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Tip #4 : Identify and Strengthen Your Weakest Skill

The IELTS test is comprised of four parts: listening, reading, writing, and speaking. Each of these parts represents a language skill. Your overall IELTS score is the average of your scores on the four parts of the test, so if you receive a low score on one part, it will lower your overall score. Many people feel that some of their English skills are weaker than others. For example, a student might feel like she can read and write English well, but she is nervous about speaking and listening. If you feel that one or two of your English skills are behind the others, this tip is for you!

For your first step, take a practice IELTS exam and note the part of the test that you score the lowest on. Don’t assume that you know the part you will score the lowest on without taking a practice test. Your scores may surprise you! If you notice that your scores on one or two parts are significantly lower than the others, and you agree that you generally struggle with those skills the most, you will likely benefit from focusing on those skills as you prepare.

How do you focus on a specific skill? The most important thing to remember is that in order to improve a skill, you have to practice it! Although it seems simple, many people don’t realize that they aren’t practicing English in a way that will improve their weaker skills. For example, if you need to improve your speaking skills, you must speak English. Reading or writing English will only help your ability to speak a small amount, and it likely won’t be enough to improve your score on the IETLS test. Or, if you need to improve your writing, then you need to write; speaking and listening will not be the best way to prepare.

Often, weak skills are weak for a particular reason that is related to a student’s environment or background in English. For example, if you are strong in speaking but weak in writing, maybe it is because you use English for work conversations, but you have never studied it in school. If you are strong in reading but weak in listening, maybe it is because you read English in school but never had many conversations with native speakers. So in order to practice your weak skills, you may need to change your environment or routines a little. Here are some suggestions of changes you can make to practice each language skill:

Skill
Listening Skill
  • Listen to the news in English online instead of in your native language
  • Find in-person or online English conversation partners and practice listening to and responding to them regularly. Prepare questions to ask them so that you can listen to their answers. Don’t be afraid to say that you don’t understand and that you’d like your partner to repeat what they said.
  • Watch films in English. First, you may want to watch movies with English subtitles. Then, repeat the movie and turn the subtitles off.
Reading Skill
  • Start a habit of reading something in English every day. Especially if you don’t enjoy reading in English, find a topic to read that is interesting to you so that you are motivated to read every day.
  • Choose things to read that are at your reading level. There should be about 1-3 words per paragraph that you don’t understand. If you are reading something with many words you don’t know, you’ll have to start reading and start looking up works. Then you will be studying vocabulary instead of practicing reading!
Writing Skill
  • Find someone that you can regularly write to in English. Maybe it is another English student like you; this can be great practice for both of you! Decide together whether you will text, write e-mails, or write paper letters, and discuss how often you will communicate.
  • Keep a daily written journal in English.
Speaking Skill
  • Find in-person or online English conversation partner sand practice speaking with them regularly. If your speaking skills are weak, explain carefully (maybe in writing) that you need to practice speaking English. Ask your conversation partner to be patient and allow you to think if you need time before you speak. Be honest with your partner if you feel you are not getting enough time to practice speaking during the conversation.
  • Keep a daily audio journal in English. Record yourself speaking about your day, your feelings—anything that you would like to record and remember!

You might think that it would be great to practice all of the skills, and so you want to use all of the suggestions. Remember, though, that being consistent is key. Most people can’t start many new habits at once and continue doing all of them. For most people, it is better to pick just one or two suggestions for the skills that need the most improvement and start implementing them consistently. Then, when these suggestions are part of your normal routine, you can add others. As you continue, you’ll feel more confident and more well-rounded in your English abilities!

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Tip #3 Study Vocabulary

Grammar is like an engine, and vocabulary is the fuel for your engine. If you can use past perfect progressive and passive voice like a pro, you have a powerful engine. But if you don’t have enough vocabulary “fuel,” your powerful engine of grammar skills still won’t take you anywhere! This article covers what vocabulary you should study for the IELTS as well as how to study it.

What Vocabulary to Study

First, something that can’t be stressed enough—the vocabulary you study should depend on the type of IELTS test you are taking. Why? Because the IELTS General Training test and the IELTS Academic test have different reading and writing sections. These sections will have different types of vocabulary. If you’re studying for the IETLS General Training test, you should be studying general high frequency words. If you’re studying for the IETLS Academic test, you should be studying academic high frequency words.

vocabulary

What are high frequency words? Simply put, high frequency words are the words that people use the most. General high frequency words are words that are most commonly used in English as a whole. Academic high frequency academic words are most commonly used words in academic settings—for example, in scholarly articles or in interactions between professors and students.

How do you know what words are “high frequency” words? Luckily, you don’t have to figure it out yourself! Linguists have spent much time developing high frequency words lists based on careful research. If you are studying for the IETLS General Training test, you might try studying the New General Service List. If you are studying for the IETLS Academic test, you’ll find the New Academic Word List more helpful.

You might wonder why you just shouldn’t study any words that you don’t know. After all, it’s always good to study new words, right? While that may be true, to study for the IELTS, some words will be much more useful than others. You likely have limited time before you will take the test. These vocabulary lists will help you study the words that you’re most likely to see, hear, read, and want to say on the IELTS—maximizing your time spent studying vocabulary.

How to Study Vocabulary

Study vocabulary every day. Even if it’s just a few minutes, some study every day will be better than several hours once a week. Most people need a lot of repetition of new words. You will get the repetition you need only by reviewing vocabulary daily.

To use repetition to your best advantage, practice “spaced repetition.” To do this, study the same words several times, but always increase the time between study sessions with those words. For example, say you study seven words one day. The next day, study those same seven words again. After that, study those words again in two days, then in four days, then in a week, in two weeks, in a month, etc. During the days that you don’t study those seven words, introduce new words that you will also repeat with spaced repetition. This will mean that you have different groups of words following different study schedules. Make a system for yourself so that you can keep track of what group of words you should study each day and when you should study each group again.

You can practice spaced repetition with vocabulary using paper lists or paper flashcards, but you can also use technology to help you. For example, Anki is a program that allows you to create or download electronic flashcards. This program can automatically regulate spaced repetition so that you don’t have to keep track of what words you need to study each day.

Don’t let vocabulary hold you back from getting your ideal score on the IELTS. Commit to studying vocabulary every day, and look for opportunities to use the vocabulary you learn when speaking and writing in English. To improve your spoken vocabulary, you can ask English-speaking friends to tell you when you use a word incorrectly. However, because English speakers don’t always feel comfortable pointing out mistakes, you may want to consider working with an English teacher who has been trained to help you fix vocabulary errors.

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Tip #2: Set a Realistic Timeframe for Your Preparation

Many students ask how long it will take to prepare for the IELTS test. Some students hope that they can do well on the test with only a few weeks of study—and some can! For others, studying will take much longer. It’s important to have realistic expectations about the preparation you will need. How much time you will need to prepare depends on two major factors:

1. The scores you hope to achieve and

2. The scores you can achieve now without studying.

The scores you hope to achieve are likely determined by your reason for taking the IELTS. For example, if you’re interested in applying to an undergraduate program at the University of Toronto, you’d need an overall band score of 6.5 with no band below 6.0 in order to be admitted. To apply for a Tier 2 (General) visa to the UK, you’d need at least a 4.0 in each of the four bands. You will need to research the requirements for the school, country, or program you are interested in to determine the score you’ll need. Find out these requirements as soon as possible—you need to know what you’re aiming for!

Then, to determine the score you can achieve now without studying, find and take a practice IELTS test. There are two types of IELTS tests: the Academic IELTS and the General Training IELTS. The two types have different reading and writing sections. So it’s important to find a practice test with reading and writing sections for the type of IETLS . The British Council offers high-quality, free practice test materials for both types here.

When you take the practice test, imagine that it is the real IELTS. Read the instructions carefully, do not use any dictionaries or other materials, and do not allow yourself extra time. Your goal is to make the practice test as similar as possible to the real test. If you spend extra time answering questions or allow yourself to look up words on the practice test, your scores will not reflect your true ability. Be honest with yourself so that you can get a clear picture of how much you will need to study.

Preparation

Once you know the scores you need to achieve and the scores you can achieve now, you’ll have a better idea of how long you should plan to do preparation before taking the test. If your practice test score is only one band below the score you’ll need, you may only need to study for a month or two. If your score is more than one band below what you’ll need, you will probably need to plan a longer time for studying—likely at least a few months, and maybe longer. How much time you will need also depends on how much time you can study each day. How consistently you study, and whether you study in a test preparation course with an instructor to provide feedback.

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5 Idioms You Will Hear in Professional Business Environments

The Many Business Idioms

An idiom is a kind of phrase that you find in almost every language. It is completely meaningless unless you have prior knowledge of its implications. You would read the phrase and know what the individual words mean, but together they have a meaning that you would have to learn to understand. Business idioms are especially important to learn so that you can feel comfortable in an environment where idioms might be the norm.

The Many Business Contexts

All of the following phrases will make a lot more sense when you understand their applicable contexts, so we’ll provide you with a few examples and an explanation. Here are 5 of the most common idioms you will come across in a professional business environment.

1) Hands are tied

Example sentence: “I wish I could help you, but my hands are tied”. This phrase implies that there is something preventing a person from carrying out a specific action. Typically this would be regulations or an authority figure that has given particular orders.

2) Up in the air

Example sentence: “I was hoping to have this done before tomorrow but so much is up in the air right now”. This phrase wants to convey that there is much uncertainty about the future, or too much out of a person’s control, in order to proceed with a desired action or idea.

3) A learning curve

Example sentence: “This job has a steep learning curve”. A learning curve refers to the time it takes for someone to learn something through trial and error. When the learning curve is steep, it implies that there is pressure on a person to ‘climb the curve’ quickly; in other words, you have to learn the ropes quickly.

4) To learn the ropes

Example sentence: “Today I’m going to show you the ropes”. This means that you are going to learn the basics, the common things, the activities that are easy and accessible to everyone in the business. You know how to do things in the business, you have ‘learned the ropes’.

5) By the book

Example sentence: “If you want to do it correctly, you have to do it by the book”. If you do something by the book, it means you are following rules, and you are doing it in a way that has been practiced many times by other people, it is a ‘tried and tested’ method.

