Got a low Speaking Score in IELTS? Here are the tools to improve it.

Let’s start by shattering two myths.

Myth #1. If you live in a non-English speaking country, your English speaking isn’t good enough because you don’t have anyone to talk to (in English).

Myth #2. If you do live in an English-speaking country, hearing English every day automatically improves your English speaking.

Do you believe that? Because it’s very far from the truth. And the truth is

1. You CAN improve your English speaking even if there’s no one to talk to. Speaking out loud, by yourself is proven to be a very effective way to speak more fluent English.

2. Your English speaking won’t improve through just listening to, reading or writing in English.

“Your English speaking will only improve with active effort and practise” – says Georgie Harding, a knowledgeable and reputable speech pathologist, who has been working with non-native English speakers for 12 years and helped many IELTS test takers to increase their scores by 1 whole band or more.

But what do you apply your effort to? How should you practice?

As you know, in the IELTS test your Speaking is scored on 4 criteria:

  • Fluency & Coherence
  • – you should be talking at the right speed (not too slow OR too fast) and connecting your ideas together.

  • Lexical Resource
  • – you need good vocabulary and to be able to use it well.

  • Grammatical Range & Accuracy
  • – your spoken English should be grammatically correct.

  • Pronunciation
  • – you need to pronounce English well, your examiner should be able to understand you easily. Your pronunciation should not require him/her to concentrate in order to understand what you’re saying!

To improve your IELTS Speaking score there are daily actions you need to take to work on each of these 4 areas. Here are some tools to get you started:

Improving your Fluency & Coherence

Check your speed. If you speak too fast, you make the listener work harder, and also your pronunciation is likely to suffer from it. Watch this video on how and why to improve your rate.

If your English is too slow, it is a sign you need to work on fluency and vocabulary. Watch this video 1 Daily Habit to Fantastic English Fluency and practice for 15 minutes every day.

Improving your Lexical Resource

Using idioms will help. They are also referred to as ‘proverbs’ or ‘figures of speech’ – these are common sayings that have a certain meaning. Here is an example – ‘Back to the drawing board’ means you attempted something, but it failed and now it’s time to start over. Idioms will help you sound closer to a native speaker – but the trick is to use them only when appropriate, that is when the meaning of the idiom fits well in your sentence, and it is also very important that you don’t use them too much.

Using paraphrasing helps you avoid repeating the examiner’s questions – if you’re able to paraphrase, you can express the same idea using different words. For example, if the examiner asks you “How have schools and classrooms changed since you were a child?”, you can start your answer with “When I think of the way schools work nowadays…”, or “Today schools are different from the past because…” or “When I think of the modern classrooms…” – thus avoiding repetition of the question.

Using synonyms and antonyms also helps you sound more varied and less repetitive. For example saying something like “I am not a big fan of hot weather. I find cooler climates more pleasant.” is a good example of using the antonym pair ‘hot-cold’.

Improving your Grammatical Range & Accuracy, and Pronunciation

Did you know that your Pronunciation can affect your score for Grammatical Range and Accuracy? Here is how the two are connected: imagine you’re describing something that happened in the past, but you swallow your past tense endings ‘ed’ in a way they can’t be heard (you sound like ‘smile’ when you say ‘smiled’, or you sound like ‘talk’ when you say ‘talked’, etc). So for example you mean to say “I walked home yesterday from work” but you sound like “I walk home yesterday from work”. To the examiner it would sound like you’re using a present tense verb in a past tense sentence, which is grammatically incorrect and your score for Grammatical Range and Accuracy could suffer.

To make sure this doesn’t happen to you, visit this page that Georgie Harding created especially for IELTS test takers, and learn more about potential pronunciation mistakes, ways to practice and tools to improve your IELTS Speaking score.

Special offer for IELTS-Blog.com visitors

If you decide to purchase any of Georgie’s pronunciation courses, we have an awesome gift for you – let us know which of our IELTS books you’d like to receive, and we will email it to you, absolutely FREE! This will save you anywhere from $41 to $90, so do let us know – email info@ielts-blog.com and say you enrolled in a Speech Active course, and what book you’d like to get. The books you can choose from are ‘Ace the IELTS’, ‘Target Band 7’, ‘IELTS Success Formula’ and any IELTS 5 Practice Tests books from “High Scorer’s Choice” series.

How to get people to understand your spoken English

Did you know that pronunciation affects your IELTS score? It is a fact that 1/4 of your Band score depends on how you pronounce English words.

If your English is generally good and your writing is easy to understand (be it your emails, notes, essays or anything else), but when you open your mouth and say something people look lost, it’s probably because you aren’t speaking clearly. It can be so frustrating when you think there’s nothing wrong with the way you speak, but people obviously struggle – they move their faces closer to you (as if they want to hear you better), they keep saying “I beg your pardon?” or “Say it again?”, and from their answers you see they totally didn’t get what you were asking. Imagine what would happen if your IELTS examiner couldn’t figure out what you were saying!

And the reason is your pronunciation. While learning English we pick up a way to pronounce words, and we stick to it, but it’s not always correct. The trouble is, we are more concerned with what we say, than how we say it. We rarely give our pronunciation a second thought, even though the way we pronounce words can make a perfect sentence sound like nonsense.

“But why can’t they understand me?!”

Georgie Harding, a well-known Australian speech pathologist, says that these 3 areas are super important: word stress, rhythm and how you pronounce your vowels.

But first, what is ‘word stress’? Any word has one or more syllables, for example the word “air” has 1 syllable, the word “water” has 2 – “wa-ter”, the word “capable” has 3 syllables – “ca-pa-ble”, the word “capacity” has 4 syllables – “ca-pa-ci-ty”. When we pronounce a word, we say one syllable loudly and the other syllables quietly. In other words, we stress one syllable, but not the others. In the word “capable” the first syllable is said loudly – “CA-pable”, but in the word “capacity” the second syllable is stressed – “ca-PA-city”.

Stressing the correct syllable is very important and when you do that, people won’t have to concentrate so hard to understand you. Watch this short video where Georgie explains how to pronounce some professional words correctly, and check your own pronunciation!

If you know or suspect you have a problem with pronunciation, Georgie can help – click here to watch her free video lessons on commonly mispronounced words. She is the founder of Speech Active pronunciation course and helped numerous people to finally be understood – without repeating what they just said over and over again.

Special offer for IELTS-Blog.com visitors

If you decide to purchase any of Georgie’s pronunciation courses, we have an awesome gift for you – let us know which of our IELTS books you’d like to receive, and we will email it to you, absolutely FREE! This will save you anywhere from $41 to $90, so do let us know – email info@ielts-blog.com and say you enrolled in a Speech Active course, and what book you’d like to get. The books you can choose from are ‘Ace the IELTS’, ‘Target Band 7’, ‘IELTS Success Formula’ and any IELTS 5 Practice Tests books from “High Scorer’s Choice” series.

 

Awards

  • Top 25 IELTS Blogs Winner Award
  • Best Australian Blogs 2014 Competition - People's Choice Winner

Sponsors

Online course

Practice tests

Site Search

New Services

Latest Posts: