Monthly Archives: November 2011


By Dr Na Pham


This task will ask you to
•    Identify the writer’s views
•    Identify the writer’s attitude or opinion
•    Identify detailed information in the test

From the list of sentences/statements provided (opinions or facts) you have to decide
•    If they are OPINIONS, whether they ARE opinions of the writers or NOT or NOT GIVEN in the text.
•    If they are FACTS, whether these facts are TRUE, FALSE, or NOT GIVEN

Sometimes you need to read between the lines to work out the implied view or attitude of the author, when it is not clearly stated.
Its noted that the questions will often be IN THE SAME ORDER as the reading passage.

•    Read the instructions very carefully
•    Quickly scan all the statements in the questions to get  an idea about the topic
•    Read the first statement again, slowly and more carefully
•    Always underline key words to focus on the main points
•     Go back to the text, quickly look for the selection/the paragraph in the test which is relevant to the idea or the fact
•    Once you already find out the relevant paragraph, read it very carefully.

•    If the statement disagrees with writer’s opinion, then select NO
•    If the author doesn’t give any opinion, select NOT GIVEN
•    If the statement is contradictory or different to the information in the text, then select FALSE
•    If the statement is not even mentioned in the text, select NOT GIVEN.


By Dr Na Pham – Copyright Sydney Language Solutions 2011

To complete Task 2 of your IELTS essay in the allocated 40 minutes and still confidently gain a good score, you may wish to consider some of the following recommended time-management tips (for the Argument Essay):

  1. First two minutes: Highlight all of the key words in your essay questions as you will need to use the synonyms of these words throughout the writing of your essay. Make sure you can find at least one or two synonyms for each of these key words.
  2. Next two minutes: Quickly write down the three main reasons why you agree or disagree with the essay question.
  3. Next five minutes: Write your introduction. Please focus on writing a good thesis statement which should describe your essay type (discussion, argument, explanation or solution essay), an essay map and your viewpoint on the topic.
  4. Next seven minutes: Write paragraph one which is the first argument (why you agree or disagree with the topic). Don’t write a paragraph any longer than five sentences.
  5. Next seven minutes: Write down paragraph two which is the second argument (why you agree or disagree with the topic). Avoid repeating any ideas that you have mentioned in the first paragraph.
  6. Next seven minutes: Write down paragraph three which is the third argument (why you agree or disagree with the topic). Avoid sentences that stray away from the topic as much as you can.
  7. Next three minutes: Summarise your essay with a two-sentence conclusion. Don’t try to write a long conclusion. Save your time for your editing.
  8. Last seven minutes: Please try your hardest to spend the last seven minutes checking for spelling and grammatical mistakes, and replace any repetitive vocabulary with an alternative word. Check the cohesion and coherence of your essay.

This is all for this session. I will recommend some more IELTS TIPS in the next discussion.

Dr Na Pham

Leaning a Language Through Movie

Some people find watching movies with subtitles annoying, but for the language student, these subtitles can become a useful learning tool.

Check out the foreign film section of the DVD/video store in your area to see if you can pick up some movies in the language that you are studying. The best option is to find a film that is actually spoken in the foreign language and has English subtitles.

Watching a movie can be a lot easier than just listening to a sound recording because although you may not understand what is being said, you may be able to work it out in the context of what is happening visually on the screen.
If you are still struggling to understand, then use the English subtitles for clarity.

If you have the option of turning the subtitles on or off, try watching the movie a few times, the first with it on and the next with it off. Because you know what is going to happened in the film, you will be able to concentrate more on what is being said the second time around.

This is wonderful way to strengthen your listening skills so give it a go!

Leaning a Language through a Passion

Very early on in this blog we looked at the many different reasons people choose to learn a foreign language and the best way to do it.

When I moved to Japan to live many years ago my grasp on the language was very basic, to say the least! But I was determined not to let language be a barrier and I wanted to experience everything that the country and its wonderful people had to offer.

For someone who loves sport, including this as one of the ways for me to learn Japanese became immediately obvious. And although I had played and watched many sports over the years, sumo wrestling was definitely not on the list.

Sumo is a Japanese style of wrestling and the national sport of the country. It originated in ancient times as a performance to entertain the Shinto gods and many of the original traditions are still used today.

I became fascinated with the sport and watched it both on television and when I could, attended tournaments (there are six every year, each one lasting 15 days). These are still amongst my most treasured memories of my time in Japan.

I grew to learn the names of the players, the rules they played by and the language of the game.  Okay, so I didn’t pick up every word being said but my point is that because I had an interest which became a passion, I had a willingness to learn.

If you find a good enough reason to learn your language of choice, it will make it easier and a lot more fun!

Learning Arabic

Arabic is spoken by over 300 million people throughout Asian and North Africa. It is also the official language of Islam, and so it is estimated to be used by one billion Muslims across the world.

As a native English speaker, one of the main hurdles I see is the way that the text is written from right to left and that the grammar is very different to English. There are also many sounds that I am not familiar with as they don’t exist in English, but someone who knows a language like Hebrew would have an easier transition. The best part of learning a new language though is having a go at these sounds and the realisation that you can make noises you didn’t know you could by moving your tongue around.

Arabic has 28 consonantal phonemes and the nouns are either masculine or feminine. When referring to a male, a masculine noun is used, and vice versa for a female. The feminine noun is usually formed by adding a special character – the ta marbuta – to the end of the masculine noun.

One Arabic word may have a number of plurals and adjectives come after the noun, so a “white house” in English becomes a “house white” in Arabic.
The most basic of sentence is called a nominal sentence, for example, in English it would be “the house is white”; but in Arabic there is no word for the “is” in this sentence.

Having a go at Arabic, even if it is just a simple greeting, will be appreciated by many people if you plan to travel to Asia or Africa, or even if you are just passing through your local community or a mosque.

Give the following a go:

Phrase: As salaamu alaikum – Syllable breakdown:as-sa-laa-mu a-lai-kum
Meaning: May peace be with you and a very common greeting.

Phrase: Wa alaikumu èl salaamu – Syllable breakdown: wa-a-lai-ku-mus-sa-laam
Meaning: And may peace be with you. It is the response to the above phrase.

By Vicki

Learning Dutch

Approximately 23 million people have Dutch as their native tongue, making it seventh on the list of languages spoken in the European Union.

Although most of those speakers live in the Netherlands, Dutch is also used by half of the population of Belgium (mainly in the north) and interestingly, it is the official language of the Republic of Suriname in northern South America.

The Dutch have long been recognised as one of history’s leading maritime nations and many words of Dutch origin are still used in this field today. Some examples include: deck, yacht and freight.

Dutch is a Germanic language which means speakers of German, English, Danish and Swedish will find a lot of common factors. Dutch spelling is supposedly easy compared to many other languages, as too is the basic grammar principles. If you are able to grasp the rules of how to conjugate regular verbs, then you are away. Unfortunately, irregular verbs are a different story and must be learnt by heart.

Two of the hardest parts of learning Dutch grammar are the word order and pronunciation. There is a guttural ‘g’ used that most English speakers will find hard to master. Again, like learning any language that is foreign to you, the best way is to expose yourself to speakers on a regular basis or by listening to everything and anything you can. Try listening to the radio, (eg. BBC World Service), watch a movie or search out something fun like YouTube that can be spontaneous and harder to understand than a usual language learning CD.

There are a lot of Dutch-speaker Australians so ask around and see if there is a local organisation in the area you live or work that you may be able to visit or meet up with. In one of my workplaces I had three Dutch speakers who liked nothing better that “chat” over their morning coffee.

Dutch has three articles: the indefinite article ‘een’ (a) and the definite articles ‘de’ and ‘het’ (the). Luckily you do not need to use different articles or adjectives for subjects and objects, and adjectives are inflected according to the type of noun they precede (de or het + noun).

When I travelled to the Netherlands in 1994, the capital Amsterdam was packed to capacity as people celebrated the Queen’s birthday long weekend. Unfortunately my Dutch was non-existent but the locals were wonderful and luckily for me, many were fluent in English and more that happy to help me out.

By Vicky


Two Korean friends are talking:

A: Gosh, I have an important exam tomorrow. So nervous!!

B: Jincha (Really)? Fighting!!

What do you mean by “fighting”? If you have watched any Korean dramas, you would know that what “Fighting” really means in Korean. It means “Cheer up”.

Because of such a prevalence of English in modern Korean culture and society, Korean people often use English words and end up code-switching without even realizing it. This is often referred to as “konglish” which are words adapted from English in ways that may seem strange to native English speakers. The words, having initially been taken from the English language, are either actual English words in Korean context, like 모터사이클 (motorcycle), or are made from a combination of Korean and/or English words (such as Officetel 오피스텔 Office + Hotel) which are not used in English-speaking countries. It can be considered a sublanguage, and common sentence structure or vocabulary mistakes made by Koreans have also been referred to as Konglish. ‘Sharp 샤프: mechanical pencil’ ‘Handphone 핸드폰: mobile phone’ ‘Skin 스킨: toner’ are very common examples of Konglish.

Learning Chinese Characters through China’s history and culture

I often hear students say that Chinese characters seem to be overwhelming because they are so varied and some of them contain “numerous” stokes. As most learning requires effective ways, learning Chinese characters has its unique way as well.

Besides the pictographic characteristics of Chinese characters (as clarified in “Chinese characters as a form of visual art”), some Chinese characters also indicate the history and culture aspect of China. If you are learning Chinese characters through the stories about Chinese culture and history, it would make the learning more interesting and rewarding. Let’s have a look at the following examples.
The character “子” is a pictographic character (see picture 2.1.). In ancient times, the character “” means “children” when it is a radical of a character or “son” when it is a character by itself. The character looks like a baby with a big head while holding up two hands. The character has developed over the time but its modern version still holds some pictographic characteristics. 

Picture 2.1. the development of Chinese character “子”

The character “女” is more than a pictographic Chinese character (see picture 2.2.). The original version of the Chinese character “女” (meaning female) looks like a lady with both her legs kneeled down. It was created to mean that women in ancient China usually stay at home waiting for either her father (before marriage) or her husband (after marriage) to come back.

