Recently a number of my students have taken the IELTS test and one of their greatest fears always seems to be the speaking test. This is natural as the speaking test is the only part of the test which requires direct communication with a real, live native speaker.
Being prepared for the speaking test is essential to get the score you want. This means knowing what the test is, and what it isn’t. Here are some tips as well as some common misconceptions I’ve heard in my years of examining and teaching.
First, know how the test is scored. To do this you should study the public band descriptors available online. You’ll see that there are four criteria that you are evaluated on:
- Fluency and Coherence
- Lexical Resource
- Grammatical Range and Accuracy
Each section is scored individually and each is equally weighted (25%). This means that, contrary to what some students believe, you simply cannot memorize long lists of academic words and phrases and expect a high score. The key to a high score is balance.
- To score high in fluency you must speak naturally, understandably, and smoothly. Use connecting phrases and avoid long pauses (“uhhhh….ummm…”) and unnecessary repetition (“…it was nice….and, uh,…a nice place…).
- Lexical Resource means using vocabulary that is appropriate, not just “difficult”. You also need to be specific and accurate. Avoid saying things are “nice”, “good”, “fine” as these are boring and generic words. But, at the same time describing a memorable trip as “a sufficiently palatable jaunt” sounds strange and unnatural. Balance descriptive with natural.
- Don’t obsess over grammar. Yes, you need to show that you know your present, past and future tenses along with a range of structures, but intentionally trying to fit complex grammar into your responses is more likely to cause you to make mistakes, lowering your overall score. Stick to the grammar you are comfortable with, but prepare by studying useful grammar for everyday conversation. Don’t forget, written and spoken English follow very different sets of grammar rules.
- Accent and pronunciation are not the same thing. We all have an accent. Actually, I have scored an 8 or even 9 to candidates with noticeable accents. The real problem is when your pronunciation affects the ability of the examiner to understand what you are saying. For example, if you struggle with /r/ and /l/, you need to practice before the test. If you tell me that your favourite food is “lice” (little bugs that live in your hair), rather than “rice”…that’s a major problem! Yes, it is common knowledge that some speakers struggle with these sounds, but don’t assume the examiner will understand what you intend to say. Remember, the examiner only evaluates what you actually say, not what you mean to say.
Now that you know all this…you have to practice! That’s where we can help. Come on in to REV and let us help you get that score you need. I have a lot more advice and experience to share with students who really want to reach their goal, so let’s work together!
I’m standing outside the classroom, looking in at my students as they chat. Am I teaching? Yes.
What exactly does it mean to “teach,” then? Traditionally, we think that we are teaching if we are giving knowledge or information to students. Nowadays, however, we believe that a teacher’s job is to help the students learn. Often, the best way to do that is to allow students to learn things by themselves. We all know that real experiences are the best way to remember and understand!
Do you want to improve your English but are overwhelmed with all the choices of language schools?
很多人在來加拿大前發現有無數的語言學校可以選擇，但是眼花撩亂之餘，是否不免覺得語言學校的課程千篇一律都是文法、寫作、聽力、對話。其實選擇語言學校最重要的依據非常簡單，就是學校的課程是否能幫助你達到所想要的語言目標。來過Real English Victoria (REV)的學生都能很有信心的告訴你，我們就是你要找的那間學校! REV能比其他學校夠有效率的幫助學生是因為我們獨一無二的”個人學習計畫書” (Individual Learning Plan)，我們透過以下方式來幫助學生達成他們的語言學習目標:
Many students face the choice of language schools before they even set foot in Canada. There might be tons of options, but students probably can’t help but notice that most schools offer the cookie-cutter kind of programs in which students sit in boring grammar, reading and writing, listening, and conversation classes.
Lots of people want to come to Canada to attend university or college, or even high school. At most English schools you will be able to study general, business, or academic English. Unfortunately, however, most schools do not prepare students for doing anything in business or academic English. Most classes are just vocabulary. Often students believe that all they need is more vocabulary and better grammar. This is usually not the problem.
Rain, rain, go away!
Come again another day!
These are the lyrics to a well-known children’s song. How do you feel about the rain? Does it make you feel “down” or sleepy? Is it refreshing? Does it remind you of home?
Are you feeling worried about your next year at school? If you’re heading into university, congratulations! It’s another big step for you. I don’t have any secrets to share, but I’d like to tell you some study tips that helped me.
“Weird and wonderful” is an English expression that means “strange and unusual, but in a lovable way.” It’s an affectionate way to describe friends who are unusual but still awesome.
…Sound familiar? That’s because our school is definitely a weird and wonderful place to study! If you need proof, just check out this photo of me in a banana costume.
At REV, we laugh. A lot. We cheat at board games – and then laugh about it. (Cheating is fine as long as you do it in English, right?!). We ask you to do strange projects, like taking apart a printer and using the pieces to build a model of a famous building. We get you to read children’s books to each other using expressive intonation (no robots at REV!). We let you decorate the entire school for Halloween. We give you advice like “stop studying.” And…we let you sit in Drew’s chair!
What a happy place to work and study! I’m so blessed to be a part of this team. If you haven’t met us yet… welcome! And if you have met us already, please come back to say “hi.” Welcome to weird and wonderful Real English Victoria!
Even though it’s a bit cloudy out, spring is here! Can you feel the energy in the air? It’s like waking up from a long sleep. For many people, spring is a time for new beginnings and new goals.
We’re always trying to help people achieve their goals, which is why we’d like to offer you a very special spring sale. Save $100 on your English-learning journey until April 30.
Come out and meet new people, refresh your English, and learn something new!
Questions? Email us at email@example.com.