Have you already booked your IELTS test with the British Council? Are you looking for some tried and tested tips for acing the IELTS Speaking test? Achieving your desired band score in the IELTS Speaking test is easier than you think if you keep in mind our four top tips.
The performance in the Speaking test is rated on four criteria: Fluency and Coherence, Lexical Resource, Grammatical Range and Accuracy, and Pronunciation. In this blog, we present you one magic bullet each for these four criteria.
Test tip 1: Learn to listen actively to give relevant responses
This is quite an obvious one. You will be speaking for about 85% of the time during the test. The rest of the time you will be listening to the examiner asking you questions. If you don’t listen carefully to the examiner, you won’t be able to give relevant answers. So, learn to listen actively by using the following strategies:
- Focus on keywords: For example, if the examiner asks you a question like, “are traditional ways of cooking food disappearing?” and you talk about traditional food, you haven’t been listening actively. The keywords here were traditional ways of cooking food and not traditional food. So, learn to focus on keywords.
- Don’t be afraid to ask the examiner to repeat a question, if you haven’t heard it clearly the first time around. But just remember once or twice is fine.
- If you don’t understand a particular word, you can ask the examiner to explain it to you.
- If you want clarification, paraphrase the examiner’s question by saying “so what you are asking is….”
Also, the best way to prepare for the part 2 long turn topics is to listen to podcasts, TED talks, radio/tv shows etc so that you have enough material to speak on any given topic for two minutes. The best way to ace this part of the speaking test is by brainstorming after having listened to the podcast/tele-talk/audio clip on a particular subject. If you have listened to a podcast on your favourite kind of food, you can prepare your own talk by brainstorming ideas about your favourite dish/food item. You can make a mind map by using the wh questions such as
- What are the kinds of food available in India?
- Which is your favourite food?
- Why is it your favourite food?
- Where is it commonly available?”
- How is it prepared?
- Who prepares it well? /Can you cook it or do you order it?
- What are the ingredients used in its preparation?
- How does it taste?
After the long turn, you are expected to discuss the topic at length with the examiner. In this part of the test, you have to be able to justify your stand, exemplify your responses and make comparisons with situations in the past and the present. For example, the questions that can be possibly be asked in part 3 on the topic of food could be about people’s eating preferences, healthy eating versus junk food, how food is grown…. Make a list of the possible questions using the brainstorming method shown above and prepare your answers accordingly. Listen to what other people have to say on the subject of food. In short, listen and brainstorm if you wish to get a higher band on the criterion of fluency and coherence.
Test tip 2: Learn “words from lexical fields” to improve your vocabulary
Don’t just mug up a word list that has difficult words and then use them randomly in the speaking test like “plethora” or “mesmerising” or “ecstatic”. Instead, build lexical fields on commonly asked topics that will enrich your vocabulary and help you to get a higher score in the test. For example, if you are preparing for a topic on food, make a list of all the uncommon words from the lexical field of the taste of the food. (delicious, savoury, spicy, tart, piquant, pungent….). Also google some phrases and idiomatic expressions on food (finger-licking good, melt in one’s mouth, have a sweet tooth, everything from soup to nuts…) and try and use these words and phrases as naturally relevantly and meaningfully while talking about that topic. Similarly, you can make vocabulary lists for all other commonly asked topics on the IELTS speaking test. This will help you to showcase a wide range of lexical resource and help you achieve a higher rating for this criterion.
Test tip 3: Learn to think in English to avoid basic grammar mistakes
Many of us tend to think in our mother tongue and then translate the sentence literally into English while speaking. This leads to several grammatical errors as the sentence structures of Indian languages are different from that of English. It also slows down the speech rate as it takes too much time while we think in Hindi, translate it in our heads and then speak in English. As the first step to learning to think in English, start thinking of commonly used words in English, then move on to phrases, followed by thinking in full sentences and finally have conversations about a topic in your head in English. Do this regularly for at least half an hour a day and soon you will be able to develop the skill of thinking in English. This will enable you to eliminate some common grammatical errors especially those of word order and help you achieve a higher band for grammar.
Test tip 4: Learn to listen to the “music” of English to improve your pronunciation
Every language has its own music. It’s just not enough to know the right pronunciation of the word. Most Indian languages have a stress-timed rhythm whereas English has a syllable-timed rhythm. In order to achieve a higher score on the criterion for pronunciation, you must learn to use the specific intonation, stress patterns, and rhythm of English in order to be understood easily by a native speaker of the language. And that brings us back to where we began. Develop the habit of listening carefully to how good speakers of the language use stress and intonation patterns in their speech. Watch videos of tongue twisters and record yourself practising them. Listen back and start all over again until you get it right.
Remember the more you listen, the better you speak. You can also practise for the real test with IELTS SpeakREADY mock speaking test with the British Council IELTS assessment expert. You can access more videos at IELTS Speaking tips.
Most importantly, do your best and be confident!
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