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'Preparing your child for IELTS from Grade 6 May Be Too Early'

When students lack a solid language foundation, preparing them for the IELTS exam can be difficult, causing frustration and a loss of motivation for self-study, according to Dr. Nguyen Chi Hieu.

At the seminar "Opening the Doors to Top University: What Are the Keys Besides SAT and IELTS?" held by The Olympia Schools on February 11th, Stanford University graduate Dr. Nguyen Chi Hieu suggested that the suitable time to prepare for IELTS and other standardized test preparation varies for each student. However, many students may face challenges and negative effects if they start preparing for IELTS too early, such as in primary school or early secondary school.


Dr. Hieu observed that at this age, students' language foundation is not yet solid. If they prepare for the exams, they mainly learn tips and test-taking strategies, rather than truly understanding and using the language. He compared this to trying to excel in Vietnamese without reading and understanding works in the mother tongue or practicing writing essays.


As the co-founder and director of IEG Global, which offers various programs in English, Math, Science, IELTS, and specialized skills, Dr. Hieu does not believe that students enjoy long-term test preparation. Therefore, starting test prep too early can lead to boredom and a loss of self-motivation.


"Except for a few students with early language talent and maturity, starting IELTS preparation from 6th grade can be too early," Dr. Hieu stated.

Dr. Hieu at the seminar "Opening the Doors to Top University: What Are the Keys Besides SAT and IELTS?"


For studying abroad, alongside academic grades and extracurricular activities, standardized test scores are important. However, according to Dr. Hieu, many parents mistakenly believe that high scores on these exams mean their children have many skills. In reality, the IELTS test does not measure all fundamental abilities of the learner. This may lead to situations in which a student with a 7.0 in IELTS Writing might not be able to write a creative essay, and an 8.0 in IELTS Reading might still struggle with a 200-page book.


"Exams never encompass a child's abilities, nor do they guarantee success in university," Dr. Hieu said, noting that many Vietnamese students admitted to top universities worldwide struggle to adapt and thrive in new environments. Citing a study from Harvard University, Dr. Hieu mentioned that students from top schools still lack soft skills like communication, teamwork, multi-dimensional thinking, and professional behavior.

"Today's schooling mainly focuses on getting students into university, without considering what happens after they get in," Dr. Hieu said, advocating for a more balanced approach to learning IELTS and SAT.


For teachers, Dr. Hieu suggests using reading materials for in-depth reading, discussions, debates, and selecting points for essay writing. In this way, students can develop language use, critical thinking, and teamwork skills.


Students should also read more books, watch videos, and use English materials, writing essays in formats different from the IELTS test. Dr. Hieu believes these activities offer more value than just test prep, learning tips, and finding keywords to choose or fill in the blanks.


"Preparing for exams is like eating a nutritious meal. Eating it a few days a week is good for the body, but not all seven days. Everything in excess is not good; it needs to be moderate and balanced," he concluded.


Source: VnExpress

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