So you’ve finally booked your IELTS Exam. It’s four months out. You need that Band 6.5 for the next big chapter in your life. You’ve even found a teacher to help you out. Great! Now what?
During my six years of preparing students for the IELTS exam, I’ve found there are two areas students can benefit the most from during short-term IELTS preparation courses – Writing Critiques, and Speaking Simulations.
It’s true: Writing and Speaking are only two of the four skills being tested, but the other skills – Listening and Reading – are best done on your own time if you are on a tight deadline. That’s because for the Speaking and Writing sections, there are some very specific (and predictable) phrases you should be using for each part.
Take IELTS Speaking Part 2, for instance. Even if a student has a relatively low level of English, they can bolster their Speaking score by learning fixed introductory phrases such as:
- There are many (input noun here) that come to mind when I think about (prompt from the student card), but the one I’d like to talk with you about today is …”
Similar strategies are employable on Writing Part 1, where bar and pie charts must be written about in specific ways to receive full credit on the exam: general descriptions, largest trends, and then (and only then) specifics.
An experienced teacher will know how to train a student through these Productive Skills tasks, and give them ample opportunities for practice – sorting through any issues with things like Pronunciation and Grammar. Furthermore, they will likely assign a large amount of Receptive Skills tasks (Reading and Listening) for homework, in order to maximize in-class time.
None of this is to say that you can’t benefit hugely from guided Listening practice such as Gap Prediction and Synonym Elicitation, but when your money is on the line and the time for preparation is short, it’s best to do these tasks on your own. At home.
So when you talk with your IELTS Teacher about your coursework, be sure to clarify your expectations for the course. Tell them you prefer to do the majority of the Receptive Skills work at home. If you have any problems, you can always follow up in class.
Now go crush that IELTS!