IMPROVE YOUR READING – IELTS

7 Jan

 

IMPROVE YOUR READING – IELTS

 

This is a training idea to help you improve your reading skills for IELTS. It is something everyone should consider doing but it’s particularly aimed at people who have developed “IELTS reading phobia”. That is a very sad and common complaint. The idea is based on these principles

  • people who read most tend to read best
  • it helps to focus your reading 
  • it also helps to read in different ways

 

What is the idea? You read more. You read in a focused way. You vary what you do as you read. Overall – you can improve your IELTS reading skills by working on general reading skills.

 

Why read “hard texts”

1. Beat the fear – jump in the deep end – get used to it and build your confidence

IELTS reading is hard because the level of the texts is at least band score 8.0. If you’re much below that level you can have serious problems and even develop IELTS reading phobia. That can create bad habits. The idea is that if you get used to reading texts that are harder you beat the fear and when you get to the test you’ll be quite used to looking at things that are hard and you’ll be more confident.

2. Treat reading as an understanding exercise not a vocabulary exercise

One problem with IELTS reading is that sometimes people treat it as a vocabulary test – they concentrate too much on the meaning of individual words and unknown words in particular. Actually IELTS reading is a test of understanding not a test of vocabulary. Even though you understand most or all the words you still may not understand.

Look at this example:

Dr Carole Easton, the chief executive of Young Women’s Trust, which supports and represents women aged 16 to 30 struggling to live on low or no pay in England and Wales, said it was distressing that so many young people were struggling at a time of life traditionally characterized by youthful confidence.

 

You probably know all the words but it is hard to understand because it is one very long sentence with complex structures – and in this way is very similar to IELTS reading texts. You need to find a way to understand this type of language efficiently. Reading lots of it is a good start.

Don’t concentrate on words, concentrate on meaning and build your self-confidence in reading hard texts

What to read – focus on topics

IELTS readings can be about almost any general interest topic – although politics and anything controversial is excluded. But you can help yourself by focusing on certain topics. One sensible way to do this is too look at the type of topics you get in the writing paper. Why? You’ll also get ideas and language to help your writing. Try these:

science

the environment

education

the family

technology

crime

popular culture

traditional culture

transport

government and local affairs

economics

employment

 

A good idea is to vary the topics you read about and use the ideas you read about help you with your essay writing

Choose topics that interest you – you’ll understand more that way and just read better

Choose texts of different lengths – sometimes a paragraph can be enough

Choose native speaker texts – those are the ones you’ll be tested on

Where to find things to read

There are lots of possibilities. Here are a few to try.

Magazines

One idea is to look at magazines that contain the articles that are on the right topics.

Different ways to practice your general reading

This is a list to give you ideas. The main point behind it is that you can/should read in different ways. It helps to keep you interested and you practice slightly different skills. Some of these exercises are of course very similar, but each one works slightly differently as training

  1. Just read

Don’t ignore this. Just reading is good for you. Choose something interesting for you and read it. If at the end you can say “Yes, I generally understood it” then score yourself 100%. It isn’t written for you, it was written for a native speaker. You’re one step closer to IELTS.

  1. Black out the words you don’t know

This is great – especially if you have reading phobia. You go through the text and black out completely all the words that you don’t know. Then you go through the text and try and see if you can see what it’s about. But you will still generally understand it – it’s an exercise. This is great for IELTS as it shows you that you can still work with hard texts even if you don’t know all the words.

 

 

  1. Highlight the words you know

This is equally great. It’s the same exercise in reverse. This time you are concentrating on the positive. You should see that in fact you know most of the words in the text. That’s a good feeling and a way to beat reading phobia.

  1.  Read then summarize

This is more of a “learning activity”. You read something and then at the end you try and summarize what you have read. Doing something active after you read is always a good idea. I’d suggest keeping your summary quick and general here – don’t get lost in the detail.

This will help with paragraph matching type questions in IELTS and it is also good practice for your summary skills.

  1. Read then summarize using 5 words/phrases from the text

This is of course similar. Here though this time you’re thinking about learning words. The idea is that you choose words that you think are important for the meaning of the text. I suggest you choose

Words that are repeated – they’re normally the important ones

Words that you half-recognize – if the word is completely unknown then it may not be that important/useful

Not just words but collocations/phrases – this is much more useful for vocabulary learning – to understand why read this lesson on vocabulary learning

 

  1. Summarize paragraph by paragraph

This will involve more close reading of the text and make you think about how paragraphs fit together and how they are about one main idea.

  1. Choose 5 or so key points or ideas

This may be very similar to the paragraph exercise above. This time though you are concentrating on ideas – perhaps ideas you can borrow for your writing.

  1. Look at the headings and predict the content or write headings for the sections

What it can do is help your ability to section the text into different parts – something that is really important in IELTS. One thing that helps is to be able to identify what each part of the text is about. Do this and you can decide much more quickly where to find the answers.

  1. Don’t read the whole text just read a paragraph

Why not? If you just read one paragraph you are able to focus on “detailed meaning” and “close reading skills”. This is how you get most of the answers in IELTS. This is a quality not quantity exercise. A good proposition.

  1. Decide if you agree with it or compare it with your culture or ask if it was interesting

This is a thinking exercise – it helps you engage more with what you are reading. If you compare it with what you know then you are more likely to focus on the meaning of the text. Making learning personal is always a good idea.

  1. Find another article on the same topic and compare them

This is excellent practice. Just the process of looking for another article is good for reading/research skills – Google News works very well here. It’s interesting to compare similar articles – your brain gets engaged. It can also help by seeing which words/phrases are used in both articles – they’re likely to be the important ones.

  1. Look for names and dates and numbers and see what they’re about

This is a scanning type activity -something that can help with IELTS. Don’t just find the names and numbers etc, you decide if they’re important to the text or not. Here you’re practicing two skills – scanning and close reading. Something that is very close to IELTS

  1. Use a dictionary – but only for a few words

Don’t overdo this one. The more you use a dictionary the slower you read and the less you read. Only allow 5 words per text. If you only give yourself 5 words this forces you to “guess” the meaning of other words – excellent for IELTS. The dictionary recommend is Macmillan.

 

 

  1. Read and listen and watch

This idea is slightly different. Reading can be tiring and sometimes you want a bit of a break.

How does this work? Well, you keep reading as the speaker talks – you go forwards at a natural pace. It’s one way to forget about getting stuck on difficult words. We suggest you just choose a talk that looks really interesting to you and just watch and listen and read. What’s likely to happen is that you forget about the difficulty of the reading part and concentrate more on meaning. One benefit of video is that it makes it slightly easier – you get visual clues too. visit www.hurrayedutech.com

 

 

STUDY ABROAD

21 Dec

Many students, these days are found flocking towards foreign universities and the numbers are increasing at an alarming rate as compared to bygone times. While there are a few drawbacks to this trend, I feel there are equally compelling advantages which prod our youngsters to look out for higher education in other countries. The following paragraphs give more insight into this subject.

The paramount reason for which students prefer foreign universities is the higher standards of facilities and infrastructure as compared to Indian universities. Moreover, there are more number of avenues for knowledge gain and information collection. Another benefit is the personal growth through interaction with people from different cultural backgrounds. Many countries promote part time jobs, and hence our youngsters are opened up to such opportunities which will financially aid them.

On the contrary, there are a few negatives that need to be scrutinized. Firstly, the revenue that would have been available for our education sector is simply diverted to that of another country, resulting in a revenue drain. Secondly, the students who fly abroad for education tend to take up jobs and settle down there, never to return. This is a serious concern, popularly called the ‘brain-drain’ resulting in a dip in available talents for our country. Thirdly, young students simply try to follow the trend, which may not be affordable to many families.

In conclusion, there are a few negatives for the trend of students migrating abroad for education, but there are an equal number of positives as well. Whether foreign education is necessary is a subjective matter and individuals must consider personal and national interests before opting for it.

