Top Tips for IELTS

IELTS teaching resources and ideas

Welcome to my IELTS teaching resources and ideasIELTS teaching



This is where I collect the IELTS ideas and resources that I publish.

Some of these are close to lesson plans and nearly all include a download. They are though more just about sharing ideas that have worked for me in the class.

Are you new to IELTS teaching? Want some very quick tips

quick tip with bulb icon on a speech bubble

Don’t worry!! It’s really just another form of teaching and you won’t go far wrong using your standard teaching skills. Here are 4 very quick tips:

Learn how IELTS is marked – know the rules of the game

This is where you start. IELTS is not very different but some of writing criteria in particular may surprise you. Spending some time finding out what they are and how they are applied definitely helps. The more you focus on what the examiners want, the more effectively you’ll teach.

Don’t test too much – focus on teaching skills

Students may want to be tested but it becomes both boring in class and can be terrible for motivation. IELTS students should be highly motivated – and they often are – but they can also rapidly become highly de-motivated.

It is normally much more effective to focus on how to write an introduction than how to write a whole essay.

Do a complete needs analysis of your students

All classes are different but IELTS classes tend to be very different. There really isn’t such a thing as a standard IELTS class. levels and test experience normally vary hugely

Don’t forget to teach general English – just put it in an IELTS context

Your students will probably be keen to focus on just IELTS. The problem is the commonest cause of failure is problems with general English skills. Your role is to show how improving the general English you show them helps with IELTS.


What you’ll find here

Further below are some downloadable IELTS teaching resources and at the bottom of the page you’ll find posts where I share my teaching ideas.

I also post – very regularly – online lessons on the main pages of this site. These are directed to self-access learners but can with a little thought be readily adapted to classroom situations.

There are now several hundred online lessons here. if you are looking for something in particular you may just find it by searching below.

Are you a learner?

Come on in and have a look around

All the best learners learn how to teach themselves. That’s really what my whole site is about

My most recent posts

These are my most recent lesson posts. You’ll find the older ones below categorised by topic.

Using authentic texts in the IELTS classroom

Ideas on how you can use authentic texts in the IELTS classroom
Read More

Using photos in the IELTS classroom

An idea for using photos in the IELTS classroom to help students with long turn speaking
Read More

No time? Here are the downloads

needs-analysis – for the start of a course

rules of the game – warmer activity to test knowledge of test

writing skills

cohesion exercise – avoiding misuse of linking words

IELTS writing criteria for essays worksheet – know what the writing criteria are


Conclusion writing exercise - lack of housing (1456) – essay conclusion exercise

Gap fill exercise (AWL) - housing shortage (1072) – essay with AWL gap fill exercise

Error correction exercise - lack of housing (1078) – essay error correction exercise

Teaching essay introductions (1809)

Topic sentences 2 (2646)

academic task 1

Pie charts - families in Canada (678) – 3 different pie charts on the same topic

Sample bar chart answers - poverty (852) – 3 “model” answers to compare

Do's and don't's exercise - task 1 (908)

Identifying the main points in academic task 1 (1217)

Make your own bar chart from a report (901)


Smog - two exercises for paragraph/heading matching (1666)


Opinion vocabulary for speaking - forced drill (2534)

skills circuit

Skills circuit essay (1262)

Course design

Needs analysis – a download of a needs analysis sheet for the start of a course


Draw your own pie chart 

Works for pie chart lessons and focuses on the language of comparisons and can also help non-visual thinkers understand visual data.


The rules of the game

A quick activity to make sure that the students understand what they need to do in the test. The idea is that they need to know what certain key numbers are.

Understanding the question

4 ideas for speaking, writing, reading and listening lessons – this is collection of different ideas on one theme. The idea si that many candidates go wrong at the question stage. It’s not their language, but they way they understand IELTS that causes most avoidable mistakes.

Essay writing

Focus on writing criteria – a lesson for the start of a course to help with understanding the writing criteria for essays

Using model essays and writing conclusions – includes several ideas for using model essays in the class and has downloads of different conclusion writing exercises

Teaching essay introductions – an idea to focus on essay introduction with a download which can double as a reading exercise

Topic sentence activities – three different activities to help students write clear and relevant topic sentences

General writing skills

Focus on coherence and cohesion – an awareness raising activity to help students avoid the overuse of their favourite “linking words”

Academic task 1

A way to write paragraphs in task 1 – this is a simple training idea that means focussing on one chart/graph at a time and not trying to write a complete summary.

The dos and don’ts of academic task one – A checklist for students of what to do and not to do with 3 sample answers  for classroom use.

Identifying the main points in academic task 1 by looking – This is one of my favourite activities. It can be highly communicative and it focusses on a precise need. Typically it’s a short exercise but can lead into a longer lesson.

Create your own bar chart – an in class activity (quite close to a lesson plan!) to help students understand charts better. Requires computers and involves students creating a chart from a summary – doing the exercise backwards. An awareness raiser.


Skills circuit exercise – some form of testing is desirable/necessary. This exercise is lively and very repeatable. Good for long-term courses.


Using photos for long turn speaking – different ways you can use photos to help students give an extended answer in the long turn

Extending opinion vocabulary – an idea for a regular warmer type activity with a download

Fluency and coherence – a lively full class activity that is great for class dynamics and getting everyone talking


Paragraph and heading matching: two ideas with a downloadable resource for helping students understand and develop the core skills needed for this task

Other recommended IELTS Teaching Resources



IELTS speakinglots here for speaking do check it out. Pete Travis who runs it is a true expert in exam Englishand has acres of experience in producing teacher resources.

Tefltastic IELTS speaking:Alex Case has some great materials here. They are classroom friendly, informed and work on test skills

Tefltastic IELTS readingditto the above

British Council Take IELTS: they show promise!

Are you a teacher looking for online work?

This site is visited by thousands of learners every day -at least some of whom are looking for a personal tutor. I don’t do that nowadays. Rather I prefer to send the work out to freelance/independent teachers.

There is no “finder’s fee” – it’s just free advertising and putting students in contact with people who can help them.

To see how the system works have a peek at this page: Find a teacher. If you’re interested, just drop me a line at

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply