IELTS Vocabulary: The 10 Most Commonly Misspelled Words in English

IELTS Vocabulary: The 10 Most Commonly Misspelled Words in English

When I was in middle school, I got to the final round of a spelling bee in my district. I used to read a lot and I was really good at spelling (not sports so much though).

I lost on a pretty easy word too! The last word that I had to spell was ‘address’!

For some reason, that word has always been tricky for me and I still mess up the spelling all the time.

Where would we be today without auto-correct on our computers and phones?

Well, we’d be better at spelling that’s for sure! Our brain would also be cluttered with all the weird spellings you find in a language that’s been sleeping around and mutating for thousands of years.

 

GHOTI

There’s a famous example of the confused link between spelling and speaking in English.

How do you say ‘ghoti’?

The correct answer is ‘fish.’

‘GH’ as it is said in rough.

‘O’ as it is said in women.

‘TI’ as it is said in nation or station.

Combine those sounds and it is ‘fish.’

That shows you just how crazy spelling is in English. This is a problem not just for English learners!

Everyone has their own person list of words that they spell wrong basically every single time and rely on auto correct for – for me that includes:

convienent convenient

acurrate accurate

pronounciation pronunciation

rythm rhythm

I go out of my way to avoid spelling those words. If I have to use them, I just scramble together a bunch of letters and let spell check fix it for me because I know I’ll never get them right.

That’s the liberty I have though – you shouldn’t be like me! You won’t have Google to spell check for you on IELTS!

What’s your personal list of hard to spell words? Comment them below!

 

TOP 10 MOST COMMONLY MISSPELLED WORDS

Let’s get down to the most commonly misspelled words. I’ve chosen words that are academic and likely to come up on the writing so you can improve your IELTS grammar score.

I got these words from my personal experiences marking essays and from surveying my students.

10. Deteriorate

9. Veterinarian

8. Mediterranean

7. Amphitheater

6. Committee

5. Unnecessary

4. Successive

3. Conference

2. Assassination

1. Bureaucratic

How many of those words could you spell?

Which words give you the most trouble?

 

HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR SPELLING

 

Well, now that you don’t feel so bad about your bad spelling, let’s look at some ways to improve your spelling.

There are two problems you have to overcome.

The first is that English is a mess. There aren’t any 100% consistent rules for English spelling.

The second is that once you start spelling a word wrong, it’s easy to keep doing it your whole life.

That’s why I’m still messing up the word ‘address’ 20 years later!

Even though there aren’t consistent rules for English spelling there are still some rules. We do have an alphabet after all and it kind of matches the way we say things.

Here are 5 helpful rules:

1. All kids in America learn the ‘i before e except after c’ rhyming rule.

For example, believe, fierce and friend.

But be careful because there are some exceptions like ancient, science and neighbour.

2. If a word has just one sound/syllable like ‘big’ and we add an ending ‘bigger’ we always add an extra consonant.

For example: swimming, hitting, flipping, redder, etc.

3. The plural endings for words with ‘f’ like knife or leaf changes to a v: knives, leaves.

4. Another plural rule is that we add ‘-es’ to any words that ends with x, z, ch, s, ss, sh.

For example, matches, kisses, wishes, quizzes, foxes, etc.

5. Another common rule that kids learn is to change ‘y’ to ‘ie’ when you add an ending to it.

For example, try to tried, cry to cried, baby to babies.

The second problem is more interesting and means that you need some spelling activities to break your bad habits.

These activities have worked for my students in the past so they might work for you as well:

  1. Anagrams: take the hardest words that you are learning to spell and make them into anagrams here:  Print out the last or copy it down and use it to practice your spelling a few times throughout the day.

  2. Keep a record of the words that you often mess up. You can do this when you are typing something online. Before you use the autocorrect to fix it, save the word to a separate document. Practice writing those words every day until you stop making mistakes with them.

  3. Download a fun spelling game. You can find versions of scrabble, boggle, scattegories, and bananagrams on your phone. You can read about some more here. My favourite is Words with Friends, which you can play with a friend who is also studying.

  4. Buy or download a book of wordsearches or crossword puzzles. These are a fun way to work on your spelling as well as your memory for vocabulary.

  5. Challenge your friend to a spelling contest. One of my good friends recommended this to me. It’s a simple way to practice with a friend when you have nothing better to talk about. Simply say a word for your partner to spell and then your friend says one for you. If your friend has worse English, you can give him/her easier words. You can also have a dictionary available to make it really challenging.

