Rliberni's Blog – Radical language

August 24, 2011

Advanced students – case study 5 – IELTS doctor

 This is my fifth case-study in the series. Like the others it illustrates a journey we both took to reach a particular language goal. Like the others the benefit gained was mutual this case is slightly different as it involved an intensive 2-day study followed by on-going tutoring via the internet up until the exam.
 
See the other posts:

Case Study one – Mehmet (project manager)

Case Study two – Stepan (IELTS – doctor)

Case Study three – Maria (company relocation to UK )

Case Study four – Takeshi  (IELTS – doctor)

 

Case Study five – Ayesha

My fifth student in the series was also an IELTS student and a doctor. She was slightly different from the other doctors I have mentioned as she was a recently qualified doctor and had just arrived in the UK as a newly wed looking to pursue a career as a doctor in the UK. Her husband was already working in a hospital here.

Ayesha had recently taken the IELTS before getting married and moving to the UK but had unfortunately not got the band score she needed. In the few months she had been living in the Uk she had started to prepare again for the test. She soon realised that in order to prepare adequately she needed help from a specialist teacher and that is when we became acquainted. In fact it was her husband who contacted me. Being very busy in the hospital, he was looking for a weekend course where Ayesha could get an intensive boost in English and then continue preparing by herself up to the exam date. As she had only just arrived in the country she was too nervous about travelling on her own so I was more than happy for them both to come together.

 They arrived late on Friday evening, I collected them at the station. We had a light supper and then they retired to bed.

The first lesson

We started bright and early on the Saturday morning and started to go through each part of the test. I soon discovered that Ayesha’s main problem had been lack of preparation particularly in the speaking and writing papers. She had assumed that the speaking would simply be a short conversation and told me that she had the impression that the examiner was wanting her to say more but she didn’t know what to say.

The writing also needed a little work to get to band 7 and there were a few grammar areas to address.

We decided to concentrate for half a day on each part of the exam:

  • Listening – we worked through different types of listening material both IELTS and non-IELTS and talked about techniques and strategies for the exam
  • Writing – We looked mostly at analysing the title and then creating good plans for the essay. On Saturday evening Ayesha produced both a Task 1 and a Task 2 for me to check.
  • Speaking – Ayesha’s spoken English was quite good but lacked breadth. We went through the test and practised each part and also talked about how she could get more practice – being in England meant that there were opportunities to do this but Ayesha was a little nervous about joining groups or clubs. We agreed that we would speak on the phone as part of the follow-up and she would try and speak more to her neighbours and other people that she ‘knew to say hello to’ (this is someone you don’t really know very well but see from time to time).
  • Ayesha’s reading score had also been very good but as she was looking for an overall score of 7 we felt that we could improve this to boost her final score..

The study plan

We worked from 9 a.m. to 1.00 p.m. and then again from 2.00p.m. until 5.00p.m. During each session we concentrated on one area of the test.

There was a little time in the late afternoon to get out for a short walk which gave us time to talk generally – something which is important for fluency.

There was also time during our meals together (with both our respective husbands) to have more conversation.

Ayesha’s husband had brought work with him to complete and my husband took him out for a while to see the local area.

The weekend was a good way to get an overview of  useful test strategies from Ayesha’s point of view and I was able to see where her strengths and weaknesses were in each part and provide a study plan for her to follow going forward to the actual test. We did this on the final afternoon.

So armed with a plan, some websites to check out and I hoped, a little more confidence, I took Ayesha and her husband back to the station for their return journey home.

During the few weeks that followed we spoke on the phone and also communicated via email. She also sent me more writing which I corrected and returned. Where there were language problems I sent supplementary exercises to help and gave her a daily dose (using Gapfillers) of general language skills work to keep developing her English skills.

She had also made friends with one of her neighbours who, on hearing about the IELTS test offered to meet regularly so that Ayesha could practise her speaking – if you don’t try these things you’ll never know what might have been!  This was a real boost to both confidence and fluency.

A month or so later Ayesha took the IELTS she called me and told me what the questions had been – they were all fairly standard and some of them were things I had given her to do in her practice. She felt very upbeat and thought that the test had gone well.

