Okay! Another tips article… and this time we will discuss IELTS Speaking Tips!
The time has come, you are about to be tested on your spoken English skills for the IELTS exam. In your head you sound great, you’re basically fluent but the moment you open your mouth, the words don’t come out, or when they do it sounds like “blah blah blah.”
What to do? One of the greatest painters of all time, Leonardo da Vinci, said the success of his works were due to the amount of preparation he put into them first.
So in other words, it’s all about the preparation!
What is the IELTS examiner looking for?
Fluency, this doesn’t mean you need to speak with a perfect British or American accent, but you should speak clearly and pronounce your words correctly.
IELTS Speaking Tips
Here are some important IELTS Speaking Tips to remember:
Tip #1 Pick an English speaking television series and watch it regularly to help with your articulation and pronunciation.
Tip #2 Read out loud to yourself when you can, this will help identify words you find difficult to pronounce and it will give you more confidence reading in English.
Tip #3 Practice using a range of functional vocabulary such as opinion language to express yourself. For example, ‘I agree with the opinion of …’
Tip #4 Pick out the topics you might talk about (everyday ideas) and practice them in a conversation with someone you know, or record yourself and listen back to see how you sound, and what improvements are needed.
Tip #5 Prepare a list of Linking Words and practice using them before the test, for example: ‘As a matter of fact’ or ‘generally speaking’.
Tip #6 Give examples, this allows you to talk about something you know and gives you the opportunity to add detail to the discussion.
Tip #7 Correct your mistakes with the examiner. If you notice that you made a mistake, correct it straight away (e.g. “I was getting for the train, I mean getting on the train…”).
Read on for in-depth IELTS Speaking tips on pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary.
IELTS Speaking Tips: Pronunciation
The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog, Peter Piper picked a pickled pepper! These are some of the sentences Australian kids practice in the classroom to help them with articulation and pronunciation.
Pronunciation is sometimes a tricky thing to practice, especially if you don’t have access to conversing with an English speaker. But where there’s a will there’s a way. How? Pick an English speaking series and watch it regularly.
When I was learning German I ended up with a southern accent because the soap opera I used to watch was set in southern Germany. It’s a great way to learn how to pronounce words, listen to the experts.
Now, I suggest you don’t pick a Scottish series, as even the best of us struggle to understand those guys!
Read out loud. Read out loud to yourself when you can, this will help identify words you find difficult to pronounce and it will give you more confidence reading in English.
Sometimes getting stuck on the way you pronounce a word can really affect your confidence, the best way to avoid this is, PRACTICE of course.
But if you do stumble on a word, don’t let it put you off and keep going. If you show confidence in your speaking the examiner will not focus so much on little slip-ups.
IELTS Speaking Tips: Grammar and vocabulary
Grammar and vocabulary are also important and count for around 25% of your speaking score.
In the IELTS test, you will be giving your opinion a lot, talking about your likes and dislikes. The IELTS examiner basically wants to know if you can use a range of functional vocabulary such as opinion language to express yourself. For example:
As far as I know …
I agree with the opinion of …
I could be wrong, but …
I’d definitely say that …
I’d guess/imagine that …
I’d say that …
I’m absolutely certain that …
If you want to brush up on your grammar, E2language.com have a wide range of grammar exercises and I highly recommend using them to brush up on your grammar as well as following these IELTS speaking tips.
IELTS Speaking Tips: IELTS speaking topics
Pick out the topics you might talk about (everyday ideas) and practice them in a conversation with someone you know, or record yourself and listen back to see how you sound, and what improvements are needed. Remember it’s not an academic discussion (UNLESS you are doing the academic IELTS test), they really don’t need to hear you express your opinion about the latest research in Quantum Physics, it’s about you being able to communicate in English with confidence. Use Natural English short forms like “it’s” and not “it is”, and commonly spoken phrases like “I guess” and “I suppose”. Prepare a list of Linking Words and practice using them before the test, for example:
Adding more information:
- As well as
- Another reason is
Make sure it’s not too short and sweet.
Question:” Where did you grow up”
Answer: “In my parents’ house”
Better would be:
Answer: “I grew up in Finland, and I had a lovely childhood. I lived in an old cottage just outside Finnagoo Forest, with both my parents, two brothers and a dog called Pablo.”
Remember, however, that very long answers are not always good answers. It’s rather easy to go off topic and lose coherence. It is ok to give short answers sometimes too.
If you happen to get a question you don’t know very much about, just give a short answer by saying you don’t know a lot about that topic and then wait for the next question.
A great way to give yourself time to think about the question is to repeat/reformulate the question.
For instance in In parts 1 and 3 you are not given any thinking time: you are supposed to start speaking immediately, so a way to give yourself a bit more time is to just repeat the question. “What did I enjoy about my last holiday? Let me see…”
Another great tip is to give examples, this allows you to talk about something you know and gives you the opportunity to add detail to the discussion.
IELTS Speaking Tips: Some extra little tips and hints!
- Be sure to correct your mistakes, if you notice you made a mistake correct it straight away (i.e. “I was getting for the train, I mean getting on the train…”)
- If you don’t understand the question to be sure to ask the Examiner to explain further.
- Make eye contact, make sure you don’t end up having a conversation with the table, acknowledge the Examiner and look at them during the conversation.
- Speak ONLY English immediately before the exam. Try to talk to someone or talk to yourself (ideally in your head) “man this is nerve-racking, I can’t wait to go for a victory coffee afterward.”
If you are really serious about getting the best possible result for your IELTS test, I would highly recommend signing up to e2language.com. You will have access to one on one IELTS coaching.
Our IELTS teachers are very qualified and passionate about getting you the score you need. You will also have access to a wide range of test questions, grammar exercises, IELTS secrets to success, webinars and much more.
For some more secrets to success check out this link to the E2 IELTS channel.
Remember that the right preparation can get you the right results! Tally your familiarity of IELTS Speaking by getting the most out of Jay’s experiences in his article: IELTS Speaking: How to get an IELTS 9.
Have you taken IELTS? How did you prepare for the IELTS Speaking Section?
Written by: Michelle Anderson