Monday, 30 September 2013


When you read and listen, question everything with a critical mind.

When you write or speak, ask yourself if you have evidence to support your claims. Sometimes, we accept ideas simply because they fit with our beliefs and values.

Make a habit of stopping often to check!

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Reading: Choosing the people who are right for you

"There are people, places and things that make me feel like I’m building my energy stores, that rejuvenate me, and help me to do my best work. Likewise, there are also people and places that zap my energy; that leave me exhausted; that make me feel as though I’ve wasted my time and my energy – and my day – without getting anything useful done."

Do you feel the same way about the effects of spending time with different people?

This writer classifies people on an energy spectrum, from "high, positive energy, to balanced and stable individuals, to strong negative energy.

Read more at the link below, and make a list of the 11 groups into which people are classified.

Do you know people who fit into each of these 11 categories?
In which category do you think you might belong?
Do you disagree with the author on any points? Why?

Monday, 23 September 2013

Science: How activation of genes in the womb can shape health over a lifetime

Here's a very interesting article on recent genetic research. Scientists are looking at how genes are activated in the womb by the activities and environment of the mother. It appears that through such interactions, gene changes can occur which will affect the child in his or her later life.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Food: What the World Eats

This fascinating project, "Hungry Planet," documents "that most basic of human behaviors — what we eat".

Peter Menzel's photographs show all that an average family eats in a week, with its total cost.

"The results will be exhibited by The Nobel Peace Center to give viewers a peek into kitchens from Norway to Kuwait, and to raise awareness about how environments and cultures influence the cost and calories of the world’s dinners."

Read more and see photos at

Germany: The Sturm Family of Hamburg

Friday, 13 September 2013

Using Your Time More Effectively

"Busy people all make the same mistake: they assume they are short on time, which of course they are. But time is not their only scarce resource. They are also short on bandwidth."

To learn what is meant by "bandwidth" and to discover how to use your time more effectively, read the article at

Thursday, 12 September 2013

The Benefits of Learning Another Language

Most people who learn another language will agree that the process brings many benefits in addition to being able to communicate in the target language -- for example, you might find your memory improves.

Can you think of ten extra benefits to learning another language?

Write down your ideas before reading the article here:

Cambridge speaking examiners discuss what makes a good speaking test candidate

"What makes a good Speaking test candidate? In this video three experienced examiners give their advice and tips for the Cambridge English: First and Cambridge English: Advanced Speaking tests."

Note: these tests use different formats to the IELTS tests but much of the advice is useful for all speaking tests.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

How to Study Effectively -- British Psychological Society

The British Psychological Society has published an excellent "digest" (a summary or compilation) of research on how to study.

Go to to see if you are approaching your study in the right way and to pick up some very useful information on what works best.

Sleep after learning improves results

You may already have discovered this for yourself, but research has now established that sleep after learning improves results.

"A nap as short as 6 minutes after learning can help to consolidate learning and improve performance."

Learning before you sleep at night is helpful, too.

Read for more details.

Can you change your learning habits to take advantage of this information?

Monday, 9 September 2013

How long does it take to become fluent in English (BBC)?

Many, many students have asked their teachers how long it will take to master English.

Many, many teachers have answered, "It depends on several factors...".

A new BBC Channel 4 documentary - Why Don't You Speak English? - explores this topic, looking at four immigrants who have struggled with English since arriving in the UK a year ago.

"Age is the most important factor in language acquisition, says Mila Vulchanova, professor of linguistics at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

"There is a sensitive period in language learning, which is biologically determined, with an onset at birth and a decline around puberty. So the younger the immigrant, the better. Since this decline is only gradual, teenagers are at an advantage over adults."

Would you like more details? Read the rest of the article at .

Thursday, 5 September 2013

The Perfect Language Learner

The Perfect Language Learner -- an excellent infographic from St George International.


Is there anything you'd wish to add?

IELTS Official on Facebook Live Chat: Ask the Experts about the Listening Test

Have you found IELTS Official on Facebook yet? If not, I recommend doing so right now! Go to and be sure to "like" the page so you'll receive their posts in your Facebook news feed.

Today, IELTS Official will host another ‘Ask the Experts’ live chat session on their Facebook page. It's on Monday 09 Sept at 13.30-14.30 BST. You will have the opportunity to ask IELTS experts your questions about the Listening test.

To find out the time of the session where you are: .

If you missed today's "Ask the Experts", never mind. Just be sure to stay tuned for the next one!

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Preparing for IELTS? Join my Facebook page!

If you're preparing to take the IELTS test, I recommend reading back through this blog in chronological order (from the first to the most recent post).

For extra tips and information updates plus interesting material for vocabulary, reading and listening practice, you can follow my IELTS_Live page on Facebook at .

My website is at .

If you have any questions, please ask here or email: teacher @ .

Monday, 2 September 2013

"Do you know the four criteria examiners use for the IELTS Speaking Test?

They are Fluency and Coherence, Lexical Resource, Grammatical Range and Accuracy and Pronunciation."

Fore more details, go to

With thanks to The British Council

Sunday, 1 September 2013

"Voluntourism" and why you need to think twice about taking part

"Voluntourism" is a word created by combining the words "volunteer" and "tourism". (Although, while volunteer work is usually done for no pay, people taking part in "voluntourism" usually pay for the experience).

Here's a very thought-provoking article about the subject:

Cambodia's orphan business

Having read the article, would you consider being a "voluntourist"?