Being in the ESL world, I have probably discussed everything under the sun. In my experience, questions can seem too easy but quite difficult to provide plausible and comprehensible answers to. At times, one person can be knowledgeable in one topic whilst the other has completely no idea about it.
When preparing for the IELTS test, students are burdened to provide an answer that can be good enough for the target band score they need. Students may have a hard time learning too many things all at the same time. They are asked to respond to questions with fluency and coherence, wide lexical resource and grammar range, with a neutral accent. More often than not, I have met students who are good at one skill and terrible at the others. Does this sound like you? If so, fear not for you are not alone. Learning a language is a lifelong commitment.
Here are some ways you can do to help you study for your IELTS.
1. Be sure to have a strong English language foundation.
Easier said than done. Some students have good grammar know how but are poor in applying what they know. There are many online resources and books to help you learn and practice the English grammar. Try your hand at online classes. Converse with different kinds of people. This does not only improve your grammar foundation but also your listening skill, pronunciation, and fluency.
2. Your output is as important as your input (sometimes more important)
Students often spend lots of time reviewing and memorizing lists of words and making sentences using these new words; however, this technique does not really guarantee that you’ll learn faster. Sure you can see that you have read and “memorised” a number of words but really, IELTS is all about using the English language properly. You are not asked to give an awesome idea of a rather simple question, you are asked to provide your thoughts and opinions about a certain topic. Same goes for the writing test (although having a good grasp of formal expressions is an advantage because you can easily hit the target word count).
All you have to do is practice what you’ve learned from books. Write about what you have read and heard. Talk about what you have read and heard.
3. Don’t forget to relax!
Studying is tiring. It drains us both physically and mentally. It does not kill you to take some time off from studying but still try your best to expose yourself to the English language as much as possible. When drinking coffee or checking emails and notifications in your Social media, play an English song in the background, watch your favorite movie with subtitles (practice reading fast) and other stuff. The possibilities are endless!
4. Take on one skill/weak point at a time
As we all know, haste makes waste. Rushing to learn everything makes someone more confused and stressed. Seeing yourself as having a lot of weakness, whether it’s grammar, pronunciation, writing, listening, you’ll probably too tired worrying which skill you’ll focus on first and which is the least priority. Well, there’s no shortcut really. The only answer is to practice, practice, practice. Try asking your teachers or friends your best and worst skill. Start with what you think is easier for you to improve on. Make a record of it. Try your best to track your improvement. Give yourself a due date to learn something. For example, if you feel that you always make mistakes in using the proper preposition in your sentence, give your self a few days to focus on preposition only. The key is to make your goal realistic and objective.
5. Focus on your goal and just enjoy the journey!
You may have a long way to go but that doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. You’ll be surprised to see that you not only acquired good English communication skills but also you’ve learnt many things about yourself and met people with the same goal as yours.
Have fun and good luck!