Top Tips for IELTS

News from Dominic


Hello again – I’m back at work!

Sorry, I took a few unscheduled months off but I am now back at work with my nose to the grindstone. That's an idiom saying that I am working very hard indeed and so you can expect lots and lots of new materials.

At home in my office

At home in my office

What’s new

Well, here's a very brief summary of what's going on and what you can expect.

Much more complete introductions to all 4 skills and grammar and vocabulary will be appearing on a monthly basis - approximately. This means making the main pages of the site much more user-friendly.

The daily word is now a daily word again! 

Even better, I am doing what I should have done a long time ago and publishing weekly vocabulary review lessons. This is how vocabulary learning works. Repetition is important.

I am reviewing and upgrading some of my more important lessons - this will mean adding content, adding video (not just Youtube but video I hope that will accessible everywhere)

Adding more teachers to the teachers' page - this is a really important part of the site. There really is no replacement for a good teacher who can help you personally. (And if you are a freelance IELTS teacher please do get in touch if you are looking for students)

Reinstating the forum in a slightly different format! Sadly, when I was away the forum got overrun by spam and I decided that it couldn't survive in that form. It was sad because the speaking group was working well - over 350 members! That will be back in a couple of weeks.

Some re-organisation

I am busy changing things around so that they are easier to find. Please note that

  • the weekly vocabulary review is at the foot of the page on the right
  • the most recent posts are at the foot of the page in the middle 
  • pages and lessons I have upgraded are on the front page bottom left

Is there anything that isn’t working? Please tell me.

Well, yes!

I am working to try and fix everything - as hard as I can. I hate websites where things don't work. Pleas let me know as and when you find:

  • audio files missing
  • video not working
  • dead links
  • or just mistakes

I will fix it all but some things take more time than others.

Why you should consider following my Facebook page – using the internet to learn

The idea of my FB page is to show people how you can use the resources of the internet to learn and how you can use general English resources to improve your IELTS skills.

The links and resources I put there are exactly the sort of things I used in my class - when I still had one! The difference is that while I might take 40 minutes in a class, on FB it should only take 5 minutes at most. 

One of my first internet sites (perhaps it still exists somewhere out there) was called A little but often - it's an excellent learning idea.

You can see a small selection of what I do on FB on the other side of the page. What you will find are regular exercises and links and of course I can't resist giving advice too - I'm a teacher and we never shut up! The difference there is that I use far fewer words! It's Facebook.


How to contact me

I always enjoy getting comments and I try to be as helpful as possible in answering them. If you want to comment or ask me a question you can:

leave a comment on a post 

use my contact details below

Just please don't ask me how to write a band 7 essay. There isn't a short answer to that and that's why this site is so big! And if you want to have someone to look at and comment on your writing - sorry, I don't have time for that. That's one reason why I have a teachers' page - they will do the job more carefully than I ever could.

What you may have missed on FB this month

If you don't follow me on FB this is a selection of what you may have missed this month - that page gets updated even more regularly than this site! 

A really good online resource

Do you want a free online course in IELTS - a really professional one? Well here are three of them. If you're not in Australia you may not know about them.

They are good! There's also plenty there and it's all free

Some listening practice

Let's try some listening practice today. Ted is of course a great resource. Many of the topics there are very similar to what you can hear in part 4 listening and there is a transcript too.

It's not a bad idea to read and listen at the same time if you are "training" rather than testing yourself.

This listening on bees is very IELTSy. Try these questions below.

1. Bee pollination is necessary in the production of over ___________ of the world’s crops

2. Some growers put colonies of bumblebees in _____________ to help pollinate tomatoes.

3. The world has more than 20,000 __________ of bees.

4. The bee that most attracts people is the _____________

A quick vocabulary exercise 

Just a quick vocabulary exercise today. Can you think of two synonyms for flower? It's good to be able to vary your words and talking about "nature" is something that you may need to do in IELTS speaking.

You'll find the answer in this post by Tish - both words begin with B!

A good follow-up exercise would be to see if you could talk about "a season in your home town" i.e.

"Can you tell me which your favourite season is and why?"Almost forgot something important. Check how to use the words. Step one is to see how Tish uses them. Are they are nouns or verbs? Do they come in phrases. Step 2 is to look in dictionary to see other possibilities. The dictionary I use most is Macmillan:

A suggestion and video about task 1

Where do most mistakes in IELTS academic task 1 come from? Probably by not completely understanding the instructions. In fact, they are quite clear and very explicit about what you should do. A quick video tutorial - for now a FB exclusive.

A quick error correction exercise 

Error correction day today. How many spelling mistakes can you spot in this paragraph?

In contrast, their is only one major argument on the other side of the debate. This is that both museums and art galeries need to charge an entrance fee if they are to survive in the modern world. Goverments do not have sufficient funds to subsidise all such institutions and there are other priorities for public money. Therefor these galeries and museums need to charge their customers not only to survive but to update their exhibitions and make new purchases. By way of illustration, the Tate Modern in London could not have been founded without revenue from admisions.

You'll find the original essay and vocabulary exercise here:


Get more help with IELTS preparation on the main pages of my site

Home page

Speaking Guide

Writing Guide

Essay writing guide

Academic task 1 guide

Letter writing guide

Reading guide

Listening guide

IELTS vocabulary

IELTS grammar

Keep up with me on Facebook - all the updates and even more advice there


Or just get all my free lessons by email

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2 Responses to News from Dominic

  1. Ulyses November 2, 2014 at 8:54 am #

    Dear Dominic,

    I have been teaching IELTS for a few years now and would like to know your opinion on the use of indented paragraphs for Writing Task 1 and 2.

    Kind regards, Ulyses

    • Dominic Cole November 2, 2014 at 10:22 am #

      Just so long as it is clear that the paragraphs are paragraphs indent or don’t indent. Clarity of paragraphing is all that counts.

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