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How to score A* in ESL?

Written by: Heba Mohamed (Jr Counsellor – IGCSE’20)

Tips for studying English as a Second Language:

  • Reading:
  1. READ, I know! Ironic, isn’t it? Well, reading novels and books enhances your overall comprehension AND writing skills, so reading is one major component in studying ESL.
  2. PRACTICE, solving a lot exams on a weekly basis is significantly important to train your brain to be able to understand and abstract answers as quickly and efficiently as possible.
  • Writing:-
  1. READ: again? Yes, again! Reading helps you identify a variety of different sentence structures and starters to help you sophisticate your writing.
  2. IDIOMS: using idioms richens your informal However, be careful not to use slang idioms or expressions.
  3. GRAMMAR: yes, we do not examine pure grammar, but our beloved examiners do deduct marks for incorrect grammar, so be sure to know your grammar well.
  4. SENTENCE STARTERS: Vary your sentence starters to always grasp the attention of your reader.
  5. SENTENCE STRUCTURES: vary your sentence structures, from complex to compound sentences and so many more. Different sentence structures.develop your writing and make it more interesting. DO NOT stick to simple sentences; they make your writings incredibly boring and very basic.
  6. STRONG VOCABULARY: you can improve that too by reading! However, it is not as equally as important as your sentence structures. Strong vocabulary is best at formal writing.
  7. PUNCTUATION: make sure that your punctuation is always accurate and that it also shows variation.

 

 

  • Listening:-
  1. PRACTICE: listening is all about practicing, the more you hear people talking, the easier it gets to understand them. Of course after understanding everything that is being said you will be able to pick up pieces of information that will answer all your given questions.
  2. MOVIES: fun, yes? Watching movies WITHOUT SUBTITLES improves your listening skills. You can start at first by watching a movie you already know and then move on to new movies to actually test your listening ability.
  3. MUSIC: music helps too, but just don’t get lost in the rhythm and forget about why you were listening to music in the first place.

 

 

  • Speaking:-
  1. Speaking is practicing your writing vocally. Nonetheless, you need to talk in a livelier, non-robotic way, because this is life not your pen pal! Also, you definitely need to engage the other speaker in your conversation by using phrases like “you know”.
  2. PRACTICE with a real human being.
  3. INTONATION: make sure that you use body language and adjust your volume whenever necessary. For example, you need to sound excited for a trip to the Maldives.
  4. PRONOUNCIATION: ensure that you pronounce the words correctly so that you would not get misunderstood. ACCENT is not important by any means as long as you pronounce correctly.
  5. TIME: timing is very important since you need to cover at least 10 minutes during your speaking exam. To increase the time taken to answer a question, don’t answer with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ or words like ‘basketball’; you need to develop your answer – using the techniques mentioned before in the writing section – to lengthen your answer.

Example:

Do not:

Q/What is your favourite sport?

A/Basketball.

Do:

Q/ What is your favourite sport?

A/ That is a very challenging question. Personally, as an athlete, I always thought it would be hard to love only one sport. However, I would never think twice before answering with Basketball. Given to the fact that I have a lot of free time, I spend most of it playing sports and Basketball is my absolute favourite. Obviously, I’m always on cloud nine whenever I score a goal in those loosely-hanging nets. It’s definitely something to live for!

 

See what has been done there?

This is how an answer should be. Not boring, not short and definitely worth some marks!

 

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