IELTS Speaking: Some Tips

Recently, a lot of students ask me how to prepare the IELTS speaking part at home as they don’t have an “English environment”. And they also ask me is that a good way to write every answers down and try to reading again, again and again.

Well, my answer is no. because I have noted that once the students try to write down their answers, the tone of the contents is “written”, not “oral”. Remember that you are talking to the examiner in the real test, not reading or reciting in front of him/her. You are talking with a human, not a robot! So chilled out.

My advice of practicing speaking at home:

  1. Choose a real speaking test from one of the Cambridge books.
  2. Use your smart phone to record yourself answering one or all of the parts of the test. (pay attention to the timing)
  3. Listen to the recording and transcribe it (write down everything you said, including all those mistakes, repetition, and words like ‘er…a…well…. You know….’).
  4. Analyse the transcript. Maybe just simply correct all the grammar mistakes first.
  5. Take some time to prepare better answers for the same questions.
  6. Try the same questions again! Record yourself, transcribe and analyse.
  7. Comparing the second time with the first one. Do you see any improvement? Do you feel better the second time?
  8. Repeat the process until you are happy.

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IELTS Writing: Simplicity sometimes works better

Don’t seek to use any template and all examiners don’t like reading this kind of essay. It is not your work; therefore, the whole “chunk” of your essay would be disregarded by the examiner and deducted from the word count.

Another common issue is that many students overuse words like “moreover”, “in addition” or “furthermore”, or phrases like “this is controversial issue nowadays”. They seem to think that using these linking words will help them to get a 7. Well, they are wrong, because once you overuse those words, the examiner will notice straight away.  And it is easy to learn linking words like “moreover”, so the examiner is not impressed by them. As a matter of fact, in the speaking exam, they make your English sound 'forced'.

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IELTS Speaking Advice

Don't worry about the occasional mistake. The examiner will expect some mistakes – after all, English is a foreign language for you and people make mistakes in speaking foreign languages. The examiner is not making a note of every single mistake that you make. This would be impossible to do and concentrate on your speaking. He will more get a general impression of your English accuracy so individual errors don't matter. More important is your communication.

Perfection is not needed. You can still make some errors and get a 9 (not many errors though). So don't let making errors upset you. Get on with the talking and concentrate on your communication.

One thing that puts candidates off is that the Speaking test is recorded. This is done so that, if necessary, the speaking can be re-marked. If the bands for a candidate's writing and speaking for instance are very different (more than 2 band difference), then the candidate's test is re-checked.

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A piece of advice for your IELTS

Here is the advice from an ex-examiner.

Listening
Use the breaks to read ahead. When they give you half a minute to check your answers, don't! Use the time to get ready for the next section.

Reading
Get to the end! Miss the questions you find difficult, and make sure you do all of the easier ones. Return to the harder questions if you have time.

Writing Academic Task 1
Write a good overview. Examiners want to see a summary of the information, as well as detailed description.

Writing General Training Task 1
The tone of your letter is its character or attitude, either formal or informal. (see page5 of my lecture notes for GT part)

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