IELTS Speaking Task 1 – How to get a high score

Hi, there. My name is Emma, and in today’s lesson, we will be looking at how to do well on the speaking part of the IELTS. So the speaking part of the IELTS is divided up into three sections. Today, we’re just going to be looking at section No. 1. So first of all, I will explain how to do well — oh, sorry. First, I’ll explain what happens in Part 1 of the IELTS. And from there, we’ll look at some things you should do to do well and some things you shouldn’t do, okay? So let’s get started. So what happens in Part 1 of the IELTS? Well, first of all, the speaking Part 1 of the IELTS is for both those taking the General IELTS exam and the Academic. So whether you’re taking the Academic or the General IELTS, it’s the same test with the same questions. Okay. It lasts between four to five minutes.

It’s made up of first an introduction. So the examiner is going to introduce himself or herself. Then, you will introduce yourself. So for example, “Hi. My name is Emma. Nice to meet you.” Okay, so there’s an introduction. And then, the examiner is going to ask you some questions about yourself. So these questions aren’t that difficult. Usually, they’re about where you’re from. So for example what city you were born in, where you grew up. They might be about work. They might be about what you study, about your friends, about your hobbies, food, sports, and another thing I don’t have up here, family. Family is also common on this part of the IELTS. Okay? So usually, the examiner, after introducing himself or herself, they will talk to you about two of these topics.

Okay?” Now, the way they mark this part of the IELTS is they’re looking specifically for pronunciation, okay? So can they understand what you’re saying? Do you pronounce things well? They’re going to be looking at fluency. So what’s “fluency”? Well, do you go, “Uh, um, uh, uh” a lot during the test? Or do you speak very clearly, in a very nice rhythmic way? Do you use organizers or transitions? “First of all, secondly, finally.” Do you use words like this? “Another reason.” Or do you have problems speaking at a normal rate? So they look at that in fluency.” Then, they mark you also on vocabulary. Do you use words like “good, bad” a lot? Those are very low-level words. Or do you use high level words that really show off your vocabulary?” The final thing you’re marked on is grammar and accuracy. So for example, do you only use the present test for the whole test or are you able to correctly use the present tense, the past tense, present perfect, future? How well is your grammar? Okay? So don’t panic.

Maybe you’re weak in grammar. Maybe you make some mistakes in grammar. But you’re marked equally on these four components, okay? So now, let’s look at some tips on how to do well on Part 1 of the speaking part of the IELTS. Okay. So what are some of the things we should do to get a good mark in Part 1 of the IELTS for speaking? Well, we have a list here of dos. Okay? So these are things you want to do. So the first thing that’s very important is when you first meet the examiner, okay? If you’re very nervous, and you don’t make eye-contact, and you look at the floor the whole time, you’re not going to do well on the IELTS even if your English is pretty good.

So it’s very important to present yourself with confidence, okay? You want to go into that test and know you’re going to do well. If you think you’re going to do well, you’re going to do a lot better. Okay? If you think you’re going to do badly, you’re probably going to do badly. So think you’re going to do well, and be confident. Okay? Another important thing is be friendly. Okay. You want to smile. Body language is actually very important in the IELTS. You want to make eye-contact, okay? So don’t look at your feet. Don’t look at your hands. Look at the examiner. But you don’t have to stare at them, okay? Just look at them when you talk. Another thing a lot of students forget is they don’t act excited when they’re answering questions. So what do I mean by this? Well, they talk with a monotone. So for example, “Do you like playing sports?” This is a common question on the IELTS.

A student might respond, “I really like playing basketball. Basketball is a good sport.” Okay. If the examiner hears that, you’re probably not going to get a good mark. You should act excited about what you’re saying. Okay? “Yes. I love sports. Basketball is my favorite. It’s, you know — I love watching basketball. It’s a lot of fun to play.” If you seem excited, you will do better. Okay. The next thing that’s very important is the vocabulary you use, okay? So remember, you’re getting marked on four different things. One of these things is vocabulary. So how do you improve your vocabulary mark? Well, don’t use simple, easy, boring, low-level words like, “I like basketball because it’s good. I don’t like soccer because it’s bad.” Okay? These words, “bad, good “, they’re too easy. You need to try to find vocabulary that is higher level and practice before you do the IELTS. So for example, a good thing to do is look at the list of topics you will probably be asked about.

