Preparing Lower Level Students For IELTS

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Preparing lower levelstudents for IELTSFiona Aish and Jo Tomlinson

OverviewDiscussion: What challenges do you face?General difficulties for lower levels and strategiesto overcome theseTools for teaching each paper at lower levels andactivities for the classroom

About usCourse design, delivery, test developmentand teacher training for EAP and exampreparation.A diagnostic test to help students preparefor taking IELTS

Over to you Do you teach IELTS to lower levels? Whatlevels?What challenges does this bring?How do you overcome them?

Concepts at lower levelsLanguageSystems before skillsTest knowledgeMeaningful item practiceMotivation and levelawarenessDiagnostic testing andgoal settingTest, test, test!Connect language toimprovement

Teaching lower levelsIELTS listening andreading

Tools for listeningExplore item construction- in order to help your students understand what they will hear.Get students to create language for listening- motivational tool and good language practice for a receptive skillGrade listening where possible-work to their level by task type/section/sourcing own materialInclude the basics!-give spelling tests- practise places, times, dates.Use noticing tools- Include self assessment and guided discovery.- Use the audio script

Source: Official IELTS Practice Materials (Updated 2009)

Features identifiedFrom looking at the audioscript and analysing the questionsand answers, we can see:- the distractors are sometimes mentioned- the distractors are mentioned using the direct words fromthe question paper- the answers are mentioned using a synonym orsynonymous phraseThis is just one pattern we can identify. It is not the rule.

How can we use this?- Explore correct and incorrect answers with thestudents.- Make the student the examiner. Use a reinforcementactivity where the students explore the questions oraudio script.- With lower levels, stage this with focusedgrammar/vocabulary.

The hotel is most popular with A. the elderlyB. familiesC. business people1. Brainstorm the vocabularyover 65sstaying for workparents and children2. Paraphrase the stem (include any grammar/vocabulary work)Other ways of saying ‘most popular’ (passive/active focus)The hotel is especially liked by / .especially like(s) this hotel.The hotel is a particular favourite of / particularly favour(s)the hotel.Other ways of saying ‘hotel’Our establishment / The Bridge Hotel

The hotel is most popular with A. the elderlyB. familiesC. business people3. Introduce possible ideas/structures for distractione.g. “Both families and business people enjoy everything the hotel has to offer,but the Bridge is particularly liked by the over 65s.”TaskIn groups, students write the audioscript for this question. Choose any answerto be the correct word. Include:-1 or 2 of the other (incorrect) answers-The other wrong answers in the same form as they are in the question-The answer in a synonymous form

Tools for readingFocus on intensive reading- reduce skimming/scanning activities and give a linguistic focus- look at paragraph level textsScaffold reading- pre-teaching needs to be done- where possible, restrict the language focus and consider materials carefullyUnderstanding question types- prediction techniques for certain questions- how questions are reformulated and organised in the textUse noticing tools- include self assessment and guided discovery.- Always explore the answers

Aish F and Tomlinson J (2012) Grammar for IELTS, Collins , p.68

One of the causes of obesity is the rising cost of food. Manysupermarkets today claim that (1) they provide low cost food, butfruit and vegetables have increased in price. (2) This means that itis more difficult for low income families to feed their childrenhealthy food. As a result, we have seen more obesity and otherhealth problems. (3) These issues have negative effects onhealthcare and education.What do the underlined words refer to? Write the nouns below:1. provide low cost food, but fruit and vegetables arebecoming more expensive.2. makes it more difficult for low incomefamilies to feed their children healthy food.3. have negative effects on healthcare andeducation.

One of the causes of obesity is the rising cost of food. Manysupermarkets today claim that (1) they provide low cost food, butfruit and vegetables have increased in price. (2) This means that itis more difficult for low income families to feed their childrenhealthy food. As a result, we have seen more obesity and otherhealth problems. (3) These issues have negative effects onhealthcare and education.What do the underlined words refer to? Write the nouns below:1. Supermarkets provide low cost food, but fruit and vegetables arebecoming more expensive.2. The high cost of fruit and vegetables makes it more difficult for lowincome families to feed their children healthy food.3. Obesity and health problems have negative effects on healthcare andeducation.

One of the causes of obesity is the rising cost of food. Manysupermarkets today claim that (1) they provide low cost food, butfruit and vegetables have increased in price. (2) This means that itis more difficult for low income families to feed their childrenhealthy food. As a result, we have seen more obesity and otherhealth problems. (3) These issues have negative effects onhealthcare and education.IELTS style questions.Complete the summary in NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS.It is difficult for poorer families to eat healthy food becausehave not reduced the price of . Thisleads to obesity and other problems which more widely affect.

Teaching lower levelsIELTS writing andspeaking

Tools for writingTask 1:- Give meaningful practice- Help students with meaning from context- Focus on ‘essential grammar’ e.g. tense, s/v/o, prepositions-Get students to rewrite and recycle activities with small changese.g. a tense change-Give detailed feedback to individuals and groupsTask 2:- Explore how to answer the question NOT write about the topic- Focus on essay grammar (e.g. modals, basic noun phrases)- Teach subject specific lexis and collocations- Guided paragraph/idea development (even simplistic ones)- Give students checklists for self-editing and peer review

Decoding writing task 1Describe the movements of each of the coloured lines.

What else can you say about the lines now?

The line graph below shows the percentage of Doblists who visitedfour different Yukefont Hotions. Summarize the information byselecting and reporting the main features and make comparisonswhere relevant.Percentage of Doblists who visited Yukefont HotionsPercentage 9901995200020052010

The line graph below shows the percentage of Doblistswho visited four different Yukefont Hotions.Do people or things ‘visit’?What do they visit?What pronoun can you usewith this? Why?Percentage of Doblists who visited Yukefont Hotions50Percentage (%)40Are these Doblistsor YukefontHotions?How do we 01995Does this refer to Doblists or Yukefont Hotions?200020052010What tense is needed?

IELTS Task 1 ExampleAish, F. & Tomlinson, J. (2012) Get Ready for IELTS Writing, Collins p. 39

Tools for speakingFamiliarise students with the tasks- ensure students understand the focus of each part- explain how the marking worksProvide building blocks- practise topic-based vocabulary & sentence substitutions (E.g. My main reasonfor . is ./ In my there is/ are )- focus on building up answers using basic linking words (E.g. and, but, so,because)Recycle language and tasks- reinforce activities by repetition with small changes (E.g. tense, topic, questionwords)Use noticing tools- use model answers and get students to record themselves- encourage students to assess their own spoken output

Snelling, R. (2012) Get Ready for IELTS Speaking, Collins p. 29

Snelling, R. (2012) Get Ready for IELTS Speaking, Collins p. 21

In summarySystems before skillsMeaningful item practiceDiagnostic testing andgoal settingConnect language toimprovement

Thank you for listeninginfo@target-english.co.ukFind out your students’strengths and weaknessesat IELTS:www.exam-ready.comFind out more aboutTarget English and ourservices:www.target-english.co.uk

Our establishment / The Bridge Hotel . The hotel is most popular with A. the elderly . B. families . C. business people . 3. Introduce possible ideas/structures for distraction e.g. “Both families and business people enjoy everything the hotel has to offer, but the Bridge is particularly liked by the over 65s.” Task In groups, students write the audioscript for this question. Choose .

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