What is the IELTS?
IELTS stands for “International English Language Testing System”. It is an internationally accepted standardised test of English language proficiency, divided into listening, reading, writing and speaking sections. Most Australian, British, Canadian, Irish, New Zealand and South African academic institutions accept it as a measure of ability with the English language, and it is also a requirement for immigration to Australia, Canada and New Zealand. It is the world’s most popular English language test for university admissions and immigration.
How does IELTS coaching differ from ESL classes?
IELTS coaching is not an English class. If you don’t already know how to read, speak or write in English, then IELTS coaching will not be of any great assistance to you.
IELTS coaching is intended for people who already have some ability with the English language to achieve a better IELTS band score, by giving them techniques and strategies to perform better in the exam.
Do you need coaching?
Coaching is not at all necessary before taking the IELTS exam. It is, however, highly beneficial should you wish to get the best score that you can. Depending on the reason you are taking the IELTS test, IELTS coaching might make the difference in achieving a band score that will allow you a visa to the country you wish to immigrate to, or admission to the college or university you wish to study at.
Different kinds of coaching
There are different ways to approach IELTS coaching.
If money is no object then you may look for individual or one-to-one coaching sessions. This way your tutor can give you direct and immediate feedback on how you are performing. Assuming that the tutor is competent and experienced in the IELTS test, then this is likely to be the most expensive way to prepare for the IELTS test. Individual tutoring is no guarantee of the best results – if your choice is between group coaching from a tutor who really knows their stuff, and individual tutoring from somebody who perhaps doesn’t, then you might be better off with the group coaching.
Group sessions offer a good balance of affordability and individual attention. Size matters. With too many people in the room, the particulars of your own situation will receive little attention or feedback from the tutor and you might as well just be reviewing material online. Class sizes greater than 15 definitely dilute the value of the tutoring.
You can also look at online coaching. There is an abundance of material on the internet that you can review for little or no cost. The downside of this approach is that you don’t get any feedback on your own individual situation. A real life flesh and blood tutor is able to draw particular attention to the specific areas that might be holding you back, whereas online materials have to be written for everyone. You may find these offer a great supplement to other tutoring options, rather than a complete replacement.
Daniel Squire is an Australian author with a long standing interest in IELTS Preparation services.