Prepare for IELTS with These Three Keys to Success.
So, you’re about to take your IELTS and perhaps you’re freaking out that you aren’t doing enough. Perhaps you’re stressed, confused, nervous and need a guiding hand to show you how to prepare calmly. Perhaps you’ve already taken it and you didn’t do as well as expected.
In any case, stop and breathe. You’re good, IELTS can be tough, but it can also be easily achieved, if you go about the planning in a methodic and step-by-step way.
IELTS is all about your ability to use English in a variety of ways. So, in order to get good at using English this way, you need to break it down.
Speaking & Listening
To get you started, here are our three keys to success and some tips on how to really get stuck into it.
Ready? Let’s do this.
I have people who have been speaking English for ten years who ask me, “Why do I have to keep learning vocabulary?”
Because, my friends, this is your ammunition. The more words you know, the more you can do with the language – seems easy, right?
Learning vocabulary can be a long and boring process. But there are ways to make it fun, or at least more fun, if you get me?
The Power of Post-its.
I love them, can’t get enough of them and there is a big reason why. Use three colours of post-its, one for nouns, one for verbs, one for adjectives (maybe some for adverbs or prepositions the possibilities are endless). Stick them on your bedroom wall, kitchen cabinets, your TV, your cat… somewhere you can see them often.
Find a new word? Write it on a post-it, stick it on the wall. Don’t know a word? Write it down, come to it later and stick it on your wall. The more you look at these words, the more they will stick in your brain. I tried it with Russian and I’m telling you, it worked.
Journals are Everything.
Writing down new words and sticking them around your house is step one. Step two is using these words. Keeping a journal is a great way to practice using new words. Put your life on the page. Talk about travelling, school, your family or even about how Jake Gyllenhaal is going to shoot a film in your city one day, fall in love with you and you’ll travel the world together in your VW campervan with your dog called Phillip. No? Just me?
Anyway, using the words will cement them in your brain. They’ll live there forever and be with you when you sit for your exam.
Reading is What? Fundamental
So we have our method, we’re going to buy post-its and use them to learn words. But where do these words come from?
A great way, as I’m sure you know is reading. Buy books, read articles about all kinds of topics. If you find a new word, write it down, stick it up and read the paragraph again.
However, reading is not only important for new vocabulary. Reading is crucial if you are going to understand what the IELTS test wants from you.
Exams use weird words sometimes to catch out those people who don’t read the question fully. Being one step ahead means you are familiar with this method, and you’re prepared for the world’s most complicated wording.
Read things like:
- Old exam questions
Anything to get you familiar with English wording. Use your journal to write these questions down, try answering them. If you don’t understand them, break them down into small pieces so you can understand each word. Take this example:
“Living in a country where you have to speak a foreign language can cause serious social problems, as well as practical problems."
To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement?”
(As further discussed here: http://blog.myieltsclassroom.com/cambridge-ielts-books/)
Firstly, there are two things we need to understand; what are “social problems”? And what are “practical problems”?
Social problems could be:
- Making friends
- Asking for help in the supermarket
- Communicating with locals when around town
Practical problems could be:
- Calling the repair service
- Getting a phone contract
- Renting or buying a house
- Understanding new laws and regulations
But, the question never actually told you if this is right, so you need to decide for yourself, and use your words to prove your point. Luckily, some IELTS questions will give you an example, which is a lovely little surprise.
Secondly, we need to look at “serious” social and practical problems. How do you determine if something is serious? This is where you need to use your English. Choose a side, choose an opinion and use your words to explain your point, *cough* journal *cough*.
When faced with a question like this, if you’re prepared and have read a million and one of them before, you’ll be ready to break it down and prove your point.
Always remember to PEE – point, example, explain.
Speak up, Speak out!
An important part of any IELTS exam is the speaking section. This can catch a lot of people out because It means you have to talk continuously about a subject for a period of time. This can be tricky, especially when you’re nervous and have no idea what you’re going to be talking about.
So how can you effectively prepare? ClClem Onoem Onojeghuojeghuo unsplash.comunsplash.com
Well, it might sound crazy… no really, stay with me here okay? But, you need to… *clears throat*… speak.
Yes, speak up and speak out. The more you speak in English, the more of an “English voice” you will get. It is hard to feel confident about speaking another language because you aren’t familiar with your voice in that language yet.
Once you get your voice, you’ll become a lot more confident.
So how do you do that?
Use Facebook to find the next language café in your city. At the time of writing this, Corona has a giant hold on the world, so that might not be available to you right now, but a lot of language cafés have online sessions, and online meet-ups where you can still practice your English. This is a great way to meet new people, talk about life and important issues and develop your spoken English.
Find a pen-pal! Yes, this one is a little 1999, but there are so many great apps now where you can find people from all over the world, and practice your language with them. Apps like Ananas, that connect language learners. You can use voice messages to communicate, learning to listen and reply to what someone says. This is a great way to develop your oral English, and meet some cool people along the way! AAnnaannaass AApppp
It is important to mention about staying safe online – learn safely by knowing who you are talking to, and never arranging to meet a stranger.
So, there you have it, the three keys to successful IELTS preparation. Get these done, and you’ll be on your way to getting the most out of your IELTS exam.
The last piece of advice? HAVE FUN. Learning a language should always feel great and going easier on yourself will make all the difference. Be kind to yourself, nap regularly, eat your greens and remember the three keys to success.