Improve your Speaking Skills for the IELTS Exam

To do well in IELTS Speaking you need to develop 3 things: your exam technique, your verbal language and, your speaking skills. Some of this can be done by practising in class but here are some useful tips you should not forget.

Part 1: Exam technique

  • Listen to what the examiner is asking and answer the question.
  • Do not prepare a set speech as an answer as this always sounds un-natural.
  • The topics in Part 1 & 2 will be personal and familiar, and so not difficult to talk about.
  • Answers in Part 1 should be quite brief but be sure to say more than a single-sentence Yes or No. In Part 3,  you need to develop answers in a general and more abstract way.

Part 2

  • When you are given the topic card, you have one minute of preparation time.

You may start to speak before examiner tells you to if you wish but it’s a good idea to make maximum use of this time. Think about what you are going to say and how you can best express it.

  • Underline the topic in the first line, and the key words in the 4-5 points listed below. This will help you focus.
  • Note which points will be describing and which ones need explaining. Leave more time for the last kind.
  • Decide quickly at least one thing you can say for each point and write a single word note to remind yourself. You can write the notes in your own language but it’s better to use English. (You are not marked on what you write.)
  • Don’t forget your notes when you start to speak!
  • Think about the grammar you will need. For example, past tenses for past experiences, present tense for things you do every day or repeatedly, would like to/could/should for future hopes and plans, comparative adjectives for things which need to be compared.
  • Rely on your memories of sights, sounds, smells and feelings to expand descriptions of personal experience.
  • Remember you must mention all the points on the topic card, and be able to speak for 1 ½ to 2 minutes without help from the examiner. He/she will cut you off  if you are still talking after 2 minutes have passed.
  • Practise using strong starting and finishing expressions such as I’m going to talk about … because … or So that’s why it’s my most precious possession.

Part 3

  • Describe your opinions and feelings and explain the reasons for them. Use examples to support your ideas.
  • Be prepared to speculate about what you don’t know. For example,  I’m not sure but what I think may happen is …

Skills and language

  • The more you  listen to spoken English, the easier it will be to pick up how the language sounds. Make use of the internet, SGI e-learning, TV/radio/DVDs, the people around you.
  • General knowledge about your own country, the UK and  global issues is essential for these exams. Make sure you are well informed about typical IELTS Speaking topics including social and environmental issues, education, culture, health and popular science.
  • Read relevant websites, newspapers & magazines, and watch current event & documentary programmes on TV and internet.
  • The sentences you use when speaking will become more complex as your knowledge of grammar and vocabulary develops.  In general you will receive a better mark in the exam for attempting ambitious sentence structures, even with a mistake or two, than you will  speaking  accurately in short, simple sentences.

Good luck and if you are interested in practising IELTS speaking there are plenty of practice tests online, or alternatively take an IELTS course with SGI!

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