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Register Online for IELTS and get a 30-hour preparation course Free More benefits with ADDvantage 2012 The Colombo exams unit kick their shoes off and party Exams & English News – Sri Lanka Announcements Get to know our Exams Team Help in speaking English Teach better Exams Guru Competition time! Laughter bucket Your feedback

Dear friends! We hope you enjoyed our first edition of Lighthouse! Time flies fast when we are doing good things and having fun, therefore it is time for me to write to you again, with more exciting news from English and Exams at the British Council. First of all, let me tell you that there has been an important change in our senior management at the British Council. Kishore Roy – our Country Examinations Manager of the last 3 years completed his tenure here in September and moved on to China to continue his journey with the British Council. In his place we have Harriet Gardner, who came to Sri Lanka after serving in Mexico prior to her appointment here. Let’s welcome her and wish her all the best in her new role! Another major development for us at Exams is that we are going to move out of our premises by late January, giving way to a beautiful new compound we are building to serve you better. However, this project is going to take 3 years in total for completion. However, we will remain in the compound offering all the services just as we did before. This is indeed a challenge both for us as well as you. We are confident that you will support us through this period, while we try our best to make things as normal as possible for you. Lighthouse – in this issue carries an important and exclusive feature on our service process for IELTS examinations at the British Council, the online registration system. There is also news about the revised IELTS partner registration programme- ADDvantage 2012. Look out for what Exams team have been up to in the last few months from Exams in Jaffna to head rolling parties! As always, we are looking forward for your suggestions to improve our newsletter. Wishing you a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year Warm Regards Dileepa Manawadu Editor

Message from the Country Exams Manager Dear friends, It is a real pleasure to welcome you to our second edition of Lighthouse, the enewsletter that connects us, to everyone we work with in UK qualifications. Please continue to give us feedback, and let us know what you think of this newsletter. I have been in Sri Lanka for nearly 4 months, and I am impressed by the commitment I have seen from partners, schools, parents, professionals and children when it comes to academic excellence and the hard work it takes to meet such exacting standards. I am proud to reiterate the purpose of the British Council, that is to build trust and create opportunities for people of the world, and how that fits so neatly with UK qualifications, as they enable life-changing opportunities. I would like to wish you all well; may you have many more opportunities through your engagement with us. I hope this edition of the Lighthouse provides some for you today! Best wishes Harriet Country Exams Manager

The IELTS Online Registration System (ORS) which some of you have already heard about is now available. As you guessed, this makes exam registration much easier. You can check exam dates, register and reserve places for a preferred test date and location (i.e. Colombo, Kandy, Jaffna or Batticaloa), without even stepping out of your home or office. For institutions under the IELTS ADDVantage partnership scheme, the process becomes even better! You can do bulk registrations for an exam session and reserve your place through a secure login. Within 5 days of exam reservation you can submit your payment to British Council along with the photos and passport copies of your candidates. You can use the system to keep track of your candidates and their results as well. This can be used as a management information tool for your business in relation to IELTS. Another exciting feature of the ORS system is a free online preparation course! The preparation course constitutes of all 4 modules of IELTS; writing, reading, speaking and listening that can be followed at your own convenience. Once you make a reservation and pay for the exam, you will be sent an email confirming your candidacy. This confirmation email will carry a unique user name and password giving you access to the online course. We will be inviting our partner institution administration staff for training on the ORS between January and February 2012. Introduction of this will be in phases in order to allow a smooth transition from our existing paper based system to the digital method. Find out more >

The British Council Sri Lanka launched its IELTS partnership scheme, ADDvantage 2012 at the Cinnamon Lakeside recently. The launch, followed by cocktails provided an excellent opportunity for our IELTS registration partners from different parts of Sri Lanka to come together. The ADDvantage scheme 2012 offers a host of exclusive benefits to its IELTS registration partners as well as students registering through them. The event also recognised the best performing institutions within the partnership program. The winners included International College of Business and Technology (ICBT) – Partner of the year 2011, Jeeva Australian Education Centre – Rising star Colombo whilst International Institute of Health Science and Unex language Academy were joint winners of the Rising Star Outstation – 2011 category. All platinum partners including Australian Consultancy Centre for Higher Education (ACCHE), Australian Migration Centre (English Language Education Centre), British College of English and Headway School of Languages (Pvt) Ltd were also recognised for their contribution to IELTS in Sri Lanka.

