IELTS Listening – Get the most out of Ted Ed

In an earlier post, I talked about watching Ted Ed videos to improve your listening skills and boost your vocabulary at the same time. I’ll try to post an interesting Ted Ed video every week – something related to the IELTS topic list.

To get the most out of these videos, I recommend the following:

1. Go to

2. In the top right corner, you will see a Register button. Click on this and register for the website. You don’t have to do this, but it’s useful to log in and save your favorite videos and answers on the site for future reference. Note that you can use your facebook account to login.

3. Choose a video you want to watch. I’ll be posting a video every week which will be useful from the IELTS point of view.

4. Before you start watching the video, click on ‘Think” in the right margin next to the video. (more…)

IELTS – What should you listen to?

The IELTS Listening exam is the biggest enemy for many students. Students complain that they only get to listen to the recording once, or the various accents used are different from their teacher’s accent, or the speakers speak too fast, or that the vocabulary used in the IELTS exams is too difficult.

Really, the only way to develop your listening skills is to think about how you listen in real life, in your language.

  • Do you listen to anything more than once? How many times do your friends or family repeat the same conversation for you? How many times do you listen to a dialogue on TV? Only once. 
  • Do you listen to a variety of acccents? Accents differ not just from country to country but from region to region in every country. Vietnamese spoken in Saigon is different from Vietnamese spoken in Hanoi. Arabic spoken in Jeddah is slightly different from Arabic spoken in Riyadh. Russian in Moscow is different from that spoken in St. Petersburg. Even the English spoken in London is different from that in Scotland.
  • Do you listen to varying speeds of speech? Do your friends speaking in a cafe speak at the same speed as a news reader on TV?
  • Do you listen to people using different kinds of vocabulary? Taking the above example again, do friends talking about the weather use the same words as a weatherman on TV?


Developing Vocabulary for IELTS

OK. So you know that vocabulary is important for IELTS. But really, did you know it is THE most important factor in increasing your band score? So what do I mean by vocabulary? Good vocabulary does not mean big words. In fact, quite the opposite. Having a good vocabulary means using:

  • Collocations e.g. bar of soap, utterly stupid etc.
  • Common phrasal verbs e.g. ask around, break down etc.
  • Fixed and semi-fixed expressions eg. little did I know, all of a sudden
  • Less commonly used words and phrases e.g. interpersonal skills, broaden my horizons, human existence

So how does one go about developing a good vocabulary that can enable you to get a better band score? Here’s what I tell my students: (more…)

CELTA Assignment 3: The story

The third assignment we did during CELTA was also fun. We had the choice of doing the assignment on either Reading Skills or Listening Skills. Since we also needed to reproduce the materials for the assignment, everyone obviously chose to do it on Reading Skills. Much easier to just copy, paste text from somewhere than get listening material. I wonder why they even give us a choice.. haha!

We also had the choice of picking reading material straight from the book or choosing an authentic text (text that has actually been published – online or on paper – and not been graded to the reading level of the ESL students). I definitely wanted to an authentic text.. I was bored to death with the awfully boring stuff in the ESL textbooks, and I thought students must find authentic texts more interesting, even though it can be more challenging and may contain words they haven’t come across. (more…)