In this English pronunciation lesson we are going to talk about and explain the main English language tests used to by UK government, for visas, UK collages and employers to help assess the English language skills of applicants. You could also think of this as an English tutorial on acronyms, as there are a lot of them in this lesson.
You may or may not know that there are several tests and exams you can take to prove you have a certain level of English language skills. We explain the most popular tests and how Adept English can help you with these types of test.
Even if you have no plan to take the tests of use them, I think it’s interesting to know where you might be on the skill levels. So you might already be proficient in English, and if you were to take the tests, what might your skill level be? Well, we talk about online tests that can help answer these types of questions.
Exams test your memory, life tests your learning; others will test your patience.
⭐ Fennel Hudson
As always with our method of teaching, regardless of the topic, you are listening to a native English speaker which is excellent listening practice and of course you will learn relevant English vocabulary. So even if tests are not your thing, this lesson will help your English language skills.
Hi there and welcome to this podcast from Adept English. How about today we do an English Tutorial to introduce you to IELTS and how IELTS works? If you’re really serious about your English Language Learning, and you want to speak English with confidence not just for fun and interest and holiday travel, but with more of a serious intention, like studying or working in an English speaking country, then listen on.
So how about today we talk about IELTS? This acronym – that’s a word for a group of letters, which is spelt ACRONYM, acronym. This acronym IELTS or IELTS stands for International English Language Testing System. So this is a system for testing English language ability – and it’s standardized meaning that wherever you are in the world, if you take an IELTS test, the standard, the assessment of your level of English will have the same rules, the same criteria.
If you want to come and live and work in the UK or Australia or other English speaking countries, like Canada or New Zealand then an IELTS test result will help you. And there are around 1,600 centres around the world where you can take an IELTS test. Like many other things, IELTS test centres have been closed during the pandemic, but they are planning to be open again as soon as possible.
If you’re a student and you’re wanting to come and study in the UK, then all UK Universities accept IELTS test results. If you’re thinking of coming to the UK to study, you’ll need a student visa. A visa, VISA allows you to remain in a certain country for a period of time. So if you’re on a student visa, then you’re able to remain for the duration, the length of your studies.
When you take an IELTS test, your result is given as a band, which means a number. So the higher the number, the higher your level of English. And the test will give you a band, a number of each of the four skills of reading, writing, speaking and listening. So each of these four skills in English are assessed separately and the bands go from band 0 to band 9.
If you are familiar with the CEFR scale for assessing languages, another acronym there. This acronym stands for the Common European Framework of Reference for languages. So this is the scale for language learners which goes A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 and C2. You may have heard of that.
A photograph of a young African-American man taking notes during training class in office. IELTS Exams.
There are plenty of tests that you can find online to assess your level of English on this scale, if you’re interested or you may know already what level you are at. So B1 for example is around a level 4-5 in IELTS, just as a guide.
So if you wanted to come to the UK as a student and you were studying below degree level, you would need CEFR level B1 or in IELTS levels, at least Band 4. And if you were coming to the UK to study at degree level or above, then you would need CEFR level B2 or above and at least Band 5.5 on the IELTS scale. And you have to pass all parts – reading, writing, speaking and listening – at this level.
So you can take an IELTS test called General Training or Academic. General Training just means that your intention is to be able to speak English in normal life, whereas the Academic pathway is for if you are going to be studying at degree level or beyond in English. And two of the four skills are assessed differently – as you might expect.
So if you are going to take the Academic test route, then the reading and the writing sections are a bit more difficult – to reflect the fact that you’ll need a higher level of skill in these areas, if you’re going to be studying at degree level and you need to understand more complex written material and you need to write essays.
Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life believing that it is stupid.
⭐ Albert Einstein
There’s also now an IELTS Life Skills test, which is to support people with visa and immigration applications. So if you want to move to the UK from a different country and English isn’t your first language, then you may be required to take this test. Because it’s really to support people’s general life skills, this test is a listening and speaking test only – no reading or writing. And the tests are short – you can take an A1 test or a B1 test – that’s corresponding of course to the CEFR scale, and with this one you get a pass or fail, depending upon whether you achieved the level, rather than a band score, like the other IELTS tests.
So if you want to practise for your IELTS test, then obviously practising your listening skills with Adept English is going to be helpful. Obviously, depending upon your level, you may want to start with our 500 Most Common Words in English course – so that you’re sure that you’ve got the basics, you’re sure that you have the most important, the essential vocabulary.
If you are finding the level of the podcasts quite difficult, then it’s a good idea to do this course, just to bring up your level of understanding in English. Visit our website at adeptenglish.com for more details of this course. But Course One Activate Your Listening is also useful practice for IELTS – it covers some of the same subject material, like education for example. But Course One also gives you practice with more than one English speaker in a conversation. It’s good to stick with a familiar voice, like mine, because that gives you a consistent learning environment, but it’s important to practice listening to other voices and conversations too.
So Course One will help you prepare for the part of the IELTS test which gives you English conversation to understand. There are four parts to the IELTS listening test – parts 2 and 4 have just one speaker, but part 1 has a conversation with two speakers in it – and part 4 of the listening test has 3 or more speakers to listen to. So it’s good to practice that too.
But also, as I say to you a lot, it’s not just your ability to understand, to comprehend which improves when you use our podcasts and you do a lot of English listening, it also improves your speaking as well. And as long as you have a basic understanding of written English, and you pay attention to our transcripts when you learn new English words and phrases, your ability in reading and writing English will also be improving too.
So using Adept English is a good way of learning English grammar the natural way – so that you know how something usually sounds – and it starts to sound wrong, it starts to sound incorrect to you, if it is incorrect. And when you come to speak English, you’re more likely to have the right pronunciation, the correct intonation, if you’ve done a lot of listening.
Where you may have to be careful to make up some of the difference is in the reading and writing of course. Our purpose at Adept English is to help you move to fluency in spoken English, so that you can actually have a conversation. And it’s perfectly possible to arrive at quite a high level of learning in a language, without working that much on your capacity to read and write in the language.
But if you’re planning on doing a test like IELTS then you have to be good at all four of the skills, Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing. And to pass the Listening test, you need to be able to write your answers down in correct English. Even if your answer is correct, it will be marked incorrect if you spell a word wrong, you don’t put capital letters where they are needed, or you use the wrong tense for a verb – or a common one, subject and verb don’t agree.
So one of the things that you can do to make a difference here, is use Adept English material in a slightly different way. We always provide a transcript, whether it’s our courses, or our podcasts or even the Seven Rules of Adept English free course. So a different way to use our material would be to use it as dictation.
This means listening to material sentence by sentence. Pause the audio after each sentence and try to write down what you hear. Then check what you’ve written against the transcript. You’ll soon see where you are likely to make mistakes and therefore lose points in the IELTS listening test, not because you haven’t understood, but because your writing down is incorrect in some way.
OK, so that’s our English Tutorial Introduction to IELTS for you. I hope that’s a useful free English tutorial and that it gives you a good overview of this English language testing system. And maybe that makes you think about whether you might like to formalise your English language skill. Take a test and see what level you are – it’s always good to know. It’s also encouraging, because you can take a test now, then do some more studying with Adept English and take a test again later and see what improvement you’ve made.
Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.