GILC Talk: How to Gradually Overcome your Difficulty in Speaking English

By: Hay Yarina

I conducted a GILC Talk on the topic of, “How to gradually overcome your difficulty in speaking English”. Having done some “homework” and made some observations, I decided to deliver on this topic because even though with we have all the technological conveniences, speaking English still remains a challenge for Cambodian students.

Through my presentation, I first indicated the general impression of why the skill of speaking seems difficult, such as the fear of embarrassment, the lack of vocabulary and grammar, the shortfall of confidence and more, after which several suggestions as well as encouragements were conveyed, so that the students can better deal with the problems. Lastly, I presented a number of personal quirks which have in due course proved to be effective for me to the listeners.

For example:

  • Before you can answer in English, you must be able to ask in English
  • Always, in your mind, answer the questions that you ask other people

These are the triggers, I believe, to keep your senses alert, resulting in having flexible speaking skills.

The audience enjoyed my presentation and cooperated well. They enthusiastically did the warm up discussion and they honestly answered the questions I asked.

Overall, GILC Talks are a great opportunity for both the presenters and the participants to learn and grow. I am really looking forward to doing another Talk or Workshop to introduce more findings of mine and further assist students in their language learning journey.

Dealing with Common Difficulties in Describing a Line Graph

By ACE Samdech Pan Teacher Kimsruoy Nhanh


People often care less about common difficulties because they believe that many people face them. However, if common writing challenges are not addressed, they can eventually affect overall IELTS Academic Writing success. Consequently, it is important to deal with them. My presentation focused on three common problems students face in IELTS Academic Writing Task 1: identifying main features, using appropriate structures, and marking criteria.

I began with an overview of the task. It is important for students to understand that all of the charts in this task have one element in common and that is they represent numbers. Test candidates have to describe these numbers by either comparing or contrasting. Moreover, writing about charts, tables, graphs, and diagrams is not the same as writing an essay in task 2. You are not asked to give your opinion on the information but to write a report describing the information factually.

Secondly, I proceeded to the task’s paragraph outline. The first paragraph is the introduction and includes paraphrasing the question and giving an overview. This is a general statement summarising the most important information in the graphs without any data. The second paragraph includes details to support the first main feature stated in the overview and the third paragraph includes details of the second significant trend using accurate data from the chart. 

Thirdly, there are two skills needed. These are paraphrasing and identifying main features. Paraphrasing is one of the most essential skills, not only in task 1, but in all parts of IELTS. Paraphrasing is simply re-writing a phrase or sentence so that it has the same meaning but with different words. It is done by using synonyms.

For example:

The chart below shows the changes in three different areas of crime in Manchester city centre from 2003-2012.”

The line graph displays alterations for burglary, car theft and robbery in the centre of Manchester between 2003 and 2012.”

Additionally, another skill is identifying main features. This is often the area most students struggle with, and there is one main reason for this. Students need to prioritise by choosing two or three main features. The key points that they should be looking for when choosing significant information includes high/low values, biggest increase/decrease, unstable data, unchanging data, and the biggest differences/similarities.

The key to success in task 1 is to understand how the test is marked so that the students can give the examiners exactly what they want. Four things will be assessed: your ability to cover all the requirements of the task, select and highlight the appropriate information, and present an overview – task achievement – your ability to logically organise and arrange your response, and the information within the response – which is coherence and cohesion – your ability to use a range of vocabulary accurately – which is lexical resource – and your ability to use a range and variety of sentence structures and the accuracy you have with grammar –  grammatical range and accuracy.

Lastly, I talked about some useful languages such as active to passive, passive to active, adverbs, time expressions, other languages to describe trends, and some key points for them to remember.

I do not expect students to be able to write the whole task 1 better after this talk. However, I hope that they will be able to identify the information to structure the paragraphs appropriately, to gain an insight into what the examiners expect, and to use the vital skills I presented.

Student Support Workshop: Dealing with True/False/Not Given and Multiple Choice Questions

By: Auranorak Ich


On March 3rd 2018, I conducted a student support workshop on the topic of how to deal with True/False/Not Given and Multiple Choice question types in reading. This workshop introduced ACE students to some useful tips and techniques due to the fact that most of the students, especially in lower levels, have been struggling with reading tests.

The students were given a precise lecture on the actual practice of how to use scanning skills followed by tips on how to read faster and get the answer more effectively. The workshop lasted for 1-hour, during which the students gave their full attention and showed a keenness to learn something new. At the end, the students were satisfied since they learnt a lot from the workshop.

Personally, the Student Support Workshops provided by ACE are extremely useful to students and I won’t hesitate to get involved if I have another opportunity because, sharing is caring.

Student Support Workshop: How to get a better speaking test score

By: Chanpisey Tang


Did you know that I held a workshop on how to improve your speaking test score on the 24th of February, 2018? If you missed the workshop, just keep reading this until the end and you will gain all the tips I shared.

