Wednesday, 13 February 2013

What happens in the IELTS Speaking test?

The official IELTS website, , has published recordings and transcripts of a sample IELTS speaking test at .

Checking the information on this page is highly recommended if you're planning to take the IELTS test.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Why Facebook Makes You Feel Bad About Yourself: Reading Practice with Questions

We log in to Facebook hoping to experience happiness through friendship and support from our social networks. "But skimming through photos of friends’ life successes can trigger feelings of envy, misery and loneliness as well, according to researchers from two German universities.".

To find out more, read the article at .

Then try to answer the comprehension questions below. You can check your answers with the suggested answers at the bottom of the page.


1. How is Facebook supposed to make us feel?

2. According to the researchers, how many people felt bad after looking at Facebook?

3. What effect can looking at Facebook without posting have?

4. What results may feeling envious when looking at Facebook have?

5. What differences can be seen in the way men and women present themselves on Facebook?

6. What are the two most common causes of frustration with Facebook?

7. Overall, do the positive effects of using Facebook seem to outweigh the drawbacks?


to skim (v.) - to look through quickly or superficially

envy (n.) - to want something that another person has

misery (n.) - great unhappiness

lousy (adj.) - bad, terrible

to scan (v.) - to look over quickly, sometimes when searching for information

frequenter (n.) - a person who frequents a place (visits a place often)

to post content - to share information online

common (adj.) - usual, frequent

an observation (n.) - something you notice or observe

to portray (v.) - to present, to show

to supersede - to overcome, be stronger than

Suggested answers:

1. happy, warm, loved, supported and important

2. one in three

3. more likelihood of feeling dissatisfied

4. people may use the site less or leave the site

5. men - more likely to post self-promotional content; women - more likely to stress physical attractiveness and sociability

6. a. users comparing themselves socially to friends b. “lack of attention” from fewer comments, likes and general feedback compared to friends

7. yes

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Valentine's Day: Short Video plus Quiz with Answers

Valentine's Day is celebrated in different ways by different cultures.

Ready to learn about Valentine's Day around the world while testing your listening skills?

Watch the short video: Celebrating Valentine’s Day around the world (1.54 minutes) at .

Decide if the statements below are True (T) or False (F). Write down your answers.

Watch the video again, if needed.

Check with the Answer Key below.


1. On Valentine’s Day (February 14th), boys in Korea give candy.
2. In Denmark, it is traditional to send snowdrop flowers to your friends and lover on Valentine’s Day.
3. In China, visit the Temple of Matchmaker on Valentine’s Day.
4. In Spain, wives send beautiful bouquets of roses to their husbands.
5. Chocolate is the most popular Valentine’s gift in Japan.
6. In Australia, over 19 % of people aged between 18 and 24 celebrate Valentine’s Day.
7. The world’s first printed Valentine’s Day card is on display at the British Museum in London.


1. F (only girls give candy on February 14th in Korea)
2. T
3. T
4. F (husbands send roses to their wives)
5. T
6. F (over 90%)
7. T

How many corerct answers did you have?

You can find out more about Valentine's Day by reading the article at: .

Friday, 8 February 2013

Excellent English Language Listening Resources from The Guardian

Here's another link to add to your list of favourites for listening practice:

(If you're not familiar with "The Guardian", it's a very highly regarded UK news publication).

At you'll find the best of the Guardian's journalism in an easy to digest weekly podcast.

You'll also find podcasts on a range of interesting specialist topics from science, technology and books to music, football and more.

Have fun and expand your mind while improving your English!

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

How Your Choice of Music Can Improve Your Workout

Are you lazy? Scientists say we are all lazy by nature: " other animals, humans naturally aim to use as little energy as possible during most movement". (

Researchers have established that when the speed of a treadmill is increased, people very quickly increase the pace of their steps. It seems that the extremely rapid response is made possible by a section of our brains which learns and stores memories of different paces.

Playing uptempo music encourages our bodies to move faster. Just take care not to overdo it!

Read the complete article at:

Do you like to exercise to music?

Have you experimented with excercising to music of different tempos? Which tempo do you like most? Which do you feel is most beneficial?


treadmill (n.)- machine on which people can exercise by walking or running

pace (n.) - speed

rapid (adj.) - fast

uptempo (adj.) - fast or lively pace