THE JOURNEY TO IELTS: MANY PATHS, ONE GOAL

In this little interview excerpt, IELTS Tutor Tanya Midha discusses the process of becoming an IELTS tutor and how teaching and preparing for the English-language proficiency exam isn’t as unapproachable as many assume it is. 

How did you start your journey as an IELTS tutor?

There are innumerable ways to do things if you think about them carefully enough. In my case, when I started to train students for IELTS, I was quite clueless, since I had never formally received training to become an IELTS tutor. Even though this major qualification was missing from my resumé, I received an opportunity to instruct students to take the exam and help them score amazing bands. People usually assume that this is a minus point since one needs to attend IELTS training classes in order to become an IELTS trainer. But, surprisingly and fortunately, it acted in my favor. As I barely had any idea of what IELTS teachers do and how they usually teach, I started my classes from scratch, with my own thoughts. There was no filter, no following the age-old rules, and no rigidity about right and wrong ways to teach. I had the liberty to do things my way, although I had to keep in mind that my student's results were in my hands.

What is something that is important for IELTS but is often overlooked?

Learning the fundamentals of English is equally important as knowing different words and concepts. Building upon the basics like grammar, parts of speech, and the meaning of the words will help in understanding and remembering new words much better. When students came for the first time to our institute, one thing that I instantly noticed was that before they start preparing for the IELTS exam, they needed to polish their English. To learn grammar rules in third grade and never look at the book again has its own disadvantages. What they needed was a 360° process of coaching that emphasized every aspect of language learning. So I started out with tenses. I did not suggest that my students start attending spoken English classes, just that they put in a little more effort to polish their English. Once they knew English, they just require a little practice and study to be prepared for the IELTS exam. When I told the students that I would teach them Grammar for the first week and then train them for IELTS, they seemed a little confused, yet also happy and pleasantly surprised. Usually, students are taught using IELTS worksheets, but I wanted to go above and beyond the IELTS and ensure that their English grammar was up to the mark as well.

The students were ecstatic to know that I would help them with their tenses, which would be useful for all the 4 modules of IELTS. (Reading, Listening, Writing, and Speaking). Without clearing the basics of grammar, students can rote-learn even 1000 words for the IELTS exam, and still, it wouldn’t make a difference. 

How would you describe your teaching process?

My teaching process is best described as an experimental method of getting learning across. I clear the basics, start with the easier parts of the exam, and try to do a few experiments with the exercises that I curate on my own. Almost every day I have a new activity in the class. I make students debate with each other, conduct simulated professional interviews, and encourage them to write and speak their hearts out.  The basis of my teaching process is: “Learn without fear and have fun.”

Since I am a literature student and fond of art, I try to look for art everywhere. This love of art did not stop even when I became an IELTS trainer. It made the process of learning and teaching IELTS easier and more fun for both the students and me. If you think about it, teaching is an ART and not a standardized process of producing a commodity. 

What message would you like to give to aspiring IELTS tutors? 

When creating anything in the kitchen, be it something as easy as tea, you can either do it the authentic and traditional way or add a pinch of your own creativity and methodology to come up with something new. Every tiny thing makes a difference when it comes to the process of creating something—the end result invariably changes. There is no one way to teach IELTS. Always take the road less traveled and remember that when you have confidence in yourself,  you can give your best to your work. You can always do your best if you have the passion, will, and zeal for it. 

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