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COMPLETE IELTS A review by Alina Brooks, teacher and teacher trainer at BKC-International House Written by Guy Brook-Hart, well-known

for his other exam preparation courses (Business Benchmark, Complete FCE, Complete CAE and Instant IELTS), the new Complete IELTS series ( 3 courses aimed at students at B1 (Intermediate), B2 (Upper-Intermediate) and C1 (Advanced) levels) has everything we have come to expect from an IELTS preparation coursebook: test-type tasks, tips on task approach, various exercises and practice activities which focus on specific sub-skills to help learners first become aware of the skills they need for the exam and then develop them systematically rather than simply practice them, model and sample answers for Writing tasks, all the necessary reference material. At the same time Complete IELTS looks and feels almost like a general English textbook, which helps to take boredom out of exam preparation. The colour photographs almost on every page set the context and provide stimulus for discussion. The high smile factor1 (the percentage of smiling people in the photographs) and the readerfriendly design contribute to the positive impression the book projects and make it appealing for its target audience young adults. The topics for the book were selected with young adults in mind, although adults find them engaging as well. While the books cover the traditional IELTS topics at a level accessible to students (such as healthy lifestyle, communication, the media, environment, relationships etc), the angle the author takes is often unusual and thought provoking (e.g. the Organic food: why? text in Complete IELTS 5 6.5 Unit 2 explores the downsides of organic food rather than its advantages). All the topics deal with the reality of modern life, so they are relevant to the interests of young adults. At the same time, the texts raise the students awareness of topics and issues which feature prominently in the IELTS exam papers. Each unit contains a variety of activities with the extra activities in the Teachers book and a comprehensive Workbook, Complete IELTS requires minimal tailoring or preparation of extra resources by the teacher.

Approach to Exam tasks Receptive skills: Reading and Listening in Complete IELTS The texts are not as long as in the real exam, but nevertheless quite long (500800 words on average), and they increase in length and difficulty towards the end
Cook, V.J. (2001:218), Second Language Learning and Language Teaching, London: Edward Arnold

of the book. Each text is preceded by a communicative pre-reading tasks which helps to activate schemata and followed by a communicative post-reading task (for instance, a discussion). The texts themselves, however, are treated as exam tasks the tasks for students are set up and sequenced in such a way that students have to use different reading strategies: skimming, scanning, reading for detail. Like at the exam, the tasks follow each other in the order of difficulty from more cursory to more detailed reading. The students are meant to return to the text a number of times, looking for different information. The integrity of the task should be preserved by not pre-teaching the vocabulary from the text and not analyzing the text in detail before the tasks have been accomplished. Each unit focuses on two or three Reading task types. The green Exam advice boxes give short tips on task approach in the language that Intermediate/Upperintermediate students can understand. Listening is consistently practiced throughout the book: each unit focuses on one Listening section. Units 1,2,3 and 4 deal with Listening sections 1,2,3 and 4 respectively, and the cycle is repeated for units 5,6,7 and 8, so there are 2 full Listening tests embedded in the textbook. Green Exam advice boxes give the students help with the strategies. As with Reading, pre and post listening activities are provided, but no pre-teaching of vocabulary takes place, but there may be a facilitation task to help students cope with the task itself better (e.g. guiding questions are used to help the students familiarize themselves with a diagram before doing a diagram completion exercise: Complete IELTS Intermediate p.30). Productive Skills: Writing and Speaking in Complete IELTS Writing is part of each unit, so the 4 odd-numbered units deal with Writing part 1 and the even-numbered units focus on the essay. Writing is taught systematically through the product approach. Before the students write anything themselves, they are offered a wide range of inductive activities, which guide them towards a better understanding of the task. This heavy emphasis on analyzing the task and sample/model responses (through leading questions, True/false statements and other similar tasks) ensures that students have a clear idea of what is required from them and some means of achieving it before they write, which obviously facilitates the process of writing. This also encourages learner autonomy by giving the students tools to assess and edit their own work. Writing is broken down into a number of steps, each of which is facilitated as much as possible (e.g. each essay writing task is preceded by guided brainstorming exercises; before students write their own graph description they have to do an unjumble the text/fill in the gaps exercise which serves as a model and feeds in the

necessary language etc). This strong scaffolding makes writing, which is usually the hardest task, accessible and non-threatening for students. Like all the other skills, Speaking is practiced in every unit, with an emphasis on Parts 2 and 3 of the exam. The approach is similar to teaching writing: students are given clear models (non-native speakers of English of different levels carrying out the speaking tasks), which are later used for analysis (through true/false statements, checklists etc) and are also exploited as a source of vocabulary. Students are also given consistent support through bite-sized tips in the green Exam information boxes and guiding brainstorming questions. As mentioned before, speaking skills are practiced not only in the designated Speaking slots within the unit, but also in pre- and post- reading and listening activities, in freer formats. Moreover, the photocopiable activities in the Teachers book also offer a lot of freer speaking practice (role-plays, debates etc). Teaching Systems: Grammar, Vocabulary, Pronunciation Teachers working with the book are pleased to see that every unit includes a Key Grammar slot which revises the problematic areas at each level and a Vocabulary slot, which aim to expand the students knowledge of lexis, deal with typical lexical mistakes and provide scaffolding for the Speaking and Writing tasks in the unit. Vocabulary and grammar review sections after every 2 units briefly recap the material covered in the lessons. Besides, each unit contains a Pronunciation slot, which rarely features in IELTS textbooks. Finishing comments Complete IELTS is engaging for students and teachers and is highly effective for exams preparation. It does not talk down to students or oversimplify tasks so that they resemble real IELTS tasks only in format; on the opposite, the authenticity of tasks is maintained as much as possible. To learn successfully, students need clear models, a step-by-step, carefully structured approach to tasks and motivating input which is graded slightly higher than the students current level. Complete IELTS provides all of that. It bridges the gap between their current level and their zone of proximal development by consistently supporting the students through carefully planned sequences of scaffolding activities and exercises and helps them not only accomplish a desired IELTS score, but also to acquire a range of transferable skills and strategies for studying. COMPLETE IELTS 5-6.5 at a glance Students book 8 50- Can easily be extended with the help of

Number of Units: Expected teaching hours:

Contains a recording script in the students book Contains an answer key in the students book / workbook Contains language reference pages Contains word lists

60 extra material form the Teachers book One at the end of each unit in the Students book plus extra wordlists in the Teachers book An overview of the exam at a glance can be found at the beginning of the book, plus there is a Speaking and Writing reference sections at the end At the end of the Students book Interactive exercises including listening practice 2 Grammar and vocabulary sections were informed by the Cambridge Learner Corpus Students book and workbook both exist in 2 editions (with/without keys)

Contains exam reference material

Contains a full practice test A CD-rom Audio CDs Is based on a corpus

Contains systematic practice of grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation

Teachers Book Plus alternative ideas for doing tasks Guidance for all the activities in the book and extension activities For each unit, to practice and extend Photocopiable material language Including sample answers to writing Complete answer keys tasks 4 photocopiable practice tests One for every 2 units of the book Photocopiable word lists 8, based on the International corpus Workbook Number of Units 8 Further practice in analyzing Writing tasks and answers Audio CD Comes with the book