IELTS Essay – How to Write an Introduction (Using Paraphrasing)

Hi, I’m Daniel. Welcome to Oxford Online English! In this lesson, you can learn about paraphrasing in IELTS essays. First question: what’s paraphrasing? Paraphrasing means saying the same thing in a different way. But, I’m guessing you already knew that. Probably, you’re watching this video because you think you need to paraphrase the question in your IELTS essay introduction, and you aren’t sure how to do it. We’re making this video because there’s a lot of bad or inaccurate advice about paraphrasing around, and many IELTS students have the wrong idea about what paraphrasing is and how they should use it in their IELTS essay. With our IELTS students, we often have to spend time breaking down bad habits and bad ideas which students have about this. So, in this lesson, you can learn the truth about paraphrasing in your IELTS essay. You’ll see the number one mistake that IELTS students make with paraphrasing, and you’ll learn how to use paraphrase effectively in your IELTS writing exam.

Let’s start with something that might surprise you: What? But wait, I saw this video, and it said I should paraphrase the question in my introduction. But wait, I read this article, and it said I should paraphrase the question in my introduction. But wait, my teacher told me I should paraphrase the question in my introduction. Okay, we know. There’s a lot of IELTS advice out there that says, ‘paraphrase the question in your introduction.’ Why should you listen when we say you don’t need to? Don’t pay attention to us; pay attention to the official IELTS scoring scheme. To save you time, we’ve added links to the official scoring scheme under the video.

You can read it right now! Go ahead; read the scoring scheme and find the word ‘paraphrase’. We can save you some time: it isn’t there. Remember, this is the official scoring system, which the examiners use to mark your IELTS writing exam. The writing mark scheme does not talk about paraphrase AT ALL. Why not? Because you don’t have to paraphrase the question in your introduction. Okay, you think, so how do I start my essay? Surely paraphrasing the question is better than nothing? I don’t know what else to do… Here’s how a lot of students approach paraphrasing.

See if this looks familiar to you. Let’s take a question: Robots, computers, and machines are becoming more advanced, and can perform many jobs which used to be done by people. What problems does this cause, and how can these problems be solved? So, let’s practice bad paraphrasing! Let’s see now, we need to change the words. Let’s find some synonyms: robot = automaton advanced = cutting-edge machine = apparatus job = assignment people = folks Wow, great synonyms, right? Let’s plug them into our sentence to create a bad paraphrase: Automata, computers, and apparatus are becoming more cutting-edge, and can perform many assignments which used to be done by folks. Let’s change a couple of small things so it’s not so close to the original: Automata, computers, and apparatus are more and more cutting-edge, and can do many assignments which were done by folks in the past. Finished! What a great paraphrase! No, no, no! This is terrible, and it will only hurt your IELTS score. Don’t do this! This is what many IELTS students do, but it’s a bad idea. Let’s see why this doesn’t work.

First, a question: what’s a synonym? You probably said something like, “a word with the same meaning as another word.” That’s more or less true. However, a true synonym is a word which can replace another word in any sentence. So, imagine you have two words: A and B. If word A can be replaced with word B in any sentence, they’re synonyms. If word A can be replaced with word B sometimes, but not always, they’re not true synonyms. Maybe they have a similar meaning, but they aren’t the same. What’s the point of all this? The point is that there are very few true synonyms in English, or any language. Just because two words have the same meaning does not mean they can be used in the same way. The words people and folks have the same basic meaning, but that doesn’t mean that you can say folks any time you say people.

They aren’t true synonyms. Why not? Because vocabulary usage depends on more than just meaning. Register and collocation are equally important. Also, many words which have a similar meaning don’t have exactly the same meaning. Machine and apparatus are similar, but they aren’t the same. Job and assignment are similar, but they aren’t the same. So, that’s problem number one. When you use words that you think are synonyms, they probably aren’t true synonyms. That means you’re changing the meaning—which is dangerous—and also making language mistakes, which can hurt your vocabulary score. There’s a second problem: this is a really weird and unnatural thing to do. Imagine someone asks you a question. What do you do? Do you repeat the question back, using different words? Hey! How was your weekend? Ah… You wish to enquire about my recent non-working days? How’s the weather in the US? So… You want to know about the climatic conditions in North America? No! This is weird! When someone asks you a question, you answer the question.

Your IELTS essay is the same. The task asks you a question. Your essay should answer the question. Your answer starts from your first sentence. Bad paraphrase adds nothing to your answer. No paraphrase is better than bad paraphrase. A bad paraphrase is only an empty sentence with language mistakes. That’s all the examiner will see. For your IELTS score, this is only negative.

Ok, you think, so how do I start my essay? You have two options, and it depends on your target score. Let’s look. This is going to be a short section. If your target score is 6 or maybe 6.5, and you don’t know how to start your essay, here’s what you do: Write an introduction which is one sentence. Write a thesis statement. That means you explain what you’re going to talk about and what you’re trying to prove with your essay. For example: In this essay, I will discuss possible solutions to the problems caused by robots and computers taking people’s jobs. Or: I intend to show that the problems caused by robots and computers taking people’s jobs are serious, but also possible to solve. Or even: Robots and computers are replacing people at work.

This is a serious problem, and I will discuss how we can solve it. That’s all you need. But, you say, isn’t that too short? No—not at all. First of all, your introduction can be any length. Your introduction can be one sentence. Here’s an important point: your introduction is the least important part of your IELTS essay. Are the example introductions you saw above great? No. They’re not great, but they are easily good enough. Your conclusion is super-important. How you organise your ideas into paragraphs is very important.

How you support and connect your ideas is extremely important. Your introduction is not that important. You can get a high score with a very basic introduction. So, here’s a simple solution: if you don’t know what to write in your IELTS essay introduction, don’t write much at all. Write a short thesis statement, and then start the body of your essay. This is good advice if your target is 6 or 6.5, but what if you’re aiming for a higher score? So, what does effective paraphrase look like? Remember, you’re thinking about writing a strong IELTS essay here. That means an essay which scores between seven and nine. Here’s the thing: when you write a strong essay, you can’t think about it as lots of separate things. Lots of IELTS students write essays in this way: “Ok, first I have to paraphrase the question, then I need to write a thesis statement. Ok, first body paragraph: I need a topic sentence, then a supporting example, then a linking phrase, then a second supporting example… et cetera.” That can work for intermediate IELTS scores: to 6.5, but it’s not a good approach for higher scores.

For higher scores, your essay needs to be one coherent, connected piece. What does that mean, practically? And what does it have to do with paraphrasing? First point: your first sentence should be connected to everything else in your essay. That means you need to know exactly where your essay is going before you start writing. Before you put one word on the page, you need to know all the important things you want to say. Practically, that means you need to know what your conclusion is going to be before you start writing. You also need to know exactly how many body paragraphs you’re going to have, and what you’re going to put in each one.

