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International English Language Testing System

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  • International English Language Testing System

    The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is an internationally owned and globally recognised direct English language assessment of the highest quality and integrity readily available throughout the world.

    IELTS is a highly dependable, practical and valid English language assessment primarily used by those seeking international education, professional recognition, bench-marking to international standards and global mobility.

    IELTS is owned, developed and delivered through the partnership of the British Council, IDP Education Australia: IELTS Australia and the University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations.



    What do students really want?

    Despite being the new kid on the block in IELT exam terms, IELTS (International English Language Teaching System) is rapidly becoming a force to be reckoned with. As candidate numbers rise inexorably, from 75,000 in 1998 to 350,000 in 2002, more and more teachers around the world have to address the needs of IELTS students.

    And there does seem to be a consensus that IELTS students are different in some way. Teachers tend to use adjectives like serious, motivated and focused. They're learners who like to know why they're doing something, and how it will help them get the score they need.

    They can also become preoccupied with the minutiae of the exam at the expense of more fundamental issues. This is a potential danger with any exam, of course, but with so much often hanging on an IELTS band score, anxiety about exam details can represent a particular problem.

    So what do IELTS students want? To find out more about their attitudes and concerns, I carried out a small survey of students in Bristol. The results were interesting in a number of ways, not least for the thoroughness with which the questionnaires were completed. It seems that IELTS students have plenty to say about their studies, and they want to be heard!

    The important thing to remember about a survey like this (and its real value in my view) is that the results are specific to the target group. With other students in other contexts, there would no doubt be different conclusions (and implications)

    Q: What are the main challenges of IELTS? (key:1 = easiest, 4=hardest)




    All respondents
    Post-IELTS respondents

    Listening
    1
    1

    Reading
    4
    3

    Writing
    3
    4

    Speaking
    2
    2



    In Section 1, a simple ranking exercise, the overall result was fairly predictable, with Writing coming top of the nightmare list, followed closely by Reading. But when I separated out the results for students who had already taken the exam, the top two positions were reversed. We can only speculate as to why - perhaps these experienced students had received excellent writing training and felt well-equipped for most things the exam could throw up, while reading texts and tasks were still a more unpredictable and daunting element?

    Had these been my own students, the obvious next step would have been to discuss the issues raised. And this is where a questionnaire can be such a useful tool in forming the basis of an ongoing dialogue about the exam and the course.

    In the following sections students were asked to specify particular aspects of each module (from a choice of four or five) that worried them most. The results showed broad areas of agreement between experienced and inexperienced students but also some startling differences. They also highlighted a number of potentially valuable discussion points.

    With listening, the main concern for both groups was, "Answering questions at the same time as listening", no doubt reflecting anxiety about the once-only playing of the tape. What was interesting, however, was that nearly three times as many experienced students identified this as a problem. Why? Can we simply put it down to the stress of exam conditions, or could it be that classroom practice has been overly soft, with a bit too much teaching support, perhaps?

    Reading and writing shared the same main concerns: time constraints and vocabulary. However, almost 50 per cent more experience students identified timing as a problem in the writing paper, suggesting the need for more emphasis on timed practice in class. Top of the anxiety list for speaking were "Not making too many grammar mistakes" (a greater concern here than with writing, interestingly) and "Having clear pronunciation". It was surprising not only that pronunciation ranked so high but also that is was twice as serious a concern for experienced students. There are obviously issues here, including the full range of assessment criteria, that need discussion.

    The final section asked students to identify the six teaching strategies they perceived as most useful, from a list of 16. I had predicted an emphasis on exam-focus as opposed to skills-focus approaches here, but in fact the overall top eight shows a fairly healthy balance between the two.

    Again there were differences in the two groups' priorities. Vocabulary development, for example, came close to top for inexperienced students but second to last for experienced students. Equally interesting in many ways are the items that didn't make the top eight:

    * By writing detailed comments on written work

    * By giving you lots of speaking practice in class

    * By suggesting extra reading and listening practice

    These throw up some interesting anomalies:

    * Students want every kind of help with writing but don't value written feedback on their work

    * They're very keen on pronunciation but not on speaking practice in class

    * They want the teacher's help in developing their listening and reading skills but not to do extra practice in class



    The results again underline the value of a questionnaire as the basis for an ongoing dialogue. After all, if anomalies like this aren't aired and discussed, students like these may not realise that what they can do to help themselves could make the crucial difference in achieving that elusive score. They may not benefit fully from activities they don't see the point of. And all those hours spent marking may be largely a waste of time.

    All in all, a questionnaire like this has a lot to recommend it. It's low-tech, easy to prepare, and takes very little class time. It focuses learners' minds on goals and ways of reaching them, gives them a voice in the learning process and provides a fascinating insight into their thinking, enabling the teacher to fine-tune the course to individual needs.


    The link Below contains the IElS handbook which includes some models


    Handbook 2005



    For furthur information please visit

    www.ielts.org
    التعديل الأخير تم بواسطة بنت العرب; الساعة 21-01-2005, 10:38 AM.

  • #2
    Thanks dear sister for this great topic and usefull information

    you always show us great topic dear sister

    Keep it up

    Regards

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