One of the key educational goals for students in Hong Kong is to ensure that they prepare for IELTS and attain the highest possible level. This accomplishment ensures that they gain access to the very best universities worldwide. 

But is it enough just to teach students to pass an English exam? 

Would a more holistic training in English set students up better for a life in English once they’ve passed the exam and start college abroad? 

In this article, we talk about the key benefits of studying for IELTS in a holistic way and then we talk about a boutique English language school in Hong Kong that can help to support the learning of English in a holistic way.

The main benefits of learning IELTS in a holistic way:

  • Improved academic achievement in the IELTS exam
  • Increased problem-solving ability
  • Greater emotional and mental wellbeing

Best English language school in Hong Kong:

In this article, we introduce Cascade Train Teach Learn. Founded by Vannessa Misso-Veness, who has more than two decades of teaching English to both kids and adults.

Cascade Train Teach Learn is an expert at preparing students for the IELTS exam. They are passionate about teaching kids in a comprehensive holistic way and they offer online classes as well as in-person learning. Both one-on-one and group lessons are available. 

Vannessa is a qualified teacher and teacher trainer and works with both kids and adults. She is known for being very warm but firm which means she is able to get the best out of her students.

What is IELTS and its purpose?

Of course, the IELTS (Source: site sums this up beautifully. 

The International English Language Test (IELTS) is designed to help you work, study or migrate to a country where English is the native language. This includes countries such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK, and the USA. Your ability to listen, read, write and speak in English will be assessed during the test.

Why take the IELTS exam?

If a student is looking to work, live or study in another country, being able to demonstrate a high level of English competence is an absolute must. 

English is a widely spoken language and is spoken by approximately 379 million people across the globe. It is the third most spoken language in the world. 

Whether a student wants to gain access to an Ivy League university in the US, Russell Group universities in the UK, or wants to work in an English-speaking country, high English language proficiency will help them reach these goals.

Language skill level scores for the IELTS 

Band score Skill level Description
9 Expert user The test taker has fully operational command of the language. Their use of English is appropriate, accurate and fluent, and shows complete understanding.
8 Very good user The test taker has fully operational command of the language with only occasional unsystematic inaccuracies and inappropriate usage. They may misunderstand some things in unfamiliar situations. They handle complex and detailed argumentation well.
7 Good user The test taker has operational command of the language, though with occasional inaccuracies, inappropriate usage and misunderstandings in some situations. They generally handle complex language well and understand detailed reasoning.
6 Competent user The test taker has an effective command of the language despite some inaccuracies, inappropriate usage and misunderstandings. They can use and understand fairly complex language, particularly in familiar situations.
5 Modest user The test taker has a partial command of the language and copes with overall meaning in most situations, although they are likely to make many mistakes. They should be able to handle basic communication in their own field.
4 Limited user The test taker’s basic competence is limited to familiar situations. They frequently show problems in understanding and expression. They are not able to use complex language.
3 Extremely limited user The test taker conveys and understands only general meaning in very familiar situations. There are frequent breakdowns in communication.
2 Intermittent user The test taker has great difficulty understanding spoken and written English.
1 Non-user The test taker has no ability to use the language except a few isolated words.
O Did not attempt the test The test taker did not answer the questions.


Preparing for the IELTS at home – a holistic approach

What is a holistic approach to learning and why is it important?

Vannessa Misso-Veness, the Founder of Cascade Train Teach Learn believes that IELTS preparation should prepare students to accomplish their goal of entry to their university or job of choice. 

Fundamental to this success is their holistic approach. Holistic education is a comprehensive way of learning. It addresses the emotional, social, ethical, and academic needs of students in an integrated learning format. This happens alongside studying for the exam. 

Benefits of Holistic Education 

If you want to prepare for IELTS, hiring a tutor can help you improve faster.

Improved Academic Achievement in the IELTS 

A holistic approach towards preparing online for the IELTS involves creating a bespoke curriculum and a safe environment for the student. In this space, students can take risks with their learning. Learning is tailored specifically for their level of competence. It is regularly adjusted thanks to regular teacher assessments and feedback. 

According to the Learning Policy Institute in the USA, students’ brain capacities increase when they are physically and emotionally safe. Brain capacity also improves when they feel connected to their tutor. 

Step 1 in the process at Cascade Train Teach Learn is to listen to the student’s needs. From there, Cascade Train Teach Learn creates a unique curriculum for the students involved. This is a flexible process, and as the student’s needs evolve, the curriculum evolves to meet those needs and ensure success. Cascade Train Teach Learn involves the whole family in the process, too.

Increased Problem Solving Ability

Central to the Cascade Train Teach Learn’s holistic approach is to task students with real-world problems that they will use English to solve. This approach helps students not only build resilience for their exams but helps develop strong critical-thinking skills. Hands-on projects that interest the student give them skills to apply in their university and adult careers. 

Another phrase for this type of approach is “meaningful learning”. The student will build meaningful connections in their knowledge of the English language and, as a result, will understand the language in a more in-depth way. 

Greater Emotional and Mental Wellbeing

Modern life and the process of striving to accomplish goals can be stressful. The Cascade Train Teach Learn holistic approach of teaching IELTS gives students a supportive environment where they develop self-awareness and high self-confidence. Both these elements are crucial to achieving highly in their future path.

Students taught by Cascade Train Teach Learn are encouraged to be actively involved in:

  • reflecting on their progress
  • goal-setting for the exam.  

As experts, Cascade Train Teach Learn guides and explains to the students all the necessary steps needed to do well in an IELTS exam. Meaning that when the student takes the exam, they know what to expect, find the assessment easier, and achieve highly.

Why not do rote learning as a way to prepare for the IELTS? 

Rote learning is the memorization of information based on repetition (as defined by

Some preparation programs for IELTS consider rote learning to be a great way of memorizing what the student needs to know and focus solely on this approach. 

Rote learning does have its place. It’s excellent for helping students recall basic facts. Rote learning can also help when learning English vocabulary. However, rote learning should be only part of the process. 

At Cascade Train Teach Learn, their holistic language learning approach blends rote learning with meaningful learning. In this way, their students learn to become independent, proactive lifelong learners. 

Disadvantages of rote learning for IELTS preparation. 

Rote learning is learning facts in isolation. So while the student will pass the IELTS, this approach doesn’t guarantee they will understand the English they are producing. 

As a teaching method, rote learning doesn’t teach connections between different concepts or encourage a more profound understanding of a topic. 

Meaningful learning helps the student make connections in their English language learning. They become an independent learner and achieve a much higher level of fluency.

When faced with the IELTS exam, students will have retained more facts and a deeper conceptual understanding of the language as a whole. 

FAQs prepare for the IELTS.

How can I prepare for IELTS at home?

Online tuition is a great way to prepare for IELTS at home. Cascade Train Teach Learn is a boutique education center in Hong Kong with highly experienced and qualified teachers offering online tuition. This means you can prepare for the IELTS at home easily. Find out more about how to prepare for IELTS at home

How much time does it take to prepare for IELTS?

There is no magic number, it depends on student competency from the start. Using CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference), an IELTS score of 6.5 is borderline B2/C1.

So if the student starts out at a competency level of A2 or B1 and hopes to achieve a 7, that would require dedication, commitment, and about 120 hours of lessons for the four skills to move to a B2 IELTS ready mode.

Essentially, progressing from one CEFR level, for example, A1 to A2 requires about 120 hours of lessons. This goes hand-in-hand with student commitment to the program, involvement in lessons, and dedication to their assigned tasks.

Is IELTS difficult?

When you prepare for the IELTS thoroughly, it is no more difficult than any other exam. The questions are straightforward and they are not designed to trick you. They simply gauge your level of English language skills/abilities in reading, writing, speaking, and listening. 

The key is preparation. If you are prepared, know what to expect on the day itself, and understand the requirements of the different skill sections of the exam, you will have conquered one big step.

Are their online IELTS classes in Hong Kong?

We like Cascade Train Teach Learn; it’s an English language school in Hong Kong that focuses on providing teaching that will not only set you for success with the IELTS test but will also allow you to thrive in an English-speaking country.

What is IELTS?

International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is one of the most popular English language proficiency tests. It’s normally taken by students who want to study at universities in English-speaking countries. It is also taken by people wanting to migrate to an English-speaking country.

What is a good IELTS score?

A score of 7 in the IELTS exam is generally considered to be a good score. This result would be good enough to study at many universities in the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, and New Zealand.

What organizations accept the IELTS test?

According to the British Council, the IELTS test is accepted by more than 11,000 organizations globally. These include universities, government agencies, immigration departments, professional bodies, and multinational companies.

Why are there two types of IELTS tests?

The IELTS Academic test is for those applying for higher education or professional registration in an English-speaking environment. The test is a reflection of some of the features of academic language. It also assesses whether you are ready to begin studying or training.

The IELTS General Training test is for people who are going to English-speaking countries for secondary education, work experience, or training programs. It is a migration requirement for Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the UK. The test focuses on basic survival skills in broad social and workplace contexts. Though Listening and Speaking are the same for both tests, the subject matter of the Reading and Writing sections differs depending on which test you take.

How much does an IELTS test cost?

IELTS has a set fee for its test. The Academic and General Training tests are the same cost. When you apply online, you will be told the fee.

Does Cascade Teach Train Learn offer private sessions or groups?

Cascade Teach Train Learn offers both private classes and group classes. Private sessions are usually done face-to-face which we find to be more effective. However, should you prefer an online session, they can arrange that too. The cost for both remains the same.
As for group sessions, since they do not actively advertise for small group lessons, you could form your own. Grab a friend or two to form a small group. Should you prefer online sessions for the small group session, they can arrange for this, too.

Does Cascade Teach Train Learn have a fixed location or can you come to my house?

Cascade Teach Train Learn does not do home visits for IELTS exam preparation. They can consider conducting sessions in your office if it is conducive to learning. Normally, they have a venue in Central in which they use for private or group lessons.

Can I book a trial lesson at Cascade Teach Train Learn?

Yes, they are more than happy to have a trial lesson but these are paid lessons. Private or group fees apply for these trial lessons.


In Conclusion

There is no doubt that if a student prepares for the IELTS successfully, it should help them to achieve a great result in the IELTS exam. But just as important as scoring well in the IELTS exam is being well prepared to converse and live in a predominately English-speaking country. 

By learning English in a holistic manner, students can achieve much more than just a great IELTS result but they should also be able to achieve: 

  • fluency with understanding
  • deep understanding of English and confidence in how to communicate
  • use these skills to be successful throughout their entire life 

This is the ultimate goal.

To find out more, check out Cascade Teach Train Learn’s tailored program.