IELTS & the Dilemma of Using Arabic as a Medium of Instruction

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In Egypt, where English is not the primary language of instruction, many aspiring students find it challenging to prepare for the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam. In response, some institutions have resorted to teaching IELTS using the students’ native language or L1 as a medium of instruction.

However, this practice may not be the best approach to prepare students for the IELTS exam. While some may argue that using L1 may help students understand the material better, it may hinder their progress by creating an over-dependence on their native language.

One of the main disadvantages of teaching IELTS using L1 is that it may not accurately simulate the actual exam conditions. While the IELTS exam is administered in English, teaching using L1 can create a false sense of confidence for students, leading them to believe they are better prepared than they actually are.

Moreover, using L1 as a language of instruction may not develop the necessary language skills needed to succeed in the IELTS exam. The exam measures the students’ proficiency in English across all language domains: speaking, listening, reading, and writing. Teaching students using L1 as a medium of instruction can impede their linguistic development in their weaker language domains, hindering their overall ability to succeed in the exam.

In addition, using L1 as a medium of instruction may also create a significant barrier in terms of students’ ability to immerse themselves in the language. One key component of learning a language, particularly English, is immersion. When students are taught using L1, they are not fully immersed in the language, leading to slower development of necessary language skills and vocabulary.

Moreover, teaching IELTS using L1 may not foster the necessary critical thinking skills needed to succeed in the exam, which requires a deep understanding of the English language in a diverse range of contexts and situations.

Lastly, in terms of preparation time and the cost of undergoing IELTS training, it is essential to note that many students and their parents are willing to pay large sums of money to enroll in institutions that offer IELTS training using L1, in the hope of achieving better scores and gaining an advantage over their peers. However, this approach may not guarantee a satisfactory outcome nor is it cost-effective for many students.

In conclusion, while the practice of teaching IELTS using L1 as a medium of instruction may seem advantageous initially, it is not an effective approach to helping students achieve their desired scores in the exam. Institutions and educators should encourage students to fully immerse themselves in the English language necessary to succeed in the exam and develop their critical thinking abilities. By doing so, students will gain a more significant advantage in their overall English language proficiency and their ability to succeed in the IELTS exam.

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