Today I am going to share with you more advice and help with regards to the IELTS Speaking module.
In my last blog about Speaking, I explained how to use the Public Band Descriptors to help you understand how IELTS examiners will assess your speaking ability. If you haven’t read that blog yet, I highly recommend you do so now!
So, let’s look at some effective strategies you can apply to strengthen your speaking ability and build your confidence.
The first thing to do is try to take the opportunity to talk in English as much as possible. If you are attending an IELTS preparation class, or a general English class, don’t only think of the actual class as “English time” – chat to your classmates in English before the lesson, or during the break. Simple things like: “Hey, how’s it going?” “Did you see the news the other day about …” Better still, get together with other students who are studying for IELTS to practise asking and answering IELTS questions, but also practise speaking about different topics too, like something interesting you have read in the news or an article you have found. A very simple method is to find an interesting article, share and review it, then when you get together practise summarising it in your own words to each other and discuss it. “What do you think about this, do you agree?” “What do you think are the most important points?” “What do you think would be the outcome of this?”
By doing this you are going to achieve three important things. The first is that speaking in English will become a much more familiar habit to you – like second-nature – and your fluency and willingness to respond and extend your answers will be much better. The second thing is by discussing everyday topics as well as current news and issues, you will have much more familiarity to cover and respond to a wider range of topic questions, and you’ll be able to do so with appropriate topic language too. The third and final thing is that your confidence will grow dramatically, which will have a really positive effect on fluency and pronunciation. By simply talking more with others about a variety of topics, you will not be so nervous when it comes to the exam and being confronted with an English question, not only that, but you’ll display a much more natural pattern of English.
You know, a common misconception is that only by speaking or chatting to a foreigner / native-speaker, who corrects every grammar and vocabulary mistake, will you improve. But this is not true. In fact, the greatest success I have seen in speaking ability has come from those students who are proactive with their studies and get together with others to practice speaking in English about anything and everything.
“Mark, what if I don’t have, or can’t find, anyone to practise speaking with!?” I also often get asked this a lot. Well, this isn’t a huge problem either. In fact, being at home and having the privacy to speak aloud on your own can also be really beneficial. Now I do mean ‘aloud’ - don’t sit and mutter or quietly whisper questions and answers to yourself. Instead, use this perfect opportunity while you don’t have the pressure of someone listening directly to you, to be more of a ‘drama Queen’! So, as I said in my previous Speaking blog, raise or lower your voice to emphasise or stress words, slow things down, then speed them up, or group words together in common phrases. In addition, singing along to English music or watching-stopping-and-repeating sentences again and again from your favourite English-language movie or TV series will help tremendously in improving your intonation, chunking and pronunciation of English. (You won’t believe how many times I’ve done this to learn Chinese by myself!)
Keep studying well!