IELTS: Prepare for life in Canada beyond the test

IELTS General Training is the test you can take to support your application for immigration to Canada, whether you wish to apply under Express Entry, the Provincial Nominee Program, or Canada’s many other economic class immigration pathways.

When your English test ends, the real test of your English begins.

Life in Canada will constantly challenge and develop your English skills, from the chats you have at work, to the headlines you read on the way home, to the information you need to read or provide in everyday life.

IELTS General Training prepares you for those challenges—because it’s one test that’s designed with them in mind.

The test

Just as the IELTS Academic test focuses on the academic language students need to thrive in higher education, IELTS General Training specialises in the language and formats that occur most frequently in everyday life. c

IELTS General Training focuses on everyday scenarios, situations and topics to ‘keep it real’.

Understand the difference between IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training

Listening

Understanding what’s being said to us is crucial to fitting in to any new environment. These aren’t usually controlled test environments—no, they belong to a less predictable world of rushed bus drivers and impatient shopkeepers, or new bosses and fast-talking newsreaders.

So, the Listening section of IELTS General Training asks test takers to understand, and respond to, conversations and monologues. These extracts are in a range of accents, and across a range of social contexts, to better replicate real life.

Reading

We all read every day, whether it’s for fun, for information or for work. Reading is a very ‘safe’ way to absorb information without being rushed or forced to respond, and without that information being coloured by accents. The better we are at it, the easier it gets.

But reading isn’t just one skill: it’s several. When we read, we’re usually either skim-reading, mentally summarising the information, digging for details, or trying to grasp an author’s viewpoint. The IELTS General Training Reading test probes all these skills across the kind of formats you encounter in daily life: books, magazines, newspapers, notice, adverts, company handbooks and guidelines. By engaging with these sorts of texts, you can get ready for reading in the real world.

Writing   

Often, life in Canada demands that you express yourself in writing. You might need to apologise for missing a party, complain about a bad experience, or give someone advice. Perhaps you’ll need to write a cover letter for a new job. Whenever you do write, it’s important to get the tone and structure right—you’re more likely to get the reaction you’re looking for.

These are precisely the kind of situations that IELTS General Training presents you with in Task 1 of the Writing test. Task 2, meanwhile, gets you to understand how to argue in writing—including all the forms and conventions of getting your point across on issues like school, mobile phone usage, and how to create a fairer society. In a progressive country like Canada, you’re never too far away from a debate on these matters, so it’s a great skill to master.

Speaking

Perhaps the skill you’ll use most often in Canada is your speaking. Communities in Canada tend to be welcoming and friendly, so speaking is probably the skill you’ll require the most. What’s more, talking fluently and accurately is vital to the speed at which people integrate into any new society, forming the foundations of mutual understanding and respect.

The IELTS Speaking test is almost legendary for its face-to-face element, which has long been respected around the world as a true test of conversational ability. Just preparing for this human interaction develops a clearer, more natural speaking style that is proven to help people adapt better into English-speaking environments.

Accepted around the world

Immigration authorities are particular about which tests they accept as proof of English proficiency, because they recognise the importance of language to integration. They also recognise that not all tests are created equal: some are more thorough than others, some more accurately marked, and some more geared to the kind of real-world situations they expect you to face.

All of which means that there’s only one test accepted by every immigration authority that asks for one, including Canada, Australia, New Zealand and United Kingdom. That test is IELTS General Training.

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