How to Answer 22 Essay Question Words

Words such as ‘explain’, ‘evaluate’ or ‘analyse’ – typical question words used in essay titles – provide a useful indication of how your essay should be structured. They often require varying degrees of critical responses. Sometimes, they may simply require a descriptive answer.

No matter their nature, question words are key and must always be adhered to. And yet, many students often overlook them and therefore answer their essay questions incorrectly. You may be a font of all knowledge in your subject area, but if you misinterpret the question words in your essay title, your essay writing could be completely irrelevant and score poorly.

For example, if you are asked to compare the French and British upper houses of parliament, you won’t get many points by simply highlighting the differences between the two parliamentary systems.

Some question words require a critical answer and there are varying degrees of how critical your answers must be according to the requirements of the question. We’ve broken these down for you below:

1. Analyse

Essay questions that ask you to ‘analyse’ a particular topic or argument expect a thorough deconstruction of the essay subject. In other words, this word requires you to break the essay topic down into its fundamental parts.Once you have done this, it’s also important that you critically (more on this word later) examine each part. You need to use important debates and evidence to look in depth at the arguments for and against, as well as how the parts interconnect. What does the evidence suggest? Use it to adopt a stance in your essay, ensuring you don’t simply give a narration on the key debates in the literature. Make your position known and tie this to the literature.

2. Evaluate

When answering this essay question word, the key is to provide your opinion or verdict concerning the extent to which an argument or set of research findings is accurate. You may also be required to demonstrate the extent to which you agree with a particular argument or hypothesis.It is essential to provide information on both sides of the debate using evidence from a wide range of academic sources. Then you must state your position basing your arguments on the evidence that informed you in arriving at your position.

3. Justify

With ‘justify’ question words, you need to explain the basis of your argument by presenting the evidence that informed your outlook. In such answers, you need to present your evidence in a convincing way, demonstrating good reasons for adopting your position.Also, you may want to consider arguments that are contrary to your position before stating a conclusion to your arguments. This will help present a balanced argument and demonstrate wide knowledge of the literature. Here, a critical approach becomes crucial. You need to explain why other possible arguments are unsatisfactory as well as why your own particular argument is preferable.

4. Critically evaluate

To ‘critically evaluate’, you must provide your opinion or verdict on whether an argument, or set of research findings, is accurate. This should be done in as critical a manner as possible. Provide your opinion on the extent to which a statement or research finding is true. A critical evaluation of a subject will warrant an assertive essay response that details the extent to which you agree with a set of findings, a theory, or an argument.The key to tackling these question words is providing ample evidence to support your claims. Ensure that your analysis is balanced by shedding light on, and presenting a critique of, alternative perspectives. It is also important that you present extensive evidence taken from a varying range of sources.

State your conclusion clearly and state the reasons for this conclusion, drawing on factors and evidence that informed your perspective. Also try to justify your position in order to present a convincing argument to the reader.

5. Review

An answer to a ‘review’ question word should demonstrate critical examination of a subject or argument. This is done by recapping or summarising the major themes or points in question, and critically discussing them while giving your opinion.Put another way, ‘review’ questions entail offering your opinion on the validity of the essay question. For example, you may be asked to review the literature on electoral reform in Great Britain. You’ll need to give an overview of the literature. and any major arguments or issues that arose from it. You then need to comment logically and analytically on this material. What do you agree or disagree with? What have other scholars said about the subject? Are there any views that contrast with yours? What evidence are you using to support your assessment? Don’t forget to state your position clearly.

Review answers should not be purely descriptive; they must demonstrate a high level of analytical skill. The aim is not simply to regurgitate the works of other scholars, but rather to critically analyse these works.

6. Assess

In the case of ‘assess’ question words, you are expected to consider or make an informed judgement about the value, strengths or weakness of an argument, claim or topic. ‘Assess’ questions place particular emphasis on weighing all views concerning the essay subject, as opposed to your opinion only.However, when assessing a particular argument or topic, it is important that your thoughts on its significance are made clear. This must be supported by evidence, and secondary sources in the literature are a great start. Essentially, you need to convince the reader about the strength of your argument, using research to back up your assessment of the topic is essential. Highlight any limitations to your argument and remember to mention any counterarguments to your position.