FOR more details visit www.hurrayedutech.com

IELTS SPEAKING TIPS & HOW TO IMPROVE FLUENCY

19 Dec
  1. Speed – not too fast, not too slow

The main idea here is that because English is a second language for you you’ll need to speak it at a slightly different pace than you speak your native language. You’ll just need a bit more time to find a way to express your ideas. If that means you may speak more slowly than seems natural to you, don’t worry as fluency is not the same as speaking quickly. It’s quite possible to be perfectly fluent and still speak at a slowish but steady pace.

Practice idea – record yourself and count the words

One way to work on your speed of speech is to record yourself and practice speaking about different things for the same amount of time. The general idea is that you adopt a good speed of speech that works for you – whatever the topic. Here’s the suggestion:

Speak about a familiar subject – record yourself speaking for 30 seconds and count the words

Speak about an unfamiliar topic – again record yourself speaking for 30 seconds and count the words

Your goal is to get approximately the same number of words each time. Keep on recording yourself until you get there. This may mean slowing down when you speak about things you know about and slightly more quickly about unknown topics.

Note, however, that it is quite natural to speak a little more slowly when you are speaking about a less familiar topic.

Be careful of imitating native speakers too closely

Native speakers can be good models but this is one case where they can upset you – they may well speak more quickly than you can simply because they don’t face your problems. Be prepared to adopt your own pace of speech.

Find your natural pace of speech. Don’t try and speak too quickly and be prepared to speak more slowly sometimes

  1. Translation – speak directly in English

“Translation” can be a major problem for anyone who doesn’t live in an English speaking environment. If you aren’t used to speaking English regularly then you may pause much too often as you look for the right word and perhaps think too much about how to say it. This is very bad for fluency.

Try this exercise

This is a great exercise for fluency. You start off just talking about a topic for 1 minute – or even 30 seconds. Then you speak again for a longer period to time – perhaps one and a half minutes. Then try a longer period of time. Each time you’re speaking about the same thing and it should be easier to speak more as you already have the ideas in your head.

  1. Vocabulary – Balance Vocabulary and Fluency

This is perhaps the biggest problem for many people – they pause a lot because they can’t find the right word to express their ideas. If you do pause like this then you will lose points for fluency. The difficulty is that if you use “incorrect” words or repeat words too much then you may lose points for vocabulary. The trick is to try and find a balance where you keep speaking (better fluency) and still vary your words (vocabulary).

  1. Grammar – make some mistakes!!

This is a similar idea. This time what may happen is that you speak too slowly and pause too much in an effort to find the right grammatical structure. Again you will get penalized for fluency if you pause like this.

Make a mistake and move on

One solution is just to make the mistake and keep on speaking. Why? Firstly, there’s a chance that the examiner doesn’t hear the mistake – I can tell you from experience that a number of mistakes that are easily seen in writing will go unnoticed in speech even by experienced examiners. Secondly, you’re able to make more mistakes in speaking than writing. Some mistakes will be ignored as “slips” when you speak. This is especially the case if you get a piece of grammar wrong once and then right another time.

  1. Ideas – don’t try and show off too much

Another reason why fluency may suffer is that you pause a lot to try and find good ideas to show off and impress the examiner. This is just to misunderstand the IELTS process – it’s a test of language and not ideas – all the examiner is listening for is how well you can use the language – not how much you know.

Solution – talk about what you know – don’t try to impress too much

My best suggestion here is just to talk about what you know – you have those ideas in your head already and you shouldn’t need to stop and look for words to express them. If you lie or try and impress with clever ideas then you normally need to stop and think more about what to say. Any benefit in better vocabulary will probably be lost in worse fluency.

 

  1. Pause – don’t try and speak without stopping

Sometimes fluency goes wrong because people try to speak without stopping or pausing. Typically what happens here is that you speak for a few seconds and then run out of energy and need to stop – perhaps in the wrong place – and you may lose the rhythm of what you were saying. The key idea here is to understand that we can pause when we speak – you just need to pause in the right places and for the right reasons.

  1. Link ideas – use simple linkers to structure what you say

This is a similar idea. You keep your speaking simple and learn how to join things together by using the most common linkers. A possible mistake is to try and make a complex argument with more difficult links. Each time you do that you need more time to think about the grammar and the logical connections – that’s bad for fluency.

