In this episode of Aussie English I interview my housemate Berfi, a Turkish sheila Down Under, and ask her about what it was like moving to Australia to study.
AE 349 – Interview with Berfi:
A Turkish Sheila Down Under
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About the AuthorI learn languages, teach Australian English, and love all things science and nature!
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By pete — 5 months ago
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AE 482 – 50+ Australian Slang Words You Need to Learn
G’day, guys! What’s going on and welcome to this episode of Aussie English.
Today, we’re going to be talking about 50 different Australian slang terms you need to know. Let’s go.
- Arvo. Arvo. This is just afternoon. You might hear this, what are you doing this arvo? or What are you doing tomorrow arvo? and it just means, what are you doing this afternoon or tomorrow afternoon? Arvo.
- The Aussie salute. ‘The Aussie salute’ is what we used to refer to when someone does this, because it fly’s in their face, and they move their hand like this, because we have a lot of flies in Australia.
- To bail. If you bail on something or bail on someone or you just need to bail, it just means that you need to leave. Sorry, guys, I’ve got to bail. I have to go home. I’ve got to get dinner. I’ve got to bail. Sorry about that. Gotta bail.
- A barbie. ‘A Barbie’ is just a barbecue. So, you might have friends over on the weekend, get on the deck, get some food, put it on the barbie, cook it up, you’re having a barbie, you’re having a barbecue. A Barbie.
- Bathers. ‘Bathers’ is an incredibly common way of saying ‘swimsuit’ the gear that you wear when you go to the beach or when you go to a swimming pool, because you want to swim, you put your bathers on.
- Beauty. Oh man, what a beauty! ‘A beauty’ is something that is really good as in ‘beautiful’. It is a beauty. He got a new car. It is a beauty. What a beauty! That car is a beauty.
- A billabong. ‘Billabong’ is an Aboriginal word for a pond, a small piece of water, a small thing of water, in a dry river bed. This is a billabong. And it is also a brand of surfing gear in Australia.
- A Billy. ‘A billy’ is a tea pot usually made out of a metal tin. A tin of some kind. You put it on a campfire. You use it to heat water when you camping. A billy.
- A bludger. ‘A bludger’ is someone who is lazy and doesn’t work. If they don’t have a job or when they are working they’re incredibly lazy, they are a bludger. And you’re going to often hear this in the phrase ‘dole bludger’, which means that you are receiving government benefits because you don’t have a job. You’re a dole bludger. That guy is a real bludger.
- Bogan. Man, this is one that is hard to explain. ‘A bogan’ is someone who is usually uncouth, unsophisticated, uneducated, swears a lot, is just an unpleasant person, usually. it’s sort of Australia’s version of a redneck. A bogan. A bogan. And a bogan usually doesn’t know they’re a bogan. Everyone thinks someone else is a bogan. But bogans themselves, probably won’t say, yeah, I’m a real bogan. Okay? Bogan. Be careful how you use that Down Under.
- Booze bus. The booze bus. ‘Booze’ is alcohol. Booze. ‘A booze bus’ is a police bus that is used for breath-testing, getting your breatho, when you’re driving around in the city, wherever it is. If there’s a big bus there doing breath-tests, it’s a booze bus. Booze bus.
- A bottle-o. ‘A bottle-o’ is a bottle shop, somewhere you can buy grog, booze, alcohol. A bottle-o. Let’s go to the bottle-o later and grab some beers. She’s going to head over to the bottle-o and get some wine. I love going to the bottle-o on weekends. Bottle-o.
- Brekky. Brekky. Everyone gets up and has brekky in the morning. ‘Brekky’ means breakfast. The most important meal of the day. Brekky. Let’s grab a bite to eat. Let’s get some brekky.
- Brolly. ‘A brolly’ is an umbrella, right? If it’s raining outside, if it’s pouring, rain’s coming down, you pull out your umbrella, that is ‘a brolly’. Did you bring your brolly? Looks like it’s raining outside. Get your brolly out.
- A buck. ‘A buck’ is a dollar in Australian English. A buck or bucks. How much is that, mate? About 50 bucks. Can you spare a few bucks, mate? I’m out. I need a few bucks to grab some beer from the bottle-o. Buck or bucks.
- Budgie smugglers. ‘Budgie smugglers’ are speedos or male bathers that are usually very small, sitting around the crutch area of a man, and because his genitals look like… a budgie, the bird, being put inside of a sack, it’s often referred to as ‘budgie smugglers’. So, yeah… Be careful how you use that one in Australia. But people will laugh if you say, that guy’s got some nice budgie smugglers. Tony Abbott does not look very good when he’s wearing his bloody smugglers. Budgie smuggler.
- The Bush. ‘The Bush’ is anywhere that is away from civilisation in Australia. If it is away from a city, away from a town, there is forests, there’s desert, whatever it is, it is isolated areas of country Australia. The Bush.
- Cab sav. This just stands for Cabernet Sauvignon, which is a type of red wine in Australia. So, we get lazy. We don’t want to say, let’s go and get a Cabernet Sauvignon. We’ll say, let’s grab some cab sav. I love good cab sav on the weekends after brekky.
- Cactus. If something is ‘cactus’, it’s broken. It doesn’t work anymore. The car broke down. It’s cactus. If you’re ‘cactus’, it means you’re tired. I’ve been working all day. I’m cactus. Cactus.
