CPD: How to Teach IELTS

I’ve been teaching IELTS for years but feel that a lot of my material has grown stale. Also I’m increasingly asked to take on IELTS students of lower levels, but most of my current materials cater to those aiming for a 6.5 and above.

There are a lot of teaching IELTS courses out there currently. I chose the International House courses because International House is a well-established training provider. I was also under the misapprehension that having taken one International House course within the past year, I would qualify for a discount (it turns out International House London and International House World consider themselves to be different institutions as far as the discount is concerned).

I chose to take courses in all 4 skills for which you do receive a discount if booked together, the drawback being that you need to book and pay for all the courses before you’ve tried one.


These are expensive courses.


These are asynchronous online courses. You have a week to complete each module before the next opens. Some tutors are strict about not allowing submissions or comments on previous modules once a new module starts. There is one tutor per course, the tutor is likely to change with each skill.


I’m not sure how many participants were in each course. Some were really good about commenting on the forum threads and sharing ideas, experience and observations, others didn’t comment until the last minute when it was made clear that not commenting would lead to not passing. This meant that the sharing of ideas was quite limited.


I felt the tutors were engaged and knowledgeable. I was particularly impressed with their efforts to give enthusiastic and constructive feedback to each student, regardless of whether the point was a good one or had been made many times previously


I felt I learned a lot about giving positive feedback. There were a couple of people who were really engaged and shared some valuable insights. One of the tutors was especially good, sharing up-to-date research and experience.


I feel too much relied on the knowledge and participation of other participants. Your experience seems to very much depend on your cohort.

I also think each course could offer more, and more concrete, ideas and activities.If the courses included downloadable material – workbooks, activities, and, perhaps, example lesson plans (much in the way the British Council does in their free courses) the courses would offer more value for money.

A lot of issues of participation, I think, could be solved if students were divided into smaller working groups.

If the course created smaller study groups and encouraged students to meet online at convenient times to discuss issues or even work together on producing or adapting materials for classroom use (to create a store of downloadable materials to share, perhaps), I think the courses would be much more effective.


Maybe I wasn’t the kind of student this course was designed for. However, I have taken other courses recently aimed at less experienced teachers and have found a lot that is useful. There were some ideas here I found interesting (I’m just don’t think there was enough to justify the cost).

If you had an enthusiastic cohort, your experience could be completely different to mine.

If you do find a good teaching IELTS course, let me know!