Monthly Archives: June 2013

Overcoming the Fear of OET Reading Passages – Part 1

Comprehension can be challenging because, apart from assessing your English vocabulary skills, it is a test of your understanding and interpretation of extensive passages in English.

This sparks cries of fear from OET students.

Although you have 45 minutes to tackle 20 questions from two texts in the OET, you need to have some good techniques under your belt to help you overcome your fear of the reading passages.

#1 Start with the questions

You should start with the questions to give you an indication of which paragraph to read. This is because, if you read the entire passage, you will probably not recall all the finer details anyway and will waste time reading over it again.

#2 Circle conjunctions that link ideas together

As you read the appropriate paragraph of the passage, circle words like ‘but’ or ‘however’ or ‘in contrast’ which show two contrasting ideas. Or perhaps phrases like ‘in addition’ or ‘furthermore’ that show similar ideas. Or, if any, try to spot ‘which causes’ or ‘leading to’ which show a cause and effect relationship!

#3 RTFQ = Read The Full Question!

Once you have a good understanding of the relevant paragraphs, return to the question and read all the options carefully. This is because often there is simply one word that can affect whether the answer is right or wrong.

By coupling these simple techniques with constant reading of medical passages to build your vocabulary, you can surely gradually overcome your fear of OET reading.

– Carol Luo

Compound Nouns

As you might know, the German language is famous for having ridiculously long words – the so-called compound nouns. I have read an interesting article in a Swiss newspaper that Germany’s longest word – Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz – a 63-letter long title of a law regulating the testing of beef, has officially ceased to exist.

The word, which refers to the “law for the delegation of monitoring beef labelling”, has been repealed by a regional parliament after the EU lifted a recommendation to carry out BSE tests on healthy cattle.

German is famous for its compound nouns, which frequently become so cumbersome they have to be reduced to abbreviations. The beef labelling law, introduced in 1999 to protect consumers from BSE, was commonly transcribed as the “RkReÜAÜG”, but even everyday words are shortened to initials so Lastkraftwagen – lorry – becomes Lkw.

The longest word with a dictionary entry, according to Duden is at 36 letters, Kraftfahrzeug-Haftpflichtversicherung, motor vehicle liability insurance.

However a 39-letter word, Rechtsschutzversicherungsgesellschaften, insurance companies providing legal protection, is considered the longest German word in everyday use by the Guinness Book of World Records.

In theory, a German word can be infinitely long. Unlike in English, an extra concept can simply be added to the existing word indefinitely. Such extended words are sometimes known as Bandwurmwörter – “tapeworm words”. In an essay on the Germany language, Mark Twain observed: “Some German words are so long that they have a perspective.”

Top Destination: Bohol – Part 2

What do you call one of the smallest primate in the world with its eyes heavier than its brain?


Philippine Tarsier

Shy, mysterious and nocturnal animals measuring only between 85 to 160 millimetres in height and which you can place on the palm of your hand is an endemic and endangered specie in the Philippines. The Tarsier Conservation Center in Loboc is the best place to get a close encounter. Be sure to take off the flashes of your cameras and to observe silence as they easily get stressed and “commit sucide” by hitting their heads against objects that crack their thin skulls.



Top Destination: Bohol – Part 1

One of the Philippines’ top destinations and the tenth largest island, Bohol (Bo-hol) is known for its pristine beaches and resorts, Chocolate Hills and the Philippine Tarsier.

What do you call those giant mole hills that are covered in grass and turned chocolate brown at the end of the dry season?

Chocolate Hills

The Chocolate Hills, which some claim to consist of exactly 1268 hills, are natural limestone formations mostly between 30 to 50 metres high.  Local legend explains that the hills are a result of the messy fight between two giants who threw sand and stones to each other for days. Exhausted, they made peace and left the island. Another legend tells of Arogo, a young and strong giant who fell in love with Aloya, a mortal girl. When she died, Arogo cried terribly with his tears transformed into hills.  To this day, the mystery still exists to how these hills are formed.

Another tips for OET Writing

“The” patient

A common mistake that ESL students make in the writing section is when making reference to the patient. This is done as necessity all throughout the letter.

Letter header

The patient’s full name and date of birth or age should be mentioned right at the start of the letter in the letter header “Re: (patient’s first name AND surname, date of birth).” This should always be included in a referral letter as the doctor or health specialist that you are writing to will most likely have hundreds of patients they see and need a quick way of filing and identifying patients without mixing them up.

