Nick Thorner explores the challenges of preparing Foundation-level students for IELTS, ahead of his webinars on 21 February and 7 March entitled ‘Prepare your Foundation-level students for IELTS success‘.
In my experience, what really worries students about the IELTS exam isn’t their grammar or their vocabulary – it’s having nothing to say. They worry about tricky Speaking Part 3 questions such as: ‘What can governments do to promote international cooperation?’ or Writing Part 2 topics with a word they haven’t studied before, such as ‘obesity’ or ‘rehabilitation’.
Often students have never thought of such questions and topics, and even if they have, they’ve never tried to discuss them in English. And of course their IELTS score suffers as a result: I find that when students are less confident or don’t have great ideas their pronunciation becomes flat and they start hesitating or repeating ideas.
The fact is that knowledge itself, or at least the confidence that comes with having it, underpins a successful IELTS performance. But do we teach students knowledge, or even how to access knowledge and express it?
I think too often the texts and materials we work with have arcane topics that don’t challenge our students to think, respond or engage personally. IELTS lessons should be a window on the world that will fill students’ minds with ideas and provoke them to respond at every turn, making them confident and enthusiastic candidates.
In my upcoming webinar, I’ll be showing you how you can help your students to build the confidence they need to express world knowledge and discuss it. I hope you can join me.
Nick Thorner is co-author of Foundation IELTS Masterclass. He lives and works in Oxford, where he has been teaching IELTS courses for several years. He is also an experienced IELTS examiner.