When I’m asked if I can recommend resources to teach GRAMMAR or VOCABULARY with for the IELTS exam I always like to ask my trainees what they want to teach that specific grammar or vocab FOR.

Because my philosophy on this is that it should be EMBEDDED into SKILLS teaching. 

IELTS is all about IMPLICITLY checking a learner’s (candidate’s) language systems (i.e. grammar, vocabulary, etc.) knowledge ‘in action’, that is through getting them to successfully ‘do stuff’ with the grammar, vocab, (collocations, etc.) that they know. 

Which is exactly why it’s often NOT ENOUGH to only teach them useful expressions and academic vocabulary, without giving them practice in HOW they will use all this –within the constraints of THIS particular exam.

What’s worse, candidates might even be penalized for using too much ‘pre-fab’ language in the exam (e.g. the writing test, for example), if the phrases they use do not contribute to actually achieving the communicative purpose of the task.

In other words, with the best of intention WE might be setting them up for failure if we only focus on teaching them LANGUAGE, but not embedded into use of SKILL. 

For example, for which part of the exam do you think it might it be useful it they knew some fancy ADVERBS OF DEGREE (intensifying or softening comparative forms) such as the following?

• (not) nearly as … as

• almost as … as

• just as …. as

• every bit as … as

• exactly as … as

• not (quite) as … as

• just as … as

• more … than

• a bit … than

• a little … than

• much …than

• a lot …than

• far …than

• a great deal … than

• less … than

• barely (any) … than

• hardly (any) … than

• scarcely (any) … than

• slightly … than

• by far the + superlative

(ANSWER KEY: academic/writing task 1 (report)

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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: