Thursday, May 31, 2018

IELTS Speaking: Part 1 Sample Questions (List 1)

http://argutelegacy.blogspot.com/search/label/IELTS
As mentioned in my previous blog post concerning the Speaking component of the IELTS, the first part of the oral exam consists of general questions about you, your work or studies, your free time activities, family, home and neighborhood, and the like.

This post lists a number of typical questions that could land at your feet on the day you present yourself before the examiner. 

Don't panic, don't mumble, don't have prepared answers memorized. Just reply honestly having thought about what your answer should include (so memorize key words if you like, but not complete sentences) and also answer at length. Remember, the more you make the examiner work, the lower your grade. Show you can speak fluently and can express your thoughts clearly.

Here is a first list of different questions you could be faced with:

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

IELTS Speaking: The Basics

In my 20 or so years of teaching, I've come to the conclusion that the IELTS Speaking component is the most innocuous part of the test. Other English-language examinations last longer, have more complicated tasks which need to be fulfilled, include two candidates who are assessed simultaneously and involve other factors that could create more stressful conditions for candidates. The IELTS is straightforward -- which means there's a catch. 

The proof lies in the following case: I had one particular student whose parents (one of them, to be more precise) was a native speaker of English. This student, a girl, had been brought up in a foreign country where English was taught as a secondary language in schools, but who spoke English at home with her native English-speaking parent. She was, in effect, bilingual even though there were sporadic errors in more advanced grammatical structures and, as is natural, gaps in more advanced vocabulary. However, her pronunciation was impeccable and she was fluent. In other words, she could effectively communicate in English. With these qualifications, one would expect her to get at least an 8.0. I believe her score was a 7.0 or 7.5.

Which brings me to the point I want to make:

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

James Joyce - Eveline (Overview)

https://argutelegacy.blogspot.com/2018/05/joyce-eveline.html
You hear "Joyce" and something in you cringes or ruptures or you sense retroperistalsis in its inception. You've had a horrendous experience reading Ulysses and would rather not pick up another Joyce novel in your life. 

Well, "Eveline", thank God, is not Ulysses. It is a short story, to begin with, meaning that whatever torture Joyce would have us experience, it was intended to be a short one. It is a 'normal' short story, to continue, meaning that it follows in the vein of the other outstanding stories found in Dubliners

Critics have demoted this collection of short stories in that they have characterized it as simplistic, ignoring the fact that simplicity is not always as simple as it seems. Spelling the word "cat" for instance is simple if we are to compare it to the word "gneissoid", but the cognitive processes involved in spelling "cat" are no less complicated than those employed by the brain to transfer stimuli from one neuron to the next in the spelling of any other word. 

Besides, the simplicity of an object hides depth that often astounds anyone who explores meaning.

"Eveline" is such a simple story, if we consider the word "simple" an apt term for Joyce's depiction of the inner workings of a woman's mind cradled and raised in the arms of early 20th century Irish society. It is the story akin to Kate Chopin's "The Story of an Hour" in which a lifetime of incidents are intimated at within a few paragraphs. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Grammar: Used to, Be Used to, Get Used to

Please read the first two paragraphs from Grammar: The Subjunctive by way of introduction to this series of blog posts regarding grammar.


Isn't it nice when a language has a grammatical unit that's easy and straightforward to understand? This is the case with these three commonly confused phrases (making one wonder why they are commonly confused among ESL learners to start with).

Monday, May 14, 2018

Grammar: Inversion

Please read the first two paragraphs from Grammar: The Subjunctive by way of introduction to this series of blog posts regarding grammar.




Inversion is yet another grammatical construction that shows a more advanced knowledge of the English language. It usually appears in grammar textbooks the year before and during which a candidate is set to sit a B2-level examination (IELTS 5.5-6.5, FCE, ECCE, MSU-CELC, ESB, LRN) but more often than not is not very well grasped by students, making it a rarely tested item at this level. 

If candidates are likely to encounter a single question which tests inversion on a B2 test, meaning that they are not expected to have mastered it, they are most certainly expected to have learnt it well enough at C2 level to not only recognize it in a sentence, but use it as well in both the oral component of the test and as part of any writing task they are required to produce.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Frank O’Connor – My Oedipus Complex (Overview & Questions)

https://argutelegacy.blogspot.com/2018/05/my-oedipus-complex.html
Relationships between parents and their children are never easy. All families have their ups and downs, their moments of crisis, periods of serenity, intervals of strife and discord. Children's development sees to it that nothing remains static for too long.

In My Oedipus Complex, O'Connor portrays precisely such a moment in a child's life when awareness grows and the canvas of life begins to acquire dabs of disappointment. Poor Larry realizes he has a father and a baby brother to contend with. 

Unlike what one might expect from a coming-of-age tale, the maturity of the story is not found in its characters but in O'Connor's ability to leave aside his traumatic childhood and focus on a constructive message. He could have easily depicted the father as the drunk in his life who couldn't keep a job but was supported by a wife who cleaned houses so the family would not starve. He could have idolized the mother or fashioned her after his own, suffering in silence from chronic appendicitis for many years but never seeking medical help for lack of money. Instead, he limited her to being a soothing, practical, no-nonsense woman. As for the father, we cannot but remark a certain resemblance to our own fathers, to an uncle, or a grandfather, in other words a run-of-the-mill adult male who grumbles, is often away from home, leaves child-rearing mostly to the mother, and doesn't feel the need to ingratiate himself with his son.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Grammar: The Subjunctive

You'll find all types of explanations of the subjunctive in books and on websites that have probably more erudite scholars working on grammatical issues than I, however, I tend to simplify grammar to its lowest common denominator so that students don't decide to power off the minute they hear me say the word "grammar" during a lesson. 

So if it's scholarly, linguistic, super duper comprehensive explanations you're after, please refer to other sites that champion top-notch academics who will tackle grammatical structures the way they're meant to be tackled. As for me, I'm here to teach the basics so that if you're trying to learn grammar to pass an English examination or basically to understand what a grammatical phenomenon is, how it's used and when it's used, you can do so without too many gaps in understanding.

The subjunctive is a grammatical structure (to be more precise it is a mood, not a tense) which denotes more advanced familiarity with the English language when used. It is not surprising that if someone is preparing to take a C2 exam to prove their level of English (for instance IELTS, CPE, CELP, ECPE, ESB, LRN), teachers will stress this grammatical concept and encourage candidates to use it selectively in writing and speaking. 

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Victoria Hislop - The Thread (Plot Summary) Part 1

http://argutelegacy.blogspot.com/2018/05/hislop-thread-plot-part1.html
Victoria Hislop's novel The Thread is a book that combines fiction with early, mid and late 20th century Balkan history in a fast-paced narrative that tells the story of a changing city through the experiences of its protagonists. 

By User:MWD - english wikipedia, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6885987
It is the story of Thessaloniki, Greece's second largest city, a pivotal harbor that has experienced war, migrant influx, grandeur during the Byzantine era, sacking and slavery for 482 years under Ottoman occupation. All this is not mentioned in the novel which touches upon modern times, from the Great Fire that raged for 32 hours and ravaged 32% of the city in 1917 to the great earthquake of 1978, the magnitude of which was felt in nearby Yugoslavia and Bulgaria. 


It is also the story of Dimitris Komninos and Katerina Sarafoglou, how fate brought them together, to grow up on the same street though their backgrounds demanded they stay clear of one another. It is the tale of how Dimitris fought for his ideals in a politically unstable country before, during and after German occupation, and how Katerina toiled to make a living for herself and the woman who took her in as one of her own when the 5-year-old was temporarily left in her care aboard a ship leaving Smyrna in the midst of Turkish atrocities as Ottoman troops took over the city and subsequently torched it

  By Unknown - http://www.greece.org/genocide/quotes/q-he-smyrna-vict-families.html, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6337927

The caption states "Photo of the American Red Cross, monstrosities from the tragedy of Smyrna" while the French title on the top of the page translates to "Turkish atrocities Smyrna 1922"

Saturday, May 5, 2018

C2 Sample Essay 20 (Internet Research in Education)


Writing at C2 level (Proficient User) on English language examinations is the same no matter the awarding body when it comes to writing essays. If you are a candidate giving an exam in English, make sure you read my earlier post What do I do with the sample writing found on this blog? to get the most out of the sample essays provided on this blog. 

If you are not taking an exam but need ideas on whether the internet is dumbing students down or enriching their learning experience, then read on and note down what you deem useful. If you intend on using this essay as part of an assignment, remember to paraphrase so as not to plagiarize.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Nadine Gordimer - An Intruder (Overview)

https://argutelegacy.blogspot.com/2018/05/gordimer-intruder.html
The short story An Intruder was incorporated in Nadine Gordimer's short story collection Livingston's Companions, published in 1970. As such, it must be read and viewed through the prism of her somewhat earlier works which dealt with South African society's inequality and the problems arising from the diseased status quo of the times.

An Intruder focuses on relationships between characters and how perceptions of a situation differ in the eyes of each individual based on a combination of nature and nurture, or at the very least that is what Gordimer would have the reader gauge. What made James Seago what he is? Why is Mrs Clegg, Marie's mother, such a typical depthless wishful socialite with an exaggerated respect for higher social status? Couldn't Marie judge the merit of the man who treats her like a child or is she turning a blind eye to his behavior because it suits her? Whatever the answers to these questions, the one certainty we have is that the notion of love is nowhere to be found in this story even though the central relationship examined is one that ought to be based on love.

The splendor of the story lies in the nuanced characterization, typical of Gordimer's writing, which leads to an enigmatic end (a full 3,330-word interpretation of which can be found here).

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Job Interview Questions 5

Before you work on these questions, read Job Interview Questions: How to Prepare 

This is the fifth set of questions. Work through each question carefully. The space provided between questions is there so you can note down what you think you should include in your answer.


Job Interview Questions 4

Before you work on these questions, read Job Interview Questions: How to Prepare 

This is the fourth set of questions. Work through each question carefully. The space provided between questions is there so you can note down what you think you should include in your answer.


Job Interview Questions 3

Before you work on these questions, read Job Interview Questions: How to Prepare 

This is the third set of questions. Work through each question carefully. The space provided between questions is there so you can note down what you think you should include in your answer.

Job Interview Questions 2

Before you work on these questions, read Job Interview Questions: How to Prepare 

This is the second set of questions. Work through each question carefully. The space provided between questions is there so you can note down what you think you should include in your answer.

Job Interview Questions 1

Before you work on these questions, read Job Interview Questions: How to Prepare 

This is the first set of questions. Work through each question carefully. The space provided between questions is there so you can note down what you think you should include in your answer. 

Once you go over the whole list on this page, practice answering once more after you have studied your notes. 

If you are satisfied with your answers, move on to the next set of questions here.  

Job Interview Questions: How to Prepare

Applying for a job in any field either for the first time or the umpteenth time is always nerve-wracking. Stepping inside that office, with that assessor sitting across a desk or waiting comfortably in an armchair while you've been on tenterhooks since the call was made to appear for the interview, is a crucial moment for any applicant and like any other crucial moment, preparation is required to make those tenterhooks seem less painful.

Preparing

Getting ready for a job interview means four things:

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