The internet is awash with IELTS teachers right now, but how do you know which ones are good and which ones are bad? In this article, I will explain everything so that you can avoid wasting time and money on terrible teachers.

What is a Good IELTS Teacher?

The question of “what makes a good teacher” is difficult to answer concisely, but when it comes to IELTS, I would list three factors:

  1. They must have an excellent knowledge of English.
  2. They must have an excellent knowledge of IELTS.
  3. They should preferably have good teaching skills.

Honestly, I would list #1 and #2 as the most important because IELTS is a very advanced exam for adults and even a teacher who is a bit impatient or lacks the requisite knowledge of teaching methodology could still impart wisdom. On the other hand, a kindly, patient teacher whose English is bad and who doesn’t understand the exam would not be able to help you at all.

What is a Bad IELTS Teacher?

Sadly, there are currently thousands of awful IELTS teachers all over the world. I see them every day on YouTube and Facebook. They flood Instagram feeds, write terrible blog posts, and poison the minds of their followers with their lies and incompetence.

A bad IELTS teacher could typically be grouped into one of the three following categories:

  1. They cannot speak English well.
  2. They do not understand IELTS.
  3. They make false promises.

In fact, I would say that the overwhelming majority (about 95%) of IELTS teachers online fall into these categories. It is really sad to think that they are probably teaching the majority of IELTS candidates in this world, causing people to fail their tests and forego their dreams.

What’s the Problem with Bad IELTS Teachers?

I sometimes get a hard time for encouraging people to find a native speaker as their teacher. Some politically correct people say, “You don’t need a native speaker to teach you English!” and they are right up to a point… The main thing is that your teacher must have impeccable English and a knowledge of IELTS. When you find a native speaker, of course they will most likely have a better understanding of the language (but not always).

Some people think this is prejudiced, but it is not. Let me explain with a story:

There is a young woman from a poor family. She is a single mother with a difficult baby to raise alone. She has little money but she has a good attitude and wants to improve her life by learning new skills. She decides to learn English and take the IELTS exam.

Her English is not perfect, but she finds a website run by an Indian teacher. He makes many promises, such as “I guarantee you will get a band 8!” What the woman doesn’t know is that this man has terrible English skills and does not understand the IELTS test.

To her, though, he seems trustworthy. He has 100,000 followers on Instagram and 75,000 on Facebook. People list to his advice, even though it is really bad, and they learn grammar from him, even though he makes many mistakes.

The woman spends her little money on lessons from him, then takes the IELTS test, and gets a band 5 because of his bad teaching. He encourages her to continue with him, and she keeps getting a low score. The man grows rich and the woman gets poorer and eventually gives up on her dreams.

It’s a sad story, right?! I’m almost crying thinking about it. Yet this happens every single day because of these liars and cheats.

So how can you Find a Good Teacher?

For someone like me, it is easy to see a good teacher. I am an expert in both English and IELTS, so I can immediately tell whether someone is good or bad at teaching. However, for you it will be much more difficult. Unless your English is perfect, you will not know what these “teachers” make many mistakes, and if your English was perfect, you wouldn’t need them!

That’s why I recommend a few things:

  1. Find either a native speaker to teach you or someone who has got a very high-level English qualification.
  2. Check their background for certificates. A university degree shows that they at least have some intelligence, but check that it is a good university. TEFL certificates are easy to get and often fake, so be careful. CELTA is better. DELTA is even better than that.
  3. Don’t trust all reviews because most of these terrible teachers use bots to generate fake reviews for their businesses. Also, don’t trust likes and followers because these are easily purchased.
  4. Learn to identify red flags. Anyone who says “I guarantee you will get a band 7” is a liar. This is an impossible claim. Remember: If it sounds too good to be true, it is.

Finally, you can consult with experienced or educated friends to find a good teacher. They will happily refer you to someone or help you with your research. If you e-mail me, I’d gladly help you (and don’t worry – I won’t promote my own services!).

I have a review of IELTS websites here at TED-IELTS. It is an honest, impartial guide to good and bad IELTS resources. It talks about the language skills and resource quality of many different sites.