Giang jumped from 5 to 7 in the listening, in 1 MONTH!
Listen to her BAND 9 READING TIPS
Learn how she got ideas for writing topics.
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Wow, that’s really good. That’s really good. Well done. Well done, Giang.
Maybe because I smiled but not too much.
Yeah. Well if you were friendly with the examiner, it sounds like she was very friendly with you as well and gave you a 7.5 for your smile.
You are now listening to the IELTS Podcast.
Giang: I’m a student but now I’m a trainee in Melbourne.
Ben: In Melbourne?
Giang: Now I’m a trainee in Melbourne.
Ben: So what was your score in the IELTS exam?
Giang: My score is 7.5.
Ben: So you’re working in Melbourne and you’ve passed the IELTS exam. Yeah? What are your plans now?
Giang: I will work for a few years then I will study master in Law.
Ben: The masters you’re going to study in Australia?
Giang: I hope so.
Ben: I understand. And are you going to do the IELTS again?
Giang: Yes, maybe when I apply for master program, I need to take IELTS again because my IELTS will expire next year.
Ben: It only last two years. Yeah. So you got 9 in the reading. That’s amazing. That’s really well done. Good work.
Giang: Thank you.
Ben: You’re welcome. Do you have any strategies for the reading?
Giang: Actually there are some techniques. And what I think the most important is you need to read fast. You don’t have to understand all the words in the written test because it’s very academic and sometimes some word is very hard to understand. So of course you need some skill. And I think the most important skill is skimming and scanning.
Ben: Those skills you’ve focused on skimming and scanning?
Giang: Yes. My teacher before told me some very useful tips. Read the question first. And because in one test they will have like 3 or 4 kinds of question was. And each question they will follow in the order in the test. So you just need to read the question first and then follow in the test, and then mark where is the questions on the test. So in the next section, you just need to see the questions and look up in the test. It’s faster and more easier to follow.
Ben: So just to clarify. You look at the questions first, then you go to the texts and you start reading really fast and you start giving names next to the text. To show what the text is about? What each paragraph refers to?
Giang: Yes, and mark where is the question in the lines of the test.
Ben: You’ve got the question and you mark if the paragraph answers the question.
Giang: Yes, and use that section for “true, false, or not given.” Another tip is like match the heading.
Ben: Ah, match the heading.
Giang: When you do this, you have to read very fast on the paragraph in the test. Unless you have an idea about what is the test is about.
Ben: Okay. So you read through, then you get an idea for each part and then this will help you for the next part.
Giang: Yes, you don’t have to understand but at least you know each paragraph is talking about.
Ben: To what each paragraph is talking about. And for the other sections? Can you share?
Giang: Another part is also like you have to match. Like in some tests there will be different person. And you have to mark their names, their invention or something. It’s also about scanning and skimming. And need to underline everything. When you read the name in the question, you look back in the test and underline that name so you will be read first before you read the questions. So you got names in the questions and underline it in the test. So when you see then name, you will look back in the test so it’s easier to tell them.
Ben: Basically make the text into a mark.
Giang: Easy to navigate.
Giang: So navigate. Narrow down the scope of the paragraph. It’s easier to find.
Ben: Your preparation for the IELTS reading. Did you do that in Australia or in Vietnam?
Giang: I’ve never been to Australia.
Ben: Oh, sorry. I thought you are living in Australia now.
Giang: No. I’m in Vietnam now.
Ben: Okay. I misunderstood. I misunderstood sometimes. So you did all your preparation in Vietnam then?
Ben: Ah okay. And your test center, they gave you lots of different strategies?
Giang: Actually I took an IELTS last before I took as then. So at least I now know what IELTS is about. And I think that last was not very good. But I think study on your own is better.
Ben: Yeah? Why?
Giang: Yes, because it’ll let you know what is your good points and what is your bad points. So you can focus on them. There’s only drawback. Self-studying is hard. Especially in writing because you don’t have anyone to test what you write.
Ben: Who corrected your writing work when you were in Vietnam? The teachers?
Giang: Yes, when I took the IELTS class. They corrected my writing. But when I finished this class, I have to write it along so it’s very hard. And some website can score your writing.
Ben: Ah, yes?
Giang: Yes. You know, right? I remember. I listen to your podcast and you introduced some sites that can mark your essay.
Giang: So I uploaded my essay to the website and someone correct it for me. So it’s good.
Ben: Okay. Which website did you use?
Giang: I don’t remember.
Ben: Okay. No worries. No worries. For the other sections of the exam, for the listening, can you share any advice?
Giang: Listening. Like I wrote to your email. I listen to your podcast. And there are extremely helpful website called BBC. They have a program that’s called 6-minute English.
Ben: Ah yes. It’s really good, isn’t it?
