivated and interested.

If you want to learn you can get by with average materials and a lack of time.

Having a need or a strong desire to learn is the key to success when it comes to independent English learning.

 

John’s Bio:

Howdy language lovers! I’m John Fotheringham, a linguist, author, entrepreneur, vagabond, and full-time silly goose. I have been learning and teaching languages for over a decade and have seen first-hand what works and what doesn’t. And what have I learned?

Anyone can learn a language regardless of age, income, or zip code with the right attitude, methods, and materials. Most adult learners fail because they spend all their time learning about the language instead of actually practicing in the language.

You DON’T need to spend thousands of dollars on classes but a little in the right tools and materials can go a long way.

You DON’T need to force yourself through boring textbooks. Fun, modern, relevant materials are readily available online.

You DON’T need to be “gifted” at languages, but you DO need to figure out what methods fit your learning style, schedule, and personality.

You DON’T need to move abroad. Creative use of technology allows you to create an immersion environment no matter where you live.

You DO need to maximize your exposure to the language everyday through listening and reading input and maximize your active practice through speaking and writing output.

For adult-friendly language learning tips, tools, and tech, check out my blog Language Mastery, my podcast, The Language Mastery Show, and my comprehensive language guides.

 

 

Have you tried these tools?

How did you like them?

Let us know in the comments below.

If you want to get the highest possible IELTS Writing score for Writing Task 2 then you need linking words!

What linking words should you use and how should you use them?

Find out today!

In our daily study plan in 3 Keys IELTS we give you all of the linking words you need for the exam.

In the last episode we said that in IELTS Writing Task 2 if you get an opinion essay then you can answer it using both sides of an argument because using that style you will find it easier to come up with examples.

Today we are going to talk about the kind of vocabulary that we have to use to get a 7 or higher on IELTS Writing Task 2.

We have to use linking words!

Every sentence should have a linking word.

Use them all of the time.

Get Strategies Created by a Former IELTS Examiner

3 Keys IELTS Online Course logoAre you ready to move past IELTS and move forward with your life vision?

Find out why our strategies are the most powerful in the IELTS world.

When you use our Insider Method you avoid the BIGGEST MISTAKES that most students make on IELTS.

Click here to get a score increase on IELTS.

It’s 100% guaranteed.

Click here to enroll now.

Here are the linking words that you can use for every body paragraph

Topic: gentrification in urban areas (lower income families are having to move out of their neighborhood away from the urban areas because their rent is going up)

As for those who believe that gentrification is good, they feel this way because their neighborhood becomes safer. For instance, a study last year found that crime had decreased by 17% in Park Slope last year. In addition, they believe that real estate investors should be able to increase rent as they deem fit. A fantastic example of this is, the house next to me rented for $1200 per month last year and now it’s renting for $1600 per month.

In contrast, other people hold the notion that gentrification is unfair. Firstly, this is because longtime residents can no longer afford to live there. For example, my friend at work had to leave her neighborhood after twenty five years. Moreover, this is pushing people out into areas that are farther away from home or school, creating more challenges for them to succeed. More specifically, my colleague used to commute one hour to work and now she has to commute for two hours.

Takeaway:

A key part of your Writing score on Task 2 is using high-level linking words. You will lower your score to a 6 if you use linking words that every other student is using. 

Make your essay stand out in the eyes of the Examiner and become a 7 candidate by using these exact linking words to get a 7 or higher on your Writing Task 2 essay.

What questions do you have about Writing Task 2?

Ask us in the comments below.

Do you need a 7 or higher on the IELTS?

Do you have a limited amount of time and money to prepare?

If you are in this position then you must maximize the time that you do have and do the right things every single day to get ready for your exam.

If you don’t want to take the exam multiple times, it’s best to find a quality IELTS course where the IELTS study plan has already been created for you.

However, if you want to create your study plan by yourself, today you will learn four things that you need to think about when you create your study plan.

Get a 100% Score Increase Guarantee with the Insider Method

Are you ready to move past IELTS and move forward with your life vision?

Find out why our strategies are the most powerful in the IELTS world.

When you use our Insider Method you avoid the BIGGEST MISTAKES that most students make on IELTS.

Click here to get a score increase on IELTS.

It’s 100% guaranteed.

#1) Create a balanced study plan

To get a 7 or higher on IELTS you need to focus on two things: test strategy/practice and general fluency. You can’t ignore either one of these. They are both important.

