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
- Lexical Resource
- Grammatical Range & Accuracy
– you should be talking at the right speed (not too slow OR too fast) and connecting your ideas together.
– you need good vocabulary and to be able to use it well.
– your spoken English should be grammatically correct.
– 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.