Good luck!

Remember to comment below: what is the hardest word for you to spell in English?

IELTS Speaking Sample Test with Dave: IELTS Examiner (Band 9)

IELTS Speaking Sample Test with Dave: IELTS Examiner (Band 9)

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to watch an IELTS examiner do an IELTS speaking test sample?

I did this one with an IELTS teacher from Vietnam, Phan Quynh (you can check out her Facebook here).

It’s a lot harder to do the test when you’re one answering the questions! Obviously…

 

 

It was also fun and gave me a window into why students feel so nervous and how that can impact their performance. Just by watching this video you can become more familiar with the test and will feel more comfortable on test day.

But I’ve done a million tests and I was still nervous to do it!

One little trick that I’ve learned (that may or may not) help you is to trick yourself from feeling nervous to excited. (Here’s the video where I heard about it.)

Nervousness and excitement are very similar in terms of how they work in the body mainly because of a faster heartrate.

So trick your body: Say ‘I’m excited!’ and you will feel less nervous – and more excited!

Try that out and let me know if it works!

If it doesn’t then just be nervous.

I’m not sure that being nervous is so bad! Just be IELTS-nervous for a bit then go back to being normally-socially-nervous for the rest of the day! Eventually you’ll be allowed to go to bed…

 

Transcript

 

  • This is the International English Language Testing System for English Conducted on April 27th at BC. The candidate is David Lang. The examiner is Quynh Phan. Examiner number 910874.

  • Good morning.

  • My name is Quynh. Can you tell me your full name please?

  • My name is David Arthur Lang.

  • Can I see your identification please?

  • Here you go.

  • There you are.

  • Thank you.

 

Part 1

 

  • Now in this first part, I’d like to ask you some questions about yourself.

  • Do you live in a house or an apartment?

  • At the moment, I’m living in an apartment.

  • Do you like your home?

  • Yes, I like it a lot. I just started living here the last year. And it’s got three floors. It’s got a roof on the outside as well. It’s a place for me to stay as well as my daughter and an office to work in. So I really think I made a good choice with this house.

  • What kind of home would you like to have in the future?

  • I think in the future I wanna live in more of an Because I’ve always lived in a house, especially in Vietnam. And if you live in a house, there’s a lot you have to take care of. And if you live in an apartment, then everything is easy. You can park below. You can hire a maid. And it just seems like it’s a lot cleaner and simpler to live in a big apartment in a big building.

  • Let’s talk about your birthday

  • What do normally do on your birthdays?

  • Now I don’t really do much of anything. Maybe I’ll go out with family to go get dinner or something like that. When I was younger, it was a bigger deal. Especially in university or high school, you may see your friends or have a party or something like that. But I haven’t had a party for my birthday in … like … 10 years…really…

  • So how important are birthdays to you now?

  • Not very important I’d say, at least my own birthday. I don’t think it’s that important. But other people’s birthdays, I like to go out if they’re having a party or doing something like that. But my own birthday, I don’t really think is a priority anymore in the way that it used to be.

  • Which birthdays are most important in your country? (e.g. 18, 21, 60)

  • In America, I think the most important birthday is probably sixteen. I don’t know exactly why sixteen is important. I think people can start driving around then. We call it “your sweet sixteen”. That’s the most important birthday. And then also when you’re eighteen. Because when you’re eighteen, you’re allowed to vote. So that’s the second one. And then when you’re 21, you’re allowed to drink. So that’s the – probably for most people that’s actually the most important one. When you’re older, I think the 50th birthday, because fifty is a big number. People tend to have a big celebration for their 50th And obviously if you make it, a hundred is probably the biggest one.

  • Let’s talk about advertisements/adverts.

  • Have you ever bought something because of an advert you saw?

  • Yep, all the time, I think I buy a lot of things because of advertisements that I see. I bought my motorbike because of an advertisement that I saw on a website. A friend of mine had recommended it to me and then I saw the advertisement on the website, so I decided to get that motorbike.

  • Do you prefer funny or serious adverts?

  • I think it depends on the products, but in general, funny advertise Because serious advertisements – it’s not like a movie or TV show, you can’t ever really care about an advertisement. So there’s no point in having a serious one. But a funny one, if it’s good, is funny, so it doesn’t even matter if it’s an advertisement or not, because it was funny. But I think most advertisements that try to be funny end up not actually being funny anyway.

  • What do you think about adverts on buildings?