When you create your study plan, you need the following:

  • Strategies and test practice: Make sure that the foundation of your course includes learning strategies (these strategies should come from a qualified IELTS professional that you trust)
  • Exercises to improve your general fluency such as listening to podcasts with different accents, meeting with a native English conversation partner for speaking practice, reading the NY Times or another high-level newspaper and other solid activities to help you build confidence.

Write out your daily preparation activities and be sure that each week includes general fluency build and test preparation.

If you leave either of these out then you are unlikely to get the score you need.

#2) Test practice comes at the end of your plan

Should you include practice tests under test conditions every week in your study plan or should you place most of the test practice at the end?

It’s better to do most of your practice tests during the final 25% of your preparation time.

Why?

You need to build your foundation by learning test strategies and improving your general fluency first.

This will help you get confident so that you when you take your practice tests, you will be able to use those strategies that you have learned.

Should you take a practice test before you start your study plan as a pre-test?

If you are at a lower level it’s best to avoid early practice tests and focus on strategy first.

Learn more here: When Should I Start Preparing Under Test Conditions?

#3) Check in with a qualified IELTS professional

The stakes are high when it comes to the IELTS.

This test will determine your future career opportunities and what happens in your life moving forward. It will also determine opportunities for your family if you move abroad with them.

Unless your level is already very high, it doesn’t make sense to do this by yourself.

Work with a qualified IELTS professional and have them check your IELTS Speaking and IELTS Writing practice tests.

You could create your IELTS study by yourself and have the professional check it and add a few ideas or you could ask them to create it for you.

Whether you take a full IELTS course or just check in with a professional every few weeks, you can’t do this by yourself.

When you select an IELTS professional, ask them the following questions:

  • How many students have you prepared for IELTS and what scores did they get?
  • What are your IELTS strategies and how do you know they work?
  • Can I speak with your former IELTS students?

There are many ESL teachers out there who say they can prepare you for IELTS but they don’t have the depth of knowledge that they need to help you get your target score.

Be careful when you make your choice!

#4) Don’t rely only on “tips and tricks”

Don’t make the mistake of believing that a simple “tip or trick” will help you get the score you need.

On our IELTS podcast we give you tons of “tips and tricks” but they are not meant to be your only practice.

They are meant to be a starting point or just a taste of the information that you need. You need to go deeper in your study plan.

When you create your study plan you need to include more substance where you are learning real strategies in a step-by-step manner and then practicing them in an intensive format.

If you rely entirely on free content such as quick tips and tricks then you will miss the in-depth practice and implementation of the strategies that you need.

Be smart when it comes to IELTS preparation.

Invest your time and money in your dream and you will see results but don’t try to take shortcuts tips and tricks.

Now get started!

If you follow the suggestions above you can create a great IELTS study plan which will give you the structure and daily actions that you need to get closer to your target score.

Remember, a daily study plan is not going to help you if you don’t use it!

Block off a specific time each day (2-3 hours for 30 days) to prepare for IELTS.

Put in the time, take the right actions, and use the right materials and you will get your target score.

What questions do you have about how to create an IELTS study plan?

Let us know in the comments below.

Today we’ll answer a question from a student. Michelle’s student asked: How do I know if “girlfriend” means platonic friend or romantic interest?

The first thing we want to consider is the context.

What do you know about the person who is speaking and what exactly are they saying about the person?

If someone says, “I bought my girlfriend flowers” then the person is probably talking about a romantic interest.

It also depends on the gender of the person who is saying it.

When a man says “my girlfriend” it is definitely a romantic interest.

If a man wants to talk about a friend who is a girl he would say “my friend.”

If a man wants to talk about his friend who is a guy he would say “my buddy” or “my friend.”

If a girl says “my girlfriend” then it might be platonic but it might also mean that the person is a romantic interest.

 

Here are some examples:

  • “I went with a few girlfriends to the beach over the weekend.” In this case the person is probably talking about platonic friends because the person has more than one girlfriend.
  • “I have a girlfriend who works for that company.” This is probably also a platonic friend because the person said “I have a girlfriend” because it implies that this is one out of many friends that the person has.
  • “I went to the movies with my girlfriend.” This one sounds like a romantic interest because the use of the word “my” makes it sound more exclusive and as if there is only one girlfriend.

What are your thoughts on today’s episode?

Let us know in the comments below!

Today you’ll get three solid steps to tackle IELTS Writing Task 2!

You’ll learn how to stay calm and get the best possible score on the IELTS Writing test when you are writing argument and opinion essays.

All Task 2 questions look the same. You might see this question: Many people today think that zoos are cruel to animals and should be closed. To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement?

To answer this question it’s better to write an argument essay where you talk about both sides.

Why? If you write an opinion essay (one side only) it’s harder to write because you need to come up with more ideas and specific examples for one side. Therefore, answer every question as an argument essay (address both sides).

Where should you start?

Brainstorm the W questions:

  • Who
  • What
  • When
  • Where
  • Why

Write down everything you can think of to support both sides of the issue.

Write down examples and main ideas.

Learn more here about how to brainstorm for IELTS Writing.

Remember!

You must address everything that is asked in the essay question.

If the questions asks you to respond to both sides of the argument then you need to include both sides in order to get the highest possible score.

For that reason it’s best to always answer Task 2 questions as an argument essay, addressing both sides.

How to calm your nerves when you write the essay:

Before you write out your essay try to clear your mind and take three deep breaths.  Feel your feet on the floor. Next, start writing with a clear mind.

Steps to follow for IELTS Writing Task 2:

  • Step 1: Close your eyes and take 3 deep breaths
  • Step 2: Look at the test question. Give yourself a few minutes to understand it
  • Step 3: Take 3-5 minutes to brainstorm
  • Step 4: Write your essay

What questions do you have about IELTS Writing Task 2  and how to structure your essays?

Let us know in the comments below.

Today we have a guest on the show!

Scott from Scott’s English Success is here to give you his top 3 tips on how to pass the IELTS Exam.

Here are Scott’s top 3 tips:

  • Get to know the test: You need to know all four sections well. The more that you know, the easier it will be to anticipate what’s coming. You don’t want to be wasting time reading the instructions. You should already know the instructions by taking practice tests. There should be no surprises and nothing unfamiliar in terms of the format of the exam. Get familiar with all of the different question types on each test section. This can’t be done overnight. It takes time, effort, and energy. You need to plan ahead and give yourself the time you need to get to know the test well. This will save you money because it’s expensive to take this test.
  • Understand how you’ll be assessed: This is especially true for the IELTS Writing test. You need to know the four categories of assessment. They include:  Task Achievement, Grammar, Coherence and Cohesion, and Vocabulary. If you know that these are the things that the examiner is looking at then you can consider them when you write your essays. Use these guidelines to “begin with the end in mind.”
  •  Stick to an exam plan: The students who have a plan and stick to it always do better on the exam. You should have a plan for what you will do every day during your preparation time.  You also need solid strategies for each part of the exam. It’s important to use strategies so that you feel comfortable and oriented when you are in any part of the exam.

* Bonus tip! You need to have a large vocabulary. If you understand more words on the exam you won’t have to slow down to try to understand words as they come up on the IELTS Reading or the IELTS Listening test.

Don’t just learn the definitions of words. You need to know how to use the words and in what contexts. Practice them with a native speaking partner before your exam.

Spend a good chunk of your study time focusing on vocabulary for more confidence and speed on the exam.

Scott’s Bio:

Scott is the founder and creator of Scott’s English Success.

What are your thoughts on today’s episode?

Which tips will you implement into your IELTS study routine?

Let us know in the comments below!

Do you know how to talk about success in English like a native speaker?

Would you like to sound more natural when you talk about this topic?

In today’s episode we’ll show you how to do it and we’ll talk about what makes a person successful.

Here are the expressions from today:

  • “To stand out”: To draw focus to yourself. To be different in a way that draws attention or focus. Here is a sample sentence: “Successful people stand out in one way or another.”

 

  • “To keep up”: To try to be the same as everyone else, to stay at the same pace as everyone else. “People who succeed in the world don’t try to keep up with others. They only focus on competing with themselves.”

 

  • “To go above and beyond”: To do more than average. To do something more than most people do. “My friend goes above and beyond to please her customers.”

 

  • “To come out on top”: To succeed, to have a positive result if you are in some kind of competition.

 

 

https://www.allearsenglish.com/italkiAre you looking for a professional, native English teacher online?

Get a native English teacher online in seconds at italki.

Lindsay and Michelle recommend italki as our #1 English-learning solution online. Choose from more than 400 teachers to work on your business English or to pass your next big exam.

Get our special offer before it runs out! Go to italki and claim 10USD to go toward a FREE second English lesson at italki!

 

What do you think makes someone successful?

Leave us a message in the comments and use the vocabulary words from today.

