The speaking section of the IELTS exam is often seen as a very difficult task and many students can get really nervous about talking in front of an examiner. To a degree this is true and being nervous is 100% natural. You need to be fluent and coherent and may face some difficult topics. This is difficult. However, it is not impossible and with a bit of practice you can do really well. Below are a selection of tips that can help you to do well
FLUENCY more than GRAMMAR & VOCABULARY: It is more important to be fluent than it is to be perfect in grammar and vocabulary. This is a big point. Don’t forget it! Do not stress too much about getting every grammar structure you use correct or about finding the perfect word every time. If you do this, you will probably speak far less fluently and damage your overall score.
CHANGE YOUR TONE: You are not a robot. So, don’t try to sound like one. It is important to keep the speed and tone of your speech varied. If you get a question that you find interesting, let that show in the way you speak. Show that you find a question unusual or interesting. Let your motivation about certain subjects show through. If there is no variety in the way you speak, it will make your speech sound far less fluent than it actually is.
HOW MUCH SHOULD I TALK?: There is quick answer to this question, and, there is a longer answer to this question. The quick answer is: “as much as you can”. The more complicated answer is that you should also balance this with fluency and coherence. If you begin to ramble or go off-topic. You are talking too much. The key factors is this: If you feel comfortable with the subject you are discussing and you feel that you can continue with it and are speaking well … do as much as you can!
MISTAKES: Making mistakes is a complicated issue and one that many students worry about. However, there are two things to remember here: (A) Everyone makes mistakes. If you are talking for up to 15 minutes in the exam, you will make some mistakes. That is normal. And, (B) It is not the end of the world. There are two key points you need to remember here. The first is that correcting yourself is a good thing. It shows the examiner you are aware of the mistake and are capable of understanding the nature of the language you are using. The second is that if you can’t correct it, you should keep going. Once it is gone, it is gone. Do not worry about it. The worst case scenario is making a mistake and then spending 20 seconds worrying about it and losing all your fluency.
GIVE YOUR OPINION: The questions asked in the speaking test lend themselves to opinions. Giving your opinion makes your answer richer. It also makes it more fluent because you will have a lot more to say. This is particularly true if you get a question on a topic you find interesting. Let the examiner know what you think. Give him your thoughts and some reasons behind that.
LISTEN TO THE QUESTION: You get lots of help for your answers just by listening to the questions. Think about the questions words: What; Why; When; Who;; Where; Which; How … Straight away these tell you the type of answer you need to give. Also think about the grammar the examiner uses in the question. If you are nervous about the grammar you need to use, mirroring the examiner is a great idea. If he asks a question using the Past Simple … answer in the past simple.
THINK ABOUT IMPRESSIONS: This advice won’t help you go from 6.5 to 7.0, but it can give you a good start. When you meet the examiner be friendly and be chatting Make him/her think that you are confident and fluent in English before you even start the test. Once you begin, smile and try to look like you are enjoying the interview.
LINK THINGS TO YOUR LIFE: In sections 1 and 2, the questions are likely to be about your life, your country or your culture. So, it is easy to give good examples. You should be keen to do this. Always relate the question and the task to your life. This is very important for two reasons.
Real-life examples add depth and colour to your answer. You are likely to be able to give examples from the past as well as the present and to be able to compare different elements. This gives you to opportunity to speak with more complex language.