IDP IELTS Blog

IELTS FOR THE ENGLISH SPEAKER

31 Mar 2016
IELTS FOR THE ENGLISH SPEAKER

The Situation

There are many reasons why people take the IELTS exam, but rarely are those reasons recreational. The IELTS exam is a high stakes situation for most of you reading this. Education opportunities, immigration status and working in your profession often hinge on half of a band score.IELTS for native English speakers

Some of you who speak English as a first language find yourselves overwhelmed by the expectations of the IELTS exam; and then there are other native speaker candidates who do not prepare for the exam whatsoever. The thinking of the latter group is that they have spoken the language since birth, are fluent and don’t need the help, or worse, resent that they have to take the test at all and don’t bother to prepare. If this sounds like you, please keep reading!

The Reality

The IELTS exam requires significant preparation for most, regardless of their first language, simply due to the high-stakes and standardized nature of the test. The four modules of the exam including Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking have questions specifically designed to measure your ability to answer questions a certain way in order to assess your English-language ability.

These are not merely comprehension checking questions, but attempt to show a wide range of thinking skills and self-expression on a wide variety of topics in English. If you’re a native English speaker, you likely don’t have to spend as much time focusing on language skills, but rather how to make the most of those skills to receive a high band score within the IELTS scoring system. Here are some preparation tips to get you started:

Free IELTS Prep: There are several free practice tests available for each of the test sections on the IDP Canada IELTS website. There are online and in-class seminars that review the structure and timing of the exam. These seminars and webinars give you the opportunity to receive feedback from experienced IELTS instructors and learn the nuances and expectations of the IELTS exam.

Learn the Language: Standardized exams such as the IELTS have their own language – and although designed to be clear and fair, there are many linguistic differences between English speaking countries. For example, Canadians and Australians share cultural affinity through the British Commonwealth, but have significantly different accents. This can be a challenge during the listening portion of them exam, particularly for Americans and Canadians. Listen to Australian and British podcasts, stream from some of their talk-radio stations, or watch movies featuring those accents in order to train your ear in preparation for the test.

Don’t Rush: it’s a good idea start preparing for the exam several weeks or months before your test date and practice in a test-taking environment. Find a quiet place and use a timer to create the conditions of the IELTS exam when you are using the reading, writing, and listening practice tests mentioned above.

Two common areas where native English-speakers need to focus their attention are the Speaking Exam and the Writing Exam. Sometimes, being very confident in your language will reduce your preparation for the following two tasks, here are some notes on why it’s important that you prepare, and a few tips on how to do so.

The Speaking Exam

Perhaps one of the most challenging parts of the exam is the speaking portion, which sounds counter-intuitive, but it’s the truth. Often times English-speakers are less willing to engage with examiners during the speaking exam because they aren’t pleased they have to write the test at all. If you don’t talk enough during the speaking exam, the examiner may not be able to provide you with a high score that you think you would achieve as a native speaker.

There are many very competent English-speaking professionals who perform poorly during the speaking portion of the IELTS exam. Examiners may think you are highly fluent, but without evidence to satisfy the assessment criteria in the band descriptors, the examiner is unable to reward a higher band score.

The Writing Exam

Much like the speaking exam, the IELTS trained marker is looking for very specific elements in your writing tasks. These include your ability to fully answer a prompt and develop a well-considered response; use of cohesive devices and coherence in the response; and flexibility and range of vocabulary and grammar.

Therefore, you should be well versed in the assessment criteria. Public versions of these band score descriptors for the speaking and writing tasks are available for you to review. Once you familiarize with the differences between the band scores, you will know exactly what you need to do to ensure your band score aligns with your natural language abilities.

In addition, in daily conversation and written expression, you may rely on prescriptive language and jargon related to your field. Taking some time to familiarize yourself with the exam structure and completing practice tests will decrease stress and improve results.

Confidence is Key

We understand that as a native English-speaker, you likely aren’t thrilled to have to write a test to demonstrate your English-language ability, whether you’re from an English-speaking country looking to immigrate to Canada or simply have to take it for professional accreditation. That said, as a native English-speaker, once you understand the structure of the test and the assessment criteria, you should feel confident going into the test because you’ve done a great deal of preparation and you know the language.

Testimonials

IELTS has been growing steadily for 20 years because it works. It’s good to know that IELTS has been the choice of millions of people over the years. IELTS stood out immediately because it tests all four skills – reading, writing, speaking and listening, giving a well-rounded assessment of my English
Arnik Surasarang, Teacher
IDP IELTS Masterclass really helpful, as preparation for the IELTS exam and give us support in many ways to improve our English.
Leny, Company CEO
The webinar which was held on the 1st of November was satisfactory, informative and valuable. All the questions were answered and explained in a proper way. Thank you!
Olena, Company CEO
Instructions before the IELTS written and speaking test were very clear and the people were nice and helpful. I found the written test pretty good. It was not too difficult, nor too simple. The results came quickly and I was accepted in the program and I am currently in the middle of my first year exams.
Nicholas Cletz, Company CEO
Thanks to IDP IELTS Masterclass for the interesting webinar, it was very informative, well organised and practical.
Hussein, Student
This was a fantastic presentation! It was very clear, practical and moved at a good pace. I would highly recommend these webinars
Shauna, Student
I like that they are open to give us some information and kind of training course without any cost so we can get ready for this important test.
Danna, Student
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