  • On buildings? It’s a strange question but I think… Advertisements on buildings… In general, I guess if there were fewer of them, that would be better. Because usually the building itself should look nice. And it’d be better if there were some art or some street art or graffiti on the building as opposed to advertisements.

  • Now, I’m going to give you a topic and I’d like you to talk about it for one to two minutes. Before you talk, you’ll have one minute to think about what you’re going to say. You can make some notes if you wish. Do you understand?

Part 2

 

  • Here’s some paper and a pencil for making notes. And here’s your topic. Please don’t write anything on the booklet. I’d like you to describe an invention which you think has changed the world in a good way.

  • All right? Remember you have 1 – 2 minutes for this so don’t worry if I stop you. I’ll tell you when the time is up. Can you start speaking now please?

  • Yep, definitely. So I think you probably thought like most people, I was just going to talk about a cellphone or smartphone. But I’ve chosen not to talk about what everyone else talks about smartphone, and instead, to talk about indoor plumbing. Which think is important, basically toilets.

  • And I think it’s definitely changed the world in a good way. I don’t know exactly what life is like before toilets, but I imagine from the movies that I’ve seen and from old historical TV shows that people had to… like… dig a hole in the ground and have an outhouse. Or they had to have like a pot in their bedroom in their house or something like that.

  • Regardless y’know people probably got used to it because you can get used to anything. But I doubt that people really enjoyed that. It was probably pretty terrible, it smelled bad, it’s dirty, you have to clean it all the time. I’m sure people y’know they were used to it, they had to do it everyday, just like there’s lots of things we have to do everyday like our laundry and everything. In the future, maybe they won’t have to.

  • But once toilets were invented I think it changed everyone’s life. Because it was convenient and clean. And the people who were in that first generation – between when they didn’t have toilets and then when they suddenly did have toilets – probably appreciated that a lot.

  • And when their kids were growing for the first time with toilets and they never knew what it was like to not have one. They probably felt that their kids were kind of spoiled.

  • And I think, today, like our whole world is spoiled in terms of indoor plumbing because we just consider it something that we’ve always had. But someone had to invent it, and after someone invented it, someone had to develop it and work on it… and make them better, and make them nicer, and develop a system so there’s thousands of years or hundreds of years… I don’t know… thousands maybe of people developing toilets, and building them and making them, and working on them. Just so that we have that convenience now.

  • Thank you. Does everybody use toilets?

  • As far as I know, yes.

  • Thank you. Can I have the booklet and paper and pencil back please?

 

Part 3

 

  • We’ve been talking about an invention which you think has changed the world in a good way and I’d like to discuss with you a few more general questions related to this.

  • What are the most useful inventions that people have in their homes (e.g. in the kitchen)?

  • In the kitchen, the refrigerator is definitely the most useful invention. Because that’s where you keep your food, keeps it cold… Obviously the stove to cook the food that you have… The freezer part of the refrigerator, if someone has an oven to cook, that’s useful. And then there’s other things like blenders and food processers. But those things maybe aren’t quite as important as the stove, the oven and the refrigerator.

  • And now we’re talking about technology in education

  • Is watching television programs in class can be a good way to learn?

  • It depends on how the teacher uses it, if like, I remember when I was in school and teachers, were just – sometimes they’re lazy and they want to take a day off. I didn’t realize it at the time but later you realize that’s what they were doing, now I’m a teacher, but if you’re just putting on a TV show for kids to watch. It’s boring for the students, you don’t learn much. But you’re using it, if you do some activities before the TV show and you watch a few minutes of it, and you do some analysis and some practice and you watch some more of it and you do some more and it’s a good show, and it’s engaging and you work with it, then it can be. But it depends entirely on the quality of the content as well as what the teacher chooses to do with that content in the classroom.

  • Do you think that the computer will one day completely replace the teacher?

  • Yep, definitely. I mean it’s not gonna be in my lifetime, but it will absolutely for sure – once they have artificially intelligent computers and robots, and tihngs like that, just because it’s more efficient and it’s gonna be cheaper. And some company just like companies like UBER, they develop this really good convenient product, even though people, maybe they don’t want that product. Looking at it from far away, it’s so useful that it ends up becoming totally necessary for everyone. And that’s gonna be the same thing with teachers and computers. They will replace teachers.

  • Why do many people consider the wheel to be the most important invention ever?

