Monthly Archives: May 2015

Listening Shorthands

It can be difficult for students to keep up in the Listening section, especially if the passage is long or they are a slow writer. One way to make sure you don’t fall behind during each question is to use shorthands that you then fill in during the breaks between questions or at the end. For example, consider a question that asks you to list the symptoms of malaria, and then the audio lists them very quickly as below:

“Headache, fever, muscle pain, dizziness, anaemia, sweating, nausea….”

It can be hard to jot all these down in full without losing track of the speaker, and this is where shorthands come in. During the audio, you could write down

“Head…, fev…, musc…., diz…, ana…., sweat…., naus…”

This would take less time than writing out each symptom in full, and would mean you could keep up with the speaker better. You would then go back and fill these words in during the break after the question. It’s important to realize we do not recommend coming up with a short form for every word before the exam – rather, you write fragments of each word you meet that are recognizable enough that you can come back during the break and fill them out. You might not recognize “ana” as being short for “anaemia” a week later, but during the test the audio should be fresh enough in your memory that you can fill it in.

Good luck studying!

Tips for Improving OET Reading

Reading B – Assigning titles to paragraphs/articles

A common question type in Reading B is one where you asked “What is the most appropriate title for this paragraph?” or “What would make a suitable title for this article?”. It is useful to consider how best to answer these questions. The general principle that works for questions like this is to ask yourself “Which title covers everything in the paragraph, but is as narrow as possible?”. This principle might seem contradictory at first – how can a title cover everything, but be narrow? However, we will consider an example to illustrate the principle at work.

Example 1

Alcoholic cirrhosis is the most common cause of hepatic cancer in Australia, accounting for approximately 60% of diagnoses, closely followed by hepatitis B virus, which is responsible for an additional one fifth of these patients. Other, less common, aetiologies include other viral hepatitides, hepatitis of non-infectious causes, aflatoxin exposure, haemochromatosis, Wilson’s disease, Type 2 diabetes and haemophilia.

Which of the following titles is most appropriate for this paragraph?
A) Complications of alcoholic cirrhosis
B) Risk factors for hepatic cancer
C) Alcoholic cirrhosis in the aetiology of hepatitis B
D) Causes of hepatic illness

At first glance, answer A looks like it could fit – the text talks about alcoholic cirrhosis leading to the complication of hepatic cancer. However, this title only really applies to the first sentence, and the rest of the paragraph has no relevance to alcoholic cirrhosis. Similarly, answer C is incorrect because it only considers terms in the first sentence, and is also incorrect as the paragraph considers alcoholic cirrhosis and hepatitis B in the aetiology of hepatic cancer. Both B and D do fit the whole paragraph, but the most appropriate title of these two will be the one that is most narrow. The article doesn’t talk about hepatic illness in general, but instead focuses on hepatic cancer – D is too broad, where B fits the paragraph perfectly.

The same principle can be applied to questions asking you to give a title to the whole article – make sure that your title choice can be applied to any given paragraph in the article. Unlike Reading A, in Reading B you have a bit more time to read and process the text to get a general feel for the information in the article, and this can help your choice of a title.

Hi everyone, 皆さん、こんにちは。


My Japanese classes/lessons included practices to develop skills of speaking/talking, reading, listening, writing, interacting, and constructing/performing students’ own dialogues by pairs/groups or by oneself and learning Japanese used in travelling in Japan. Speaking practice sometimes used the pictures, concepts or topics from the brochures of the Japan National Tourism Organizations, Jenta, Nichigo Press, Daily Telegraph etc.

My Intermediate 2 has finished Unit 8, Genki Book 1 and began using Japanese for Busy People, Book 2. – The reason of the change of the textbook was that Genki Book 1 is based on the topics of a university student’s life in Japan, whereas Japanese for Busy People, Book 2 for a working person of non-Japanese origin who lives in Japan. In addition, the former book is slow (but with more exercises given for grammar teaching) with many explanatory paragraphs that are mostly in English. And the latter book has much more stimulating and practical concepts, names and words for adult learners who wish to visit or live in Japan. (However, when it comes to the dialogues in each Unit of the above books, Genki Book 1 is better than Japanese for Busy People. That is the former has more clear, beautiful pronunciations and ways of readings.                                                                      My above class (Intermediate 2) seems happy to use Japanese for Busy P. Book 2 and accepted for the course book from now onwards. So, that will continue. Kanji teaching will go together with teaching each Unit since the back of the book has the Kanji teaching Units.

Also, for the above class, I will continue using some units or pages Real Life Japanese (by C. Dibble & S. Matsumoto, UNICOM, Tokyo, 2001 (+ cd) for teaching Travel Japanese.

I have 2 students for weekly tutorials (different tutorials). Both are Beginners 2 levels. We use Genki Book 1 and its script pages of the back of the book (currently learning Katakana script) apart from some other handouts for esp. script learning and vocab increase (and its application to make sentences). Both students are keen learners, knowledgeable at Japanese culture and highly motivated, so it is enjoyable to teach.

Regarding the news from Japan through the media, I spoke about the following in my lessons.

The Japanese Imperial Couple, Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, visited Peleliu Island (part of the west Pacific island nation of Palau) (7 April, 15, NHK News, shown on SBS TV). The visit was the Emperor’s personal wish esp. after they/he could not do so when he wished a decade before at his visit to other island. The visit was to commemorate those who had lost their lives during WWI and they visited monuments dedicated to Japanese and American soldiers on Peleliu Island. The Royal visit was absolutely welcomed by all in the island and it was almost sensational. The head of the country and others said the Royal visit was excellent for the two nations’ new relationships. One fourth of the total population of the country is Japanese descendants. (similar report to that topic can be seen at the online artile of the Japan Times –

Japanese Teacher, Toshiko Jackson


Tips for Improving OET Reading at Home

Many of my students struggle to complete either part A or part B of the reading for a number of reasons. Part A requires you to be able to quickly skim read and pick out key words that will guide you to the answer, while Part B is a test of your reading comprehension and will highlight a need to improve general vocabulary and understanding of the written language. Below are some of my suggestions on how to improve your reading at home.

  1. Get into the habit of reading every day. Whether it is an English novel, the newspaper or a magazine it is very important to read something every day, or as regularly as possible to improve your reading speed and comprehension. For the OET in particular it would be a good idea to read scientific journal articles online from wites such as Medline, EBSCO and PubMed, or read information on medical websites such as the BMJ (British Medical Journal).
  2. Following on from the above suggestion, when you find a word that you do not understand while you are reading, copy it down into a book with the dictionary definition for future reference. I find that a lot of my students miss out on choosing the correct answer in Reading Part A and B because they come across a word that forms part of the answer but they do not know what it means. Therefore, it is extremely important to read regularly and write down new words when you come across them. To really improve your vocabulary put some time aside in your day to also revisit the new words you have written down so that you learn them for the future.
  3. Finally be smart about what you read and try to summarise the meaning to test how well you understand the text. This is an exercise you can do to see how well you are able to understand what you have read. While you are reading a book/newspaper/magazine pick a page, or a few paragraphs and read them, then try to summarise what you have just read either verbally or by writing a small summary.

Hopefully these small tips will help improve your reading skills immensely. Best of luck in the future with the OET!

Korea, China and Japan: Neighbours with differences – Religion

korean courses

There are about 200 countries in the world. All of these countries co-exist with their neighbouring countries. It is easily found that those neighbour countries have much similarity in terms of their culture, language and religion. For instance, even though neighbouring countries England, France and Germany might have different history and life style, historically, most people believe in the same God and all use the same letters, the alphabet. In addition, they also use forks and knives.

The three East Asian countries: Korea, China and Japan on the other hand, are a group of neighbours that is rather different from other neighbouring countries in particular from the perspective of religion.

In China, there are the hundreds of religions. One of the religions, Confucianism has become an underlying social and ethical philosophy but it was not a religion being practiced. In fact, more people have turned to Taoism, meditating for happier lives and tranquillity. After communism overtook throughout China, the Cultural Revolution greatly destroyed Confucian traditions.

In Japan, when Buddhism was first introduced, practitioners of Shinto, the native religion of Japan, were anything but pleased. However, Prince Shotoku (574-622 A.D.) contributed to settling Buddhism down in Japan. He proclaimed freedom of religion and built a grand temple. Not only he pursued developing Buddhism But also tried to harmonise Buddhism with other exiting religions. Therefore Confucianism, Shintoism and Buddhism co-existed with each other in Japan.

In Korea, the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) kings revered Confucianism adopting it as the country’s official religion. But they suppressed Buddhism. Hence, Korea became the most Confucianism centred country in the world at that time.  In 1945, Christianity spread after Korea’s liberation from Japan. Surpassing Buddhism, Christianity has become the No. 1 religion in Korea with approximately 35% of the population professing to be Christians, which is fairly unusual in Asia. Currently there are tens of thousands of churches nationwide. The religious manifestations in Korea are entirely different from those in Japan and China.

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May 2015
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