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My New Hairdo – “To have something done”

My New Hairdo – “To have something done”

Recently people have been reporting IELTS questions about hair. Just before New Year, I had my hair done at my local salon and I wanted to write about it here to help you out with some useful grammar and idiomatic phrases about hairdos.

I spent an arm and a leg on getting it bleached and then dyed with fashion colours.

It took an age – I was in there for about five hours in total.

The hairdresser put bleach on the ends to create what is called an ombre

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The advantage of this is that you only make the ends of the hair blonde, which means you do not get unsightly dark roots growing – the roots of your hair are the parts that attach to your scalp (the skin on your head).

For people with bleached  hair (hair made a lighter colour), roots are a problem, because they grow back as your natural colour giving a dark stripe on the top of your head. Then it becomes a constant fight to keep your hair looking nice because dark roots are ugly.

Having an ombre seemed the obvious answer, but there is a class thing with this, and actually, in the UK many people do not consider it high-class to have an ombre.

However, I wanted my hair dyed (coloured) pink and needed to bleach it before the dye would take, so I wasn’t going to let a few social snobs stop me, and I got it done.

Once she had bleached the ends – the hair opposite to the roots – the hairdresser used pieces of silver foil  (metallic paper usually used in cooking)  and a brush to add the dye and left it to work for half an hour. After that, she rinsed the dye off my hair and, hey presto, I was bright pink and blue.

I was so happy with it.

The hairdresser also used curling tongs to put some ringlets into it. Here was the final effect:

 

 

The only sad thing was that I had to have it done on the 30th because the salon was closed on New Year’s Eve. Once I had slept on my hair and brushed it the next morning, the curls were all gone so I didn’t have that style for my party.

She told me it would only last for 6-8 weeks, but it has been four weeks, and the colour has almost entirely washed out.

I desperately want to be pink again, but I cannot afford to have it done every four weeks and have that money, literally, go down the plughole, so I am going to do it myself at home rather than have it done in the salon.

Idiom: To go down the drain/go down the plughole.
Be unsuccessful, lost, or wasted.
“The company went down the plughole.”
Source: macmillandictionary.com/dictionary/british/go-down-the-plughole

My sentence: to, literally, go down the plughole

  • The dye is washed out of the hair into the bathwater.
  • The plughole is the hole in a bath where the plug goes.
  • The plug is placed in this hole and stops the water from flowing out of the bath until you want it to.

In the sentence about the company, the idiom is only metaphorical. But in my example of expensive hair dye, this is a rare example of the idiom where the words actually describe the situation literally.

-it is likely that the questions about hairstyles that have are being reported in IELTS currently will be testing higher band students on the following English grammar:
To have something done VS to do something
When we do something, we might do it well or poorly. Certain things can or should only be done by professionals. In this case, we HAVE [something] DONE by [a professional].

I’ve highlighted in bold some examples in the story above and in a future lesson, I’ll explain the grammar a bit more.

I’ve also highlighted in italic some of the more idiomatic phrases and useful ways to say stuff in English. I hope you liked this lesson. Please go on my email list to get more…

 

 

The secret of going from band 7 to 8 in IELTS speaking

 notThis article will tell you two ways to go from a 7 band to an 8/9 band in IELTS speaking. It has some key secrets that native speakers know that you don’t. But if you read the article and do the exercises, you will have the secrets within the next 20 minutes.

One of the differences between band 7 and band 8 speaking is being about using the right tone of expression when you are speaking. Non-native speakers often sound impolite or short and abrupt when they are expressing dislikes. I’m going to tell you how to avoid this in three easy steps.

Another thing is that in band 8 you need to express exact meanings. A band 8 candidate can say whether they dislike something only a little or you dislike it very much with a natural choice of words. I’m going to give you some different expressions for these situations.

Everything you learn in this article is about speaking; different rules, words and expressions are needed for the writing test.

Words can sound sad, angry, happy…argumentative

One thing to learn is that we use softeners to make our negative spoken statements less direct.  These softeners avoid us from sounding like we want to argue. When you don’t use them, the native speaker might think you are angry with them or want to pick a fight with them.

You have probably seen a list of language functions for expressing likes that goes something like this:

  • It is my cup of tea
  • I am into
  • I enjoy

Here are two more expressions,

  • I am a big fan of…
  • I  am crazy about…

So do you think we can just put “not” with these phrases to make them negative?

It is not my cup of tea; I am not into; I do not enjoy…

Can we say them in this way?

The answer is going to be no, right? Or why would I be asking the question…

So, what are the first 3 rules for making yourself sound friendly and polite when expressing a dislike in English?

