The IELTS test is one of the most popular English language proficiency tests and so as teacher, becoming familiar with the test and expectations can be very useful indeed. The speaking, part in particular, is the one that many learners feel nervous about and so in this second of a two part blog, Louisa Walsh looks at the specific elements of the speaking part of the test and how you can help your English language learners prepare for it.
In part one of this article on the IELTS test, we said that it's not a good idea to get your learners memorising formal chunks of language. However, there are some ways you can help your student with the speaking parts of the test, as there are some common features across the exams through the years and a clear format. Let's look at these below.
IELTS speaking part 1
This part is quite straightforward, lasts about 4-5 minutes, and gets candidates to talk about common issues. Often questions will ask them to introduce themselves, speak about family, location, work, education and interests. Therefore, we are going to concentrate on helping your students with parts 2 and parts 3.
IELTS speaking part 2
Here candidates are asked to talk for 1-2 minutes on a theme. They will be given a card with a question and prompts on it. The examiner may ask one or two questions on the topic and candidates have one minute to prepare.
Typical speaking part 2 questions
Here are some common questions that examiners may ask:
How to respond to part 2 speaking questions
Firstly, candidates should always answer the question directly. Then explain with more detail and give an example.
Let's look at a sample answer:
You could say:
Then explain why.
Then use an example:
Useful language to teach your students for part 2
Ensure your learners can use phrases and adjectives to describe people, things and places. One area that you could work on with them would be helping them feel comfortable using comparatives or superlatives:
Also look to help them with language for concluding their statements:
IELTS speaking part 3
Here candidates are asked to talk for 3-5 minutes. This part of the test will be linked to the theme of part 2. However, it will be more conceptual and abstract, most likely more of a discussion between the interviewer and candidate.
Typical part 3 speaking questions:
Here are some common themes that examiners may touch on:
Some examples might be the influence of the media, the role of the family, environmental challenges, issues for the next generation, education then and now.
How to respond to part 3 speaking questions
It's often helpful to encourage your students to think out loud in English. Get them comfortable using phrases like:
Get candidates to give their opinion and explain why. If they need to say more, have them give an example:
Useful language to teach your students for part 3
Try to give your learners the language necessary to get them giving opinions:
Also being comfortable using the present perfect simple for talking about changes will be really helpful for them here
Again, comparatives, language for prediction and lexical sets to do with the environment, education, society, transport might be helpful. Similarly, language for turn-taking/discussions:
Since IELTS teachers are in demand, learning about the exam and even specialising in teaching IELTS can be a good way to establish yourself and potentially charge more for your services.
* Check out the Global English TESOL courses which look at exam English
* There is a lot of helpful IELTS sample material on the internet
* See an IELTS speaking test simulation in the video below - reportedly this is a band 7 candidate
* See part one of our article where we provide an overview of the IELTS test
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