To be clear, that means when you write your first sentence, you aren’t just thinking, “How can I find a synonym for this word?” Good paraphrasing isn’t about that. You already know the conclusion you want to reach, and you know the ideas you want to discuss. Effective paraphrasing includes this. It shows your reader—the examiners—where your essay is going. Effective paraphrasing shows how you understand the key ideas in the question, and what conclusion your essay is trying to reach. So, the main point: paraphrasing depends on planning. It’s not a simple thing; it’s not just taking some words and replacing them with other words—it’s connected to other parts of your essay.

It’s connected to your ideas and opinions. If you don’t know the conclusion of your essay, you can’t write a good introduction. To write a good introduction, you need to know exactly where you’re trying to go. Let’s see how this can work in practice. To paraphrase effectively, you need to take the ideas in the question and add your own interpretation. Here’s the question you saw before: Some questions: The question talks about robots, computers, and machines. What do these words mean in this context? Can you think of specific examples? What exactly does advanced mean? Advanced in what way? The question mentions jobs which used to be done by people. Like what? The question asks: what problems does this cause? Are these problems serious, or not? Why or why not? Pause the video and think about these. If you want to write a good introduction, you need to have clear answers to all of these questions! Now, let’s see how you could effectively paraphrase this question: Advances in technology have led to the automation of many jobs, especially low-level or manual positions.

This has led to many serious problems, including unemployment and increasing rates of poverty and inequality. This is what a good paraphrase looks like. Here’s a question: which way do you think this essay is going? Do you think the writer will be positive, negative or neutral about the effects of automation? It sounds negative. You can guess that the essay will conclude that automation causes serious problems which are not easy to solve. Someone who reads the first sentence of your introduction should be able to do the same thing; they should be able to guess where your essay is going. Remember: this starts in your head. Everything needs to be clear in your head before you write anything. Another point to notice: our paraphrase doesn’t have the same sentence structure as the task. The paraphrase is two sentences, while the task is just one. The task asks a question: “What problems does this cause?” Our paraphrase replaces this with a statement: “This has led to many serious problems.” Also, our paraphrase replaces general ideas in the question with more specific ideas. The question mentions “many jobs,” but our paraphrase talks about “low-level or manual positions.” The question mentions “problems,” but our paraphrase talks about “serious problems, including unemployment and inequality.” To review, to write an effective paraphrase, you need to do three things: One: have a clear plan in your head, with a clear conclusion, which should be obvious to your reader from the first sentence of your essay.

Two: don’t try to stick too closely to the sentence structure in the question. Paraphrasing is about ideas, not just words. Three: interpret and develop the ideas in the task, so that you replace general ideas in the task with your own more specific ones. Now, you should understand more about how to paraphrase in your IELTS essay. Good luck if you have an IELTS exam coming up soon! You can find more free English lessons, including IELTS preparation lessons, on our website: Oxford Online English dot com. Thanks for watching! See you next time! .

As found on Youtube

How to Answer IELTS Writing Task 1 General

Hi, I’m Justin. Welcome to Oxford Online English! In this lesson, you can learn how to answer task one of the IELTS general writing exam. In the general IELTS writing exam, task one involves writing a letter. Usually, you have to do three things in your letter. You have 20 minutes and you need to write at least 150 words. In this lesson, you’ll see how to plan and write an effective general task 1 IELTS answer. You’ll learn simple strategies you can use to write a better answer and improve your IELTS writing score.

Let’s start by looking at a sample question: Your neighbour has been making a lot of noise recently. This has been causing you problems, and you want to ask them to stop. Write a letter to your neighbour. In your letter: – ask for an explanation for the noise – explain the problems this has caused for you – say what will happen if the problem is not solved Pause the video if you want more time to look at the question. Let’s begin by looking at what you need to think about before you write. Planning for IELTS general task one answers is easier than for other IELTS writing tasks. All general task one questions have the same structure. This means that your answer can have the same structure every time.

The question asks you to do three things. Each point can go in its own paragraph. So, your answer will have three short paragraphs, like this: Then, you need a short introduction. For this question, you can just write a single sentence to explain why you’re writing, like this: I am writing to complain about the noise levels coming from your apartment in recent weeks. The introduction might be different in other tasks. For example, if you’re writing to a friend, you’d write something much simpler. There is one more thing you need to think about when planning: tone. When we say ‘tone’, we mean how formal or informal your letter should be. Task one of the general IELTS writing exam is the only place where tone is clearly mentioned in the scoring scheme.

You need to write in an appropriate tone, and your tone needs to be consistent. What tone do you think you need here? Should your letter be formal, neutral, or informal? Probably, your letter will be somewhere between neutral and formal. You’re writing to your neighbour, so you don’t need to be incredibly formal, but you’re also writing to complain, which adds formality. In our experience, one of the most common mistakes with task one answers is not getting the tone right. Either candidates choose an inappropriate level of formality, or they mix different levels in the same answer. Both of these mistakes will hurt your score. So, before you write anything, think about how formal your letter should be. Now, you have a plan; let’s write our first paragraph! Look at the beginning of a letter: Dear Emily, How’s it going? I’m actually writing because I have some issues with noise coming from your apartment. I would like to demand an explanation for the noise levels.

I mean, what on earth are you doing that’s so noisy? I can hardly have a conversation with someone sitting next to me, because it’s so loud. Please inform me what is occurring. Pause the video if you want more time to look at the answer. Think about whether this is good, or whether it needs some work. There’s a problem with this beginning. Do you know what it is? The problem is tone. As you heard before, it’s a common mistake to mix formal and informal language. Here, you can see very formal sentences, like: I would like to demand an explanation for the noise levels. You can also see more informal language, like: I mean, what on earth are you doing that’s so noisy? The start of the letter also mixes different levels of formality. Writing how’s it going? is a more informal way to start a letter or an email, but if you’re writing to complain, you would almost certainly need to use a more neutral or formal tone.

To get a high score in the general IELTS writing exam, you need to write in a consistent tone. If you want to practice, think about how you could improve the answer you saw before. You can pause the video, and start again when you’re ready. Let’s see how you could improve this answer: Pause the video if you need more time to read. You can see that we’ve got rid of some of the more informal language, like how’s it going? This is also better because it’s consistent without being too formal.

