Category Archives: Common Questions

Writing a Good CV

Our students often ask us for help with their CVs. And in fact, with the recession bringing so much competition to the job market, especially for new graduates, writing a good CV is a must. With some sectors reporting over 400 applications for job, you really need to stand out from the crowd to stand any chance of success. Writing a good CV will land you an interview and hopefully a job. Present any employer with a bad or generalised CV and you condemn it to the shredder! In this tougher world we find ourselves in today, it’s  so important to remember these wise words: “the person who gets hired is not necessarily the one who can do the job best; but, the one who knows the most about how to get hired”.

A CV’s job is to get you an interview, not to tell your life story. And there’s no better way to stand out from the crowd than tailoring your CV for the job you’re applying to. Does your CV match any of the tell-tale signs of a generalised CV?

  • Written with no aim or target. More of a “hello world, enjoy my story?”
  • First page lacks imapct, CV writing layout is poor, hard to read and too many pages.
  • Written as a chronological document, starting with your address and detailing every education achievement obtained and past positions held.
  • You send the same, or closely the same, CV to every job you apply to.
  • Makes no use of terminology or busswords associated with the position you are applying to.

If this reminds you of your CV, then I recommend this CV writing guide which is full of CV writing tips and advice, CV writing layout help and some useful examples too.

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How to Look for Student Part-Time Jobs!

Some of you may find it is quite hard to start looking for part-time jobs when you are international students. I completely understand how you guys feel. Five years ago, I was here to start my post Graduate degree at university in London. I made it and I am about to tell you guys how to find your part-time jobs as you are an international student. It is not easy but you I hope it helps.

Unless your family is very wealthy, most international students expect to work whilst they are studying in the UK. As we have known that the living costs here are very expensive. Part-time jobs are commons among international students. However, Rule is rule—never work more than 20 hours per week. The home office is very strict about it and it is not good if you want to acheive what you come to do ( study) in the UK.

First, I advise you to write down anything you can do such as Nanny, waitress, cleaner, office admin, bar maid, telesales, shop asssistants, cashier etc. You may find that your friend may be able to do jobs that you can not do. For example, While my friend was applying for nanny and cleaner, I applied for telesales and barmaid. I knew that I can not clean and I can not deal with kid- I might hurt them as I am so clumsy. My friend was completely no skill about talking on the phone and she hates smoke ( we talk about before smoking ban). The advantage of student part-time work is it is part-time and you can change it if you do not like it. However, you require to work hard in any job as it is very competitive. With the cheap labour from Eastern Europe, employers have more choices than ever therefore when you get a chance to work, Do you best and give 110%.

Second, I advise you to have personalised CV and cover letters for different types of job. For example, You may decide your possibilities that you would work in 1) catering business as waitress, bar work, work in the kitchen, work in the hotel. 2) Telesales and 3) shop assistants. You need to have different CVs for different jobs. I do not mean that you should lie about your experience. What I mean is just look for the real you whatever you have done before that related to the jobs that you want to apply. Also, too much information will not help with some jobs.

Last put yourself out there in the market. With the internet era, it is free to send applications as much as you can. Remember! it is number game – the more you submit, the more people will see you.

20 things you need to know about the IELTS test

The international English language testIELTS stands for the International English Language Testing System. The whole purpose of the IELTS examination is to measure your ability to communicate in English. You be will tested across the four major disciplines of listening, reading, writing and speaking. If you plan to study or work in an English speaking country it is more than likely you will be need have passed the IELTS test. We’ve brought together 20 of the most common questions about the IELTS examination.

1.    What can I take to the IELTS test?

You are only allowed to take your pens, pencils and erasers into the examination room. It’s a good idea to write your answers in pencil as you will not be allowed to use correction fluid either. It’s a good idea to leave any valuable items at home, such as your mobile phone, as you will have to leave your belongs in the cloakroom outside the examination room. Remember you can’t take your mobile phone with you – it must be switched off and not on your person. If you are caught with a mobile phone during the examination you will be removed and disqualified.

2.    How long does the IELTS test take to complete?

When you take your IELTS examination you will sit the listening, reading and writing modules after one another and in that order. There will be no break between the examinations, so be sure to take some water with you and go to the toilet before you begin. You will take your speaking module within 7 days after your first IELTS examination date.

3. Will I have to deal with difficult accents during my IELTS test?

As the IELTS examination is an international one the questions reflect its international nature. You will therefore hear a wide variety of English accents during the listening and speaking modules of the IELTS examination.

4. Will I have enough time during the IELTS listening test?

Yes you definitely will. At the beginning of your IELTS listening examination you will get to hear a sample question. This will allow you to get a feel for the timings and pauses between questions. The paper is split into 4 sections and you will hear and complete each section in turn. It will take you 30 minutes to finish all 4 sections and you will be expected to write your answers down as you listen. The final 10 minutes of the examination is to allow students to transfer their answers to their answer books.

5. Do I get time to transfer my answers in the IELTS reading test too?

Unfortunately you do not get any time to transfer your answers during the IELTS reading test. The test lasts for one hour and you are required to write all answers directly onto your answer sheet.

