Understanding IELTS Free Courses

Hannah from the Futurelearn contacted me recently to let me know about courses that the British Council have free IELTS preparation courses available. It says that there is a price on the page BUT it’s free if you only want access to the course for 5 weeks. You only pay if you want to see the videos, hear the audio and join the forums all the time. You can get a certificate that you joined the course if you pay more.

I have never used these courses but I have taken other courses on Futurelearn before, and it’s free!

Future Learn & British Council Free IELTS Course

How to Test Your Progress

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There are so many different standardised tests available to test your English skills: the Cambridge certificates, TOEIC, TOEFL, IELTS, BULATS and, here in Japan, the Eiken/STEP test.

For a lot of people, these tests are pointless. If you need the certificate to get a job or a college place, go for it. If not, read on.

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How to Take Lecture Notes

Campus Week

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This week it’s Campus Week at Get Great English. I know the term hasn’t started yet but think of it as a little time to prepare before packing bags, unpacking, moving into halls of residence or a flat.

When you are at university you need to take lecture notes. This is something you can practise online with video lectures (about your field of study or some elective courses you might take) so you develop the skills you need before you start university.

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Practise Grammar Using Your To-Do List

Write a diary

I have written before about using your to-do list as a way to practise English but why not use your to-do list for more repetitive grammar study? You could use this system for present perfect tense, modals and contrasting the simple future, present continuous and simple past tenses.

  • Present Perfect Tense

  • Simply add the item to your list in a negative present-perfect sentence. e.g. ‘I haven’t done my homework.’

    I haven't done my homework.

    When it is finished, can write a new note in the positive form. (I know you could simply cross out the negative part, i.e. ‘I haven’t done my homework.‘, but you can get more practice by writing a new note.)

    I have done my homework.

  • Modals

  • You can practice modals by writing a sentence such as ‘I should do my homework.’

    I should do my homework.

    As your deadline gets nearer, write a stronger modal, like ‘I must do my homework.’

    I must do my homework.

    If you have any incomplete items, write another note, such as ‘I had to do my homework but I didn’t.’

    I had to do my homework but I didn't.

  • Contrasting Simple Future, Present Continuous and Simple Past Tenses

  • This is similar to the modals example. For new items, write a future tense note (both ‘will’ and ‘going to’ are fine but obviously not together). e.g. ‘I will do my homework.’

    I will do my homework.

    Any incomplete tasks can be written in present continuous tense. e.g. ‘I am doing my homework.’

    I am doing my homework.

    Any finished tasks can be written in simple past tense, such as ‘I did my homework.’ or ‘I finished my homework.’

    I finished my homework.

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