Preparing for the IELTS doesn’t have to cost a fortune. As an IELTS student, you might already be spending a significant amount of money on resources – and you may need to save for the future too. With that in mind, here are 10 ways you can prepare for this invaluable qualification without squandering your cash.
1. Watch movies – with the scripts!
You can download movie scripts easily online, and if you have the script in front of you at the same time as watching, you can really enhance your speaking across a wide range of topics. This is particularly useful if you don’t have a speaking partner and makes a nice change to boring textbooks. If you're unable to download the script, try turning on the subtitles.
2. Read and digest…
Reading in preparation for IELTS can become tedious and boring and you may switch off if you’re constantly reading textbooks. Relaxing doesn’t mean you’re not learning, so why not expand your reading to texts you’re genuinely interested in. Magazines, newspapers and books are all valuable resources and the more interested you are in the topic, the more likely you are to read every word.
3. The power of speech
You'll be able to find a large number of recorded speeches online (with the script), whether they’re historical, political, in the news or even something that’s entertainment based. You can listen to these and follow the transcript too – mimicking the speaker can be hugely beneficial to picking up fluent dialogue and new vocabulary.
There are a huge number of podcasts available and many of these are specifically aimed at IELTS preparation. Podcasts are free and may release new material aon a daily basis. You can listen to these on the move and study wherever you are. The British Council Professionals Podcast is particularly useful.
5. Arrange a language exchange
Okay, this is tough if you’re in an area where there are few English speakers, but there are always ways you can do it. If there’s a language school or university nearby, contact them to ask whether they could help you find a language exchange partner. If not, go online and use a resource like Skype – there will be many native English speakers who would be willing to exchange practice in their language for yours, online.
6. Word games!
You don’t have to go out and buy a board game like Scrabble – although you could – as there are a number of online word game resources that can help you improve your vocabulary. If you’re taking a study break then don’t waste it on a gossip website or instant messaging, instead do a few word games and make the most of all your time to prepare for the day.
7. Keep in touch!
Letters and emails are a great way to enhance your reading and writing skills. Whether you’re writing to friends and family or contacting organisations, the act of letter writing itself – as well as the potential responses – can be incredibly useful.
8. English song lyrics
Granted, there’ll be quite a lot of slang to deal with in newer music releases, but if you go back to the 1960s, for example, you can pick up words, phrases and speaking methods pretty efficiently. Download the lyrics as well to boost the effectiveness of this tip.
9. Keep a language record
This isn’t a vocabulary list; it’s much more effective. Rather than memorising single words out of context, if you also write down the phrase in which the word appears then you'll start to understand how the word is used.
10. Record yourself speaking
This might sound a little embarrassing, but it’s so important to listen to yourself to pick up little mistakes. You can easily hear mistakes in others’ speech and you can pick out someone who isn’t a native speaker just by listening, so you should know what others hear when you speak. Act as your own sounding board and make sure you’re as strong as you can be. This way, your pronunciation, stress and accent should really improve.
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