IELTS is so popular

Please, sir, can I go to the other class?

The kids in Class 16 are all right, but not the brightest bunch in the world. When we were dividing the classes into IELTS and General English, only a third ended met the criterion for the IELTS class, which prompted the Dowager Empress Cixi to ask us to even out the numbers. We did that by transferring the ten best 4.5s to the IELTS class.

What happened at the end of class this morning?

Ten kids (not all necessarily 4.5s) asked to move to the General English class. I don’t know how Cixi is going to react to this, but the whole idea of IELTS classes is a Bad Idea™. Our kids will benefit more from general English than from techniques in doing the IELTS exam because in the latter the learning of English is only incidental. We’re not trying to teach them (advanced) English to raise their level for the IELTS exam. Besides, we don’t have the time in the space of one term. I don’t know whether any of them are planning to do the official IELTS exam.

The reason why we do IELTS classes is, really, all about image. IELTS is a proficiency exam, but it seems typically regarded as a university entrance exam where the pass mark is 6, even although there’s no passing and no failing. But because the English in the IELTS exam is meant to represent that of an educated native English speaker, the associated tasks are regarded as academically more demanding than the usual sort of thing. Thus if our kids are doing IELTS classes, it makes the school look good regardless of reality which is, in my mind, that IELTS is pretty much a waste of time until you’ve completed at least one degree at university.

I’ve thought once or twice recently that teen IELTS might be better for younger learners of English if parents and schools want something like it. It’d test them on their knowledge of txt; or their ability to talk about a subject as if they’re experts on it and their views count, but are, in fact, too dim to know they’re not and they don’t (try to untangle that sentence ^_^); or their inability to listen to any sort of authority figures (don’t circle the correct answer; and don’t listen to instructions); or their incompetence in using punctuation (marks deducted for adhering to generally accepted standards) and writing coherent sentences (run-on sentences, good; clearly defined sentence boundaries, bad).

Give the kids a chance, I say.


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