Food is a very common thing they will ask you about. So try to come up with vocabulary in advance and practice this vocabulary about the different topics. So for example, I know they may ask me a question about food. So I might learn some words that have to do with food. Maybe I don’t know the word “cuisine”. Well, if they ask me a question about food, I can say, “My favorite type of food — I love Indian cuisine.” Okay? And there you go. They’ve just noticed you used a higher level word. Same with friends. A common word we use when we talk about friends, we talk about “acquaintances”. Okay? So this is another good word to use. So again, try to come up with vocabulary for each of the different topics, and practice. Okay.

Now, in this part of the IELTS, the examiner may ask you about what you like. “Do you like to play sports? What hobbies do you like? What are your favorite foods?” Now, one thing a lot of students do is they overuse “I like”. “I like this. I like that. I like this. I like that.” This is not going to help you with your vocabulary mark.

So instead of using “I like” a lot, try something different. “I enjoy playing basketball. I enjoy hanging out with my friends. I really love yoga. I really love bowling.” Okay? “I prefer playing sports to doing other activities.” So “I enjoy, I really love, I prefer” — I’m sure you can come up with more, but it’s good to practice these types of expressions before you do the IELTS, okay?” Another key tip: Expand your answers. So what does this mean? Well, maybe the examiner asked you a question, “What is your favorite food?” Or — sorry. Let me think of a good example. “Do you like to play sports?” Okay? The examiner might ask you that. Some students might just say, “No.” And that’s their answer. “Do you like to play sports? Do you like to cook?” “No.” Well, the examiner is not going to be able to judge your English if you answer questions yes or no.

You have to give bigger, longer answers. So this is what I mean by expand. Don’t just say “yes” or “no”. Even if you don’t know what to say, make something up. So for example, a common question they ask, “Where are you from?” Now, I could just say, “I’m from Toronto.” Or, “Toronto.” This isn’t going to help my IELTS mark. It’s better if I expand this answer. “I’m from Toronto. It’s actually the biggest city in Canada. It’s also considered one of the most multicultural cities in the world.” I don’t have to talk too long about Toronto. I don’t want to say the whole history of Toronto. I don’t want to keep talking and talking and talking. But I don’t want a very short answer. So you need to find an answer that is not too short and not too long. You want something in the middle. Okay? So that’s what I mean by “expand”.

One way to expand your answers is by giving examples. So I asked this question earlier. You know, “What’s your favorite food?” “Oh, I love Indian cuisine.” How can I add to this? I can give examples. “My favorite dish is palak paneer. It’s made from spinach, a type of cheese they use in India, spices. You know, we often eat it at my house.” So there. Instead of just saying, “I like Indian food”, I’ve given a lot of examples. And that’s what you want to do, okay? Finally, most importantly, practice. Okay? So you know the types of questions you’re going to get. A lot about what you do for work, what do you study, how many people are in your family — these types of questions. Now, it’s important to practice your answers. Okay? Practice with your friends. Practice with a mirror. Practice, practice, practice. It’s very important that you practice answering these types of questions before you do the IELTS. Okay, so now, let’s look at some of the “don’ts”, some things you shouldn’t do in the IELTS.

Okay. So what are things you shouldn’t do? Okay, now, we’re going to look at a list of what you shouldn’t do. So “don’ts”. Okay. Don’t do this. Don’t speak with a monotone. So I already mentioned this. Don’t speak where your voice flat, okay? Don’t speak like, “I have a mother and a father.” Don’t say things like that. Speak with enthusiasm, okay? Not monotone. Okay. Don’t give yes/no answers. “Do you have a family?” “Yes.” That’s a horrible answer.” Okay? It’s more — “Have you traveled to China?” “No.” Okay.

These types of answers are not the ones you want to give. Expand. Make your answer longer, even if you have to lie. It’s okay to lie on the IELTS as long as you speak. That’s the most important thing. Okay. Do not repeat the question. Okay. So if they say, “Do you like sports?” “Yes, I like sports.” You’re wasting a sentence. Instead of repeating the question back to them, find a better way to say it.

“Do you like sports in” “Yes. There are many sports that I find very fun and interesting.” Okay, so don’t repeat the question. “Do you have a family?” “Yes, I have a family.” It’s not a good thing to do.” Don’t go off topic. So sometimes, students — they’re really actually excited, and they want to talk. And they want to show off their language skills. And so they think, “Oh, yes. I need to expand my answers.” But instead of expanding, they go and they talk about so many different things that don’t have to do with the topic. So for example, if they ask me a question on my hometown, if I start talking about Toronto, and then I start talking about education, and then I start talking about technology, this is going off on too many different topics.

Stick to what they ask you. Okay? You can give examples, but they should be about — they should refer to the question they asked you. Okay. Don’t answer, “I don’t know.” So in the first part of the IELTS, this would actually be a difficult — I can’t imagine you actually using this answer because the point of Part 1 of the IELTS is to make you feel comfortable. So the examiner asks you questions about yourself. So you should know these answers. “What are your favorite hobbies? What types of foods do you like to eat? How many members are there in your family?” You shouldn’t answer, “I don’t know” to any of these questions.

They’re about you. And if — maybe you don’t know. Maybe you’ve never thought about what’s your favorite food. Just make it up. Okay? Even if you hate sushi, even if you hate West Indian food or Canadian food. That’s okay. Just make it up. “I love West Indian food. I love Canadian food.” If you don’t know, make up your answer. Don’t speak too quickly, and don’t speak too slowly. Okay? So this is a little bit about fluency.

What often happens with students is when they get nervous, they start to talk really, really, really fast, and they go a mile a minute. They just go so fast. So if you’re the type of person that does this, practice is speaking in environments where you get nervous. So this way, you can practice maybe ways to deal with stress, ways to deal with nervousness. Try not to speak too quickly. Also, don’t speak very slowly, okay? I’ve had some students who have used a lot of “uh’s” and “ah’s”, and this is a problem. So don’t speak too slowly. Okay? Another thing: Don’t speak quietly. Okay? A lot of students, they’re nervous, and they’re shy, so they talk like this. And the examiner has to really listen. They can’t hear what they’re saying, and so you’re not going to do as well if you talk quietly.

Talk with confidence. Talk loudly so they can hear what you’re saying. Okay. Finally, the most important point: Don’t worry about being perfect. You do not have to speak perfect English to do well on the IELTS. Even if you’re aiming for a mark of nine on the IELTS, a bandwidth of 9 — sorry. If you’re looking for the mark of nine, you do not need perfect English, okay? You can make mistakes. So if you make a mistake, that’s okay. If you can correct it easily, do so. If you try to correct it and you’re going to make more mistakes or you’re going to take a lot of time, it’s okay; just leave it. If you make a mistake, continue to talk. Move on. There’s a chance that the examiner didn’t even hear that mistake.

And they expect you to make mistakes. So if you make a mistake between using “a” or “the”, if you make a mistake in terms of grammar, it’s okay. Native speakers make mistakes, too. People are used to hearing native speakers, ESL students make mistakes. So you do not have to be perfect. I can’t say that enough. Don’t worry about being perfect. Okay? So if you’re wondering the types of questions you may see on the IELTS, and if you want to practice with a friend or even in front of the mirror, I strongly recommend you visit the website www.goodluckielts.com.

On this website, there are more tips, as well as practice questions for Part 1 of the IELTS. And information, too, on the writing section, listening section, and reading section, okay? So I also invite you to come and do our quiz at www.engvid.com where you can practice some of these tips that we’ve talked about today. So until next time, take care..

As found on Youtube