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3 COMMON IELTS PREPARATION MISTAKES

Do you need to take the IELTS English exam? Trying to work out what to do next? The internet is full of suggestions on how to prepare, and most language schools also teach IELTS courses.
But over the years, I have noticed several major IELTS preparation mistakes made by almost all English learners here in Vietnam. Unfortunately, these things are rarely covered in sufficient detail on IELTS courses.
The purpose of this article is to discuss those mistakes and give some advice on how to avoid them.

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3 COMMON IELTS PREPARATION MISTAKES

  1. 1. 3 COMMON IELTS PREPARATION MISTAKES Do you need to take the IELTS English exam? Trying to work out what to do next? The internet is full of suggestions on how to prepare, and most language schools also teach IELTS courses. But over the years, I have noticed several major IELTS preparation mistakes made by almost all English learners here in Vietnam. Unfortunately, these things are rarely covered in sufficient detail on IELTS courses. The purpose of this article is to discuss those mistakes and give some advice on how to avoid them. 1) Not enough interaction with real English. Students often think they are only learning if the activity is hard and boring. That’s not true at all. The students who get the highest scores in IELTS are always the ones who watch TV and movies in English, and who read a lot too. Why? Because exposure to the language is crucial. If you only use English when you are ‘studying’, your development will be slow. So put that course book away. Forget about answering questions, writing missing words, and looking up unknown vocabulary in a dictionary. Just read and listen, in English. Choose topics you find interesting and enjoyable because that will keep you motivated. Make it a daily habit. If you want a task, make notes on the key information then write a short summary – but don’t turn every interaction with English into a boring study session! The more you fill your life with real English, the more you will learn, almost without trying. You will become more confident with difficult vocabulary. You will understand more start despite reading faster. Fast speech will become easier to follow. You will enjoy learning English more. 2) Not developing a strong vocabulary. How many English words do you learn each day? What?! You don’t know?!! Zero?!!! Vocabulary is the single most important area of a foreign language to practice. The IELTS Reading and Listening exams are basically giant vocab tests: if you don’t know the words, you don’t know the answers. It’s as simple as that – and how do you expect to express yourself articulately in speaking or writing without a big vocabulary? Don’t forget, there’s more to a word than its meaning. Do you know what prepositions it goes with, for example? Learn new words, then use them! 3) Studying the wrong grammar. Many students spend hours practicing uncommon, complex grammar – but in conversation forget plural –s endings, use the present tense when talking about the past, and almost never put articles before their nouns. If your elementary grammar isn’t accurate, you’re completely wasting your time studying more advanced structures.
  2. 2. This isn’t exciting, but together, vocab and grammar make up 50% of your IELTS speaking and writing scores, so get the basics right! 4) Not working seriously on pronunciation. What’s the point of practicing speaking if people cannot understand you? Pronunciation is extremely important, both in life, and in the IELTS exam, where it is worth 25% of your speaking score. It’s also very easy to improve this area of your English if you practice diligently. Buy a pronunciation book with a CD and use it for 5-10 minutes every day. Record yourself speaking. Listen to yourself carefully and compare your voice to the recording on the CD. Go very slowly to develop better control. Be patient. Start with individual sounds. Make a list of the sounds you find difficult and spend more time practicing them. Don’t accept bad pronunciation from yourself. When you see a foreigner with good Vietnamese pronunciation, how do you think they achieved that? They spent six months practicing dấu nặng, and so on, that’s how! That’s it! Four common IELTS study mistakes, and how to avoid them. Now, I know some of you are thinking, “What about writing? My writing is terrible!” Well, that might be true. But frequently, writing difficulties are actually the result of weaknesses with vocabulary and basic grammar, rather than a problem with writing itself. Exam practice is important, but balance your studies. Don’t neglect the fundamentals outlined above. Good luck! About Author Full name: Mr. Duncan Moore IELTS Trainer at KTDC Group Bachelor of Arts in Linguistics, University College London CELTA Certificate Over 6 years in training, taught at British Council in Egypt and Vietnam (2010 – 2013) Favourite quote: “Do, or do not. There is not try” Testimonial form former student: “The way he teaches was really easy to understand and remember. He's also funny and amiable, and I think that everyone in the class love him very much” – Lương Hữu Khánh, IELTS 8.0

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