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This lesson introduces the speaking section of the IELTS exam. The General Training and Academic versions of the IELTS have exactly the same speaking section. So we don’t need to discuss differences between them in this lesson. Okay, so as an overview, your speaking section is an in-person interview. You will meet with an examiner who is going to ask you questions and give you some tasks to do to demonstrate your speaking ability.
An interesting part of the IELTS exam is that you can take your speaking section on a different day as you work paper test. Your paper test is your listening, reading and writing sections, those you need to take on the same day. But the speaking section, can be on a different day. Some students like to do that, they like to split up the two parts of the exam.
Usually because maybe they feel more rested or focused by separating them and putting them on different days. I know other students really prefer to take them on the same day. And most of the time I think that’s because those students want to get mentally prepared for their big IELTS day. And then just get past it, get it all over with, okay?
Think about what will work best for you really make your decision based on what’s going to give you the best chance at a high score. So the speaking exam is not a long portion. It’s only 11 to 15 minutes, okay? But it is intense, all right? You are going to be speaking almost that entire time.
And so you do need to prepare for it very, very well. The interviewer is going to be in control. So thinking about the time, 11 to 15 minutes. Your examiner needs to get through all the different parts of the exam in a very short amount of time. So your examiners going to be in control of the time.
He or she may cut you off or maybe ask you to change topics or answer a different question before you feel that you’ve answered something completely and fully. The reason the examiner doing that is because he or she needs to get through of everything, right? So you should be worried about it or get upset about if the examiners pushing things in way that you feel is maybe a natural.
They’re not trying to be rude, they’re just trying to control the time, right? The examiner will ask you the questions they want to hear. Your only job is not to worry about what they’re doing, but just worry about answering their questions the best you can. So let’s look at the exam format. What can you expect?
Well there are three sections to the speaking test. Section one is the easiest part of the exam. The questions are going to just be about basic personal information, about your family, questions about your hometown. Maybe your hobbies or academic interests, places you’ve traveled, that kind of thing will be what the examiner will ask you to discuss.
This part lasts 4 to 5 minutes, and really you should think about it as kind of a warmup section for parts two and three, which do get more challenging. So just answer the simple questions the best you can. If you’ve been speaking English for a while and using it in your life in any capacity at all, you probably have discussed these topics that will come up in part one of the exam.
Okay, so a monologue is the part two. A monologue is basically another word for a speech, right? You’re going to give a very short speech. So here’s how it works, the whole section, the whole part two, lasts about 3 to 4 minutes. You’re going to have a card that your examiner give you and on the card is going to be a topic, all right?
You have 1 minute to prepare a short speech based on the topic and the points that you need to discuss on that card, okay? So you’ll take a minute, you’ll brainstorm, you’ll plan a little bit. And then you’ll speak, you’ll give your monologue in about 1 to 2 minutes. After that, your examiner will probably ask you some follow up questions about what you said.
Okay, Section 3 then is most challenging section. Here the interview will resume, okay? And for about 4 to 5 minutes, your examiners are going to ask you more follow up questions about the topic that you discussed in Section 2. But now the questions are gonna get more challenging. Your examiner is gonna ask you ask you for your perspective, your opinion about a variety of things.
And you’re going to have to answer with more complicated responses, because they are more longer and more detailed. And the questions the examiner will ask you will require more advanced vocabulary, more advanced grammar in order to answer them successfully, okay? The questions tend to be more abstract, all right? And the topics just a little more complex.
In our speaking lessons, we will focus on Section 3 of the exam so that you know how to answer those questions the best you can. All right, for now you should go to the link below to take a look at some sample IELTS speaking questions. And they offer some example responses from students as well in order to sort of see what the questions and answers look like for each of these sections, okay?
Let’s very quickly talk about scoring, we will describe scoring in much more detail, in the speaking lessons, but just so you get an idea. The following criteria are used to asses your speaking. Criteria is another word for just sort of what kinds of factors or what kind of measurement are they looking at when they’re trying to assess how well you speak.
All right, so these are the four sets of measurements they’re using. They’re gonna try to measure your fluency. How smoothly do you speak? Do you really have a lot of pauses? Where you’re looking for words and you don’t really know how to describe an idea. Or can you speak very fluently and quickly, and really express ideas in an easy way, without a lot of effort, okay?
