The internet and learner independence
One of the plus sides of IT and the internet is that it enormously assists the independent learner of anything, and this of course includes the language learner, the English learner and the IELTS candidate.
I was leafing idly through Learner Independence Worksheets Vols I and II the other day. These are now comfortably over a decade old. Much of what they contain remains as pertinent as ever, with excellent advice and tools for getting to grips with real learning. But there are places where you really feel this is the old days, chaps. It is a lot of effort to milk all the learning benefits from a couple of dusty video tapes.
It is a great improvement that access to a wealth of listening and reading material is so easy now, all authentic, via the internet. Listen again features on, for example, the BBC website
have transformed the availability of effective practice material for IELTS candidates.
But material alone is of course not enough. Nor is attending classes. You can go to classes for years and learn nothing. Successful learning is all about reliable and appropriate input, effective processes and strategies, and, above all, motivation (which is not the same as ambition).
The Learner Autonomy Special Interest Group, part of the International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language, has for many years focused on issues to do with enabling each and every language learner to be as effective as possible, and discussing ways teachers, assessors and materials writers can support this.
Nigel and Jenny’s iPass website is an enthusiastic endeavour to offer the independent IELTS candidate, or IELTS candidate who is doing some independent learning as part of their institutional course, accurate and interesting support in their project.
It will be good if this blog can become a platform for discussion – or observations, thoughts, anecdotes, jokes… – about independent learning, assessment, exam preparation, and so on.
I have spent quite a bit of time over the last fifteen years or so puzzling over this kind of thing, and to open the batting I offer this link to the articles section of my own website.
There you can find an article about preparing students for IELTS, and also my columns for the Learner Autonomy newsletter for the past few years, which contain reflections, arguments and slight flights of fancy about language learning.