Saturday, November 4, 2017

Two Steps to Success

It has finally happened! I was desperate to have one of my women PTE candidates score a 79+. But it always eluded me. 65+ happened but that's about it. And on the other hand my male students were happily scoring 90s. So frustrating! For, how can you be really successful if women candidates do not figure in your success stories? I had heard so much talk about the PTE software not being favourable to ladies. Especially because most of them tend to speak fast and often quite softly. I obviously didn't want to believe all that. But I nearly did! 3 times unsuccessful. And finally...

4th time lucky. She finally did it:

I have to give it to her. She worked so hard for this. She has earned it. Yes, she had the talent but, then, so many others do too. Her case proves me right yet again - talent must go hand in hand with hard work. Only then can you achieve Excellence.

But excellence doesn't come in a day. It is shaped by a ruthless, single-minded adherence to a cause. Excellence, as Aristotle had observed many centuries  ago, is a Habit. Live excellence. And it will be yours. When preparing for exams - domestic or overseas - give your all. The outcome may not be under your control; but how much effort you put in surely is. This effort consists of two elements - HARD WORK & ANALYSIS. Together they make a package that goes by the fancy name of STRATEGY.

There is no substitute for hard work. At least 2 hours daily, over a month or more, depending on the kind of exam you are attempting. SAT, PTE, IELTS, TOEFL, TOEIC - for these 1 month is enough. However, for GMAT, GRE or CAT , you will surely need a 4-6-month preparation period.

But  don't just practice endlessly. Analyse your mistakes and learn from them. Also, don't concentrate on individual tests. Try to see your performance by averaging it over at least 10 tests. Your average score paints a truer picture. I encourage my students to do just that. Of course, my students can practice from the mocks and that they must. However, even as they do so every day, they must analyse their performance: what is their success rate? what kind of mistakes are they repeatedly making? Exactly where are they tripping up? It is this kind of analysis that helps you to improve with every test.

Everyone fails. Failure is only the flip side of success. But those who eventually make the cut, actually find out WHY they have erred at certain places. Man has been able to conquer the world because of his sheer intellectual prowess. It is a god-given gift that distinguishes us from the monkey and the ape. Make good use of it.
When hard work and intelligence
work hand in hand,
many things are possible.

                                                                                                                - Dr T. P. Chia

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Elephant in the Room: Speaking in PTE

Speaking in PTE Academic is what Writing is in IELTS - as crucial to success and as difficult to crack. Yet the underlying requirements are quite simple. You need to speak at your normal pace. You need to speak with ease. And you need to be fluent. Pronunciation needs to be good as well. Moreover, there should be sufficient modulation to give force and meaning to your message.

Great! Basically, I need it all then! In that case, let's get a few concepts straight.

What is fluency?
Speech is nothing more than groups of words separated by commas, full stops and other types of punctuation. At every point where there is a punctuation, there needs to be a pause. The ability to read aloud or speak using pauses at the correct place is fluency. It is not the same as clarity though. It is in fact closer to speaking rhythmically, speaking at your normal pace, speaking with the correct modulation, and pausing at the correct places.

And what about Pronunciation?

Only this much needs to be said about it: the pronunciation needs to be correct. It can be American or British but you should try to be consistent. Fake accent is to be avoided. The speaking test tries to find out the extent to which the influence of your mother tongue hampers intelligibility. Thus, if you speak with a very strong accent, you should first try to unlearn that. Pronunciation apps are aplenty in the market. Download one and start practicing pronunciation regularly. You should do this even before you start your core PTE Academic training/preparation in earnest.

The Speaking topics

Read Aloud, Describe Image and Retell Lecture are the most important items in this section. Repeat Sentence and Answer Short Questions can be high scoring. But don't run away from the second and the third item mentioned above. If you crack them, you stand a very good chance of scoring very well in your PTE Speaking module.

A Final word

Excellence is a habit. It is therefore boring, a great deadener. Let your desire for success  overcome boredom. And practice with passion for perfection.

Autograph your work with excellence

- Unknown Source


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

How to Crack the PTE Academic exam

How did this post originate?

I was taking my PTE class this morning. Two of my students were practicing Read Aloud. Both had gained a high level of oral fluency through sustained practice over a period of time. However, we had not visited this topic for 5 days as we were more concerned with Describe Image and Retell Lecture. Hence the decision to get back to Read Aloud today. I was suspecting that it won’t go as smoothly as it had earlier. And sure enough, I was proved right. Both stumbled a couple of times and committed a couple of errors, though minor ones.

Practice, Practice, Practice

The incident once again made me realize how important doing it every day is to eventually attain a high score. This is especially true of Speaking. PTE Academic tests you in many ways and is quite straightforward. However, it does require a good amount of – what else? - practice. You can attempt PTE Academic without any outside help or guidance. Cyberspace is full of information and materials. But if you don’t force yourself to spend some time everyday for at least 3 weeks, then you may be found struggling.

Everyday is the operative word here. Excellence is a habit. As Aristotle had said, "We are what we repeatedly do". Excellence does not tolerate irregularity. A gap of 5 days is all that is needed to adversely affect your preparation for the test.

You need a clearly-chalked-out path. And you need to travel down that path no matter what. Prepare a structured schedule, adhere to it at all costs, monitor your daily progress, learn and adjust as you go along. But never forget, it is practice that will make you perfect.

There is no glory in practice,
but without practice,
there is no glory...
                                    - Anonymous

Post credits: Samit Sengupta
Founder, English Academy

Monday, January 9, 2017

Finding Fun While Learning Grammar

A new addition to the menu has been weekend grammar classes for Middle school students (classes 5-8). 1.5 hours per day on both Saturdays as well as Sundays. The class already boasts of a good 8-9 students who - much to our pleasure - are having a whale of a time.

Grammar and fun usually do not go together. But this is exactly what Samit's English Academy wishes and endeavours to achieve: a win-win for both, the young stakeholders as well as their parents.
Each class is usually divided into two broad sections - work and play. Work, the first half, deals with various aspects of grammar - although in an excitingly non-grammar way. Here there is no emphasis on rules but rather on pictures and charts and trees in order to grasp the concepts clearly. This is followed by thorough practice using worksheets of different levels of difficulty. Not to mention Reading aloud in front of the class, Recitation competitions and surprise spelling-and- dictation tests almost every week

The 2nd half of the class is about "play" - very important since all work and no play makes jack a dull boy. We play Crossword games, Scrabble, various oral word games like "Atlas", "Name, Place, Animal, Things", "Spin a Yarn" and many more.

The final aim of the 3-month Grammar workshop is to make the young students more confident with a balanced and well-developed personality.

Post credits: Samit Sengupta
Founder, English Academy