I am happy to introduce a new section in my blog : Interviews with colleagues experienced in IELTS preparation who are kind enough to share their wisdom with us. The first one I asked to interview is a very dear colleague with a vast experience in exam preparation, Paula McIlwaine.
Paula has a BA in Interpreting and Translating (English, German, French) from Heriot – Watt University, Edinburgh. She moved to Greece in 1991. Since then she has taught at various private language schools, preparing students of all levels for various English language exams and also has been an examiner since 2001. For the past 5 years she has been working for a well known private school in Thessaloniki, Greece (Mandoulides School) teaching speaking skills, English composition and literature, IELTS, PSAT and SAT English. She was also responsible for the debating team of the school and now prepares the group discussion team .
7 QUESTIONS ABOUT THE IELTS EXAM
An Interview with Paula McIlwaine
Vicky: Paula, thank you for agreeing to talk to me. I am very happy to have you here.Can you introduce yourself and talk to us about your work in education?
Paula : Pleased to be here! I moved to Greece in 1992 and have been teaching English as a second language ever since. I have worked at schools, colleges and small language schools.
Vicky : When did you first start preparing students for the IELTS exam?
Paula : Since 1994
Vicky : Which part of the exam do you consider to be the most challenging one?
Paula : The readings – some are long and candidates need speedy skills.
Vicky : What does it take for someone to pass the exam when the score they have to achieve
is 6+? Is it technique? Is it vocabulary? Is it grammar?
Paula : I think it is a combination of many skills – obviously excellent grammar and a wide range of vocabulary are vital, but also a broader knowledge of many subjects in English helps in the reading/writing and speaking sections.
Vicky : Let us say someone can score a 5 when they start studying for the exam and their target goal is 6.5. How long does it take, in your opinion, for a student to improve his/her level?
Paula : That very much depends on personal time for study and the number of test papers done, corrected and learnt from.
Vicky : Tell us the 5 most important tips for improving IELTS scores.
Paula : Positive attitude/ methodical work / realistic goals / willingness to learn from mistakes / practice under exam conditions – especially where timing is concerned
Vicky : Can you share with us a technique that you have used successfully?
Paula : In the reading section .. definitely read the subtitle to get a broad idea of the subject of the text and skim read quickly to get a feel for it too before tackling any questions.
Vicky :Thank you so much for your time, Paula!
Paula : Thank you!