You could spend (waste?) your life reading material related to TEFL. Among the countless websites, periodicals, newsletters, and bulletins related to the subject, EL Gazette stands out as a vital read.
September’s issue reported on the increase in IELTS test takers last year. For those who are not familiar with IELTS, it is an English language test often used as criteria for visas and entrance into universities (a quick Google search reveals). Academic IELTS is a test specifically devised for non-native English speakers who wish to enter university, while the general IELTS test is directed more at migrant workers.
Academic English test
In 2008, 1.2 million people took the test, 900,000 of which sat the academic IELTS. This figure is a 20 percent increase on the previous year. The massive number of academic test-takers shows both the popularity of English universities and the massive need for ELTs to be familiar with this test in order to prepare their students for this unique exam.
Fortunately, the very informative IELTS website has a section devoted to teaching resources and advice. I would strongly recommend browsing their pages if any of your students are taking this exam.
What is IELTS?
The test is divided into four sections, with two variations according to the type of test you take (academic or general):
Academic Reading – Three authentic texts are used to ask 40 questions of various types (multiple choice, sentence completion, short answers etc.)
General Reading – The general reading section uses more and a greater variety of texts that the academic counterpart
Academic Writing – A 60-minute assignment that comprises two tasks.
General Writing – This involves a more personal element in which you will have to use your own ideas rather than the analytical skills necessary for academic writing
Listening – A total of forty questions split over four sections
Speaking – Perhaps the most demanding feature, and probably the most respectable feature of IELTS is the speaking element. It is a one-to-one interview involving conversation, discussion and a short task. The speaking task takes between 11 and 14 minutes.
IELTS vs. TOEIC
IELTS differs from TOEIC in that there is a much stronger communicative element, and it relies more on clarity and comprehension than multiple-choice answering. The British Council also has some useful resources for IELTS takers and teachers.
IELTS seems like a very respectable exam in many regards. With the increasing interest in studying in British universities from overseas students, the number of test takers is likely to continue to increase. English teachers worldwide will have to respond to that demand.