Improving your IELTS Rating: Tips for Native Arabic Language Speakers

28 Jul 2021
Improving your IELTS Rating: Tips for Native Arabic Language Speakers

You can find IELTS in almost every country around the world. Globally, it is the largest English language test. We need it for everything from immigration applications, to employment requirements, to academic acceptance. Given this wide range of uses and wide global reach, it is normal to find people of every language and every culture taking IELTS. However, if you’ve ever studied English with people from other countries, you’ll know that we don’t all learn in the same way. For example, if you’re Japanese, it’s much easier to learn Chinese because similar written characters are used. On the other hand, if you are studying Hindi and your first language is Italian, you will find it more difficult because you need to use a new alphabet.  


So how does this connect to IELTS? When you Google “IELTS Study Guide,” you will find thousands of materials to help you study. However, these materials don’t target one kind of student with one kind of language. So, if you get an IELTS Essay Guide, it will be meant for everyone. It probably won’t consider what certain cultures and certain language speakers need. For instance, imagine an Arabic-speaking student is preparing for the computer-based IELTS. In many Arabic-speaking countries, the computer keyboard layouts are different from standard English keyboards. This could cause trouble when trying to type using an unfamiliar keyboard for the writing test. 


Let’s now focus on three common challenges Arabic speakers have during IELTS test prep. If this is your first language, this is a must-read!  


The Writing System is Different  

Because the Arabic writing system goes from right to left, Arabic speakers should be prepared to go from left to right when using English. This can be a problem for both paper-and-pencil tests and computer-delivered tests. If it’s computer-based, remember to practice on an English keyboard. The technical name for this layout is the QWERTY keyboard. Being comfortable on the QWERTY will improve your typing speed, your writing accuracy, and your test-day confidence. If the test is paper-based, make sure that you practice your summaries, essays, and letters on paper. If your hand gets tired and your writing is messy, this might distract you from the writing tasks. Anything you can do to mirror test-day conditions will help! 


Sounds and Spellings Don’t Always Agree in English 

When teaching Arabic learners, I sometimes notice they pronounce every letter in English words. After doing some research, I learned that in the Arabic language system, almost all written characters are pronounced. This is not the case in English. When you say the word “island” it is pronounced “eye-land”. It is not pronounced “eyes-land”. When you say the words “knife”, “know”, and “knight”, we don’t say the “k” sound. And how about “though”, “enough,” and “rough”? They are pronounced “tho”, “ee-nuff”, and “ruff”. When you are studying, pay close attention to silent letters. Also, notice how words are pronounced by using subtitles on the video. A final tip is to use speech-to-text apps. Speak into your phone or computer and see if what you say computes to the correct word. It can be very confusing trying to match spelling and pronunciation, but if you are not accurate on the speaking test, this could mean the difference between an IELTS 7 and an IELTS 5! 


Know your prepositions! 

I have graded thousands and thousands of essays and speaking tests for Arabic speaking students learning English. Maybe the most common “little mistake” is with prepositions. Prepositions are words used in time, directions, locations, and to introduce objects. Some common ones are inonunderoveratwith, and to. The difference between at the ocean and in the ocean is very important if you can’t swim, for example. At the ocean means you are next to it. In the ocean means you are wet.

As you can see, even the smallest misuse can cause trouble! In general, the complexity and range of prepositions in English is more than in Arabic. When translating from Arabic to English, there is often no equal preposition. You might say the prepositions get lost in translation. A good way to improve your accuracy is to learn English in phrases, not individual words. Include the prepositions when you study these vocabulary phrases. So if studying time, don’t just learn that “quarter to ten” means 9:45. You should learn “at quarter to ten” means 9:45. Don’t learn that the phrase “field of study” means in a university program. Learn “in the field of study” means a university program. 


There are many more significant differences between English and Arabic that are important to be aware of when prepping for IELTS. These three are important, but they are just a few. So don’t forget that every language student learns differently. The better you understand your own learning, the faster you will improve. Good luck on test day! 


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
Thanks to IDP IELTS Masterclass for the interesting webinar, it was very informative, well organised and practical.
Hussein, Student
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
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
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
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
80+ Test Locations Across Latin America
World's most popular English-language test for work, study, and migration. IELTS is recognised by over 10,000 organizations in over 140 countries worldwide. Speaking test administered face-to-face in a private, quiet room with a certified IELTS examiner