Our original answer included very formal language, like Please inform me what is occurring. You don’t get more points for being more formal; you get a high score by writing in an appropriate and consistent tone. Next, let’s continue by thinking about use of language in your answer. Task one of the general IELTS writing exam is the simplest of all the IELTS writing tasks. This is an advantage, but it also means you need to think carefully about using a wide range of language. Let’s look at this by adding another paragraph to our model answer: This situation is having a bad effect on my entire family. I have been unable to sleep, because of the loud noises even late at night. My son complains that he cannot do his homework. Even our dog has been behaving oddly; she is not eating well and has no energy. This is a good paragraph, and the use of language is already good. However, to get higher scores, you would need to use a wider range of language.

Let’s do two things here. First, look at the five underlined words and phrases. Can you change these words and phrases to make them more detailed and more specific? Think about it—you’ll see some possible answers in a minute. Your second job is to take two sentences and combine them into a more complex sentence. There’s more than one way you could do this, so find an idea which makes sense to you. Think about your answers now. Pause the video if you need more time. Ready? Let’s look: You can see that you don’t need to make big changes. A lot of students think that you need to use a lot of very academic language to get high scores in IELTS. You don’t. To get high scores—even band 9—you need to use a range of language with flexibility and precision. That might include academic language in some cases, but for a letter, that wouldn’t be appropriate. Collocations are very important for your IELTS vocabulary score.

Using collocations like sleep properly, noise levels, lose your appetite, or focus on your homework will boost your vocabulary score. For grammar, we simply connected two sentences with the conjunction while. This adds variety to the sentence structures, which will also help your score. At this point, you need to write one more paragraph. Here, you’re going to see how you can connect your ideas more effectively. There’s a common problem we see with IELTS writing in our students. Students often plan each paragraph separately. Then, they write each paragraph as a separate unit, and the paragraphs don’t have much connection to each other. This will hurt your score; 25 per cent of your score is for coherence and cohesion.

To get a higher score for coherence and cohesion, your writing needs to have a clear progression. That means it needs to have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Let’s look at a final paragraph which doesn’t handle this well: I must ask you to reduce the amount of noise you make, and try to keep quiet during the evening when we are at home. If you continue making noise at these levels, I will have no choice but to make a noise complaint to the police and/or to the city council. Regards, Samira Pause the video if you want more time to read the paragraph.

This is not bad, but it doesn’t include any links or references to the other points you’ve made in the letter. It also lacks a concluding phrase, which could provide a strong, clear end to your letter. Let’s see how you could improve this: Can you see what’s changed? Pause the video to read. There are four changes. First, we made a reference to the first paragraph, then we added a reference to the second paragraph. We also avoided repetition by adding a reference to ‘this situation’, instead of talking about noise levels again. Finally, we added a concluding phrase. And you’ve finished! Practice these steps and ideas and you should be able to get a high score in task one of the general IELTS exam.

Here’s a question for you: what do you find most difficult in task one of the general IELTS writing exam? Please let us know in the comments. You can see the full text of the model answer on our website: Oxford Online English dot com. Look for a link in the video description if you’re watching on YouTube. Thanks for watching! See you next time! .

As found on Youtube

IELTS Speaking Band 9 Sample Test

Hi, I’m Stephanie. Welcome to Oxford Online English! In this lesson, you can see a model IELTS speaking exam with band 9 language. You’ll see each section of the IELTS speaking test, and after each section we’ll highlight the features that could help you to improve your IELTS speaking score. If you’re watching on YouTube, you should check out the full lesson on our website. There’s a link underneath the video. The full lesson includes a transcript, so you can study the answers in your own time. Let’s start with part one, where I’ll be the examiner. Hello, my name is Stephanie. This is the IELTS speaking test.

Can you tell me your full name, please? My name’s Olivier Guiberteau. And can you tell me where you’re from? I’m from a small town near Northampton, in the UK. Can I see your identification, please? Yes, of course. Here you are. Okay, thank you very much. Now, in this first part I’d like to know something about you. First of all, can you tell me about the kind of music you like? Sure, well, I’m a big fan of what you might call alternative electronica.

It’s hard to classify, because when you say ‘electronica’, people think of dance music, but I wouldn’t call it that. Basically, I listen to a lot of stuff with hip-hop, funk or disco influences, but most of my friends think my taste in music is a bit weird. I see. And, where do you like to listen to music? I listen to music pretty much any time that I’m at home. So, if I’m doing housework, or cooking, or anything like that, I’ll put some music on. Sometimes I also listen to music on the bus. Especially if I’m going to play sport or to the gym, I’ll listen to some high-energy tunes on the way to get myself pumped up. Yeah, okay. Why do you think music is so important in many people’s lives? Hmm… That’s a big question… Well, first of all music has always been part of human culture, so in that sense obviously it’s an important part of our lives.

I guess that’s because music can have such a powerful effect on our emotions. Music can lift you up, or inspire you, or make you feel sad. I’d certainly find it hard to live without it! Uh-huh. I’d like to move on and talk about transport. What’s the best way to get around your city? I live in quite a small town, so it’s very easy to get around. You can walk or cycle to a lot of places, although some roads are a bit dangerous for bikes. There are buses which are fairly reliable, but they’re not the fastest way to get around.

Finally, you can take a taxi or an Uber if you want to get somewhere fast and you don’t mind paying a bit extra. Alright. And, have you ever learned to drive? Yes, I learned in the UK as soon as I was old enough, although I have to say I haven’t driven for several years! I’m not sure if you’d want to get in a car with me, but I guess I’d pick it up again quite quickly. There’s just not much point in having a car where I am now, because I can walk or ride my bike around town, and take public transport if I want to go somewhere else, for the weekend or whatever. I see. Do you think everybody should learn to drive? Er… That’s a strange idea. I think it’s up to each person to decide. It can be very useful in some places.

For example, where I grew up in the UK… It’s a rural area, and if you don’t have a car you’re pretty isolated. If you live somewhere like that, you should probably learn to drive. But, it’s still a choice, right? Let’s look at some key points from this part of the speaking exam. First, to get a high score in IELTS speaking—band seven or above—you need to speak fluently, without hesitation. That doesn’t mean you can never pause or hesitate, but your hesitations should not be language-related. So, if you’re pausing or stopping because you can’t remember vocabulary, or because you can’t build a sentence fast enough, that will make it difficult to get a high score. Secondly, Oli’s answers were all relevant and appropriately developed. He gave full answers to every question and added extra detail, but he never went off-topic.

This is also essential: you need to do both of these things to get a high score in your IELTS speaking test. He also used linking words and connecting devices well. Let’s look at one answer as an example: Notice that I didn’t use a lot of linking words here. IELTS students often overuse linking words, and they end up getting a lower score because they make errors or sound unnatural. You need to connect your ideas, but you don’t get a higher score for using more linking words.

