In a previous post, we looked at blogging, which is a great place to practise and improve writing skills, gain some confidence, and attract comments. These can be supportive and constructive, but they can also be very critical and even hurtful – this is the risk you take. There are, however, gentler and more modest ways of writing for a public audience.
If you are not ready for the level of risk in blogging or don’t feel that your writing skills are developed enough to tackle a blog, then here are other ways in which you can write online for a large audience. Continue reading
I have spent decades teaching students English. Over the years, I have learned just as much from them as they have from me. One thing that has always fascinated me is how they approach the process of language learning. I was recently thinking of a group of students that I was privileged to work with one summer many years ago. All of these particular students worked hard and made progress and were delightful to teach and work with. Later on, I spent some time analysing their preparedness and study methods which gave me some insights into what sort of things seem to work well. Continue reading
I’ve been thinking about some quick ways in which you can practise English as you go about your daily life. I realise that not everybody is in a position where they are surrounded by English every day. (Although, if you can swing it, an immersion programme is an excellent way to skyrocket your English progress, and we have the perfect immersion programme waiting for you!) For others, they have very limited time to practise and need ‘quick fixes’ to keep their language skills moving. One area which poses a particular problem here is speaking.
I thought back to my early days of learning French. I was in a similar position with no French around me and without handy things like internet access that are available today! I invented little tricks and tasks to do in French to keep the momentum going. I’ll share these with you here and I’ve added a few more that I have observed from other people. Continue reading
I’m sure there is a lot of scientific and linguistic research about this topic and this is not a scholarly post. It is something I have thought about often in the years that I have been teaching and learning languages and I simply wanted to share my thoughts with you. I hope that they strike a chord, tally with your opinion and/or experience and spur you on to improving and developing your own language skills. Continue reading
It will soon be a New Year! This is a perfect time to pursue new projects and rekindle commitments to long held goals. Perhaps this year will be the year that you achieve the band you desire on the IELTS. Perhaps you have always secretly wanted to start a blog. Well I am here to tell you that one of these desires can help you achieve the other. Starting a blog, written in English of course, is a great way to improve your writing skills and achieve the band that you need in the IELTS.
Writing a blog will give you excellent and invaluable writing practise, and it can also give you a critical audience to both correct and enjoy your writing. All of these things will help you make great strides forward in your mastery of the English language. All you really need to get started is some ideas on interesting subjects to write about, a computer with internet access, and a healthy dose of courage!
Before you leap in and launch your blog to an unsuspecting audience you need to consider three questions: Continue reading
Soon the calendar will roll over onto a New Year! This is a time of celebrating, reflecting on the year we are leaving behind, and, of course, setting new goals and resolutions for the year ahead. If your New Year includes a resolution to finally get the band you need in the IELTS and make your mastery of the English language a living reality, then we have got exactly what you need! Continue reading
At this point in your life you may be totally focused on just passing the IELTS that you will say, “Berni! How can I even think about thinking in English! It is too much!” But I wanted to tell you some of my experiences with learning a foreign language and give you something to aim for. After all, you are learning English to become fluent in it, not just to take and pass an exam. And you can do it! You can learn English well enough not only to pass your IELTS, but also to eventually become so fluent that you think in English as well.
I remember when I was at school learning French, one of the best pieces of advice my teacher gave us was, “If you don’t know it don’t use it!” Continue reading
Pronunciation is one of those things that always seems to be left out in the cold, so to speak, when learning English. We all want to speak fluently and accurately, have good listening and writing skills and improve our reading and vocabulary; but unless there are any real issues, pronunciation can wait. When working to learn English, it seems like there are just too many other things competing for your time and attention to bother focusing on pronunciation, doesn’t it take care of itself after all? Continue reading
In my blogs and in my lessons, I talk a lot about planning, and I feel very strongly that this is key to good writing. Checking comes next; you don’t want to throw away marks, or make yourself look stupid with silly errors. Of course, practise is always key and the more you practise the better you will become-at anything that you do and IELTS is no exception. Continue reading
This IELTS student was a doctor. Salim was from Syria. He had been living in the UK for some time and was very fluent in spoken English. He had spent some time at school in the UK so his English skills were quite polished.
When I first met Salim he was about to take the test for the second time. He was worried about his reading and just wanted a lesson to go over some techniques. He was very confident about the exam and was certain that only the reading would be a problem. This was unusual as mostly it is the writing that people want to have checked. I asked him about writing but he hadn’t brought any to the lesson and said that he was fine. He was looking for an overall band of 7. Working on just one part of the exam is not something I always like to do unless students are already getting high scores in other parts, I like to make sure that all parts of the exam are on track as none of them work in isolation and the reading and listening impact on the writing and speaking. By integrating the study, the outcome in all parts is more assured. I was a little concerned that he was concentrating so much on this one part when his previous scores were not very high. Continue reading