Strategies for transitioning to the IELTS classroom #1: Keeping the interactive environment

Jishan Uddin

In this series of articles, Jishan Uddin, author of the Mindset for IELTS Foundation Teacher’s Book shares his advice for teachers new to the IELTS test.

So, you’ve been asked to teach an IELTS class for the first time and you’re understandably nervous – exam preparation classes are dry aren’t they? Will you have to shift from a more communicative based model of teaching, and what impact will this have on student engagement and interaction patterns? Or perhaps you’ve taught single-level exam classes before, but how does it work for a multi-level test like IELTS? This first article looks at ways to make IELTS classes interactive and engaging.

Keeping the interactive environment

Exam English teaching doesn’t have to mean a different classroom environment to the one you’ve enjoyed when teaching general English. The key is how exam preparation material is organised and delivered. Despite it being about exam prep, your classes can still provide interactive and engaging activities which encourage pair and group work. Mindset for IELTS Foundation is designed with this approach in mind; topics are highly accessible and can be easily personalised to students’ own experiences and interests, and collaborative tasks and discussion are facilitated throughout.

Take this even further by adopting the following practices:

1. Class debate and peer interaction
During feedback instead of simply confirming the correct answer on hearing it the first time – usually from the same highly confident students – why not see if other students agree or not. This will encourage students to listen and respond to each other. You can always give the correct answer later. This can also be used for questions where there isn’t one fixed answer. This creates a classroom where students are always involved and expected to be involved.

2. Open pair practice
Students can do a role-play or discussion activity from the course book in front of their classmates, perhaps after they’ve done this activity in closed pairs. Invite students who are watching this exchange to offer advice or corrections where necessary. This creates an active classroom where students peer assess and assist.

Listen to Jishan discuss these strategies and other ideas in more detail in his webinar.

Find out more about the Mindset for IELTS course.

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