- Choc-a-bloc. If a place is ‘choc-a-bloc’ it is that it is completely full. So, you’ve gone to the location, there are people everywhere, you can barely move, the place is choc-a-bloc. Or maybe the fridge, you’ve got a fridge full of food, full of beer, whatever it is. It’s choc-a-bloc full of beer, choc-a-bloc full of food. Choc-a-bloc.
- Choccy biccy. You get a two for one here, guys. ‘A choccy biccy’ is a chocolate biscuit. So, we can often use ‘choccy’ to refer to anything that’s chocolate, and we can often use ‘biccy’ to refer to a biscuit. Would you like a choccy biccy? Nanna’s got some choccy biccies just for you, mate. Choccy biccy.
- A chook. ‘A chook’ is a female chicken, but you’ll often use it on someone sort of as a term of endearment, if they’re being a bit… I don’t know, if they’re a bit scared to do something. Ah, don’t be a chook! That guy’s a bit of a chook. She’s a bit of a chook. A chook.
- Chrissie. This one’s probably pretty obvious. Christmas. What are you doing this Chrissie? Are you going to celebrate Chrissie with your family? Chrissie. Everyone loves Chrissie, everyone loves Santa Claus. Chrissie.
- A ciggy. ‘A ciggy’ is a cigarette. That guy loves smoking a pack of ciggies every single day. He’s obsessed with smoking ciggies. Ciggy.
- To get clucky. To get clucky. Now, obviously, men can’t get clucky, women get clucky, and it means to get maternal. So, if someone is thinking about having children or they see children and they’re like, Oh I love kids! They are getting a bit clucky. And the idea here is that they are like a chook that is about to lay eggs and have baby chickens. Clucky.
- Cobber. ‘A cobber’ or ‘old cobber’, that guy, that cobber. It just means good friend. So, you might hear guys from time to time use this in Australia to refer to mates. How’s cobber going? What’s up with old cobber? Cobber.
- A coldie. ‘A coldie’ is just a cold beverage. Could be a beer, could be a coke, whatever it is that’s a cold drink. It is a coldie.
- That leads me to this one, ‘A cold one‘. Same thing, a cold drink, a cold one. Give us a cold one. I might grab a cold one out of the fridge. I’m parched. Really need something to drink. Give us a coldie.
- A cop or copper, or cops, coppers. This is a policeman or the police. There’s lots of cops on the roads today. They are using booze buses and they’re trying to bust anyone is drunk driving. Cops or coppers. That guy’s a cop.
- Crikey! Steve Irwin loves this one. Crikey! ‘Crikey’ is just an expression to show surprise, enthusiasm, excitement. Crikey! Wow, that looks amazing outside. Crikey! Crikey! It’s hot outside. Crikey! There’s a croc over there. Crikey!
- A croc. ‘A croc’ is a crocodile. Crikey! There’s lots of crocs in that river. Don’t go swimming at the beach, mate. There’s crocs everywhere. It’s dangerous. Crikey! Crocs.
- To be crook. If you are crook, it means that you’re sick, it means that you’re ill, it means that you’re under the weather. I’m feeling a bit crook today. I might skip work. I’m feeling the weather. I’m feeling crook.
- A dag. Literately, ‘a dag’ is the poo that hangs from a baby sheep’s tail before the tail’s been removed. However, we never use it that way. Any time someone calls you ‘a dag’, it is a term of endearment to say you’re a wee bit silly, or that you are a bit of a nerd or a geek, you’re a bit unfashionable with wearing something. You’re a dag, right? So, if I was wearing a silly hat, so if I was wearing a silly hat someone might say, take that hat off. You look like a dag. A dag. Don’t be a dag, mate.
- Your daks. Your ‘daks’ are your trousers, your pants, or even your underwear. So, someone daks you, they pull your pants down, but they might refer to their pants as ‘daks’ the themselves. Where are you daks, mate? How come you just wear a budgie smugglers? I lost my daks. Daks.
- Deadset. If someone ‘deadset?!’, it’s that they’re asking, is that real? Is that true? Are you serious? Deadset? But you can also use this as a way of describing something as being authentic or true. Man, that guy is a deadset legend. That is a deadset awesome car. Deadset.
- Devo. If you’re ‘devo’, you’re devastated. So, I went outside the other day, had my brolly, the brolly broke, and I was devo. I was devastated. Devo.
- A drongo. If you’re ‘a drongo’, it’s that you’re a bit of a fool or an idiot. I don’t like that girl. She’s a bit of a drongo. That bloke over there is really strange. He’s a bit of a dag, but actually, you know what? Even worse than that, he’s a drongo. That guy is a real drongo. Don’t you drongo, mate.
- A dunny. ‘A dunny’ is a toilet. I’ve got a dunny. I’m busting. I need to go the dunny. Is there a dunny near by? Dunny. That’s a really good money use. A dunny. And if you go camping and you find a dunny where it doesn’t flush, it’s just a hole in the ground with a dunnie on top, that’s ‘a drop dunny’. Dunny.
- An esky. ‘An esky’ is something you put your cold drinks in. It’s an insulated container for cold drinks. An esky. You’ll often take these to barbies in order to keep you drinks cold so that you can have a cold one or a coldie whenever you want. Esky.
- Fair dinkum. ‘Fair dinkum’, this is a way of saying, Honestly? No kidding? Are you serious? Really? Fair dinkum. Yeah, honestly. Yeah, fair dinkum. Did that guy really steal that car? Yeah, he did. Fair dinkum? No kidding? serious? Fair dinkum. But you can also use this one sort of like ‘deadset’ when describing someone. That guy is a deadset legend. That guy is a fair dinkum legend. He’s true, he’s authentic, he’s fair dinkum.
