IELTS reading and some techniques to improve IELTS reading skills for students

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is recognized as an accountable tool to assess whether a

person is able to study or train in English. Every year, thousands

of students sit for IELTS. However, the number of those who are

recognized to be capable enough to take a course in English is

somehow limited, especially for those who are not major in

English at their universities.

IELTS Reading is considered as a discerning skill and it is of the

equal importance to listening, speaking and writing in obtaining

the objectives of IELTS of band 6 or 6.5. Being teachers of English

at a training institution, the authors recognize that students can

make time-saving improvements in their reading command under

their teachers’ insightful guidance.

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*Expand vocabulary. For IELTS readings are 
for academic purposes. There is a requirement for a 
good command of words, expressions and phrases 
(Brown, 1994). Students are advised to enrich their 
academic vocabulary as much as possible.
4. Some implications to enable students to 
acquire IELTS high score
Most researches on reading now focus on the 
effective reading strategies that increase students’ 
It is essential for teachers of reading classes to 
recognize the learning objectives for their students 
who are supposed to have capacity to read a variety 
of reading texts in English about various subjects. 
At the same time, reading class is to build a 
linguistic knowledge to facilitate reading command 
as well as schematic knowledge (Abraham, 2002). 
Furthermore, teachers are advised to equip their 
students with ability to adopt adequate reading style 
for different purpose and develop their awareness of 
the structure of any reading passages
*Teachers should teach anything important 
before their students see the reading passages
This is the pre- reading stage in any reading 
class. This stage set orientation, motivation and 
choice of reading strategies for students to cope 
with upcoming reading passage. In this stage, 
teachers are assumed to provide their students with 
vocabularies, active background knowledge and 
some reading skills (Hammer, 1992).
*Teachers should use analogies conduct 
skimming and scanning
Normally, this is advised in the while – 
reading stage which aims at developing students’ 
competence in comprehending a written passage 
with both linguistic and schematic knowledge 
(Abott et al, 1990). Students may have some 
obstacles in recognize the difference between these 
two reading strategies and teachers are suggested 
not to teacher them together 
*Before skimming, teachers should use flash-
reading and predicting 
Prior to skimming, Flash-reading is advised 
to use . This involves trying to get as much 
information as possible from a text in a very short 
time (Anthony & Richards, 1980). The major goals 
of flash-reading are to predict the topic by looking 
at titles, subtitles and headings, and to work out the 
thesis statement. Then, when the students read the 
passage again, they would identify the topic after 3 
-5 minutes skimming the passage and confirm their 
pre- assumption. 
*Checking questions should be asked after 
This is the job of the teacher to give their 
students questions for those the answers can be 
produced simply and that generate the specialist 
background knowledge in the reading passages. 
These questions are to force students to read the 
whole reading passage again (Carrell et al, 1989).
*Teachers should ask their students to do 
summarizing in pairs
Students are asked to spend about 2 – 3 minutes 
summarizing the text with a partner without looking 
at the reading passage. This activity is considered 
as a good way to see if students have picked up the 
main ideas in the reading text.
*Paraphrasing techniques should be 
demonstrated from the questions
Reading classes are to give students 
opportunities to practise some skills whereas, in test 
101Volume 8, Issue 2
situations, students are supposed to be countable on 
their existing competence and familiar strategies. 
Teachers, therefore, are advised to introduce new 
techniques and get their students masters them 
through exercises and questions. Teachers then 
should demonstrate some paraphrasing techniques 
with the first question as an example, and then get 
students to practice the remaining questions by 
them selves or with a partner.
*Students should practise guessing unknown 
Unfamiliar words is always an obstacle for 
every reader. Students, therefore, should practice 
guessing unknown words when learning reading. 
Teachers are advised not to give definitions of the 
words straight away but try to demonstrate the 
contextual clues. In IELTS reading, unfamiliar word 
are often technical terms and students can find a 
clear definition of the word in the passages. In other 
context, logical connectives, parallel expressions 
and collocating words can also provide enough 
clues to work out the meaning of an unknown word.
*Teachers should set their students realistic 
It is certainly quite infeasible to set a goal 
that students get 40 correct answers. To achieve 
27 correct answer should require adequate time 
management skills. Notice should be given that 30 
out of 40, equivalent to IELTS 7.0 in the Academic 
score is a very good one and students should 
concentrate on the 27 easiest question rather than 
the 13 most difficult ones.
*There should be a separation between 
academic vocabulary and technical vocabulary
It is certain that, when reading, students come 
across many unknown words because reading texts 
in IELTS are rather academic. And it is the teacher’s 
role to enable students to identify the right words to 
learn. There are 3 groups of vocabulary: 
- Mainstream vocabulary. There is an 
estimation of 2000 – 3000 words in English and 
these are considered as everyday language and most 
of them are known to the students
- Formal vocabulary. This group consists 
of around 1000 word families in which, many 
adjectives and verbs are included. These words 
are not commonly used in daily communication but 
many of them are again known to students. 
- Specialized vocabulary. This accounts for 
the largest proportion in IELTS Reading. They, 
however, are always defined in the reading passage.
Students should be helped to identify the 
difference between the two last groups of vocabulary 
and put priority to acquire academic vocabulary. 
*Students should be encouraged to do task-
based reading outside class
Students are advised to practice what they have 
learnt in reading class because reading requires a 
corporation of reading skills, linguistic competence 
and adequate reading strategies. This can only be 
obtained through a lot of practice.
Below are examples of task – based reading:
- identify the topic sentence
- identify academic words and technical words 
in the reading passage
- identify pronouns with the nouns
- find the writer’s argument and do some writing 
to respond
- find names of people with their opinion or idea 
and paraphrase it
4. Conclusion
 The number of people wishing to study overseas 
or to take a course offered in English is increasing 
and the International English Language Testing 
System (IELTS) is popular as these people have 
to sit for this test to assess if their English is good 
enough to enroll such courses. In this paper, the 
authors look into reading skill to the extent of IELTS 
reading description, reading skill requirements and 
then give some suggestions for teachers to perform 
well in reading class in order to enable their students 
to get the highest possible score in the test.
Đinh Thị Bắc Bìnha
Đinh Thị Kiều Trinhb
Học viện Ngân hàng
a Email:
b Email:
Ngày nhận bài: 5/5/2019
Ngày phản biện: 15/5/2019
Ngày tác giả sửa: 27/5/2019
Ngày duyệt đăng: 10/6/2019
Ngày phát hành: 21/6/2019
Tóm tắt: Hệ thống kiểm tra tiếng Anh quốc tế (IELTS) được 
công nhận là một công cụ để đánh giá liệu một người có thể học 
hoặc đào tạo bằng tiếng Anh hay không. Mỗi năm, hàng ngàn sinh 
viên tham gia kỳ thi IELTS. Tuy nhiên, số lượng những người 
được công nhận đủ khả năng tham gia một khóa học bằng tiếng 
Anh còn nhiều hạn chế, đặc biệt là đối với những sinh viên không 
theo học chuyên ngành tiếng Anh tại các trường đại học.
Kỹ năng Đọc IELTS được coi là một kỹ năng khó và có tầm 
quan trọng tương đương với các kỹ năng nghe, nói và viết trong 
việc đạt được các mục tiêu của IELTS tại mức 6 hoặc 6.5. Là giáo 
viên dạy tiếng Anh tại một cơ sở đào tạo, các tác giả nhận ra rằng 
sinh viên có thể cải thiện kỹ năng đọc của mình dưới sự hướng dẫn 
chi tiết của giáo viên.
Từ khoá: Kỹ năng đọc IELTS; Kỹ năng đọc lướt; Kỹ năng đọc 
quét; Nội dung học thuật.
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The Teaching of English as an International 
Language. Collins E.L.T.
Anthory, E.M. & Richards, J.C. (1980). Reading, 
Insights & Approaches. R.E.L.C..
Brown, H. D. (1994). Teaching by Principles. 
Prentice Hall.
Grelette, F. (1990). Developing Reading Skills. 
Cambridge University Press
Hammer, J. (1992). The Practice of English 
Language Teaching. Longman.
Abraham, Paul. (2002).TT Skilled Reading: 
Top-down, bottom-up. Field Notes, 10(2); 
Retrieved on Nov 1, 2004 from resources/ fieldnotes/vol10/fn102.
Carrell , Patricia L., Pharis, B. G., & Liberto, 
J. C. (1989). Metacognitive strategy training 
for ESL reading. TESOL Quarterly, 23(4), 
Drucker, Mary J (2003). What reading teachers 
should know about ESL learners. The Reading 
Teacher. Vol 57 (1): p.22-29; retrieved on Nov 
6, 2004 from 
Gabb, Sally. (2000). From talk to print: 
Preparing students to read with ease. Field 
Notes, 10(2); Retrieved on Nov 1, 2004 from 
Grabe, William. (1991). Current developments 
in second language reading research. TESOL 
Quarterly. 25 (3): 375-406. 
Hafiz, F. M. & Tudor, Ian. (1989). “Extensive 
reading and the development of language 
skills.” ELT Journal, 43(1): 4-13. 
Haller, Lee. (2000). Modeling class activities 
for low-level literacy learners.” Field Notes 
(formerly Bright Ideas), 10 (2); Fall 2000. 
Retrieved on Nov 1, 2004 from resources/fieldnotes/vol10/fn102.pdf

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