7. Discuss

‘Discuss’ question words typically require an in-depth answer that takes into account all aspects of the debate concerning a research topic or argument. You must demonstrate reasoning skills with this type of question, by using evidence to make a case for or against a research topic/argument.Give a detailed examination of the topic by including knowledge of the various perspectives put forward by other scholars in relation to it. What are your thoughts on the subject based on the general debates in the literature? Remember to clearly state your position based on all the evidence you present.

8. Examine

A close examination of a research topic or argument requires that you establish the key facts and important issues concerning the topic or argument by looking at them in close detail. This means that you must adopt a very critical approach with ‘examine’ question words.You should also try to provide some context on why the issues and facts that you have closely examined are important. Have these issues and facts been examined differently by other scholars? If so, make a note of this. How did they differ in their approach and what are the factors that account for these alternative approaches?

‘Examine’ questions are less exploratory and discursive than some other types of question. They focus instead on asking you to critically examine particular pieces of evidence or facts to inform your analysis.

9. To what extent

In essence, this asks how far you agree with a proposition put forward in the question. This requires a very in-depth assessment of the topic, and especially of the evidence used to present your argument.Such questions require that you display the extent of your knowledge on a given subject and that you also adopt an analytical style in stating your position. This means that you must consider both sides of the argument, by present contrasting pieces of evidence. But ultimately, you must show why a particular set of evidence, or piece of information, is more valid for supporting your answer.

Question words that require a descriptive response

In some instances, question words require mostly a descriptive response as is the case with the words below:

1. Define

Here, you must outline the precise meaning of the subject of the question. If the definition you provide is a contested one then make sure you mention this. How do other scholars define the subject? Why is its meaning contested and why have you chosen to use one meaning instead of the other if this is the case?It is important that you provide more than one meaning if there are several of them as it shows that you are very familiar with the literature.

2. Demonstrate

The key to tackling ‘demonstrate’ questions is to use several examples, evidence, and logical arguments. Essentially, you are required to show how a particular research topic or argument is valid by using evidence and arguments to support your claim.Make sure you assert your position with these types of questions. It’s even more important that you support your arguments with valid evidence in order to establish a strong case.

3. Describe

When describing something, you must provide thorough insight into the main characteristics of a research subject in an objective manner. As answers to such questions will be inherently descriptive, it is important that you recount or characterise in narrative form.‘Describe’ question words focus less on the basic meaning of something, therefore, and more on its particular characteristics. These characteristics should form the building blocks of your answer.

4. Elaborate

Here, you are required to provide a lot of detail and information on a research topic or argument. ‘Elaborate’ questions tend to elicit descriptive responses. Therefore. it’s important to demonstrate that you have done significant research on the topic to support the information you provide.

5. Explain

‘Explain’ questions expect you to basically clarify a topic. When answering such questions, it helps to imagine you are writing for someone who knows absolutely nothing of the subject. And remember two things. To provide as much detail as possible, and to give definitions for any jargon or key terms when used.In addition, always remember to back any claims with academic research. In explanatory answers it is important that you demonstrate a clear understanding of a research topic or argument. This comes across most convincingly if you present a clear interpretation of the subject or argument to the reader. Keep in mind any ‘what’, ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions as this will help you to structure a clear and logically coherent response. Coherence is extremely important in providing explanatory answers.

6. Explore

Needless to say, your answer must be exploratory and thus it is imperative that you adopt a questioning approach when answering such questions. Because of the exploratory nature of such essays, objectivity is key. That is, you should give an overview of all viewpoints before providing any of your own arguments.A somewhat detached, dispassionate tone can be particularly effective, in contrast to the more assertive, argumentative tone you might adopt for other types of essay question. Just remember that the key objective here is to give a nuanced account of a research topic or argument by examining its composite parts.

7. Identify

Essay questions that require you to ‘identify’ something in relation to a research topic or argument require you to simply point out and describe the main ideas in a short and coherent way. A little like this paragraph.

8. Illustrate

Such an answer will generally involve the use of many examples, such as tables, figures, graphs, or concrete research statistics and evidence. The aim is to use these examples to demonstrate knowledge of the subject of the question and to further explain or clarify your answer.

9. Outline

outline answer requires you present an organised description of a research topic or argument. It is imperative that you provide the main points only (and any important supplementary information) as opposed to focusing on the minor details. Remember to present your answer in a systematic and coherent way.

10. Summarise

When you are asked to summarise or present a summary of a research topic, you should give a condensed form of its main points or facts. You must omit all minor details and focus mainly on the key facts. As a result, summaries are typically brief and straight to the point. The key is to get all the main facts across to the reader in as punchy and succinct a manner as possible.

11. Clarify

This means to provide insight into a subject, and quite literally, provide clarification. For example, this could be done by making an argument or topic more clear by explaining it in simpler terms.Such questions require you to shed light on a topic or, in some instances, break down a complex subject into simple parts. Coherence is very important for acing such questions, remembering to present your answer in a systematic manner.

12. Compare

When asked to ‘compare’, you must identify any similarities between two or more subjects of discussion. You can go beyond making a basic comparison by trying to understand the roots of the similarities you identify, as well as their significance.Furthermore, you may also want to emphasise any differences, although the focus of your essay should be on establishing similarities.

13. Contrast

A ‘contrast’ question expects you to identify differences, not similarities, between subjects. What are the main dissimilarities between two or more subjects? What sets them apart? These are the general questions that you must keep in mind when addressing ‘contrast’ questions.

In conclusion:

When you first get your essay question, always try to understand exactly what the question means and what it is asking you to do. Look at the question word(s) and think about their meaning before you launch into planning what to write. Hopefully, our guide has shown you how to do this expertly.

Remember to read the question several times and consider any underlying assumptions behind the question. Highlight the key words and if possible, make a very basic draft outline of your response. This outline does not have to be detailed. But if you follow it as you write, it will help keep your response coherent and systematic.

Finally, remember to read through your essay at the end to check for any inconsistencies and grammatical or spelling errors.

Reference: https:/

Three Ways To Improve English Speaking Skills Without A Partner

by pteacademicexam

1. Learn English With Hollywood Movies & American TV series – People from Sweden, Netherlands & Denmark are world’s best non-native English speakers. You know why? because most of the movies they watch in cinemas are from Hollywood, they listen to English music & they watch American sitcoms.

I guess now you know, what you need to do. Live life like an Englishmen. Watch Hollywood movies, listen to English songs & watch American sitcoms.

Pick an American sitcom & start watching it today (How I Met Your Mother is my personal favorite.) You can take the help of subtitles for few initial episodes but eventually, you can graduate to watching shows in English with English subtitles and then with no subtitles

Benefits: This practice will help you learn English that is used regularly by native English speakers & increase your vocabulary.

2. Use ESL Program Podcasts – A podcast is an audio broadcast over the Internet. English language podcasts are a great way to improve English. The podcasts prepared by English-native speakers introduce you to common slangs, natural expressions, and interesting vocabulary.

Podcasts give you the opportunity to listen to people speak English in a variety of accents, and get comfortable with this variety. Check out these websites:

3. Listen to the recordings & repeat what you hear – ‘Practice Repeating’ what you hear out loud. This is the most important step to do if you really want to improve your English speaking.

Listen attentively to the recording, pay attention to the rhythm & how intonation is used to show attitudes & emphasis. Record your own voice, listen to it & keep tuning it.

Don’t simply repeat dialogues, try to grasp the true feeling of the sentence. Without emotional input, you will sound monotonous and boring. Speak as if that’s exactly what you want to say with true feelings.

Do you feel hesitant to speak English? And you don’t want to at the receiving end of people making fun of your wrong English.  I am going to tell you a method, I personally used while I was going through the same phase.

CALL A CUSTOMER CARE !!! Yes, you read it right. Call a customer care, choose English as your preferred language & then talk to customer care executive in English.

They won’t make fun of your wrong English. You can talk to them about their new services or you can register a complaint or discuss a problem you are facing with their product.

Give a call to your telecom service provider (Vodafone, Airtel, Idea) or to your bank or to any other company whose product you owe or simply know.