Coherence is your ability to connect ideas together, so all of your ideas make sense and flow together in a very logical way. Lexical resource is a really fancy way of saying you have a really good vocabulary. So lexical resource is a measurement of your vocabulary. Grammatical range, how many different grammatical structures can you use? How complex is your knowledge of English grammar and how easily and fluently can you use grammatical structures accurately when you speak?
Pronunciation is the last one. And for pronunciation, you don’t really need to worry about your accent. It’s not about accent, okay? Everybody, almost everybody who takes the IELTS speaking section has some kind of accent. Which is just the normal influence of your native language on your speaking in English.
No, pronunciation is more about whether or not you have problems that make you difficult to understand. Sounds that do not really sound like English at all or words you mispronounce. Any sentence, any patterns in your speaking that really make it tough for your examiner to comprehend what you’re saying, that can be a problem on the IELTS.
Check out below the speaking criteria, I’ve put a link there to the IELTS exam. There you can go and look at the different band levels, right? So band six, band seven or eight, whatever you’re targeting. And look at each of these four different ways that they’re measuring your speaking ability. And you can see in detail what they expect for each band level on the exam, okay?
A final important point is that the examiner is not scoring you on your ideas, okay? So the examiner is not going to check whether or not what you said is true or false, okay? You shouldn’t say things that seem unreasonable or unusual or strange. But you don’t always need to give your true opinion or say things that are 100% factual.
If it’s easier for you to say something that maybe isn’t exactly true, you should do that on the speaking section. Because really, your examiner does not care, or and will not check with if whether your statements are true or false. Okay, so how to do well on the speaking exam? First one is to answer questions directly and you need to answer the question that has been asked of you.
You need to limit long pauses or confusing speech, right? So this is about fluency, you need to be able to speak without really struggling to find the words and the appropriate thing to say. You need to show off your vocabulary, you need to have a wide ranging vocabulary on the speaking exam to do really, really, really well, okay? Really this is about avoiding repeating the same words over and over, or just simply using very basic vocabulary the whole time, okay?
On the other side, you should not use vocabulary you’re not really comfortable with. If you don’t really have a strong sense of how do you use a word, you should use it in, you should use it on speaking section. Cuz if you do use it incorrectly the examiner will notice. You need to use a lot of different grammars structures, okay?
You don’t need to worry about this very much. The questions your examiner asks you will require you to use a variety of grammar, okay? So it’s not something you need to be really thinking about directly as you’re taking the exam. But if you have problems with your grammar you should be studying grammar steadily before your exam dates, so you cn do better and better on the speaking test.
Okay, you’ll need to practice timing especially for part 2 of the exam. So practise with example question cards taking one minute, preparing an answer and then giving a short speech, you should do that over and over and over. And again, when we get to our speaking lessons I’ll give you advice on how to practice for section 2. Now another point, you want to avoid topics and ideas you don’t know how to discuss, okay?
This is about that point, your examiner isn’t going to check whether or not what you say is factual. Okay, if your examiner asks you a question about, let’s say, your hobby, and you don’t know how to discuss your hobby in English. You should really avoid that topic, and maybe think of something you can describe. If you don’t know how to discuss your true hobby, then maybe you should say something like sucker or swimming or going to the beach whatever it is that you can describe better.
And that you’ll be able to speak more fluently about that’s a better choice, okay? So don’t get in to things that you don’t really know how to describe to the best of your ability on exempting, okay? Last point here, don’t use memorized language especially for part one, I know some students have gone in and tried to memorize a little example sentences of things they could say about their family or their interests or things like that.
It’s perfectly fine to study dialogues and other basic scenarios that you might encounter especially for part one. But don’t go into exam day and expect you’ll be able to use memorized language. The problem with memorized language is that you are going to have a problem answering questions directly. And if your examiner thinks you are using memorized language, he or she will definitely count your score down.
So don’t study that way, you need to study to prepare to speak fluently to the questions that are asked of you on your exam. Okay, so to review IELTS Speaking section is an in-person interview with 3 sections, okay? Your only job on all 3 sections is to demonstrate your fluency. The 3 parts of the test are, Part 1 with the basic questions and topics about you.
Part 2 is a monologue or short speech where you give a responses to a prompt on a card. And the third part is more in-depth discussion more complicated questions about the topic that you gave a speech about in part 2. Let’s go and study the criteria for the exam. Go look at the link below, you can find detailed information about how each of the band levels is scored.
And you should know and have a sense of what they’re expecting for the band level that you are trying to achieve. Okay, so that is our overview of the speaking section. Go to the speaking lessons to find more detailed strategies and tips for each of these points.
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