7 Quick Tips that make you a great speaker

Well there aren’t actually 7 tips nor 8 nor even 9, 10, or 11.  Being a great speaker comes with practice.  Even native speakers of English may not sound great speakers to other native listeners.  However there are a few things that distinguish someone among the native English speaking population as being better than most.

The first one is Listening:  not many people would think this is connected to speaking but it is – especially in the IELTS speaking exam.  Take a look at an actual dialogue between an examiner and a student.

Examiner:  Why do you think that most people do hobbies?

Student:  Do hobbies.  Do hobbies.  I have only a few hobbies but I like do hobbies.

The student did not listen to the Examiners question and instead answered whether they like to do hobbies or not.  This would cost them points.  Listening, especially in part 3 of the speaking exam, is key to effective speaking and being part of a conversation.

Next is Confidence.  Be sure in what you are saying even if you are not.  A lot of foreign speakers will raise the end of their sentences (like they do in Spanish or Italian) but in English this is heard as being unsure.  Drop the end of all your English sentences – this makes you sound confident in what you are talking about.

Finally there is Clarity.  This means being clear when you are speaking.  Speak at a loud enough volume so that the examiner will be able to hear you properly without having to strain to hear you.  Do not worry that you have to be knowledgeable about every subject that you are asked – you can’t and you don’t have to be, but be clear in saying that you know very little about that topic the examiner asks.  Most of the topics are asking for your opinion.  which means that whatever answer you give is right!  It is your opinion and can’t be wrong – remember you are being marked on the ability to speak English, not philosophy!!

Stock phrases will help you gain higher marks in the band
This is a fallacy and we caution against it. The danger is that the examiner, who remember is a native English speaker, will know whether you have used a phrase correctly or not.


Look at the band 6 video again.  The student repeats a lot ‘as I said before’ when they haven’t actually said anything like that before.  When stock answers or phrases are used without the student being totally familiar with their meaning and correct usage, it sounds to the examiner that they are merely repeating that phrase to try and gain points and as such they actually lose points.

The same is for words that have similar meanings. For example Observe is roughly the same as Look, but in English we never say I observe out the window. This is why we advise not to try and shortcut this part of the IELTS test. Speaking is a clear indicator of how someone understands a language. However you don’t have to reach a high score in this part to gain an overall good score – remember your final IELTS band score is the average of ALL FOUR COMPONENTS.

A great course that is centered around speaking English is the Speakada Lingo Fasttrak course that will have you at an IELTS high pass level within 3 months.  Unfortunately at the moment this course is only available off-line and requires you to attend the school in Dublin.

In the following chapters there are some further Do’s and Don’ts for each part of the speaking exam.  Practice speaking English whenever you can and if you live in a country where it is hard to practice with native speakers, seek out forums or online chatrooms where you can practice using technology such as SKYPE or TEAMSPEAK.

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