Top Tips for IELTS

Organising your talk in part 2

In part 2 of the IELTS speaking module you need to give a short talk of between one and half and two minutes. There are two major problems here: speaking for long enough and staying coherent. In this video post I am going to look briefly at one way to organise your talk and improve you fluency and coherence band score.

The problem – a presentation with no preparation

I find it helps to think of part 2 as a short presentation – the challenges are the very similar. One of challenges of presentations is to organise your content so that people can understand your message and one of the basic rules of a making a good presentation is to prepare it properly. In IELTS, however,  you only have 1 minute to prepare and most of that time will be spent thinking of vocabulary to use. So how can you organise your talk with little/no preparation time?

A solution – use the cue card

One solution is to use the cue card as the structure of your talk. The way to do this is quite simple – all the cue cards are organised in the same way with one major topic and 4 sub-topics.  Look at this sample cue card:

Describe a wedding you have been to or heard about.
You should say:
who got married
what they wore
what they did on the day
and explain how you felt about this wedding.

There are 4 topics to talk about:

  1. the people
  2. the clothes
  3. the day itself
  4. your feelings

One natural solution is to go through each of these topics in turn and use the cue card to organise what you say.

How to work it

To see how you can make this work, take a look at this video and note these points:

  • each point is discussed in turn
  • there are pauses between each section
  • signpost language is used to show the examiner a new topic is being introduced

The reason that the video only shows the cue card is that in the test itself it helps you to focus on the cue card as you speak. This does not mean that you look at it all the time because you also need to make eye contact with the examiner but you should keep it in your hand and refer to it constantly.

Advantages – it makes the task easier

This approach can make the task easier because you always know what you are going to say next and it allows you to pause in the right places. It can take the pressure off you. It works like this:

  • Once you have spoken about one topic, you look down at the card for a moment
  • Pause and think about what to say next and relax
  • Look up at the examiner, make eye contact
  • Start again: “The next thing I am going to tell you is…”

This can help you because one mistake candidates often make is to think they have to talk and talk without stopping. You don’t. In fact, pausing correctly is part of fluency and coherence because it allows your listener to understand your main points.

Advantages – it helps fluency and coherence

Another reason to try this approach is that it can help your fluency and coherence band score. To get this right there are 2 main points to focus on:

  1. using signposting language to help your listener understand the main points you are making (new post coming soon)
  2. expanding the points you make with reasons and examples – exactly as you would in an essay (new post coming soon)

Does it always work?

In a word, no. I am always suspicious of teachers who use the word “must”. Different people are different and different things work for different people. In my experience, some candidates find this approach very helpful, while it confuses others. My advice is to try it a few times and see if it works for you. If it doesn’t try something different.

Some practice with Voxopop

If you want some online practice, I have posted a new task at Voxopop where you can record yourself and hopefully listen to others try the same. If you are new to this site, here is the link to my previous posting about using Voxopop:

IELTS speaking practice with Voxopop

Do give it a try.

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12 Responses to Organising your talk in part 2

  1. Dana January 4, 2010 at 11:23 pm #

    Hi Dominic

    Is there a way for u to comment on the stuff we record on Voxopop? I mean, could u analyze it and give your opinion or it is just a place to record and listen to others?


    • Dominic Cole January 10, 2010 at 6:23 pm #

      Yup. Sure if you record a message, the system should let me know and then I can listen. The one problem would be if too many people recorded themselves: I don’t really have the time to listen to everyone as I am very much writing this blog in my spare time. But seeing as no one is recording themselves at the moment….

  2. Air Jordan April 5, 2010 at 12:46 pm #

    ielts is so hard for me and thanks for your advice, i will try my best to pass it!

  3. jidhin August 18, 2010 at 1:02 pm #

    speaking section has helped me a lot ,especially to understand the way of presenting.thanks

  4. myieltsteacher September 14, 2010 at 5:31 pm #

    This is really useful – I’ll be sure to encourage my students to visit this page

  5. Name September 19, 2010 at 6:14 pm #

    I usually appear to take part a test for ielts . But I feel fear and can not reach to the goal . So advice me what should I do.

    • Anonymous June 7, 2011 at 6:05 pm #

      i think u should practice more nad more

  6. Hyder Mohammed September 1, 2011 at 11:34 am #

    I have speaking exam in a hour and believe me i found this organizing trick very, very useful. Hope i will get some similar type of question. so, that i can organize it in this manner which will help me to keep going for more than 2 Minutes. Thanks a lot for these wonderful blog Dominic, You’r really doing a great work!

  7. Rajesh March 24, 2013 at 9:40 am #

    Hi Dominic,

    Thanks a lot for the wondful resources. I have a question. Assume that the first question of a part 2 cue card is “who is she”

    The first thing I am going to talk about is “who is she”.

    The first thing I am going to talk about is “who she is”.

    Which one of the above two is correct?

    • Dominic Cole March 25, 2013 at 8:18 am #

      The second one – this is an “indirect/reported question” so we go back to natural word order and don’t use question word order. I should add htough that in speaking this is a “small” mistake. I say this because it is one that an examiner may well not notice (they don’t notice everything, they can’t. More than that, it is an error educated native speakers can make too – our spoken grammar is often less than perfect. You do still want to try and get it right though.

      • Rajesh March 27, 2013 at 9:02 am #

        Thank you very much Dominic.

  8. Manish April 21, 2013 at 8:44 pm #

    Dear Dominic,
    I am thinking of using same coherence and cohesiveness pattern as we do it in writing.However,i feel that there will be too much of a repetition of such devices and probably similar repetition pattern over the entire speaking test.I am curious if it is OK to repeat similar pattern in different questions.

    I would appreciate if you can throw some light on my problem.

    PS is there are any way i could get updated if you reply to this post?

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