What unconventional or surprising advice would you give to a new teacher regarding dealing with unknown vocabulary?

Do you believe that pre-teaching any unknown words is ever a good idea? TBH, I’m personally really not a fan…  including when teaching productive skills as well.

The reason why I’m against extensive, explicit, (undisciplined …) vocabulary ‘teaching’ all over the place is that we want our learners to get used to the idea (…feeling…!) that when they don’t know a word, life doesn’t stop. 

In my opinion this is as true of the speaking and writing as it is of reading and listening.

In fact, in my IELTS teacher training bootcamp there’s a fun activity where we show the learner that if they are ever asked about e.g. ‘their (favorite) pet’, or ‘most unusual pet they ever had’, etc., (for example in the general module’s letter writing task or Speaking/Part 2), it’s OK to substitute ‘skunk’ with ‘cat’ if they don’t know the former! 😀

In what other ways do YOUR students trip themselves up in the exam that’d be totally avoidable? 

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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: