I am a very new 19 y/o TEFL teacher, and I’ve kind of arrived into the situation of helping a Korean gentleman prepare for an IELTS exam. Just to clarify, this is not a paid position, I’m still learning how to teach myself, and if there was someone more qualified I would be deferring to them.
I’m not sure how to help him improve his writing for the essay and email/letter portion of the exam. So far, he has been writing responses to questions in an IELTS exam-prep booklet and emailing them to me. We’ve been doing things by email and skype since COVID-19.
I’ve been correcting his writing by highlighting words to remove, or words that I suggest in place of ones he’s using. I’ve done my best to explain grammar rules when the instances come up, but there’s some more complicated situations that I’m not sure how to convey to him.
Here’s an excerpt from a letter-style response he wrote. The topic was: Write a letter to your local council giving reasons why you would not like them to close the sports and leisure centre in your community.
“The centre has been doing a important role for our community for leisure as well as for health care. We can use the facilities in the centre to improve our health condition with my family. Unless we keep our health, the government will spend lots of budget to pay for our medical fee. If we lose the place in which we can enjoy on weekends, we should try to find the alternatives and will spend extra money out of the town.”
I’m both wondering about how to help him understand why he should or shouldn’t use certain words or combinations of words, and how to help him correct mistakes he makes consistently, like the use of ‘the’ in front of abstract/non-count nouns
Thank you for any advice
4 April, 2020 at 13:18
Total posts: 2
you can check the ways to feedback a student. Also you can check longman academic writing series books to see if you find sth useful.
4 April, 2020 at 13:45
Total posts: 258
The first and most important thing is that you know exactly what the IELTS examiners are looking for in these writing tasks. The tasks are as much about how the piece of writing is structured as they are about correct use of grammar and vocabulary. There’s a lot of information and tips online that will tell you what the examiners are looking for (search “IELTS writing). Here’s one example of what you can find:
What I would do then is break it down into each individual part and work on them separately at first.
For example, the first thing with the essay is to write an effective introductory paragraph. So, following the tips and guidelines you find online (for example with the link above, but there are many many more), have him write just the introductory paragraph to a lot of different essay titles. Focus on getting the structure and content of the paragraph right, rinse and repeat.
Then do the same for the other parts of the essay. At this point, focus on the structure and content rather than focusing on individual grammar or vocabulary errors.
Then, once he’s writing each part of the essay confidently, it’s time to work on some grammar/vocabulary. Go back to the examples he’s written and see if you can pick out some repeated errors that he’s making with grammar and vocabulary, and work on these. Have a look online for some exercises/activities that work on individual grammar points (such as his use of “the” as you mentioned). You can’t predict every error that he will ever make, so focus on ones that are repeated and easily corrected. Then have him re-write the sentences / paragraphs without the errors.
Next, you can look at ways that he could use richer vocabulary or alternative ways of expressing something. Just for example, you might find that he always writes “I think”, instead of varying it with “In my opinion”, “in my view”, etc. Have him re-write the paragraphs with these variations.
Regarding your example of helping him with certain words or combinations of words – if they are the same ones repeated, you can point these out to him in the essays he’s written, suggest an alternative, and have him re-write them. If it’s a single occurrence of an error, there will be many of these. You can point them out, but the chances of that particular word coming up again are smaller. So this is more about widening his range of vocabulary generally, for example with some IELTS vocabulary-specific exercises and activities that you can find online.