Use Your Smart Phone to Help with Your IELTS Exam Preparation

July 28, 2016 by Angela Rutherford

There was a time when phones were just for talking.

Today your mobile device is a camera, a recorder and a link to the online world making it very useful for learning a language.  With that in mind, here are 5 ways your phone can help you prepare for an IELTS exam. 

1. Let your phone immerse you in the language

If you want to perform well on your exam, you have to show that you can function in an English environment, so look for ways to bring the language into your life every day.

Start by setting your phone to English.  You instantly make learning a priority and will begin to gain a command of the language, this is key to band 7 or above.  See how IELTS is scored.

2. Use it to access English speakers

 There are listening and speaking components to the exam so knowing how English is spoken is important. 

Listen daily to train your ear to the rhythms and sounds of the language and improve your comprehension.

 Subscribe to podcasts you enjoy.  I recommend TED Radio for its interesting topics. As well, each show is made of a few short talks so, if time is short, ten minutes is enough to listen to one. It also includes transcripts to check understanding. Here’s a talk to get you started: 10 Ways to Have a Better Conversation.

Take samples of spoken English to help with your pronunciation.

 Record people speaking English in real situations (ask permission), or collect spoken words and expressions from podcasts or videos.  Add these to cloud-based note files for review. See #3 below.

Replay your samples imitating the phrasing and pronunciation as if you are learning a little song.

GettyImages-530017921 singing karaoke 675

Record yourself, compare and adjust for clarity.

 For a real test, speak into a voice to text app like Dragon Dictation and see if the words match what you say. Voice recognition technology requires very clear enunciation. Even English speakers can find it a challenge as this humorous video demonstrates.

Connect with English speakers and speak regularly

Use Skype on your phone to talk to language partners anywhere in the world for free.

Language exchange sites like italki  and My Language Exchange bring people together online for practice. 

You meet fluent English speakers who help you with their language while you help them with yours. Plan regular meetings and make a habit of conversing. It’s more fun doing some things with a friend.

GettyImages-78568737 two friends cell phone

3. Make use of cloud-based note taking apps to collect new words and phrases

 As you bring more English into your life, you will find words you want to study.  Unlike words from lists in textbooks, these ones will have relevance to you, so you’ll be motivated to remember and use them again.

 Save them to a cloud-based note taking platform like Evernote. You can then come back to the notebooks to study, analyze and review from any device anytime.

 Soon you will have an incredible database of meaningful vocabulary.

 4. Learn vocabulary more effectively with mobile flashcards

 It’s been proven that when you use flashcards, particularly multimedia flashcards, you retain what you learn. One outcome of building your resource of words is better exam scores.

 Luckily we live in an era where technology allows us to import different sensory cues to cards maximizing the learning experience.  There are pre-made decks available but, with a little effort, you can make your own using any information you collect about your words (meaning, pronunciation, image cues, etc.).

Angela Rutherford is an experienced English teacher and exam preparation coach who lives and works in Toronto, Canada. After a career teaching in Ontario public and international private schools, she established her own tutoring business and enjoys working exclusively with IELTS candidates who want to do their best on the exam.

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