  1. Contract any not’s and auxiliary verbs
  2. Add adverbs
  3. Add discourse markers

Woah! Such technical language. Don’t worry; I’m going to show you in three easy steps with lots of examples.

Impolite1. Contract to make politer – adds informality
No, I do not enjoy swimmingNo, I don’t enjoy  swimming
2. Add adverbs to make politer still3. Add discourse markers to soften the tone
No, I don’t really enjoy swimmingAhh.  Well, no. I don’t really enjoy swimming

The following are all alternatives to “It is not my cup of tea” which are much more natural to say. I tell my students to avoid saying “it is not my cup of tea” because it sounds so old-fashioned. I hear people saying it, but those people are all over 65 years of age.

  • Oh, well, I’m not very much into nightclubs and dancing. Do you fancy a film instead?
  • Ahh, no, I don’t really enjoy my job, but it pays the bills, I guess
  • Actually, I’m not exactly crazy about the way people waste food
  • Hmm, I’m not really into zoos at all. In fact, they make me rather sad.
  • Well, I have to say, I’m not hugely a fan of football stars earning so much money
  • Well, I don’t care too much for the way people throw litter on the street

Can you put the words into columns according to which are discourse markers, contractions and adverbs? Work on paper – it will really help you.

The first two rows are done for you:

contractions             adverbs                 Discourse markers               expressions                   
I’m notVery muchOh wellTo be into
I don’treallyahhTo enjoy

 

You might have just realised rule 4 for expressing dislikes. This is something Brits do – we are masters of understatement! An understatement uses softer words when the feeling is actually very strong.

Try the exercise again and this time rate the feelings of the speaker. You can put dislike or “pet hate.” A pet hate is a hate that you keep close to your heart. Something you love to hate. The label them statement or understatement and see what pattern comes out.

As I promised earlier, here are some ways to express degrees of dislike.

IN IELTS Band 8 or 9 expressing different degrees of dislike is essential.

Can you guess these?

PhraseAbsolute fear and hatredSlight dislike or distasteIndifference – not really care that much
Oh zoos. Well  they’re not really my thing.
I’m an out and out bird hater. I can’t stand to be near them.
I think I’d rather cross the street than go near a dog.
Hmm, extreme weather. Well it doesn’t really bother me; I’ve got used to it living in Moscow.
I wouldn’t say I’m a massive fan of Apple products because I don’t want to get locked in.
Iphones. I guess they are okay, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to get one.
I’m not crazy about pizza.  Well, I try to avoid cheese in my diet.
I wouldn’t go near a jazz concert if you paid me
Coffee? Well, as far as I’m is concerned, I can take it or leave it. I am a green tea person, really

Do you remember everything? A useful summary of everything in the article is here. Go here also for the answers to both exercises. COMING SOON!!

Alternatively, if you would like to receive updates, you can download the whole article, plus the summary and answers as an ebook. I am writing a book on how to go from band 7 to 8 in IELTS. If you would like to see the content as I write it, please sign up for my email list. For a start, you will get a PDF of this blog post which I have specially designed so you can enter notes onto it. It also contains all the answers to the questions. COMING SOON!

Not using contractions can sound angry. What does it have to do with IELTS?

Not using contractions can sound angry. What does it have to do with IELTS?

Over the next five weeks, I am going to be studying how to teach pronunciation with Linked English trainer Elena Mutonono. Why? Because linked English is something that too many IELTS teachers do not give enough attention to, and I want to change this.

Is having an accent such a bad thing? Many students never learn to pronounce English words properly. I’m not talking about the sounds you make when you mispronounce a vowel or a consonant, everybody who speaks English has an accent. Accents are good and to be honest, native speakers find them attractive. Instead, I’m talking about linked English and intonation patterns.

You already know how to contract a sentence like:

I am sure she is not dating him.
To
I’m sure she isn’t dating him.

But did you know if you don’t use the contractions you could sound angry and rude?


In the featured video for this blog post, the two characters have the following conversation:

Sally: I think Jack is going out with Gillian.
Tom: Gillian isn’t going out with Jack.
Sally: I think she is.
Tom: No she is not.
Sally: How d’you know?
Tom: Gillian is not going out with Jack!

(going out with = having a romantic relationship with)

In order to show his frustration and bad mood, Tom takes all the contractions out of his last sentence pronouncing each word separately and distinctly.

Does speaking without contractions always sound angry? No. But when we speak without contractions, we sound unnatural, and sometimes it can be mistaken for anger. Remember also, sentences without contractions are used in written English, so, if you do not use them when speaking you risk sounding like a book.