Reference: http:/

Dissertation research: the ultimate guide to finding dissertation resources

by oxbridgeessays

Thoroughly researching your dissertation is crucial if you want to obtain as high a mark as possible. To give you the best chances, you need to know the various places to look for dissertation resources when you’re undertaking your research.This article is your go-to guide on how to ensure your dissertation is adequately researched. Use it to help get you a step closer to the grade you’re working so hard to achieve.

Libraries and books

In this age of technology, libraries are often forgotten.Most universities provide an online library catalogue where you can search for a book by title, author, or subject. This will open your eyes to resources that you may not have found if you’d simply browsed the shelves.

For example, for an English Literature essay analysing a text involving the subject of death, you may find useful resources in the Religious Studies section. Or you could make use of the Education section for a dissertation focusing on Child Psychology.

“Don’t be afraid to think outside the box when
researching your dissertation – this is often what
will set your work apart from others.”

Some libraries are home to additional sources that aren’t on the shelves or in the online catalogue, such as rare collections of photographs or historical diary entries. Using these resources will prove that you have gone above and beyond to adequately support your work in an imaginative and committed way. Aside from your university library, public libraries house useful and unique resources. Council-run libraries are free to enter and if you sign up for a membership card, resources are free to borrow.Museums, both local to you and nationally, can provide the knowledge and history required to make your dissertation stand out. As well as this, many museums have their own libraries and study areas, such as the British Museum. Some have extensive archives for public use, such as the British Film Institute and the Museum of London Archaeological Archive.


Bookshops are often overlooked, but they are treasure troves of valuable resources.Whether you visit a large chain like Waterstones, or find a one-off, quirky bookshop, they can provide you with resources you may not have previously considered. A simple internet search will reveal bookshops near you. But another great way of making new discoveries is to ask around for recommendations from family, friends and academic colleagues.

Online and print journals

The use of journal articles is crucial in dissertation writing.Some are produced online, while others are printed quarterly, monthly or weekly. Your university library will hold past editions of many print journals, which you can borrow and take home. Many are available free of charge to students and can be downloaded in PDF format for use throughout your dissertation.

Drawing on information from journals will allow you to incorporate scholars’ viewpoints into your work, which you can then use as a basis for your key arguments.

Once you have visited your library website, you should see a link for ‘journals’. After clicking on it, you will see the facility to search for a title using key words or an author name, if you know it.

There will inevitably be a mix of quality when it comes to journal articles. Read them through thoroughly before taking a quote or information, as a poorly-researched article does not make for a valuable source.

Also, check for spelling and grammar. If this is poor, then that’s a good indication that the source should not be trusted. A quick Google search of the author(s) will show you whether or not they have written anything else and if they are reputable. Make sure they haven’t taken their information from unreliable sources, such as Wikipedia, which isn’t moderated and anyone can contribute to page information.


Databases are available via your library website and provide access to a variety of books, journals and other primary sources. There are databases specialising in specific subjects and they are an excellent first step towards discovering what’s available to you. Popular databases include Credo Reference, JSTOR and Westlaw.

Past dissertations

Most universities hold a collection of dissertations by past students in your discipline. These can be useful to study, particularly at the very early stages when you’re unsure about things like structure and layout. Make sure you don’t take too much from it though, or copy the title. The aim is to be unique and innovative.

Audio-visual material

Particularly in creative subject areas, audio-visual material is invaluable.Sources such as films, television programmes, radio interviews, podcasts and pieces of music will give your dissertation rich variety. Combining these with written sources will provide you with a strong framework and firm evidence of thorough research that goes above and beyond expectation.

Amazon and eBay

These websites sell some books for as little as one penny each, often with free and fast delivery. What’s great about them is that, with a little hunting, you could find a rare piece that wouldn’t otherwise be available in your library or as an electronic resource. Of course, what this means for your work will vary depending on the specifics of your discipline, but it’s worth a look if you don’t mind setting aside a small budget.

Some final tips…

Wherever you do your research, write down the details of any sources you use. Write them down in the same place and keep the list safe. To save yourself more time, you can type them out in whichever referencing format your dissertation calls for. This means that when it comes to completing your bibliography, you only need to check through it, tidy it up and ensure the sources are in alphabetical order.

“No matter how many resources you use, if your
dissertation is not correctly and consistently
referenced, you can easily lose marks.”

A faultless system of citation and referencing is a simple way to gain maximum marks. It demonstrates academic integrity and a firm awareness of the dangers of plagiarism.
Reference: https:/


By Enguroo

Do you think your English pronunciation still leaves much to be desired even after many years of learning the language? Do people sometimes ask you to repeat something even in case your grammar and vocabulary are OK? If so, don’t be frustrated. You are not the only one who faces this challenge. Fortunately, there is a lot you can do to improve your pronunciation. Keep reading to know what it is…

Each and every learner dreams to sound like a native speaker. However, good pronunciation must be one of the most difficult skills to develop. The culprit of it must be the mother tongue of a learner as some languages lack some English sounds (e.g. there is no [θ] and [ð] in Russian or [l] and [v] in Japanese). Thus, problems of different learners differ.

Luckily, these days you can improve your pronunciation greatly. There are many fascinating ways of working on this skill and you don’t even have to leave your house for that. Just remember to follow a few important rules, keep your attitude positive and mix different ways to see what works best for you.

1. Listen, repeat and record

Those who have an ear for music might have an advantage over those who don’t if it comes to foreign language pronunciation. Such people find copying intonation and particular sounds much easier than their tone-deaf counterparts. They just have to do this activity regularly and then enjoy the fruits of their work. The same rule applies to those learners who are bad at copying sounds and intonation. The only difference is that it might take longer. Both groups of learners should try recording their pronunciation endeavours in order to compare the original recording (use the piece which is in line with your English level) with their one. Do it on a regular basis working on different texts and situations and soon you will make progress.

2. Watch your tongue

When it comes to pronunciation, you should do it in the literal sense of the word. Experiment, be attentive to the sensations you have and try to remember the feeling you get when you are making the right sound. Books on English pronunciation might help you as well because they outline the right position of your tongue while making certain sounds, provide ample recordings and exercises.

3. Have a partner

Pronunciation is closely connected with speaking and speaking – with communication. It takes at least two to communicate, so if you have a partner to practice with or, which is even better, a teacher who can correct your mistakes, it will make the process much easier and more effective.

4. Practice tongue twisters

Tongue twister is a phrase or a sentence of words which are difficult to pronounce, especially rapidly. Tongue twisters can help improve pronunciation a lot because they focus on a particular problem sound and make your speech apparatus adjust itself to it. Let’s watch a video on some popular tongue twisters and practice with it:


  • She sells seashells by the seashore.
  • How can a clam cram in a clean cream can?
  • Betty Botter bought some butter.
  • Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.
  • A big black bug bit a big black dog on his big black nose.
  • The blue bluebird blinks.
  • If you want to buy, buy. If you don’t want to buy, bye-bye!
  • Give papa a cup of proper coffee in a copper coffee cup.
  • Eleven elves licked eleven little liquorice [‘lɪk(ə)rɪs] lollipops.
  • Fresh fried fish, fish fresh fried, fried fish fresh, fish fried fresh.
  • Friendly fleas and fireflies.
  • Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear. Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair. Fuzzy Wuzzy wasn’t very fuzzy, was he?
  • Greek grapes, Greek grapes, Greek grapes.
  • I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream.
  • Kitty caught the kitten in the kitchen.
  • Quick kiss, quick kiss, quick kiss.
  • Red leather, yellow leather.
  • Red lorry, yellow lorry.
  • I can think of six thin things, but I can think of six thick things too.
  • The big bug bit the little beetle, but the little beetle bit the big bug back.
  • Not these things here but those things there.
  • Three free throws.
  • Toy phone, toy phone, toy phone.
  • A tricky, frisky snake with sixty super scaly stripes.
  • If two witches were watching two watches, which witch would watch which watch?
  • Whether the weather is warm, whether the weather is hot, we have to put up with the weather, whether we like it or not.
  • How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
  • Zebras zig and zebras zag.

Were you practicing the tongue twisters watching the videos? We hope so because there is no better way to improve your pronunciation than practicing speaking and challenging the problem sounds. Remember that practice makes perfect.




Reference: http:/

33 ways to speak better English without taking classes

by Dilano

If you’re reading this, I imagine you want to speak better English and communicate in a more confident and competent way.

When we communicate effectively we are able to express our ideas and opinions, share experiences, and build relationships with others. When we struggle to express ourselves, we feel unvalued and insecure. As human beings, we want to participate in group discussions and have an impact on the society around us.

In the modern world, we communicate across borders. English is the closest thing we have to an international language.

By speaking better English, people all over the world can hear our voice. But, to speak better English, you need a teacher, don’t you? You need to take English classes, right?


Well, English teachers and English classes definitely help. But, studying English for a few hours a week may not improve your spoken English very much.

What you need is to become a self-directed learner, somebody who takes responsibility for their own learning and creates their own learning programme to develop their English.

Now, it’s certainly true that speaking is a social activity and is best done with other people. However, you could say the same about many activities.  Leo Messi became a wonderful football player because he spent hours every day for many years practising by himself.

You can do the same with your English. Here are 33 ways to speak better English, without going to classes.

1. Record yourself speaking English. Listening to yourself can be strange at first but you get used to it. Listen to a recording of a fluent English speaker (a short audio file) and then record yourself repeating what they said. Compare the difference and try again. Humans are natural mimics so you will find yourself getting better and better. Soundcloud is an excellent tool for voice recording as you or your teacher can make notes about your errors.

2. Read aloud, especially dialogue. Reading aloud is not the same as speaking naturally. However, it is very useful for exercising the vocal muscles. Practise for 5 or 10 minutes a day and you will begin to notice which sounds are difficult for you to produce. Find transcripts of natural dialogues, such as these here, and practise acting them with a friend, you will also learn common phrases which we use when speaking.

3. Sing along to English songs while you’re driving or in the shower. The lyrics to pop songs are often conversational so you can learn lots of common expressions by listening to them. Humans are also able to remember words when used together with music which is why it is difficult to remember poems but easy to remember the words to songs. Here are some songs to get started with.

4. Watch short video clips and pause and repeat what you hear. YouTube is an amazing resource for language learners and you probably already have your favourite clips. My advice is to watch short clips and really study them. With longer videos, you may find your attention wanders. The key to improving by watching videos is to really listen carefully and use the pause button to focus on sounds and words. Many YouTube videos now have captions.

5. Learn vowel and consonant sounds in English. The Phonemic chart is a list of the different vowel and consonant sounds in English. Learning how to make these sounds and then using them to pronounce words correctly will really help you speak English clearly. This is a great resource from the British Council.

6. Learn and identify schwa. What is schwa you might be asking? Well, it’s the most common sound in English. We use it all the time in words like ‘teacher’ and ‘around’.

7. Learn about weak and strong forms of common words. When you know about the ‘schwa’ sound, you will listen to native speakers in a different way. English is a stress-timed language which means that we use a combination of strong and weak forms of some words. For example, which words do we stress in the following sentence?

I want to go for a drink tonight.

How do native speakers pronounce to / for / a in the sentence? We use the schwa sound so it sounds like:

I wanna go ferra drink tenigh.

Learn how and when to use weak forms and your speaking will improve overnight. You will also learn to focus on stressed words when listening to fast, native-speaker English and you will finally be able to understand us!

8. Learn about word stress. When words have more than one syllable, we stress one or more of them. For example, the word intelligent has four syllables but which syllable do we stress?  Remember that the small vertical mark above the word identifies the stressed syllable: /ɪnˈtel.ɪ.dʒənt/

9. Learn about sentence stress. Sentence stress refers to the word or words we stress in a phrase of a sentence. When we stress a word, we help the listener understand what is important. If we stress the wrong word or don’t stress the key word, the listener may get confused or not realise what is important in the sentence. A few years ago, I enrolled in a gym. I was asked to attend an introductory class at ‘five to six‘. The Hungarian receptionist stressed the word ‘six‘ so I arrived at 5.55. She looked at me and told me that I was late and the class had nearly finished. She should have stressed ‘five‘ and ‘six‘ so would have understood that the class lasted for one hour and began at 5pm!