First paragraph

In the introductory paragraph of the letter, you will invariably be mentioning the patient. It is important to mention at least the patient’s first name or their surname with appropriate title of Mr/Ms when referring to them.

Body paragraphs.

Ideally you would mention the patient’s name at the first sentence of every new paragraph. You would refer to the patient by their name if there is more than one person involved in the patient’s case. For example, the patient’s name may be mentioned when describing reports from a collateral account like a parent to not confuse the two.

Otherwise, you can refer to the patient as “the patient” or she/he etc as appropriate grammatically. Oftimes I see students just writing “patient” instead of “the” patient. It is always “the patient.” It may seem like a pedantic pointer but always remember this is a English test so proper grammar counts!

Ten Most Common Tagalog Words/Expressions


1. Kamusta? (Ka-moos-ta) means Hello and/or How are you?

In informal conversation, ka is usually dropped so it becomes “Musta?”

2. Ano balita? (A-no ba-li-ta) means How are you? or What’s new?

This is also used when you haven’t seen or spoken to a person in a long time. 

3. Oo/Opo (O-o/O-po) means Yes in casual or polite form, respectively. We usually say “Opo”  when speaking to an elderly or to a person with a higher position to show respect.

4. Hindi  (Hin-di) means No.  Another casual way of expressing it is Dehins (de-hins) which is the reverse of Hindi added with –s at the end.

5. Paumanhin (Pa-oo-man-hin) or Pasensya na. (Pa-sen-sha na) to express an apology. Pasensya is derived paciencia which means patience in Spanish.  Paumanhin is more formal and polite but Pasensya when added with a courtesy term po  is more common and is still a polite expression.

6.  Ayos! (A-yos!) is a Tagalog expression for Yes!  and is used when someone is happy about a situation or a person. This should not be confused with Oo or Opo when agreeing to someone. 

7. Magandang Umaga (Ma-gan-dang Oo-ma-ga) is Good morning. If you add po, it becomes more polite. Note that Maganda is beautiful in Tagalog so we use it as a greeting to describe a period of the day.

8. Magandang Tanghali (Ma-gan-dang Tang-ha-li) means Good noon. But Filipinos are more inclined to say Magandang Hapon (Ma-gan-dang Ha-pon) when the clock strikes 12 noon until the whole afternoon before  6 o’ clock in the evening in which case we say

9. Magandang Gabi (Ma-gan-dang Ga-bi) for Good evening.

10. Ba-bay. (Ba-bay) is the most common way to say goodbye in Tagalog.

Ten Most Common Tagalog Words/Expressions

Cooking expressions in Korean

If you have been to SLS Korean cooking/ Cultural workshop which was held earlier this year, you might have heard of some Korean expressions talking about cooking. Since Korean foods have many steps to prepare ingredients prior to main cooking session, we need to know some essential expressions regarding the preparation stage as well as the main stages of cooking.

For BBQ, 굽다 is used as ‘grill/bake’. For example, “갈비를 구워 주세요 galbi reul gu wue ju se yo” means “Please grill some Galbi (i.e. beef rib)”.  For stir frying when you make some Korean side dishes, we say 볶다. If you want to say “Please stir fry this potato.”, you can say “이 감자를 볶아 주세요. I gamja reul bokka juseyo.”

Here are some important expressions regarding Korean cooking:

끓이다: to boil. When you make Korean soups.

부치다: to Pay fry. When you make Korean seafood pancakes.

삶다: to steam/ boil. When you make Korean Namul dishes.

절이다: to marinade vegetables. When you make Kimchi, it’s essential.


Ashley Jang (Korean teacher)

Comparative and Superlative in Korean

How to express comparative and superlative sentences in Korean is not demanding at all. If you want to say ‘more’ /’less’ or compare two objects in Korean, you can simply put “ Deo” before adjectives/ verbs. For example, if you want to say “I would like to eat more”, you can simply say “ 먹고 싶어요 Deo meokgo shipeo yo”, and if It’s the opposite situation you can say “ 먹고 싶어요. Deol meokgo shipeo yo.”

In English, the words “most” and “best” can be used both adverbs and nouns. Similarly, we say 제일 (jeil) and 가장 (gajang) to express the superlative sentences in Korean. For example,
제일 예쁜 꽃 jeil yebbeun ggot” means the most beautiful flower, and 가장 예쁜 꽃 means the same.

Here are some examples:

1. 어떤 색깔이 가장 좋아요? Which colour is your favourite?

2. 요즘 제일 인기 있는 가수는 누구예요? Who is the most popular singer nowadays?

3. 호바트가 시드니보다 추워요. Hobart is colder than Sydney.


Ashley (Korean teacher)

Some Stories About Our Japanese Course 19

Hi everyone, 皆さん、こんにちは。

My Japanese classes/lessons included the practices to develop speaking, reading, listening, writing, interacting, constructing and creating dialogues as well as cultural skills upon Japan and those of self-expressive skills. Also, we used textbooks (our major one is Genki Book 1), pictures, ads, children’s books, magazines, CDs, videos, DVDs, songs, gestures with songs etc. At the end of each class of 10 weeks, an exam was given (if the student wishes to have it as an open exam, that can be done in that way.)

As one of new teaching methods, I found that making copies of lovely or funny pictures and Hiragana version cards that have the names or the words for the above picture cards. I thought of that idea while preparing for the student of my regular tutorial, who is a 5-year-old girls (who enjoys singing Japanese songs!). The use of such cards is similar to playing cards of “karuta”. You will see the pictures and words/names of the pictures and eventually start accommodating Hiragana letters into your Japanese linguistics box in your brains.            You leave many picture cards and the word cards (i.e. the translations of the words) on the table in disorder. The learner will pick up the cards to make the matches of picture cards and the names/words of the cards that are written in Hiragana. He/she can connect the Hiragana letters with the words and pictures; it will be much more fun than reading Hiragana letters without any meanings of things or animated things of a civilization/our environment. It’ll be an effective way to learn Hiragana. The above 5 year-old learner seemed excited with those cards. I plan to use such a method for my Beginners 1 and Katakana version in Beginners 2.

Regarding Japanese economy, there were many delightful or positive news reported (esp. thanks to the Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe’s brave, effective policies), including in a newspaper The Australian. I recently talked about that economic phenomenon in classes. The articles that report and comment upon such include the following.                                These are all from the above newspaper: (1) “Japan’s growth picks up steam”, (The Wall Street Journal), by W. Warnock, T. Mochizuki, 17.5.13, p. 20, (2) “No false dawn under Abe: Japan’s sun rising again”, R. Callick, 23.5.13, p. 24 (3) “Boost lending, BoJ tells banks”, T. Ito, 28.5.13, p. 22 (4) “Japan offers new opportunities” (in the Editorial of the newspaper), 29.5.13, p. 11.

In one of the above articles, it says PM Abe’s popularity reached 70% and also the Japanese share market has gone up 70% as well in the recent record! Amazing!

One of my current free-time reading is “Amerika –wa Nihon –no Fukkatsu –o Shitteiru”, written by an Emeritus Professor (at the University of Yale and University of Tokyo), Kooichi Hamada. He is around 76 years (and still writing books and thesis!). He was one of the advisors for PM Abe esp. in relation to increase the supply of Japanese money in order to stop deflation that has been causing the bad economy and ailing industries and society, and the Bank of Japan did not do much about that for the  real solution for many years. Hamada is very outspoken and passionate about increase of money supply. He also comments: due to the impact of “Riiman-shokku” (the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers), all major countries increased the supply of money of their countries and only Japan did not; Japan suffered most among all the countries because of that.

Above Hamada reminds me of late Konosuke Matsushita (founder of Panasonic, previously National Panasonic) in many ways. Those amazing people’s talents, convictions, passion, vision, consistency in pursuing what they believe in, their almost universal values, etc are “immeasurable” for the past and future of Japan and Japanese international relations with the rest of the world. They are certainly the members of my heroes in my professionalism and personal life.

I also talked about and gave the info from website of INA Global, about the Japanese most successful newspaper Yomiuri-shimbun. Yomiuri newspaper (that began business in 1874) is not only the largest daily newspaper in Japan but also the largest in the world. Its circulation is greater than that of the New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal combined! (INA Global Press: “Yomiuri Shimbun: The giant of the Japanese press”. Yomiuri reminds me of Toyota Motors in the world’s car manufacturing industries.


Japanese Teacher, Toshiko Jackson


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June 2013
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