I covered three main techniques that are commonly used to test students’ speaking ability. The first one was presentation. To do a good presentation, you should be well-prepared by getting started as soon as you get the topic. The next tip is to be more confident and cover points you understand well not just remembered or memorized points. Furthermore, to make it even more interesting, I recommend that you structure your presentation nicely by having a good opening and ending as well as using correct linking words in your speech. This last tip is to carry palm cards while you are talking to help you remember your key points but try not to carry a script or a big piece of paper.

The second speaking technique used by ACE teachers is face to face interaction, which is usually done at the end of the term. To do this better, you should try to calm yourself and interact with your teacher as if you are talking to a friend. Most importantly, you are advised to ask for clarification if you do not understand the questions.

But that is not all! You ought to be aware of your speaking habits inside the class. As an English learner, you better communicate well with your classmates and teacher. Do not just sit and keep silent all the time.

Lastly, as I was a presenter for the first time, I felt really excited to be given the opportunity to share and help students improve their speaking score. The participants in my workshop were extremely active in answering and asking questions. However, most attendees suggested that I could include more entertaining practice activities. I think I will definitely fulfil this suggestion in my next workshop.

Student Support Workshop: Vocabulary in Context

By Lim Douna


It was a thrilling moment for me to share my experience with ACE students from all four campuses in Phnom Penh. Throughout my seven years of teaching, it has been brought to light that a number of Cambodian students usually encounter some peculiar lexis or unfamiliar vocabulary, especially when they are reading. The traditional way of checking a dictionary has been used almost every time the learner faces an unfamiliar word. A dictionary is not allowed in the test room but since students have been using this technique it is hard to overcome the problem during the exam. Hence, for my Student Support Workshop I came up with this topic, Vocabulary in Context.”

By using an inductive approach, I started my presentation with some examples of a difficult word in each sentence in order to elicit the four different types of context clue: surrounding words, examples, synonyms and antonyms.

I gave the audiences some time to discuss the different types of context clue strategies to get the meaning of the word without a dictionary. They shared their ideas interactively with their partner and with minor help from an instructor; they even indicated the context clues that they used to define the meaning of the each word. Moreover, I did a competition where they worked cooperatively and cheerfully in groups choosing the correct meaning from a list of options, in order to win a prize.

I strongly believe that after this workshop, the participants will at least think twice before they start to look up a word in the dictionary. However, it will take time for students to get used to these techniques before they apply.

Student Support Workshop: Small tips and techniques to improve your listening

By: Marady Thet


“If at first you don't succeed, try, try again”- William Edward Hickson.

This is a quote that I always tell my students. It’s a brilliant quote to inspire both young and old people to push forward in their journey in learning English. In addition, this is the quote that I used to kick start my Student Support Workshop at ACE Tuol Tom Poung on Saturday, 24 February, 2018. Through my observations, my average student between level GEP 3 to GEP 7B possess exceptional skills in grammar and writing yet still lack in listening skills. This was the motivation behind my decision to conduct a workshop about improve your listening.

The workshop covered seven tips on the topic:

  1. Why most people fail to improve their English listening skills.
  2. How to integrate English listening into your daily life
  3. The best kind of English material to listen to.
  4. What to do if you don’t understand.
  5. Special advice for beginners.
  6. Biggest problem among intermediate
  7. Why your listening improves very slowly

We began by talking about the general struggle that most students face. Answers were taken and discussed from the people from the audience. After the discussion, we concluded that the best way to improve your listening is to listen; however, you must integrate the English listening into your daily life (ex. listen to English music, radio, podcasts, or watching English movies or videos). By attempting these action, student have to bear in mind that they also need to select the right listening material, something that is not too easy (they can understand everything easily) nor something that is too difficult (they can’t understand the main idea of the speaker) they should choose what I call “ challenging material.” It refers to the material that is not too easy but not too difficult. The best example of this are podcasts because podcasts are often material which pack good conversation and covers a wide range of interesting topics. The best thing is that they are free, easily accessible and come with pre-made hand-outs for students to practice on.

The overall reaction from the audience was very good. The student said the workshop tip were simple yet useful and motivational information, especially for lower level students who are starting to develop new learning habits. They said, “Who knew we can take advantage of the mundane and boring action such as waiting for a bus or doing the dishing, by integrating listening during these actions.” The student feels like they can gain something from their boring time.

The higher level students had heard about podcast but never get around to using it daily. By attending the workshop, they were introduced to a whole new idea of exploiting the free audio files for the advantage of learning. They also knew more about the different accents from the most famous English speaking countries. That makes a huge difference for the student who are starting to adapt a style of speaking by listening to the one they prefer ex. American English and British English.

At the end of my workshop, I explained to the student that everything I shared is meant to be some guidelines, not rules. From personal experience it is something I found useful and I told them to keep both their ears and eyes open for new idea and tips to develop themselves further.

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