The IELTS Speaking test is not always the easiest exam to take. Luckily, there are ways to help you practise and reduce the stress of speaking in a test situation. Here are some ideas that have helped my students, and I hope they’ll help you too!
Get to know what the examiner is looking for
If you know what the examiner expects, then you know what to practice. There are four areas of speaking that the examiner will want you to demonstrate.
How fluent you are
The speed you speak and the ‘flow’ of your speech. Examiners will notice of how well you use language to link ideas and subjects together.
The range of vocabulary you use
A wide variety of vocabulary is required to express your meaning and attitude/opinion. You should be able to express ideas in a variety of ways. Try writing down one idea, and then use paraphrasing and synonyms to explain it in a different way.
Your grammatical range and accuracy
It’s great to use a wide range of grammatical structures, but be accurate! Remember, it’s better to use simple grammar correctly rather than more complex grammar incorrectly.
The examiner will look for clear consonants at the beginning and end of words. Intonation is also important. You should be able to use pauses and inflection to show the end of one subject and the beginning of another. The aim is to make sure that the examiner doesn’t have to work hard to understand what you’re saying.
Understand the IELTS Speaking structure
You should look at as many practice papers as you can and become familiar with the different parts of the test.
Part 1 – Q & A.
You will be asked questions about yourself and your life in general, for example your family, job or studies. Have look at the word cloud below for the type of topics you’ll get. This part of the exam lasts for 4 to 5 minutes.
Part 2 – Monologue & questions
You will be given a card with a topic that you’ll be asked to speak about. There will also be some key points on the card that you will be expected to include. The examiner will give you one or two questions about the topic at the end. This part of the exam is shorter and will only be for 1 or 2 minutes.
Part 3 – Discussion
The examiner will ask you about subjects and ideas related to the topic of Part 2. You will talk about deeper ideas in this two-way conversation. This part of the exam takes 4 or 5 minutes to complete.
Day to Day IELTS Practice
Keep up your everyday practice without studying your IELTS text books.
Discuss current events
Read newspaper articles (from, e.g. The Guardian, The Times or The I) and discuss them with your UK friends. Give your opinion on the article, and explain the reasons why you think as you do. Talk about why the situation occurred and what future developments (if any) you think might happen as a result of the event.
Play speaking games
Speaking games are useful and fun. Here’s one based on the popular quiz ‘Just a Minute’ on Radio 4. The idea is that you speak for 1 minute without repetition or hesitation.
Look in your IELTS text books for common speaking topics (or look at the word clouds) and write these on small cards. Place all the cards face down on the table. You and the other players can then take turns to pick a card and talk about the subject for 1 minute.
Listen to native speakers
Listen to talk radio, such as Radio 4. You’ll find you will gradually pick up the rhythm and intonation of English. It’s also good to listen to your UK friends when they talk. You’ll hear some useful phrases, but make sure you know what they mean before you use them in an exam situation!
As you can see, by familiarising yourself with the requirements and the structure of the IELTS Speaking test, you can give yourself a huge advantage when it’s time for the exam.
If you have any questions about IELTS, get in touch and let me know.