Let’s Practice Being Concise (2 of 8): The Value of Concision (Part II)

  My IELTS Writing Task One book has Tip 6. My IELTS Writing Task Two book has Tip 10. They both have the same name: CUT THE FLUFF! This has helped the average IELTS Writing Score in Taiwan to rise. After my books were published, and with all my teaching, the message finally got out – but there are still many bad books out there, with many bad teachers playing the ‘memorisation game’, and there are large numbers of students who fall for this. Some of the most popular teachers, the ‘famous’ one, the ones who ‘everyone say are good’, can be the worst. Hence, the average score is only 6. It isn’t 7, or higher. Not yet. But let’s not think about IELTS. Let’s just think about good writing generally. What’s wrong with fluff? Well, here’s a nice quote from a famous book called ‘The Elements of Style’, by…

Idiomatic Vocabulary 14: a sharp learning curve

The Phrases To be a sharp learning curve To do everything from scratch To revert to Plan B. To go back to the drawing board. Their Definitions These are a series of related sayings, describing situations where … where you have to learn very where you have to do everything from the beginning. after the first plan fails, you… Read More »

Idiomatic Vocabulary 13: to go overboard

The Phrase  To go overboard Its Definition A verb phrase meaning to do something good, but do it too much or excessively so that it becomes bad. Discussion This is useful for IELTS speaking because this situation does happen in life. People may ‘go overboard’ in politeness, actions, and public behavior. This phrase passes our test for use… Read More »

Idiomatic Vocabulary 12: turning up your nose

The Phrase   To turn your nose up (at sth.) Its Definition A verb phrase meaning you don’t want to do, use, or accept sth. kindly offered to you. Discussion This is useful for IELTS because people generally try to help others in the world, so not accepting, or not having your offer accepted, can be quite common. Since… Read More »

Idiomatic Vocabulary 11: A grain of salt

The Phrase To take [sth.] with a grain of salt Its Definition A verb phrase meaning you don’t really believe the previous fact. Discussion This is useful for IELTS because there are so many lies and so much deceit in the world. An intelligent person doesn’t necessarily believe it all, and we often have to indicate this to other… Read More »

Idiomatic Vocabulary 10: On Steroids

The Phrase To be on steroids Its Definition An adjectival phrase meaning extremely developed when compared to something else. Discussion Body builders take ‘steroids’ [a hormonal drug’] in order to develop abnormally large muscles. Similarly, when comparing a strong with a weak form, we can consider the strong one ‘on steroids’. This is very idiomatic and descriptive (good), but not easy to use… Read More »

Idiomatic Vocabulary 9: the rat race

The Phrases the rat race / concrete jungle (N) // dog-eat-dog (adj) Their Definitions Describing the intense and often ruthless competition in society Discussion These phrases are useful because we all live in a society which has such competition. We can all be compared to laboratory rats racing each other to get food. City life can be compared… Read More »

Idiomatic Vocabulary 8: a sweet tooth

The Phrase  To have a sweet tooth Its Definition To like eating sweet and sugary food and drink Discussion This phrase is useful because it can describe almost everyone, and food is a common topic that can come into many conversations. We all either like, or don’t like, sweet food. Example Sentences In IELTS Speaking “Oh, I definitely have… Read More »

Idiomatic Vocabulary 7: super

The Phrase   Super-[adj] Its Definition A prefix which makes the adjective which follows much stronger. Discussion This phrase is useful because it can describe many more extremes of feeling, and has a fun and upbeat feel. My 9-year-old boy uses this regularly. It is used as a prefix (meaning ‘more than’) in some formal words, such as… superstar… Read More »

Cultural Insight into Australia 22: Sport (ii)

Australian are famous for their prowess at sport. It is truly impressive, particularly given the relatively small population of my country, and rugby is a better example than cricket (from the last ‘Cultural Insight’), since rugby is only played into two Australian states: New South Wales, and Queensland. This hasn’t stopped Australia from winning two Rugby World Cups… Read More »

Cultural Insight into Australia 20: Art (iv)

In the previous ‘Cultural Insight’, we looked at a famous painting by the early Australian painter Tom Robert (9 March 1856 – 14 September 1931). In contrast to Russel Drysdale (who came much later [See Cultural Insight 17]), Roberts saw the outback in a much more positive way. Frederick McCubbin was a colleague of Robert’s, and they studied art… Read More »

Cultural Insight into Australia 19: Art (iii)

In the previous two ‘Cultural Insights’, we looked the paintings of Russel Drysdale. He painted the Australian outback in a sinister and uneasy way. Now, let’s look at probably the two most famous Australian paintings of all time, which see the world differently. The first was painted by an early Australian painter named Tom Robert (9 March 1856 –… Read More »

Cultural Insight Into Australia 18: Art (ii)

In the previous ‘Cultural Insight’, we looked at two painting from the 1940s. Here is another painting from the same artist – and it has the same themes. This work, painted in 1948, is called, ‘The Cricketers’ and has been described by the National Gallery of Australia as “one of the most original and haunting images in all Australian art.”… Read More »