Tips for IELTS Speaking
How to self- study for the speaking test part 1-3:
The speaking test in the IELTS academic and general training exams consists of a 11-14 minute three part interview with an examiner one to one. Japanese IELTS learners often say they want to focus on speaking in their lessons because they perceive this to be an area of weakness for them, and also because there is a perception that speaking can only be studied with a speaking partner and many students lack access to this.
Therefore this article will focus on self-study for the speaking test and some strategies to cope with the demands of the speaking test and improve the score without a speaking partner.
Part 1 of the Speaking test:
Part 1 in the speaking test focuses on familiar topics and is an opportunity to gain confidence for the rest of the test. However it shouldn’t be forgotten that the examiner will still be looking for coherence, fluency, vocabulary and grammar sophistication and decent pronunciation.
Regular topics that appear in topic 1 include family, study, work, your home time, free time, shopping and holidays. Preparation for these topics in self-study can make for a better answer. Try brainstorming about these topics and things you want to say about them in your self- study.
Sales Assistant - Location- Tokyo, shift system- 3 patterns, work 35 hours per week. From 2012.
Positive: Colleagues pleasant, quite easy to do, no stress or pressure, like work in Tokyo. Negative: Salary- poor, promotion chances and opportunities to use English limited.
Future- UK- study English- Work in English in Fashion.
These notes can be expanded into full sentences and practiced by recording (most smartphones have this function) and listening back to edit, then re-recording. Recording allows the learner to listen out for unnatural pronunciation, clarity of voice, hesitation, lack of connections in answers and gives opportunities to improve vocabulary and grammatical structures used. The candidate would expect to re-record three or four times and with each attempt improve the above areas.
Part 2 of the Speaking Test:
The candidate talks without break for 1-2 minutes on a given topic, with 1 minute preparation time to make notes prior to speaking. Learners will certainly benefit from practicing this format at home, as it’s challenging. Possible topics include a memorable journey, a person you admire and why and an exciting experience you have had.
The first key stage in part 2 is getting used to making notes quickly and effectively in the preparation time. The candidate should focus on key words here, not full sentences, words that will be enough to keep them on track when they speak. A further idea is to note down grammatical structures and vocabulary as the examiner is looking for variety in these (see information in brackets.)
Describe a beautiful place to visit in your country.
You should say:
and explain why you recommend this place.
and explain why you recommend this place.- relaxation, climate, – In Japan- language, currency, but feels like overseas.
N.b typhoon season- avoid.
Following note-taking, practiced with a timer in under 1 minute, the learner can then speak for 1-2 minutes on the topic, using a timer and listening back to edit as explained earlier. The learner should expect to have problems with not enough time for note taking and not being able to talk for long enough in the speaking part, however following this approach with a variety of part 2 sample questions, will lead to improvements.
Part 3 of the speaking test:
This is a two-way discussion with the examiner and where the topic from part 2 is expanded. In this section of the test the learner may feel under the most pressure as their English will be pushed harder than in part 1. Therefore it is worth looking at some strategies to control the conversation, which can be memorized at home.
Firstly. clarifying meaning is worth considering to ensure you understand a question and to buy a little extra thinking time. Key phrases are bolded and content should be paraphrased.
“Why do you think people like to travel to different places in their free time?”
“Do you mean why do people want to travel during their vacations?”
“How do you see tourism changing in your country in the future?”.
“So you are asking about where Japanese people will travel to in the future?”
After the candidate has clarified the meaning they can gain more thinking time by using the following phrases before their answer.
“That’s a good question.”
“Let me see….”
“I have never really thought about that before but….”
(E=examiner and C= candidate.)
E: “Why do you think people like to travel to different places in their free time?”
C- “Do you mean why do people want to travel during their vacations?”
E-Yes, that’s right.
C- “That’s a good question, well I think that people like to travel to different places to broaden their experience, so they can see different culture and lifestyles. For example I recently visited Turkey and I was fascinated by Turkish culture and the differences between daily life in Turkey and Japan.
Part 3 can also be practiced with a recording device, listening back and editing. It is also recommended that part 3 is practiced at the same time as part two as these sections are interlinked.
In this article I have looked at how IELTS candidate can improve their chances of a good score in the speaking test by applying some strategies and by studying at home, using just some sample questions, note- paper, a recording device and a timer. Though it shouldn’t be forgotten that regular speaking practice with a speaking partner will improve spoken English and, continuous study of vocabulary and higher level grammatical structures will widen what a candidate is able to say effectively, these tips in self study before a speaking test should give more confidence and more opportunity to show the examiner spoken ability in the speaking test.
By Robert Watson