July 28, 2012

Weekly Finds: July 28, 2012

A Man With Magnifying Glass by digitalart
Image courtesy of digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Every week, we’ll be sharing a list of posts, stories, news, or opinions that we've run across the Internet during the past week or two. We won't be discussing them in detail here, but we do encourage you to check them out as they could contain valuable ideas and insights for your IELTS exam.

If you're ready, here we go...

Eliminating Nominalizations/Buried Verbs in Legal Writing

Discover why the use of nominalizations (verbs that have been changed into nouns) is possibly the best sign of poor legal writing.


Supposably vs. Supposedly. Which should you use?

Difference Between "Shall" and "Will" in English Grammar

Both verbs indicate the future tense and suggest a variety of implications depending on the situation where they are used. We invite you to note the differences, though.

Infeasible or unfeasible?

The article discusses the etymology of each word.

A-Z of Unusual Words

Bold graphics and visual wit are used to interpret and represent a collection of strange, unusual and lost words.

Anyplace and Anywhere

"Anyplace" is an adverb that means the same thing as "anywhere." But note the difference.

Results of punctuation experiment

Find out how different people mark a given set of quotations.

Claim Your Day of Rest for Improved Health and Productivity

Read more about the benefits of rest in our lives.

How reader technology has made me a smarter reader and learner

Do you have similar experiences in using an e-reader?

3 Common Writing Mistakes and How to Catch Them

Here are some pointers that could help us in our IELTS writing practice.

Driver education

"Driver side" versus "driver's side." Which is correct?

Grammar and Usage

Quotes about grammar from notable authors.

Beware of Spell Check

Read about the few traditional trouble spots when it comes to spell check features.

6 incredibly useful spelling rules from childhood

Here are a number of general spelling rules and their exceptions.

Is it really hard writing essays?

A reminder for us to just keep trying.

Ancient theories of language evolution: The origin of the monolingual myth

A fascinating read on the origins of language.

Quotes | Creating Great Characters

Be inspired by what other authors think about writing.

Grammar lesson: "I" vs. "me"

Effective tips on when to use "I" and "me."

Grammar Myths: Don’t End Your Sentence with a Preposition

There are some instances where you could do so.


"Read regularly, and read widely." - Richard Milner

The borne conspiracy

"Born" vs. "Borne." What's the difference?

Essential lexical tools

Here's a cool list for improving your vocabulary.

12 Signs and Symbols You Should Know

Ever wondered how to use the symbols "~," "_," or "@," etc.? Read the article.

'Affect' or 'effect'? 6 simple memory tricks

Now there's no reason to mix these words up.

10 Bruce Lee Quotes That Can Improve Your Writing

Most of these quotes were originally about martial arts or life in general, but I agree with that author that they have tremendous value for writers.

July 21, 2012

Weekly Finds: July 21, 2012

Every week, we’ll be sharing a list of posts, stories, news, or opinions that we've run across the Internet during the past week or two. We won't be discussing them in detail here, but we do encourage you to check them out as they could contain valuable ideas and insights for your IELTS exam.

If you're ready, here we go...

Twitterish: How technology remakes language.

We're now experiencing the frequent use of the hastag (#) not only in Twitter, but also in spoken language. #readmore

Higher vocabulary ~ higher income

Interesting data about the correlation between intelligence and income.

"Jealousy" Versus "Envy"

There's a difference between the two terms. Take note of it.

Listening Comprehension - Learn English with strange news!

Improve your vocabulary with these strange words.

4 Writing Crutches that Insult the Reader’s Intelligence

Reminders about the proper use of adverbs, qualifiers, punctuation, and verbs.

The Ambiguity of Language

Is language ambiguity a problem for communication?

Debating the Best Way to Learn a Language

Would it be the explicit or classroom method, or would it be the implicit or immersion method? What do you think?

Guest Post: Reflections on the Words Love and Hate

Read about the evolution of the words love and hate, and the new meanings they have taken on.


Could we use them interchangeably?

Say It With Feeling: Have Curse Words Lost All Meaning?

Are the days of the f-bomb numbered?

