When I talk to IELTS teachers, sometimes they wonder ‘out loud’ whether focusing on any ONE sub-skill at a time is ‘artificial’…

Because yes, in real life PROFICIENT USERS of a language do rely on a bunch of these MICRO STRATEGIES at a time, often confidently zig-zagging between them within a fraction of a second…

For example when READING, we use different ‘BOTTOM UP’ and ‘TOP DOWN’ strategies, as required by the task (real-life or exam) …


We often use MANY at the same time (aka ‘INTERACTIVE’ processing), while working on the same task (e.g. IELTS reading passage) too!

And while it’s true that in real-life we SKILLFULLY (… ;)) do all these, there’s a REASON why our students don’t always learn (grammar and vocabulary) well from authentic materials ONLY.

Namely, that authentic texts and materials don’t tend to EXPOSE them to the same target language often enough, for them to really NOTICE all the important features (of MEANING, FORM, and PRON).

The same is true with SUB-SKILLS when we teach skills.

If we don’t ISOLATE them (irrespective of how artificial this may ‘feel’ temporarily), our learners won’t be able to NOTICE and PRACTICE them enough.

Have you ever felt bad about teaching something that felt ‘ARTIFICIAL’ at the time? How did you overcome it?

— —

Hi. I’m Fatime. I’m an IELTS Teacher Trainer, helping CELTA-qualified English language teachers become better at teaching SKILLS, as opposed to just testing them. 

Check out my courses here:

How to Teach IELTS Listening:

How to Teach IELTS Reading:

How to Teach IELTS Writing:

How to Teach IELTS Speaking: