Monthly Archives: December 2011

TIPS on How to resolve concerns in Speaking- Part 1

In the speaking component of the OET exam, you are given a clinical scenario where a patient approaches you usually with a concern. The concerns can be classed generally into two classes: Concerns about the ILLNESS and concerns about the TREATMENT aka non-compliance. Since there is a lot to cover, I will give tips on only the first class of concerns in this month’s blog.


Generally a lot of patient’s fears/reservations/anger stems from the unknown. Some of these medical diagnosis can appear foreboding simply by the fact that it comes from the doctor or the name itself. So most of the time this can be resolved by simply explaining all the aspects of the illness in a clear and reasonable way.

Some aspects of the illness that you may have to explain are;

-What the exact nature of the diagnosis is.

-How seriously it will affect their health and daily function.

-What the treatments/therapy will involve- it is important to explain why the treatment is given.

-What the prognosis will be.

Since this component of the exam will not be assessed on the content/medical knowledge of the exam candidate, you do not need to know every illness under the sun to prepare for this. However, you may need to know some common ones just so you do not get nervous for stuck with what to say. Common ones could be hypertension, diabetes, stroke/heart attack, quitting smoking/alcohol, immunizations etc.  

e.g. I understand that you are worried about your hypertension. Hypertension is an elevation of your blood pressure. This means that your heart has to worker a lot harder than normal to pump blood around your body.

If it isn’t treated there is an increased chance that your heart may fail or that you may get a heart attack or stroke. Therefore, it is vital that you keep your blood pressure under control.

Blood pressure is affected by many things.

Firstly, how much water and salt is in your body. If you have too much salt in your diet, this can make your blood volume greater and therefore increase your blood pressure.

Secondly, the condition of your blood vessels. If your blood vessels becomes less elastic due to age, damage from smoking or too much fat deposits from a fatty diet and not enough exercise, then you will more likely not be able to regulate your blood pressure.

Thirdly, different levels of hormones can be released by various triggers such as stress, drinking, obesity, diabetes etc that contribute to or worsen the hypertension.

It is a lot to take in, but I hope this helps you to see why it is so important for you to make various changes in your lifestyle. Reducing your salt and fat intake in your diet, exercising, avoiding smoking and alcohol are crucial for lowering your blood pressure.

If you can do this you will be able to significantly reduce the risk of the illnesses I mentioned earlier which may lead to early death. Lifelong intake of blood pressure lowering medication is preferrably a last resort so I would advise you to take these lifestyle intervention measures first.

-Megan Lee, OET Trainer

Improve Your Cantonese Pronunciation!

One of the difficulties for Cantonese language learners is the pronunciation. Most language learners are used to sounds which only exist in their native languages. Therefore, it is essential to be aware of the different sound system. Listed below are some tips to mastering your pronunciation skills:

1.    Learn to recognise the differences between some English and Cantonese sounds.
2.    Try to hear carefully when you are listening to the CD or in class.
3.    Notice how some special sounds are made.
4.    Practise moving your lips, jaw, and tongue properly so that you can pronounce the sounds correctly.
5.    Choose good dictionaries and good language textbooks, they can add lots of new vocabulary to practice and make learning such an enjoyable experience.
6.    Don’t be shy, just try your best to express your idea, even if you make mistake, you can try to explain in simple way.
7.    Correct yourself whenever you make mistake, repeat again and again a new word until you are confidence.
8.    Accuracy is better than huge vocabulary.  If you are good at vocabulary but you say them wrongly, no one can actually understand you. 

Useful websites for learning Mandarin


Hi, everyone!

Welcome back to Mandarin Blog.

Today, I will introduce two useful websites to Chinese learners.


You could find Chinese characters and pinyin forms from this website and you could also click for the pronunciation as well. This is a very good website for beginners.


For those learners who want to learn writing, nciku will be quite helpful as you could search the characters from this website. They also teach you some practical Chinese conversation everyday.

Learning is a very interesting process that makes you feel fulfilling everyday.

Please share your learning experience with us。


Korea’s Ultimate Crush: Yoo Jae Seok (유재석)

My students often ask me, “What’s the fastest way to improve my Korean?”, I would answer that “Watch more Korean TV shows. It’s actually better than Korean Dramas since they show the real people in real contexts.”

Today, I would like to talk about Korea’s Ultimate Crush, Yoo Jae Seok.
Lady Gaga, David Beckham and Angelina Jolie…Even these wonderful celebrities still have anti-fans since it is impossible to make everyone happy. However, a Korean show host, Yoo Jae Seok (he has so many nicknames as ‘Grasshopper, MC for the Nation , Yooruce Willis and Yoo Hyuk’) is famous for the minimum anti-fans.

Yoo Jae-Seok was born August 14, 1972 in Seoul, South Korea. He attended the Seoul Institute of the Arts, but had been unable to receive his degree due to his busy schedule as a comedian.

His first Grand Prix was for a program called “Happy Together Friends”, which concept based on TV personalities trying to find their school friends (five of them) out of many (false friends) who are sitting behind the desk. The show brought reminiscence upon the viewers’ school days, and became very popular. This Grand Prix is even more memorable, not just because it was Yoo’s first one, but it was from the broadcasting system where he debuted.

He hosted the shows X-Man, which soon grew to be very popular, and thus one of the most viewed shows in Korea. During those times, he gained much more popularity and many programs began to nickname Yoo as "MC of the Nation." And X-Man has gone on to success in international syndication.

Yoo is a part of the cast of the top-rated comic variety program Muhan Dojeon (무한도전), as the host-in-chief since 2005. Yoo also co-hosts Come to Play (놀러와) , Happy Together Season 3 (해피 투게더 3) with Park Myung-Soo.

Yoo hosted these talk shows for a long period of time (both over 5 years), but the ratings have been constantly high throughout the years. Similar, yet very different, Yoo tries his best to differentiate his hosting styles, both based on the guests and the settings they are situated in.

From 11 July 2010, he is hosting in a variety show called Running Man together with Ji Suk Jin, Kim Jong Kook,Gary (LeeSsang), Haha, Song Ji-hyo and Lee Kwang-su. Running Man has become an internationally popular show and the recent episode was filmed in Hong Kong which made many Hong Kong people excited.

Why don’t you watch Running Man via Youtube tonight? I bet you will love Yoo Jae Seok, just like me and every other Korean people!

Ashley (Korean Tutor)

Some stories about our Japanese Courses (December)

Hi everyone,皆さん、おげんきですか。
In my classes (Monday and Tuesday nights), apart from regular learning activities of speaking, reading , listening, writing and dialogues making with use of the course books, the classes continued viewed “Japanese for Beginners” video series with revision of phrases taught. And we sang Japanese songs. In addition, I showed DVD “Rekishi Kaido” (the info can be obtained at It is a collection of many traditional tourist attractions and historical and cultural heritage. The places are in the west of Japan, e.g. Nara, Kyoto, Osaka. Many of them were built between the Ancient Times and the Edo Period, e.g. Buddhist temples (e.g. Todaiji temple of the world’s largest Buddha statue), shrines, castles, gardens etc of exquisite beauty, tranquility, great wisdom and innovations, art, architecture etc. Some of the heritages were (initially) made over a millennium ago or regarded as the world’s cultural heritage by the UNESCO. The dvd also shows popular “onsen” hot spring facilities.
Also, I showed and mentioned about articles or advertisements of Japanese newspaper and The Australian. They were for mainly technological, economic development related, environmental, educational and cultural values. They were:

(1) The Japan Newspaper Museum “Newspark” newly built in Yokohama. Admissions of youths are free up to junior high school students. More info is at
(2) "Buffett’s visit revives hope of value in Japan” by R. Wallace, The Australian, 24.11.11, p. 24. It reports Warren Buffett’s intention of investment to Japan and visit to Iwaki prefecture. Buffett is internationally well-known and respected investor who has prodigious wealth. (Great news!) The article also refers to the weakness of Japanese economy, politics etc apart from Japan’sstill being the world’s largest foreign creditor nation with about $3.3 trillion in offshore assets.
(3) A company Sharp’s new product “Blacksolar”. That can be used for solar energy saving at the roofs of small houses with more capacity to take the solar energy (18% up than conventional ones) with monitoring/communicating system of Sharp by Internet.
(4) A company Komatsu’s hybrid machine, HB205-1, for building industry at their work sites. According to the ad, it is well used in Japan, China, the North America and it began being used in Australian building industry too. It works with diesel and electricity (producing and saving energy), reduces appro. 25% of CO2 and costs.
(5) Profile of late Konosuke Matsushita, a founder of Panasonic (previously National Panasonic), Matsushita-juku (Business School) and publication of PHP. I gave the copy of a few pages of Matsushita Leadership, (1997, J. P. Kotter, Free Press, NY) with my explanation in classes. And some pages of “Matsushita Konosuke”, (2006, Takarajima-sha, Tokyo, were also used. As Kotter says, K. Matsushita (1894-1989) was an amazingly great leader, author, educator, philanthropist and  management innovator. Still his legacy continues through the corporation, PHP and his Business School that produced many Parliamentary Members of Japan that include the current Prime Minister.
(6) A big ad of traditional Kabuki stage play actors who succeeded to the names of highly respected and ranked past actors in Kabuki.

Japanese Teacher, Toshiko Jackson, 4.12.11

Learning new language

Some people just love to learn new languages. Apart from that reason, some might want to learn as they are going to travel, doing business in foreign country, social communication, hobby, and even for their partners.

Choosing what language to learn can be a bit difficult. You might want to learn popular languages such as Chinese, Arabic, Spanish, French and Russian; apart from English. All those languages are official languages of the United Nations (UN). Some other popular languages studied now a days are Korean and Japanese.

Few tips for beginner on how to learn new languages effectively:

  • Set your goal. For example be able to watch foreign drama without translation.
  • Study the common words, such as greetings, thank you, etc. you may find that very helpful in your lan.
  • Learn new words from children song. Children songs are programmed to help a beginner to learn the language (like children).

For advanced study of languages, get hold to the nearest language teacher to assist in your learning process.

Planet Word

As a student of language, you have to read textbooks as they make up a big part of your leaning toolkit. But what about books on language?

For those of you looking to take a break from studying but who still want to read, you may wish to consider JP Davidson’s new book out call Planet Word. If you have a fascination with languages, it has come highly-recommended as it uncovers everything about how language evolves and is still changing today.

In it Davidson says there are more that 6,000 different languages spoken in the world at the moment, but that there will only be 900 left by the end of the century.

The foreword is written by famous English actor, comedian and author Stephen Fry who states "The way you speak is who you are and the tones of your voice and the tricks of your emailing and tweeting and letter-writing, can be recognised unmistakably in the minds of those who know and love you".

The book reports that the ♥ (heart) has become the first graphic to enter the Oxford English Dictionary and asks the question, does this mean that we on our way to a language without words?

End of year – time to reflect

As the end of the year draws near, now is a good time to stop and reflect on what you have achieved this year as a language student.

Did you set yourself goals at the beginning of the year? If so, now is the ideal time to check each goal and whether you think you have achieved what you set out to do.

If your goal was to get an introduction to the language of choice, and learn some key phrases and vocabulary, then how did you go? If the answer is good, then congratulations on your progress.  The next questions you need to ask yourself are:

Am I going to continue studying the language further or not?
Is there another level that I can do?
If I am planning on continuing my studies, what are my new goals?

Gaining fluency in a foreign language does not come overnight; rather it takes a lot of hard work and energy. Take what you have learnt this year and go out into the world and enjoy it.

Here is a wonderful quote that sums it up:
A different language is a different vision of life. ~ Federico Fellini

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December 2011
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