Caesar, Chomsky and Comme le Prévoit

On the distinction between ‘deep’ and ‘surface’ structures of a language.

A Future Of Fewer Words

A post discussing about the shift from words to image-based media.

The theory of irrelevance

"More irrelevant" vs. "less relevant" - Which is correct?

Mochy, mizzly, or mothery? Ten regional words to describe the weather

The next time you want to complain about the weather, consider using one of these words.

Near, nearest and next

Find out how each word could be used.

Satisfaction guaranteed

Is there a difference between "guarantee" and "guaranty"?

Directions for Direct Address

Guidelines on proper punctuation and capitalization associated with writing in which one or more people are being addressed by name or role.

5 signs of a sloppy writer

You could add these pointers to your editing checklist.

Two Necessary Elements for Writing for the Long Haul

Find out how grace and discipline could help you, not only in writing, but also in your IELTS review or preparation.

3 Simple Ways to Improve Your Writing

We really liked the third tip here.

How To Schedule Writing When You Can Only Write Part Time

Read more than 5 tips where you could use discipline and persistence, not only for your writing practice, but also for your IELTS review or preparation.

A Blogger’s Refresher Course In English Grammar [4 Infographics]

If you're into infographics, you'd like this post.

Let’s hammer out some grammar! A 1st grade lesson on parts of speech.

Going back to basics helps.

The Position of Adjectives in English Sentences

The general rule is that adjectives typically precede the nouns that they modify. There are exceptions, though. We'd like you to discover them.

Grammar Gremlins: Good use of 'well' and 'good'

Learn the distinctions.

July 16, 2012

2 things that you could do to improve your listening skills

It's no secret that IELTS candidates have to spend lots of hours practicing or reviewing for their listening exam. After all, if they don't, getting their desired band score would be quite difficult.

However, a number of candidates think that if they've already received their listening lessons during class, they don't need to study when they're at home. If you feel that you're part of this group, then keep in mind that you're not taking advantage of familiar activities that could contribute to improving your skills in listening.

What are the 2 things that you could do to improve your listening skills even when you're not in IELTS class?

Simple. We humbly recommend that you listen to and watch programs in English.

Why are these things important?

In the listening test, a recording will be played and you will hear a number of persons who may have different accents. Listening to the recording could be difficult to understand, especially for those who are unfamiliar with the test.

Ok, you've already been listening to or watching programs in English. What exactly should you take note of?

The key here is to familiarize yourself with how native English speakers talk. Do note that if you won't acquaint yourself with the way these speakers talk, then there's a huge possibility that you won't be able to understand what they're going to say. Consequently, you won't be able to find out the answers needed for your test, which would, in turn, result in a low band score.

Fortunately there's a video that shows us the way for understanding native speakers of English. In this video, Ms. Minoo Short, Head Teacher at Anglo-Link discussed and gave examples to two challenges when listening to native English speakers. Thus:

(1) First is that we should be able to identify words that have similar vowels and dipthongs
Examples: "than-then," "bit-bet," or "live-leave"

(2) Next is that we should be able to identify how native speakers use contractions, weak forms, and phonetic links.

Re: Contractions
"I'm going to the mall." instead of "I am going to the mall."

Re: Weak Links
-"Here's ma book." where you could barely hear the "y" in "my"

Re: Phonetic Links
-"She(y)isinterestedinit." instead of "She is interested in it."

Now, try to be alert with these whenever you listen or watch English language programs. However, if you want to bring it up a notch, Ms. Short recommends that you could listen to portions of your IELTS listening materials, then attempt to transcribe them correctly. You'd be able to know that you've made progress when what you've written matches with those of the tapescript.

There you have it. Listen to or watch programs in English, and improve on your listening skills in no time!

Attribution to Anglo-Link's Head Teacher, Minoo Short, for inspiring our tips for today. Check our her complete and detailed discussion of this topic on her YouTube channel.

July 14, 2012

Weekly Finds: July 14, 2012

A Man With Magnifying Glass by digitalart
Image courtesy of digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Every week, we’ll be sharing a list of posts, stories, news, or opinions that we've run across the Internet during the past week or two. We won't be discussing them in detail here, but we do encourage you to check them out as they could contain valuable ideas and insights for your IELTS exam.

