11 Techniques for Better IELTS Speaking Band Score The techniques we promote and teach are listed below, and each refers directly to a chapter in this book which describes and teaches IELTS Test candidates the skills mentioned. Technique 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. Paraphrasing the question to introduce the answer (part 1) Technique. Give reasons and examples to support the answer (part 1) Technique. Brainstorming and relating ideas Technique. Planning and making notes (part 2) Technique. Linking devices and expressions Technique. Useful expressions Technique. Determining and analyzing keywords Technique. Concluding expressions Technique. Synonyms and related expressions Technique. Structuring and developing ideas Technique. Pronunciation. Paraphrasing the question to introduce the answer (part 1) For one thing, paraphrasing is a good way to answer the question directly. It demonstrates your understanding of the question. Another thing is that it gives you time to come up with ideas quickly. Hence, as you deliver your first sentence, you can also be thinking of what to say next or how to finish your answer. How is the question paraphrased? When you have fully understood the question, you use the gist and present it in a sentence without repeating many (if not all) of the words from the question. Here are some explanatory examples: Do you think pets make people happy? I believe pets can be a source of happiness. Minimise the repeating of a content word (noun, verb, adjective, and adverb) in your response. You may vary the sentence style or you may invert the sequence of sentence parts. Do you like birds? Oh, birds are so adorable! (This is more natural than merely saying ‘Yes, I like birds!’) Give reasons and examples to support the answer (part 1) One sentence wouldn’t be enough to answer any part 1 question. There is always a need to expound or discuss, albeit concisely and straightforwardly. There is also an aim to sound natural in IELTS Speaking, so it would help if there are real-life examples or relevant discussions which you could use. Finally, one must not forget that IELTS is an English proficiency test, so there’s a need to show off the relevant skills. It would be advantageous if the candidate can express these well in an answer of considerable length. This is an opportunity for candidates to make use of learned expressions (showing use of complex and appropriate grammar) and drop them naturally into your speaking. How do we give examples for part 1 questions? First of all, we should not force it. One example for each question is more than enough. After all, the answer to every part 1 question should be simple, as it is mainly about personal matters. Secondly, examples should be presented in a very natural way, and they should not be obligatory. They might not be necessary in some cases. At the same time, they could also help you finish your presentation, especially when you run out of ideas. How do we give reasons for part 1 questions? Reasons are necessary to strengthen your claim on a certain issue. If you are asked to give an opinion, it’s always wise to present two or three reasons. In a casual conversation, we always want reasons for anything. We love asking. Even on trivial matters, the interrogative word why is prevalent. Brainstorming and relating ideas Brainstorming is extremely necessary in Speaking part 2. You are given a minute to prepare for your two-minute talk. This should be used for brainstorming ideas and vocabulary. Brainstorm ideas for the questions in the cue card. Write keywords for your answer (not sentences) for each of the wh- questions. Keywords can be nouns, adjectives, adverbs, and verbs. For example, the examiner asks you about your hobby. What? reading books Where? at home (bedroom) When? before going to bed Why? induces sleep What? inspirational book Whom with? alone How? entertaining Here are more examples: Describe a subject you enjoyed studying at school. You should say the following: When/where you started studying it/primary school / hometown What lessons were like they involved students’ participation / exciting What made the subject different from other subjects taught by a native speaker Explain why you enjoyed the subject teacher taught well and was very friendly Planning and making notes (part 2) Knowing ideas corresponding to the questions you are asked to answer during the examination and the right way of expressing those ideas using words and sentences are very vital to getting a good band score in IELTS. Formulating the appropriate answer can be done when one plans. Planning for Speaking part 2 is an essential key to approach the topic and to be able to come up with an organized answer that can help you talk within the given two minutes. It is also an effective tool so that you will not run out of words or grope for them when you are in the middle of delivering your answer. Making notes is the concretization of the plans. This is when you write what comes to your mind as a response to questions on the cue card. How and when do we make notes? One-minute preparation time is allocated before you start speaking in IELTS Speaking part 2. This is the period when you have to use the sheet of paper given by the examiner where you can write down keywords and ideas on. As mentioned in lesson 3, you have to write the keywords of your answer, which may be a noun, verb, pronoun, or adjective. Write at least 3 less common words for you to have a better score in lexical resource. Write notes for every question on the cue card. Never skip one, for your failure to answer one of the questions from the topic card would mean a penalty on your score. Linking devices and expressions Employing linking devices in speaking has a direct influence on your band score. The use of these is evaluated under fluency and coherence. The latter means that a candidate is capable of presenting ideas in a logical sequence using cohesive devices. It will be hard for a candidate to get a band score above 6 without using these devices. For a candidate to get a band score of 7, the examiner will strictly rate the IELTS taker’s flexibility in using connectives and capacity to speak at length without noticeable effort or loss of coherence. For this to happen, a