A couple of weeks later I was in the car when my phone rang and I saw that it was Ayesha so I knew that this would be her result. She had got an overall band score of 8 (3 x 8 and 7.5 in Writing – amazing) !! She was so excited and could now move on with the next stage of her preparation to work in the UK as a doctor.

This is Ayesha’s  final email to me after the exam.

I am happy to send my score card and to dedicate my success to your guidance and the emotional support. I have booked my plab1 exam on feb.11th and started preparing for it. hope I will pass that exam too with your blessings.thanks a lot                                                 

Do you need help with your IELTS exam?

As a former IELTS examiner and with over 15 years of experience preparing and coaching people for the exam especially at Bands 7 and 8 I know what it takes to achieve these scores.

I work a lot with professionals (especially doctors) who need high band scores to move on with their careers.

Using my own Advanced English training site, Gapfillers and my own expertise in IELTS I can help you to get the score you are looking for.

Join my free IELTS Group in Gapfillers and get regular updates about preparing for the exam and also the chance to join in my teleseminars and seminars and all the other IELTS training opportunities I offer.

Joining is easy;  follow this link, register (it’s absolutely free), (don’t forget to tick the IELTS group button) and that’s it!

As soon as you register you will have access to my free 1-hour presentation THE TROUBLE WITH IELTS – the link is on the welcome page. Watch or download it, it’s your choice.

I hope to see you there 🙂

Sincerely,

Berni

Gapfillers

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August 20, 2011

IELTS Myths

I have worked with IELTS students for many years and over this time students have told me many things about the IELTS exam that I term ‘myths’.

The reason I consider them to be mythology is because they are mostly not true and secondly they can become a huge distraction to students who are preparing for the exam. At best they are harmless pieces of  ‘folklore’ but sometimes they can actually be detrimental and act against good performance in the exam.

So here are 10 IELTS Myths (there are plenty more) all of which have been said to me by my students quite recently. I want to explain to you why you should ignore these and stick to the real work of preparing successfully for your exam!

In this post I would like to explode some of these myths and explain why IELTS candidates should ignore them.

 

 

So here are my top 10 myths:

  • You can get a higher band at X centre

When I was an IELTS examiner in London some years ago,  this belief used to amuse me. I often examined with other examiners who attended various different centers. We would meet each other at different centres and so wherever students went for their IELTS exam the same examiners would be there! There are many more centres nowadays but examiners do still move around.

Secondly, examining the IELTS  is standardised and all examiners do a lot of training to ensure that they are all ‘singing from the same hymn sheet’ i.e. all giving a standardised result. Wherever you take the exam you will get the same experience and chance.

  • Some examiners are stricter than others

If you take on board what I’ve said above then this cannot be true. All examiners have to give all candidates the same experience and they train rigorously for this.

All examiners want you to be successful and get a good score but they can only score what you give them on the day!

  • Only x number of candidates will get a high band at each centre

Every IELTS candidate has the same chance and if you perform well enough to achieve a high band then you will get a high band.

The way to make sure that you get the band you want is to prepare well, make sure that your English is at the right level and not waste time worrying about these things.

  • If I pause for more than 10 seconds in the speaking I can’t get a high band

This could be a very dangerous thing to believe because it means that you are counting time instead of thinking about how you perform in the speaking test.

I am quite sure that the examiner is not checking the length of your pauses. If they were doing that they would not be paying attention to what you say and then they would not be able to score you at all! If you think about this it is ridiculous.

It is true that if you hesitate too much then your speaking will not be fluent and that will affect your score. Instead of counting pauses though, make sure that you can answer the questions fluently. Counting the length of your pauses can only interfere with your communication and I am sure that it will end up being stilted.

  • Certain centres will not give high bands to candidates from x country

This is a new one on me. Examiners only check passports to see that you are the person you say you are. Their role is to test your English performance and not to make judgements about your nationality. IELTS examiners have no control or influence over visas – they are simply assessing your English.

  • I have to include these words (usually a list) in my task two or I won’t get a high band

Sadly I have seen essays that are ‘word-packed’ and often the communication is lost. The most important thing about the essay is that you answer the questions in a communicative and convincing way. You are at liberty to use any words and phrases you wish and,of course, if you use a range of good vocabulary that will hep you with your final score but throwing words at the essay just because you think they will impress the examiner is a dangerous thing to do. Using words appropriately and sensibly to give your essay some sophistication will get you marks but throwing words at your essay willy-nilly because you think they will earn you marks won’t help you at all.

