Teacher Toolbox

Teacher Toolbox

How to teach IELTS speaking in 2 weeks

Level: Upper Intermediate to Advanced

Purpose: This activity can help students to be able to communicate better and, especially, prepare for IELTS speaking test in two weeks (for a 60-minute class). Any teacher may benefit from using these activities to prepare their students ready for IELTS.

Preparation and Materials

Use a computer with internet connection to watch videos, and a printer to printout materials


There is no shortcut to build and develop this coveted skill of speaking for IELTS exam; that is to say, a teacher may decide to go slowly in scaffolding these skills in a student, otherwise. However, the following procedure works quite well for students running out of time.

  1. Spread the lesson over two weeks using the first week for instruction and some practice, and the second week for mostly practice.
  2. Teach each part of IELTS speaking test separately starting with the first part.
  3. Give homework to prepare sample answers after each days of activity.
  4. Teach and practice the first part of the test using the technique described below. Give lessons on the second and the third part for one day each.
  5. On the first day of the week, describe IELTS speaking test in details, and create a quiz on specifics of the test as assessment
  6. The following day, describe the rubric, and watch the first part of the speaking test model videos from IELTSx IELTS for Academic Entry. Let the students assess the interviews using the rubric. Work in group to sort out good interviews from bad ones and how they relate to the rubric. Afterwards, students will individually assess a few more videos.
  7. The next day, watch EngVid videos on Clause, Adverb, Transition, and Conjunction. Teach how to elaborate and beautify a sentence those parts of speech; later, practice in group and individually.
  8. On the fourth day, discuss parallel structure and sentence formation using OWL English Purdue, especially how to convert a simple sentence into a complex or complex-compound sentence. Then first in group, and, later, individually practice speech formation in complex sentences.
  9. On the last day of the first week, focus on word stress and intonation using English by Jade and “Intonation” article by British Council. Practice in group and, then, alone.
  10. Focus on the second part of IELTS test on the first day of the next week. Watch model interviews from IELTSx IELTS for Academic Entry, and teach and practice how to elaborate answers and use synonyms (or synonymous expressions).
  11. On the second day, practice the third part (monologue) of the interview; first, by watching sample interviews; then, practising in groups and, later, individual.
  12. Use the following three days for assessment on each part of the speaking test. By the end of the second week, the learners will be ready and confident for test taking.


These steps can be used for Cambridge Exams and TOEFL, as well. On a general note, if an Upper-intermediate student wants to improve on impromptu speech, the above procedure is a great guideline. However, for a pre-intermediate student, these activities will take much longer and will need more assessments.

Physician’s Referral Letter

Level: Upper-Intermediate to Advanced
Purpose: Tasks and activities included in this teaching tip can help students to comprehend and write a doctor’s referral letter in one sitting – timed at 1hour 45minutes. They can also help students to analyse and deconstruct a sample correspondence from a top-down perspective, and assist to compose a letter and reconstruct those ideas from a bottom-up approach.

Preparation and Materials: A few sample case notes, sample letters of referral, medical abbreviation list, Google form worksheet, a projector, collaborative writing tools (EtherPad, Google Doc).

Reference Websites:

  1. Writing Tip: http://www.gponline.com/write-gp-referral-letters/article/655978
  2. Sample Letters:
    1. https://www.letterspro.com/letters/to-doctors-nurses-hospitals/10894-referring-a-patient-to-another-doctor-sample-letter
    2. https://www.blood.gov.au/system/files/documents/fit-for-surgery-referral-letter-example.pdf
    3. https://undiagnosed.hms.harvard.edu/wp-content/uploads/ReferralLetterExamples.pdf
    4. http://www.bridgesaz.com/downloads/forms-referral-letter.pdf

Procedure: (1 hour 45 minutes)

  • Medical Students read a case note and perform roleplays as doctor and patient. (20 minutes)
  • Complete a referral letter cloze exercise referring from that case note. Alternatively, a teacher can display the exercise over a projector and elicit answers. (10 minutes)
  • Self-study few sample correspondences and deconstruct them from a top-down approach to determine organisation, structure, cohesion, and paragraphing etc. (20 minutes)
  • Then, discuss in groups about do’s and don’ts of a letter of referral by inferring from samples. (15 minutes)
  • In group, students collaboratively write various parts referral letter using Google Doc and upon completion, the student acting as chief-editor edits and compiles individual parts together. (30 minutes)

Variations: If the class is for an hour, flipped classroom model can utilised. First, step 3 and 4 can be done at home and then, discussed during objective discussions. For less advanced learners, step 3 and 4 can be omitted altogether, and they can collaboratively write a letter of reference while using the filled-in cloze exercise as a model.