It’s more important to use linking words accurately and naturally. Looking at vocabulary, Oli used a wide range of words and phrases in his answers, including some good collocations like alternative electronica, disco influences, or a powerful effect on our emotions. He also used some idiomatic language in a correct, natural way. For example, I’m a big fan of…, get myself pumped up, lift you up, or I’d pick it up again quite quickly. Finally, I got a question at the end which was harder to answer: Do you think everybody should learn to drive? You might have to answer some strange questions in your IELTS speaking exam, or talk about something you haven’t thought about before.

The examiner follows a script, and has no choice about what to ask you. Many IELTS candidates have problems because they try to answer questions they have no idea about. In this situation, it’s better to react naturally. For example, you could say: that’s a weird question; hmm… that’s a tricky one, or something like that. Then, if you have no idea what to say, say so! So long as you explain why, this is fine, and it won’t affect your score. Your score depends on your ability to communicate, not on your ideas and knowledge. Let’s look at the next part of the test. We’re going to swap roles here, so I’ll be the candidate. Now, I’m going to give you a topic and I’d like you to talk about it for one to two minutes. You have one minute to think about what you are going to say. You can make some notes to help you if you wish. Are you ready? Yes. Okay, please tell me about something difficult you learned to do. So, I’m going to tell you about learning to drive a car with manual transmission.

I’m from the States, and almost no one drives a manual there; most cars are automatic. When I came to Europe, I found it was totally the opposite here; driving a manual is the norm, and automatics are rare. I guess here they’re associated with very expensive, luxury cars. Anyway, I had to learn to drive stick, and it was so difficult! It was doubly hard because I already knew how to drive, so it felt extra frustrating to be behind the wheel but unable to do the things I would normally do.

Maybe it wasn’t a good idea but I didn’t get any help; I could have gone to a driving school but I didn’t. I just practiced and tried to learn by myself, by driving around car parks and open spaces and things like that. That was okay, but when I went out and drove properly, on the streets with traffic, it was super stressful. I just couldn’t get the clutch right, and then I’d stall and I’d be stressing out while everyone was honking at me. I can’t say that I’m glad that I learned it.

I mean, I just learned to do it because I had to, and I didn’t enjoy the experience! If it were up to me, I’d rather just have an automatic car. Thank you. So, what do you use your car for? Mostly for getting to work. I live quite far from the nearest metro station and the bus lines aren’t good, so it’s much easier to drive. Sometimes we go out of town for the weekends, too. Next, let’s look at some of the positive points which Stephanie showed in this section. First, she chose a very specific topic. This meant she needed a lot of specialised vocabulary to talk about it, like transmission, drive stick, clutch, stall, honking and so on. If you’re aiming for a high score, you need to choose a topic which lets you go into more depth and use some more varied language.

If you choose a very simple topic, it’ll be difficult to get top scores for language. You can also see that I covered all of the points from the cue card in detail, and didn’t add any irrelevant information or go off topic. Oli already mentioned the specialised vocabulary, but I also used some idiomatic language, like I guess, doubly hard, extra frustrating, super stressful, or get the clutch right. You need to use idiomatic language naturally and accurately to get a top score in IELTS speaking. Idiomatic language doesn’t just mean idioms like “raining cats and dogs”; it also includes conversational words and phrases that are common in native English speech. Don’t forget about the follow-up questions in part two. After you finish speaking, the examiner will ask one or two simple follow-up questions about what you said. You don’t need long answers here, but you should give focused, well-developed answers, like with every IELTS question! Finally, let’s look at part three of the IELTS speaking test. Right, I’d like to ask some questions related to this topic. First, let’s talk about learning new things.

What motivates people to learn new things? Wow… that’s a big question! Well, there are lots of reasons. The main one I guess is just necessity. For example, if you want to work in a particular field, you’ll need some specific training, skills, qualifications… Then, when you start a new job, you generally have to adapt and learn a lot of new things, even if you came in with a lot of theoretical knowledge. What else? I think also interest is important… I mean, people learn to do new things because they’re interested in them or they find something enjoyable.

For example, no one needs to learn to play a musical instrument, but a lot of people do so because it brings them pleasure. Do you think the way that people learn new things has changed compared to the past? Absolutely. Of course, the Internet and the development of smartphones and other new technologies have had a huge influence. We all have easy access to so much information now, which wasn’t the case in the past at all. Before, people would need to dedicate a lot of time and effort to finding an expert, or doing research in order to learn about something new. Now, you can find tutorials online, ask people for help in discussion forums, and things like that. So, it’s a big difference, but I think it’s mostly for the better. How do you think technology will change the way people learn new things in the future? Hmm… I’m not sure. I think we’ll see the same trends developing… What I mean is: the big changes have already happened, but I don’t think they’ve run their course yet.

So, a lot of people still have the idea that you learn something by going to a class, reading books, and so on, and they haven’t realised that you just have more options nowadays. To tie all this together, I think that in the future, education and learning will be more globalised and democratic, in that everybody will have similar opportunities to learn. I suppose that might mean that formal education diminishes in significance, but I’m not sure that will actually happen. Okay, let’s move on to talk about school and education.

How can parents or students choose the best school or university? In my experience, the only way to know what a school or university is really like is to talk to people who already study there and see what they say. Of course, you can go and look around, but I don’t think you can learn very much just by walking around a school. If you talk to some of the staff and students, you can get a feel of what kind of establishment it is, and whether it’s a good fit for you, or your child, whoever you’re talking about. Mm-hmm. How do people in your country feel about private education? Huh… I really don’t know. I went to a public school, and so did everyone I know. It’s not really a topic which comes up that much, you know? Personally, I don’t have strong opinions; if someone wants to pay to send their child to a private school, then why not? Given that there aren’t that many private schools, it’s just not something that people are so aware of.

I see. Do you think that university education should be free? Definitely, yes. In the USA, university is insanely expensive; parents have to start saving up from the moment their child is born. I think this leads to elitist outcomes… I mean that the richest kids go to the best universities, and if you don’t have a lot of money behind you, your options are more limited. That said, I realize that graduates tend to earn more, so it might be fairer to have some kind of graduate tax, so that the people who erm… benefit from higher education also help to fund it. That seems to me to be the fairest solution. Thank you. That’s the end of the speaking test. So, let’s look at these answers more closely, and see what made them effective. Many things here you’ve already heard. Stephanie’s answers were fluent, relevant, well-developed and clear. She used a wide range of grammar and vocabulary accurately, including idiomatic language. She also used linking phrases and fillers to keep her answers fluent, even when she was dealing with more difficult answers.

