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Part 1

Let’s take a close look at Part 1 of the speaking exam. So, Part 1 is definitely the easiest of the three sections of the test. But that doesn’t mean that it’s less important, than the other parts of the speaking test. Part 1 is important because it’s your chance to show your examiner, how comfortably and confidently you can answer these easier questions.

It’s a chance to show off your fluency. So, let’s talk about Part 1 and how you can do your best on this section of the speaking test. First, what to expect? So, when you enter your interview room, your examiner is going to greet you and give you his or her name.

And then, you will do the same and show your passport, okay? It’s all just to show that you are the person. You say you are, okay, all of this takes a couple of seconds at the beginning when you first enter the room. Very quickly then, your examiner will start asking you the kinds of questions that you can expect for all of Part 1.

These are basic small talk questions. Small talk is the kind of conversation you have when you first meet somebody, and you’re asking questions to find out more about them. So imagine you’re at a party, and you meet somebody new. What kinds of things do you usually talk about? Well, you can expect questions about your interests, right?

What kind of things you like to do in your free time, your hobbies, maybe your academic interests, or professional interests. You can expect questions about your background. About your country or your hometown, okay? These questions are simple. They are basic, everyday kinds of questions, and one of the reasons the IELTS starts with these questions is just to see how well you can handle these easier topics at the beginning.

But, another reason they ask you these questions is to help you relax. So, the IELTS knows that this interview is kind of a stressful and maybe even, for some students even a scary experience, Okay? You’re nervous about going in and talking to this examiner you don’t know. So, they give you easier questions at the beginning so you can hopefully relax and feel as comfortable as you can with your examiner, okay?

Try to do that, try to calm yourself down to, to just focus on the questions that are being asked of you, and do your job during this short interview that you have to do. So, you can expect in Part 1 that you’re going to talk about three different topics, okay, that normal for Part 1. So, your examiner may start with questions about your family, then move to a new topic maybe places you’ve traveled or places you would like to travel.

And then, finish up with questions about your academic or profession interest, there will be a normal sequence of topics for part 1. The whole section last about 4 to 5 minutes before you move on to part two. But don’t worry about the clock, your examiner is in control of the time and will move the interview along as he or she needs to. This can mean sometimes, that the examiner will cut you off or will stop you before you finish saying all the things you had to say about something.

Don’t worry about that. The examiner’s just trying to move along so that he or she can get through all the questions that need to be asked for your speaking exam. It’s not a bad thing. It’s just the examiner being in control of the time. Just follow the examiners lead and answer the question the best you can.

So, here are some tips for how to succeed in Part 1. The first thing is be confident, engage, and interested. Your attitude definitely matters for Part 1. When you’re practicing and thinking about what you’re gonna do for your speaking exam, think about going into that room, looking your examiner in the eye, and sitting up straight and trying to be as confident, as interested as you can, okay.

It makes a difference. It shows your examiner, that you are really trying to do the best you can and then you are up to the challenge of this interview that you are doing with him or her. Okay, so try your best to appear confident, engaged and interested. A second piece of advice, and this is one of the most important things for Part 1 question.

Is to make sure that you;re answering your examiners question very directly. So, what do i mean by that? Let’s look at an example. A Direct Answer, answers a question and only that question in a very very direct way. Let’s look at this question here.

What is interesting or special about your hometown? That would be a normal Part 1 question that your examiner may ask you. A good and direct answer to this question is down here. So, you might say my hometown is unique because people from all over the world live there, even though it’s a very small city. Okay, so if most small cities maybe are not very diverse, this answers a good one because, it focuses on hometown, okay?

And it is, mention something that is special or interesting about that hometown. It answers the question very, very directly, okay? Here’s an example of a question that is not as good, excuse me, an answer that is not as good because it doesn’t answer the question in this same direct way. So, we can just read it here.

I have a lot of great memories of my hometown. My friends and I used to have so much fun playing with each other during our free time. Okay, this answer is about hometown, yes. So the topic is similar, but notice how this answer does not focus directly on the exact information that the interviewer asked for.