- A flanno or a flannie. This is a flannelette shirt. Not really much else to say. If you’re wearing ‘a flannie’ or ‘a flanno’, you’re wearing a striped or crossed flannelette shirt. Flanno. Flannie.
- A frothy. ‘A frothy’ is a beer. When you open that beer, a coldie or a cold one, and the froth comes out of it, it’s a frothy. Grab us a frothy, mate. Grab us a frothy out of the esky. I’m after cold frothy. Ah, that’ll hit the spot. Frothy.
- G’day. ‘G’day’ is pretty self-explanatory, and I’m sure you probably already know what this is. Use it! G’day. G’day. Hello. How are you? What’s going on? G’day, mate. G’day, mate. And definitely use ‘mate’ if you’re talking to guys and it’s an informal situation. G’day, mate. How’s it going? G’day!
- A galah. Now, this one isn’t that common anymore. I used to hear this when someone was talking about a stupid person. That guy’s a bit of a galah. This is a parrot in Australia. It’s pink and grey. It’s a pink and grey parrot. A galah. And they tend to be stupid birds. So, if you call someone ‘a galah’, it’s kind of a polite way of calling someone an idiot. That guy is a real galah. What a galah!
- Get stuffed! If you tell someone to ‘get stuffed’, it’s that you’re telling them, in a polite way, ‘screw you’. So, you could use this usually in anger to tell someone to go away or as an expression of contempt. If someone says something to you, you’re an idiot. You might say, ‘get stuffed!’. If someone says you’re flannie’s is a bit weird, it looks strange, you might tell them, ‘get stuffed!’. Get stuffed, mate. Get stuffed.
- Can’t be stuffed. This is another good one. If you ‘can’t be stuffed’, this means you can’t be bothered. Mate, can you come over here and help me with that? Ah nup, can’t be stuffed. Sorry, mate, can’t be bothered. I can’t be stuffed.
- Going off. If something is ‘going off’, usually a party or some kind of social event or gathering, it means that it is incredibly busy with lots of people and it is in full swing. So, it is incredibly enjoyable. This party’s going off. Things’re going off. Wow, stuff over there at the shops is going off! There are people everywhere. It’s chockablock. It’s going off!
- Good on ya. This is a common one. Good on ya, mate. Good on ya. And it just means ‘Well done’. You did a good job, mate, at work, that was amazing. What you did was great. Good on you! But you could also use this sarcastically. So, I imagine someone said, Pete’s so dumb, he doesn’t know how to tie his own shoelaces. I might say, yeah, good on ya, mate. Good on ya!
- Goon. Oh my God. Good. ‘Good’ is one of the most famous inventions that young university students tend to love in Australia and it is a plastic sack with wine in. It his cask wine. So, if someone says, oh, I brought some good to the party, the party that’s going off, they’re talking about a sack of wine. Goon. Goon. And it’s incredibly cheap. Let’s get some goon, mate. I think it’s like five bucks at the shops. Goon.
- Hard Yakka. ‘Hard yakka’ just means hard work. I’ve been working all day, I’ve been putting in a lot of hard yakka at work. If you want to work as a builder, it requires a lot of hard yakka. Hard yakka.
- The last one, guys. Heaps. Heaps. This just means loads, lots, many. Okay? There’s heaps of people outside. It’s choc-a-bloc outside. There are heaps and heaps of people there. It’s really hot outside. It’s heaps hot. You might hear people say that from time to time, meaning it is really something, it is really hot, it’s heaps hot. It’s really good. It’s heaps good.
So, that’s it for today, guys. Don’t forget if you would like to learn Australian English, check out theAussieEnglishPodcast.com. You can download this on your phone. You can listen on your computer. You can read the transcripts from the podcast on your computer. This is the number one podcast for anyone wanting to learn Australian English.
I hope you enjoy those slang terms, guys. I hope that you get to use them in real life.
And I reckon and try and use it in a comment below and see how you go.
Don’t forget too to hit subscribe, hit that Bell notification button if you would like to say today with all the new videos as they come out.
Anyway, until next time, guys, catch you later. Peace.
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AE 479 – Interview: How to Prepare for IELTs with Kit Perry
G’day, guys. Welcome to this episode of Aussie English.
So, today, I have an interview episode with you all about IELTs, and we do mention the PTE and some of the other tests as well. But yeah, I thought I would get on my fiancée’s old English teacher from Townsville, Kit, and he is from the Townsville International English School, and Kel had been harassing me for a while to get him on the podcast and saying he was an amazing guy, a really good teacher, has a lot to say, a lot of knowledge about IELTs and some of these other exams as well. And so, I thought it would be awesome to get him on and just chat to him about how to prepare for the IELTs, what to expect, how to do well on the IELTs, and hopefully put a few of your concerns at ease.
Anyway, without any further ado, let’s just get into this interview today with Kit from the Townsville International English school.
G’day, guys! Welcome to this video! Welcome to this interview of Aussie English, today I have Kit from Townsville International English School with me and he is my fiancée’s old English teacher. So, Kit, welcome to the podcast! Thanks so much for coming on.
Thanks for having me.
So, I guess, first of all, how did Kel get so good in English? What was her secret?
Well, there’s a few different things, I guess, to answer that question that’s Kel herself and her propensity or ability to pick up the language, but yeah, hopefully, I think there was an element of the school and what we do up here in her success as well. So, I think yeah there’s a few things involved in that.
That’s what I’m always saying when I hear like, she told me when she got here she spoke no English, at least I have no idea, but she said she spoke none, very limited.
Very, very limited. I remember when she first came in, we’re doing our placement test and we happened to have tablet chairs in the classroom that she was doing a test and I remember asking her, just a simple question, are you left handed or right handed? And, you know, I was just met with this complete blank sort of expression and, you know, from that point it was sort of obvious okay, well, she’s going to be pretty low. So, and yeah, she tested at a beginner level when she started and we had her for…I don´t know how long it was, but by the end, by now, you know, she’s… yeah, she’s brilliant.
You know, she speaks very much like a native speaker, I would say, you know, her vocab is incredible and yes, I don´t know, I think Raquel is a bit of an exception in some ways, you know, like I think she’s naturally talented at languages which really helped a lot and she has a great memory. I always… always think that, you know, when I have students with a really good memory that goes such a long way in learning a language. So, that also helped, but yeah, hopefully, you know, we played a part in her progression and where she’s at now too.
Yeah, definitely. I just think it’s so good that you can see how much someone could attain in just two years, you know? If they work their ass off she will say she read 30 books in a year or something and was just constantly studying. So, it’s good to know that, you know, obviously talent is part of it, but hard work is a massive part of this as well.
I absolutely agree. And she was really a very hardworking student so she really sort of, you know, put her best foot forward in everything she did. She was always doing homework, always asking for extra stuff to do. So, yeah, definitely goes a long way I think, you know, the attitude and the mentality of wanting to improve is what was there with Raquel, so yeah, definitely.
Yeah, she´s a bit of a champ.
Less about her and more about you, Kit. How did you wind up doing what you’re doing where you’re doing it? Can you tell me the story of how you ended up in Townsville, teaching English in a school?
Absolutely, yeah. So, I spent most of my young years in Townsville, actually I grew up in Townsville. I was born in Papua New Guinea, but then came back and lived in Townsville with my parents, so I grew up here. Went to the university down in Brisbane and then landed a dream sort of job up here in Townsville at a local high school and did that for about five years and I loved it. I had a great job, I had lovely students, beautiful sort of facilities and a great place to teach. However, I sort of felt over that time that my… my personal idea of what a good education is was a little bit divergent to what was going on at the school, that the focus of the school was very much on students getting, you know, As and, you know, producing results that, you know, maybe look good on paper, but I think in reality doesn’t necessarily go with what I consider a good or an effective education. So, I sort of… in many ways I sort of thought okay, well, you know, if I can’t achieve what I want to achieve as an educator within that system, that we would branch out and start our own school. One of the things that’s sort of, you know, the final straw that broke the camel’s back was I had 18 classes that I taught as a middle teacher, so 18 separate classes of students. It was ridiculous and I sort of…I went to the principal actually the year before I left and I said listen, it´s just… is too many, you know, like I was capable of teaching that many students, but… and knowing individuals for that many students, but it was just too much.
But how can you connect too, I mean, you might be able to remember their name, but how much time can you give to them?
Absolutely, yeah, totally and that’s what it was, it was about sort of, you know, like yeah, I knew the students, but could I really connect? Could I really make a difference for them? No, it was too much and I said, you know, give me a couple less classes or one less class next year and I guarantee we can do more with these students, but I came back the next year and I think I had one extra class, so I said at the start of that year, you know, that’s enough, you know. It didn’t really match with my philosophy of education so my wife is also a teacher and so we basically had a discussion at the start of that year and said well, you know, if this is not…if it this doesn’t reflect who we are as educators, then let’s create a school that does. So yes we open TIES in about 10 years ago now and we’ve been going ever since and we’ve basically created everything from what we wanted to reflect as educators and what we thought was a great education. So, you know, we have small class sizes, with a maximum of 18 students, but typically we have between sort of maybe 12 or 14 students in the class. We had a lot of individualized focus within the class, a lot of attention directly with our students and you know, maybe going back to Raquel´s example, maybe that is one of the reasons why she for example improved so much is that we’re really able to make a difference in our students lives and in their… obviously, their English ability.
So, yeah, and everything we do here works from that philosophy and that core driving principle that we start the school with.
So, what kind of advice would you have for people thinking about getting into schools and working out whether a school is going to be good, whether it’s in general or just for them? Like, are there things, are there warning signs, are there things that they can find out about different schools or it’s just a crapshoot where you have to just hope?
I mean, at the end of the day, if you can talk to a teacher who has been in that particular school for a period of time and you can get honest feedback from them, I think that’s a good place to start, but it’s not always easy to do that. I think a lot of schools on the outside looking incredible and this particular school that I was at was incredible and beautiful school, beautiful facilities and everything, but I don’t think you can really get a sense of the true cultural, the underlying cultural, the education establishment until you’re actually teaching.
It´s a hard one.
Yeah, it’s a hard one, absolutely.
There’s kind of like an anecdote I know about… one of my friends are really into cars, he loves Ferraris and I remember he was with a friend looking for a Ferrari for him. He’s not rich, but the friend was and they test drove Shane Warne’s old Ferrari. Shane Warne’s a cricketer in Australia and it looked amazing and then they got in it and there were cigarette burns in the leather, it had been destroyed, but it was like they had no idea until they got in the car that it was a piece of junk.
So, it’s a bit like that, unfortunately, is it? That you sort of have to show up in and do it then you find out. So, what would you say, what are the key things that your school does or focuses on that enables students to sort of flourish?
Sure. So, one of our key principles is to understand the needs, interests and motivations of every student and then to use that within the classroom. You know, I always think if you can really sort of tailor your classroom to what your students need, what their interests are, what their motivations are, you can teach them anything and everything, you know, if you’re interested in cars and you’re teaching comparatives and superlatives, obviously some comparisons between different models or different aspects of a car. You gonna get that person’s attention and I think it’s it’s not something that’s, you know, you can’t really say there’s a generic way I guess of teaching a particular topic, but if you understand each individual student and their needs, interests and motivations I think you can teach them anything.
That’s so true, I think Like, thinking back to high school with teachers that I really admired and enjoyed learning from with those who connect with me on a personal level, as opposed to just this is how I teach and the students need to adjust to my methods.
And so, Townsville, how do you get students in Townsville? Like I would have…before meeting Raquel, I would have thought no one’s going to Townsville, it’s so far north in Queensland what are the reasons for people to, obviously, go to Townsville and to think about it as a location to get work or to learn English? What are the benefits of going to Townsville?
Absolutely. I mean it’s a hard one because we aren´t really well known internationally, but I think in many ways it’s a benefit for our students. If you compare the cost of living for example amongst largest cities in Australia like Brisbane or Sydney or Melbourne. The cost of living in Townsville is significantly cheaper. So, I think that’s a huge advantage. We’re sort of big enough that we have a variety of different industries where students can work, yet we don’t have the high-level competition that some of the big cities have as well so there’s a lot of jobs. The biggest hurdle for us I guess is the fact that we’re relatively unknown globally. Like, you sort of talk to anyone from overseas about Australia they´l mentioned Sydney, of course, and Melbourne, Brisbane, Cairn and other centres, but not a lot of them now about Townsville so, a lot of our students come from word of mouth. So, it’s students that have recommended friends or family members to come and study. We also work with education agents both in Australia and abroad who recommend us to students from overseas, but it’s probably the most difficult thing for us is the fact that Townsville is so unknown globaly.
Does it get easir to get to, though? Because it’s unknown and there are fewer people there. Is it easier for students to get visas or to get positions at schools and stuff like that there?
I mean, the visa regulations are the same regardless of where you´re located, in terms of the student visa.
Ah, ok, gotcha. Because I was thinking rural areas, but is that work related more?
Yeah, that´s more work related, but there are I mean, there’s a lot of students that are moved to Townsville, you know, to get points for visas and things like that, but no, for a student visa is exactly the same. Yeah, I guess it’s… we’re sort of like we talk about Townsville being a small city or a large country town, you know, so it’s sort of… it doesn’t match every student, like some students really want the nightlife of the big city, they want you know their huge shopping centres and things like that. And we don’t sort of offer that, you know, like we´re more for students that really want that sort of Australian experience and really immersive in the culture and serious about improving. I think Raquel is probably, you know, as a student is probably one of the best ones to sort of ask about that you know. What was her experience of living in a small…
She said It was the deep end of the pool, she got chucked in the deep end and was like ´´oh my God! All these people speak with the strongest accent!´ Sink or swim, you either learn that accent… And now her listening comprehension is off the charts.
It is, totally. I think there´s a lot more opportunities in a regional or more rural, although I wouldn’t say rural, but a regional area like Townsville. There’s more opportunities to get to know the locals, to you know, to have that one on one with people and connect with the local community which you do get in a big city, don’t get me wrong, but I just think that there’s more opportunities for it in a small place.
And so, I guess moving on to the different kinds of exams and things that you’re preparing students for. Can you talk about which ones exist and the pros and cons of doing each one? Which are the ones that your students focus on mainly?
Yes, so our main focus is IELTS, IELTS preparation. We have an IELTS testing centre in Townsville. We don’t actually have a PTE test centre at the moment so, students if they choose PTE have to travel to Brisbane or Sydney, which adds a bit of an expense to it. But yeah that’s the other option so, so you go out and you go PTE, then you’ve got a few other tests that are more sort of job related like you have OET, The Occupational English Test for Nurses and Doctors and Health Care Professionals, and obviously you know TOEFL and TOEIC and all the rest of them, but yeah, our main focus is on IELTS preparation, specifically, but in terms of the two big comparables ones it would be PTE and IELTS.
What are the benefits? What´s are the reasons you would pick one over the other?
Yeah, I mean, at the end of the day, they´re both a test of the student’s English language ability. So, you know, like a lot of students come to me and say ´which one is easier, Kit?´ ´Which one should I shouldn’t choose to do?´ and to be honest you know it’s in my opinion it’s much of a muchness. You know, like, there might be slight benefits for some students to do PTE, for example, if they´re good at keyboards and good at typing and they writing isn’t very good. Yeah that’s definitely going to be a slight advantage PTE. However, in saying that, you know, like I think that the advantage is so small that it’s… I wouldn’t even worry about it, you know what I mean? So, at the end the day for me it’s not about necessarily which test is easier, but about preparing your general English ability, your language ability to pass the test, if you know what I mean.
That’s it and I think it was one of those things that I didn’t… I hadn’t really had that much experience with understanding how it exactly worked, either the PTE or the IELTS, but you actually need to be studying not just English, but the specific exams, right? So that’s a key thing that a lot of English learning students don’t realise when they’re trying to prepare for these exams, they better realise that learning English is one part, right? But you need to also be focusing on what do I need to be able to do in this exam to get a good score.
