The IELTS story. Part 1
It's been a long way to go but I've finally managed to do it. Now I'm talking about passing the IELTS General exam which is a necessary thing for any professional who's thinking about immigration to one of the English-speaking countries such as Australia, Canada or New Zealand. It's taken almost 2 full years to master the skill and to get to the finish line for me.
Probably, you are already aware of the fact that there exist 2 different types of the IELTS exam. They are known as General Training and Academic tests or modules. Each of them has its own purposes and in most cases they can't be used interchangeably. For instance, the IELTS General Training test, the one I chose to pass, is created to check general language skills of a test taker. Another one, the IELTS Academic test, is supposed to prove your ability to understand academic writings (e.g. school books and science articles) and successfully graduate from college.
Going this way, I had 4 tries. The first one was in December 2017 and it wasn't bad at all, at least for a person who's never studied English for a particular reason. However, I was totally humiliated with my speaking test results. I got the following marks - Listening 8.0, Reading 8.5, Writing 6.5, Speaking 5.5 (Overall 7.0). I need to mention here that reading is my passion and I read a lot in Russian as well as in English nowadays. So, this part of the test was the easiest one for me. Listening isn't hard to master too if you have some time and love to watch movies, series and/or listen to podcasts (audiobooks is a good alternative).
Writing and Speaking are two of the most difficult parts for almost everyone. I think it's especially true for learners from Russia or other countries where we spend much more time reading and translating, practicing grammar and remembering the rules than speaking or writing. I see listening and reading skills as a passive ones, the ones which allow you to absorb information, not to create it. If you allow me to make such a comparison, mastering only listening and reading abilities makes one a perfect but at the same time useless companion, unable to put ideas into words. Something like a dog as we say in Russia. Another two are your active skills and, from my point of view, it's impossible to advance in these areas without practicing it with a real person.
I believe it's not a secret that in the first two modules you can easily get ahead on your own. There are plenty of practice tests available online and in printed form. Read more interesting and diverse literature, listen to podcasts or audiobooks, watch the whole variety of movies, learn and repeat new phrases from those sources and you must be as good to go as anyone else. On the other hand, writing and speaking demand somebody to check your work - essays, letters, speeches you make etc. There are some ways to advance in these two directions using non-human help but, in my view, they lack quality.
To conclude, I'm planning to write a set of short posts on the topic of IELTS, based on my own experience. There will be some advice and a little bit of reminiscence. I'm going to use this blog to polish my writing skills and not to forget what was already learned. I hope this will be of some help for somebody as well.