The above heading refers to an important issue to your IELTS success – in fact, this is a crucial issue, and one of the greatest factors why you are NOT doing so well in the IELTS test. Thus, this input is divided into six separate posts, and this is the fifth. Here we go.

Okay, I hope you know the truth. You don’t want to spend lots of money and time, and still get a low IELTS mark, right? On a more positive note, here are the first three of five strategic guidelines related to the use of Chinese writing in so much IELTS preparation material.


Guideline One

Just think about the process of learning a language. Think carefully. That’s all. Deep down, I think you know the truth (but just don’t want to face it). It is human nature to want an easy answer, and (to repeat) people can make easy money by exploiting this instinct. But you need to think carefully about the whole language-learning process, and what the IELTS test really measures ( = true ability at using English).


Guideline Two

Assess your level of English. You probably know just how good (or not so good) your are. If you level is ....

very low to low

.... then don't even think about IELTS. Think about generally improving your English. Try using some western English-teaching coursebooks, such as the Headway series (my favourite), and also reading the China Post on Sunday (the Student Post). Here in Taiwan, you can only get the American Headway series, but that's fine. Try Headway 1 or 2, then progress to Headway 3, but work carefully through every single page. Also try some online learning material, but graded to an easier level - and totally avoid IELTS material. It just isn't the right stuff for you at that level. Just go to an online search engine, and enter for 'learning English'.

preintermediate to intermediate

... you could think about some IELTS-related material, but still think of that good English-learning coursebook, such as Headway. At intermediate level, you could think about my IELTS books. These IELTS books are simply the best in the world - but remember, there are five of them, and there's a lot of learning there. This means, you will need to work through them page by page, following all the advice, studying all the material, doing all the exercises.

intermediate or higher

... then you should use IELTS material. I'd recommend my own books (naturally), and they can be done via self-study.


Guideline Three

Think English! Avoid Chinese speaking, avoid Chinese writing, and avoid Chinese ‘explanations’. Some of it is fine, but not too much. Start using material written in English, with little Chinese. The addition of lots of Chinese just ‘dumbs down’ the learning, and slows your progress. If the material is full of Chinese, well ... you know my thoughts.. My face book and blog are a good start, giving a little bit of ‘IELTS stuff’ each day, perfectly tailored to improving your IELTS score. My IELTS books are a great continuation, written totally in English.

Think about only going to teachers who teach (mostly) in English (whatever their nationality may be). At one school where I worked, we had a Chinese-speaking teacher, but that teacher NEVER used Chinese, either inside or outside of the classroom. She spoke no Chinese because she had been trained in modern TEFL teaching. Those who only use Chinese simply reveal they have no TEFL background at all (or are ignoring it to make easy money).

The next posts will give the last two guidelines about how to think and act on this issue.


Check the meaning of the underlined words in the text (also given below).

  • crucial (adj)
  • strategic (adj)
  • to exploit (v)
  • to dumb down (v)
  • to tailor (v)
  • nationality (n)





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