It’s better to spend your time broadening your overall vocabulary and perfecting your writing style so that you are able to use new words in the right way.

  •  I have to keep practising the IELTS practice test to get a good band score

This can be a very boring and limiting way of preparing for the test. While it is important to prepare for the IELTS and understand what is expected in each part of the test, you need to remember that this is a test of English and the better your English, the better your chances of doing well. Don’t limit yourself to IELTS tests use the great wealth of English language material on the internet to help you too.

  •  IELTS is the most difficult English exam

IELTS is actually a very straightforward exam – there are no tricks. It tests your ability to use English in certain tasks at a certain level and that is all. There are many tests of English for many different purposes and if you are well prepared and have the right English level (this is very important – you need to be band 7 to get band 7) then IELTS is no more difficult than any other exam.

  • If the examiner doesn’t like my opinion I won’t get a high band

The examiner’s job in the writing and speaking is to see if you are able to present ideas and arguments in good English and to test that those ideas are plausible and backed up so that they are convincing. At no time will the examiner judge your ideas (as long as they are sensible and fit in with the question).

You are in control of your speaking and writing not the examiner. You should use this position to demonstrate your excellent use of English. If you are waiting for the examiner then you will not perform as well. Take the lead and convince the examiner of your opinions.

  • I have to give the examiner the answer they want in the speaking

This tallies with the above myth. The examiner has a list of questions that they will ask you but it is your job to take those questions and use them to demonstrate your English. The examiner has no idea what your answers will be and they also have no idea in their head of  an answer that they want – that is your job. They will simply listen and mark you according to how you managed to respond.

 

So my advice is not to listen to these myths they will not help you. You should concentrate on what will help you and that is sustained, regular practice in both your English language and the IELTS exam preparation.

 

Do you need help with your IELTS exam?

As a former IELTS examiner and with over 15 years of experience preparing and coaching people for the exam especially at Bands 7 and 8 I know what it takes to achieve these scores.

I work a lot with professionals (especially doctors) who need high band scores to move on with their careers.

Using my own Advanced English training site, Gapfillers and my own expertise in IELTS I can help you to get the score you are looking for.

Join my free IELTS Group in Gapfillers and get regular updates about preparing for the exam and also the chance to join in my teleseminars and seminars and all the other IELTS training opportunities I offer.

Joining is easy;  follow this link, register (it’s absolutely free), (don’t forget to tick the IELTS group button) and that’s it!

As soon as you register you will have access to my free 1-hour presentation THE TROUBLE WITH IELTS – the link is on the welcome page. Watch or download it, it’s your choice.

I hope to see you there 🙂

Sincerely,

Berni

Gapfillers

August 2, 2011

In light of education reform, what will a teacher look like and be doing 10 years from today?

 

#Edchat 08 – 26 – 2011 – 18:00 CET 12 PM EST

Great video isn’t it! I love the idea that we will be able to access the internet EVERYWHERE! I learned about this video from a student who works for Corning and he told me that all of this is possible now. The incredible flexibility of glass as a material for technology is mind-blowing and to think that it is such an ancient product – it makes you think! Can you imagine greeting your students on the door of their refrigerator each morning  before they come to school? It’s so exciting! And how about the whole wall that turns into a screen – awesome!  I want one in my classroom! The world might look SO different in 10 years from now.

This was our topic last week at #edchat and we have a really amazing summary here written by Tracy Brady @mmebrady) who is a vibrant and innovative edchatter and this was a great ‘blue-sky thinking’ #edchat session. Tracy has really captured some of that excitement and buzz that was flying around twitter during the hour. I’m sure you will love reading her summary here and you can find out more about Tracy and her work as a French teacher in New York at the end of the post. Thank you so much Tracy for this great post 🙂

This topic provided for a phenomenal opportunity to discuss our “educational wishlists” and imagine the future.  Thinking back 10 years at how different things were, I think most of us realize that although much has changed (technology) sadly, much still remains the same (bureaucrats, the have-nots, row seating, farm-based schedule, standardized tests…).  Many of the ideas put forth were fascinating, exciting, thought-provoking, fill in your own blank.  Looking to the future is always a fun exercise, but it was also pointed out, that we need to focus our efforts on the classes of 10 minutes from now — exert control over our own realm.