If you're ready, here we go...

Taking issue with us

"Touched on an issue" or "touched on a subject." Which is correct?

Whence “-ency” and “-ence”?

Both are suffixes. One however represents "qualities or states," while the other represents "actions or processes."

A Semicolon Example: When to Use or Not

Here are tips and examples for using commas and semicolons.

Dirty, sexy, grammar – prepositions

Read examples of the author's old-fashioned and modern rebellious versions of sentences with prepositions.

The 13 Trickiest Grammar Hang-Ups

More grammar errors to consider and avoid.

How to Learn A Language in 90 Days

Actionable things that could also help you with your IELTS review or preparation.

Social occasions vocabulary

Learn more words that could substitute for "party."

Verbs followed by infinitives and gerunds

Discover the distinct uses of each.

Words for entertainment

Learn more words that could substitute for "tv" or "movie."

Why Smiling is Required

Read why this could help you in your IELTS Speaking test.

Blithering idiocy on the subjunctive

Here's one criticism on the glossary attached to the UK's National Literacy Strategy.

What can language research tell us about the ‘real world’?

What does "real world" mean?

Avoid 5 Pesky Grammatical Errors With These Rules of Thumb

Avoid grammar errors relating to adverbs, antecedents, commas, and some others.

“The reason is because”

Is this phrase grammatically fine?

Of game changers and moving goalposts – football idioms in the English language

A selection of idioms relating to the sport of football.

When the complement was roses

There are tips here so you'd know how to tackle the two common problems in subject-verb agreement.

Grammaric: Few vs. A few

Learn the distinction between the two.

“Informational” vs. “informative”

There's a difference. We'd like you to read the article though.

Word building using suffixes

Very helpful resource when paraphrasing.

10 ways to work more efficiently

Very sound pieces of advice.

Sound-Word Index Is A Dictionary Of Those Weird Interjections You Use While Chatting Online

In case you're curious about the sound of "eeeek," "tsss," "zzzzz," and other interjections, this is a good resource.

The “Silent Period” in Language Acquisition: Truth or Myth?

Is silence the path to speaking?

15 Grammatical Errors That Make You Look Silly

If you're into infographics, this one is worth checking out.

Does Writing Make you Feel Like a Failure or a Fraud? (How that Can Boost Your Creativity)

Read how negative feelings could jumpstart your creative process.

July 7, 2012

Weekly Finds: July 7, 2012

A Man With Magnifying Glass by digitalart
Image courtesy of digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Every week, we’ll be sharing a list of posts, stories, news, or opinions that we've run across the Internet during the past week or two. We won't be discussing them in detail here, but we do encourage you to check them out as they could contain valuable ideas and insights for your IELTS exam.

If you're ready, here we go...

Death by Idioms

Although idioms are some of the recommended things to be learned whenever we prepare or review for the IELTS exam, the author here expresses good points on their misuse or overuse.

Forgo vs. Forego

Avoid using these two words interchangeably.

10 Reminders Worth Reviewing Daily

You'll see tips that would encourage you to be your best.

50 redundant phrases to avoid in writing

Most likely we've used a number of them in one way or another. Avoid them in your IELTS writing exam.

How to make your high school English teacher proud of you

5 useful reminders. Very handy when you're proofreading your writing tasks.

How to improve your grammar without hardly trying

Read these 7 practical tips for improving your grammar.

Two axes of word relationships

Here's one article to read if you're curious about how words in a language relate to each other.

The secret of nym

Does the word "synonym" have a synonym? Discover how the author found out the answer.

Words to describe people

In the IELTS speaking exam, you might be asked to describe a person. This article provides us with some useful things to consider.

Be Ruthless About Protecting Writing Days

Read how the famous author J.K. Rowling treats the time which she allots to writing. A similar mindset could perhaps help us in our IELTS preparation.

Words That Make You Sound Pretentious

Even though we should use a variety of words in order to comply with the Lexical Resource criterion in IELTS writing and speaking, it's still important to choose the appropriate words for your tasks.

Common Grammar Mistakes in Translation

30+ words/phrases for your vocabulary skills.

