In this podcast I chat with Jong from , and he shares some advice for the speaking exam. From this interview you will learn a few strategies for the exam and hear a couple of funny stories too. Enjoy!
You’re now listening to the IELTS Podcast.
Hello there, podcast listeners. In this episode we’re going to speak to Jong who’s an IELTS instructor from the Philippines. I found him online and he’s going to share some awesome advice about the IELTS test.
Ben: So hello there, Jong. How are you today?
Jong: Hi Ben. Nice to meet you. Thank you for this opportunity.
Ben: Oh, you’re welcome, mate. You’re welcome. Right then. So Jong, could you tell us a bit about yourself please? How long have you been teaching? And how do you usually teach? Online, or in an academy, or whatever?
Jong: Alright. I have been teaching for about three years now. More than three years actually. I started when I was… No, I started last 2012… Oh no, that was 2011. I started in iTalki in 2012. So at first I started teaching Asian students. Mostly Japanese, Chinese, Koreans, and then when I got the opportunity to teach like European people, it’s via iTalki.
Ben: Right. I see. And do you have like a special techniques or tips that you tell the students when you start teaching them? Can you give any exercises for students to do?
Jong: Yeah, of course. Basically part one of our IELTS is usually personal questions. For some of the students it’s easy for them. It’s very personal. So it’s like okay, I do not really focus more on part one. I focus more on part two and part three. But time to time I go to part one.
Part two, I usually give them a lot of questions. A lot. Like “Okay, I’ll give you one minute to prepare, I’ll give you two minutes to talk.” And then after that we will go to part three which is follow up questions.
Ben: Right. I see. And that’s how you would prepare them? Just question after question after question? Just non-stop?
Jong: Yeah. Exactly. And of course you need to correct their answers.
Ben: Yes. Yes. Is that a technique you would use for improving their level? Do you give them any phrases or any methodologies for part two or part three?
Jong: Of course. First, you need to tell like the introduction. And you need to give at least three examples with the answer. And after that you need to come up.
Ben: For part two?
Jong: Yes. Exactly. So if this is your topic, you need to talk about that. Give at least three examples and then come up with a solution. Or something like come up with your final answer.
Ben: Yeah. Like a concluding sentence, also. Just to round off the talk and signal to the examiner that your speech or your mini-presentation has ended.
Jong: It’s like a wrap-up of everything. Right?
Ben: Exactly. For part three. How do you push the students on that? Do you have a methodology for improving the level when they’re answering part three questions?
Jong: Usually part three are… This is intense. So usually it’s about the topic on part two but it’s way more beyond that. So you need to think about it. Right? So part three I usually… It’s like… Part three is difficult for them because some of them, they cram when it comes to time, and they really think and there’s a lot of dead air. So I told them “If you didn’t hear the question, if you didn’t understand the question, do not just answer the questions immediately.” Just try to think. Think a lot or … what do you call…
But do not try to… like there’s no dead air. Just if the question is being given to you, just try to think as fast as you can. And if you cannot answer the question just ask “I’m sorry, can you rephrase the question?” “I’m sorry, can you repeat it?” Something like that.
Ben: And also, doing that, they can gain a little bit of extra time just to think of an answer. And I just thought now that if you’re in the exam, and the examiner gives you a question, you’re not entirely sure what to say, you can just ask him to rephrase it again just to buy a few more seconds. Even though you understood it but you could just get a few more seconds just so you could compose your answer and answer in a more organized way. You’ve had more time to prepare for it.
Jong: To give them a concrete answer.
Ben: Yes. Yes. Absolutely. Yeah. Just to help you come to gain your opinion or formulate your answer.
Jong: But I told them “Just please do not answer anything.” Just answer with fence, right?
Jong: So if you like try to make them rephrase the question so can think more.
Ben: Exactly. Exactly. Yes. That’s a good point. How would you help your student if they were really nervous going to the exam?
Jong: Some of the students, yeah, they’re nervous because it’s time pressured. Right? There’s time. So I told them “Do not think about the time. I want you to just keep on talking and talking.” But some of them, they really do not finish the two minutes when it comes to part two. That’s really a problem for some of the students.
