This is something I have tried before, but it didn’t really work out. But I would like to give it another go. The central idea is that the very best speaking practice is when you get to hear yourself. Often what we say and what we think we say are two quite different things. So this means recording yourself. What would be even better, however, is if you got the chance to listen to someone else answer the same question – listening to others is a great way of learning. Interested? I have a possible solution.
Voxopop is the perfect tool for this exercise. It’s a website where you can record yourself and listen to other people speaking about the same question. A while back I set up a group called “Dominic Cole’s IELTS Speaking Practice”. The only problem was almost no one used it. I think it might have been a little geeky for the typical IELTS candidate. But I went back there yesterday and discovered that there are now several other groups there too. So maybe it’s worth another go – it might just have been ahead of its time.
step 1: find voxopop
step 2: register (it’s simple enough)
step 3: navigate to Explore Talk Groups
step 4: search IELTS
step 5: find either my group or another that is open access.
step 6: do the speaking and listening practice (provided more than one of you gives it a go).
The questions and three speaking tips
The first set of questions I have posted are typical part 1 questions on the family, your home town etc. There are two tips here.
Tip 1 – listen to the question, don’t learn answers
The questions are easy: don’t even attempt to learn an answer. If you can’t answer these questions, you’re not really ready for the exam yet. Also, since these are easy questions, the “that’s an interesting question” language is quite wrong. The questions are not going to be interesting!
Tip 2 – think tenses
Listen to the question carefully. If the question is:
“What were your hobbies when you were young?”
This cannot be a good answer:
“I enjoy going to the gym.”
So the second tip is to use the right tense. This will almost always be the same tense as the question. The trick one here is if you get a present perfect/”have” question, you may need to use past tenses in your answer.
Tip 3 – relax yourself with short answers
You’ll be nervous at the beginning of the exam. Be easy on yourself and don’t try and say too much. Say something that answers the question. Breathe in. Relax. Right at the beginning of the exam a few sentences for each answer is fine – although as you go through the exam you do need to expand your answers more and more.
It’s not good or clever to laugh at learners of other languages. I know this because I speak Romanian as a second language myself – very badly, even after having lived there for 9 years. I hope, however, you found my other video funny, it was certainly meant to be. But it is also I’m afraid sadly true. Y-E-S made all the mistakes mentioned above.
Here is a remastered version of that video as it should have happened. It isn’t perfect, I could work on my pronunciation, but it is at least a good start.
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