Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Top Tips for Speaking Examinations: Two-Sided Opinion Questions

Exams which test your knowledge of the English language test oral competency in their majority. The topics on which the questions are based are numerous, so it is much more difficult to predict what candidates will be confronted with on the day of the test.

However, no matter the level of the test, the awarding body or the format of the oral examination, what can be predicted is the type of question that will be asked. 

In this blog post, I will deal with what I call two-sided opinion questions and the steps candidates can follow to tackle them effectively and achieve a better score than if they had no idea what to expect before entering the exam room.

Examples will follow for clarification, naturally.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

C2 Sample Essay 22 (Women's status)

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 the causes that have led to the change in women's status over the years, then read on and note down what you deem useful. If you intend to use this essay as part of an assignment, remember to paraphrase so as not to plagiarize.

Monday, October 22, 2018

10 More IELTS Cue Card Questions (part 4)

Please note that the following questions are not only for those sitting the IELTS examination. Teachers, students or anyone who wants to improve their spoken English can use them to practice speaking.

All you have to do is practice with a tutor or speaking partner, or even by yourself. Use a stopwatch to time your answers -- a reasonable answer should last 2-5 minutes. 

For IELTS test takers, this is the fourth list of cue card questions, so if you haven't seen the previous lists, you can find them here (part 1), here (part 2) and here (part 3). Remember to limit your answers to 2 minutes.

IELTS candidates should also read the tips for Part 2 of the Speaking section here:IELTS Speaking: Part 2 Sample Questions (List 1) & Tips.

Kate Chopin - A Pair of Silk Stockings (Overview - Part 2)

Before reading this post, if you haven't already done so, please read the first part here. It has a very brief note on the story's author, covers the plot, characters and setting.

You can find the story itself here.

This second part will deal with point of view, themes, symbolism, irony, the story's title, and will try to give some explanations as to the reasons why Mrs. Sommers gave in to temptation.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Kate Chopin - A Pair of Silk Stockings (text)

An analysis of Kate Chopin's short story "A Pair of Silk Stockings" can be found here.

Kate Chopin - A Pair of Silk Stockings (Overview - Part 1)

If I were to say that the typical love triangle is substituted for a different one in the opening paragraph of Kate Chopin's "A Pair of Silk Stockings", few students would believe this is possible. In fact, when students give me feedback on this short story, it usually is negative, not because they didn't get it -- it's written plainly enough -- but because there's nothing going on in it, as they say.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, this is a symptom of the disease rampant in the 21st century called 'boxofficematerialitis', an epidemic conjoined with 'keeptheirinterestbyusingquicksuccessionofimagesitis', which has given rise to what has been conveniently labelled attention deficit disorder. The fact of the matter is that if there's no real action, that is, action which contains a number of spectacular car chases, shoot-'em-up scenes, explosions, or dirty underhanded scheming (that results in one or all of the aforementioned chases, scenes and explosions), then a story is simply bland.

Chopin's story, unfortunately, is just that. It's not invested with anything out of the ordinary to qualify as lively. There's no flagrant conflict between two people. The main character, Mrs. Sommers, doesn't seem to be shunned by all, oppressed by a totalitarian government, abused by a brute of a husband, worked to the bone by an overbearing supervisor. 

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Job Application Videos - A Checklist

Take a look at the post Job Application Videos - The Basics before reading this checklist, otherwise it won't make any sense.

Simply copy-paste and print this onto a sheet of paper so you can get your thoughts down and check off the items on the list as you prepare your video.

Teachers who are planning to carry out the whole activity with younger students, have something they can give them to work with as they prepare their videos. 

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Job Application Videos - The Basics

More and more companies are requiring job applicants to send in a video of themselves as a precursor to an interview. What this means is that whether or not you get that precious invitation to appear for an interview depends on the effect the video you send will have on those in charge of the hiring process. 

Another key fact to keep in mind is that although the video might also be complementary to an applicant's CV, there are times when it is the only piece of evidence firms will ask to see, meaning that you will have to condense education, experience, achievements and personal interests into a short minute or minute and a half audiovisual commodity.

Many are at a loss about where to start or what to cover in their application videos as soon as they discover that a prospective employer requires one to be sent, which is why the following post was drafted. In it, applicants can focus on 

a) the factors that a video brings into play that CVs do not

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Eve Merriam - Willow and Ginkgo (Overview)

This poem is a classic. It is taught in English-speaking schools to demonstrate how similes work in favor of descriptions and students are often assigned to write their own poem which should include a number of similes. This is an activity I heartily applaud as it introduces poetry to a younger audience, enabling every imaginative dreamer to experiment with novel ways to express their creativity and inner world.

Merriam's gift is to balance her thoughts perfectly as she weaves her argument, sweeping us with her objective and inventive comparisons, making us think this is a neutral, matter-of-fact exposition of two trees, then hitting us with an emotional viewpoint to draw the matter to a close.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Ray Bradbury - The Utterly Perfect Murder (Overview)

Murder will out. It always will.

Well, not quite in the way we anticipate it will in this story by Ray Bradbury. 

Taught in schools at a somewhat earlier age than expected, it is a tale of revenge, self-loathing and reconciliation you'd bank on adults to fathom to its fullest extent. However, it's never to early to make young adults aware that their actions tempt fate, and fate is never kind to those who snub it.

When a 48-year-old man comes up with the insane idea on his birthday to return to his hometown and kill his so-called friend of 36 years ago, you expect the short narrative that ensues to be insanely interesting. 

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