A while back I asked on LinkedIn if you had any fun stories about IELTS learners struggling with issues of INAPPROPRIACY in the PRODUCTIVE skills (i.e. speaking and writing).

And I got some hilarious responses, including

• “I got an ‘In sympathy’ card from a student from Iraq and he promised me it was actually to say ‘Thank you’ not for my funeral!”

• “Today I was called “lady”. “That’s right, lady.” In a FB written message. No punctuation to help either. I went through a range of emotions & after checking with myself, it is definitely inappropriate. Direct translation from French by a young Moroccan man.”

• “It reminds me of a student of mine, who is an absolute beginner. He keeps calling me Brother…”

Similarly, the use of the word ‘dear’ is problematic in English, as it sounds either CONDESCENDING, or OVERFAMILIAR.

And while in some places it might be the (neutral) cultural norm to call others ‘sister’ or ‘brother’, in order to show respect, in English it’ll sound jarring in a teaching or language exam CONTEXT. (Also, ‘ma’am and sir is too formal!)

All these issues are great reminders that we need to raise our learners’ AWARENESS of APPROPRIACY, and the importance of exposing themselves to a variety of content types in English, and preferably mostly more ‘academic’, if they’re planning to take IELTS (Academic)…

When was the last time you ‘ran into’ an appropriacy issue with an IELTS student? Did you do anything about 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: