What can I do to improve my speaking?

By | 9th April 2017

IELTS Speaking Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. I know the vocabulary, but in the test I can’t remember it. The words disappear from my mind! What can I do?

A.  It takes a lot of practice before you can use new vocabulary quickly in speech. Even in your own language it is easy to forget the right word or phrase, so don’t worry. Go through the list of topics that often come up in the exam and make a list of the words and expressions (not too many, 5 – 10 for each topic) that will help you say what you want to say. An individual list – one that suits you and your own ideas – and one that you make yourself, will work much better than one you just take off the internet.

Q. I get so nervous before speaking exams that I perform very badly. What can I do?

A.  Examiners know that candidates are nervous. They try to begin gently, so that your confidence grows, that is why the first few questions are usually about fairly familiar topics like where you live and what work you do. Remember that a few errors and slips in pronunciation and grammar are acceptable, even at the highest levels. You are not expected to be perfect. Sit up straight so that your voice will sound clear. Look at the examiner directly and SMILE! The act of smiling releases chemicals in your system which will make you feel better. In part 2 it also helps to make some notes. Even a few words will help you to stick to your plan.

Q. My answers are often too short and I repeat myself and hesitate a lot.

A. This is very common too. You repeat yourself for 2 reasons: 1, you don’t have a wide enough vocabulary, so for example you might say “I like shopping, and I also like playing sports. I like watching movies too.” This is an extreme example, but you can see that someone who only has one way of saying “I like” is definitely going to sound repetitive. The marking system rewards attempts at more difficult language and less common words, so don’t play safe and stick to short, easy words. Make a point of learning lots of more difficult language and trying to use it.

The other reason you repeat yourself is that you have not got enough ideas to talk about. This is a planning weakness. The best way to improve this is to look at the list of topics that come up in the exam, ask yourself questions about them, and practice giving answers.

The solution to most IELTS Speaking Test problems is KEEP PRACTISING!

Suggested practice
Look at a list of the topics that often come up in the IELTS test. Pick one of the topics (family celebrations, for example). Give yourself 1 minute to prepare and then speak into your phone and record yourself speaking for 2 minutes without stopping.
Listen to this recording a few times. Can you tell where the weak points in your answer are? Make notes on your own speaking, so you can improve each time.

Good luck!

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