Absolutely, an obvious difference between the two, with IELTS being paper based and PTE being computer based. However, in saying that, IELTS also does have computer-based versions I think in Melbourne and Sydney and perhaps Brisbane, I’m not 100% sure, but there is a computer based version as well. I guess another benefit of PTE is the time that it takes to get the results of its and then arts and things like that. But I mean at the end of the day they´re both a test of your English language ability.
So, you know, I think or is an option if you both too.
Do you know the rough prices for each of them and how long’s…
They are about the same.
They´re about the same?
Yeah, exactly, in terms of price. I mean, in some areas IELTS is more expensive if it’s administered other location that isn’t the principal location, but generally speaking they´re both 330-ish dollars. So, yeah, no real difference in price point, just the fact that PTE the results come out quicker than IELTS, although I think IELTS is probably gonna up their game and change that soon with having a computer-based version as well. What else? PTE you can choose different times to do the test and there´s more frequent tests. Yeah. I mean, they’re pretty much, apart from that, they’re both a test of, you know, reading, writing listening and speaking, your vocab needs to be really good. I would say both are much of a muchness in my opinion.
Oh, brilliant, so what different kinds of exams for ILETS exist and what are the benefits or what are the reasons that you would do one over the other?
Sure, you’ve got the General at the Academic module. The Academic module is primarily used for gaining entry to to TAFE, like, vocational education or universities or for recognition to work in particular jobs like as a teacher, for example, you have to do an Academic IELTS test for teaching registrational, as a nurse or a doctor or another health care professional, that’s where Academic is the one that you need to do. The general module is more commonly used for migration purposes, to prove the level of English that a person has and to get different points at different levels within the nine band score for IELTS.
Having said that, it’s interesting, I find some students actually get higher schools in the Academic module than they do in the General module. So, in some ways it’s actually benefit to some students to do the academic for PR, for residency purposes, just depending on the student, you know? Like if I have… let’s say for example someone that has studied at university in Australia, they’ve done Accounting or whatever it is. I often would recommend to them to the Academic version because of the different scale for reading, in particular, it’s a lot easier easier in a sense or you can make more mistakes to get a higher score in the Academic than the General.
How do they differ exactly? Is it a different kinds of language? I mean, obviously, it’s academic language, but I mean, how foreign is that from the General one if you’re just saying learning English generally? Are you going to be able to do the Academic one if you wanted or you would need to sort of have some kind of experience in academic English at university or something?
Yep, sure, absolutely. So, I mean, I guess, at the end of the day, it’s like when I look at a student and if they have the option of doing the Academic or General, is about sort of identifying that student’s past experience in English and then which one is going to better suit them and what they need to do. So, yeah, so if I have a student that studied at university level in Australia, for example, then I often recommend to them to do the academic version of the test, just because I often find that they get a higher score, actually, than the general. So, yeah, I guess it depends on the students in a sort of case by case basis.
Brilliant. And so how are the exams scored? And what are the kinds of scores and what do they mean? I guess, what’s the minimum to say be able to do whatever it is that you need to do in Australia, whether it’s studying or residency or whatever?
Sure. So, it’s got an nine sort of band scale. 9.0 being the equivalent of a native speaker and then each level going down has a different sort of a descriptor as to the language ability of the student. Different levels are applied to different things so, if you have, you know, for example as a teacher, if someone comes from abroad who wants to teach in Australia. In most cases, they need an 8.0 in each. So, out of the listening, reading. writing and speaking they´ll need a 8.0 minimum in each, which is really quite a high level, to get a teacher registration.
I was wonderful and school that if I just went in blind and did the test.
I´m sure you would. I have had a few cases over the years where I had native speakers actually come to me because of they´d failed the test, but in most cases it´s just because they didn’t really understand the format or what was being asked of the test, rather than their ability.
Which emphasizes the importance in studying how to actually complete the exam, right?
Absolutely, 100 percent. It sort of…I guess, it’s a trick one. Most of my students when they get with doing IELTS preparation they want to know straightaway. What are the tips? what are the tricks? what are the techniques? And that’s important, don’t get me wrong.
You know, like, it’s… it’s quite a specific test and written in a particular way and actually there’s a benefit to that, in my opinion because if you understand the test, you can answer the questions much more effectively. However, in saying that, if a student doesn’t have the general English language level or ability right, you know, I can talk about tips and tricks and techniques until I’m blue in the face it’s not going to make any difference.
You need that ability to be able to improvise, right, on the spot. You’re not necessarily going to get the exact questions you’ve been studying, but you need to be able to know ´okay, how do I respond to this? What´s needed?´.
100 percent. Going back to the different levels required for different things, for nurses, for example, in Australia they have to do, if they do the IELTS test for their registration, they have to do the Academic modules and they have to get a 7.0 in each band, with nothing lower than a 7. Some courses at university ask for six overall. Some ask for six point five. Some ask for seven. Just depends on the university in the particular course, but for any of those examples it has to be an a. Academic test. For…More for migration purposes, students have the choice of General or Academic and the level that students get helps them in different points with applying for residency. So, you know if they can score higher, for example, or Academic they often say well, you know. you’re crazy not to do it, you know what I mean?
The good thing with Academic that it obviously applies… it covers what General covers and more.