For example: At the start, she used fillers to give herself thinking time without leaving an unnatural pause. She also used linking phrases, like what I mean is and to tie this all together to focus her answer when she wasn’t sure how to finish a sentence or an idea. Remember that you can read the full script of this video on our website: Oxford Online English dot com. You can read the answers and see exactly what words, phrases and structures I used to answer these questions. Have you taken the IELTS speaking exam recently? Please share your experiences in the comments: what went well, and what did you find difficult? Good luck if you have an IELTS test coming up soon! Thanks for watching! See you next time!

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5 Tips to Get Band 7 in the IELTS Writing Exam – IELTS Writing Lesson

Hi, I’m Oli. Welcome to Oxford Online English! Do you need band seven in IELTS? Are you maybe stuck at band six or 6.5? If you’ve taken the IELTS exam many times, and you can’t seem to get higher than six in the writing exam, this video is for you. If you’re stuck at band six, then it’s likely that you have some bad habits and ineffective approaches to the writing exam. These are things that might work well at band six, but they won’t help you to get band seven. I’ll show you what these ineffective habits are, and how you can change them. One point: I’ll be focusing on the academic IELTS exam in this video, because most of the students I meet need academic IELTS. If you’re taking general IELTS, most of the advice in this video is still very relevant for you. Also, one more thing: there’s nothing wrong with getting band six! I’m not trying to be rude or discouraging to anyone.

When I say that something is a bad habit, or that you need to change something, I mean if you want to get band in the IELTS writing exam. But first… Do you know how IELTS scoring works? You should. Here’s why: The IELTS scoring system is very specific. The examiners don’t just look at your writing and say, “Hmmm, this feels like a… six!” If you get band six in the IELTS writing exam, there are specific reasons why. There are specific things which you did or didn’t do which explain your score. Similarly, to get band seven, there are specific things you need to do, and not do! Most importantly: these things are very different between bands six and seven. If you keep taking IELTS, and you keep getting band six in the writing, then you can’t keep doing the same things and expect to get a different score.

You need to change what you do. The things you need to do to get band seven in your IELTS writing aren’t magic or some kind of dark secret. They’re publicly available. You can read what they are. You can do it right now! There’s a link underneath the video. I highly recommend you read the scoring criteria and think about what band seven means. At the very least, you need to understand that your IELTS writing score is made up of four different parts: task achievement, coherence and cohesion, lexical resource (which means vocabulary) and grammar.

Think now: where are you weakest? What do you need to work on from these four areas? In the rest of this lesson, we’ll talk about each of these four areas. You’ll see common examples of ‘band six thinking’, and you’ll see how you can improve your approach to get a higher IELTS writing score. Let’s start with task achievement. Here are the some ideas that are great for getting band six: “In task one, I need to include every statistic and piece of data.” “In task two, I just need to write something about the general topic in the question.” By the way, to save myself saying ‘task achievement’ again and again, I’m going to call it ‘TA’. Getting band 7 for TA is both easy and hard. Here’s why it’s easy: you just need to do everything which the question asks you to do, and nothing else.

Here’s why it’s hard: most people can’t do that without a lot of practice. TA is also slightly different for task one and task two, so we’ll talk about those separately. Let’s start with task one. Here’s a sample question: The graph below shows the sales of five different food products in the UK between 1980 and 2010. Summarise the information by selecting and reporting the main features, and make comparisons where relevant. If you want some time to look at the question, pause the video. If you’re watching on YouTube, you can see the question on the full version of this lesson on our website: Oxford Online English dot com.

Getting a good TA score depends a lot on what you do before you start writing. You need to analyse the task and make a clear plan. If you start writing without a clear plan, it’s very hard to get a good TA score. In task one, it’s important to find connections or trends in the information you’re given. For example, in this question, how could you connect the data? Here’s one idea: you could group the five products into, first, products whose sales fell over the period (ice cream and frozen burgers), secondly, products whose sales rose (tofu and chili sauce) and finally, products whose sales stayed the same (salted peanuts). Here’s another suggestion: group the five products into big sellers (ice cream, frozen burgers, and also chili sauce at the end of the period), and small sellers (tofu, salted peanuts, chili sauce at the beginning of the period).

Which way do you think is better? Actually, there isn’t one correct way to do this, but you need to do something. You can’t just write about each product, one after another. Well, you can, but you’ll probably get band six for TA! Whatever data you’re given, you need to find connections and put the information into groups which you create. These groups will be separate paragraphs in your answer. This is how your answer will have structure, which is also important for your coherence and cohesion score.

What about task two? Let’s look at a sample question: The most common problem in task two is leaving something out or not covering something fully. To get band 7 for TA, you need to do all of the things the question is asking you to do, and only the things the question is asking you to do. What does that mean here? The task says, ‘discuss both of these viewpoints.’ First, you need to discuss the idea ‘that young people benefit from working while studying at school or university.’ One word here is particularly important. Do you know which one? ‘Benefit’ is a key word here. What does ‘benefit’ mean? How do you understand it in this question? Next, you need to discuss the idea, ‘young people will achieve more by focusing on their studies.’ Again, there’s a key phrase here: ‘achieve more’. What does this mean? You need to have answers to these questions.

IELTS tasks often contain abstract, general words like advantages, benefits, problems, success, etc. To write a good answer, you need to analyse and interpret these words yourself. Here, think about ‘achieve more’. How do you understand this term in this question? Does it mean getting good exam results, learning more knowledge, learning practical skills, getting a better job, living a full, satisfying life, or something else? Again, there isn’t one right answer here, but you need to have your own ideas about this. Next, the task says, ‘give your own opinion’. So, you need to explain which side you agree with. Finally, the task tells you to give reasons and include examples. This means that you need to support your ideas. You can’t just say something like: Young people who focus on their studies will achieve more. If you make a point like this, you need to support it somehow. How will they achieve more? What examples can you give to show that this is true? Let’s review: for this question, you need to do four things to get a good TA score: 1.

Discuss the idea ‘that young people benefit from working while studying at school or university,’ and analyse what ‘benefit’ means. Discuss the idea that, ‘young people will achieve more by focusing on their studies,’ and analyse what ‘achieve more’ means. Give your own opinion and reach a clear conclusion. Support your ideas with reasons or examples. If you can do these four things, you can get band 7 for TA in your IELTS writing exam. Remember though, it’s not as simple as it looks. You will probably need to practise to get this right. Next, let’s look at your coherence and cohesion score. I’m going to refer to coherence and cohesion as C&C, to keep things simple. Here are the habits which can limit your C&C score to six: “I need to use more linking words to get a higher score.” “My essay should have an introduction, two body paragraphs and a conclusion.” Let’s look at each point separately. Oh, hey, Oli! How was your IELTS exam? Amazing! I totally nailed it.

