Can’t be bothered to read the post – Click here for the lesson on Writing Cards
Sending cards is an enourmous business in the UK and the USA with the average person spending way too much time and money on them. There’s also a lot of social pressure to send and receive them especially at Christmas time. Who hasn’t been presented with a card for someone who is leaving the office, sick or getting married, and thought ‘I don’t know what to write!’?
It’s also pretty difficult for ESOL/EFL and second language English learners to write them to. I used this lesson with a group of pre-intermediate learners.
Here are the lesson stages
1. Ask the students to tell you when they last recieved a card of any description. Write a list of the cards they tell you about on the board. It might look something like this. Anniversary, wedding, congratulations, birthday, valentines, get well soon, sorry, condolences…
2. Pass out the sheet and have the students correct the mistakes then match the card messages to the people they are for.
3. Now ask students to write their own messages in response to the prompts. You could ask them to work in pairs or alone and could check the answers by getting to write on the board.
4. There are some really good electronic greetings cards on the net. You might like to show these to your students if you have an interactive whiteboad or projector.
Here’s a great list of academic antonyms to help you with your IELTS speaking and writing.
Lists are great, but how can you use them? Do you learn them? Do you just read them? What do you do? Read the advice below.
- Read through this list and circle 10-15 antonym pairs that you don’t know and learn them. Test yourself on them.
- Read through the list. Choose ten hard pairs you don’t know, print them off and stick them on your wall / toilet wall / fridge door – anywhere you will look, often
- Play a game with them like the awesome word frog game http://www.arcademics.com/games/frog/frog.html
- Play pelmanism. Choose ten you think are useful. Write them on small pieces of paper. Put them face down on a table. Now turn each one over and try to match the pairs.
Hapland is a very frustrating flash game. http://foon.uk/farcade/hapland/
Read the instructions below to complete it.
If you like video games, walkthroughs are great way to practise reading. Following complex instructions to complete a task will give you some INTERESTING reading practice.
Basically the idea of the game is to get the little man to safety byclicking on different parts of the picture in the right order.
a) Open all the windows and turn the red arrow around.
b) Open the hatch on the right, click the yellow arrow to get a man out.
c) Click on the man to fire one round in the low position to drop the bridge down.
d) Click the cannon to move it up. Fire the second round up at the bell and click the spear thing so it goes the other way JUST after the round hits the bell
e) Fire the next two rounds at the bridge, but click the bridge to as they hit it to knock them in the air and explode without causing damage.
f) Click the light bulb a few times next to the man at the bottom to get him to smash it.
g) Fire the last round in the low position, and the bottom man will pick it up and open the door with it.
h) Now click the man by the machine so he gets in it, and click the yellow arrow to get another guy out, get him to fire the other man up at the bell.
i) The man by the bell will move the tower over if you click him. Then click the spear thing. Now keep clicking the bell till it falls. No more land mine.
j) Click the door in the bottom left so the man comes out and JUST as he goes in the door on the right, click the man at the bottom. A dog tries to chase him, but the falling concrete stops it.
k) You did it!
For more of the same check out Richard L King’s great book below
There’s not enough time!
If only I had more time…I could do better if I had more time. I need more time.
Slow down! There are no short cuts!
Academic reading tests are hard because they don’t give you much time. You need to be able to read faster! Here are three simple tips that will help you read more quickly.
1. Change your way of thinking.
If you want to succeed you will have to ENJOY READING.
Read something you like – do you like football? Aeroplanes? Video Games?
FIND SOMETHING YOU LIKE TO READ!
2. You will only get better at reading if you READ!
Read 1 article a day for 15 minutes. Try this for a month.
You can find good, free articles here.
3. Learn to skim and scan
Reading techniques help you find information quickly.
Download our worksheet here.
For more help with academic reading. Check out Richard L King’s book Teach Yourself IELTS reading.
It’s hard to listen to your own voice when you are speaking. Use your mobile phone to record your voice while you interview yourself.
b) Read through the questions and practise what you are going to say. Add a couple more questions at the end.
c) Record your interview yourself on your mobile phone.
d) As you listen back to the recording, think about these things:
- Was your pronunciation good. Were there any words you said badly or that didn’t sound correct?
- Did you answer the questions completely?
- Were you happy with the grammar you used?
- Do you think you spoke too quickly or slowly?
