A Night In The Jungle

Following on from Scout Day earlier this year, English Teacher Online invites you to use your creative writing skills to describe an amazing adventure following a night in the jungle.

A Night In The Jungle (edited from Macmillan English 2007)

After trekking all day, we stopped for the night. We put our bags down on the ground. There was a stream at the edge of this jungle clearing where we could get drinking water. Our guide lit a fire and when it was burning, we made beds from the soft moss that was growing nearby.

“We need enough wood to keep the fire burning all night,” the guide said. I jumped up quickly, “I’ll help you find it,” I relied.

We went off into the jungle to find as much wood as possible. The guide explained that we must have some larger pieces of wood. “They last longer and the fire must burn all night. We need the fire to keep away any animals that come near our camp. All animals are afraid of fire, aren’t they?”

It was almost dark by the time we had finished collecting a large pile of wood. We stacked the wood beside the guide’s bed so he could reach it easily during the night. He would be able to pick up the wood and put it on the fire without getting out of bed. We finished our supper and my guide fell asleep.

The jungle was a wall of blackness in the light of the fire. From far away in this darkness I heard the howl of a wild animal. I felt frightened and suddenly my mouth went dry. I really wished my guide would wake up and I wanted to scream. I felt my mouth open wide, ready to scream as loud as possible. I breathed deeply and was just about to scream out in fear, but I couldn’t make a sound. I could see my guide’s face in the firelight, “If I scream he will know that I’m afraid,” I thought to myself.

I clenched my teeth closely together to stop myself from screaming, lay down and closed my eyes. Immediately, I heard a thousand noises, the whole jungle was alive with creatures creeping all around me. I jumped out of bed, pulled out my knife and held it above my head. I was sure I was going to see a wild animal beside the fire. “A tiger, wild jackal, a lion or crocodile?” My mind was racing.

My guide was now laying on his side with his eyes open wide. “You can put your knife away,” he said quietly, “It’s time to go to sleep, isn’t it?” His calm voice made me feel better. I got back into bed and closed my eyes, knowing he was watching, I soon fell asleep.

Your Turn To Be Creative

The next day you wake up bright and early. You see your guide busy in camp. Use these questions to make a writing plan.

How different does the camp look in the daylight?

What does your guide look like?

What are they doing?

How do you greet him/her?

How do you help them?

Write a paragraph and share it in the comment section.

TV Is Not Good For Children Debate

Debates and persuasive writing are important because they enable you to develop skills that can help you make the right choices to live a happy life.

This week English Teacher Online joins in the, TV is not good for children debate and encourages students to think about both sides of the argument.

A debate is a serious discussion of a subject in which many people take part.

Persuasive writing is defined as presenting reasons and examples to influence action or thought. The writer states an opinion clearly and supplies reasons or specific examples that support each opinion.

How To Prepare For A Debate

Choose your side – either for or against. If you agree that TV is bad for children, then you are ‘for’ – if you disagree then you are ‘against’ the motion.

In your teams, make a list of your main points for or against.

Choose 2 or 3 people to work on each point and brainstorm how you are going to present it.

Prepare a short speech giving one concrete argument to help your team win the debate.

Consider counter arguments – what and how others will try to argue back against your speech!

Rejoin your group and compare what you have written. Choose the best parts and make the argument complete.

Come back to the team and discuss your main points. Rank your arguments so you can win the debate.

Remember that many hands make light work, but too many chefs spoil the broth. Make sure you have a leader or voting system that can sort out any team disputes.

Search online to find some more ideas to fuel your TV is not good for children argument here.

Persuasive writing can and should consider both sides of an argument. Try to discuss each point in order and don’t get too distracted by other points.

In the conclusion you can agree, disagree or decide that both sides have merit. Never be afraid to be your own person!

Please share some of your best arguments or questions in the comment section.

Planning Your Songkran Essay

Do you know the 6 ‘W’ question words? (one of them ends in W!)

Can you remember what information they ask for?

They make the questions you need to ask yourself when writing a diary entry, a story or any good descriptive essay.

In week 1, English Teacher Online will help you plan a piece of writing about your 2 month Songkran holiday. We will also play some ice-breaker games using the 6 ‘W’ question words.

So, did you get all 6 ‘W’ question words?

The 6 ‘W’ Question Words Are…

What? The topic, activity or story you want to write about.

When? The time, day, month or year something happened.

Where? Where the topic takes place or where something happens in your story.

Who? The main people or characters in the story. Who you did the activity with.

Why? Reasons why something happened, the because in the story that gives it meaning.

How? The way something happened, including your feelings and emotions. I felt…. It sounded like…. It looked like….  It smelt like…. It tasted like…..

When you plan to answers these 6 questions, your writing will suddenly become more detailed and interesting to the reader. Planning is a good way to get better grades too!

Week 1: Planning Your Songkran Essay

When we plan any piece of writing, it is important to ask the 6 ‘W’ questions.

Your topic (what) usually goes in the middle – then we need to ask the 6 questions again.

As the bubble plan expands, we must keep asking ourselves more and more questions until we see some interesting paths to write our story about.

The bigger your plan the more choices you will have to write a better story.

Look at the mini-plan for Owen (a person).

You can make a mini plan for almost anything you want to write about. Try to make a plan like Owen, for an interesting person, place and event in your Songkran story.

The Plan Helps The Story

Once you have finished your plan, you will need to decide which parts are interesting. Throw away the boring bits and do some more planning to make the best bits even better. Soon you will be ready to start writing your story about the long Songkran holiday.

You may choose to write about all the things that happened during your 2 month holiday – including the best or worst events – however, it is better to write about each activity in great detail.

In our writing lesson on Friday, you will learn how to describe a single activity. Try to tell the story from the outside (what was happening) and from the inside (how you were feeling). You will learn how to use dialogue (words spoken at the time) or thoughts to add impact and make your story more real.

If you can’t describe a single event in great detail, then please do your best and write about your Songkran holiday as a whole.

Remember to write your story in the past tense – except the dialogue, which should be written as it was spoken at the time!

“I understand what to do,” he thought as he finished reading his plan.

Songkran Holiday (Opening Lines)

This long Songkran holiday I did lots of fun things. In March I went …….

In April, I got ready for the Songkran Water Festival and bought a water gun.

You could use these sentences to get you started. Then add details such as, where, what, who how and why to create fun descriptive writing.

Games Using Question Words

In week one, you will play lots of games using the 6 ‘W’ question words to prepare you for writing about your holiday.

The games will help us get to know each other.

Get ready to have fun! But also remember that we only play games to help you learn English.

If you have any questions about your Songkran essay, you can post them in the comment section or email: Steve@EnglishTeacherOnline.Org

General or Academic IELTS Writing Exam

Are you planning to study in the UK or work in an English speaking country?

We’re here to help you get a 7+ in your General or Academic IELTS writing exam.

The best way to prepare for your General or Academic IELTS writing exam is lots of sample tests, a teacher to mark them and give you feedback – that’s what you get when you study with English Teacher Online.

Academic or General?

The two formats are graded in just the same way, but each exam presents slightly different challenges:

The IELTS writing exam has two versions, depending on what you are planning to do at the end of it.

If you are going to university or sixth form college, you will require a score in the Academic exam.

If you are immigrating to work in an English speaking country, you will need to take the General test.

There are two tasks in both versions of the exam.

Task 1 Differences

The General test involves writing a 150-word letter. The Academic exam requires writing a 150-word report based on data in a chart or table, describing a process, or comparing information on a map.

Task 2 Similarities

Both versions of the test require writing a 250-word essay. They have a separate question on any given exam day, but the topics and types of essays stay the same.

Four criteria are used to grade both versions of the exam. They are; task response, cohesion and coherence, vocabulary, grammar.

IELTS Writing Preparation

The General exam is easier to prepare for because Task 1 only involves learning how to write a few styles of personal letters.

Studying for the Academic version requires learning how to write about a variety of charts, different time periods, and passive tense in order to describe processes and maps.

The table below shows the similarities and differences between the Academic and General IELTS writing tasks.

General Training Writing Academic Writing
Task 1 Informal, semi-formal or formal personal letter with some information provided Interpreting information from a diagram, graph, chart, or process, etc., using your own words
Task 2 Broad essay on general topic of interest Lengthy essay on academic topic addressed to the educator


Top Tips That Help You Score 7+

1. Do Task 2 first because it is easier and is worth more marks.

2. For Task 1, learn all the writing structures for each type of task. In the real test, you can apply that structure with the data in a suitable verb tense.

3. Read sample essays and take note of the papers with good structure so you have a wide range for Task 1. Some structures might be used in Task 2 as well.

4. Writing requires a broad vocabulary so use a dictionary to enlarge and enrich your use of language. Avoid all informal ways of writing.

5. A paragraph must include, the topic sentence, supporting sentences (2-3 sentences), development sentences (evidence, example, experience, data). Concluding sentence.

6. Practice makes perfect, so start now by asking for a few sample tests. Find a teacher to mark them and give you feedback. Learn from your mistakes.

7. Time yourself. More writing practice – but this time do both Task 1 and Task 2 in one hour. Remember to start with Task 2 – and learn to leave yourself enough time for Task 1 at the end.

8. When you follow these tips, you’ll be able to get a good night’s sleep – Go to your IELTS Test Center early, confident and well prepared.

Book Your Teacher

We can have a FREE 10-minute chat online and discuss how to get you a high IELTS score.

Please email Steve@EnglishTeacherOnline.Org explaining which exam you need to study for and why.

I charge $15 an hour for IELTS exam preparation.

Please leave questions and requests for future lessons in the comments section.

Paraphrasing Helps Your IELTS Scores

Do you want to know how to get a higher IELTS score?

Then you need to know how the IELTS examiner will mark you!

This week English Teacher Online reveals how paraphrasing helps your IELTS scores reach 7 and above. We’ll identify the different ways people paraphrase and how it can help you in speaking, reading and writing exams. We’ll give you tips on how to spot a paraphrase and teach you to paraphrase with our fun IELTS Study Partners Paraphrase Game.

Paraphrasing is quite easy really. It doesn’t mean you have to use a lot of big words. It just means you have to use different words when talking or writing about your topics. You can still use the same words a few times but you should be able to express ideas in other ways too.

When Do I Paraphrase?

People often paraphrase in everyday life, like when we tell friends what happened on the weekend. We might summarize our days off work into a few sentences. If we did something exciting or saw a movie, we would paraphrase the event.

When we give a book summary, we paraphrase to tell someone what we’ve read and why we liked it. When retelling stories from newspapers or magazines, we paraphrase too.

In class at college or university you need to take notes during the lectures. Those notes are a type of paraphrasing. If a friend misses the class, you paraphrase what was taught in the lecture. When we write essays, we must paraphrase so we don’t commit plagiarism.

Why Do I Need To Paraphrase?

Examiners are looking to calculate and grade your vocabulary. If you keep repeating the same words over, it will show that your range of vocabulary is limited. You may only get a vocabulary score of 6 or 5.

When you are able to express yourself using a vast array of words, then you are much more likely to score a 7 and above.

Paraphrasing Examples

Let’s take an example, “party.” What synonyms or paraphrases do you know for party?

You could say gathering, event, celebration, reception, shindig, get together, fund-raiser, housewarming party, cocktail party, hen party, tea party, graduation party, gathering of friends to celebrate an event.

Keep mixing and matching words, plus add new ones. The key to paraphrasing is to become more specific about your ideas. Start simple and then expand. Practice so you have 2 or 3 ways to describe the important things in your life.

Paraphrasing on the IELTS Speaking Exam

In the speaking exam, you must show the examiner a range of vocabulary. Use some slang or idioms to get your message across, because the speaking questions are informal and personal. You need to speak in a natural style while mixing up your vocabulary. Paraphrasing helps to show the examiner how sophisticated your English language has become.

Paraphrasing in the IELTS Reading Exam

When the exam creators at IELTS find a piece of writing, they study the text and make questions. If they just copied the words and phrases from the source into the questions, it would be way too easy. That’s why they use synonyms and paraphrase. This means you need to be familiar with questions that have the same meaning as parts of the text but which are written in a different way.

Paraphrasing for the IELTS Writing Exam

You must paraphrase the test question in your essay, you must NOT copy it word for word. If you do, they will not count towards the 150 words required for task 1 or the 250 words needed for task 2.

How to Prepare for Paraphrasing

Look at some of the IELTS sample test questions in each of the sections. Paraphrase them by rewriting and rearranging the words; adding and removing words; and using synonyms in the sentences. Keep playing with the sentences until they contain completely different words but still keep the original meaning.

Write lists of words by topics in your vocabulary notebook. When you read interesting articles in the newspaper, or hear interesting phrases on TV, write them down.

Try to learn a few words every day. Study them so you completely understand and remember them – that way you will be able to reproduce them later.

Do you have any ideas for interesting paraphrases?

Leave a message in the comments section or play our paraphrase game on IELTS Study Partners.

We’re going to start our game by thinking of synonyms or paraphrases for, “a good party.”

Everyone in the group should try to add a new paraphrase in the game thread. I wonder how many synonyms and paraphrases we can write together?