With most candidates our job is to help them become conscious of what it is they have to do to improve their lexical resource grade, i.e. use more advanced language, such as fancy grammatical structures and vocabulary.

Then there is the occasional super advanced candidate who doesn’t understand why they can’t score above band 8 in the speaking exam…

And when you probe around this, you’ll hear them answering questions like this:

“Examiner: When do people give gifts in your country?”

like this: 

“Candidate: In my country people like to spend money like water around Christmas. Everybody flocks to the plazas and goes on a wild goose chase to find the right presents for their loved ones. I do too, and even though my husband always tells me not to spend much, it’s often like water off a duck’s back…”

…and then similarly…

“Examiner: And do you enjoy looking for presents for others?”

“Candidate: I love shopping for gifts, yes! I always feel on cloud number nine when I find the right present for somebody I love! And just going from store to store already makes me feel like the entire world is my oyster…”

All accurate and fabulously advanced, right?

Well, yeah… AAAAAAND, also… a bit much! :O

One thing that distinguishes a band 8 candidate from a band 9 one is that they ‘use idiomatic language NATURALLY and accurately’. As in: they might use SOME of them, but they don’t ABUSE them.

Have you ever had a learner who you had to help with this issue? What was ‘unnatural’ about their language use?

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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: