In the previous post, I looked at the …
“We teach using Cambridge IELTS Practice Tests” syndrome.
In that post, I gave six reasons why using these books as course books is a bad strategy. It is an approach to learning which belongs to a period 50 years ago, long before modern language-teaching methods were developed [hence the picture of the old car at the top of the page]. The teacher's approach belongs to that era: old-fashioned, and long ago replaced.
I explained how the method merely encourages ‘practising tests’, but not true development. I worked as a Director of Studies (DOS) for an IELTS School for 6 years, designing the entire set of courses, and the Cambridge Books played absolutely no rule whatsoever in this. A few copies were bought, and put into a ‘self access’ centre for the students to use. That’s all. We had about eight teachers, and not a single one of them touched the Cambridge books – because they are not suitable for teaching purposes.
But what about the way I do things at my studio? Let’s look at the way I operate. After all, I have over 20 years experience preparing students for the IELTS Test. Well, here is an outline of my course design, arranged in tabular form: Overview of Individual AIS Lessons. Notice, there are no ‘practice tests’ at all, and every lessons slowly takes you a step forward, progressively developing your IELTS skills. The key words are progressively (= step by step) and develop (= actually getting better). Specific skills (micro-skills) are developed in a logical order.
My IELTS books themselves are written in English [with no Chinese to dumb you down], and are a series of exploratory exercises, carefully designed to move you steadily forward, with the learning of vocabulary, grammar, structuring, writing and speaking coherence imbedded in the journey.
My IELTS writing lessons involve feedback on the students’ writing assignment. These have been carefully error-coded by me. Problems in logic, structure, grammar, and cohesion are indicated, often with page number references to specific sections in my books. It is all analysed by the students in-class, with me facilitating the learning process. All this constitutes a comprehensive system to genuinely take you forward.
But yes, I have written two IELTS Test Practice Books (the second one with the publisher right now, soon to be available). But I only recommend these books to my students only at the end of a full IELTS course (the IELTS Writing & Listening, and the IELTS Reading & Speaking Course), and even then, I recommend to some students that they repeat another set of courses (in which case, I change the material, homework, and Teaching PowerPoint Programs).
The usual question is, why do some schools and teachers use the Cambridge books, and ‘teach’ from them. And the usual answer is that it attracts students, but you won’t fall for that trick, right? It’s just a danger sign.
Find the meaning of the underlined words, also repeated below.
- to dumb (sb.) down (v)
- to embed (v)
- to facilitate (v)
- to constitute (v)
- comprehensive (adj)
- genuine (adj)