Our work in UK qualifications, including IELTS, creates opportunities for tens of thousands of Sri Lankans each year. Harriet Gardner, our Country Exams Manager stressed the key role that partner institutions have played in increasing access to the IELTS exam. The British Council has an extensive IELTS partner network. We conduct exams in different parts of the country including Colombo, Kandy, Negombo, Jaffna and Batticaloa.

Delivering over 72,000 exams to 33,000 candidates each year is definitely not an easy task. Celebrating their achievements and the growing need for UK qualifications in Sri Lanka, the exams team at the Colombo office organised a “thank you” party to commend all staff, examiners, supervisors and invigilators that make up the exams support team. The fun filled event was held on the 36th Floor of the World Trade centre, overlooking the Port, with the views of the bustling city of Colombo. It was attended by over 175 people, comprising most of the British Council exams team in Colombo.

Conducting a range of exams including IELTS, Cambridge ESOL, Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) GCE, Edexcel GCE and a variety of professional examinations such as ACCA, ABE and BCS, the support team works around the clock to conduct examinations in Colombo, Kandy, Galle, Matara, Negombo, Batticaloa and Jaffna.

Speaking at the event, former Country Examinations Manager, Kishore Roy, said ‘UK qualifications make a key contribution to the role of the British Council in Sri Lanka, by creating opportunities for Sri Lankans worldwide. Currently, Sri Lanka holds the largest membership outside the UK for BCS and ABE which are administered by the British Council. Our exams support team are valuable stakeholders who helped us do this’. The event was an opportunity for the exams team, who usually work in different streams, to come together and interact with each other. The event was a day full of fun and excitement with games, competitions and dance.

The new Country Examinations Manager, Harriet Gardner, who recently took over from Kishore, was also present at the occasion. Commending the team, she said, ‘The strength and the spirit of the Exams team in Sri Lanka is very encouraging.’ She believes Sri Lanka to be an important player in the British Council global network. Harriet’s words remain true as the exams unit in Sri Lanka is currently the sixth largest in the global network – and the demand for UK qualifications in the country is only growing.

IELTS EXAMS IN JAFFNA The third session of IELTS exams for 2011 was conducted in Jaffna by the British Council. This provided a great opportunity for candidates in the area to register as well as attend the exam within the comfort of their hometown! Registering with the British Council for IELTS provides access to a host of benefits including free library membership to the English Learning Zone of the library, access to Top Tips seminars that outline the critical areas that can help candidates excel in the exam, and a free practise book. We also give infra red headphones to ensure listening tests are clearer, facilitating exams environments that are unmatched. The British Council conducts exams in various parts of Sri Lanka including Colombo, Kandy, Matara, Jaffna and Batticaloa Please visit our website for further details or contact us on 011-7521521.

WORKSHOPS FOR IELTS AND ESOL PARTNER INSTITUTES 'Helping young learners with the Cambridge ESOL Starters, Movers and Flyers examinations’. A series of one day workshops were held in the British Council, Colombo in October. The workshop focused on Sri Lankan young learners and ways that teachers can improve delivery of exam preparation courses. There was a focus on materials and resources that help students better prepare for the exams.

‘Helping your learners with the IELTS Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking components’. A series of four, one day workshops were held in the British Council, Kandy in September. The workshops focused on current teaching practices and methodologies, the exams skills needed and a practical look at materials and resources available. IELTS ADDvantage platinum partners were offered free access to this workshop.

