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Improving The Scores And Confidence

By Author: carling
Total Articles: 129

The teaching took place in the context of a pre-sessional (10 and 6 week) programme of English for Academic Purposes (E A P) at a UK university. Each student received 20 hours per week of EAP teaching plus IELTS coaching. The IELTS classes themselves were one and a half hours long and were given in the evenings twice a week. Each week was dedicated to one part of the test and the total input received was as follows'-week students: 200 hours of direct EAP teaching, plus 33 hours of IE LT S with 7.5 hours on the speaking component.6-week students: 120 hours of direct EAP teaching plus 18 hours of IELTS with 4.5 hours on the speaking component.

The approach was threefold. Firstly, a great deal of attention was paid to developing students' confidence with an emphasis on using anxiety to good effect. Secondly, students were encouraged to adopt theoretical perspectives to help get started and avoid becoming stuck. Finally, the explicit marking criteria were highlighted and used to elaborate and embellish the students' spoken performances. This involved close scrutiny of the language used in the criteria listed in the IE LT S 2005 handbook and in some instances, paraphrasing them.

Anyone who has been involved with examination preparation knows that overcoming or redirecting tension and nerves is an important element of success. This is compounded in the context of the IELTS test. It is an especially 'high stakes' exam which often takes place at the end of an intensive course, with students under severe pressure to succeed. For the international candidates on our course, being in a new environment can add to the tension, and it could be argued that getting the students in the right frame of mind is as important as teaching the exam skills themselves.

I have found that popular psychology and self-help manuals can be of assistance in this context. By invoking selective quotes and anecdotes, together with what could be called a little sympathetic aversion therapy, I invite students to confront their fears and get used to speaking in front of their peers in a non-threatening and supportive environment. Creating 'a comfortable environment for students to establish peer trust' (Hansen and Liu 2005: 33) is paramount, and nobody is forced to speak if they are clearly uncomfortable. By hot seating the students (bringing them out to the front of the class and asking them IE LT S oral exam style questions), who are all volunteers, usually in the middle and towards the end of a session, I encourage them to anticipate the examiner's questions without fear and to look forward to showing what they can do. Cheng and Martin (2005: 95) stress the differences between peer and teacher assessment, and our emphasis is on confidence building. No candidate is left feeling deflated; in fact students often reported how happy they were after the experience. Kondo and Ying Ling (2004: 262) list five strategies for handling language anxiety. Two of these, positive thinking and peer seeking, are relevant here. Students are encouraged to 'enjoy the tension' (ibid: 258) and to empathize with others who may be experiencing the same feelings. An IE LT S class can be a tense place and I feel it is important for students to use their collective anxiety, rather than be overwhelmed by it. Also, instead of looking upon the examiner as an interrogator who requires answers, I ask students to regard her/him as a purveyor of stimuli, which are intended to invoke a response. I suggest these simple ideas.

With regard to the final point, in practice all the students volunteered to come out and speak. The reluctant ones became clearly motivated when they saw the positive feedback that their peers and class teacher were giving. I often refer to Dorothy Rowe's (1986) views on introversion and extroversion and suggest to students that they may be quite naturally oriented towards expressing themselves in public, or by contrast may be fearful and hesitant. I try to emphasize that this is a natural state of affairs and they should not blame themselves if they are consumed with trepidation.Our Coach Replica Bags with detailed imitation, qualified materials and lowest price endow you the same dignity and elegance of the original one. You would love Coach bags 11957 signature stripe sld at first sight.

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