Wednesday, December 26, 2007

How to Pass the IELTS Exam - Speaking Part

Thanks to my english students who are nurses, I can now share tips on how to succeed in IELTS. I actually learned a lot from them during the time they sought assistance while reviewing for this exam. Based from my observation, the writing, listening or reading parts are no problem areas. It is in the speaking part where they usually get low marks and hence, are forced to retake the test. Quite expensive!

So I figured, to all the other IETLS examinees out there, here are my tips to get that high score:

1. Prepare. There are lots of review centers that offer trainings, handouts and mock interviews. I suggest you acquire copies of those reviewers to get the feel of the questions that may be asked.
2. Hear yourself talk. Read out loud. Practice speaking and thinking in English. Ask your peers or relatives to talk to you face to face. Or if that's not possible, go and buy a Sun Sim, unlimited talking for you from sunrise to sundown, right?
3. Enunciate. I notice that we are sometimes conscious to pronounce 'th' in the, or f, v, z sounds. Pronounce these words slowly for emphasis.

4. Speak from actual experience. As much as possible, avoid making up stories. Be honest.
5. Before taking the exam, Relax! Then, face the interviewer with ease and confidence. Avoid too much hand gestures and maintain that eye contact.

And also, these are the usual warm up questions:
1. Describe yourself.
2. Tell me more about your hometown.
3. What are your hobbies?
4. Do you enjoy shopping? Why?

5. Why do you think email is important nowadays?
... and just about anything under the sun!

Sometimes I wonder why Filipino nurses are NOW required to pass IELTS before they can work abroad. I believe we are good in English already. Money-generating scheme perhaps? Maybe. Anyway, I hope this helps.

Friday, November 30, 2007


I'm kinda tired of hearing 'Basically..., Actually..., As far as I'm concerned...' and all the other expressions we unconsciously use in the beginning of our sentences. So I've collected these GAMBITS.

They are phrases we can say to fill in dead air or pauses when delivering speeches or when answering impromptu questions:

I. Giving Opinions

Well, in my opinion…
It seems to me that…
To bring up another point, …
I’d also like to point out that…
As I see it, …
It is my considered opinion that…
There’s no doubt in my mind that…

II. Expressing Agreement

That’s a good point. I couldn’t agree more.
I think we are in agreement on that.
I agree with you completely or, I agree entirely with your point of view.

III. Expressing Partial Agreement

I agree with you on the whole, but it could also be said that . . .
Although I agree with most of what you’ve said, I find it difficult to agree with your point about... I agree in principle, but . . .

IV. Expressing Polite Disagreement

What I think is . . .
I see what you mean, but . . .
I’m not sure I agree with you on that. Yes, that may be true, but . . .
I’m not totally convinced by your argument.
I must take issue with the argument you’ve just made.

V. Asking for Clarification

I didn’t follow what you said about . . .
I’m not sure with what you’re getting at…
Correct me if I’m wrong, but are you saying that . . .
I’m sorry, but I didn’t get your last point. Could you please go over it again?
When you say . . . do you mean that . . .
Would I be correct in saying that . . .
Am I correct in assuming that . . .

VI. Clarifying One’s Position

That’s not exactly what I mean. Let me put it in another way.
What I’m trying to say is . . .
My point is that . . .
Perhaps I haven’t made myself clear. I’ll make that clearer by saying . . .
I’m afraid there seems to be a slight misunderstanding. To be more specific, …

By using these phrases, we can make a variety of responses to different situations.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

10 Tips to Improve Speaking

Some say, as long as you can speak English and the person you're talking to understands you, that's fine. But what if you are asked to provide a speech about a particular topic? Or, when your big boss asked a random question out of the blue while you are both stuck in the elevator? I think it would be nice if we have at least a guideline to follow so we can speak with ease and confidence.

Here's a checklist to keep in mind:

1. The talk answers the question asked
2. Point of view or position is clear
3. Talk is direct and well-organized
4. Sentences are logically connected (use transition phrases!)
5. Details and examples support the main idea
6. Speaker expresses complete thoughts
7. The meaning is easy to comprehend
8. A wide range of vocabulary is used
9. There are minor or no errors in grammar
10. The talk in within the alloted time

And to greatly improve on this, all we need to do is practice, practice, practice.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Z and S Sounds

I've learned something new today (that before seemed unnoticeable) - english words ending with the z or s sounds. Now these words are very common. Wouldn't it be nice to sound correct when we're using them in our sentences?
Here's a list:

(z) abuse (verb)
(s) abuse (noun)
(z) lose
(s) loose
(z) peas
(s) piece/peace
(z) eyes
(s) ice
(z) fears
(s) fierce
(z) rise
(s) rice
(z) plays
(s) place
(z) knees
(s) niece
(z) advise
(s) advice
(z) raise
(s) race

Read them out loud and practice pronouncing them properly. Now...go!

Speak, Write and Listen

If you want to be successful, good communication skills nowadays are vital. In fact, a lot of job recruiters seek candidates who can speak and write well. Understanding this notion, I decided to improve myself in these areas. One immediate action I took is, to write a blog. I want to express my thoughts in writing since I do not have a problem expressing them verbally. I’ve always been fond of keeping a journal, and I one of my dreams is to publish my written works someday.

Good thing I worked in a Call Center company – my listening and verbal skills were greatly honed and practiced. I had the chance to listen to North Americans and conserve with them in a daily manner, for more than a year. So to start of with this blog, let me share tips for Good Listening. Here's a list:

1.Keep an open mind.
2.Maintain eye contact.
3.Watch your body language.
4.Listen for key ideas and understanding.
5.Rephrase what the speaker is saying.
6.Ask questions.

I’ll be sharing other tips in my next entries to come.