Friday, August 15, 2014

My Struggle For IELTS Speaking

By Alon Calinao Dy: I heard a lot of things about lenient and terror examiners from my close friends and previous IELTS examinees on the internet. I recently read the Filipino Nurses Online site in Yahoo that Filipino examiners like Torreocampo and Pamela Yu, are considered till now as the terrors in IDP Philippines.

I just don't get it. What are really the meanings of terror and lenient when someone speaks about these words? 

According to a dictionary I have consulted, says about a person who makes trouble to others while lenient simply means being merciful or forgiving to other people. If I ask test takers now, who do they want to conduct their speaking test? I am sure most candidates will automatically go to the lenient examiner because there is a greater chance of success than the terror examiner. 

However, everyone is not lucky enough to get a score of 7. People continue to retake IELTS until they attain their target band scores. what other people think, IELTS is money making business. It is true that it is a very expensive English exam that costs Php 8, 900 every test. This amount of money can buy me two signature shoes. And since money is difficult to find nowadays, this is a very frustrating experience for some test takers who do not meet their desired band scores.

Going back to the topic, although I want to believe that Yu and Torreocampo are really the terrors in IDP Philippines, it seems to me that they are strict examiners and are just doing their job when it comes on the performance of every IELTS candidate in the test.

The last time I took IELTS  I garnered  6.5 band scores in speaking sub-test from these two examiners I mentioned above for two consecutive months. Perhaps, they were the two great pillars in IDP Philippines. Just kidding:-) 

Even though I did not meet a 7 band score in my speaking, I did not freak out, lapse into self-pity, and point out a finger at someone else. I continued to pray and tried another enthusiastic attempt for my family's future. 

I was really hopeless at that time and my loved ones were actually worried about me since I did everything I could in order to secure a 7 passing mark in speaking. But then, my three attempts always fell short of 0.5. 

9.0 Niner Review Center
G/F, Don Lorenzo building, 889 P. Paredes St., corner Morayta, Manila
(in front of Philippine Regulation Comission)

Nevertheless, I moved on from the heartaches. I enrolled to 9.0 Niner Review Center, a number one (1) IELTS review center in the Philippines, which was owned by my old friend Ervin Nil Temporal -- a very down-to-earth, friendly, smart, and hardworking IELTS Guru in the Philippines. His achievements continue to inspire many Filipino professionals to this day. I think his life story is qualified for Maalaala Mo Kaya (MMK), a Philippine drama series shown on ABS-CBN every Saturday evening.

Despite hurdles and setbacks, my personality traits helped me to be strong and insisted to do more practice in speaking sub-test. Every morning, I tried to do tongue twister and attended several lectures about speaking. Then in the evening, I read online articles aloud. 

Well, well, I just found out from my sources that many Filipino IELTS examiners have no kind consideration to their fellow Filipinos. That's why others said that "Filipinos hate Filipinos and Americans support Filipinos."

Coaches from my review center advised me to ameliorate my pronounciation because I had enunciation problems particularly with the letters F and P, knowing that I grew up in the province of Samar. However, it did not affect me at all.

There was one coach who laughed so hard at me because I pronounced the word "Eppective" instead of "Effective." Another instance was a trainer who told me that I was only wasting my money for taking the test soon. But, I did not care what they said to me because I knew I was a very determined and strong-willed person.

Prior to my IELTS exams on July 25 & 26 in IDP and July 31 & August 2 in British Council, I visited popular shrines of Our Lady of Manaoag in the province of Pangasinan and The National Shrine of St. Jude Thaddeus located in Manila, near to the malacanang palace. Yes, I took two IELTS exams from the rival companies: IDP and BC, only a week apart because I was so desperate to pass the test for the renewal of my visascreen certificate in the US. 



On July 25, 2014, I prayed to God that he would give me a foreign interviewer. To my big surprise, He answered my prayers and gave me Peter Lynch as my Examiner. I could not tell whether he was an American or Australian. But one thing I was really sure of, he was pretty cool to me. He was a very polite, gentleman, and professional interviewer to all IELTS candidates.

At the beginning I felt nervous but when I started talking or answering all his questions, I suddenly realized that I easily regained my confidence. Indeed, I did my very best. So after the interview, he smiled at me and warmly shook my right hand.

After (13) thirteen days of waiting for my IELTS result, God finally answered my prayers. I achieved a 7 band score in the speaking test. Thank you so much, Peter Lynch. Although I heard many great things about him, I still hope and pray that he will be able to help my countrymen who want to work overseas.

Oh I am sorry, I forgot to tell about my IELTS exam in British Council last July 31 and Aug. 2. Just like IDP, I passed the test with flying colours. I was interviewed by Markus Yussuf, a foreigner & a senior IELTS examiner, at exactly 9 in the morning in Taipan Place, Pasig City, and next to him was another IELTS examiner named Ian Wall. 

I could barely hear the voice of my examiner during the course of the speaking test, so what I did I spoke aloud and slowly to express my ideas clearly. I did not hesitate to look at him in the eyes, but Mr. Yussuf was very busy looking at his notes for hard questions. But for me, he was an excellent examiner and I enjoyed the whole interview that lasted for 15 minutes. 

On August 2, Saturday,  was my written exam held in Crown Plaza Manila Galleria. I did not worry much this test since speaking was my number one priority.

Passing IELTS both IDP and BC was a real success for me. It was a big accomplishment for someone like me, who has difficulty in speaking.

I absolutely agree that with a lot of practice, impossible things are actually possible, especially if God is in your side. I also want to thank my family, relatives, and friends for their unwavering love and support for me.


Sir Ervin is the owner and CEO of 9.0 Niner Review Center

Thank you so much, Sir Ervin. You are a living angel to a lot of Filipinos who want to fulfill their dreams in life. Thank you for the friendship, love, and support. Thank you for helping all IELTS examinees who want to pursue their careers abroad. 

Of course, to all my IELTS trainers in 9.0 Niner Review Center who frankly criticize me for being stubborn or hard-headed student -- a trainee who does not give up too quickly. Thanks a lot. I know they don't really mean it but they just want 9.0 Niner students to hit their target scores.

God bless and more power to 9.0 Niner Review Center, IDP, British Council, and future IELTS candidates!