The A to Z of top English misspelled words

Yes, spelling is important in the IELTS exam. Get spelling tips from this article.

A grammar cheat sheet

Here are more words for your Lexical Resource.

Just Write It

"Write it. Fix it. Repeat..." - This is what we recommend to our students for their IELTS writing practice sessions.

Grammar Gremlins: Upon review, 'on' oft preferred

Can we use "on" and "upon" interchangeably?

Scenery vocabulary

There are questions in IELTS speaking where you'll be required to describe a place. This post has words that could enrich your vocabulary.

Omnivoracious: Prose's Unsung Heroes: Punctuating with Personality

Incorrect use of punctuation marks can cost you marks in the IELTS exam. Get some tips on using them well.

How to Write in English – Mary’s Top 10 List of Common Spelling, Grammar and Punctuation Mistakes

Their - They're; Your - You're; Its - It's; etc. Avoid mixing them up in your IELTS exam.

52 Tips for Writing Success - 14: The first page is only one page - Time to Write

Read interesting tips on how to counter writer's block.

Better Business English: 16 Confusing Words and Phrases Clarified

Here's another set of confusing words and phrases.

Seconds, please

In this article, the author discusses the various contexts that could be used for the word "second."

I Can't Get No Satisfaction

Discover the author's observations on the different uses for the word "get."

Can a Word Mean its Own Opposite?

Find out how the word "unpacked" was used here.

Contemporary Slang Words That Might Be Older Than You Think

This is a good post on the origins of some familiar slang expressions.

July 4, 2012

Why you can't "pass" or "fail" in the IELTS

Success in sight....
Photo credit: seeveeaar on Flickr.

There is no pass or fail in the IELTS. Well, not directly.

This could be counterintuitive for some of us, as we've been familiar with exams where a passing score is usually set. One familiar example would be our Philippine Nursing Licensure Exam where the law explicitly states that "(i)n order to pass the examination, an examinee must obtain a general average of at least seventy five percent (75%) with a rating of not below sixty percent (60%) in any subject." This is however not the case with regard to the IELTS exam.

So, why is it inaccurate to say that one has passed (or failed) the IELTS exam?

This is because the IELTS exam is governed by a scoring system that uses 1 to 9 for the areas of Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking. Thus, if candidates get a 7 in the exam, it does not necessarily mean that they have "passed." They are instead considered as "Good users" of English in IELTS terminology.

Now, where does the passing or failing aspect come in?

It comes into play when you submit a copy of your results to the university, organization, or entity that asks for them. For instance, if you plan to work as a nurse in New Zealand, then the Nursing Council of New Zealand would require you to have a band score of 7 in all areas of the IELTS Academic Module. If you obtain at least a score of 7, then you can say that you've met or "passed" one of its requirements. This is actually one reason why it is always advisable to research for IELTS band score requirements before taking the exam.

To summarize, in the IELTS you are graded using scores from 1 to 9 for each part of the test – Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. Always keep in mind that what constitutes a pass or fail would depend, not on your Test Result Form, but rather on the requesting organization's requirements.

Further reading:

IELTS | Test Takers - My test score

IELTS | Test Takers - Test results

July 2, 2012

Photo requirements when registering for the IELTS exam

We've been occasionally asked about the photograph requirements for the IELTS registration.

We've broken them down into 2 categories for your reference. The first would relate to the photo specs, while the second would relate to the candidate's appearance on the photo.

Re: Photo Specs

Your picture must:
-be passport-sized
-be in color
-be identical
-be no more than 6 months old
-be taken against a plain background so that features are clearly distinguishable
-be undamaged
-be in sharp focus and clear
-be print quality or professional standard
-not show any shadows

Re: Your appearance

You must:
-have a close-up of your head and shoulders
-be looking straight at the camera
-have a neutral expression
-have your mouth closed
-have your eyes open and clearly visible
-not be wearing glasses
-not cover your face, as well as the outlines of your eyes, nose, or mouth.

IELTS Photo Requirements


Do remember that one of your photos should be securely attached to the proper box at the front page of the registration form. The other photo should be held by paper clip at or near its designated box.