IELTS represents a hurdle for many test-takers (see Coleman et al., 2003), potentially delaying or obstructing their future personal, educational, or emigrational goals (Green, 2006).This is particularly evident for candidates whose level of English does not meet the band score required (usually 6 to 7 for academic study in a higher education institution in an English-speaking country (Green, 2007)).
The test consists of four modules, one for each of the four macro skills; speaking, listening, reading, and writing.
Performance is measured in bands (and half bands) from 1-9, with 9 representing proficiency.
In IELTS, writing is assessed through two tasks, the overall band score being more heavily weighted towards Writing Task 2.
Task 2 assesses a candidate’s ability to write a discursive composition in response to an open-ended prompt, using appropriate content, style, register, and organisation (Moore & Morton, 2005).
Feedback techniques varied noticeably in nature and scope, with a preference for ‘appropriating’ techniques such as direct correction of errors and prescriptive comments.
It was concluded that teachers adopted idiosyncratic techniques and methods based on their experience, personal beliefs, and theories about feedback.
Written tasks that are modelled on the test, along with practice that simulates the test’s conditions are widely-established (Green, 2007; Hayes & Read, 2008).
Nevertheless, how teachers respond to such tasks, particularly to learners’ 250-word Writing Task 2 practice compositions, has not been the subject of research, and is consequently poorly-understood.
The aim of this exploratory mixed-methods study is to shed light on the nature of Writing Task 2 teacher feedback, by examining what teachers do as Writing Task 2 feedback providers in a private language learning centre.
It also seeks to explore the perceptions and beliefs of teachers in Writing Task 2 feedback, in order that the rationales behind specific practices can be better understood.