IELTS Speaking tests a candidate’s speaking abilities, fluency, knowledge of lexical resources, grammatical range, pronunciation, and much more. It is crucial to work on these fronts altogether! Why work on one criterion of the Speaking module when you can work on all of them together!
This blog will give a detailed idea of how the IELTS Speaking module works, scoring criteria, and IELTS Speaking tips. You can say, this is a perfect guide to cracking the IELTS Speaking module.
So what is IELTS? And why are all the four modules – Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking carry equal importance?
Brief about IELTS
The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam grades a candidate on the level of their English Language Proficiency. The exam is divided into two types: IELTS Academic & IELTS General Training.
Candidates who desire to study overseas attempt the IELTS Academic exam. A lot of academic institutions in Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, the United States, etc. accept the IELTS score as proof of proficiency in the English language.
While as, candidates who wish to work or migrate to an overseas country, need to appear for the IELTS General Training exam. This score is recognised for immigration purposes, non-academic profiles, or work-related profiles.
What does IELTS do?
The IELTS exam is a measuring parameter of an aspirant's practical application of the English language across four modules – Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking. The listening and speaking sections remain the same for both IELTS - Academic & General Training; the difference lies in the Reading and Writing part.
What do people think about the IELTS Speaking Test?
You are well aware of the fact that you are not being judged directly in the other tasks. But, in the Speaking section, you are on a face-to-face test with the examiner. That is a big thing for a person who may not be fluent or one who has trouble conversing in English.
But hey! Let's look at the brighter part. The IELTS Speaking test is only held for a total duration of 11 – 14 minutes. You have to maintain that natural speech throughout.
The Speaking Test is divided into three sections and scored on a nine-band scale. Let's have a detailed insight into each of these sections, and know how to answer them correctly.
IELTS Speaking Sections
- INTRODUCTION & INTERVIEW QUESTIONS
- CUE CARD TASK
- COUNTER QUESTIONS/DISCUSSIONS
1. INTRODUCTION & INTERVIEW QUESTIONS
The examiner first introduces themselves and then asks the candidate questions on familiar topics. The IELTS Speaking Topics in this section are quite simple and introductory. Consider this as a warm-up section, one which will get you familiarised with the exam.
- What do you do?
- Where do you come from?
- Why select a particular field of study?
- What are your hobbies?
- How do you utilise your free time?
- Which town are you from?
- What kind of place is it?
- Is it a good place to live & why?
- How long have you lived there?
- What do you like most about it?
These are some questions whose answers you can pre-prepare so that you can have a crystal clear of what you're saying. But, no matter what the question is, never answer in just one or two words and elaborate your viewpoints in 2 - 3 sentences. They should be crisp yet complete. Speak in a very relaxed and composed way.
The questions will be spontaneous. Some common questions revolve around areas of work, school, college, the area of residence, etc. However, you should improvise your responses when needed. Know your domain fully so that you're able to answer any possible question that comes from the examiner. Again, the questions are basic.
2. CUE CARD TASK
In the IELTS Speaking Cue Card task
, you get approximately one minute to prepare yourself to talk about a particular topic. The instructions to 'guide your talk' are written on a card and is given to you by the examiner. Your talk or extempore, as you may call it, should last for two minutes until the examiner asks you to stop.
Let's take an example:
IELTS Speaking Question: Describe someone in your family you admire.
Start by giving an immediate answer and a supporting reason for the background and relation of the person to you. Also state, your first memories of the concerned person, how often do you see this person, and how is he different from others?
You could also try and show their profession, nature, behaviour, personality, personal experience with that person, etc.
In this case, whatever you speak, don't stray away from the main point; don't shift your answer to other family members!
The IELTS Speaking topics are generally selected to be highly interactive. So that, candidates can easily speak on a given topic.
Begin with jotting down essential points on the paper. Writing is crucial as it helps you get a proper idea of the flow you need to maintain when you'll be speaking in your second task. Your ideas should be natural, and your speech must gain a considerable length.
In the IELTS Speaking test, cover all the points mentioned in the cue card, speak for 2 minutes, and elaborate on the points you've written.
