How to become an IELTS Trainer
No official prerequisites or license requirements are needed to become an IELTS exam instructor. However, most have become instructors of IELTS via a TEFL/TESOL certification such as CELTA or DELTA, 120 hours of previous English teaching experience is often an additional requirement.
In this tutorial, you will learn:
- What you need to become an IELTS teacher
- How best to start your IELTS teaching
- About professional development opportunities
Why become an IELTS teacher?
Did you know that:
- 3.5 million IELTS tests were taken last year.
- There are over 1,600 IELTS test centres worldwide.
- More than 10,000 organisations in over 140 countries recognize IELTS (see www.ielts.org)
To say it another way IELTS is the global assessment tool to measure English language proficiency for study or work purposes.
The numbers are impressive and any teacher of English as an Additional Language must want to be involved in this ever expanding market.
What sort of teachers are they looking for?
Well-established organisations such as the British Council and officially recognised language schools contract teaching staff under fairly stringent conditions. But these conditions apply to any teaching position, not just for IELTS teachers.
1. Qualifications: you need a degree, not necessarily in a subject related to English or language studies, such as Linguistics or Modern Languages. While it’s true that most EAL teachers have a degree in the Humanities, there are some who come from a scientific background. Most employers now also insist that you have completed some teacher training. The most common course to take is CELTA.
2. Experience: It is very likely that in teaching centres such as the British Council, for example, only teachers with at least 3 or more years’ experience will get to teach an IELTS class. Elsewhere that might not be the case.
3. Native v. Non-native speakers: There was a time when native speakers were highly sought after in the belief that they were somehow better. It’s a good thing those days have passed because not only are there many first class non-native English language teachers but also many of them have the IELTS certification themselves and can give their IELTS students first-hand insight into how to prepare for the test.
What’s the best way to start out as an IELTS teacher? Do you need special training?
These recommendations are based on the simple premise that you cannot teach what you do not know. So:-
- Do the test yourself. Under IELTS exam conditions. Check your score in listening and reading. Write Task 1 and Task 2 essays for Academic and General Training IELTS. Look through examples of Speaking topics. Try speaking to yourself for 2 minutes on a topic or two.
- Go first to the official sites (www.ielts.org; www.britishcouncil.org; www.idp.com) and read about IELTS. Not just the format, the band criteria upon which the scoring system is based, the skills the test measures and the ways it achieves that, but also learn about the history of IELTS and its current role in the academic world and that of migration and work. Try this document: (https://www.ielts.org/-/media/publications/guide-for-teachers/ielts-guide-for-teachers-uk.ashx).
- There is a vast amount of IELTS resources online and in print. There is probably too much to choose from. Teaching IELTS, the same as teaching anything else, is a question of knowing your subject inside out, identifying the needs of the students to improve and receive feedback, and choosing the materials we use wisely. Use materials that are either officially approved by IELTS itself or that you find effective.
- IELTS teaching, just like any teaching, does not occur in a vacuum. We need to share our experiences, to discuss what went right or wrong. This is especially crucial if we are teaching online or as a private tutor. Joining a website where teachers can meet to exchange views and tips is highly advisable.
Professional development and financial considerations
- English teaching has become a profession that provides opportunities to further our education through postgraduate studies, such as teaching and carrying out relevant research projects in our field. IELTS has been something of a goldmine in this respect. Take a look at this sample of research papers published over the last few years:
- Another sought-after qualification for the experienced IELTS teacher is that of an IELTS examiner. A word of caution though. An IELTS examiner cannot at the same time teach an IELTS class, for reasons of conflict of interest. To become an examiner, you are usually expected to have had some teaching experience, a minimum of 3 years) and then after completing and passing standardised training given by an experienced IELTS trainer, examining begins. You are also periodically monitored to ensure you maintain standards and every two years you have to recertify.
- Although factors such as location, whether we teach face-to-face or online, if we are freelance or employed by some organisation, all play their part, an IELTS teacher is in high demand and thus is at the top end as far as salaries are concerned. Check that yourself at sites like Glassdoor.
Wherever you are, if you have decided to make English teaching your profession, there can be no better path to take than that of an IELTS teacher. Good luck!