Linked English – Real Life English Pronunciation

So, why is this important in IELTS? Because the examiner will be looking for you to make contractions in the speaking test, to show you know how to speak English naturally (and politely). If you want a high band in IELTS speaking this is something that can make a significant difference to your score.

Usually when we do not make contractions, our intonation and rhythm sound very unnatural. English intonation helps native speakers listen and understand. If this intonation isn’t right, they have to work hard to understand what is being said. This is a big problem, which I will write about in the next blog post.

If you want to be one of my first Linked English students, email me at [email protected] While I am training, the first three students who sign up will receive a one-month course at a significant discount off the regular price.

Will there be a textbook for the class? No. Pronunciation rules are difficult to study from books and nowadays there are much better options. Here is Elena Mutonono’s one week Linked English online video course, which I have chosen as a text for my pronunciation classes. 

 

 

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About Katey

Hi, and welcome to Let’s Talk IELTS! My name is Katey. I am an English Skype tutor who specialises in preparing my students for the IELTS test. I created this website in order to help all individuals looking at taking the IELTS test, to prepare, practice, and improve their point score.

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Buildings We Live In – An IELTS Practice Speaking Test

Buildings We Live In – An IELTS Practice Speaking Test

Buildings We Live In – An IELTS Practice Speaking Test

Have you got a pen and paper ready so that you can give yourself one minute to prepare for the cue card?

Here are the questions:

Part 1 (Try to answer with at least three sentences for each question.

  1. What sort of place do you live in?
    • (Hint: Do you live in a house or a flat? Your place = your home)
  2. Is this the same kind of place you lived in as a child?
    • (Hint: I used to… I’ve lived there for… On balance, I prefer where I am living now, but…)
  3. If you could change the place where you live, what kind of place would you choose?
    • (Hint: Well, if I got the chance, I’d move somewhere bigger/smaller/in the country/right in the city centre, because…)

Describe a house you remember visiting as a child.

You should say:

Where it was
Why you went there?
What it looked like.
And explain why you remember it.

Part 3 (answer for one minute each question)

  1. Do women and me like to decorate their houses the same way?
  2. Do people in your country tend to rent or buy their homes?
  3. Is affordable housing a problem in your country? Who does this effect most?

Discussion question:

The picture featured in this article is a black and white cottage in a village in the UK. Are there any special kinds of houses in the country you grew up in? Why are they unique? Write your answers below and I will help you with any vocabulary you need to find. Don’t forget to send me the URL of pictures you want to share.

The vocabulary for some of these questions might be difficult. Ask any questions in the comments below.

Download my FREE ebook 24 Idioms to use in IELTS

Enter your details below so I can send the ebook to your email

About Katey

Hi, and welcome to Let’s Talk IELTS! My name is Katey. I am an English Skype tutor who specialises in preparing my students for the IELTS test. I created this website in order to help all individuals looking at taking the IELTS test, to prepare, practice, and improve their point score.

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IELTS Speaking Questions on Colours.

IELTS Speaking Questions on Colours.

Practising for fluency means that you must speak English, and the good news is, you just need to answer a few IELTS style questions every day to begin to become more fluent. You don’t even need someone to listen to you to become more fluent; in some ways, it is similar to training at the gym or learning the piano because it is about brain and body coordination.

Watch this video on how to speak about colours in English then practice with the questions below. Read out each question and then answer it. It is that simple. Make yourself start speaking right away without pausing to think for too long a time.

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Have you got a pen and paper ready so that you can give yourself one minute to prepare for the cue card?

Here are the questions:

Part 1 (Try to answer with at least three sentences for each question.

  • What is your favourite colour?
  • Is this the same colour you preferred when you were a child?
  • How have your preferences in colours changed?

Cue card

Describe a colourful place you once visited.

You should say:

  • Where it was.
  • Why you were there.
  • Who you were with.
  • How it was colourful.

And explain how it made you feel to be there.

Part 3 (answer for one minute each question)

  • Do women and men like to wear the same colours?
  • In your culture, are there any colours with specific meanings?
  • How do you think colour affects people’s moods?

Download my FREE ebook 24 Idioms to use in IELTS 

Enter your details below so I can send the ebook to your email

About Katey

Hi, and welcome to Let’s Talk IELTS! My name is Katey. I am an English Skype tutor who specialises in preparing my students for the IELTS test. I created this website in order to help all individuals looking at taking the IELTS test, to prepare, practice, and improve their point score.

READ MORE

HOME BLOG LEARN ENGLISH WITH KATE

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