Giang: Yeah. It’s good. When my listening before is really bad, only about 4.5. But after about 1 month listening to your podcast, listening to BBC’s 6-minutes English, and other program podcasts on YouTube, yes my listening is improving.
Giang: So I read somewhere that when you don’t have to listen to the IELTS task because there is nothing interesting in the IELTS listening. So this will be very hard to podcast. So just listen to some podcast. A story or something else so it’s easier.
Giang: I think the most important for listening is that pronunciation. Because only if you pronounce it right then you will listen it right.
Ben: Yeah. I’ll just summarize. So you’re saying that it’s better to listen to something that you find interesting because you’ll pay more attention.
Ben: Because if you listen to the IELTS tests, it can be usually some crazy topic. Maybe about a bridge in Scotland or something like that, which you probably not going to pay that much attention to.
Giang: Listen 3 times. For each listening part, or everything you listen, listen it 3 times. First is just listening without script. Second, read the script and listen that part of the the script. Then the third time, listen along so you can remember what you wrote in the script.
Ben: Ah. That’s an interesting technique. I like it that you listen first before looking at the script because then your brain is going to work more. And then when you get the transcript you can see the words that they were talking about, then the third time you can associate the sound to the words because now you know the words that they were talking about. So that’s a good technique. That’s good.
So in one month you increased your Band score from 4.5 to a 7, more or less?
Ben: Well done. Well done. Very good, Giang. Was that listening every single day?
Giang: Yes. Every single day.
Ben: Good work there. And what about the other parts of the exam. For the speaking, how did you improve your speaking? What did you do to practice that?
Giang: I think I was lucky when I was practicing for IELTS. We read a book. And if we can we go to a coffee shop or something, to speak about the IELTS test. Then there will be my age and minors. They can ask any question in the three parts in IELTS speaking sessions. And I will answer and they will correct. So it’s very good and very helpful.
Ben: Ah. So you did like practice tests together.
Giang: Yes. I think it’s the best. You don’t have to have someone who speak very good English to practice with you. Only your friends is enough. And if you don’t have friends to talk to, you can record your own speaking and listen to it again and again and again. And you will see how you can improve your speaking.
Ben: Did you do that a lot?
Giang: No. But I think it’s very good. But I think it’s very useful if I practice alone.
Ben: I see. You practiced at home just talking with yourself?
Giang: It sounds crazy.
Ben: No, no, no. But it has to be done. It has to be done. I did exactly the same when I was learning Spanish. And I did the same. Speaking all the time. When I went to the supermarket, I tried to say every product and do the shopping, in Spanish. So to speak and think in Spanish. I think that helps tremendously. It helps a lot.
Now then. The final section. The writing.
Giang: Writing. They have specific topic, right? So for each topic I prepare the ideas. I didn’t write the whole paragraph but I prepare the idea first. So when that topic appear in the IELTS test, I can use my ideas and structure it so it can be paragraphed.
Ben: Ah. That’s interesting. So for example, if you’ve got a question… Well, if the topic was “environment,” the idea would be “global warming is bad, and pollution is to be reduced.” And then from this basic idea, you paraphrased it and use it in your own writing.
Giang: Yes. And I think I realize that reading newspaper is extremely helpful.
Ben: Reading which paper? Sorry… Ah, the newspaper.
Giang: Newspaper in English.
Ben: Ah of course, yes.
Giang: And there’s a good website. debates.org
Ben: Debates? Oh, that is good. And what’s with this website?
Giang: They post some topics. For example, equality between man and woman. So there you will get ideas for supporting it and ideas for against it. Many people regard their own ideas. And because they are native speaker, their idea is good, their vocabulary is very good, we can learn from them.
Ben: I see. I see. That’s an interesting website. Yeah. And you watched these a lot and then took your… and made some notes?
Ben: That’s interesting. Right then. Well, thank you very much, Giang. And do you have anything else that you would like to share with the other students?
Giang: Just study English as much as you can and don’t take it too serious.
Ben: Exactly. Exactly, yes. Excellent advice. I get emails from students who are really stressed. And in a really bad state because of the IELTS. And it’s good advice that they just need to relax. And maybe even just studying English, and leaving IELTS for a while and study in English, and then doing the test.
I think the problem is when there is a lot of students they’re like “Ah, I need to get it because I have a conditional offer from Cambridge.” I think for those, they are a little bit nervous because there’s a lot on it. But yeah. Definitely relax because if you’re relaxed, your studying is much better and you absorb the information much better as well.
That was a very good interview and thank you very much. You said that you’re going to take your exam again in a year or two. If you need any help, send me an email, and I’ll be happy to help.
Giang: Thank you.
Ben: You’re welcome.
Giang: You are doing a very good job, I have to say. You helped me with my listening so much, thank you.
Ben: Ah, you’re welcome, Giang. It was a pleasure. It’s a pleasure.
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