Thursday, September 18, 2008

IELTS Reading

IELTS Reading is pretty demanding and speed reading is just one of the several skills needed to do well in the paper. But let's face it. If you can read the whole passage at the speed of a bullet train and not be able to comprehend the passage, it defeats the whole purpose. I say this because I notice some students doing exactly that.

Trying to read word for word is also not a solution. Students do that and get stumped when they come across a word they don't understand. The most important thing you need to do is to run over the questions to get an idea of what is being asked. Look for the title if any because the title will tell you what the passage is about. Read the introductory paragraph carefully because the main thrust of the passage should be in there and that holds the key to the rest of the article.
Then go over the conclusion which summarizes the main points. Now use the questions to help you read the whole passage while looking for the answers.

If you come across a new word, do not panic. Make an intelligent guess by reading the surrounding sentences.

Most important of all, as with the other three modules, know the question format.

THe IELTS Reading Paper cover a wide spectrum of subjects, quite often academic in nature. But the content is written such that you don't have to be an expert to understand it.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

IELTS Listening-Section 4

IELTS Listening Section 4 tests the candidates on their ability to pick out facts, details of a long talk or lecture. Whether it is a talk or a lecture, the important thing for the student is to be able to follow the flow of the discussion. To do well in this portion of the test, candidates need to understand signpost terms s such as on the contrary, (to indicate the opposing side) for instance (to show examples) and n conclusion to indicate the end of a lecture.

They also need to gauge the position of the speaker in terms of his/her stand with regards to the issue at hand.

An ability to summarize the key points of the lecture would be useful too. Usually for this kind of task, an incomplete summary is given and all the candidate needs to do is to fill in the gaps which may appear at the start, middle or end of a sentence. The instructions will also state the number of words needed, usually not more than three words.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

IELTS Listening -Classification Questions

Classification questions in IELTS Listening Test often pose a problem for students.

If we look around us, we can classify lots of things. Movies, books can be classified according to genres, photography can be classified according to digital, black and white or colored etc. The Microsoft Office program is a good example of classification. There is so much of information in the program that are classified or categorized for easy retrieval. Take the simple example of saving a file in Microsoft Word 2007. You can save in word default format, as a template, in a a compatible version that can be used on computers with older versions of Microsoft Word or in PDF format. One can imagine the havoc if these options are not classified for easy usage.

Continuing with this example, IELTS examiners will not just ask the candidate to list the various formats but will rather make it more challenging by scrambling unique features of three versions of the save as format -let's say template, compatible and PDF formats marked A-H. Your job as the candidate is to unscramble them and rearrange them in their proper categories. Once you know the logic, the task will begin to make sense.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

IELTS and Preposition

The English preposition may be a small word but it is essential for making sense to a sentence.
In the Sentence Completion section of IELTS, the wrong preposition will bring your score down.

Example of Sentence Completion

The book is ________ the school bag.

If your answer is on, you lose one point as the correct answer should be in.
Understanding parts of speech and their functions in IELTS will come in handy. For instance: an adjective is a descriptive word that tells you more about the noun. Therefore it should appear before a noun. For eg: a kind man, a genuine part.

Since the basic sentence formation in the English language is subject, verb, object, you can use this structure to guess what the answer would be. Ask yourself : Does it require a verb, a noun, an adjective or an adverb, etc, etc?

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Asking for directions, IELTS and Chinese style

IELTS Listening Section 1 may carry a question on labeling maps. This means you have to know how to read maps and to know words related to directions such as north, south, east, west, across the street, around the corner, at the end of the road, at the next turning, behind, between, ahead, etc, etc.

Map reading is less complicated western style than Chinese style.
If you don't know how to get somewhere and have to rely on a mainland Chinese for directions, you'll be in for a headache if you don't have the faintest idea of whether you're facing north or south or east or west.

The Chinese seem to give these kind directions - Turn north or turn south. But how would you know where north or south is, if you don't have a compass with you or the sun above you for guidance?

Thankfully, IELTS would be much easier if you are familiar with words related to directions.

Health and the Walnut

The Chinese believe that the walnut is good for brain power. No wonder, Chinese mothers feed their little emperors (remember, one child policy) with walnuts.

I asked a mainland Chinese friend once the reason why. Her answer was because the walnut looks like a brain. And it's a belief carried down through generations. I don't dispute the similarity of its shape with our brain but I didn't think about its boosting power until I received an email entitled God's Pharmacy. And there it was! The same point about the walnut and the brain.

What amazes me about the story is that people of such diverse cultures can have the same story and beliefs about something as irrelevant as the humble walnut. I can't help but be reminded of the biblical account of the Tower of Babel and the disperse of its people to different parts of the world carrying with them their beliefs and culture.

essage | Ba

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Different ways of saying the same thing!!!

How do you? Hi! How're things? What's up? Hello! These are some ways of greeting in English. It's important to know that there are different ways of saying the same thing in English. If the IELTS listening tape has a speaker by the name of Alistair Onassis and she's Greek, the question could be phrased, " Alistair Onassis is a __________of Greece." The obvious answer is "native."

The truth is some ESL learners expect the question to be worded the same way that they hear on the tape. For this reason it would be advisable for IELTS trainers to prepare students for different expressions of the same thing.