This is the final portion of Vasco’s tips – here he explains what helped him get a great score for the Speaking test. For those of you who only joined us today, you will find his Reading tips here, Listening tips here and Writing tips here.
You might find it challenging to practice speaking especially if you live in a place where nobody else speaks English. But be imaginative: opportunities are all around you to speak good English and finding someone else to speak to.
Try some internet friends (native speakers), look in your circle of friends for people who studied or lived for a time in an English-speaking country or even go back to your high-school English teachers. Don’t forget to repeat phrases you hear from native speakers in real time (the “pause-button” method) or even read texts into a voice recognition software, as I suggested for the writing.
But above all, speak with someone else in exam conditions. I still had the contact of a former high-school English teacher and she agreed to practice in speaking with me. I also had the help of a friend who lived in the States for a year.
We would start an informal conversation in English and then practiced the exercises in the book. With my portable computer and microphone in place we recorded various interviews in the exact 3 part format of the real exam (introduction with a set of questions, a monologue of 2 minutes and then discussing a given topic). This proved a great way to adapt myself to the interview format (11-15 minutes), with the timing information on-the-screen allowing us to keep it within the required limits. Then I would e-mail the audio files to my teacher for tips on my speaking: pronunciation, fluency, grammar, rhythm and any other aspects to improve.
With the latest audio files I was happy to find out that my teacher had nothing special to comment or improve on; it was all was very positive. I say this to recommend you to practice that speaking in exam conditions and record it so you can hear it later and notice were you need to improve. It’s amazing just how fast you will improve your speaking this way, with a real human interaction. You will benefit a lot just by doing it, even if you can’t reach a skilled teacher to listen to it later. The most important thing is to practice, in exam conditions as much as you can.
When I got to the actual exam all the sequence seemed familiar and natural to me. This is a sure way to be calm and cool on the exam day, because you know you prepared specifically for that moment, with the help and honest feedback of people who are good in English.
I wish you all the best for you Exam with the conviction that, if you are serious about IELTS, your success will be guaranteed.