The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is one of the world’s most popular English language proficiency tests for international study, work, and migration. I want to study a Master’s degree abroad so I decided to take a course at International House in Cape Town, South Africa to prepare myself for the test.
Why should you take the IELTS test? It is accepted by over 10,000 organizations worldwide, including schools, universities, employers, and immigration authorities.
How should you prepare for the test? One of the best ways to prepare for the IELTS test is taking a course abroad. This will allow you to understand the test, learn the strategies to ace it and practice your English every day while you interact with native speakers and start “thinking in English”.
In this post, I will explain to you the main characteristics of:
The IELTS test
- Test Format
- Two types of IELTS
- IELTS or TOEFL?
The IELTS course with International House
- Application Process
- My experience
- The lessons
- My teachers
- My classmates
- IH school
- Cape Town
- Sea Point
- General Opinion
The IELTS test
1. Test format
IELTS assesses all of your English skills: reading, writing, listening and speaking.
2. Two types of IELTS
- IELTS Academic: its used to study at university at undergraduate or postgraduate level.
- IELTS General Training: it is used to work or emigrate to an English-speaking country.
IELTS result or Test Report Form has a score from “band 1” (“non-user”) to “band 9” (“expert user”).
Institutions are advised not to consider a report older than two years to be valid.
To know more information about the IELTS test and register click here.
6. IELTS or TOEFL?
The IELTS along with the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) are the most popular and recognized exams and their format is basically the same evaluating your reading, writing, listening and speaking skills. Which one should you take will depend on the organization you are applying to so you should check that before you book your test!
IELTS course with International House
- Type of program: study and work abroad
- Location: Cape Town, South Africa
- Organization: International House (IH)
- Website: ihcapetown.com
- Duration: the ILETS course lasted 1 month.
- Finance: you should consider the cost of the course plus accommodation, food and airplane tickets to South Africa.
- Visa: the easiest way to enter South Africa will be with a tourist visa, but if you want to improve your English even further and stay for a longer period of time, you can process a student visa.
- Tourist Visa: a tourist visa lasts 3 months and can be extended for another 3 months when you are in Cape Town. International House can help you with the application process.
- Student Visa: if you want to stay longer you also have the possibility to apply for a student visa (stay maximum 1 year).
2. Application Process
Collect the required documents
Scan and send registration form and your copy of your passport to the International House team.
Plan your trip
Do some research to find your flight tickets, life in Cape Town and solve any question you could have.
3. My experience
a. The lessons
The course consisted of Standard English classes in the morning, followed by IELTS preparation in the afternoon.
- Standard English classes: Monday – Friday (9:00 to 12:40 hrs. – Lunch Break)
- IELTS preparation: Monday – Thursday (13:30 to 15:35 hrs.)
b. My teachers
Standard English classes
My teacher’s name was Caval, she was a native English speaker from South Africa who used to live in Luxemburg. We did not follow a book but she gave us different worksheets to practice all our English skills (writing, reading, listening and speaking) and she combined this with fun games as charades.
My teacher’s name was Heike, she was a native English speaker from South Africa. Her classes were interactive and included:
- Content: during the course, we covered each of the sections of the IELTS test (reading, writing, listening and speaking).
- Strategies: we learned different strategies for each section of the test and each type of question.
- Activities: besides normal lessons, we also saw videos online and listened to recordings.
- Test Practice: we also spent time to do timed exercises similar to the real exam so we had a real IELTS test experience.
c. My classmates
Standard English classes
We were 12 students from Angola, Brazil, Gabon, Germany, Mexico, and Turkey; and with different ages from 18 to 37 years old. It was very interesting to get to know all of this different cultures and ways of thinking.
We were only two girls taking the IELTS course. Dalva was from Angola and she was very nice and friendly. During class, we did all the exercises at the same time so we were able to compare our answers and gave each other feedback.
d. International House school
IH is a very nice school with 2 buildings full of equiped classrooms, kitchen, and common rooms to take a break and meet more students.
4. Cape Town
I was staying at the Mojo Hotel which is located just in front of International House; this was very convenient because I just had to wake up, get ready and walk some meters to get to class. Furthermore, the Mojo Market is part of the hotel and has live music and several food and retail stalls so it is perfect to eat delicious food and spend a nice time with friends.
Also, some of my friends were staying at Motown, a student residence that is located three blocks away from International House. The vibes are great and you will feel at home; there is a common room where you can do your homework and chill with your friends having a drink at a nice balcony.
Also, International House offers a wide range of accommodation options to suit your individual needs and budget (all of them are within walking distance of the school). You can read more about accommodation options here.
b. Sea Point
In my opinion, International House is located in the best neighborhood in Cape Town. On Sea Point, you can do many activities as swim on its pools, bike along the promenade, do exercise on the outdoor gym, have a stroll, enjoy the beach, or eat delicious food on its restaurants and bars. Read here the 5 things you can do in the lively suburb of Sea Point.
c. International house activities
Do you want to explore Cape Town? Don’t worry about planning, IH organizes a lot of activities that you can join if you want. This is specifically convenient because a lot of students participate in them so you can have a lot of fun hanging out with your friends. Also, IH organizes parties every month so you will be able to meet a lot of people and you will never get bored.
For example, in a normal week you could have:
- Tuesday: Lions Head
- Wednesday: Paintball
- Thursday: Steenberg Wine Estate
- Friday: Student Party
- Saturday: Oranjezicht Market
- Sunday: Live Jazz at Asoka
Besides the activities organized by IH, you can also take tours, safaris, paragliding, skydiving and more. There is a brochure stand at the office and if you want more information or to make a booking you just have to ask at reception!
5. General Opinion
- The IELTS course was personalized: as we were only two girls taking the IELTS course, we were able to find which were our specific areas of opportunity and focus on them. For example, for me, one of the most difficult subjects was writing, and my teacher found out that my problem was with prepositions so she suggested me to see some videos that helped me to improve.
- The mock tests were very useful: for me, the best part of the course was practicing like if we were in the real exam. For example, for the reading section we had timed exercises that made me realize that I had to read faster and apply the strategies learned on the course to have enough time to finish the three reading passages.
- I got real feedback: one of the main advantages of taking a course and not just learning from an IELTS book is that the teacher will give you expert feedback. For instance, in the speaking section the teacher made us similar questions to the ones in the test and gave us specific feedback according to our mistakes. And for the writing section the teacher returned our essays marking our mistakes.
- You should also do homework: there is not enough time to cover everything on class so if you really want to make the most of the course you will have to take some extra time to finish exercises for homework.
If you are proficient in English, after the IELTS you could take the CELTA course and travel the world as a teacher
You can check in this post the experience of Carla from Argentina who took a 4-week CELTA course in IH Cape Town and become a certified teacher and worked around the world.
Work as an intern and save money on an English course
You can participate in the International House internship program and save some money with a free standard English course in exchange of your help during the evenings.
You can also take other exam preparations courses at International House
IH also offers courses for the TOEFL, Cambridge FCE, CAE, and CPE.
Disclaimer: This is a sponsored blog post, but all opinions are my own
In the Study Abroad section, you can find more experiences of success cases winning scholarships to study abroad! If you had a similar experience and want to inspire others to apply please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
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