You may have wondered who IELTS Examiners are, and I am here to tell you that they are dedicated people from every walk of life and from all over the world. I myself am honored to have the privilege of being an IELTS Examiner and to work with the British Council. This opportunity has broadened my horizons to a degree I had never imagined possible.
It all began rather on a dare when I was teaching and doing research at a university in China while on a year’s sabbatical from the university in Mexico where I had taught for over eight years. I met an interesting Canadian woman who taught at the same Chinese university where I was, and she was an IELTS Examiner. I was fascinated with the excitement that IELTS brought into her life, and although she urged me to apply, I kept putting it off. At the back of my mind I thought that since I was American, how would the British Council want me? When I finally got myself to look at the application I saw that nationality was not an issue, so I happily applied.
After being accepted, in the training I learned that being an IELTS Examiner was much more involved than I had thought. I had taught English for over 12 years, and had done thousands of examinations and thought it would be a snap. But IELTS is an international testing system, so there are very specific guidelines that must be followed. If one is a teacher, this mind-set must be adjusted, because IELTS is a testing system, not an English language teaching program. I also became aware that, as with any privilege, being an IELTS Examiner carries great responsibility – both to the British Council and to the candidates being interviewed. The integrity of the system must always be upheld, and the seriousness of the test indicates the level to which the results could determine a candidate’s future.
On the lighter side, I enjoy living in diverse cultures, and since IELTS testing is offered world-wide, being an Examiner means having the opportunity to work almost anywhere he or she could wish to go. Even though this is a significant consideration, the most important benefit of being an IELTS Examiner for me is the people I have had the fortune of working with. I have thoroughly enjoyed meeting other Examiners from all over the world, and many have become friends. Here in Istanbul I have taken particular pleasure in working with the British Council staff.
All in all, IELTS Examiners are hard-working, extremely intelligent and interesting people with a vast array of backgrounds and experiences. If you are a candidate for the examination, do not fear your Examiner on the speaking part of the test. The rigor of the testing system demands a standardized evaluation of every part of the test that is designed to be as objective as humanly possible; in other words, the results do not depend on the Examiner’s personal opinion but on the official criteria. If you are thinking of becoming an IELTS Examiner, I can tell you from experience that it is a challenging, demanding and rewarding undertaking.
One of IELTS Examiner, Kimberly