By Grace Brennan

22 February 2024 - 09:50

a group of young students in class

In this article we explore the benefits of face-to-face learning in IELTS preparation.

Despite being in the digital age where many tools and platforms offer remote language learning opportunities, face-to-face learning is one of the most effective ways to build proficiency.

There are many benefits of face-to-face learning that facilitate deeper and longer-lasting language learning. Direct interaction often promotes in-context learning and allows you to see body language and cultural nuances that come with comprehensive language acquisition. It also provides a space for immediate feedback, so you can quickly identify and correct mistakes, build greater confidence, and advance faster.

Here’s why face-to-face learning is a good preparation method for IELTS, and how it can be used in tandem with modern solutions.

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What are the benefits of face-to-face learning for exam preparation?

A language is more than grammar and vocabulary – it’s a form of communication that enables people to navigate their lives and work. For people learning English, doing so face-to-face creates a rich and immersive experience where you can connect to the language and its real-life application. 

In fact, one study found that the majority of a group of English learners preferred face-to-face learning compared to virtual classes after the Covid pandemic. This is in part because in-person classes include gestures, vocal emphasis, and other subtle but important components of the English language that you can observe and practise in preparation for taking IELTS. 

1. Real conversation practice

Face-to-face interactions give you authentic dialogues in English. Your tutors will use informal terminology, pausing, interrupting, and having other reactions in real time. You can mirror their authentic communication and develop stronger English fluency as a result. 

There are digital tools that can carry out linear conversations in English, but they can’t yet mimic the multifaceted reality of conversing in English. Face-to-face learning has the spontaneity that fuels your progress and prepares you to converse with fluency and confidence in IELTS Speaking. 

The IELTS Speaking test involves conversing with an Examiner who will ask you a number of questions and will want you to give detailed, fluid responses in English. By practising face-to-face with a tutor beforehand, the test won’t seem as intimidating, and you’ll be able to talk at a pace and with vocabulary that you know is natural sounding. 

2. Customised learning

Instructors in a face-to-face setting have the advantage of seeing how you perform in English. They can detect what your strengths are, what areas need improvement, and small errors such as mispronunciation. Such attention to detail means tutors can tailor classes to your needs and interests, ensuring that you maintain momentum during your learning journey. 

Customised learning pathways have repeatedly proven to positively influence learners’ learning autonomy, confidence, and proficiency in English. While smart resources can be personalised according to users, you won’t experience the same emotional intelligence, awareness and support that a human tutor can offer you through face-to-face learning. 

3. Immediate feedback

Fast feedback loops matter in language learning. The shorter the time between you speaking and receiving constructive advice, the more likely you are to integrate that advice and refine your speaking abilities. Face-to-face learning lets instructors deliver feedback in action, so you can improve your errors in real time and speak more accurate English. This type of immediate, constructive feedback also has the benefit of boosting your motivation and sense of accomplishment when learning English. 

4. Enhanced accountability

Accountability when learning English is what keeps you on track and concerned with your progress. When you know that you’re working towards an exam, accountability helps you stay focused and in control of your IELTS preparation. The regular structure, assignments, and assessments that you’ll experience in face-to-face classes will foster a sense of discipline in your exam preparation. Your instructors will have clear expectations and objectives of you, so you’ll know exactly what you are working towards.

Likewise, the social dynamics of face-to-face learning can boost your accountability because you’ll be participating in peer interactions and collaboration. Group work and collective projects can establish mutual accountability, where you encourage one another to stay focused and learn together as you prepare to take IELTS. 

5. Social and emotional growth

The physical presence of a tutor and/or peers allows you to connect more profoundly with the people that are influencing your learning, which can boost your confidence about communicating in English. Often, people feel very shy and nervous when it comes to the IELTS Speaking test, but face-to-face learning gives you lots of practice in speaking and can help you to overcome your shyness and self-doubt. 

This social and emotional growth from face-to-face learning is particularly key if you’re taking IELTS for business purposes or to study abroad. Face-to-face learning nurtures your communication and interpersonal skills and sets you up to be ready to speak in English in different communities. 

Face-to-face learning and e-learning

In the question of face-to-face vs online learning, both sides have their advantages. Perhaps the most impactful solution is to combine the two. Face-to-face learning drives active engagement and offers personalised guidance, while e-learning is more flexible and accessible. Together, the language learning strategies accommodate diverse learning styles, empowering more people, in more parts of the world, to improve their English and excel in IELTS.

Face-to-face learning advantages play a core role in supporting exams like IELTS. By role playing, taking part in activities, and recognising how native English speakers act in person, you’ll display better fluency and understanding of the language in your test. 

Along the way, embrace e-learning tools that can amplify your learning.

Start now. Prepare for IELTS with IELTS Ready and our free IELTS preparation webinars.

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