candidate must use discourse markers and connectives having the same meaning and not repeat the same ones. Therefore, it is advisable for a candidate to familiarise these words and know how to use them. Through discourse markers, the listener can trace the relationship of what the speaker is saying, what has been said, and what is going to be uttered. This connection among sentences can help aid further understanding, which is the goal of communication. Useful expressions IELTS Speaking evaluates a candidate’s ability to express thoughts clearly. This implies that the listener must understand every idea conveyed. This understanding can be attained when a candidate accurately employs items of vocabulary, phrases, and other expressions. Further, these expressions must be used in such a way that the utterance will sound natural and not memorised. Lexical resource is another criterion evaluating the candidate’s speaking skill. In this facet, your ability to use higher-level words, collocations, and idiomatic expressions are looked for by the examiners. You have a minimum of 11 minutes to showcase the English you know, so you should be using complex words and not simple ones. To get a band score of 7, a candidate must have a wide range of vocabulary and use it flexibly to explain varied topics, use less common idiomatic expressions, and show awareness of style and collocation, with less inappropriate choices. The said requirements are not achieved overnight. Thus, a constant review of your lexical bank can help. Determining and analyzing keywords The ability to identify keywords is always stressed, and its importance is valued by many who have taken the IELTS examination and those who coach IELTS takers. Keywords are verbs, adjectives, nouns, and other parts of speech that carry the meaning of a sentence. Since the questions in IELTS Speaking are read by the examiner, you have to listen carefully to the whole question and its meaning, not to the individual words, and focus on the meaning, not on the words. Identifying keywords from the questions can help you frame and give a relevant answer. In other words, keywords guide you to giving the exact answer. The right answer is crucial in IELTS Speaking because this contains your ideas expressed using ideas and various sentence structures. There is no point in using less common words and complex sentence structures when your answer does not actually give what a question asks for. A wrong answer means not answering the question at all, thus affecting your band score. Even if there is an attempt at expressing ideas, as these ideas are not right, then you might be marked low in each of the four criteria still Concluding expressions Part 2 questions ask the IELTS takers to narrate a story or to describe something. In the narration, it is important that the speaker connects the sentences logically. One of the meanings of logical presentation is that there is a beginning and an end. This is where conclusion comes in. Therefore, a speech without a conclusion appears unsettled. This means that you are not through with the answer yet. The question is, does this affect your band score? There is no criterion explicitly stating the importance of a conclusion. However, it is already given that when we speak or talk, we really have to end it. And your ability to do this demonstrates your control of the language and its level of sophistication. In IELTS Writing, numerous websites and articles emphasize the importance of a conclusion. In fact, in structuring your essay, the concluding paragraph is always part of many paragraphs. The same thing is true in Speaking. The only difference is that the concluding sentences are spoken. Synonyms and related expressions Vocabulary range and accuracy is one of the criteria in the assessment of your speaking. The knowledge and use of synonyms are crucial to achieve a high band score because these help you avoid repeating words and help you express your thoughts with precision, which are closely observed by the examiner. To achieve band 7, a candidate must use the vocabulary resource flexibly to discuss a variety of topics. Using words flexibly means that a candidate should not use the same words when discussing a variety of topics. Repetitive answers are penalized, and candidates who do so are likely to get a lower band. Structuring and developing ideas Other than grammar and pronunciation, organization of thoughts and points is also assessed in the Speaking test. The examiner will look at how your ideas are presented. For a good band score in your coherence and fluency, the flow of ideas should be smooth, consistent, and logical. Therefore, an answer that lacks these qualities is likely to get a low band score. In part 2 of the IELTS Speaking test, you are to give a short talk for two minutes. One of the challenges in this part of the test is how to stay coherent. This is how you organize your content in a manner that your message is understood. There should be comprehension at the examiner’s end. The trip from your opening to your closing must be loophole-free or you might go in circles without actually answering the questions then lose your message. The good organization improves fluency and coherence, reducing your mistakes. Pronunciation One of the criteria in assessing speaking is pronunciation. It is 25 percent of your IELTS Speaking score. It is as important as grammar, vocabulary, and organization of ideas. Thus, a low mark in pronunciation might ruin your chances of getting a high band score. Pronunciation is different from accent. In IELTS Speaking, a candidate is not penalized for having an accent but for pronunciation errors. These are mispronounced words and words that most people in your country pronounce incorrectly when speaking in English. Your pronunciation score is based on clarity, speed of speech, word stress, sentence stress and intonation. Speaking with clarity means that you have to speak clearly so that the examiner can understand you. You do not need to sound like a native speaker, and you do not need to rush. In IELTS Speaking, you have to speak at a moderate speed. When we say moderate, it means that you don’t speak too fast or too slow. Remember that you are communicating your ideas to be understood.