  • I think a lot of people might consider the wheel because it’s probably a – it’s a groundbreaking invention… it’s probably one of the first inventions, right? So people invented spears and weapons and tools. And the wheel was probably one of the first biggest innovations. It was like the iPhone of its day. So it was a big innovation. It allowed people to transport and move things. And I think a lot of people consider it the most important because it signaled the beginning of human dominance over the world. It was the first tool that really started to… Before that, we’re just like smart animals that can hunt well. But after that we started to changed the world. And the wheel was the beginning of that.

  • Do you think that the most important inventions have already been developed?

  • Nope, definitely not. The most important inventions are still to come because there’re related to computers and humans and health, and how people will change in the future. And our inventions in the future are definitely gonna be much more important than the ones of the past. Because they’re gonna fundamentally alter how we are as people and change the future and change the world, if you’re talking about space as well, traveling to space and different things like that. They will be much bigger than anything in the past.

  • Thank you very much. That is the end of the speaking test.

  • Thank you.

 

 

And here is some analysis of the vocabulary:

 

hire a maid: pay for someone to clean up after you, lazy

bigger deal: more important

it doesn’t even matter: not important

end up: finish

y’know: nothing, just stalling for time…

depends entirely: nothing else matters

gonna: the correct way to say ‘going to’

fundamentally: completely/totally

alter: change

 

A couple quick tips to follow for your speaking test:

 

Provide a lot of detail in each answer.

It’s easier to provide detail if you are specific, not general! Don’t just talk about the future generally – talk about the specific things you want to do! The more specific the better.

Keep talking for the full two minutes – don’t stop before the examiner stops you! (And don’t try to keep talking after he stops you!)

Be born and live your whole life in a native English speaking country – the best way to do well on IELTS!

 

Comment below – Was it really band 9? How could it be better? Should I do another?

Top 5 Ways to Make a Mean IELTS Examiner Like You

Top 5 Ways to Make a Mean IELTS Examiner Like You

6. Dress Provocatively

This is 2018 and we live in a progressive, modern society. In the past, I would only have recommended women dress up.

Now I would recommend both sexes increase their sex appeal.

If you are truly committed, spend a few months before the exam getting into great shape and show up to the test naked or in a swimsuit.

Just kidding – let’s get on to the real list now!

 

1. Improve the Right Way (No Shortcuts)

What you shouldn’t be doing: studying IELTS for years on end, learning idioms to try to cheat the test, memorising your responses, or going to the test with no knowledge of how IELTS works. If you do those things, you will make a fool of yourself and the examiner will be laughing about you in the break!

Instead you should: spend time improving your English, learn natural English expressions like phrasal verbs, make sure that you practice a lot, learn about IELTS and watch some practice tests online to know exactly what to expect.

Otherwise, it’s like trying to play a sport without knowing any of the rules – it will be obvious you have no idea what you are doing no matter how good your clothes look!

 

2. Follow the Unwritten Rules of IELTS

IELTS is full of unwritten rules, just like real life!

Some real life unwritten rules include:

Wait until everyone gets out of the elevator before you get on.

Don’t stop to read your phone in the middle of the sidewalk.

Turn off your high beams if there are other cars.

Don’t pee right next to someone at a urinal.

Don’t text ‘k’ or ‘kk.’

Say ‘thanks’ to people who open the door for you.

Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze.

Don’t speak too loudly into your phone.

 

The unwritten rules of IELTS are:

Don’t tell the examine your life story.

Don’t tell the examiner what score you need on the test.

Don’t ask what your score is at the end of test.

Don’t try to shake the examiner’s hand unless they offer first.

Don’t ask the IELTS examiner any questions.

When the examiner asks a short follow-up question at the end of part 2, give a short answer!

Don’t ask the examiner to explain whole questions, only words, in part 1.

Be as specific as possible in part 3 – don’t be general and don’t give personal examples.

Don’t try to have a long conversation with the examiner after the test ends.

Don’t try to look at the questions the examiner is asking or what the examiner is writing down.

 

3. Clean Yourself

Most of you can just skip this one because you are not an overgrown man-child.

But you’d be surprised by the number of candidates who show up looking like they just climbed out of the nearest garbage bin.

It shouldn’t impact your score. It probably doesn’t.

But still…

It’s bad enough that the examiner probably looks like trash – clean yourself up a bit!

Please do at least the following to spare your examiner: take a shower, wear clothes that look clean, brush your teeth, have a breath mint or two (this is the most important step), don’t vigorously scratch any part of your body during the test or pick your nose (I’m not joking!).

 

4. Be Interesting

Examiners usually have to talk to the same country, asking the same questions, over and over.