10. Identify fixed and semi-fixed phrases and practise them. Fixed phrases usually contain between 3 and 7 words and include items like:

to be honest

in a moment

on the other hand

A conversation is made of grammatical structures, vocabulary and fixed or semi-fixed phrases. In fact, to tell the truth , on the whole, most of the time, my friends and I , communicate with each other in a series of fixed and semi-fixed expressions.

Learn the communicative function of these phrases and practise how to pronounce them (remember weak forms, which words are stressed) and use them in your everyday conversation. Click here for a list of 1000 common phrases.

11. Learn about collocations. Words don’t like being alone. They prefer to hang out with their friends and, just like people, some words form close friendships and other never speak to each other.

Yellow doesn’t get on well with hair. Maybe yellow is jealous of blond because blond and hair are frequently seen out together having a great time. Yellow doesn’t understand why hair prefers blond because yellow and blond are so similar.

Listen carefully for common combinations of words. Short and small have similar meanings but people have short hair not small hair. High and tall are often not so different but people have high hopes but not tall hopes. Foxes are sly not devious. Hours can be happy but are never cheerful. Idiots are stupid but rarely silly.

12. Replace regular verbs with phrasal verbs. Many learners of English don’t understand why native speakers use so many phrasal verbs where there are normal verbs (usually with Latin roots) which have the same meaning. English was originally a Germanic language which imported lots of Latin vocabulary after the Norman conquest in the 11th century. Regardless of the historical factors, the fact is that native English speakers use lots and lots of phrasal verbs. If you want to understand us, then try to include them in your conversation. If you make a mistake, you’ll probably make us laugh but you are unlikely to confuse us as we can usually guess what you want to say from the context. Phrasal verbs are spatial and originally referred to movement so when you learn a new one, make physical movements while saying them to help you remember.

13. Learn short automatic responses. Many of our responses are automatic (Right, OK, no problem, alright, fine thanks, just a minute, you’re welcome, fine by me, let’s do it!, yup, no way! you’re joking, right?, Do I have to? etc.) Collect these short automatic responses and start using them.

14. Practise telling stories and using narrative tenses. Humans are designed to tell stories. We use the past simple, past continuous and past perfect for telling stories but when the listener is hooked (very interested), they feel like they are actually experiencing the story right now. So, we often use present tenses to make our stories more dramatic!

15. Learn when to pause for effect. Speaking quickly in English does not make you an effective English speaker. Knowing when to pause to give the listener time to think about what you have said, respond appropriately, and predict what you are going to say does. Imagine you’re an actor on a stage, pausing keeps people interested. Great strategy if you need to speak English in public.

16. Learn about chunking. Chunking means joining words together to make meaningful units. You don’t need to analyse every word to use a phrase. Look at the phrase: Nice to meet you. It’s a short phrase (4 words) which can be remembered as a single item. It is also an example of ellipsis (leaving words out) because the words ‘It’  and ‘is’ are missing at the beginning of the phrase. However, we don’t need to include them.  Learn more here.

17. Learn about typical pronunciation problems in your first language. Japanese learners find it difficult to identify and produce ‘r‘ and ‘l‘ sounds; Spanish don’t distinguish between ‘b‘ and ‘v‘; Germans often use a ‘v‘ sound when they should use a ‘w‘. Find out about the problems people who speak your first language have when speaking English and you will know what you need to focus on.

18. Choose an accent you like and imitate it. We often have an emotional connection with certain nationalities. Do you have more of an interest in British culture or American culture? Do you support Manchester United or Arsenal?  Deciding what variety of English you want to learn is your first step.

19. Find an actor/actress you like and identify what makes them powerful speakers. Do you want to sound like Barack Obama, Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock Homes) Beyonce or Steve Jobs? If you want to sound like David Beckham, I advise you to reconsider, unless you want to sound like a young girl!

20. Use a mirror and / or a sheet of paper for identifying aspirated and non-aspirated sounds. Aspirated sounds are those with a short burst of here, such as ‘p‘ in ‘pen, and unaspirated sounds have no or little air, such as the ‘b‘ in ‘Ben‘. Watch this video to learn more.

