Part of a series of summaries of the talks I’m attending at IATEFL Liverpool 2013. Please feel free to add things or correct me if I’ve misinterpreted anything!
These are the main points from Louis Harrison’s talk, taken from my tweets.
Can you match the bridges to their names and identify their countries?
Louis is introducing the ‘Bridge to IELTS’ course to help lower-level learners. Is there an intermediary stage between general English and test preparation? Is it possible to give lower level SS pre-prep? The course fits in with students needs and goals in ‘English for test preparation’.
The course is also designed to help SS to prepare for living and working in academic environment. Most of the students Harrison asked didn’t know that IELTS is based on Western academic situations, so couldn’t engage. They asked students what they needed, and decidedd to include these in the lower-level books:
The Bridge to IELTS course focuses on grammar and skills, particularly writing, not exam practice. Towards test preparation though, with a heavy focus on study skills. Wanted strong focus on study skills so students could take ownership of the learning process. Bridge to IELTS includes ‘Living IELTS’ – strategies for sounding natural and using the language naturally in the real world.
One of the course features is timed reading and writing to try and improve lower-level students’ confidence. Writing is a great obstacle for a lot of students, and for University of Glasgow it’s the first score they look at. In the Bridge to IELTS writing bank, they help students understand input data, model answers, provide structured support and there is a reference bank of common phrases.
Bridge to IELTS tries to switch between units about academic/university life and general English. It helps with study skills, for example teaching students how to use colours and tables to learn vocabulary. To build confidence, they provide test tips, breaking down the exam, showing them how to practise outside class and do well in exam. Living IELTS gives students language they can use in the test but also outside class. Harrison says we should teach students towards their goal as soon as they are ready,so a pre-preparation course is necessary.