You were supposed to provide something that was interesting or special. This answer talks about good memories and friends but never mentions anything about why those things are unique or special or might be interesting to somebody else. This answer is not as good and it would receive lower points in Part 1. Because it’s not a very direct answer. This relates then to the issue of how long your responses should be.

So some students wonder, do I need to give very short answers, or long answers. So, how long should responses be? Well, very short one word answers are always bad, okay? Yes, no, with no explanation is not a good answer for any section of the speaking test. Okay, but more important than how long your response is.

So, if you respond with a sentence or two or if you respond with a long paragraph. The most important thing is that your answer directly answers the question as we just discussed, okay. So, you can provide short answers. If you do If you provide a one to two sentence answer, your examiner will probably ask you follow-up questions, okay?

If you answer with a longer answer, that’s good too. If it’s direct and it directly answers the question and stays on topic, it’s a good way to demonstrate your fluency, if you can say a little more. Okay, just make sure your answers are direct whether they’re short or long. All right, so here’s an example, what do you like to do for fun on the weekend? Okay, this would be a really good longer and more fluent answer.

I enjoy spending time with my friends, we often watch movies or go out to dinner. Sometimes I want to do something active, I frequently play soccer or go for a long hike in the woods. In general, I just like to get out of my house. Okay, this is a longer answer, but it stays on topic right? What kinds of things do you do for fun?

All of these things relate to that, so it’s a good answer to the question. What you wanna be careful though is that you don’t start, because you’re trying to give a long answer or a really fluid answer, that you start going into things that don’t relate directly to the topic, okay. So, as an example, here’s my answer that was on the page before. Here’s maybe an example of somebody who has started talking and adding details that didn’t really relate to the question.

And this would then bring this student’s score down. So if somebody started talking about, well last weekend my friends took me to a new restaurant downtown. I liked the food, but the atmosphere wasn’t very nice. Okay, this is a detail that doesn’t really relate any more to this question that was asked of you.

The examiner didn’t ask you about a recent experience at a restaurant or something you specifically did last weekend, okay. So, don’t go into those kinds of things. Keep your answers direct and focused and you will do well. So, how should you practice for Part 1? Well, the most important thing to do is to answer as many practice questions as you possibly can.

I’ve got a list to get you started below. But, you can probably imagine what kinds of questions beyond this list you might ask. Just things that you ask of people that you’ve just met, as we discussed before, any kind of small talk question could be the kind of thing you’ll need to answer for Part 1.

You should try to find somebody to interview you and to help you practice. This doesn’t need to be a native English speaker, okay. It can be just somebody who reads questions to you that you practice responding to. Do make sure that you record yourself. You should definitely record yourself so you can really look at your own responses critically.

You want to think about how you responded. And think about improvements to your responses. So, you should ask yourself questions as you listen to yourself. Did I answer the question directly? Did I speak too slowly or quickly? Do I repeat myself too much or use the same vocabulary over and over?

Could I use more advanced or varied vocabulary or grammar too, right? Could you create better sentences, more accurate sentences, and use better vocabulary. Do you use a lot of filler words like umm or okay. Sometimes when you’re speaking, you don’t even notice that you use those things. But then, when you listen to a recording you notice how often you use these phrases.

Recording yourself and thinking about your responses critically is an important step. After you do this put your recordings away and get them out again. A week or two later listen to them again and then answer the same question again and try to improve, try to give a better answer than you did the first time around. It’s a really good way to practice for Part 1. So to review, know what to expect for Part 1, so that there are no surprises.

You’re gonna enter the room, your examiner is going to greet you, and your gonna begin answering questions right away. Prepare for Part 1 by practicing lots and lots of small talk questions, okay. You should feel very comfortable talking about yourself, your background, your experiences, where you grew up all of these kinds of topics. Some keys to success have a positive attitude, look your examiner in the eye and feel as confident as you can.

Make sure you answer questions directly, okay, and you want to avoid saying too much or too little. The problem with too much is that you might get off topic. You might get away from your topic. In answers that are too short, one or two words are never a good thing to do, okay. You focus on the question, and you try to answer that question very directly.

Okay, this has been our introduction to Part1, lessons on parts two and three are also in your speaking section lessons.

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