Sometimes that can turn out like this:

Candidate 1: Talk about an invention that changed the world in a good way.

“I’d like to talk about the smartphone…”

Candidate 2: Talk about an invention that changed the world in a good way.

“I’d like to talk about the smartphone…”

Candidate 3: Talk about an invention that changed the world in a good way.

“I’d like to talk about the smartphone…”

By the end of the day the examiner is bored to death of the same boring, predictable answers and wishes Steve Jobs had never invented the smartphone!

Being interesting won’t help your score necessarily – it might not make a difference.

But if you have interesting, unconventional answers the examiner will listen more closely and have a much more positive impression of you.

It could even help bump up your score in some cases!

How do you do it if you are not normally an interesting person? Just give more concrete, specific examples.

Don’t speak very generally: I really like movies. When I go to the movies I can relax and have a good time. It’s a nice environment to be in after a long day working and I feel much better after I’ve seen a movie.

Do speak very specifically: I really like movies. Last week I went to see Deadpool 2 and it was really cool. I saw the original too but the sequel was better because the action scenes were better. There’s one part where Deadpool …

5. Be Humble

Nothing turns off examiners more than arrogance (besides body odor or bad breath).

Here are some of the things that you shouldn’t do:

Don’t be late – you might make the examiner wait!

Don’t talk about how rich you are – examiners are poor, lonely, lost souls filled with hatred for people who are more successful than themselves!

Don’t look annoyed or impatient with every question the examiner asks.

Be respectful, listen carefully and don’t be rude at any point.

IELTS tip - Be Humble!

IELTS tip – Be Humble!

 

Comment Below: What was our IELTS speaking test like? Mean or nice examiner?

IELTS Writing Task 2 Sample Answer: Foreign Languages (Cambridge 13)

IELTS Writing Task 2 Sample Answer: Foreign Languages (Cambridge 13)

This IELTS Writing Task 2 sample answer is from a past paper and was published in Cambridge 13.

The topic is foreign languages and it falls in the ‘social problems’ category of IELTS.

Read on for a sample answer from a former IELTS examiner (that’s me, Dave!), analysis, vocabulary practice, notes, links and more!

You can read my other sample answers here.

IELTS Examiner Sample Answer: Foreign Languages (by Dave)

Living in a country where you have to speak a foreign language can cause serious social problems, as well as practical problems. To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement?

One of the biggest social and practical challenges that people living abroad face is the language barrier. I believe that this can lead to very serious social problems in many countries but technology has made the practical issues less relevant over the last several decades.

The main reason that having to speak a foreign language can cause social problems is through the breakdown in understanding between people of different cultures. The most salient example of this is in the United States where there has been an influx of Hispanic immigrants, especially along the Southern border. These immigrants are typically able to integrate well if they learn English but those that have not learned have provoked social problems and even violent reactions. Many English speaking residents resent the immigrants failure to integrate and this has resulted in discriminatory practices and widespread racism towards Hispanics. This in turn has caused many Hispanics to develop an antipathy towards other residents and segregate themselves in homogeneous neighborhoods.

There are comparatively fewer practical problems caused by not knowing the language of the country where you live because of the development of technology in general and smartphones in particular. Computers have made it much easier to look up directions, find important information and get quick translations. Smartphones have made this even easier. If someone doesn’t know the language of the country where they live, they can still find restaurants to their liking on Facebook and get simple directions through Google Maps. They can even order food online without having to use another language at all. If they need to communicate with someone who does not speak their language they can simply take out their phone and use Google translate to slowly, but effectively, convey a message. The problems that not knowing the language of the country where you live causes are therefore minimal and easily overcome.

In conclusion, I only partly agree with the statement in question. Not knowing a language when living abroad can cause social unrest but pragmatic concerns have been mitigated by recent technology. In the future, it will become even less important to know the language of the country where you live although there is great potential for increased social unrest and heightened tensions in many parts of the world.

 

IELTS Examiner Sample Answer Analysis

One of the biggest social and practical challenges that people living abroad face is the language barrier. I believe that this can lead to very serious social problems in many countries but technology has made the practical issues less relevant over the last several decades.

  • My first sentence simply paraphrases the question and topic. Write this sentence fast as it isn’t that important.

  • My second sentence states my opinion and includes the main reason why (technology).

