Think you can study IELTS on your own? Don’t go it alone until you’ve read these five reasons why you should study IELTS with a teacher.
1. A teacher can help you recognise your strengths and weaknesses.
Sometimes we aren’t good at identifying the areas in which we need to improve. IELTS students will often say they hate the speaking or writing sections of the test. However, they may overestimate the difficulty of these sections. More benefit might be gained by acquiring simple strategies for listening and reading. That’s the advantage of studying IELTS with a teacher: he or she can give you an objective analysis of where you need to concentrate your efforts most.
2. An experienced IELTS teacher can score your writing and speaking answers.
While textbooks may provide guidance in the form of sample answers, you can only guess what IELTS score your own answers would receive. Knowledge of how IELTS answers are really scored belongs to a select group of people: IELTS examiners and experienced IELTS teachers. Not only can teachers give you an accurate band score in all sections of the test, they can also provide more detailed scores than the test certificate, including individual scores for the various criteria in IELTS Writing and Speaking, as well as suggestions for improvement.
3. A good teacher will train you in a range of language skills while preparing you for IELTS.
IELTS is not the real reason you are studying English. English is a skill you will continue to use throughout your entire life. A good teacher will do much more than prepare you for a test: pointing out your most frequent grammatical errors, correcting your pronunciation and spelling, and letting you know if what you said is understandable or not. On top of that, your teacher provides an all-round good model of how to use English in everyday communication. Ask yourself if you could get all this from books, the internet or friends, and the answer will almost certainly be No.
4. An organised programme of study helps to prevent procrastination.
What is ‘procrastination’? We’re all guilty of it, even if we don’t know the word. Procrastination means postponing those things we know we must do. It affects us at school, at work, and of course when preparing for IELTS. Following a syllabus with a teacher (and classmates) provides what psychologists call ‘extrinsic motivation’: a source of motivation that comes from other people. If your own motivation is sometimes lacking, find an IELTS teacher willing to be your coach as well as your instructor.
5. In IELTS, practice makes perfect.
In all areas of life, our confidence in our own ability increases with practice. This in turn leads to better performance in pressure situations such as exams. While textbooks will allow you to practice the listening, reading and writing modules of IELTS, the only way to gain authentic practice of the IELTS speaking module is with a teacher. An experienced IELTS teacher knows how to play the examiner’s role, including the kind of help that can be given and when to prompt you to speak more. Try gaining practice with a variety of teachers – different ages, accents, and personalities – to reduce the likelihood of nerves when you meet your first IELTS examiner.