We recently posted a video which featured the top 5 ways you can improve your IELTS speaking preparation. This advice came straight from our former VIP students who each scored Band 7 or above in the IELTS speaking test and were kind enough to share their experiences with you all.
Seeing as so many of you liked, commented and shared the video, I thought I’d take this opportunity to expand on the valuable lessons we can take from these key pieces of advice.
Don’t worry if you missed what our VIP students had to say, you can find out in the video below:
#1 Practice as much as possible.
If you’re going to show the IELTS examiner that you can communicate with them clearly and naturally, you need to have both SKILL and EXPERIENCE speaking in English. Therefore, practice should be a key part of your IELTS speaking preparation.
“But I have no one to practice with me!”
Don’t worry – you do not need a speaking partner to practice IELTS speaking from home. You can:
- Record yourself answering IELTS practice questions. You can then listen back to the recording and reflect on your mistakes. At first, you might be surprised to hear how many small mistakes you make without even realising. This will give you the evidence you need to identify your weaknesses and attack them.
- Try to teach a friend or family member. There’s no better way of mastering a skill than teaching it to someone else!
It doesn’t matter which practice strategy you use – the key is to identify your weaknesses and take action against them.
Chris’ video lesson below discusses this in much greater detail:
#2 Know what the examiner is looking for.
You need to understand exactly what you’ll be graded on in the test and prepare for it accordingly in your IELTS speaking preparation. By doing so, you’ll be able to give the examiner everything they need to award you a Band 7+.
In other words, you need to focus on the things that matter and ignore those that don’t.
There are only four areas that you should focus on in your speaking preparation:
- Fluency and Coherence
- Lexical Resource
- Grammatical Range and Accuracy
By focusing your IELTS speaking preparation on these four sections, you will ensure that you are fully prepared and have absolute confidence on the day of your exam.
Additionally, by understanding what the examiner is looking for, you can also avoid wasting your time on redundant questions like:
Should I speak in an American accent? Do I need to make eye contact? Should I wear specific clothing?
(In case you’re wondering, the answers to the questions above are all the same – NO! To find out why, check out Chris’ article 10 Don’ts for the IELTS Speaking Test on the British Council website here).
#3 Surround Yourself with English.
To perform to the best of your ability in the speaking test, you need to be familiar with receiving and producing the English language before your exam.
As Tejinder and Alishan mentioned in the video above, a great way of improving your speech recognition and production skills is by making an effort to speak in English when you usually don’t.
This is why we recommend doing a 24-hour English warm-up the day before your IELTS exam. By choosing to speak, write, read and listen to only English for 24 hours before your test, you will give your brain plenty of time to get used to thinking in English. You will also feel much more confident as your exam approaches.
>> To try it out, click here for our 24-hour English warm-up guide.
#4 Use Vocabulary Wisely.
If you read the IELTS assessment criteria, you can see that vocabulary accounts for 25% of your total score for IELTS speaking. Therefore, you NEED to make sure that you’re using it correctly!
What do I mean by this?
One of the easiest ways to lose marks in the speaking exam is by using “advanced” vocabulary incorrectly. Don’t try to impress the examiner with “Band 8 words” that you don’t fully understand – they will spot your mistakes straight away.
Our top 5 pieces of advice for expanding your vocabulary properly are:
- Don’t learn long lists of words. It won’t improve your score.
The IELTS exam is a language exam – NOT a memorisation test. You can’t improve your language skills by learning long lists of words because you won’t learn how to use them in natural conversation. Instead, you should prioritise using vocabulary appropriately.
- Learning vocabulary takes time.
And rushing it results in fundamental mistakes. If you don’t learn how to use or pronounce a word properly and repeat it in the speaking test, the examiner will mark you down and your score will suffer.
- You don’t need to use fancy or complicated words.
Peppering “high-level” words into your speech will never improve the quality of your speaking if your grammar, pronunciation and fluency are poor. Remember, your priority in the IELTS exam is NOT to impress the IELTS examiner, but to clearly communicate with them.
- YOU need to take action.
Any good IELTS teacher can show you how to improve your vocabulary, but they can’t learn the words for you. Only you can.
Check out the following article for an intensive look at these five steps + access to our free Vocabulary Improvement Plan:
5 Things You Need to Know About IELTS Vocabulary
#5 Be Patient
One of the most valuable lessons you should learn about your IELTS speaking preparation is that you need to be able to walk before you can run.
In other words, it’s important that you don’t get stressed out about the fact that your skills won’t improve overnight. Improving a skill set is a process, not a journey. Therefore, it is completely normal for it to take some time.
If you persevere, stay patient and keep a positive mindset, you’ll be amazed at how enjoyable and effective your IELTS speaking preparation can be.
You might also be interested in:
IELTS Speaking Preparation: Tips, Tools and Resources
Criteria for IELTS Speaking
Is Accent Important?
How to Speak About an Unfamiliar Topic
I hope this article has helped you to gain a better understanding of how to improve your IELTS speaking preparation. You’re welcome to continue using the free materials on our website, and always feel free to send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org for some personalised advice on how we can help you get the IELTS score you need.