The main reason that having to speak a foreign language can cause social problems is through the breakdown in understanding between people of different cultures. The most salient example of this is in the United States where there has been an influx of Hispanic immigrants, especially along the Southern border. These immigrants are typically able to integrate well if they learn English but those that have not learned have provoked social problems and even violent reactions. Many English speaking residents resent the immigrants failure to integrate and this has resulted in discriminatory practices and widespread racism towards Hispanics. This in turn has caused many Hispanics to develop an antipathy towards other residents and segregate themselves in homogeneous neighborhoods.

  • My first sentence is a topic sentence that states why not knowing the language of the country where you live can be a problem.

  • My second sentence gives an example in the United States.

  • My third sentence further explains this example.

  • My fourth sentence states the results of this (in the United States).

  • My fifth sentence further describes the results and continues to develop the same example. Pick one great example and develop it with 3 – 4 sentences.

There are comparatively fewer practical problems caused by not knowing the language of the country where you live because of the development of technology in general and smartphones in particular. Computers have made it much easier to look up directions, find important information and get quick translations. Smartphones have made this even easier. If someone doesn’t know the language of the country where they live, they can still find restaurants to their liking on Facebook and get simple directions through Google Maps. They can even order food online without having to use another language at all. If they need to communicate with someone who does not speak their language they can simply take out their phone and use Google translate to slowly, but effectively, convey a message. The problems that not knowing the language of the country where you live causes are therefore minimal and easily overcome.

  • My first sentence is a topic sentence that states why not knowing the language of the country where you live isn’t much of a problem anymore because of technology.

  • My second sentence explains how computers have made it easier to get translations.

  • My third sentence extends this to smartphones.

  • My fourth sentence gives two specific examples of Facebook and Google Maps helping people.

  • My fifth sentence gives another example – ordering food online.

  • My sixth sentence gives another example of using Google translate to have a conversation.

  • My seventh sentence concludes that technology has made it easier to communicate with people who speak another language.

In conclusion, I only partly agree with the statement in question. Not knowing a language when living abroad can cause social unrest but pragmatic concerns have been mitigated by recent technology. In the future, it will become even less important to know the language of the country where you live although there is great potential for increased social unrest and heightened tensions in many parts of the world.

  • My first sentence summarizes my position and makes it completely clear. It can never be too clear!

  • My second sentence summarizes my argument that technology has done enough to overcome this problem.

  • My third sentence extends my opinion by talking about how in the future this will be even less of a problem. I add the caveat that I may be wrong about certain parts of the world.

Sample Answer Vocabulary

What do the phrases highlighted below mean in your own words?

One of the biggest social and practical challenges that people living abroad face is the language barrier. I believe that this can lead to very serious social problems in many countries but technology has made the practical issues less relevant over the last several decades.

The main reason that having to speak a foreign language can cause social problems is through the breakdown in understanding between people of different cultures. The most salient example of this is in the United States where there has been an influx of Hispanic immigrants, especially along the Southern border. These immigrants are typically able to integrate well if they learn English but those that have not learned have provoked social problems and even violent reactions. Many English speaking residents resent the immigrants failure to integrate and this has resulted in discriminatory practices and widespread racism towards Hispanics. This in turn has caused many Hispanics to develop an antipathy towards other residents and segregate themselves in homogeneous neighborhoods.

There are comparatively fewer practical problems caused by not knowing the language of the country where you live because of the development of technology in general and smartphones in particular. Computers have made it much easier to look up directions, find important information and get quick translations. Smartphones have made this even easier. If someone doesn’t know the language of the country where they live, they can still find restaurants to their liking on Facebook and get simple directions through Google Maps. They can even order food online without having to use another language at all. If they need to communicate with someone who does not speak their language they can simply take out their phone and use Google translate to slowly, but effectively, convey a message. The problems that not knowing the language of the country where you live causes are therefore minimal and easily overcome.

In conclusion, I only partly agree with the statement in question. Not knowing a language when living abroad can cause social unrest but pragmatic concerns have been mitigated by recent technology. In the future, it will become even less important to know the language of the country where you live although there is great potential for increased social unrest and heightened tensions in many parts of the world.