This character “” (meaning female) also looks like a servant because of its unique posture. This indicates that ancient China is a male-dominate society and women are subordinate to males. In ancient times, Chinese women neither go for work nor go to schools, and the most important work for them is to take care of their husbands and children. In modern times, Chinese women not only receive higher education but also go for work, but they still regard family lives as the most important things in their lives. 

Picture 2.2. the development of Chinese character “女”

When we combine the above two characters (女+子,see picture 2.2. and picture 2.1.) together, we will have the character “好” (Hǎo, meaning “good” ). The character “好” is created with the meaning that it is a good thing when a woman has a child. It indicates that Chinese people pay significant attention of having offspring. There is a Chinese saying goes like this; there are three forms of unfilial conduct of which the worst is to have no descendants.


Anne Ma

Mandarin Language Consultant

Some stories about our Japanese Courses

Hi everyone, 皆さん、今日は。
Our Beginners 1 and Beginners 2 had the written (and writing) tests in their final week of the courses. The majority of the students prepared and responded well. Especially the results of the latter group were all pleasing or excellent. As for other class activities, apart from those with the regular textbooks and CDs, I showed episodes from the long series of “Japanese for Beginners” in most of the lessons with a bit of revision. The topics were: asking for directions, obtaining what you want in shopping, introducing yourself, asking time, etc. Each episode was useful, effective, intelligent, cultural and fun to watch.

In the JLPT N2, apart from working with the books/exercises of the Test, we read, comprehended and commented for some intelligent or informative articles from Japanese newspapers. One was an article of an executive of Misawa Homes Co. Ltd (Asahi newspaper, 17.9.11) about the importance of teaching (his) children to be creative, self sufficient, independent by developing survival skills that esp. for domestic needs, e.g. cooking, fixing bikes, sowing. He wants teach for/as his value since his father had taught him in his childhood.

Other article (Asahi newspaper, 17.9), which I showed to other classes too, reported about Japanese multi-nationals’ new economic activities around the world. The reporter wrote the article at International Motor Show in Germany. Three Japanese multi-nationals that produce textile and industrial fibers (as part of their products), i.e. Tore, Teijin and Mitsubishi-reiyon, are taking the top three in the global market for the production of fiber carbon being used for transport related industries (i.e. automobiles and aircrafts in particular). Their total share takes one forth of the world’s market. Companies that use the above carbon fiber include BMW, VW, US airlines, French Airbus and German Daimler.  According to the report, use of carbon fiber greatly reduces the weight of vehicles/aircrafts, energy needed (fuel, electricity etc) and costs/time compared to past practices and carbon fiber is 10 times tougher than steel for such use.

For practice of speaking telephone numbers etc, I used the big advertisement page (Asahi newspaper) of a movie “1911” played by Jackie Chan that was shown at many major cinemas around Japan.

Also, I showed the big advertisement page of “Kiite tanoshimu Nihon no Meisaku” (Asahi newspaper, 11.9). (Company: U-CAN, Tokyo) It talks and shows about 16 CDs of narratives of well known works of many Japanese classical and highly known novelists and poets. The dates of those go back to 1887, including Soseki Natsume, Higuchi ichiyo. Narrated by 10 experts.

When our Beginners 2 and Pre-Intermediate 1 started, I introduced Japanese traditional “matcha” (kind of beautiful green tea in tea bags) bought at an Asian food shop and gave a tea bag to each student for their later drinking at home. Also, I showed/informed about Japanese curry paste with a package, i.e the way to make Japanese curry & rice in a nutritious way with a great taste. And I showed the wrapping part of Japanese “natto” package (natto = brown fermented beans) and introduced my recipe that is mixing “natto” with salad (very healthy and refreshing) with a lot of salad, e.g. white radish, alfalfa, lettuce, raw egg and soy sauce. (Usually, in the past, there was/were student(s) in my classes who went to buy esp. curry paste and tried making curry paste after hearing my talk of the above! They liked the food they made/had.)


Japanese Teacher, Toshiko Jackson

Is it difficult to learn Indonesian?

Bahasa Indonesia literally means the language (bahasa) of Indonesia. Indonesia is one of the developing countries with significant economic growth. This makes the country attracts a lot of investors from all over the world to come and to set up businesses. However, some of them find it hard to communicate with the locals and hence need to learn the language.

Is it difficult to learn Indonesian?

Well, there are a few reasons why Bahasa Indonesia is not difficult to learn:

1. The language use Roman alphabet (a, b, c, ….), unlike Korean, Japanese, Mandarin, Arabic which require us to memorize different form of words and symbols.
2. Some of Indonesian vocabularies are derived from Sanskrit, Dutch, English, Portuguese and even Mandarin so you might find it familiar to you.
3. Bahasa Indonesia is not a tonal language like Mandarin or Vietnamese.
4. There is no tenses in Bahasa Indonesia.

So, why not try to learn Indonesian? I am sure you will not find it too hard!

— Tirto


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November 2011
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