CAMBRIDGE LEARNER AWARDS 2011 Cambridge International Examinations recognised its top performers at the Cambridge Learner awards 2011. The event organised by British Council together with Cambridge International examinations, was graced by honourable minister of Education Mr Bandula Gunawardana and was held at the Ceylon Intercontinental recently.

EDEXCEL AWARDS CEREMONY 2011 Edexcel International Examinations together with British Council felicitated the exceptional performers of the Edexcel IGCSE O- Levels and A - Levels. The event held at Sugathadasa Indoor stadium brought together high performers from various schools in different parts of the island.

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Applications are currently being issued for the BCS exam which is to be held in March/April 2012. Entries are now open for the Commonwealth essay competition, please log on to for further details. Next IELTS examination in Batticaloa will be held on Saturday 21 January 2012. Register now. Next IELTS examination in Jaffna will be held on Saturday 18 February 2012. Register now.

Name: Neelani Perera Designation: Head Examination Registration & Finance In our second issue we would like to introduce you to one of the key members of our front office team. A person who believes in service from the heart, she is indeed very passionate about the work she does. I would describe her as warm, friendly and very traditional looking, her Kandian saree stands true to that! Q: Tell us something about yourself? A: ‘ I love my work , I would even work without money! . I joined the British Council 8 years ago. Previously I was in the banking sector for around 18 years. In terms of my personal life I have been married for 22 years, and I have a son of 21 and a daughter of 15. I would say I am quite content with my life. ‘ Q: What type of work do you do? A: ‘I am in charge of exam registration and finance for exams. I have a team of six people who look after our customer service desk.

Approximately 85% of my work is customer service related and the rest involves handling finance related duties in exams. I also give much emphasis for the continuous improvement of customer service, in order to do so, I monitor our existing processes regularly and give feedback to my team on little changes that can go a long way. I also coordinate with the Customer Service Manager on various aspects of the service delivery process.’ Q: What has been the most challenging aspect of your experience here? A: ‘Well I would say it was the first day of work when I took over responsibilities as Head of registration and Finance’ The role required that I learn the finance software in just two days as my predecessor was not in a position to train me. At this point I also received a lot of support from Philip Rylah – the Country Exams Manager at that point. Q: What are the busiest times? How do you manage? A: ‘The busiest times are generally between January and February for the May/June exams’ I generally allocate staff on specific duties to ensure proper control of traffic. They are a great team and we work together and harder during the peak registration periods.’ Q: What are your thoughts on the premises project? “It s positive, I think it’s a great initiative. The proposed plan has been carefully designed taking in to consideration customer requirements’ During the project we intend to move our exam registration counters to the library. This will be carried out in a planned manner to ensure minimum hassle to the customer.’ Q: What are your plans for the future? A: ‘My ultimate objective is to enhance customer experience and to ensure our customers are happy. We are currently working on many projects including the online registration system for IELTS.‘

Help with IELTS Many candidates are most worried about the speaking section of the IELTS examination. This is often because the interview is ‘live’ and unlike the other papers, errors are more difficult to go back to and change or edit. Learn English now has a very interesting, useful and amusing series of short videos dealing with issues that are often problematic. These include; •

Develop What You Say

Don't get over-emotional

Don't memorise answers

Not a job interview

Tell the truth

The videos are supported with notes and a transcript and can be found at the following site: On the same site you can also download mock reading and listening papers. These contain audio files, texts, tasks and answers supported with notes.

The British Council Learn English site has some useful resources for learners. Here is a section from the Top Tips for IELTS section. Tips for IELTS: Don't memorise answers It's common for interviewees to prepare answers in advance but there are things that you should avoid doing. To some extent you can predict the kind of topics that you might be asked to talk about in the IELTS interview. This means that it is quite common for interviewees to prepare answers in advance and learn them by heart. Then, in the interview if the topic comes up they will regurgitate (verb; repeat after memorisation) their answer – whether it answers the question or not. There are several problems with this approach. Firstly, it is usually very clear that an answer has been memorised as it sounds very unnatural to the examiner. Examiners have a lot of experience interviewing people and they can easily see when something isn’t quite right. If they suspect that the answer has been memorised they will probably interrupt your answer and move on to another question. Secondly, if you have memorised an answer it is very unlikely that it will actually answer the question directly and this will be another signal to the examiner that something isn’t quite right. In summary, you should avoid trying to memorise answers, but you can still prepare for the interview by thinking about possible topics and making sure you have the vocabulary and language to talk about the topics in general. This is an example of what you shouldn’t say at the interview. Examiner: Would you like to tell me about your hometown? Candidate: Yes! Woo! Thanks Internet. Porto, the country’s second largest city, is in itself full of interest, but the district it heads, though largely industrialized, offers the visitor plenty to see. Along the coast, holiday resorts like the cosmopolitan beach of Espinho... Splendid seafood or traditional fishing towns... Quaint charm of Amarante, with 17th century mansions... Famous for a kind of sweet egg pastries called “Bellies of Angels”. Examiner: Thank you. What is the most interesting building in your hometown? Candidate: The church. The old church. It’s big and some kings have been there and are there engraves… •

With older or more analytically minded students, the rule for when the verb is pronounced / id / (i.e. When the verb already ends in a “t” or “d” sound) can now be elicited. As regards the “t” and “d” distinction, you will find that students produce this quite naturally (being a question of which sound is easier) - a better option than trying to work out complex rules.

Students then have a few minutes to copy their work to their notebooks, adding one verb of their choice to each category.

Hi everybody, I am your Exams Guru. We administer nearly 70,000 exams every year including IELTS, School exams, Cambridge ESOL exams, Professional and Academic exams and exams for teachers. You can visit our website for more information. Let's try and get some of your questions answered.

Q - I have a 10 year old daughter and want her to take a Cambridge ESOL young learner exam but I don’t know which one. How can I find out? A - This is a question I am often asked and there’s no simple answer. I advise parents to do the following: 1. Speak to your child’s teacher or school administrator and get their advice. 2. Go over some past papers with your child and see which one seems to be pitched at their level. Young learner past papers can be downloaded at: 3. Make sure you enter your child into an exam they can achieve a good pass in, as you want to increase their confidence and this is best done through success. ____________________________________________________________________________

Q - How long is my IELTS test score valid for? A - ‘Your IELTS score is only valid for two years. After that you will have to retake. ____________________________________________________________________________

Q - Is it true that I have to wait 3 months before I can retake my IELTS exam ? A - Not anymore. This used to be the case, but now you can retake it as frequently as you wish. ____________________________________________________________________________ Please send in your questions to Exams Guru at

Answer all three questions correctly and stand a chance of winning a prize from the British Council! •

Question 1 IELTS exam consists of 3 modules. Is this true or false?

Question 2 The KET exam is accepted as an A1 level exam for non European migrants wishing to enter UK. Is this true or false?

Question 3 ACCA is available in computer based as well as paper based formats. Is this true or false?

E-mail us your answers.

How about some light relief! •

A linguistics professor was lecturing to his English class one day. "In English," he said, "A double negative forms a positive. In some languages, though, such as Russian, a double negative is still a negative. However, there is no language wherein a double positive can form a negative." A voice from the back of the room piped up, "Yeah, right."


Examiner: Never mind what the date is, get on with the exam. Pupil: But, sir, I want to get something right.


Father: How were the exam questions? Son: Easy. Father: Then why look so unhappy? Son: The questions didn't give me any trouble, but the answers did!

Please send in your thoughts, ideas and constructive feedback to Lighthouse at: British Council 49 Alfred House Gardens Colombo 3 T (011) 4521521 or (011) 7521521 E

British Council 88/3 Kotugodella Veediya Kandy T (081) 4471188 E

Lighthouse - Edition 2  

British Council's English and Exams Newsletter