I used nevertheless, furthermore, however, in spite of the fact that, AND in addition. My band 7 score is GUARANTEED! No, it doesn’t work like that. First of all, linking isn’t just about linking words. It’s about the logic and flow of your ideas. Look at a sentence: Air pollution is a serious problem. However, food prices are higher than ten years ago. Using however here doesn’t magically make these ideas connected. These two ideas aren’t connected, and you can’t create a connection by using a word like however. Next, there’s nothing in the IELTS scoring system which says you get a higher score for using more linking words. It’s more important to make sure you use linking words accurately. Using more linking words won’t get you band seven. However, using linking words incorrectly will get you band six. So, don’t use linking words just to use linking words. Use them because they fit your ideas.

Don’t think, “I have to use nonetheless to get a high score!” You don’t. Next, let’s look at our second point: paragraphing. Many IELTS candidates use the same structure for everything they write. For example, for task two, most people write an introduction, two body paragraphs, and a conclusion. That might be fine. However, to get band 7 for C&C, you need to “present a clear central topic within each paragraph.” Those aren’t my words. That’s straight from the IELTS scoring scheme. Many students, especially in task two, write paragraphs like this: There are many advantages to … Firstly, … Secondly, … Thirdly, … This kind of writing is likely to get a score of 6 for C&C. Why? Because, if you do this, you’re trying to put too much in one paragraph. That means your paragraph won’t have a clear central topic. So, what’s the solution? First, plan your essay carefully. Make sure you know exactly what you’re putting in each paragraph before you start writing.

Secondly, make sure your paragraph starts with a clear topic sentence. Your topic sentence should be relatively short and simple. If your topic sentence is very long and complicated, then your topic probably isn’t clear. Then, after your topic sentence, spend the rest of the paragraph developing and extending your main idea. This means that you aren’t adding any new ideas or changing the topic in the middle of your paragraph. Also, this means you might need different numbers of paragraphs depending on how many main ideas you have. Do you have two body paragraphs in your essay? That means you have two main ideas. Do you have three main ideas? Then you need three paragraphs! Another point: paragraphs don’t have a minimum length. There’s no such thing as a paragraph which is too short. Paragraphs can be any length. So, let’s review this section.

To get band seven C&C in your IELTS writing exam, you need to focus on using linking words accurately and appropriately. You also need to make sure every paragraph has a clear central topic, which means you shouldn’t try to put many different ideas in one paragraph. Next, let’s look at vocabulary and how you can get to band seven. Here’s a band six idea that students often have: “I need to learn lots of synonyms and uncommon vocabulary. If my vocabulary is bigger, I’ll get a higher score.” There’s one important difference between band six and seven for vocabulary. At band six, you need two things: range and clarity. That means, if you at least try to use some more advanced or uncommon vocabulary, you can get six if your meaning is clear, even if you make mistakes, even if you make lots of mistakes. However, for band seven, you need three things: range, clarity and accuracy. It’s no longer enough just to try. You need to use vocabulary “with flexibility and precision”—again, this is a quote from the official scoring scheme.

You can’t make many mistakes for band seven. You can produce ‘occasional errors’ and still get band seven. What does this mean for you? It means that your priority should be avoiding mistakes. I see many IELTS students trying to learn lots of idioms, phrases, academic vocabulary and so on. But then, they often don’t know how to use this vocabulary well. They use it in their writing, because they think it sounds nice, and their meaning might be clear, but it’s not correct. That’s fine for band six, but not for band seven. So, what should you do? Look, first of all, vocabulary learning is hard work and it’s slow. There aren’t any magic solutions here.

But I’ll give you one tip: When you’re learning vocabulary, focus on quality and depth, not quantity. Don’t try to learn 50 words or phrases. Learn five words or phrases, but really learn them. Spend an hour learning and practising five new words and phrases. Find example sentences. Write your own example sentences. Ask a teacher or whoever you can find to give you feedback. Make sure you know how to use your new vocabulary correctly. Another point: in the exam, if you have a choice between a simple word which you know is correct, and a more advanced or academic word which you aren’t sure about, what should you do? Use the simple word.

Only use vocabulary you’re sure you understand and that you know how to use. This is the opposite to band six. For band six, you can use the more advanced word, even if it’s wrong. But remember, to get band seven, you need to be accurate. You can’t make many mistakes. So, in this situation, take the safe choice! Finally, let’s look at the grammar score and how you can get to band seven.

Here’s the band six idea which students often have: “Grammar’s not so important, so long as people can understand what I mean.” Again, band six and band seven are very different. This is especially true for your grammar score. What’s the difference? Like vocabulary, you need to be accurate to get band seven. At band six, it doesn’t really matter how many grammar mistakes you make so long as your meaning is clear. At band seven, the quantity of grammar errors you make matters.

It really matters! To get band seven for grammar, you need to “produce frequent error-free sentences”—again, these words are directly from the official IELTS scoring scheme. That means if you make a lot of small mistakes, it’s almost impossible to get band seven for grammar. All mistakes count: you use the wrong preposition? It’s a mistake. You forget to use the? Mistake. You forget the ‘s’ on a present simple verb? Mistake. If your writing is around band six, you probably make more mistakes than you realise. So, again, what can you do? First, you need to identify the common mistakes which you make. For this, you need a teacher to show you where you make mistakes in your writing. Every time you do some writing, look at the grammar mistakes you make. Sort them into two categories. One: mistakes with things you don’t know. Two: mistakes with things you already knew. For example, if you write ‘childrens’ instead of ‘children’, this is probably a type two mistake. Most likely, you knew this already. You just made a mistake, because you were in a hurry, or you were tired, or you have a bad habit, or you weren’t paying attention, or something like that.

With type one mistakes—things you don’t know—get a good grammar book and study to fill the gaps in your knowledge. With type two mistakes, put your errors into a digital flashcard app like Anki or Quizlet or something like that. For example: Question: This is one of most serious problems in today’s world. Answer: This is one of the most serious problems in today’s world. Every time you write something, add your mistakes as questions to your flashcard app. Review your mistakes regularly—every day is best! This approach requires a lot of patience, but it’s the only effective way to get rid of those bad habits which can stop you getting band seven in IELTS writing. Okay, so now you should have some ideas about how to get band seven in your IELTS writing exam. There’s a lot of information in this lesson, and there’s also a lot which I didn’t say! Band seven is a high standard, and you should accept that it will take time and work to get there.

Do you have an IELTS experience which you think people could learn from? Please let us know in the comments! Check out our website for more free English lessons, including IELTS preparation lessons: Oxford Online English dot com. Our teachers can also help you prepare for your IELTS exam in online classes. That’s all for this lesson. Thanks for watching, and see you next time!.