Non-Native Mastery

Every English speaker can deduce the meaning of these casual phrases that might be incomprehensible to a non-native. We have now shown you that you do not need to be a native to have mastery over business English, especially in places where such knowledge is commonplace. Click here for a video on how to pronounce these phrases correctly and use them in different contexts!

By Thomas Marais

Thomas is a native English speaker from South Africa, who graduated cum laude and uses his honors bachelor’s degree in the Humanities to provide professional English tutoring to children and adults. He is a TEFL certified teacher and teaches teach both children and adults at any language level

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3 Ways to Practice English in Everyday Life

The best English speakers practice their language every day, in a variety of ways. The same is true for a native speaker of any language! The best way to reinforce your knowledge is to diversify the ways you practice the language with your body: through speaking and writing. Applying both your mouth and your hands in the learning process will make you remember!

⦁ Make an effort to memorize the names of common household or personal objects, like your watch, your keys, your attire, or your hairbrush. When using these objects, speak them out loud. Just say them to yourself or say it to someone close to you: “This is a toothbrush!” or “These are my pants!” or “This is my watch!”, and use them in different contexts. Be silly, have fun, enjoy the experience of learning, it’s a fantastic journey. Click this link for some help in pronunciations.

0. Learn the phrases you are likely to use in your language in English. People commonly greet each other, or use an exclamation when they make a mistake, or give instructions for dinner, or perhaps they use the same phrases at the grocery store’s cashier. Thus, we recommend using those phrases in English instead of your own language, even if people give you strange stares. You are learning, it takes effort, and you need to look silly before you can look professional! Click here for help with learning the correct phraseology and grammar for every-day phrases, and to also learn some new ones! Even if you get it wrong, the point is that you are trying! That in itself is a success already.

  1. Something that will help you memorize vocabulary is learning homonyms. Write these down for yourself in a notebook. A homonym can be either a homophone or a homograph. Homographs are spelled the same way, and sound the same way, but have different meanings. Homophones sound the same but are spelled differently. Take the word: “‘watch” for example. The verb ‘to watch’ means to look at something, but the noun ‘watch’ can be used to describe a clock worn on the wrist – it is a homograph! An example of a homophone would be ‘week’ or ‘weak’. One describes a measurement of time, the other describes a physical attribute. Can you think of other examples, maybe words like ‘sun’ or ‘son’? ‘Address’ and ‘address’?

These are interesting little ways to help you become familiar with the intricacies and confusing aspects of the English language. Try each step in your everyday life and never be shy to look for help online, there are many resources out there to help you, and we are one of them!
⦁ By Thomas Marais

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Question of the Day: What was your strategy to get 7 bands in IELTS writing?

What was your strategy to get 7 bands in IELTS writing?

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Toni Appelberg, Founder / CEO https://worldsenglish.netAnswered just now

Great question! I’m not sure which score you are achieving now but to score well you need lots of practice. It is also very important to take a formal IELTS preparation course with TESOL certified, native English speaking teachers. This is very important so that you can get the correct feedback and instruction and be very familiar with the test format. Please get in touch if World’s English can assist you. We have a comprehensive curriculum of IELTS preparation courses at a very affordable price. Many of our lessons are even free. you can check out the catalog here: World’s English, Visit https://worldsenglish.net to learn about our affordable English lessons .- IELTS-TOEFL-TOEIC-BULATS-Business English-Medical English-Children’s English-Grammar-Conversational English- $5 group lessons-$29/month

7 bands in IELTS writing
7 bands in IELTS writing

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More IELTS! We’ve added 5 more speaking lessons

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World’s English is working madly to add more great speaking lessons and content for you. Many of our lessons are FREE and those that aren’t are only $5. How can we do this? Our overhead is low and we have a mission to help as many people as possible achieve great results on their English language exams. We want to help you prepare for IELTS and recommend that you consider our subscription so you can take as many lessons as possible. We truly beleive this is the best deal around for high quality lessons with TESOL certified, native English speaking teachers.

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World’s English has added 8 new amazing IELTS lessons!

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IELTS lessons

https://www.pinterest.com/writinglessons/reading-fluency-activities/

Worlds English has added 8 new IELTS lessons. Scheduling is underway. Find your lesson at https://live.vcita.com/site/worldsenglish/online-scheduling?category=fc3ykj5s65valz1w

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Is it possible to crack any competitive exam by just reading books of the concerned exam? See Toni’s answer on Quora.

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That may work for exams that require only memorization but it absolutely will not work for IELTS or TOEFL. You must practice with a very high level English speaking teacher; preferable a native English speaker. You need feedback and practice with the times and requirements of the exam. Please let us know if we can help you at World’s English, where we offer preparation courses for both. You are also welcome to check out our FREE IELTS and TOEFL video lessons. Following these free videos you can crack any competitive exam.

crack competitive exam
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New FREE LESSON released

Hello English Speakers!

I would like to offer you a free gift or FREE LESSON just for being one of our valued blog readers. I’ve just released a free video lesson: Business English: ADVERTISING.

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