Here are some of the main themes from the discussion: 

  •  Classrooms will be paperless
  •  Will the digital divide widen or narrow — (between students as well as schools)  will the bureaucrats still be in control? where should the $ be spent?
  •  Classrooms should be more student centered with passion based learning and more individualized instruction — “communities of inquiry”
  •  Teacher prep needs to change significantly
  •  Communication will be improved as learning continues outside class walls and time (perhaps year round?) — mobilization, globalization, and collaboration
  •  There will be more flipped /blended classes — the human element (interpersonal) will always be necessary
  •  PLN/PD needs to be ongoing — teachers will need to continue to develop their own skills to continue to be relevant
  •  We should see the end of standardized tests — authentic assessment should replace it
  •  flying robots — it is hard to envision the future based on how different things were 10 years ago — like predicting a hurricane
  •  We will see the end of filtering websites, and  teach digital citizenship  instead.  We will take advantage of the digital native status of students AND teachers — byod
  •  We will see new learning spaces (not just formal rows inside classroom walls)
Here is a selection of some of the comments: 
 

CoachB0066 Looking at the economic landscape I believe that BYOD programs will be more popular than pure 1:1 programs

USCTeacher 10 years-teachers will be even more tech savvy, assignments will be submitted paperless, and schools will continue refining tech use

inquirebook @mmebrady I think tech will continue to change so fast that everybody will have to constantly learn and adapt.

inquirebook Technology is really just about connecting students to teachers and to each other, and connecting all to information.

stumpteacher My hope is that in 10 years our government listens to teachers and not businessmen/cheaters

stumpteacher @cybraryman1 I would hope the teachers continue to step back and empower students. Give up more control of learning to students.

NoodleEducation @rliberni would like to see technology provide objective assessment on a more holistic level for indiv students to replace STD tests

allisonletts @MarkWinegar one step: students pursuing a passion during classtime–learning how to learn independently about something fascinating

USCTeacher @rliberni Think about the communities that will be able to form! Not 1 building, 1 community, but 1 world

2footgiraffe @NathanSandberg @stumpteacher agreed. Tech is not the answer in education. It is just one part of student engagement.

CTuckerEnglish I’d like to see a move to customize & individualized instruction using tech integration to meet diverse needs if students

lauwailap1 In 10 yrs:Hoping teachers will have more control + input in the curriculum, which should be flexible+allow us to constantly innovate.

love_teach Schools need to prep them on how to facilitate learning and how to guide students to discover their own knowledge and tools

after_school 10 yrs from now more kinds of people will be recognized as teachers: museum/library/afterschool staff, kids leading othr kids.

CrudBasher I predict in 10 yrs, the most valuable skill in the world will be the ability to learn anything at anytime.

saraallen91 2 prepare tchrs 10 yrs from now, we have 2 prepare them 2 constantly challenge their thinking, experiment w/ new tech, & take risks.

Akevy613 In 10 years learning should be mobile and global and move way beyond the walls of a classroom

pernilleripp
I hope in 10 years teachers start to get respect again

inquirebook @cybraryman1 I hope augmented reality is ubiquitous–another change to our relationship with information.

drdouggreen @ShellTerrell Let’s stop building schools with rows of identical classrooms and more open areas. Some are.

ShellTerrell Perhaps 10yrs from now we have better solutions to improving schools rather than firing teachers

mrbarranca @drdouggreen @beyondtech1 That’s a great point. Can’t teach new teachers 1980-1990 practices and expect them to then be cutting edge

CrudBasher You can plan the education system in 10 years in the same way you can plan a hurricane. #beyondcontrol

drdouggreen @jenniferg92 All teachers must be comfortable learning from students. It empowers both.