IELTS Speaking Exam – How to Do Part One of the IELTS Speaking Exam

Hi, I’m Oli. Welcome to Oxford Online English. In this lesson, you can learn about the IELTS speaking exam. The IELTS speaking test has three parts. In this class, you can learn about part one of the speaking exam in more detail, and how to improve your score. First, let’s review what happens in part one of the IELTS speaking test. After you introduce yourself, the examiner will ask you some simple questions about one or two topics. Some common topics are: where you live, your job, your family, your free time, food, sports, and other simple things like this. Section one of the IELTS speaking test lasts four-five minutes.

The examiner reads questions from a script, so it’s not a discussion—it’s just question and answer. In this video, we’ll look at some sample IELTS speaking test questions and answers, and see what makes a good answer. Part one: The First Questions in IELTS Speaking At the beginning of the exam, the examiner will ask you some basic questions: What’s your name? Where are you from? Can I see some identification, please? These are easy questions, and they are the same in every IELTS exam. Use the start of the exam to get comfortable. You might be nervous at the beginning of your IELTS speaking test. This is normal, but you need to try to relax. If you’re more relaxed, you’ll speak better. So what can you do? Answer the examiner in full sentences. Don’t say, “Berlin,” say, “I’m from Berlin.” Don’t say, “Andrew,” say, “My name’s Andrew Gray.” Speak in a clear, confident voice. Make eye contact with the examiner. Making a strong start will help you to feel more in control. This will help you to feel more confident speaking English in the exam.

Part two: Speaking Fluently and Clearly After the opening questions, the examiner will ask you questions about one of the simple topics we saw earlier. Let’s start with a simple question: “Describe your hometown.” We’re going to look at three different answers. In this section, you can see how you can speak more fluently and clearly. Ready? Answer number one: “I come from Moscow. It’s a big city.” What do you think? Is this a good answer? No, it isn’t. It’s too short, and there aren’t any details. To get a score of 6 or 7 in IELTS, you need to speak at length. You also need to use a wide range of vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation features. If you give a very short answer, you can’t do any of these things. Remember: every question is a chance to show the examiner what you can do in English! Let’s try again! Answer number two: “I’m from Moscow.

As you may know, Moscow is the capital of Russia. I’m really proud of my city and I miss it when I’m not there. In my neighbourhood, there are many cafes and parks where I like to hang out with friends in the evening.” What about this one? It’s better, right? It’s longer and it has lots of details. However, this answer isn’t really answering the question. The answer talks about how you feel about your hometown, and what you like doing there. The question asks you to describe your hometown, not say how you feel about it. This is a common problem. Many IELTS students know that they need to give longer answers, but it’s also important to stay on topic. You do need to develop your ideas. You do need to add details to your answers, but you also need to answer the question which the examiner asked. You can’t just talk about whatever comes into your head! OK, let’s look at answer number three: “I come from Moscow. It’s a very large city, and also the capital, so it’s very busy and crowded.

It’s the kind of place where people always seem to be in a hurry. The centre has a lot of historical buildings and monuments, while out of the centre there are mostly just residential areas.” This is the best answer. It’s clear, detailed, and on-topic. Remember that you can pause the video and review the answers if you want. Part three: Using Vocabulary Effectively in Your Answers Let’s look at another question: “Describe your home.” This time, we’ll look at two sample answers.

Think about how the candidates use vocabulary, and which candidate does a better job. Answer number one: “I live in an apartment in a big building. My apartment has four rooms. There is a bedroom, a living room, and a kitchen. The fourth room is a… Um… I forgot the word in English.” Answer number two: “I live in a mid-sized apartment in a tower block. It has four rooms in total, with a tiny bedroom, an open-plan living room, and a dining area, and a kitchen.

Then there’s a… What’s the word? Like an office, where I do some work or studying sometimes.” Which answer do you think is better? I hope it was obvious: the second answer is much better. What makes this answer better? The use of vocabulary is much better in the second answer. The first candidate lives in a big building.

The second lives in a tower block. This is much more specific. The second candidate also uses a lot of adjectives, like mid-sized, tiny or open-plan, while the first candidate doesn’t add any description. Using a variety of vocabulary can make your answer clearer and more descriptive. This helps your score. Both candidates forget a word, but the second candidate deals with it much better. The first candidate just gives up and says “I don’t know the word” while the second candidate finds a way to explain the word and explain the meaning. You don’t need a perfect vocabulary to get a good score in the IELTS exam. If you don’t know a word, don’t panic, and don’t give up. Try to find other words or phrases which have a similar meaning. When preparing for your IELTS exam, think about the topics which can appear in part one. Learn some more advanced or interesting vocabulary you could use for each topic. For example, learn and practice ten words to describe your home, ten words to describe your hometown, ten words to talk about your hobbies, and so on.

Part four: Improving Your Grammar Score in Part One of the IELTS Speaking Exam Let’s look at our third sample question: “What do you like doing in your free time?” We’ll look at three sample answers. This time, we’re going to focus on grammar. Think about how these candidates use grammar. Answer number one: “I have a lot of different hobbies. What I do depends on my mood. For example, if I’m feeling energetic, I like to play basketball or go jogging. If I want to relax, I read a book or cook something. I find cooking very relaxing.” What do you think? Good answer? Yes, it is. It’s very good. It’s clear, and the candidate has mixed shorter and longer sentences. There aren’t any grammar mistakes. It’s a really good answer. However, most IELTS candidates can’t use grammar perfectly, and make mistakes when they speak. Let’s look at two more answers which might be more realistic for you if you’re planning to take IELTS in the near future.

So, answer number two: “I have lot of hobbies. I’m doing different things depending on what’s my mood. For example, if I am very energy, I will play basketball or go to jogging. If I want to relaxation, I read some books or cook something. Cooking is relaxing to me.” Answer number three: “I have many hobbies. Sometimes I play basketball or go jogging. Sometimes I read or cook. Cooking is relaxing.” Remember, we’re focusing on grammar. Which answer do you think is better? It might surprise you that answer number two is better than number three, even though there are many, many grammar mistakes in the second answer. In the third answer, there are no grammar mistakes. What’s going on? How can an answer with lots of mistakes be better than an answer with no mistakes? First of all, the second candidate at least tries to use more complex sentences. The third candidate uses very short, simple sentences. This is an interesting point: in IELTS, trying and failing, or partly succeeding, is better than not trying at all.