It does, to some extent. Yeah, I mean, the only sort of issue I get sometimes with IELTS is that the results are only balanced valid for two years. So, you sort of yeah… you have to sort of think about timeframes and, you know… like I’ve got a student at the moment for example who has recently passed to get into university to study nursing and she got a 7.0 in each in a couple os higher results, which was high enough for her to get into university, but because it´s only valid two years, unfortunately, at the end, to get her qualifications recognised and her registration as a nurse, she will have to do the test again, which is a bit frustrating…
I can understand aside from obviously wanting more people to do the test more often to get money, I can imagine like… if you were to do the IELTS and then straight away leave and not speak English for two years, I can imagine that your English can deteriorate as my my French has, for example, since not speaking it for the last two or so years.
But it’s yeah, it’s frustrating as well for a lot of students, you know, that they have to do it again if they need it for registration purposes and something.
Far out! So, what would you say is the best way to prepare for IELTS? Is it that you definitely need to go to school? Is it that you don’t need a school? Like, if you were to give advice to someone who has obviously organised getting a visa and coming to Australia to study, you know, whatever it is, what’s the best way to go about studying for IELTS?
Sure absolutely. So, it’s a tricky one. I mean, I think you know most people can attain a certain level of language ability on their own, you know in isolation. But I think when you sort of… you’re talking about reaching that next level like a lot of students improve really quickly from the beginner to an intermediate level of language ability, but then they reach that plateau and they get really stuck there. I think any sort of preparation for any tests like IELTS sort of… in the same way as, you know, a student reaching a plateau, they need to have someone that’s looking at their level of English, the good things their are doing or the mistakes they´re making, a coach, trainer, someone that can look at them and say well, yeah, you do this great, but you know, if you want to attain that next level, you need to focus on your articles or you need to focus on your pronunciation of this particular sound. I think in isolation it’s really difficult for most students to attain a starting a 7.0, for example, or higher. It’s not impossible. You know, like there’s a lot of self-study material out there, but I really do feel like you need that feedback and that continual feedback.
Pushing you and giving you, as you said, feedback on the things you screwing up which you can’t necessarily get yourself, you know?
Absolutely. Having someone that knows the tests and is able to sort of identify your weaknesses and what you need to work on and them to give you continuous feedback to reach that next level. I think that’s really really important.
You know, there’s obviously face to face classes, there´s online providers, there’s lots of different options, but I think as long as you have someone, you know, a coach, a mentor, a teacher, someone giving you that feedback that’s really, really important.
And so, how long does it normally take people to prepare for the exam? You know, for say, someone like Raquel who had zero experience, it obviously took a year or two and can you compare her to say someone who does have say an intermediate level before they arrive in Australia and what each person would need to do to apply for or get a good score on IELTS?
Yeah, it’s a hard question to answer. You know, it’s sort of like the “how long is the piece of string?”, but, you know, because it all comes down to individual aptitude and how much they apply themselves and a lot of different factors, and also it comes down to the level, you know, like once you’re talking about like a 7.0 or an 8.0 and those higher levels, the differences between them and the subtleties of the language and getting students to reach the level takes a lot more work. You know, it’s almost like that last 10 percent takes 90 percent of the effort. So, it depends on the level of the student when they start, I guess, and how high they want to get. And obviously the aptitude and the attitude and all those sorts of things as well.
But, generally speaking, you know, we get lots of students that perhaps come in at an intermediate level and maybe need to get a 7.0, for example, in most cases I would sort of recommend one or two terms to get to that level.
How long’s a term? 6 months?
So, for us, it’s 11 weeks. Yeah, four eleven-week terms during the year. Generally speaking probably yeah, one to two terms to get to that level, but it depends on the student. I mean, you know, I’ve had some that you know have done brilliantly like I had a French student last year who, before starting with us did an IELTs testing on the 6.0 overall, studied with us for six months and by the end of the year, the six months, she got like an 8.0 overall with a couple of 8.5 and 7.5 so that’s a really, really high number. So that’s not uncommon too, I actually. How do you go from Colombia who recently did the test and again, passed it at 8.0 overall. So, I mean, those higher levels are harder to get too because of the subtleties and complexities of getting there, but generally speaking one turn most students got by one level. So, if I have a student that starts at 5.0 at the start of the term, generally speaking, they should be up to a 6.0 by the end of the, but it depends on every student, some are quicker, some are slower.
So, what’s normally the most difficult part to for people? I’ve heard that writing and speaking tend to be the most difficult parts, where you’ve got to produce, you’re not reading and you’re not listening. Is that true?
Yes and No. I think it depends on the individual so much and it depends on, you know, to some exten the first language, the country, the culture and so many different things. I might find, for example, maybe an Italian student my struggle with the reading part, whereas a brazilian student might struggle with the writing. I think it depends too much on the individual. You know, I think that there is definitely within IELTS there is a level that a lot of students get stuck at an academic which is 6.5, you know, you get a lot of students that are achieving 7s or higher in speaking and reading and listening, but that writing of the 6.5, they really get stuck on there.
That’s the story that I’ve heard of the writing constantly bringing the overall score down and that’s what´s screwing them over.
Absolutely and yeah that 7.5 Academic is a real sort of gateway mark for a lot of different things so, but in saying that, you know, like I think if you have a teacher who is very familiar with the writing criteria and how it’s marked and they needed very specific feedback on your task response, on your grammar, on your coherence and cohesion, on your spelling, your vocab, for example, and they say to you, well, based on you task response this is bringing you down to a 6.5, based on maybe you’re making the same grammatical errors too many times or whatever it is, I think, if you have that direct feedback and you can identify those mistakes, then it’s not really that hard, it’s just that you need someone to give that feedback and I think a lot of students miss that, unfortunately, and I think if you’re studying in a really large classroom, it’s really difficult for a teacher to provide that as well. I think having that sort of individualised, one on one sort of attention within a smaller class or small school, for me, anyway, I think that makes the biggest difference. You know, like, yeah, I think that what makes the difference.
