An English Learner’s Guide and Action Plan for IELTS

English is one of the most spoken languages in the world, with around 370 million English speakers and at least 978 million people who consider it their second language. Due to the sheer number of speakers, English has become the default language for business, travel, and international communication.

Whether it’s enrolling in a language school or hiring an IELTS tutor in Sydney, a growing number of people are actively looking for ways to improve their English and get certified. But how does one get certified? Do you really need a certification? What can you do to prepare for a certification?

This blog will help you understand why getting certified is important and will inspire you to make a simple action plan for certifications like IELTS.

Why is Getting an English Language Certificate Important?

Having an English language certificate is proof that you can communicate, interact and discuss, various topics in English. A language certificate can act as a key to open a wide variety of doors here and abroad.

The following are some of the reasons getting an English language certificate is worth the investment:

It can help with your career

Whether you’re looking for a job or chasing after a promotion, having an English language certificate is a great way to push your career forward. Some companies pay extra for each language you know. It can also help you secure an international position within your company or land a job abroad.

It enables you to study abroad

Studying overseas is an amazing way to learn and experience new things. However, getting there can sometimes be difficult. By having an English certification, you reassure the school that you can listen and participate in an English-speaking class. Many universities and postgraduate degrees may also require a certain level of English proficiency before students are admitted to their desired course.

It’s required when getting citizenship

Having a language certificate is generally considered a major requirement if you migrate to an English-speaking country. Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the UK all require certification and a specific IELTS score before a visa can be obtained.

It helps you become a bilingual teacher

For a lot of people, teaching abroad is both a dream and an opportunity to explore the world. However, teaching jobs abroad may have strict requirements. If you’re planning to teach in another country, securing an English language certification is the best way to increase your chances of getting a job in the country you want.

 

What Are the Popular English Language Certificates?

There’s many English language certifications offered in a variety of institutions around the world. You need to check with the specific academic institutions and/or immigration authorities to determine which English certifications they recognise and the score that you will need to attain. Three popular English language certificates that are widely accepted include: IELTS, TOEFL, and Cambridge.

International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic or General)

The IELTS is one of the most recognised English language certifications available. The test is specifically designed for professional and academic environments. IELTS is also a widely accepted “proof of language” and is a requirement for obtaining a student visa, skilled visa and some permanent visas.

The test lasts for 2 hours and 45 minutes, and can be done online or in a classroom setting. The IELTS tests your English skills in four different categories:

  • Listening
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Speaking  

The test results are scored on a scale of 1 to 9, with the most common score requirement being 5.5 or 6.5. An IELTS certificate is valid for at least two years. For accurate English requirements for visa purposes, we would advise consulting a qualified Immigration Agent.

Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)

TOEFL is another popular English certification exam accepted worldwide. It’s primarily an internet-based test (TOEFL iBT), but a written one is also available in several testing centers. TOEFL is a common requirement among international universities and teaching jobs overseas.

The online test often takes 3 hours, while the written test takes around 2 hours and 30 minutes. Similar to IELTS, the test consists of four parts:

  • Reading
  • Listening
  • Speaking
  • Writing

Each part has a maximum of 30 points for a total score of 120. Most academic institutions require a score of 70 to 90. A TOEFL certificate is also valid for two years.

Cambridge English Language Assessment

The Cambridge English Language Assessment or ESOL examination is a non-profit group that offers English language certificates at varying levels:

  • B2 First: This is an English certification exam of the same level as IELTS and TOEFL.
  • C1 Advanced: This is a certification exam that’s generally accepted by UK universities and around 9,000 academic institutions and companies worldwide.
  • C2 Proficiency: This is their most advanced certification exam that covers both B2 First and C1 Advanced.

Other commonly accepted tests include the Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic) and Occupation English Test (OET). For more information regarding English testing and visa requirements, go to the Australian Department of Home Affairs website.

How to Improve Your English and Prepare for a Language Certificate Exam

Already signed up for a certification exam? It’s always a good idea to practice and prepare ahead of time so you can hit a high benchmark in the English test. Below are some tips and helpful advice you can consider in your preparation for the exam. You can also have a read of our blog: “5 Must-Do’s When Preparing for a Language Exam”.

 

  1. Practice, practice, practice?

It’s important that you do not leave your exam preparation to the last minute! Pick a test date far enough ahead to give yourself adequate time to prepare. Make sure that you take practice tests with a timer and evaluate your results afterwards. Doing the practice test will also help you to familiarise yourself with questions or concepts that might show up in the actual exam.

  1. Consider purchasing prep guides and textbooks.

Further to the point above, some test-specific textbooks and guides can help you get acquainted with the English exam you’ll be taking. These guides do not provide the actual answers, but they will provide you with helpful advice, guidance on the test itself, and previous test questions to help assess your knowledge.

  1. Increase your vocabulary.

A great way to improve your vocabulary is by choosing one word each day, understanding it, and writing a couple of sentences or paragraphs using it. You can check the Word of the Day section of Merriam-Webster and write a couple of sentences using that specific word.

This can help add new words to your vocabulary and teach you how words are used in a wide variety of sentences.

  1. Keep yourself immersed in the language.

Language immersion is generally regarded as the most effective way to learn a new language; there are various ways you can do it. Here are two good examples

  • Read articles and stories written in English more often. Dedicate at least 30 minutes of your day reading from the local newspaper, a magazine, or an online article. This can help you get familiar with the different writing styles and improve your ability to comprehend complex topics.
  • Use English Subtitles. Whether you are playing a video game or watching a show on TV, always turn on the English subtitles. This will immerse you in the language by both reading and listening to how the words are spoken. It’s a good way to learn new words and improve pronunciation.
  1. Hire an English Tutor

Completing practice exams on your own will reveal which questions you got wrong, but it won’t tell you why it was wrong or how you can improve so you don’t make that mistake again. That’s where hiring a qualified English tutor can give you the additional edge to confidently sit and pass your language exam. A tutor will be able to assess your current skill level and identify which skills areas/sections need the most preparation. Further, your tutor can provide valuable insights, tips, and strategies to help you tackle your upcoming exam with confidence.

Learning English and Getting Certified Doesn’t Have to be Difficult

Learning or mastering a new language may seem like a daunting task but with plenty of practice and a lot of dedication, it can be quite simple. By consistently immersing yourself in the language, taking advantage of modern technology, and seeking assistance from professionals, you increase your chances of passing your next English certification exam.

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