The HUFLIT lecturer reveals effective ways to choose IELTS books

TÁC GIẢ: Vinh Hao (Collaborator of the Center of Communications - Event Management)
NGÀY: 23/10/2022

Amidst hundreds of IELTS materials available, learners need to select the right book that suits their proficiency level to build a solid foundation.

Currently, standardized foreign language proficiency exams are no longer unfamiliar to language learners in Vietnam and are increasingly becoming popular. Among them, the IELTS (International English Language Test System) certification exam is regarded as an important measure to compare English language proficiency between individuals.

The fact that IELTS has become a common concern among the majority of young people is understandable because this certification is like a “passport” recognized by other countries worldwide for the language abilities of learners, allowing domestic students and students to study abroad.

Moreover, if a graduate’s application includes an IELTS certificate, that application is often given more consideration than others. Therefore, achieving a high “band” score in IELTS exams has become a goal for many young people.

According to Mr. Chau The Huu – a lecturer at the Faculty of Business Administration, one of the faculties that fully teaches programs in English at HUFLIT – for IELTS test-takers in particular and English learners in general, to excel in any foreign language, they need to be exposed to that language as much as possible. Among them, learners need to have a clear learning plan and a dedicated spirit with daily study schedules to achieve high efficiency in the learning process.

Mr. Chau The Huu speaking at the science seminar in China hosted by Beijing Foreign Studies University

Creating learning habit

Mr. Huu stated that one of the simple ways to practice a foreign language is to create a regular learning rhythm. Students can start by studying vocabulary to be ready to sit down and study. Then, they can write in a notebook, practice forming sentences with words, and put them into specific contexts. Some activities to apply new words could include writing a journal, updating a status in English on Facebook, or sending text messages in English to friends.

In addition, learners can also read domestic news in English from the English versions of mainstream newspapers. “At that time, the language will be indirectly absorbed through personal interests, making language learning more interesting”, the teacher said.

Once students have become familiar with the learning rhythm, they should focus on regular practice of the four core skills: Listening, Speaking, Reading, and Writing. Each skill has its own learning method and complements the others throughout the learning process. This means that reading also contributes to improving writing, and listening helps to enhance speaking skills.

For the Listening skill, learners need to know what they are listening to, and this can be achieved by identifying key words in the task. In the IELTS exam, candidates only get to listen once, but during practice at home, learners are encouraged to listen twice or more. Each time they listen, they should write the answers in different places until they can answer all the questions, and then they can check the answers.

“When we identify the key words, we will have a brief overview of the content we are about to hear. Key words are like ‘signs’ that show us the information we need to focus on and are being tested in each section”, Mr. Huu emphasized. Additionally, he mentioned that the key words in questions are usually nouns and verbs, while adjectives and adverbs rarely serve as main ideas in a sentence.

Mr. Chau The Huu presenting in front of HUFLIT students

Next is the Speaking skill, and once again, Mr. Huu emphasizes the importance of vocabulary because to speak effectively, one must have a certain vocabulary repertoire. Especially for the IELTS exam, the Speaking section requires candidates to have a rich imagination.

“For example, if the examiner asks you to describe a memorable trip while you have never traveled anywhere, should you just say ‘Sorry, I don’t have any experience’? This is the time for your imagination to come into play!” – the teacher humorously shared.

In addition, to avoid getting stuck on a topic, candidates can describe different aspects of the issue or narrate related stories while paying attention to intonation. A voice that resembles that of a native speaker will create a favorable impression on the examiners and lead the speech in an engaging and attractive direction. However, if the accent cannot be like that of a native speaker, candidates should not worry, because simply speaking loudly, clearly, naturally, and without affectation can already earn points.

Among the four core language skills, Reading is considered by many test takers to be their strength. According to the Faculty of Business Administration lecturer, the reason why most Vietnamese students feel “comfortable” with this skill is because they are frequently exposed to and polished through high school programs. However, in an academic-oriented exam like IELTS, it is completely understandable that not understanding all the vocabulary in the reading passages can happen. The key is the strategy for answering questions and how to allocate time if you are under pressure to complete three reading passages in just one hour.

“Therefore, we should prioritize dealing with detailed questions first because when finding the answers to those questions, we need to read the passage carefully. Once we grasp the main idea, when reading again, we can just go quickly”, Mr. Huu summarized.

Finally, the Writing skill is where beginners should start step by step, starting from forming sentences, writing paragraphs, and then composing the whole essay. Applying the learning methods from other skills, learners should read a lot of books, newspapers, and materials to learn how to use words and English writing style. Furthermore, reading and watching the news help broaden our social knowledge, which is the theme of Writing Task 2.

“We can practice on our own by solving available Writing exercises, setting a time limit of 60 minutes as in the real exam, and not using the phone to look up words or ideas. By doing this, we will develop the skill of allocating time appropriately to complete both tasks in Writing”.

03 starter book sets

To successfully “conquer the threshold” and find out which essential books among the myriad of IELTS preparation materials on the market, Mr. Huu has pointed out the necessary resources for learners from basic to advanced levels.

If you need to find a curriculum that takes you from a lower to a higher level, MINDSET FOR IELTS (Cambridge English) or COMPLETE IELTS (Cambridge English) could be your choices. The book set consists of multiple volumes with different levels. Corresponding to each level are updated vocabulary topics and grammar, which help reinforce and review for learners. The exercises in the books are designed in accordance with the exam format, allowing learners to be familiar with the real exam.

In addition, if you need to practice at an advanced level, READY FOR IELTS (Sam McCarter – MacMillan Exams) is a recommended book set. The highlight of this book lies in the integration of intermediate and higher-level vocabulary and sentence structures into various exercises and continuous reviews through tests after each unit and in the attached workbook. Repeating vocabulary and structures helps learners gain confidence and improve their memorization.

For busy individuals or those who want to focus on each skill, HACKERS IELTS is a useful suggestion. Currently, the book set consists of 4 volumes for 4 separate skills: Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing. Each volume introduces different sections of the exam, along with guidelines and approaches to tackle the tasks, practical exercises for each specific section and question type. If learners are diligent in organizing the knowledge from these books, they can perform well in common IELTS question types.

Additionally, there are other equally useful and popular review books such as Barron’s IELTS, Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS, and the iconic Cambridge IELTS series – the leading set of practice tests that always updates the latest exam formats.

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