Why is there a Speaking test in IELTS?
When you go to an English speaking country either for higher studies or for work, you will have to express yourself only in English. So, you should be able to communicate effectively: understand what the other person wishes to know and provide the requisite information.The IELTS English Speaking test is the same for both General and Academic IELTS. You face the examiner for this test and have a conversation with the examiner. The IELTS Speaking test lasts for 11 to 14 minutes. The examiner decides the result at the end of the test. The test is recorded in case a reference is needed later. You will be taken from one situation to another. The examiner will control the time and length of your answers.
Overview of IELTS Speaking test and IELTS Speaking Topics
The IELTS Speaking test has three Parts. But you go through the process of ID Checking before the test starts. The three parts of the IELTS Speaking test are:
- Part 1: This part of the test lasts for 4-5 minutes and consists of several IELTS speaking questions. In this part, the examiner will ask you questions on familiar topics such as hobbies, friends, schooling, likes, dislikes, etc.
- Part 2: This part of the test lasts for 3-4 minutes. In this part, you will get a booklet with some cues on a topic such as, “Your best holiday” etc. You will get one minute to write some notes and prepare for the topic. Then you will have to talk about the topic for 1-2 minutes.
- Part 3: This part of the test lasts for 4-5 minutes. In this part, the examiner will ask you questions related to your topic in Part 2, for example, “Should people go out on holidays?”.
What will be the criteria for the assessment of IELTS Speaking test?
- Coherence and fluency in your speech – Your level of being able to express your thoughts will be judged. You should have meaningful speech and your speech should be fluent without unnecessary pauses and sound fillers.
- Coherence and fluency in your speech – Your ability to use the words correctly and to use low-frequency words will attract more points.
- Accuracy and range of your grammar – You should be able to produce error-free sentences with a range of structures in your speech.
- Your ability to pronounce the words – You can have any accent but you must pronounce the words correctly. Example – ‘bet’ should not become ‘bat’ or ‘vet’.
Your band in Speaking will range between 2 and 9 depending upon your ability in the above-mentioned points. 0 (Zero) Band is given when the test is not attended and 1 Band is given when no communication is possible. You get a higher Band according to your proficiency in speaking.
IELTS Speaking Tips on how to improve your speaking skills
- Become familiar with English sounds and the stress within words.
English is not a phonemic language, that is, the words are not always spoken the way they are written. There are 26 letters in the English alphabet, but 44 sounds and phonetic symbols are used to represent the sounds in the dictionaries.
Moreover, not only the sound but also the stress within the words and in a sentence plays an important role. One part of a bi-syllable and a multi-syllable word is always stressed more than the other parts.
- Understand the syllables in words and learn to modulate your speech.
In English speech, vowel sound gives syllable to a word. For instance:
- Prop has one syllable
- Proper has two syllables
- Properly has three syllables
- When a word has more than one syllable then one of the syllables is stressed more than the other syllables. Sometimes, the stronger syllable is stretched more in order to bring a strong impact in our speech.
In case the vowel sound is followed by two consonant sounds, the sound of the first consonant goes with the preceding vowel sound, and the sound of the second consonant goes with the next vowel sound.Example:
- Pamphlet – pamph-let
- Pragmatic – prag – ma – tic
- Sacrosanct – sac – ro – sanct
- Stress in Bi-syllable words – One of the syllables is stressed more than the other. The weak vowel sounds are not stressed. Open your mouth more for the stressed part – put more force of breath on the stressed sound.
Weak vowel sounds in English Speech – The weak vowel sounds are not stressed in English speech. Let’s understand the vowel sounds that are weak.
- The sound of ‘y’ at the end of words such as easy, policy, strategy, etc. is weak.
- The sound of ‘u’ in words such as put, ‘ou’ in words such as should, ‘oo’ in words such as foot is same. This sound is weak.
- The sound of ‘i’ in words such as pin, gin, minute, etc. is weak.
- The sound of ‘a’ in words such as amount, ‘e’ in words such as water, ‘u’ in words such as circus is same. This sound is weak.
Rules for stress in bi-syllable nouns, verbs and adjectives
Nouns -Mostly, the stress is on the first syllable, if the first syllable is weak, the stress is on the second syllable. Example:
Verbs – Mostly, the stress is on the second syllable, if the second syllable is weak, the stress is on the first syllable. Example:
Adjectives – Mostly, the stress is on the second syllable, if the second is weak, the stress is on the first one. Example:
Multi-syllable words – One of the syllables are stressed more than the others. There can be a secondary stress also in words that have four or more syllables, ie, one more syllable has some stress. Weak sounds are not stressed. Open your mouth more for the stressed part – stretch the sound more than the others.
Nouns – Start with the last syllable, if weak, stress the penultimate, if the penultimate is also weak, stress the anti-penultimate, if all are weak, stress the first syllable. Example:
Verbs – Start with the first syllable…if weak, stress the second one,…if the second is also weak, stress the next one,…if all are weak, stress the last syllable. Example:
Adjectives – Start with the last syllable…if weak, stress the penultimate…if the penultimate is also weak, stress the anti-penultimate…if all are weak, stress the first syllable. Example:
In a sentence, put more stress on the keywords or impact words i.e. noun, verb, adjective and adverb. Put more force of breath on these words. Example:
- The rise of Bangladesh in the Indian travel market has been quite rapid.
- Could you help me please?
- Tyre companies are planning to work with the Rubber Board to increase rubber production and quality.
Sometimes, a correction in the information or emphasis on certain information is needed. Then, accordingly, the words are stressed. Example:
- I need this pen, not that.
- This course is for the students across the world.
- Work on tone units – A tone unit comprises of the words that we say together for meaning clarity in our speech. For instance, if we have to give our contact number to somebody, we divide the numbers in two or three groups.Example – In case your contact number is 9098761368, you put the numbers in different units – 9098 761 368 – called tone units and the voice rises or falls at the end of the tone unit.Therefore, to have “pauses” at the correct place in your speech, you must learn to put the words of your speech in correct tone units. Otherwise, the pauses will be at the wrong places and that will make your speech incoherent.Intonation, the rise and fall of tone in a tone unit, and the tone unit play an important role in English speech. While speaking, put the words of a tone unit together. Speak out the words of one tone unit like one word. You should not split phrases into different tone units.Example:London is a/ beautiful city in/ Europe. (wrong)London/ is a beautiful city/ in Europe. (correct)
- Enhance your vocabulary. Use signpost language.Have a good mix of low-frequency and high-frequency words. Attempt quizzes on Vocabulary Building.
- Improve your grammar. Too many grammatical errors will affect your speech and your Band in IELTS. Understand, subject + verb agreement and tenses well. Understand the basic rules of grammar. Go through the notes on grammar rules and practise in simulated situations. Attempt quizzes and practice exercises on Grammar.
- Overcome the habit of using sounds/cliches such as uuuu…, I mean, you know etc. Get feedback about the way you speak. Practise regularly for fluency in your speech. Take IELTS Speaking Practice tests.
- Listen attentively to others when in a conversation with them so that you respond correctly. You should be able to understand clearly when the examiner asks you to speak about an event or a situation.
- Practise speaking regularly – the more you practise, the better you will be. Take IELTS Speaking practice tests.