Like the other tests of the IELTS exam, academic task 1 of the IELTS writing test requires knowledge and skills that are generally developed in secondary school, which is why the exam is not recommended for candidates below the age of 16. Firstly, candidates need to have basic visual literacy skills in order to correctly identify and understand the key features of a range of charts, graphs, tables, diagrams, maps, etc. Additionally, they need a reasonable capacity to analyze and evaluate the relationships between these key features and then synthesize this thinking into a summary supported by the details provided. Lastly, they need the language skills with which to articulate their understanding. Depending on where and whom you’re teaching, you may find it necessary to develop your candidates’ visual literacy and critical thinking skills in addition to their language proficiency. This is what I discovered when I began teaching the IELTS exam with secondary students in the UAE. Here are some strategies I’ve used to help my candidates.
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Just as there are many reasons to use authentic texts when teaching IELTS, there are an equal number of considerations when choosing which texts to use. The most important consideration is whether the text is suitable for your candidates’ proficiency level. Reading requires a lot of energy, especially when dealing with unfamiliar vocabulary and structures. The greater the gap between your candidates’ level and the level required means the greater the chance they will lose motivation and focus, which is why sourcing authentic texts can be so challenging—maybe you find the perfect article but the text’s language is too sophisticated. The time it takes to source a text that ticks all the boxes might ultimately put you off using authentic texts altogether. Before giving up, consider modifying a text to achieve your target level, which may ultimately take less time than finding that perfect text. In this TESOL article I will share the process I have used for vetting and developing the texts for candidates targeting an IELTS band 5.0:
It’s an old saying that an image is worth a thousand words. In English language teaching we can take that saying and adapt it: ‘Every image can help learners speak a thousand words.’ Images can be our greatest allies! Instead of worrying about trying to form grammatically correct sentences in a course book activity, learners always react positively when asked to discuss an image instead.
Images are great language learning tools for so many reasons. Firstly, images are open to varying interpretations. This inherent ambiguity enables your learners to be creative and invent all manner of sentences based on what they see. Secondly, an image provides a natural talking point. Shy and introvert learners often feel less anxiety about discussing an image than they do when doing a course book speaking activity. Furthermore, images help to practice sub-skills like prediction, telling stories and recognizing main ideas. Finally, images are just a bit more fun to work with. The following simple activities will help you take advantage of all that images have to offer:
There are many reasons to develop your own listening resources, whether for assessment or instructional purposes, to teach the IELTS listening test. Last year I worked as an assessment developer for a secondary technical school in the UAE. The goal of the EFL curriculum was for each student to achieve at least an IELTS band 5.0 upon completion of the program, which would satisfy the requirement for university admissions or direct employment in many local industries. Our grade 12 EFL course was based on an IELTS curriculum, so course content centered on mastering the skills for achieving the target band score. For this reason, the various tests the assessment team created were modeled on the official IELTS exam. There are ample free resources online; however, to ensure the integrity of our assessments we could not use existing resources in case our students had already been exposed to them. For this reason, our materials had to be developed in house, including our listening tests, which we scripted and wrote the questions for as well as recorded and edited ourselves using GarageBand. In this article you will learn how to teach the IELTS listening test using your own resources.
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In the UAE, colleges and universities generally require an IELTS band score of 5.0 or 5.5 for admission, and a large majority of IELTS candidates in the country are taking the test for this purpose. There are many resources online that can help your candidates achieve their target band scores. One such resource is the public version of the IELTS speaking rubric, which gives an idea of some of the criteria and descriptors used to establish band scores. With this awareness you can develop lessons and activities closely calibrated to your candidates’ target band.
By Margaret Hurley. Co-writer You Can Teach Grammar
The benefits of using authentic material in the TESOL classroom are many. They generate interest, they are certainly more varied in range than the material embedded in textbooks, they can be extremely practical, they can be fun and they can be very current. Especially for teachers who are not in an English-speaking country, authentic material are an excellent way to bring the English-speaking world into the classroom. In this series, different specific ways of using authentic materials will be covered. This inaugural issue covers some tips for using (non-musical) radio or podcasts in the classroom.
Typical native speakers of English have an active vocabulary of somewhere in the region of 20,000 words. For someone learning the language, this figure can sound extremely intimidating, as becoming fluent requires knowing many, many words. Consequently, helping our students acquire vocabulary items is a vital part of teaching. So, how do we do this? If you can keep in mind word grouping, the way that our brains categorize things, context, viewing words as conveyors of meaning in particular situations, and styles of learning, the way in which your students take in new information, you’re on the way to success. The following activities take these factors into account, but are also fun and motivating ways to develop vocabulary knowledge in the classroom.
The average teacher thinks that songs are just useful for having some fun in class. Some teachers use a fill-in-the-blanks activity to practice listening comprehension skills, but then they go back to the boring textbook for the grammar lesson. When you know how to create lesson plans using the Communicative Approach, songs can completely replace the textbook! In a fully integrated lesson, students go through the natural language acquisition processes as they learn the grammar point in context and are able to practice and produce the grammar point with communicative activities. In this article, I will use a full grammar lesson plan to show you how to teach English with songs.