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C2 Proficiency. Writing Part 2. Article. Ireland.

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I am now preparing for the C2 Proficiency test (fka CPE) and writing like crazy. I know most people get the lowest score for the writing component of English exams (find out why here), which is not something I want to happen to me, so I write. In this post, I want to share my Writing Part 2 article about being close to nature.

Task: 
A magazine is running a series of articles on people’s experiences of being close to nature, for example, visits to beautiful lakes and mountains, or encounters with wildlife. You decide to write an article in which you briefly describe an experience you have had when you were close to nature, and explain what you learned from this. You should also evaluate the role that contact with nature plays in people’s lives. (Cambridge English Proficiency 2, Test 1, Question 4).
My answer: Out of all the countries I have visited, Ireland stands out. Nowhere have I seen such scenic and serene places so close to city life. The country is literally lined with spectacula…

8 more common mistakes Russian learners make. Third post is the charm.

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This is now my third post about common mistakes Russian learners make in English, so I’ll get straight to the point.

1 Actual problem
All these mistakes are actually a serious problem. They travel from generation to generation of learners and are rooted so deeply in their minds that they are almost impossible to weed out. ‘Actual’ means real, not imaginary, existing in fact; it does not mean актуальный (=currently important). The adjectives you can use with problem include but are not limited to: serious, growing, major, pressing, and urgent.

2 Big number
A large number of mistakes have their roots in translation. Sadly, a large number of people keep learning English through translation even at high levels, so the mistakes persist. A large number of learners pin their hopes on explanations. However, a large number of times explanations are of little help. A large number of repetitions of the correct version is what really helps.

(More about the intricacies of number in this great Lo…

The challenges of teaching software developers

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Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely love teaching software developers. They are smart, kind, and have a great sense of humor. But there are certain challenges to teaching them. In this post, I want to talk about these challenges and provide some ways of dealing with them.
1. Their English level is a mess. Level placement is a challenge. There is usually a huge discrepancy between their productive (e.g. speaking) and receptive (e.g. reading) skills. If you choose an Intermediate coursebook, you may soon start doubting your choice because even though the grammar is a perfect match, the reading/listening materials are too simple and uninspiring.

This issue can be fixed by substituting or supplementing the materials in the book with the articles/videos in the original.
2. They are extremely smart. I mean, extraordinarily smart, which can play both ways. On the one hand, you don’t need to explain things too much. All they need is a concise and precise explanation. On the other hand, due to…

An interview with a Russian software engineer working in Ireland

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This post is an interview with my awesome friend Petr Filippov, who lives and works in Ireland. He talks about his experience of living in an English-speaking country and gives some tips on learning English.
1 Tell my readers a bit about yourself. I am software engineer. About two years ago I moved to Ireland from St Petersburg when got an offer from Microsoft.
2 Do you like living in Ireland? Yes, I do. It became better after I started to explore it - travel around my home area and to the other parts of Ireland, started to pay more attention to the things around me and enjoy the nature, like Dublin mountain which is just behind my house.

But there are a lot of things that might annoy you first time. Left side driving, housing problems and long term rent contracts. The rent prices itself - I was really surprised when realized that it will cost about half of my monthly salary to rent an apartment here.
3 Tell my readers about your background in learning English. I studied English in sc…

Assess my C2 Proficiency essay. Please.

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I’ve always been curious to find out one thing. If a person has excellent English, can they write an excellent exam essay based on the instructions only, without any preparation? They should be able to, right?

I’ve decided to do an experiment on myself. My IELTS score is 9. I am toying with the idea of taking C2 Proficiency (formerly known as CPE). I have written a Part 1 essay based on the instructions only, without reading any tips, explanations, or model answers. In this post, I want to share my essay, and I am inviting everyone to assess it.

Here is the task (taken from the official website):

Part 1 Read the two texts below.
Write an essay summarising and evaluating the key points from both texts. Use your own words
throughout as far as possible, and include your own ideas in your answers.
Write your answer in 240 – 280 words.

The Excitement of Advertising Outdoor advertising has to attract, engage and persuade potential customers; it is the most important way of grabbing custom…

8 professional growth ideas for English teachers

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In June, I attended and was a speaker at a summer school in St Pete organized by Живой Английский. I talked about professional growth ideas for English teachers. In this post, I want to summarize my speech and give some useful links. If you are a learner, don’t stop reading - some ideas suit you too!
1. Language exams: IELTS, TOEFL, C1 Advanced / C2 Proficiency I am one of those teachers who take international exams on a regular basis. Taking international exams is a great way to grow for several reasons.

First, you get an objective assessment of your language level. Sadly, our level is not always as high as we think it is, and some skills might be lacking. Language exams paint a clear picture. If you are aware of your weaknesses, exams are a good improvement tool because they force you to work towards a measurable, time-bound goal. Even if your English is impeccable, exam preparation is still useful because it never hurts to brush up on your skills.

Last but not least, you can expa…

“Introduction to public speaking” I designed and taught

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Always do what you are afraid to do. Ralph Waldo Emerson
Like most people, I am afraid of public speaking. I don’t know about most people, but my fear caused me to take public speaking courses. I took one online at edx.org and two at University of New Haven as part of my Fulbright FLTA program. Inspired by the courses I have taken, I designed and taught my own "Introduction to public speaking" course. In this post, I want to describe my course and share three incredible speeches made by my students.

The participants of the course were nine brave advanced learners of English. The course consisted of 6 classes meeting weekly from 17 March to 21 April. The participants had to make a speech each class. All the speeches had to be prepared at home.
Class 1. Introductory speech. This speech was self-explanatory - people had to introduce themselves. My main goal was to let people get the taste of speaking in front of an audience. I also wanted them to meet each other. The particip…