I heard this old Chinese proverb very recently and it made me think about many of the IELTS students that I had spoken to and how they tended to jump from one strategy to the next, mixing and matching ideas and ‘rules’ until they became totally confused.
I know that YouTube is a popular source of material for IELTS students and I truly believe that ANYTHING you do in English is all very helpful and there are some amazing teachers on YouTube who give very freely of their time and knowledge and all of this is really worth watching and taking on board.
I love IELTS reading!! There is nothing about it that I don’t really enjoy. I love doing it and I love teaching it. I also love the fact that when I teach it most of my students have ‘blue sky’ moments when it all suddenly makes sense and their scores shoot up. This is the best thing of all.
IELTS is your friend. This may sound strange but it is actually true.
There are people who want to go overseas to continue their education by taking a Master’s Degree or PhD. Other people want to work in the US, UK Australia, Canada, New Zealand. Still others want to educate their children in one of these countries. They all have one thing in common; they need IELTS (or TOEFL, Pearson etc.). Getting a good IELTS score will open up that opportunity so IELTS IS your friend. It is a positive.
In 2012 I worked with a student from Malaysia called Sharifa. Sharifa wanted to go to Australia to do a Master’s Degree. She was a fully qualified child-psychologist and had already been offered a place on a Master’s programme and required an IELTS score at least 6.5 but had to have a minimum of band 7 in writing. When I met her in the early part of that year she was almost there. Continue reading
Some years ago I lived in Indonesia. While I was there it was necessary to learn the language – firstly for living and then later for my job. I was an English teacher at the university so at first my work was all conducted in English. Learning Bahasa Indonesia was not an easy thing as it is not at all related to English and had very different features. It had no tenses – hurray!!
At the beginning of August my youngest daughter Imogen performed at a Proms concert in the Albert Hall in London. She was part of the National Youth Choir. The Proms is a big deal, music concerts performed by some of the world’s greatest musicians in one of the best and most famous music venues in the world.
Not many people who have to write are able to do this automatically and without much thought – even professional writers. I am talking here about native speaker writers. So for those who have English as a second language think how much more difficult it will be to just sit and write.
How easy it will be to go off the topic, how hard it will be to see an overall pattern to the writing, how easy it will be to make many mistakes and how easy it will be to forget the time and not have enough spare minutes to check at the end of the test.
Here’s a preparation system that should deliver good results if you stick to the spirit of it and adapt it to your situation.
Set aside some time regularly to practise – preferably each day but as a minimum 3 times a week. This does not have to be hours and hours (language is not like chemistry or history –it’s skills-based so little and often works better). Make sure that you can really focus during these times with no distractions.
I know this may sound harsh but I do have a good reason for suggesting this and that is that at the end of the day getting the answer right or wrong often comes down to grammar. Many IELTS students do things upside-down; they start by practising IELTS test papers. They do hundreds of these, every one they can get their hands on. They get a range of scores in listening and reading – they practise their speaking a bit on their phones or with friends (they may use some English at work) they check out model essays and then try to repeat these in their own practice and if the vocabulary and linking words are the same then this will get a good band.