Teaching IELTS: everything you need to know

Learning to be a TEFL teacher is a fantastic experience. A rewarding and stimulating course will lead to global opportunities, teaching in international schools, universities, colleges or businesses.

What if there was a way to ensure not just a permanently exciting future for yourself, but for your students? What if, through the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), you could help someone secure a permanent residence in a “native” English-speaking country, opening up large parts of the world for your students, or help people progress their careers within certain business?

Through IELTS, you can make this happen. So, what is it, how can you get involved, and what does it involve?

What is IELTS?

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is an internationally recognised certification that enables non-native English speakers to work and live in nations where English is the primary language. It’s one of the most well-known and highly regarded English proficiency exams in the world.

In IELTS, there are 9 grades, from Level 1, where a student has little to no English expertise, to Level 9, ‘Expert user’, where the student has a full understanding of the language and is fluent in both written and verbal forms of English. The better the score, the more chances you have in terms of securing a job, visa or university place.

What qualifications do you need to teach IELTS?

Strictly speaking, you don’t need qualifications to teach IELTS. However, it’s much trickier to get started in this area of the TEFL industry without certifications, and it helps students enormously if they can learn from someone who’s completed fully accredited training.

To teach IELTS to a high standard, you’ll ideally need to complete an exam preparation course so that you’re able equip your students with all the tools and expertise needed to sit the exam.

Our 40-hour Teaching Exam Preparation Course should be your first port of call. You’ll learn about the importance of exams, why passing exams like the IELTS can massively impact lives, practice mock exams, and sharpen your already existing TEFL tools.

A person sitting an exam, writing answers on a sheet

Where can you teach IELTS?

There are a number of options for teaching IELTS.

Firstly, considering the pandemic and the distance learning opportunities on offer, teaching English online might be the best option. That stands to reason, as a lot of students hoping to sit the IELTS exam will be based abroad, with the ambition of moving to an English-speaking nation.

Alternatively, in-person teaching might be an option in certain circumstances. People without native-level English, who are hoping to advance their career prospects, are likely to see in-person classes as a great option for bolstering their language skills, with face-to-face interaction and learning support.

Finally, tutoring is another good option. One-to-one exam preparation, either online or in-person, is a great way to help students tackle the niggling concerns with grammar, syntax, phrasing or any other issue bugging them prior to taking the IELTS exam. It’s also a good option for TEFL teachers already working abroad; tutoring on the side can be lucrative, and it’s a great way to generate extra income.

Why should you teach IELTS?

IELTS is, naturally, in demand. Consider the stakes; an IELTS certification could be life-changing for anyone who doesn’t speak English at a native level. Giving people the opportunity to move to a different country, study abroad, or get ahead in their career? That will always be a big deal.

For the IELTS teacher, too, it’s a specialism, one which requires advanced TEFL study and qualifications. Therefore, IELTS jobs are likely to pay more, as they require applicants with a more advanced skill-set, who can demonstrate previous TEFL study, and most likely with experience in a classroom environment.

Foremost though, it’s incredibly rewarding. While TEFL teaching gives you the chance to meet people from all parts of the globe, interact with English learners of different ages and bolster your own skillset, there’s nothing quite like helping someone completely change their life.

The opportunities you give as an IELTS teacher are enormous. Whether it’s someone you’re teaching online getting the chance to move to an English-speaking country, you’re making an indelible impact on lives.

IELTS teachers vs IELTS examiners

It’s important to be clear here; being an IELTS teacher and an IELTS examiner are not the same thing. 

As a teacher, you’re preparing students for exams, something you can do with a TEFL certificate and advanced training for IELTS preparation. An examiner, meanwhile, is trained to the point of marking the tests, and grading based on ability. 

IELTS examiners require a Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree, a TEFL certification from a reputable provider, or a degree in teaching. You’ll also need experience teaching adults (over 16s). Then, an applicant needs to be approved by a current IELTS examiner trainer, with a certification assessment.

IELTS examiners are regularly monitored – three times in their first year, then up to four times a year from there.

For those teaching IELTS preparation, the same rigorous checks are not done, nor do you necessarily need a degree to get started preparing students for the exam.

Students taking an exam

How to get started teaching IELTS

Now you’ve heard about how the teaching of IELTS preparation works, and know the advantages and what’s required, how does someone get started?

Here’s our step-by-step guide for getting to grips with IELTS!

Get a 120-hour TEFL qualification

Firstly, you’ll need a top-quality TEFL qualification. Where better, then, than a 120-hour TEFL course from the most accredited TEFL company worldwide?

A 120-hour course is the industry standard; TEFL Org’s 120-hour course comes with tutor support, flexible learning and top-of-the-range course materials. As preparation for teaching English abroad, this is the course that most prefer – and it’ll equip anyone for future career plans, which could include being an IELTS teacher. This brings us to…

Do a specialist course

Our aforementioned 40-hour exam preparation course is the perfect platform for being an IELTS teacher. This kind of specialist training allows students to understand the examination process, develop theoretical knowledge of international testing, how to undertake classes that generate knowledge of the exam process, address gaps in knowledge, perform mock exams, and get students IELTS ready.

Without this kind of specialist training, it’s difficult to land a job as an IELTS teacher. This is required learning if you’re keen on helping students meet their goals.

Learn about the test

Part of that specialist training is, of course, learning the test itself. Performing mock exams is ideal practice, and it’s important to know the ins and outs of passing an IELTS exam. Without knowledge and familiarity with the test itself, how will you be able to help get students to the required standard?

When you’re learning about the test, and how to prepare students, it’s prudent to take some time out to try out some mock exams yourself – you might be surprised by what’s on there, and it’s vital to know what your own weaknesses might be. Turning any deficiencies of your own into a strength can only bolster your ability in teaching students.

Get experience

Once you’ve done all that, it’s time to get out there and gain experience.

That could come first in the form of TEFL teaching, in order to gain a background in teaching students of all ages, learning the industry and broadening the scope of your life experience, in order to relate to students.

Or, perhaps, you’re ready to dive straight into IELTS training? With a variety of options, in terms of where and how you teach, there are multiple ways to get students of all ages on the road to securing both the English skills they need to thrive in English-speaking nations, but also the chance to gain a visa, go to university, or progress in their career.

There are so many motivations for taking the IELTS exam; all of them are extremely worthy. There are, too, countless good reasons to become an IELTS teacher if you can – you don’t know just how crucial your work could be in someone’s life.

Check out our TEFL courses and Advanced TEFL courses to start your journey to becoming an IELTS teacher!

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