How Texting on my Smartphone can Improve my IELTS
Reading, writing, listening, speaking, and… texting? SMS texting isn’t a skill we rate on the IELTS test, but it’s actually one of the most common ways to communicate in 2021. As the world becomes more digitized, automated, and distanced (COVID-19), we rely more and more on our phones to connect. If you want to check how your friend is doing today, you send a text. If you want to order coffee and donuts, you text your local cafe. If your boss wonders why you are late, you get a text, then pretend you missed it. And if you’re dating someone, you send a text with a ??. As you can see, we can communicate in almost every situation by messaging on our phone.
Most of us would agree with the above, but how does this relate to IELTS exam preparation? After all, IELTS rates your proficiency in the English language, not your ability to use your smartphone.
Let’s look a little closer at our phones and how texting works. Built into the computer systems of texting software are programs and algorithms. These programs assist us in communicating proficiently. To do this, texting software helps us spell correctly, gives us probable phrases to choose from, and allows us to communicate at any time and any place.
If we are strategic, using these texting tools can improve our English and improve our IELTS score. Let’s have a look at a few things you can do:
When texting on your phone, the toolbar above the chatbox usually gives you phrase options as you type. For example, when you type ‘H’…‘o’… your texting app will give you the phrasal options like “How are you?”; “How’s your day?”; and “Holland”. These options are taken from millions and millions of previous texts and are simply predicting what you want to type. Because they choose only the most common words and phrases, studying the predictive text options is a great way to learn key phrases. Be sure to play around with your texting app and explore any phrases you don’t know. The phrases on your text-prediction options are common in English, so be sure to pay attention!
If you are truly dedicated to learning English, you should try and use it in every part of your life. One easy way to immerse yourself is to switch your phone language to English. Go into the settings and find the [Change Language] option. Once your phone is set to English, you will expose yourself to lots of language in a real way every time you check your device. And if you don’t like it, just switch it back to your language!
Spell check can make us lazy but can also make us better spellers. Try turning off your spell check when you text. This will force you to remember the spellings of words. You can also make a note of words you often misspell. Open a Word file on your phone and build a list of words your need to review. Remember, on the IELTS exam, good spelling leads to high ratings.
Speech to text
If you haven’t tried this yet, speech-to-text is an excellent tool to help us produce text efficiently and fluently. It is also a great way to practice your English. Instead of using your thumb to type messages, try speaking into your phone to create text. This will force you to speak clearly, fluently and give you a written record of where your strengths and weaknesses are.
Another useful activity for this is to try and re-create a text you already have. To do this, get a magazine or something, then read it directly aloud into your phone’s speech-to-text tool. Can you re-create what is on the paper exactly as it is written?
Throughout this blog, we’ve been talking about using your phone to communicate in English. But what if everyone you communicate with doesn’t speak English? If you can, try and find some friends, peers, or classmates who also want to practice and prepare for IELTS. Tell them a few ideas you learned from this blog, and start up a friendly chat. Not only will you help each other practice, but you might make a new friend!
Upping your Professionalism
One thing you’ll often hear when people talk about texting is how informal it is. People say that our spelling, grammar, concentration, and vocabulary are weakened when we only text to communicate. This may be true, but it doesn’t have to be. Challenge yourself to use complex grammar, turn off your spell check, turn off your predictive text, and write out the words instead of just using an emoji. Text using new and advanced vocabulary you have been studying without the help of the phone apps.
Our phones are extremely powerful tools. They can help us, and they can make us lazy. The key point is to challenge yourself when using it. If it’s too easy and you are simply following the A.I. on the phone, you probably aren’t learning. If you’re struggling to figure things out and typing thoughtful, meaningful messages with the help of your phone, you’re probably improving. And don’t forget… phones are awesome, but you won’t have one during your IELTS exam!
By Tony Rusinak, IELTS Expert