 

Answers:

that people living abroad: people who live outside the country where they were born

language barrier: the challenge of talking to people who don’t speak your language

less relevant: not as important or related

breakdown in understanding: inability to understand

the most salient example: the best example, the one that stands out the most

influx: big rush of something

Hispanic: relating to Spain or to Spanish-speaking countries, especially those of Latin America

to integrate well: to become part of a group, community, or nation

provoked social problems: causes social problems

resent : feel angry towards

failure to integrate: inability to join a group, community, or nation

discriminatory practices: doing things to keep certain genders or races out/away

widespread racism: lots of people disliking an ethnic group or race

this in turn: this causes

antipathy: hatred

segregate: to separate or stay apart

homogeneous neighborhoods: communities with only 1 ethnic group

comparatively fewer: less of something compared to something else

in particular: this one area emphasized or standing out

look up directions: find the way to get somewhere

at all: in any way or completely

take out: to remove something from a pocket or somewhere else

convey a message: communicate something

minimal: negligible or little impact

easily overcome: not hard to get over

I only partly agree: agree to some extent but not 100%

pragmatic concerns: practical issues/questions

mitigated: make less severe or serious

great potential: a very good chance or possibility

social unrest: social problems

heightened tensions: stressful relationships between people or groups of people

 

Vocabulary Practice

One of the biggest social and practical challenges ____________________ face is the ____________________. I believe that this can lead to very serious social problems in many countries but technology has made the practical issues ____________________ over the last several decades.

The main reason that having to speak a foreign language can cause social problems is through the ____________________ between people of different cultures. ____________________ of this is in the United States where there has been an ____________________ of ____________________ immigrants, especially along the Southern border. These immigrants are typically able ____________________ if they learn English but those that have not learned have ____________________ and even violent reactions. Many English speaking residents ____________________ the immigrants ____________________ and this has resulted in ____________________ and ____________________ towards Hispanics. ____________________ has caused many Hispanics to develop an ____________________ towards other residents and ____________________ themselves in ____________________.

There are ____________________ practical problems caused by not knowing the language of the country where you live because of the development of technology in general and smartphones ____________________. Computers have made it much easier to ____________________, find important information and get quick translations. Smartphones have made this even easier. If someone doesn’t know the language of the country where they live, they can still find restaurants to their liking on Facebook and get simple directions through Google Maps. They can even order food online without having to use another language ____________________. If they need to communicate with someone who does not speak their language they can simply ____________________ their phone and use Google translate to slowly, but effectively, ____________________. The problems that not knowing the language of the country where you live causes are therefore ____________________ and ____________________.

In conclusion, ____________________ with the statement in question. Not knowing a language when living abroad can cause social unrest but ____________________ have been ____________________ by recent technology. In the future, it will become even less important to know the language of the country where you live although there is ____________________ for increased ____________________ and ____________________ in many parts of the world.

Links

Overcoming the Language Barrier Tips

 

Comment below – are there a lot of people who live in your country who can’t speak the national language?

Well, where I live…

It’s a bit of a mix actually in …

Honestly, it’s a huge problem in …

Frankly, we don’t really have to deal with this issue much in ….

Top 10 Most Common Mistakes Students Make in IELTS

Top 10 Most Common Mistakes Students Make in IELTS

I’ve been teaching and examining IELTS for more than 7 years and sometimes I feel like I’m in a movie that keeps repeating itself over and over with students making the same mistakes.

Here are the 10 most common that I’ve come across again and again (and again and again).

Comment below any questions that you have!

 

#10 Talking Too Much During the Speaking Test / Showing Off

Some students walk into the test like a secret agent on a serious mission.

They are going to talk as much as possible and show off at every opportunity.

I have had candidates where it was almost impossible to ask the next question because they wanted to tell me their life story when all I asked was ‘What’s your name?’

The problem is that this annoys the examiner (who has a job to do and must try to get through all the questions or get in trouble).

It can also really hurt your fluency. If you keep talking by adding ‘uh’ ‘um’ and ‘er’ onto the end of every sentence your fluency score will start dropping faster than a Task 1 line chart!

Try to show off a little and add detail – but not too much! Read more about how much you should talk here.

 

#9 Talking Too Little in the IELTS Speaking Test

Even worse than talking too much and showing off is sticking your head inside your shell because you’re shy and talking too little!

I have had candidates who answered with simple words or a single sentence for every question. The examiner has to keep asking more and more questions and has a tough time hearing enough to give you an accurate score.

Don’t be shy on IELTS!

It will hurt your fluency of course because you are unable to maintain ‘long turns’ or ‘speak at length.’ You also won’t use enough vocabulary, grammar or examples of good pronunciation for the examiner to give you a good score above 6.

The reasons are usually that students are shy. If this is your problem, try reading this post about what will happen on your test and watching some practice tests so that you feel more comfortable.

 

#8 Focusing Too Much on IELTS Trivia

Some of the most common questions I get about IELTS include ‘Can I write T/F instead of True/False?’ ‘How many people will check my writing test?’ ‘Will the examiner listen to my recording again after I leave the room?’ ‘Can I write Y instead of Yes in listening and reading?’ Can I write in all caps? How is my score averaged?’

These questions are not important. Don’t stress about trivia. Write the full word – it doesn’t take any extra time!

I meet a lot of students who ask these trivia questions instead of more important questions like: how to improve their grammar, how to make a study plan, what their level is, how to improve their listening or reading, etc.

 

#7 Studying Hard (but Not Improving)

There are so, so many students who spend year after year (and dollar after dollar) studying IELTS but seem to stay at the same level.

They are studying hard but not improving. Why not?

There are two reasons. The first one is that they are focusing on test strategy, not on improving their English.

Those are two very different things and you can read more about it here.

The second reason is that once you reach the intermediate level, your English will plateau (it will not increase as quickly).

It is still getting better – but more slowly so it looks like you are not improving. You become demotivated and then stop improving.

Learning English is a marathon and you are at the most difficult stage – running slowly uphill – keep working hard and you will be successful. Read more about the difference between successful and unsuccessful students here.

 

#6 Not Learning the Band Descriptors in IELTS Writing and Speaking

If you’re not sure about whether or not to trust what someone is telling you about IELTS, there is an easy way to check.

Is it in the band descriptors? If yes, then it is true!

And that’s all the information you really need.

So print them out, put them on the wall, study them all the time and they will be your guide!

Everything else is just rumour and you shouldn’t waste your time with it!

 

#5 Leaving out Data in IELTS Writing Task 1

This is such a simple, silly mistake!

If you leave out important data (for example, the leading demographic or a really big change) your score will be limited to a 5 for task achievement. Maximum!

If you leave out some less important information (a less important demographic, smaller changes) you can still get up to band 6 for task achievement.

Make sure you include all the data in the graph (don’t describe is mechanically – you can group it together and that still counts as including it)!

Simple, simple, simple way to save you from slipping on a banana and looking silly!

 

#4 Too Many Main Ideas in IELTS Writing Task 2

Here is my nightmare of an IELTS paragraph:

There are many reasons that banning smoking is a good idea. The first one is that it is harmful to people’s health. Moreover, it is also harmful to other people who may inhale second hand smoke. Another reason is that it costs a lot of money that could be better spend on other things. The final reason is that it is has a negative impact on the environment.

This paragraph includes a new main idea for every sentence. 4 sentences, 4 main ideas = band 5 for task achievement!

None of them are well-developed. Stick to 1 main idea per paragraph. Develop it well with a good example = band 7+.

Read more about IELTS Task 2 Writing structure here.

 

#3 Not Improving Their Pronunciation Enough

A lot of students are wasting a lot of time improving their grammar and vocabulary while they really need to be working almost 100% exclusively on pronunciation.

It doesn’t matter if your grammar and vocabulary are perfect if no one can understand you! You could have the best ideas in the world, but if your handwriting was too messy no one would be able to read them!

The reason that this happens is that pronunciation is not exactly like other skills. You can improve your grammar and vocabulary because those are muscles inside your mind.

The muscles in your mouth become fixed like statues (for some people) and it is much harder to change.

It is possible though: check out this post to learn how to improve your pronunciation with guaranteed results.

 

#2 Unclear Overviews for IELTS Writing Task 1

The biggest problem for all students who take IELTS: the general overview for Task 1.

It’s not your fault! It’s a very, odd and specific sentence that only exists on IELTS and has way too much of an impact on your score.

So, so, so many students get 6s for grammar, vocabulary and cohesion/coherence and 5 for task achievement just because of the overview.

That student should be getting a 6 overall but they get a 5.5. It’s not fair. But crying about it won’t help.

The only way to help yourself is to improve your overviews. Start here!

Careful on your IELTS writing!

 

 

#1 Misunderstanding the Question for IELTS Writing Task 2

Just like the biggest problem for Writing Task 1 is overviews, the biggest problem for Task 2 writing is misunderstanding the question.

Students in my class don’t really like practicing this because it isn’t technically writing. It’s a reading skill (and kind of a writing skill).

But students should be focused on this more than anything else. If you misunderstand the question, depending on how badly you do it, you will get a band 3, 4, 5 or maybe 6 for task achievement. Guaranteed!

Examiners love/hate it!

So take some time to read as many questions and sample answers as you can until you are confident you can read and understand the questions!

 

 

Now you know don’t make the same mistakes over and over again! Be more like Vic Mensa:

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