Are you worried about anxiety on the IELTS Exam?

Are you afraid that you will become nervous and anxious on the IELTS Speaking test and the IELTS Writing test?

Maybe your mind will go blank during the Listening test and you won’t be able to focus on what you are hearing from the audio track?

Anxiety is a real problem for many IELTS students especially if you have already taken the exam and you didn’t get the score you needed.

Don’t worry! You don’t need to let it take over your exam.

The first step is being well prepared.

Preparation is your foundation.

You need to prepare with someone who knows the exam or with a high-quality course where you’ll learn the right strategies that will allow you to walk into the exam with confidence.

Today I will show you three things you can do to keep your anxiety under control and get the IELTS score you need.

Tip #1) Know where it is likely to occur

In order to prevent anxiety from throwing you off, you should know where on the test you are likely to start to feel anxious.

What parts of the test trigger your anxiety and why?

This is easier for people who have already taken the exam but if you work with a qualified IELTS professional, that person can help you anticipate anxiety-provoking test sections and help you learn what to do when anxiety comes up depending on where you are in the test.

For example, on the Reading test there are two situations that will probably provoke anxiety.

What should do in these situations?

  • Situation #1: You don’t understand every word you read.
    • IELTS doesn’t expect you to know every word. Don’t let one word distract you and throw you into anxiety. Keep moving forward with the passage.
  • Situation #2: You don’t have enough time to complete the full Reading test
    • Go back to the strategies that you should have learned during your IELTS preparation. You must have a solid strategy to complete the reading on time. This strategy will be a solid foundation and will give you a resource to turn to when you get anxious.

Tip #2) Notice when you are feeling anxious

The key to not letting any emotion or feeling take over is to recognize and acknowledge when you are feeling something. In this case, notice when anxiety occurs in your body.

Are your palms starting to sweat? Is your stomach nauseous?

Is your heart beating fast?

Don’t ignore this when you notice it.

It’s a natural way that your body is reacting to a big test where the stakes for you are high.

Accept the fact that you are feeling anxious so that you can start to move past it.

Take a few deep breaths. Feel your feet on the ground. Spend a few seconds coming into the present. Then move forward.

Tip #3) Use your anxiety to increase your score

This may be counter-intuitive but on some parts of the test you can use your anxiety as an opportunity to show your language resources such as vocabulary, flexibility, and fluency.

You can also show that you know how to use your sense of humor in English.

Let’s get more specific.

On the Speaking test, what should you do if your mind goes blank?

Instead of freezing, getting quiet, saying “um” and “uh” or letting your anxiety ruin your test, try articulating what is happening to the examiner.

Use an idiom or a native phrase to do it.

Use rhythm and feeling in your voice to increase your pronunciation score also.

You can say:

  • “I am sorry. My mind just went blank.” (great native idiom)
  • “Give me a second. It’s on the tip of my tongue.” (this means you almost have the answer)
  • “I am blanking on this topic right now. Let me see… (now tell a personal story if you can)

If you use advanced language like this with some feeling in your voice, you might be able to use the moment of anxiety to move your vocabulary and/or pronunciation scores from a 6 to a 7.

To get a 7 on vocabulary in the Speaking test you need to have phrases that natives actually use.

To get a 7 on pronunciation you should avoid sounding like a robot.

You should sound like a real human being with life in your voice.

Your voice should show some emotion.

A moment of anxiety is a great opportunity to do all of these things and increase your speaking score.

Here’s the key thing to remember

When you experience anxiety on the IELTS it doesn’t have to bring your score down. Don’t fear it. Know when it’s likely to occur.

Be well prepared so that you know exactly what to do.

Use it to increase your score.

Everyone experiences anxiety on the IELTS.

The candidates who know how to make use of it skillfully will be the ones who get the score they need.

What do you think about anxiety on the IELTS?

Have you experienced it before?

What happened and how did you react to it? What will you do differently next time?

Let us know in the comments below.

Do you use emojis and emoticons when you text in English?

Today we’ll talk about what messages emojis can send and what impression it can leave about you.

What can an emoji be useful for? If you are saying something that is harsh you can use them to soften your message.

Emoji “etiquette” might vary across cultures. If you have just moved to the US then you should hang back and observe. See what people send to you.

In the US emojis are good for:

  • Flirting/talking with someone you are dating
  • Speaking with friends

 

They are not good for:

  • Acquaintances
  • Bosses or managers
  • Colleagues that you are not close to

 

Do you use emojis? How do you use them? Who do you send them to?