The third candidate is trying to stay safe, by only using grammar which he/she knows, but this is not the best idea. Secondly, the second answer is clear. There are lots of grammar mistakes, but the mistakes don’t make it difficult to understand. This is another important point: in the IELTS exam, mistakes which don’t affect your meaning are not such a big problem. I should say now, this is only true if you are aiming for a score of to 7.0. If you need to get or higher, then you need to speak accurately, without grammar mistakes, like the first candidate. However, this is not true for many IELTS students, especially students I meet. Most people need a score in the 6.0-range. If this is what you need, you don’t need perfect grammar, just like you don’t need perfect vocabulary. You need to use what you know to communicate clearly. That’s much more important.

So, if you know that your grammar is not perfect, it’s better to try to speak fluently and express yourself clearly. You can still get a good score in the IELTS speaking test. Part five: Review Let’s go over what we’ve talked about today. To get a higher score in part one of the IELTS speaking test, you need to: Give longer, more detailed answers without going off-topic. You need to use a range of vocabulary to make your answers more descriptive. You need to find a way to express yourself even if you don’t know a word. You need to try to use some longer, more grammatically complex sentences even if you make some mistakes. Think about the questions we looked at today: “Describe your hometown.” “Describe your home.” “What do you do in your free time?” Think about how you could answer these questions in the IELTS exam.

What details could you add? What vocabulary could you use? If you want, you can leave your answers in the video comments, and we’ll give you feedback. That’s the end of the lesson. Thanks very much for watching! I really hope it was useful for you.. You can see more of our free lessons on our website: Oxford Online English dot com. But that’s all for today. Thanks again. See you next time!

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English Sounds and Spelling – English Pronunciation Lesson

Hello, I’m Oli. Welcome to Oxford Online English! In this pronunciation lesson, you can learn about sounds and spelling in English. If you just look at a word in English, do you know how to pronounce it? Not always. It can be difficult because, in English, the way we write a word and the way we say it are not always the same. In this lesson, you can learn more about the differences between how we write a word and how we say a word in English.

Part one: the same letter can have different sounds. Look at three words: phone, clock, for. All of these words contain the letter O. Is the letter O pronounced the same way in each word? No. In “phone,” the letter O has an /əʊ/ sound. In “clock,” O has an /ɒ/ sound. In “for,” O has an /ɔː/ sound. So here, we have three different words, all with the same letter, but with three different pronunciations. Part two: different letters can have the same sound. Let’s look at three more words: big, England, busy. OK, some questions: what sound does the I in “big” make? What sound does the E in “England” make? And what sound does the U in “busy” make? Listen again: big, England, busy. These three letters all have the same sound: /ɪ/. So here, we have three different letters, I, E, and U, but they all make one sound, /ɪ/. OK, at this point, it should be clear that letters and sounds are not the same thing in English. So let’s look at this in more detail. Part three: how to count letters and sounds. OK, look at three more words: fast, seven, ted. I want you to think about two questions: how many letters do these words have, and how many sounds do these words have? OK, well, the first question is easy.

“Fast” has four letters. “Seven” has five letters, and “red” has three letters. What about the second question? How many sounds do the words have? Well, actually, “fast” has four sounds. /f/-/ɑː/-/s/-/t/. “Seven” has five sounds: /s/-/e/-/v/- -/n/. “Red” has three sounds: /r/-/e/-/d/. So all of these words have the same number of letters and sounds. “Fast” has four letters and four sounds. “Seven” has five letters and five sounds. “Red” has three letters and three sounds. That makes these words easy to pronounce because you see the word, one letter equals one sound. It’s easy. But are all English words like this? No, most English words are not like this. This is what makes English pronunciation difficult. So let’s look at this again. Part four: letters and sounds are not always the same thing. OK, listen to three more words: coffee, teacher, shopping. Think about the same questions we asked before: how many letters does each word have, and how many sounds does each word have? So, “coffee” has six letters, but how many sounds? Just four.

The two Fs together make one /f/ sound, and the two Es together make one /i/ sound. So there are four sounds. /k/-/ɒ/-/f/-/i/. Teacher has seven letters. How many sounds? Four, again. So the two letters EA make one /iː/ sound. The two letters CH make one /tʃ/ sound, and the two letters, ER, make one /ə/ sound. So there are four sounds in the word: /t/-/iː/-/tʃ/-/ə/. “Shopping” has eight letters. How many sounds? Five. S and H together make one /ʃ/ sound. The two Ps together make one /p/ sound. The letters NG make one /ŋ/ sound. So that leaves five sounds: /ʃ/-/ɒ/-/p/-/ɪ/-/ŋ/. Often, a word has more letters than sounds because two or more letters together can make one sound.

Sometimes three or four letters together can make one sound. For example, look at the word “four,” F-O-U-R. In this word, the three letters, ‘OUR’, make one sound: /ɔː/. Let’s look at three more words: one, use, Europe. Same questions: How many letters? How many sounds? Well, let’s look at “one.” “One” has three letters and three sounds, so that’s easy, right? But what are the three sounds? /w/-/ʌ/-/n/. Where does that /w/ sound come from? What about the other words? Well, “use” has three sounds, again, /j/-/ʊː/-/z/.

Again, you can see a /j/ sound, which is pronounced, but which isn’t obviously in the written word. “Europe” has five sounds: /j/-/ʊə/-/r/-/ə/-/p/. Once again, you can see there’s a /j/ sound in the pronunciation, which isn’t written clearly in the word. So to review: very often, words have more letters than sounds because, very often, two or more letters together can produce one sound. Sometimes there are extra sounds which are not obviously written, but which are pronounced when you say the word. Okay. Let’s do some practice together. I’m going to give you five words: apple, because, student, cheap, Wednesday. Think about the same questions: how many letters do these words have, and how many sounds do these words have? If you want, pause the video and think about your answer. We can start again when you’re ready and look at the answers together. OK, ready? Let’s check. “Apple” has five letters and three sounds: /æ/-/p/-/l/.

“Because” has seven letters and five sounds: /b/-/ɪ/-/k/-/ɒ/-/z/. “Student” has seven letters and eight sounds. How’s this possible? Let’s look: /s/-/t/-/j/-/ʊː/-/d/-/e/-/n/-/t/. Eight. There’s an extra /j/ before the /ʊː/, which again is not obvious from the spelling, but it’s in the pronunciation. “Cheap” has five letters and three sounds. /tʃ/-/iː/-/p/. Wednesday, nine letters, six sounds: /w/-/e/-/n/-/z/-/d/-/eɪ/.

OK, that’s the end of the lesson. Thank you very much for watching. You can see more of our free lessons on our website, In the video description, you can see a link to the full version of this lesson. The full version includes a quiz and the full text, so you can review and practice this topic some more. But that’s all. Thanks again for watching. I’ll see you next time. Bye bye!.

As found on Youtube

5 Steps to Improve Your English Listening – How To Improve Your English Listening


As found on Youtube