Does IELTS preparation work? An application of the content-adaptive model of language program evaluation


James D H Brown

Date Published:

1st November 1999

This paper presents an evaluation of an English Language Intensive Course for Overseas Students (ELICOS) language program, conducted with application of a context-adaptive model of language program evaluation.

It reports on a casual-comparative examination of both an English for Academic Purposes (EAP) course, and an International English Language System (IELTS course), which sought to examine which of the two programs of study was the most effective in the preparation of ELICOS students for the International English Language Testing System, with particular reference to the academic writing component of the test.

This emphasis was selected due to the significance of writing skills in the academic contexts to which IELTS and EAP students seek across. The context of the study allows for an examination of the effectiveness of the context-adaptive model of language program evaluation.

An analysis of both the quantitative and qualitative data gathered within the research program is presented. The quantitative data analysis suggests that IELTS preparation programs are more successful in preparing students for the IELTS test than EAP courses. The qualitative data informs an analysis of the causes of this.

The maintenance of focused instructional emphasis on International English Language Testing System writing task completion, together with the development of skills in writing, planning, and systematic tuition in strategies for writing under examination conditions, seem to assist students of IELTS preparation programs to achieve an average gain of one IELTS band score over a 10-week course of instruction.