Showing posts from April, 2018

Filler words in ILETS speaking test

There was some confusion amongst my students last week when one student had seen a video on the internet which had some tips for the speaking part of the IELTS exam. One of the tips was to use fillers such as 'urm' when speaking to try and sound more like a native speaker. It is true, native speakers do use fillers such as 'urm', when they are trying to think of what they want to say. It is also true that some native speakers overuse these fillers. There are however, other filler phrases which you can use if you want a bit more time to think. "Oh, that's an interesting question, my opinion would be..." or even the simple, "I'm sorry, I didn't quite hear that" to get the examiner to repeat the question and give you some more time to think. You can also paraphrase the question to give yourself more time to think. "Why do some people choose to read the news on the internet rather than in a newspaper?" You could say out loud to your

Writing in capital letters in the IELTS test

I was talking to a student the other day about how to fill in the listening and reading parts of the IELTS test. He wondered if he should write in capital letters. This is a very good idea especially if you have concerns over the legibility of your writing. A lot of us now do not hand write very much anymore, and perhaps our writing is more messy as a result... Capital letters make it easier for the examiner to see what you wanted to write, so yes, for the listening and reading parts, I would recommend using capital letters on your answer sheet. For the writing section, writing in capital letters is not practical, as there is such a short amount of time to write the essays, and writing in capital letters would take too long.

Beware of auto-generated content

I spoke with a student last week about confusion which had arisen from looking up how to conjugate 'can' from a website. I think some of these websites do not distinguish between normal and modal verbs and generate the content automatically. So the future of 'can' from is ' I will can' when in fact you would say 'I will be able to'. This worries me as people use the internet so much now for studying English that there is content out there that is plainly wrong. For English grammar, I would recommend going old school, and getting a physical copy of Essential Grammar in Use by R. Murphy.