This post will help you give better answers in part 2 of the IELTS speaking test.
In IELTS speaking part 2 you will be given a topic or cue card similar to this:
- Describe a plant grown in your country. You should say
– what the plant is
– where it is grown
– why you like or dislike it
and explain why it is important to your country.
You will have 1 minute to make notes and then will be asked to speak for between 1-2 minutes.
Speaking for 2 minutes on an unfamiliar topic scares most IELTS students and that’s why IELTS speaking part 2 is one of the most feared parts of the exam. The problem seems to be running out of things to say or not knowing what to say because you are unfamiliar with the cue card suggestions.
To overcome this problem, I have developed a strategy to help students and it has proved very successful.
A common error is thinking you have to talk about exactly what is written on the card. You don’t! Having spoken to several IELTS examiners and students who achieved very high marks in their speaking test, I can assure you that you don’t have to cover everything on the card. The band descriptors also don’t mention anything about answering all the suggested parts of task 2.
Following the suggested sentences on the card is fine and many candidates do very well following them but others run out of ideas. More importantly, if you have a structure to follow for every question you can practice and prepare more effectively.
My strategy is to talk about what you feel comfortable talking about. In other words, talk about the things you think will get you the highest marks. If you like the suggestions on the card, then talk about them. But if you don’t, or you want some extra things to talk about, then follow the strategy below.
When you get the cue card you will be given one minute to write down some ideas. You are going to use this time wisely by using the following structure. On the piece of paper provided write down five headings with a little space between each one.
Now you will start to write keywords beside each of these headings. Let’s look at each in a little more detail.
Start off by saying ‘I’d like to talk about (X).’ Then say ‘I chose this topic because…’ and you will be able to say why you choose this topic. If you can’t think of a reason just make one up, although it’s always better to talk about real experiences.
Now pause and use a linking word like ‘anyway’ or ‘anyhow’ to transition into talking about the past. This will allow you to demonstrate that you are confident using a range of past structures. For example-
Used to + infinitive to talk about past habits or states that are now finished.
Would + infinitive to describe past habits.
Past simple to talk about things you did in the past that you no longer do or are no longer true.
Past continuous to talk about the background of a story or how you felt at a particular time.
Past perfect to say something happened before something else in the past.
Now pause and say ‘So let me tell you about (X) in a little more detail.’ This is your opportunity to impress the examiner with specific vocabulary. Get to know the common topics and have some specific adjectives ready. If you use an adjective to describe something, make sure you expand on it or explain it with examples. Again, if you can’t think of specific examples, it is fine to make these up. Make sure your examples match the adjective and you will be fine.
Now you can pause and say ‘If you ask me/In my view/I would say + (opinion on topic). This give you a chance to express how you feel about the topic. It could be your personal opinion or it could be a comparative or superlative. Using a wide range of phrases to express your opinion will help you get a higher mark. If you want to give a stronger opinion you could say:
I strongly believe that…
As far as I’m concerned…
I’m strongly against…
I’m strongly in favour of….
I’m skeptical of the idea that…
I must admit, I think….
Finally you can display your ability to use future tenses. Start off by saying ‘With regards to the future….’ A range of tenses will help you gain extra marks. For example you could use:
Present continuous to talk about fixed arrangements.
Be going + to + infinitive to talk about future plans.
Will or won’t + infinitive is used with predictions based on opinions or experiences. It can also be used to talk about hopes and assumptions.
The future perfect- will have + past participle- is used to say something will have happened or will have been completed by a certain point in the future.
That’s it! Five simple headings that will allow you to speak for at least two minutes without any difficultly.
The most important thing is that you practice using this strategy with many different topics. Get some past IELTS speaking part 2 questions and ask a friend or classmate to give you them at random. You can start off slowly by using this post to help you, but after a lot of practice, this strategy will become natural for you and you will be able to answer any part 2 question with confidence.
There is no magic formula or trick to getting the IELTS band you want but there are good strategies you can use and, more importantly, strategies you can use to help you practice.
Here is an IELTS speaking task 2 question. Try using the strategy above with this question and please post your answers in the comments below and I will get back to you.
Describe a teacher that you know.
You should say:
what the teacher looks like
what sort of person this teacher is
what the teacher helped you to learn
and explain why this teacher is popular.
Remember, you don’t have to talk about what the teacher looks like, what sort of person they are, what the teacher helped you to learn or explain why this teacher is popular. You can talk about these things but you don’t have to. Do whatever you feel most confident talking about. All you have to do with my strategy is talk about:
Here’s an example of a student using the strategy.
I look forward to reading your comments and answers.