To what extent is communicative language teaching a feature of IELTS classes in China?

Download now


This report examined the teaching methodology used in IELTS preparation classes in China.

The research used Hu’s six element framework for describing teaching methods: 

  • pedagogical orientation
  • instructional content and presentation
  • language practice activities
  • teacher and learner roles
  • learning materials
  • assessment.

It started with the hypothesis that teachers were making methodological choices between communicative language teaching (CLT), audio-lingualism and grammar translation methods.

Research methods included: questionnaires completed by just under 80 IELTS teachers; stand-alone interviews with 10 teachers; and three stimulated recall interviews following classroom observations. We found that the most common methodology used approximated to CLT but that teachers took a more dominant role and used more Chinese than would be characteristics of CLT. 


Richard Badger, University of Leeds and Xiaobiao Yan, Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, China


Impact and Washback - Test preparation
Download now