So I motivate them. Like “Oh, that’s good!” So you need to tell them that it’s good. And then I told them “That’s good but it’s not enough. So I want you to study this topic and we will have this topic in our next lesson.”
Ben: I see.
Jong: But I tell them “Do not memorize answers. That is really not good.” I really don’t like them… like while they’re answering they’re just like looking up there, remembering what they have memorized. Uggh! That’s terrible. So I told them “Do not memorize.”
Ben: I mean there was one tutor a few episodes ago. And he recommended just memorizing just two or three little small phrases. They’re kind of like universal but just mini confidence boosters that you can use. Sort of like just finishing Task Jong: with “… and that’s a little story about my (insert topic of Task Jong: ).” “That’s a little story,” or “that’s my presentation about my favorite childhood friend,” or “that’s a little story about a building in my city,” or whatever.
I think memorizing those kinds of things is okay. Just small mini phrases.
Jong: Yeah, that’s fine. That’s okay.
Ben: Yeah. But I know what you mean when the student memorizes a whole answer.
Jong: They memorize the whole answer and then just try to just change the words there. Just to put the correct answers. Like “No, please. Do not memorize answers.”
Ben: I like your idea as well of giving them a topic in advance, just so they can fully prepare for it. Because I think that is a very good way to improve confidence. Because if you’ve prepared for about ten different topics, and you’ve gone online and you’ve had a look at the possible speaking cards, and you’ve prepared with a friend, they don’t even have to be a native speaker or even a tutor, but you can just talk with a friend.
Or even just do some research online and get that vocabulary and get accustomed to it, find out how it’s pronounced, and then you can start incorporating it in your topics.
Jong: Exactly. I have like about ten pages of pure questions for part two of my own. So I give it to them.
Ben: That reminds me of actually one technique I used to use to help prepare students. I would have a massive list of questions and I would just go through it. And it was just endless. It was just endless. And I used it as a warm up technique.
Jong: Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam!
Ben: Just like rapid. And yeah, some of the students would be sweating afterwards and I would just be walking around. But yeah, it’s definitely a good technique. Do you have any other advice regarding other topics? Maybe the reading, the writing, or the listening.
Jong: Okay. When it comes to listening I want them to listen to this podcast. Yeah. I encourage them. Because sometimes I just send them… what do you call this one… the CD or the file, and just hear this one and just answer. But we would kill a lot of time. I do not like that. So basically I read or I tell them “I want you to really listen to podcasts. That is really important for listening.”
Ben: Listen as much as possible. Listen as much as possible. Twenty-four-seven. When you’re having breakfast, when they’re waiting for the bus, when they’re… gym.
Jong: Yeah. When they’re in the subway, listen. And I told them “I want you to record this class and listen to this when you’re on the subway, or when you’re like walking or when you’re out and riding your bike.” Something like that. “Or when you’re in your car, listen to this.”
Ben: Yes, definitely. And that just reminded me of one thing. Like for the students. I get in their essay corrected like with a screen capture video. I think it would be wise as well for them to get the mp3 from the video with mp3tovid.com or something like that. Just put in the link and they can get the mp3 from it. Fill up the phone and then they can listen to what they wrote and then the correct way to say it. And I think listening to it a few times will help the student absorb the actual information. But yeah that’s just… I just want to tip that out. Just thought of…
Jong: Oh. Okay then.
Ben: Okay, Jong. We’re coming to an end of the interview. If there were any student who would want a class with you, how should they do it? How can they get in contact with you?
Jong: You can book a lesson on iTalki.
Ben: Okay then. Well, I’ll put up your email and the iTalki link. And iTalki, by the way, is a platform where you can find online teachers, you can read their evaluations, you can see how they teach. And this is how I found Jong.
Okay then. Thank you very much for that. Do you have any final last words?
Jong: Oh, thank you, Ben. Thank you for this opportunity. And for those future students who are listening, thank you so much. I hope you can book a class. Just read. There’s the link. I hope you can read some of the comments of the students, and then yeah, I’ll see you soon guys.