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 also for your students? What if, through the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), you could help someone live in an English-speaking country, open different horizons for your students, or help people advance in their careers within certain businesses?

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. It allows those who don’t have English as their L1 (mother tongue) to work and live in a country where English is the mother tongue. It’s one of the world’s most well-known and highly regarded English proficiency exams.

In IELTS, there are nine grades. Level 1 is where a student has little to no English expertise, to Level 9, “Expert user”, where the student has a complete understanding of the language and is fully competent in the four skills – reading, writing, listening and speaking. The better the score, the more chances your student will have in 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. 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 to equip your students with all the tools and expertise necessary to sit the exam.

Our Online Trinity College CertTESOL should be your first stop. You’ll learn the importance of exams, why passing exams like the IELTS can massively impact lives, practice mock exams, and sharpen your existing TEFL tools. And not to forget, you learn how to be an EFL teacher. Any teacher preparing students for an exam needs to have an accredited TESOL and TEFL certificate. As an IELTS teacher or examiner, you need the right teaching skills. You can only acquire these from a globally accepted and recognised TESOL certificate such as the Trinity College CertTESOL. Do not believe people or companies tell you that being an IELTS teacher does not require qualifications. How can you prepare your students to take the IELTS exam if you don’t know how to TEFL or TESOL? It’s like the blind leading the blind, which is unfair to your students. English as your L1 (mother tongue) does not cut it. You will be doing your students an injustice. You need to be trained to prepare students for such an important exam as the IELTS.

Teaching IELTS, everything you need to know

Where can you teach IELTS?

There are several options for teaching IELTS.

Firstly, consider the distance learning opportunities on offer. The Trinity College CertTESOL is a good option as it teaches you how to TEFL or TESOL and teaches you online using Zoom. If, however, you are already a practising teacher with at least two years of experience, regardless of the discipline, you can go for the CertPT (Practising Teachers) course. It’s a part-time course allowing you to study and work simultaneously. Many of your students will be based abroad. They would want to sit their IELTS exam hoping to work or study in an English-speaking nation. Doing their IELTS exam online would be a good idea for them.

People with English levels between B1 and below want to better their career prospects. Therefore, they will likely see F2F classes as a better alternative for improving their language skills.

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

Why should you teach IELTS?

This specialist area requires advanced TEFL study and qualifications for the IELTS teacher. IELTS tutoring jobs are likely to pay more, as they need qualified and experienced applicants who can demonstrate previous TEFL experience with experience in F2F and online classes. It also helps if the IELTS teacher has a gold standard certificate like the Trinity CertTESOL or CertPT (Practising Teachers).

Whether your student is hoping to get the chance to move to an English-speaking country or study in an English-speaking university, you’re making a significant impact on lives.

IELTS teachers vs IELTS examiners

It’s essential to be clear here; being an IELTS teacher and an IELTS examiner is different.

As a teacher, you’re preparing students for exams. You can do this with a TEFL certificate and advanced training for exam 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 will also need to have experience teaching adults (over 16s). Then, a current IELTS examiner trainer needs to approve an applicant with a certification assessment.

IELTS examiners are closely monitored – three times in their first year, then up to four times a year as you advance.

For an IELTS preparation teacher, meticulous checks will not be required.

How do I start working as an IELTS teacher?

You now know how the teaching of IELTS preparation works, the requirements and expectations. How do you start?

Here’s our step-by-step guide for starting your IELTS teaching career.

Teaching IELTS, everything you need to know

Get a 200-hour accredited TEFL qualification

Firstly, you’ll need a gold-standard TEFL qualification. The Trinity Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (CertTESOL) is a TESOL or TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate designed for people with little or no experience in teaching English and for those with experience who require an internationally recognised initial teacher education qualification.

Preparing for the Trinity CertTESOL English language teaching certificate equips trainees with the basic skills and knowledge needed to take up their first post as ESL or EFL teacher. It gives an introduction to the theory and practice of English teaching and an insight into the challenges facing the learner and the role of the teacher.

The CertTESOL is rated at Level 5 on Ofqual’s Regulated Qualifications Framework, comparable to the second year of an undergraduate degree. It comprises 130 hours, with an expected minimum of 70 hours of further study required (Total Qualification Time: 200 hours).

Do a CertPT course if you are a practising teacher with at least two years of teaching experience.

The Trinity Certificate for Practising Teachers (CertPT) is a qualification that supports the professional development of English language teachers. To promote pedagogical knowledge and skills, the Trinity CertPT enables practising teachers to access specialist training and certification that can transform their teaching practice.

Without this kind of specialist training, landing a job as an IELTS teacher can prove challenging. The CertPT certificate, like the CertTESOL, is vital if you’re passionate about 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 knowing the ins and outs of passing an IELTS exam is essential. You can only help your students reach the standards required if you are familiar with the test.

Get experience

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

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

There are many reasons for taking the IELTS exam; all are highly worthy. In addition, there are countless good reasons to become an IELTS teacher. One is just how critical and vital your work could be in someone’s life.