Instant IELTS ‘experts’ have been regularly emerging, popping up like mushrooms now. Every day there is a new one. Well, you need to be aware of the risks here. You could easily waste a lot of time and money, and send your IELTS mark downwards. In this post, I’ll look at the …

“Hi, I just finished [some degree], and I’ve decided to teach IELTS” syndrome.

This is happening more and more, and it really mystifies me. An unknown person, a non-native English speaker, with no teaching experience, no history, and very little credentials, will suddenly ‘teach’ IELTS Preparation. Normally, in this ‘Tricks to Watch Out For’ series, I write ‘Sounds good, right? WRONG!’ but in this case, it doesn’t even sound good!  [Hence the picture above]. And you, the students, need to think very carefully about a few factors. One obvious factor is the risk (particularly for women) of naively going to a meet a total stranger on the basis of some vague promises of 'free IELTS courses'. Remember, the Internet is unregulated, and any sort of person can say anything on it. [Again, hence the picture above].

But in this post, let's confine the factors to think about to those relating to IELTS and the teaching of it. 


Factor 1: Teaching IELTS is Extremely Complicated

Click 'An Overview of AIS IELTS Preparation Classes', and see the course design I have evolved for preparing students for IELTS. This preparation is a huge challenge, almost infinitely complicated. Remember, we are looking at an entire language, and all four major skills: listening, reading, writing, and speaking, all shaped within the parameters of a specialised test.

Just looking at Writing Task Two, it involves having good ideas (so brainstorming techniques must be done), developing these ideas (so helping students in gaining more real-world knowledge must take place), grammar, vocabulary, appropriateness, structuring, cohesive devices, clarity, logical thinking and argumentation (always a big problem), relevance, and the practical aspects of the test (timing, word length, and techniques to finish quickly). And this list is just a start! And then there are the other three skills.


Factor 2: Materials and Practice

There are many bad IELTS books; many ‘instant IELTS’ publications, full of Chinese writing and bad advice. The best teachers realise what is good, what isn’t, and also begin to develop material that works, often making it themselves. The laziest teachers just randomly grab a book about IELTS, and work through the pages, one by one. I’ve seen it many times, even among ‘trained’ teachers. That is NOT teaching – it is just turning pages in a book. You can do that yourself at home. For me, my PowerPoint Programs have been (and continue to be) developed for over 10 years, with a dedication that no other teacher would ever show, and I use my own IELTS books (the VERY best ever written), which took eight years to write.

[To be continued in the next post]


Find the meaning of the underlined words, also repeated below.


  • to mystify (v)
  • naive (adj)
  • vague (adj)
  • infinitely (adv)
  • parameters (n)
  • aspects (n)
  • barest (adj)


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