Introduction to Teaching IELTS

by Manjusha Nambiar

IELTS tests a student’s proficiency in all areas of English language. However, an IELTS instructor has to do a lot more than simply providing English language training. They must also make students familiar with the requirements and procedures of IELTS so that when students take the exam, they are able to deliver their best performance.

Adhere to the structure

There are no shortcuts for success in the IELTS exam. In fact, a student’s proficiency in English is no indicator of the band score they might get. That is because time management is very important in a test like this. Equally important is the student’s ability to understand instructions and follow them.

Several different types of questions are asked in the IELTS test. If you are not familiar with the question types or exam format, you are unlikely to score well even if you have good proficiency in English. What’s more, most answers have word limits. So for example, if you are asked to answer a question in three words, you have to do exactly that. If you write fewer or more than the required number of words, you will be penalized. While providing training, an instructor has to make sure that the student is aware of these rules.

Improve speaking skills

Students, too, have to actively participate in the learning process. The problem with most students who take the test is that they are not very good at speaking in English. Of course, they can write reasonably well. But because they live in countries where English is not widely spoken, they don’t get an opportunity to converse in the language. This inability to speak English will affect their overall score. While providing training an IELTS instructor has to make sure that students get ample opportunities to speak English. This will help them overcome their inhibitions and speak fluently.

Grade your students

It is a good idea to grade the students at the beginning of the training session itself. Ask them to take a mock IELTS test to see how well they can perform without training. Ideally, students should be able to get approximately band 4.5 or above. If they are capable of doing that without any training they should be able to score band 6 or above with proper training. Test them again after a few weeks. If the training has been effective, they should be able to score better now. If they don’t there is definitely something wrong with the way they are taught.

Test materials available on the market are useful, but an IELTS instructor must not rely too much on them. Use them as secondary teaching aids and develop your own materials for use in class. Remember that books are usually written for a general audience. They don’t address the specific needs of your students.

Set realistic goals for your students

Ask your students to set realistic goals. Sometimes students and their families get obsessed with the idea of joining the most prestigious institutions. This will not be possible without a high band score. An instructor has to discourage this obsession because if a student is not very good in English, he or she is unlikely to get a high band score even with proper training.

Manjusha Nambiar is an IELTS instructor and content developer. She gives free IELTS practice tips and sample IELTS essays at her blog www.ielts-practice.org

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