Daily lessons with Simon, ex-IELTS examiner

  • The ‘new normal’
    by Simon on April 7, 2020 at 9:03 am

    As I write this on April 7th 2020, we’re experiencing a change to our way of lives that nobody could have imagined just a couple of months ago. The UK, where I live, is on ‘lockdown’ due to the spread of the new coronavirus, and I imagine that many of you are in a similar situation. I hope you’re well, and that you are able to find some positives in this ‘new normal’ (this phrase is being used a lot here). I know that some students are using this time as an opportunity to improve their English. I’m still teaching…

  • Message from Simon
    by Simon on March 3, 2020 at 9:00 am

    Today I’m making a difficult decision: I’m taking a break from this blog for a while. I’ll still be teaching IELTS, but I’ll only be available in one place: my member site. Here’s a quick explanation for this decision: Over the last few months I’ve been in too many places at the same time. I’ve been publishing daily blog lessons, creating special lessons for the member site, answering emails and comments, and even posting things here and there on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram. I’ve learnt that by doing too many things, the quality of each one suffers. I want to…

  • IELTS Reading: another ‘true, false, not given’
    by Simon on March 2, 2020 at 9:00 am

    Read the following text and try the quick exercise below it. Primal Therapy Primal therapy is a trauma-based psychotherapy created by Arthur Janov, who argues that neurosis is caused by the repressed pain of childhood trauma. According to Janov, repressed pain can be sequentially brought to conscious awareness for resolution through re-experiencing specific incidents and fully expressing the resulting pain during therapy. In therapy, the patient recalls and reenacts a particularly disturbing past experience, usually from early in life, and expresses normally repressed anger or frustration, especially through spontaneous and unrestrained screams, hysteria or violence. Janov criticises the talking therapies…

  • IELTS Grammar: adjectives after nouns?
    by Simon on March 1, 2020 at 9:00 am

    As I’m sure you know, we normally place the adjective in front of the noun in English e.g. “the red car” instead of “the car red”. However, English is a crazy language, and rules are there to be broken! If you read yesterday’s lesson (and clicked on this link), you may have seen the following examples of noun + adjective: someone important somewhere nice the best room available the only decision possible the worst choice imaginable the person responsible Remember: The ‘rules’ that you find in an intermediate (or even ‘advanced’) grammar book are probably a simplification. There are deeper…

  • IELTS Grammar: ‘any product imaginable’
    by Simon on February 29, 2020 at 9:00 am

    There was an interesting discussion in the comments below Wednesday’s lesson about the phrase “I can buy any product imaginable”. Here’s a summary of the questions in that discussion: 1) Why did I write any product imaginable instead of any imaginable product? 2) Would any imaginable product also be correct? 3) Is there a difference in meaning between the two phrases? I’ll try to answer without going deep into grammar, but if you really like the grammar side of things, have a look at this page (especially the part about ‘the only decision possible’ and ‘the worst choice imaginable’). The…

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