MaryAnnReilly The division we know among teacher, student, coach, mentor, and community member will blur. We will need new language to name.

chrisemdin I love the idea of predicting what you want things to be like in 10yrs. Imagination is the seedbed of possibility

 To follow the complete discussion see here

For the stats on #edchat participation see here 

As ever, there were some great links shared:

ShellTerrell: Educators on Google+ http://bit.ly/oz4qK8  #edtech #edchat

CoachB0066:  We need to focus on educator prep (teachers and admin) to change pedagogy #edchat We can infuse all the tech… (cont) http://deck.ly/~WT9C4

cybraryman1:  What role will Blended Learning http://tinyurl.com/483kbhl  have in the future? #edchat

briankotts: The BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books here http://bit.ly/dT2u47  #edchat #ukedchat

SnaPanda: RT @rscon3: Check out: Sharing values in the classroom: When, How, Y & Y not http://bit.ly/pJdN41   video by @brad5patterson #eltchat #edchat

findingDulcinea: Awesome commentary on EdTech RT @mcleod My opening remarks at Iowa Education Summit http://t.co/8Oul1kM  #edchat #sschat

iObservation:  New York State Education Department Approves Dr. Robert Marzano’s Teacher Evaluation Model http://bit.ly/mnnS86  #cpchat #edchat

Kerry_EasyBib: @NMHS_Principal was featured in USA Today in a great article about social media and the future of the classroom http://ow.ly/5NHL6  #edchat

drdouggreen: @malcolmbellamy Colleges serve to widen gap between haves & have nots. Check my summary of Academically Adrift http://bit.ly/oCig5G  #edchat

cybraryman1: What role will Augmented Reality (http://tinyurl.com/346ogtf ) play in education in the future: #edchat

cybraryman1: My Student Centered Classrooms page: http://tinyurl.com/454czsq  #edchat

rliberni: Here’s a great vision for the future with tech everywhere! http://youtu.be/6Cf7IL_eZ38  #edchat

cybraryman1: Personalized, passionate learning http://goo.gl/fb/jJhR3  #edchat

iObservation:  Video: Robert Marzano on His Career in Research http://youtu.be/G0yOZpPSu7s  #edchat #education

cybraryman1: I can see more Self-Directed Learning http://tinyurl.com/3yzrakm  with teacher there to faciliate the learning #edchat

drwetzel: What is the Technology Footprint in Your Classroom? http://t.co/9A67ruv  #edtech #edchat #elemchat #teaching #education #web20

tuchodi:  @ShellTerrell From our school district http://bit.ly/q7JzvN  #edchat

web20education:  Pls rt I work #edtech20 #socialmedia #curation project gateway to knowledge in #education20 , I need #PLN help #edchat http://t.co/WvMFXQh

cybraryman1: @lauwailap1 See Open Doors School-Business Partnership (left column down) http://tinyurl.com/4zyk5qq  #edchat

engaginged:  Interested in global collaboration? Here’s a great project: Challenge 20/20: http://t.co/CyxrsYo  #globaled #edchat

AAEteachers: #Education is hurt by #politics according to Arne Duncan. #teachers – what do you think? | http://is.gd/xIS2v3  #edreform #edchat

CrudBasher: @SamGliksman Reading expressions online. http://bit.ly/nzWq8I  #edchat

Social_LMS: 2011 Learning Tools Directory : http://t.co/YjZLRGb  #lrnchat #edchat #ednewschat

mjgormans:  10 Steps to Transform Past Lessons for 21st Century .,, If u r at #BLC11 plz stop in at 1 of my sessions http://t.co/XNrOJ9A  #edchat

OECD_Edu: PISA – Against the Odds: Disadvantaged Students Who Succeed in School http://bit.ly/nbEIdO  #edchat #ukedchat #finnedchat

joe_bower:  Assessment wagging the dog http://t.co/iT9TXPe  #abed #edchat #edtech

web20education:  I update #curation story #googleplus gateway to #semanticweb #web30 in #education20 http://t.co/EOISqqY  #edtech20 #edreform #rscon3 #edchat

My name is Tracy Brady  I am a French teacher (middle and high school) in Central New York.  I strive to push against constraints of time and space to globalize my students’ learning experience.    I am a strong proponent of BYOD and thinking outside the box to bridge the digital divide.  My colleagues don’t always know what to make of my wild ideas, but then again, neither do my 2 beautiful daughters (Florica and Aline).  Sometimes it takes a little bit of crazy to get the job done.  #edchat is an invaluable tool in my PD arsenal, and I am honored to have been asked to write this summary.  My blog can be found at http://mmetechie.blogspot.com
 

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