Be audible, be loud when you speak, and speak with confidence so that the speaker captures every word clearly. Do not shout, though!
3. COUNTER QUESTIONS/DISCUSSIONS
After the Cue Card task, the examiner asks you counter questions to you, based on the second (Cue Card) task.
In this task, the questions will be co-related with the Cue Card topic and for each question, you should speak a few lines. Speak about the question and close the sentence properly (grammatically and accurately), don’t leave it incomplete.
Remember a question we asked you previously about your family? Now, these are some possible counter questions that might follow:
- What are the values of family in your country?
- How can you relate family to happiness?
- What type of family do you prefer? Nuclear or joint?
- How have family bonds and values changed over the years?
Understand that a bit of bluffing in the topic is completely okay. You are not judged based on the righteousness or truthfulness of the answer; you are evaluated on the fluency, pronunciation, grammatical range, and accuracy of the answer.
Know that the examiner will not judge you based on your viewpoints or the ideas you present. Positivity or negativity in your content does not influence your score.
The way you speak, the clarity, the way you express your ideas, level of ambiguity, etc. are some parameters on which you'll be judged.
Now that you know how to tackle the IELTS Speaking test
, you must understand IELTS Speaking
parameters and scoring criteria across various band descriptors. Here is an assessment criterion:
Fluency & Coherence – Fluency is nothing but how you speak at a normal pace, with normal speed, and without any hesitation. If you can frame your sentences and ideas in a logical order, that's Coherence! Remember: Fluency is not when you talk fast, it is when you speak correctly, without any errors.
Lexical Resource – It assesses your knowledge of vocabulary.
Grammatical Range & Accuracy – It is all about your knowledge regarding grammar, basic structures, subject-verb agreement, etc. and how accurately you use them in the IELTS speaking test.
Pronunciation – It shows your ability to speak.
IELTS Speaking Tips:
- It is a good idea to prepare yourself ahead of the exam.
- Prepare short answers and practice them to the questions asked in the first section (Introduction).
- Avoid repetition; try not to repeat the same points over and over again. You do not get any score for that. It might instead showcase your limited thinking ability to the examiner.
- Knowing a good number of words is a huge plus. But don't stuff words in the answer even when it is not required. It does more harm than good.
- Make it a habit of regularly learning ten new words a day. Also, use them in daily conversations to get more used to them.
- Self - Correction is okay but don't do it at the end of each sentence. Keep it occasional.
- Do not fake your accent. It might cause unclear pronunciation. Keep your speech natural instead!
If you're still confused, just think about engaging in a conversation in your native language, your mother tongue with someone you know. You should know where to pause, where to emphasise, where to put that full stop, etc.
- Practice speaking before the IELTS Speaking exam – Most Important
- Practice at Home and talk in English with your peers
- Ask the examiner - To repeat questions or part of those questions you don't clearly understand. Again, don't repeat this too often.
- Complete your answer - Don't leave midway throughout your answer. Learn to give a complete answer.
- Memorise answers: You could end up losing track of the questions asked and tend to stop at the slightest chance of confusion.
- Worry about the examiner's opinion: The examiner is not there to check your opinion; he/she is there to check your speaking command over the English language.
- Insert lots of complex words: Use vocabulary that is easy to understand and complex words that are in proper alignment with the sentence.
- Stay silent: As this section is about speaking, you need to talk. Even if you do not know the answer, talk about something relatable.
- Worry about your accent: Remember. Stay natural. Your accent isn't in the assessment criteria.
- Get nervous: It is exam day and is understandable. Speak daily in front of people and gain confidence.
IELTS Speaking is a tough module to score high. You can’t just focus on one aspect of the test and hope that it will be enough, but rather you need to work on all aspects together – fluency, vocabulary knowledge, grammar usage, etc.
If you want to practice, you can find many IELTS Speaking topics to master your fluency and score higher in your next IELTS test.
We also have IELTS Speaking questions
about various topics related to all the three tasks – Introduction, Cue Card, and Discussion, which might interest you too!