Posts

Computer-delivered IELTS: totally worth it

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This post is an interview with Liubov Vlasova, who is my first student to have taken the computer-delivered IELTS. In this interview, she shares her impressions and the reasons behind her choice.
1 Tell my readers a bit about yourself. My name is Liubov Vlasova. I am an ecologist from Saint-Petersburg, Russia. Today I want to share my experience of taking computer-delivered IELTS, which happened on 7th of May.

A couple of months ago I took a very important decision to try to emigrate abroad. I think my professional area is very important today because our environment was totally destroyed the last years, and I hope one day I will do really useful and important job for improving the current situation. According to the media, in foreign countries environmental and particularly ecological engineering are very important and popular branches, which is why I decided to move abroad for achieving my professional and personal goals.
2 Why did you decide to take IELTS? Initially, I found out t…

Soft skills as a survival tool in the 21st century

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This is a guest post by my friend and colleague Vera Novikova. The post is inspired by Philip Warwick’s talk at the NATE conference in St Pete.
In this post I would like to share some concerns regarding future employability of millennia generation and a shifting role of an English teacher in particular.

Being a devoted sci-fi fan I have to admit that up until recently ideas of a fully automated world seemed rather futuristic and somewhat improbable. Up until recently… when I realized that certain sci-fi future elements have already been here for some time.

Most people have already turned into some sort of cyborgs, using their smartphones as an extra part of their body. We have been glued to the screen, scrolling down in social networks, streaming videos, exchanging photos and news, jotting down memos, video phoning, e-buying, reading e-books, blogging, plunging into virtual reality and what not. We have turned into digital residents leaving visible digital footprints whenever we po…

Five underestimated words on IELTS assessment criteria (and then some)

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IELTS assessment criteria, which are available on the official website, are drowning in myths and stereotypes. When interpreted unprofessionally, they get totally distorted. Some aspects get blown out of proportion and enter the popular consciousness, while others get totally neglected. In this post, I want to look at the ones that are usually overlooked, focusing on bands 7-9.

First things first, here are the links to the public version of the assessment criteria:
- Speaking;  - Writing Task 1; - Writing Task 2.  1. Skillfully
2. Naturally  Speaking. Lexical resource 8-9:  - uses less common and idiomatic vocabulary skillfully, with occasional inaccuracies (8);
- uses idiomatic language naturally and accurately (9).

For some reason people focus on “idiomatic” and totally ignore “skillfully/naturally.” This results in students memorizing insane lists of idioms and bending over backwards to use them. For one thing, vocabulary memorized without any context or real usage tends to go out t…

Living in a country whose language you don't speak

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This post is an interview with my awesome friend Petr Filippov who lives in Zurich, Switzerland, where he works for Google. He is fluent in English, but doesn't speak a word of German. In this interview he talks about living in a country whose language he doesn't speak.

This is my second interview with Petr. Follow this link to read our first interview in which he talks about his experience of living in Ireland and gives advice on learning English.

1 Tell my readers a bit about yourself. I am software engineer from Russia. I moved to Ireland about 3 years ago, when got a job in Microsoft. Ireland is nice place to live, but when I decided to change my job, it turned out that Google doesn't have SWE vacancies in Dublin, so I had to move. Finally I moved to Zurich at the beginning of December 2018.
2 Were you nervous about moving to a German-speaking country? Not so much, but I considered it as a disadvantage when had thoughts about the step. I am not extrovert, and living …

Insights into the Fulbright FLTA application process

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The competition for the Fulbright FLTA program is currently in progress. As a proud participant, I’ve written extensively about my experience (see the links at the end of the post). But I realized that one important piece of the puzzle was missing, so I decided to add that piece. In this post, I want to describe what happens before the program starts and give some recommendations on what to do along the way.

Disclaimer: This post is based on my Fulbright FLTA experience (2015-16). I suspect the process is more or less the same every year, but please always check everything with official sources and program officers.
Application So the competition has been announced. The deadline is on 1 June. It might look like plenty of time, but if there is one single most important tip I can give it is: start preparing now.

The first step is writing essays. I wrote three:
Objectives and motivations (1274 words);
Sharing your culture (924 words);
Teaching language of nomination (463 words).

My firs…

Why I love my yoga teacher

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Teachers are the worst students. They judge, question, and find faults. Whenever I'm taught, I do too. I'm also choosy and I have high standards. It's hard to win me over as a student. Not impossible though. In this post, I want to share why I like my yoga teacher.
1. Her class is one continuous flow. The class is one long uninterrupted exercise. She always knows what to do next. I take it as a sign of confidence and experience. The reason I value it is it allows me to stay fully focused for 90 minutes.
2. The exercises are in the right order. I actually don’t know the right order, but even to me the order makes sense. There is always a warm-up and a cool-down. Some exercises are meant to prepare us for other, more complicated exercises later in class. The difficulty of exercises grows gradually. This is how any learning works. This is also the reason the class is easy to survive.
3. Her instructions are clear and meticulous. Instructions in yoga are particularly vital …

Use it or lose it. On forgetting vocabulary.

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Tell me if it sounds familiar: “There must be something wrong with me. I must have Alzheimer's. I forget vocabulary!” I hear something like that on a regular basis. Unfortunately, vocabulary is not learnt once and for all. It’s normal to forget it. In this post, I want to talk about how not to. The post is aimed at high level learners whose vocabulary is large, but they feel like they are losing it.

My strong recommendation is: always assume you might forget any vocabulary at any time. With this in mind, take the steps below to prevent vocabulary loss.
Part 1. Lay the groundwork. Step 1. Record the word. Write it down in your notebook or on an old receipt. Type it. Repeat the word out loud five times. Record the word in some form. If you don’t, consider it gone.
Step 2. Explore the word. A. When I said, “Record the word,” I actually meant, “Record the whole phrase or sentence that the word was used in.” The words around your target word will help you recall it when you need it.