Review ~ IELTS Target 4.5

IELTS made accessible for lower level students.
Reviewed for Teflnet by Clare Welch

The IELTS exam has been growing in popularity and is now a commonly used marker of a students’ level of English, especially for universities and employers. As a brief background for those not familiar with this exam, there are two different IELTS exams that you can do- Academic and General. Assessment is based on a scale from one (low) to nine (high) and as a rough guide universities generally require a score of 6.5 or above on the Academic exam from non-native speakers, while lower scores on the General exam are sometimes okay for less academic studies (vocational college etc) and for immigration or work purposes.

This course book has been written to cater towards the needs of students studying at Pre-Intermediate level who want to work towards getting a formal qualification. This course book aims to give students the knowledge and practice necessary to score 4.5 in the General English exam. It could also be used as a foundation course, to build up a strong skills base and exam knowledge before focusing on working towards a higher score or opting to take the more challenging Academic test.

The book is divided into 15 theme-based units, ranging from more functional topics such as life, work, money and achievements, to more general topics including nature and society. The 4 main skills are covered and there is vocabulary expansion included within each topic. Grammar however is only loosely touched upon, more as revision than teaching, the assumption perhaps being that students will be studying a general English pre-Intermediate course at the same time. After every five units there is a revision and consolidation section, including exam style exercises which increase in difficulty as the book progresses.

At first I was skeptical. IELTS is a challenging exam, testing not just students’ ability to sit a test but their feel for the language through reading and listening passages which call on them to deduce meaning or summarise information. However, in looking through this course book I was pleasantly surprised to see how nicely structured the exercises were, particularly those focusing on teaching students to guess meaning from context.

The reading and listening skills development materials are interesting and cover a wide range of situations, giving extra opportunities for vocabulary enhancement. Exam skills are practiced, such as listening for gist and scanning texts and what to do when confronted with an unknown word. What I really like is the way students are made to feel supported throughout this course and taught exam techniques in a realistic yet empathetic manner.

The sections teaching writing skills are really well developed, which is of course essential for this low level audience. I will definitely be using these writing materials in my classroom, also with higher level students who need to revise the basics of planning and structuring a range of writing tasks from letters to discursive compositions. At the back of the book there are sample answers to the writing tasks, which I think are extremely useful in offering students a model to revise from and to better understand what is expected from them in the exam.

Speaking skills are always difficult to teach, and it is here that my only criticism lies. While it’s by no means all bad (there are example dialogues to listen to and sample cue cards for Part 2 of the speaking exam), I feel that this book could have gone a little further in guiding students through this skill area and preparing them for a challenging, and daunting, section of the exam.

Returning to the positives! At the back of the book there is also a list of key exam vocabulary which is a useful reference for students. The teacher could also use this vocabulary list to base revision exercises around or use as warmer and filler activities throughout the class.

In summary, the book’s materials are based on up to date issues and this should be an interesting course for students to follow while gaining tutoring and practice in the main skills and vocabulary required for the IELTS exam. For lower level students this is an ideal starting point and on completion of this course they should be in a strong position to achieve a score of 4.5 in the General English IELTS exam.

Reviewed for Teflnet by Clare Welch
August 2009 | Filed under Exam Materials

One Comment on “Review ~ IELTS Target 4.5”

  1. Jose Tena Says:

    Where can I find the answers for the Three tests that come with the 4.5 book? I was not able to find them in the answers section of the boook.

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