Learning a new language can open doors in more ways than one, particularly when it comes to building a new life overseas. Not only does it offer inroads into a new culture, but the added fluency offers an opportunity to make friends and improves your job prospects. And when that language is English, the benefits are significantly greater, particularly with the UK’s new immigration rules.
“Settling into a new life overseas is more than what we think,” says Satya Priya Anand, Manager, English for Adults at the British Council in the UAE, an institute specialising in international cultural and educational opportunities. “People move into a whole new world with new languages, cultures and infrastructure.”
As the world’s lingua franca, or default connecting language, English helps people bridge gaps in all kinds of situations, whether in a business meeting or at the grocery store. “English is the language of the world,” Anand says. “Being good at English helps people make new friends, build their social circle and travel comfortably.
Being good at English helps people make new friends, build their social circle and travel comfortably. Without English, a person could be surrounded by people but still feel isolated and alone.
“Without English, a person could be surrounded by people but still feel isolated and alone.”
So it makes sense that the ability to communicate in English is a prerequisite to studying in or emigrating to countries such as the UK, the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The UK’s new points-based immigration test awards 10 points to English-language skills from 2021.
The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is one way to test that skill. It is the world’s most popular English-language test for higher education and global migration. The British Council administers the test and offers courses in the English language that are designed to improve communications skills and develop intercultural fluency.
Getting ready for IELTS
“IELTS measures the language proficiency of people who want to study or work where English is used as the language of communication,” explains Colin Hoy, Digital Co-ordinator at the British Council. As such, more than 10,000 academic, government and business organisations worldwide use it as proof of English proficiency.
“IELTS measures the language proficiency of people who want to study or work where English is used as the language of communication,”
There are two types of IELTS exams. The Academic test is for those applying for higher education or professional registration in an English-speaking environment. The General Training test is for people going to English-speaking countries for secondary education, work experience or training, and is a migration requirement for Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the UK.
Preparing for IELTS at the British Council
Besides being a well-known place to take the test, the British Council offers test-takers a wealth of support and training. “The British Council can help you succeed on your IELTS journey with a wide range of study materials and resources, from free online practice tests to face-to-face training,” Hoy says.
Free resources include online courses that explain each element of the test with advice from a video tutor and a team of experienced IELTS educators. The Council’s IELTS mobile app allows you to learn English at your own pace. There are sample tests and questions for listening, reading, writing and speaking as well as grammar and vocabulary tips and quizzes, so you can brush up on your skills at any time.
“In our face-to-face courses you’ll be taught by highly qualified English specialists who will get you acquainted with the test format and improve your skills when writing, speaking, reading and listening in English,” Hoy adds.
Attending English classes at the British Council can help with cultural acclimatisation, adds teacher Liza Simon. “Our lessons highlight special days and practices around the world, and along with our events and social activities, heighten awareness of cultures, customs and etiquette. This will stand our students in good stead as they settle into a new country, as tolerance and understanding are key while integrating into a new culture.”
What’s it like learning English as an adult at the British Council?
Returning to the classroom environment can be a daunting idea for many, so the British Council focuses on creating a pleasant, fun experience for its adult students with a range of different methods and resources.
Our lessons are enjoyable, communicative and relevant to student needs. We ensure learners receive individual attention and our teaching methods take into consideration different learning styles to maximise learning.
“Our lessons are enjoyable, communicative and relevant to student needs,” says Liza Simon, teacher at the British Council (pictured). “We ensure learners receive individual attention and our teaching methods take into consideration different learning styles to maximise learning.”
The student mix typically includes young people aspiring to get into university, professionals wanting to further their career, housewives eager to support their children in their studies, or those dreaming of moving to a new country.
“The aim of each lesson is to encourage the production of language so that students leave each lesson with a sense of achievement,” Simon adds. “Using familiar contexts and providing authentic tasks means that even beginners can venture out and start using English in real-life situations.”
I had appeared for my IELTS (General) test in mid 2018 but the scores were not satisfactory. Having learnt about the IELTS Coach programme offered by the British Council, I decided to register myself and reap the benefits. The result showed it all.
I highly recommend this course specifically conducted by the British Council for all those who strive to succeed and make a difference in the career of their choice.
Under the guidance of Salma Rahmed, Teacher of English at the British Council, the course taught me the key strategies, which I feel are of utmost importance, apart from regularly practising the tests. I highly recommend this course specifically conducted by the British Council for all those who strive to succeed and make a difference in the career of their choice.
The IELTS Intensive course at the British Council in Sharjah definitely had a huge impact on my final scores. I achieved a band 8 in my IELTS exam, solely because of my dedicated tutor who carefully and steadily guided me through the journey of preparation.
The IELTS Intensive course at the British Council in Sharjah definitely had a huge impact on my final scores. I achieved a band 8 in my IELTS exam, solely because of my dedicated tutor who carefully and steadily guided me through the journey of preparation. I would recommend this course to anyone who wishes to get a higher score, while needing a hand in understanding how IELTS actually works.