TEACHING SKILLS FOR LISTENING IN IELTS TEST PREPARATION
The authors share the successful experience of teaching English for IELTS to low-level students (starting from level A1+). First, they speculate what place IELTS may have in university education. Then they study the phases of the listening process to gain better insights into what the listeners go through to comprehend. At the same time, they pay special attention to the idea of testwiseness (test management skills) and their role in the test preparation. Finally, the researchers set out to investigate whether it is beneficial to purposefully instruct the learners on testwiseness to seek well-developed universal (metacognitive) skills and thus improve the test scores in the IELTS listening. They try to find out what difficulties students may meet, how these difficulties relate to the cognitive nature of the listening process phases and proceed with discussing how to possibly prevent and get over such problems. A whole variety of strategies and tactics for building and developing test management skills are considered. The conclusions are based on the results of the two-year continuous experiment carried out with University students who were doing this course, particularly of those assigned to the experimental and control groups. Within the experiment, the main ideas were elaborated and put into real teaching practice. Monitoring, oral interviews, interim test scores and final pilot exam rates revealed the relatively high effectiveness of separate strategies and the whole course. The data related to the experimental and control group participants were collected, analyzed and cross-compared. So, in the end, in spite of the initially lower English language competence in the experimental group, their test-related listening skills seemed to stand at the higher level. Practical tips and guidelines developed through the given study may be widely used in teaching practice, in the first place by those ready to take up the challenge of preparing low-level speakers for international exams in the short-term prospects.