The University Timesで好評連載中の「IELTSテストのコツ」。こちらはBritish Councilの人気講師が毎回執筆しています。
今回はThe University TimesのVol.37で掲載された、「Speaking」に関して【Tips for IELTS】です。
The speaking component, 11-14 minutes alone in a small room with an examiner, is usually the most nerve-wracking part of the IELTS exam.
However, by preparing well and knowing how to answer, you can view this test as an opportunity to show off your English skills and get the best possible score.
First off, let’s look at what the examiner is assessing you on:
Also, remember that making mistakes is not the end of the world, and you can still achieve a high band without speaking perfectly. See the on-line criteria for more information:
Let’s move on now to the test itself, and how to approach each part:
This part of the exam eases you into proceedings, with the first question always about your job/studies or where you live and after that you’re asked about other familiar topics such as your family or your hobbies.
Make sure you prepare by practicing answering questions on these kinds of topics. In the exam itself try to give full answers (no one-word answers!) and use a range of vocabulary and grammar when you answer the examiner’s questions. Look at the two examples below and decide for yourself which one is best:
Question: Do you like reading?
Answer A: Errrr….no. (awkward silence…)
Answer B: Err…not really to be honest! I guess I used to read a lot when I was a kid; we had to read novels at school and I had a subscription to a manga magazine but to be honest what I read most nowadays is e-mails from my boss! I tend to read the newspaper at weekends if I have time; I like being able to catch up on the news from the week.
Now the exam is up and running the examiner gives you a task card, like the example below:
Once you get the task card, you have one minute to make notes using the points on the card to help you. However, what you write in your sixty seconds can make or break your talk:
|Make notes. Not full sentences.||Try to write everything you want to say – there isn’t time.|
|Note key vocabulary and expressions you will need.||Write obvious, easy things (e.g. “I’m from Tokyo”)|
|Make notes on ideas you might forget to mention||Write in your own language.|
|Try to organise your ideas logically.||Feel restricted by the four points on the card, try to add extra ideas too.|
Typical candidates begin with a dull “I’m going to describe an area of my country that people like to visit”. Why is this a mistake? Well, how much English have you actually produced? Only “I’m going to…” Everything else is written on the card in front of you; you’re reading, not speaking.
Instead, try beginning with an interesting introduction:
“Well, Japan is famous for its many beautiful places that attract visitors. There is something to suit everyone, from Hokkaido in the north, which is stunning, although a little chilly in winter, to the tropical islands of Okinawa in the south with its gorgeous sandy beaches. However, one place that I think visitors particularly like is Kyoto.”
Isn’t that better? You’ve showed off some advanced vocabulary, and it’s also eaten up 20 seconds of your talk.
Also, remember that you can introduce ideas that aren’t on the task card! The points on the card will help structure your talk, but don’t feel obliged to stick exclusively to those four points. Instead, give extra information such as personal experiences, or even mention a second place that people like to visit. Anything is better than sitting in silence.
In order to prepare for the exam, practice taking notes on a variety of topics, then try speaking for as long as possible to develop your fluency.
Part Three: Two-way Discussion (4-5 minutes)
This “discussion” section of the exam is your chance to really shine. Linked to Part Two thematically, you now discuss more abstract issues. This means it’s less about you (like Parts 1 and 2) and more about society in general. You might be asked to give reasons for or suggest solutions to social issues; compare the present situation with the past or speculate about the future; or discuss the advantages and disadvantages of a particular topic.
Thinking of ideas on the spot can be tricky so ‘buy time’ using expressions such as “I’ve never really thought about that before” or “that’s a really interesting question”. Also, feel free to ask the examiner to repeat the question, but remember to use English (“sorry, can you rephrase that please?”) instead of just “eh?”
Finally, it’s important to balance your arguments. You have more ideas at your disposal if you discuss both sides of an argument, which is as true in speaking as it is in writing. A lot of speaking fluency is down to ideas so make sure you have them! Giving examples will help too; the question of “how can tourism damage a place?” is quite difficult to relate to. However, if you think of how Kyoto or Mt. Fuji have been affected by tourism, then the answer immediately becomes more accessible.
In summary: Be confident, be natural and be understood. Good luck!
By Peter Brereton