Let us know in the comments below.

The best way to instantly increase your Speaking score on IELTS is to insert native idioms!

What idioms should you use?

It depends on the speaking topic!

Today we’ll show you seven great idioms that you can use when you get questions about work, career, and business.

The idioms that you are going to learn today can be used on both the Speaking test and the Writing test.

Question Speaking Part 1

Q: Do you work or are you a student?

A: I do the “daily grind” but my daily grind is a bit different. I don’t do the “old nine to five.” My day is a little bit different. I work from 6am to 10pm.

Here we used the following idioms:

  • “The daily grind”: Working hard, commuting, showing up at work, dealing with co-workers and bosses, repetitive work that you do every day
  • “The old nine to five” or “To have a nine to five”: A traditional schedule, working 8 hours per day
  • “To climb the corporate ladder” or “to work your way up the corporate ladder”: To move up in a large corporation

Question Speaking Part 3

Q: How has the working world changed in recent years?

A: My mom talks about having a “glass ceiling” in her career. She couldn’t break through it because she was a woman. I know it still exists today but I think more and more women are breaking the “glass ceiling.” They are finding their own ways “to bring home the bacon” and being the “breadwinner” of the family. Traditional roles are changing. It’s not like before where we only wanted to make ends meet. Now we are thinking more about building a business where we can make money into the future.

Here we used the following idioms:

  • “The glass ceiling”: The barrier that women can’t break through due to their gender. They can only go so high in their careers.
  • “To bring home the bacon”: To bring home money, to earn money for the family
  • “To be the breadwinner”: To be the one who supports the family, your money pays the rent
  • “To make ends meet”: To survive, to be able to pay all of the bills

What idioms have you used on the IELTS Speaking test?

Let us know in the comments below!

Today you will learn a very cool English phrase that will help you shorten your stories and will make you sound native and natural in English.

Here is the phrase that you can use:

  • “To make a long story short…”
  • “Long story short…”

Here are a few alternatives:

  • “I’ll give you the short version…”
  • “Basically what ended up happening was…”

 

Listen to the episode to hear how Lindsay and Michelle use these phrases!

This phrase would also be useful if you are taking the IELTS Speaking test.

When the time gets short towards the end of your answer in Speaking Part 1 or Speaking Part 2 you could throw this expression in at the end to bump up your speaking vocabulary score.

Learn more about how to increase your IELTS Speaking score here.

 

What other phrases do you know to shorten the story or conversation?

Share them in the comments section below.

Are you afraid that you are too shy to get a high score on the IELTS Speaking test?

A lot of our listeners feel being shy is going to hold them back from IELTS success.

Today we’ll show you what you can do if you have this problem.

One thing you can do is create a new character for yourself during the Speaking test.

You can imagine yourself as someone who is outgoing and gregarious.

Give yourself an English name.

Practice the Speaking test with your new character so that when you get into the Speaking test you will be someone else, not yourself. You will shift your mindset for the test.

Have fun with this technique.

3-step system to become more outgoing during the Speaking test:

  • Step 1: When you prepare by yourself, don’t worry about talking yet. During your preparation just write down 3-5 sentences to answer Speaking test questions. Use complete sentences. Add details. Answer the questions “who, what, when, where, why?”
  • Step 2: Read your answers out loud and practice saying them.
  •  Step 3: Practice answering the question without writing down the answer.

What questions do you have about the Speaking test?

What strategies have you been using? How are they working?

Let us know in the comments below.

What should you do when someone doesn’t understand your English on a conference call or in a business meeting?

Today we’ll give you four easy steps that you can take to explain your point without getting nervous or anxious.

What to do when people don’t understand you:

  • Step 1: Notice if you are feeling anxious. What is happening in your body?
  • Step 2: Go back to your breath- try to feel your feet on the floor. Feel your breath going in and out. Take just a few seconds to do this.
  • Step 3: Try to remember the main point that you wanted to communicate. What was the essential message? What do people have to understand? Do they need to take some action? Summarize this point in your own head first.
  •  Step 4: Now say the main point in a different way. Use these phrases to get started:
    • “What I meant to say was…”
    • “What I mean is…”
    • “The main point that I am trying to get across is…”
    • “Basically,….”

What other phrases do you know to get your point across?

Let us know in the comments!

IELTS Writing is a huge challenge for many students!

Are you worried about IELTS Writing Task 2? Do you know how to organize your paragraphs?

Tod