  1. Structure your answer – start off simply then build up

This is another connected idea. To achieve fluency it can help to structure your answer a little and not try and do everything all at once. If you leap into the answer too quickly you can become confused and have to stop and correct yourself too much – that is bad for fluency as you’ll find yourself pausing a lot for thought.

  1. Repetition – don’t be afraid of repeating yourself a bit

If you repeat yourself too much your fluency score will suffer but that doesn’t mean you can’t repeat yourself at all. Indeed when we speak – expertly in our native language – we do repeat ourselves a bit. This is one place where speaking and writing differ. It can certainly help your speaking in English if you learn how to make this work for you.

  1. Use fillers – you can say “um” and “er”

One other way you can help your fluency is to fill the silence with the sounds of English. These are the filler sounds of um and er.

You may think that this is “bad English”. In fact most native speakers use these sounds and you shouldn’t be afraid of imitating them. All you need to do is not make those sounds too much.

  1. Answer simple questions simply – build your confidence

This idea is quite different and relates to the rhythm of the IELTS speaking test. The idea is that the test starts off with some quite simple questions (part 1), moves onto a harder task where you need to speak for longer (part 2) and then a more challenging set of questions where you need to think and speak at the same time (part 3).

Here’s my experience. I have done a lot of examining – not IELTS but very similar tests. One thing I notice is that the people who do their best don’t try and do too much too soon. If they get a simple question they’re prepared to give it a simple answer – they save their energy for the trickier questions ahead and build up the complexity of their answers.

Speaking fluently doesn’t mean always giving long answers – if you want to still have mental energy for the harder questions at the end, give shorter answers at the start

IELTS Speaking Lessons from Hurray

3 Sep

This is a critical analysis as well as my personal opinion of the Speaking section of the IELTS examination and how we as an organization in particular have understood the exam better than others:
What are the typical problems that we see in a student in the speaking section and therefore methods on how to work on solving these problems

  1. Lack of practice of the topics they have not done in the institute or during practice sessions itself and therefore not being able to think well enough during the examination .I would suggest relax and be confident and speak fluently and confidently.
  2. Nervousness- this is a problem that is seen in most students, I sometimes suggest rather childish antics like shaking up and down to loosen up and feel better however there must be some way of elimination of this factor as it  hampers the marks even if the students are well versed with the topic.
  3. The one minute- As a trainer we must help them optimize their one minute to the best of their ability and this process can differ from trainer to trainer but there should be a process so as to optimize the student’s productivity. Points made should be for reference purposes only and not full sentences, at least 10-15 points and they can be elaborated for about 10 to 15 seconds each.
  4. Preparation- acclimatizing the students to a variety of topics especially those they are not comfortable with, so that they have the confidence. Also students must  keep a notebook with all the topics they have done and have knowledge of the ones they can club together.

PTE Speaking Tips

4 Jun

For getting better scores in PTE speaking one must know the  Weightage of Marks in each Section:-

  • Ensure to speak your complete quota of 40 seconds
  • Re Telling the lecture has the maximum weightage in speaking section.  Describing the image is equally important after Re telling the lecture. . Hence; for getting the highest scorers in speaking module one need to Focus on these areas.

 

PTE Tips from Hurray

21 Apr

Watch your time and know how many tasks you need to do. Keep strictly within the word limit given for writing tasks.

Speak after you hear the short tone on all speaking tasks except Repeat sentence, which doesn’t have a tone!

 

Answer the question. If the question asks you to write or speak about medicine, write or speak about ‘medicine’ not ‘sport’!

 

Respond quickly and keep speaking during speaking tasks as this will affect your fluency score. The microphone will close after 3 seconds of silence and stop recording.

 

Respond quickly and keep speaking during speaking tasks as this will affect your fluency score. The microphone will close after 3 seconds of silence and stop recording.

GRE Training at Hurray — hurrayedutech

21 Apr

Hurray’s GRE Prep course is intended to prepare students for success in the GRE General Test. The General Test is divided into three sections, namely Analytical Writing, Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning. The test itself in nearly four hours in duration and requires a thorough grounding in the subjects, as well as stamina to perform […]

via GRE Training at Hurray — hurrayedutech