What they don't teach in IELTS courses

I hate teaching IELTS classes, because the students don’t seem to apply any critical thinking at all. They just want to know the answers.

A few weeks ago I subbed a listening class. There was a recorded conversation making mention of the student union. The question paper referred to the student union. Some of those students had been ‘studying IELTS’ for six months.

So I asked if anyone knew what a student union was.

Blank looks. Eventually someone consulted a dictionary.

University life is one of the recurring themes in the IELTS test. They want to know if you will be able to function in your environment. So why do the students know nothing about university life in the UK/Aus/etc.?

Another recurring theme is the environment. Instead of taking practise tests would it be more useful for the students to know something about environmental issues so that the material makes sense to them?

I have a mock-test in front of me featuring people buying consumer electronics. I’ve seen discussions about video phones and computers in other books. It seems fairly clear to me that if I knew a bit about this subject it would be a lot easier for me to understand the IELTS material.

I mean, for fuck’s sake, if you had a list of things you needed to know you could even research it in chinese and look up the key vocabulary. Surely that would be a more effective use of time than sitting in a classroom taking mock tests? Some of these people actually ‘study’ the same tests two or three times until they get all the answers right. :unamused:

I think there’s a need for a class on ‘background to IELTS’, teaching students about the things they are probably going to get tested on. But I’m too lazy to go through all the books listing the common topics and cultural stuff they need to know about.

Suggestions anyone?

I completely agree with you, but do you really think that when your students finally manage to test to the band they need, on the third or fourth try, and go off to foreign lands, that they will embrace the culture, seek out new experiences, and return with a much broader personality and worldview than when they left.

Or are they going to go over there, find the nearest Taiwanese overseas group and spend all their time hanging out with them. Get their degree and return to Taiwan with a few new friends (all Taiwanese, no locals), language skills no better than when they left, and definite opinions about the food overseas being