Awesome, man. So, say you’re preparing for an exam. What if instead of asking you for, you know, the tricks and tips, what are the things that people who fail do too much of? What is the kind of person or what are the kinds of habits or things that someone who is going to not score very high, even if they have the ability, what are the kinds of things that they’re doing with regards to say study outside of class and then when they in the exam themselves? Are there any things that you would say look that’s a no-no, you need to not do that, we need to avoid this?
You know, I mean I think again it comes back to the individual and being able to identify with that student and help them to sort of understand where they’re making their mistakes and I don’t know if I can generalize about that, if you know what I mean, like it´s just… it really depends on each individual. But I mean as long as a student has an awareness of where they’re making mistakes and why they’re not achieving a particular level that they need and they’re given constructive feedback as to how to fix that, and you know that continual process I think at the end of the day that’s the most important thing.
Is there a trick to fostering that? Because I always get questions about building confidence and how do I speak English more confidently? It feels like quite often the answer is just do it, which isn’t necessarily a very productive and actionable piece of advice, but is it just a case of you just need to start trying and it’s only going to get easier with regards to building confidence for these exams or for just speaking in general?
I think building confidence is, again, comes down to the individual. I think there are some… nationalities I can say that are naturally or genuinely quite confident.
Yeah. Having said that, you know, not all Brazilians are out there and are extroverts, you know, like the stereotype, you know. So, I think it’s easy sometimes a little bit to stereotype in that way. But yeah I if I generalize there are some nationalities that I teach that are naturally more extrovert and I think that does help them in some ways to pick up language quicker. However, in other ways I think it’s also a burden to their language learning ability because quite often that confidence, unfortunately, can equate also with continually making the same mistakes and not really working on it and focusing on it. I always think if I could take you know maybe a South American brain and an Asian brain and put them together, you’d have the perfect language learner, but unfortunately we’re not like that and that’s not necessarily a bad thing too, you know, like we all bring our own you know baggage if you like to learning a second language.
And I think that if you if you’re able to identify those areas of your language and your language learning ability and then you work on the ones you weak at, then you you’re going to improve in the end. So, yeah. So, if you have a student who is typically you know maybe more shy than other students, I guess, for me it’s about building that confidence within the classroom. It’s about you know, as a teacher, for example, if I have a… you know, like when I ask students questions I try as much as I attempt to ask a question that I know they’re capable of answering. You know, like, I don’t put a student on the spot and make nervous about not knowing it. So, I guess, a lot of it comes down to your…the student experience of learning languages as well, I think you’re a great teacher can make an amazing difference for students, but then I think as well, unfortunately, a poor teacher can also have the opposite effect. So, yeah, if I have a student that’s a little bit more introvert and nervous about the language then, for me, it’s about identifying, like I said start, like their needs, interests and motivations. So, if I find that they’re particularly interested in sport or music or some particular topic and I use that in a classroom that’s immediately going to start building that confidence I think of them and being able to use the language. So, yeah, I guess once again it comes back to the individual and I guess as a teacher being able to understand that person and incorporate as much of them into the classroom as you possibly can.
What advice would you have for someone on…well, if you have any advice left over for doing well in the IELTS, but also just doing well with regards to their experience learning English in Australia are there any things that you would suggest students try and focus on or keep in mind when they come to Australia and study English or think about doing the IELTS?
Absolutely. I mean, apart from coming to Townsville to study English at Townsville International English School.
Sneaky plug there.
Honestly, I think do your research, you know, find a school that sort of matches or find a location in the school that matches what you want to get out of the experience. I guess take an interest as well. You know, I find students that that take an interest in the learning process do a lot better than those students that, you know, are a little bit disinterested. So, it’s a two-way street, like I think teachers can do a lot to help that, but I also think, you know, at the end of the day it’s about that student’s attitude towards learning as well. I mean for Raquel, for example, that’s one thing that is really in her favour. You know, she… I think very much had a thirst for knowledge and a passion for learning the language and I think that shows in how quickly and how effectively she picked up the language. So, yeah, I guess advice to people probably yeah, do you research before you come, try to choose a place that matches your own what you want to get out of the experience.
And then once you actually arrive and get in the classroom, try dissidents immerse yourself, you know, like when the school does outings or excursions get involved with it, when they do offer conversation classes in the afternoons or whatever, get involved in it, and try to take an interest in everything, you know, ask questions. I think that goes a long way.
Awesome! Well, Kit, thank you so much! Again, Kit is from Townsville International English School, guys! I think Kel would say definitely go to Townsville if you´re thinking about coming to Australia and you haven’t pick the city yet so, thanks again so much for joining me, Kit.
It’s my pleasure. Thanks for having me.
All right, guys. So, I hope you enjoyed that episode today. Thanks again Kit from the Townsville International English School for coming on the podcast and sharing all of your knowledge about the IELTs exam.
Guys, I hope this helps. I hope that if you are planning to do the IELTs exam in the future or if you’ve done it in the past and may need to do it again sometime soon, I hope that this episode helps. I would love to know what you think. So, make sure you leave a comment below on the website and I will check you guys soon.
Catch you, guys.
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