April 2016
Teaching in Practice Upcoming Events Resource for Teaching
Readers' Poll Exam Services Burning Questions

What can IELTS teachers do to make their writing classes more effective? Read on


To what extent is Communi-cative Language Teaching a feature of IELTS preparation classes in China? Find out here


New Understanding IELTS MOOC course starts on 25 April. Register for free now!

Teaching in Practice


Teachers often find that, no matter how many essays their students write, their writing quality does not improve. What can the teachers do to make their writing instruction more effective? In this article we offer a solution – a PROCESS APPROACH focusing on the development of skills that make one a good writer.

Click here to read the full story



Communicative language teaching (CLT) has become widely accepted around the world and is thought to bring the best learning outcomes. To what extent is CLT a feature of English classes in China? Do IELTS teachers use communicative activities in their classes? Two experienced EFL professionals, Richard Badger and Xiaobiao Yan, answer these questions in an IELTS-funded research study. In this article we offer you the highlights of their findings.

Click here to read the full story

Upcoming Events

Understanding IELTS MOOC starts on 25 April. Register for free now!

Highly popular with IELTS candidates, last Understanding IELTS MOOC attracted 730,000 learners from around the globe. It will start again on 25th April and everyone is welcome to join in. Register Here now!

Understanding IELTS course will take learners through each stage of the IELTS test — reading, writing, speaking and listening. At each stage there will be advice from our video tutor and a team of experienced IELTS educators. Participants will also be asked to share their experiences, tips and opinions with other learners.

Click here to view our MOOCs


How to develop learners' critical thinking skills? Find the answer on the British Council English Agenda webinars on Thursday, 3 March, 2016. Register now!

Every year the British Council presents you with a series of teacher training webinars. Thinking Skills are Life Skills webinar held on 3rd March will help you with that much-asked by IELTS teachers' question: how can I develop my learners' critical thinking ability?

Thinking Skills are Life Skills webinar might answer this question for you. The webinar Speaker, Carol Higho, the Head of Product marketing at Macmillan with over 20 years of EFL experience, will give you ideas how to get learners thinking about the information they are presented with as well as helping them to become more analytical in considering what they see and hear. These skills are not just essential for taking the IELTS test, but can become a key to your students' success – either in employment or higher education.

Register here

Resource for Teaching

IELTS interview skills videos

This series of videos produced for the British Council Learn English website will help your students prepare for the speaking module of the IELTS test.

Click here to view the activities

Readers' Poll

According to Badger and Yan, there are three main reasons why IELTS teachers in China prefer teacher-dominated instruction and use Chinese language extensively in their classrooms. In your opinion, which of these reasons is most plausible? Please choose one only:

1) Teachers try to satisfy students and their parents who prefer traditional teaching styles
2) Non-native teachers do not feel confident enough to use English in class all of the time
3) There are not enough opportunities for teachers in China to be trained in using communicative methodology

Click here to vote

Exam Services

2016 July to September IELTS for UKVI test dates released

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New UKVI test centre in Beijing

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IELTS for UKVI (Academic) delivered on computer released

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New UKVI test centre in Shanghai

Read More

Burning Questions!

Do you have questions about teaching, English or IELTS that you would really love an answer to? Send them to colin.barnett@britishcouncil.org.cn or olena.rossi@britishcouncil.org.cn

Remember, we also have a Frequently Asked Questions list on www.chinaielts.org, for you to visit!

Kevin, an IELTS teacher from Guangzhou, has been very active in asking IELTS-related questions since I held a seminar at his school in November 2015. Kevin has kindly given us permission to publish some of his questions in this newsletter.

Hi Olena, this is Kevin, thanks for your terrific training course. I have a question here: How exactly does the examiner assess the candidates? I mean, do the examiners assess  the three parts separately with the  four criteria, each part give an overall score and at last give an overall score or just give an overall score throughout the whole test with the four criteria?

Dear Kevin,

thanks for your email.

Answering your question (I assume it's about the speaking test?) – examiners assess candidates for the whole of the test, not each part separately. I. e., an examiner gives one score for each of the four assessment criteria. The examiner does not give an overall score – it is automatically calculated by special software.

Dear Olena, recently I've been confused with a question: You know, in the IELTS speaking test, there are four guiding questions in part 2, do the candidates have to cover all the questions in that part? If they don't cover all the questions but speak very well, does it influence their score?

Hi Kevin, candidates do not necessarily have to cover all four bullet points for part 2. If they speak well and on the topic it does not matter if they do not have time to cover a question or two. However, if they don't have time because they've digressed and started speaking about something else – then this might be a problem.

Hi Olena, I have a question for you: During the 1 minute preparation time in Part2 of the speaking test, can the candidates take notes in Chinese?

Hi Kevin! Examiners don't monitor what candidates are writing during that one minute – they can be drawing pictures if they want However, personally I wouldn't recommend my students that they take notes in Chinese – they will have to speak from those notes and it will be difficult for them to organise their speech efficiently using notes taken in a different language. It would definitely be difficult for me, and research shows it's hard for everyone.

Previous Issues: August 2015 丨 October 2015 丨 November 2015 丨 February 2016 

Please contact us for any questions: Colin.Barnett@britishcouncil.org.cn.