6. Can I answer the IELTS listening and reading tests in pen?

No, you can not. You must mark your answers in pencil. This is because the special machine that is used to mark your examination can not red pen. Do not, I repeat do not use pen unless you want to feel very embarrassed!

7. Do I have to submit any notes I make?

No. It’s a great exam tip to make some notes on the IELTS examination question sheet as you prepare your answers. You will not be required to hand the question sheet in along with your answer booklet so the examiner will not see your notes.

8. What is the IELTS speaking test like?

You will meet for a one-to-one interview with an IELTS certified examiner. The interview will probably last around 15 minutes and will also be recorded. The aim of the interview is to recreate common everyday situations so expect to have to talk about a wide range of things.

9. What should I take to my IELTS speaking test?

You will need to take along the same documents that you used when you first registered for the IELTS examination. Do remember to bring the exact same identification as it will be checked against the details you provided on your original application form. Have these documents handy when you arrive at the IELTS examination centre as they will need to be checked by both the administrator and the examiner too.

The IELTS examination is internationally recognised10. Help, I’ve lost my Test Report Form!

Don’t worry these things happen. It’s not the end of the world as long as you took your test within the last two years. If you are within the two year cutoff period, you can apply to the IELTS examination centre where you took your test and they will send you 5 copies of your Test Report Form completely free.

11. When will I get my IELTS test results?

You should receive your results 13 days after your speaking examination. Allow some time for the post and if you haven’t received your IELTS examination results after 15 days, contact your IELTS examination centre so they can arrange a new copy for you.

12. How soon can I re-sit the IELTS test?

There is limit to how many or when you take your IELTS test. You are only limited by the availability at your local IETLS examination centre. You could theoretically fail a test today and sit another on immediately tomorrow. However, if you’ve already studied for the IELTS examination you will know that to increase your score, you will have to undertake further study; repeated attempts in a short space of time will not see your score increase significantly.

13. What kind of provisions are made for disabled students?

IETLS examination centres will do everything they can to accommodate any disabled students wishing to sit the test. Staff will be available during your test to ensure you understand the questions and tasks that form the examination as well as understand how to provide your answers. It goes without saying that everyone will be treated and assessed fairly and objectively. If you do have any special needs you should contact your local IELTS test centre and tell them of your needs when applying so adequate arrangements can be made.

14. Help! I missed my IETLS test but it wasn’t my fault, honest!

Should you miss your test for any reason out of your control you should contact your IELTS examination centre as soon as possible. At their discretion they may offer you another test at the next available opportunity.

15. Can I cancel or postpone my IELTS test?

Yes you can cancel or postpone your IELTS examination date. You can do this free of charge if you contact your IETLS examination centre at least 5 weeks before your examination. If you need to cancel or postpone your IETLS test within 5 weeks of your allocated date, you will be required to pay the full fee. This may be waived only on medical grounds. You will have to submit appropriate medical evidence should you need to cancel or postpone your IETLS examination within the 5 week period.

16. What happens if I miss my exam without telling anyone?

If you are not present at your IELTS examination and you haven’t made prior arrangements to postpone your test, you will be marked as absent. You will also not be permitted to take the IELTS speaking examination as there would be no point. You will also lose the full test fee which you paid. If you missed your test because of medical reasons, you can receive a refund provided you submit a medical certificate within 5 days of your examination. There will be an administrative charge applied by your local IELTS test centre in processing your refund.

17. What can I do if I have a complaint about my IELTS test results?

You can appeal your examination results if you wish and request an enquiry into the test procedures at your local IELTS test centre. You will have to pay to challenge your result which will be refunded if your IETLS test score changes.

18.  How can I get copies of my IELTS test results?

Up to 1 month after your IELTS examination, you can get 1 personal copy of the Test Report Form. You can also request up to a maximum of 5 extra copies free. Arrangements can even be made for your IELTS examination certificates to be sent to universities you are applying to. After this, you may be required to pay a small handling charge for requesting more copies of your IELTS test results.

19. Where can I take the IELTS test?

See our post Update the Next IELTS test dates for details of upcoming IELTS examination dates at the UK’s 37 IELTS examination centres.

20. When can I take the IETS test?

Normally there are 4 sessions per month for you to take your IELTS test. Contact your local IETLS examination centre for more details.

The IELTS examination is available to take in two formats – Academic and General Training. FInd out more about the IELTS examination.

So is pronunciation important then?

Simply, yes it is important. It is the second most important aspect of learning a foreign language, after vocabulary. Words are important but people need to be able to understand what you are saying. You need to be able to communicate clearly so pronunciation is important.

Having said that, it is important to point out that there is no real write or wrong English pronunciation. Consider the difference is sound between English in America and English in the UK. And of course there are regional dialects too. In fact, even just within London you will find different accents and pronunciations of words. So, don’t let pronunciation stress you out too much. There are people who will try to tell you what they think is correct pronunciation, most notably those who think British English pronunciation is the ‘right way’.

The best way for you to think about English language pronunciation is that if you are a Thai person speaking English then there is nothing wrong with sounding like a Thai person speaking English. This is far better than you trying to speak like a Londoner and coming across crazy and not being understood at all. Once you start learning more English you can begin to practice to develop a more neutral English accent. This will make your English language pronunciation clearer meaning more people will understand you. You can listen in to this kind of English anytime by tuning in to channels such as BBC News 24.

You can find a school and inquire about their English pronunciation courses.

How can I learn enough English words?

Vocabulary is the single most important aspect of learning any language. It’s no use knowing how to construct complex grammatical sentences if you don’t know enough words to demonstrate your knowledge. Our article how to study English 7 tips and ideas has a great suggestion on how to increase your vocabulary:

5.  Start a vocab book
It’s great that you’re learning all these new words but you will of course forget some. So it’s a great idea to start writing down new words you discover in a notebook for yourself. You may like to order it in alphabetical order, include the word’s definition and perhaps write a few examples of how to use the word. This technique, whilst it may seem time consuming, is a really fantastic way to quickly improve your language skills. And eventually, you will have a huge, useful resource that you didn’t have to pay a penny for!

As you start learning new words you should make sure that you use them. This is how you remember the new words you come across. You can even show off your new words in English class and to your friends! It’s great if you keep a notepad with you, then whenever you hear a new word during the day you can make a quick note of it. Then you can go home and do some work learning the new words you picked up.

Should I study English grammar?

Many people may try and tell you that you don’t need to concentrate too much on grammar. After all, you learnt a language well enough when you were growing up didn’t you? I definitely didn’t use any grammar books when I was 2! However, the point is you’ve grown up now. You’re used to communicating using the rules of your own language, your own grammar, or lack of it in some languages. Also, your brain has changed; a baby’s brain is like a sponge and soaks everything up. Now you’ve grown up and been to too many parties to remember, your brain is not what is used to be.

So you just need to study smarter. I’m of the opinion that grammar is an important building block of language, especially English. If you lay the right foundations you will make much quicker progress in the future. Not only does a grasp of the grammatical rules help you to speak and write better, but it also helps you to learn.

We’re not saying you should spend all your time trying to master grammar. But it should form part of any practice and studies you do.

Should I study at a big or small school?

This is really does come down to personal choice and as you would expect, each has its own unique advantages and disadvantages. Disadvantages aren’t really the right term – it’s just that the size of the school does dictate the type of teaching and contact you will experience.

Big schools do have some obvious advantages, the primary one being that they have more of the important stuff: more courses, more teachers who specialise in different areas, more potential friends for you to make, more facilities…..the list could go on and I’m sure you get the general idea. The reason is obvious: the bigger the school, the more money it has, the more resources it can buy for you to use. It is important to remember that these items aren’t related to the quality of teaching or approachability of the teachers, which are important factors too. You should be cautious of some big schools as the above is not always true. Many big schools like to use the fact they are big to discount their course tuition fees not investing in resources.

One great advantage that a small school has over bigger ones is their ability to make sure you’re practicing your English. As there are smaller numbers of students, teachers at smaller schools can very easily make sure that nothing but English is spoken. Also, there it is less likely that there will be many people from your country at a small school, so you will have to use English anyway. Smaller schools are also better placed to offer individual students what they need; often tailoring courses to a student’s own needs and wants. You’ll also find that you will get to know your teachers and fellow students a lot quicker in a smaller school and you will quickly find out who is the best person to ask for help in any given situation. Most importantly, a small school can provide a welcoming and caring environment, really helping you to feel good and study well.

Should I learn English in England?

You don’t have to, but it is a very good idea too, for obvious reasons. If you study in your own country, you will miss out on so many opportunities to practice your English. Outside the classroom you’re likely to talk to friends and family in your own language. More to the point, you won’t have any opportunity to practice your English passively, through reading advertisements in English or listening to English radio, for example. We’ve covered this subject quite well on this blog so have a look at some of our articles for more advice. Finding a good school is very important. In a country such as England, with great tradition and reputation of academic excellence, there are many great English schools for you to choose from.

How long will it take to learn English?

Again, this a tricky question to answer and is most commonly answered with ‘it depends’. There are many different factors that influence how long it will take you to learn English. Things that can influence how long it takes to learn English include:

  • What level you currently are
  • What level you want to achieve
  • Are you a natural learner?
  • How motivated are you?
  • Will you study an intensive programme?
  • How much time do you spend practicing English?

The above factors aside, the average student studying English can go from Low to Upper Intermediate in around three months. This example would be based on studying for 21 hours per week.

However, quicker progress could be achieved should you be sufficiently motivated. If you were to study on an intensive programme, you could go from Elementary to Advanced in around 6 months.

How do I find out what’s best for me?

The best thing you can do is to get some advice. You need to think about your reasons for studying English: do you want to make friends, go to university, or perhaps to get a better job? My advice for you would be to get some free advice. By talking through the options with someone you will be able to match the best schools and courses for you. Many language courses can even be tailored to your personal needs so it’s important that you take advantage of free advice.

Contact us now if you need some personal advice.