Quick Ways For Thai Students To Improve their IELTS Band Score

Every language has its own characteristics, unfortunately when someone tries to learn another language they often transfer the characteristics of their own native language to the new language. As a native English speaker

For Thai students this can cause several common problems. However, the good news is that with a bit of knowledge they can be permanently overcome.

Here are some of the main problems that I have personally found Thai students to have when learning English, and a few ways to overcome them which could all lead to a higher IELTS score.

Issue 1: The Thai language does not contain articles comparable to ‘a’, ‘an’ and ‘the’. This means that they are often missed out when speaking or writing.

Solution: Be aware of this and start to pay more attention to ‘a’, ‘an’ and ‘the’ when listening to or reading English. Look through the rules for using them here and try the exercises here. Pick out a news article you are interested in and highlight all of the articles then try and explain why they are there to another student or a native speaker if possible.

Issue 2: The Thai language does not have the same tense system, it has just three tenses for past present and future. The English language has 12 different tenses which can be very difficult to understand and master.

Solution: Make sure you are familiar with at least present simple and continuous, past simple and present perfect simple, and future tense with ‘will’ and going to’. There are really good explanation for each of these with exercises here.

In the Speaking exam listen to what tense the question is asked in and reply in the same tense. This is an easy to make sure you are using the correct tense. For example, the examiner might ask: “What did you do on your last holiday?” Immediately you can see from the word ‘did’ that they are asking about the past tense which should remind you to change your verbs to past tense when speaking.

You do not need to use lots of different tense to score highly in the IELTS test. You just need to be able to use the basic tenses accurately.

Issue 3: Thai is a tonal language which means the meaning of a word can change when said in different ways. In English however, we pronounce words in different ways according to 3 main factors: syllable stress, sentence stress and sentence rhythm.

Syllable stress. Every new word you say and learn has its own specific syllable stress e.g. jaPAN, ENGland, THAIland, comPUter, TAxi, eMERgency and so on. This is often different to the way Thai people might say the word, for example I hear computER rather than comPUter.These small differences make a big difference in how natural a person sounds.

For more on sentence stress and sentence rhythm, go here.

Solution: Copy how native speakers speak. Record yourself on your phone and listen back. Are you stressing the correct syllable of the word or words in a sentence. Can you change the stress to the correct part of the word?

Some Thai students I know are actually too shy to speak English without using Thai pronunciation. Whilst you might not want to be different to your friends, trust me, it sounds weird and you won’t sound natural which is important for getting a good IELTS band score. Furthermore, do you really want to go to an important interview at a multi-national company or a foreign university and sound odd!

Issue 4: Vocabulary. The Thai language has considerably less words than the English language which causes two problems.


Issue 6 – Ohooo IELTS mai sanuk loei! Yak mak dooay!

Solution: Yeah I am sorry about that, it is not the most fun in the world. However, you can read and write about anything that interests you to practice.