21. Practise tongue twisters. Tongue twisters are phrases designed to improve your pronunciation of particular sounds. Here is a list for kids but it’s great fun.  Have a go now.Try saying this phrase quickly:

What a terrible tongue twister. What a terrible tongue twister. What a terrible tongue twister.

22. Practise spelling names, numbers and dates aloud. This may seem very basic to some of you but if you don’t practise, you forget how to say them.Have a go here at numbers here and at place names here.

23. Learn about common intonation patterns. Intonation (when the pitch of the voice goes up and down) is complex in English but it is very important as it expresses the feeling or emotion of the speaker. Here is an amusing introduction to intonation.

24. Learn about places of articulation. The articulators are the parts of the mouth we use to turn sound into speech. They can be fixed parts (the teeth, behind the teeth and the roof of the mouth) and mobile parts (the tongue, the lips, the soft palate, and the jaw). Click here for more information.

25. After looking at places of articulation, practise making the movements that native speakers use when they speak. Here’s a video and remember to open the jaws, move the lips and get your tongue moving!

26. Learn why English is a stress-timed language. The rhythm of the language is based on stressed syllables so we shorten the unstressed syllables to fit the rhythm. Syllable-timed languages (such as Spanish) take the same time to pronounce each syllable. Here’s an explanation which might explain why you speak English like a robot or watch this funny clip here.

27. Learn how to interrupt and interject politely and successfully. Click here for a list of interrupting phrases.

28. Learn about ellipsis, assimilation and linking sounds.

29. Speak lower not higher. Studies show that you command attention and demonstrate authority with a deeper vocal tone, especially men. This is particularly important if you have to speak in public. Here is a quick guide.

30. Listen and read along to poetry (or rap songs) to practise the rhythm of English. Limericks (short, funny, rhyming poems) are really useful and demonstrate how English is stress-timed and how we use weak forms.

31. Learn exclamation words and fillers. Watch this video or study this list of 100 common exclamations here.

32. Learn how to paraphrase. Paraphrasing is when we repeat what we have just said to make it clear to the listener or when we repeat what the other person has said by using different words. Here are a few to get started.

33. Use contractions more. Contractions make your speech more efficient because they save time and energy. Say ‘should not’ and then say ‘shouldn’t’: which is easier to say? Very common in fluent speech.





Reference: Smart Learning Strategies

IELTS Academic – Australia April 2017

Listening testIELTS test in Australia

Section 1. A phone conversation regarding children’s camping trip.
Questions: filling in blanks.

Section 2. A map description of a park where a festival will be held. The talk instructed volunteers about various locations of festival facilities.
Questions: multiple choice, map labeling.

Section 3. Two lecturers discussed the topic of having a hands-on job training and benefits of a reflective journal.

Section 4. A presentation about the conservation of amphibians and toads.
Questions: filling in blanks, short-answer questions (no more than 1 word).


Reading test

Passage 1. About the childhood of Charles Dickens (English writer and novelist).
Questions: filling in blanks, True/False/Not Given.

Passage 2. About the research of facial expressions.
Questions: filling in blanks, match information to paragraphs, match various statements with different researchers.

Passage 3. About the extinction of a certain species of dinosaurs.
Questions: multiple choice, True/False/Not Given, table completion.


Writing test

Writing task 1 (a report)

We were given two bar charts showing modes of transport that people were using to travel to university and work in 2004 and 2009. We had to summarize the information.

Writing task 2 (an essay)

Consumers nowadays are faced with increased advertising from competitive companies. To what extent do you think consumers are influenced by these advertisements? What measures can be taken to tackle this issue?


Speaking test


– What is your full name?
– Can I see your ID?
– Where are you from?
– Do you work or study?
– What do you usually do at work?
– What kind of activities do you do at home?
– Are there any household tasks you do not like? Why?
– Did you study music when you were a child?
– Do you play any instruments now?
– Do you think it is easy to learn to play a new instrument?

Cue Card

Talk about a neighbour that you know well. Please say

– Who is he/she?
– How did you meet him/her?
– Do you like him/her? Why?


– Do you know other neighbours in your neighbourhood?
– What kind of people do you think are important for the neighbourhood?
– Do you think local businesses are important to the community?
– Do you have an example of a community becoming better or worse?
– What do you think about the impact of technology on the community?

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