- What areas in your spoken English could you improve?
Giving a two minute presentation
It’s scary giving a presentation – even when you are sure about your subject and you have prepared well. In the IELTS speaking exam, you’ll be asked to speak for 2 minutes on a given topic (see some example cards on the opposite page). Here are some tips which will help you get the best in the exam.
Use your minute preparation time well. Spend your minute of preparation reading the questions card. Then…
Make notes – but not too many. Write down a few bullet points that come into your mind. You can write these on the question card. Be calm. If you run out of things to say during the presentation, look at what you wrote.
Use sequencing ideas and phrases – but not too much! During your presentation you might like to use a few phrases or words that let the examiner know how you have structured your presentation. Phrases such as ‘Firstly, secondly…’ will clearly explain where you are in your presentation and make you look more confident.
Develop your ideas. When you are speaking try to expand on the bullet point notes that you made in the first minute. Use complex sentences to explain the ideas and explore them as you speak, showcase your use of grammatical tenses and clever words.
Don’t overuse phrases. If you have any expressions you use too much such as ‘you know’ or ‘like..’ or ‘…you know what I mean’, stop using them. Using them once or twice is fine, but overusing such phrases will make you look nervous and stop you using good sentences will conjunctions or linking words. You don’t have much time, try not to waste it repeating set phrases.
Be formal. IELTS is a formal test of your English.
You’re not a rocket scientist. The phrase ‘It’s not rocket science’ is a common idiom meaning you shouldn’t think something simple is complex. As a student or an academic, you might actually be a rocket scientist or a biologist or a chemical engineer. If you are, you will know that in the world of academia, your facts and opinions need to be well thought out and backed up by formal arguments. In the IELTS speaking exam however, you don’t have to worry about your ideas being thought out exactly, so don’t worry if your presentation doesn’t have perfectly logical ideas. IELTS wants to test your knowledge of English, not how intelligent you are.
Body language. Sit up straight look confident, smile and speak loudly and clearly, this will help you feel better and more in control.
Don’t panic. You have spent a long time getting as good as you are at English. Now it’s time to show what you can do. Take a deep breath and do your best.
For more IELTS help, check out Richard King’s book below
Why do I need a study partner, I like working alone.
For lots of people studying should be done alone in a quiet room with a book, at a desk and with a pen and paper. This view is fine, but in order to maximise your study time, sometimes working with a partner or group will allow you to remember and focus on a much wider range of material and be exposed to a different vocabulary and techniques.
Why should I choose to work with someone else?
We bounce our ideas off other people, we live and work with other people and we share our ideas with other people. They look at things in different ways and can often show us ways of doing things that we didn’t realise. It might just be that your study partner shows you something you need on your IELTS exam, this could be how to answer an essay in a certain way or a language structure to use.
Who should I choose to work with?
Anyone who you get on well with do just fine, even if their English isn’t as good as yours. Don’t be fooled into thinking that you won’t learn English properly if you work with someone who doesn’t speak perfect English. Lots and lots of English learners spend all of their time listening to ‘perfect’ English and they still make lots of mistakes. A word of warning however, don’t study with your friends, these are the people who make you laugh and you enjoy being with, if you try to use them as a study partner the chance are that you’ll just do what you always do with them – have a good time.
What tasks could we do together?
- Take one section of a reading exam (like one from the back of this book) and do it together in 20 minutes. Then compare and discuss your answers before you check the answers together.
- Both (or all of you) do the same reading exam on your own then meet up to discuss it. Make sure you talk about what you thought was right and wrong before you check them.
- Do different exam papers and get your study partner or partners to correct it for you using the answers, while you do the same for them. Don’t forget to talk about why the answers are right or wrong.
Any more tips?
Yes. Set a regular time and day to study together. Study in a place where you feel comfortable and can talk without distractions. If this is a café or a bar then that’s fine, remember that libraries are good places to study on your own, they don’t always allow you to have conversations. Make sure you both have clear goals about what you want to achieve. Be supportive and remind others to be supportive as well. Explain what parts of the exam you are worried about.
I still don’t think it’s a good idea…
Working with other people will make you more motivated because you won’t want to let them (or yourself) down. Hopefully this will help you study faster and with a greater focus which should result in a better result in your IELTS reading test – which is what you wanted in the first place.