Category Archives: IELTS Speaking (all)

Difficult Part 2 topic cards in IELTS


Difficult Part 2 topic cards in IELTS

Difficult Part 2 topic cards in IELTSIn Part 2 of the IELTS speaking test the examiner will give you a topic card that you will need to talk about for 2 minutes, after you have had 1 minute preparation time. But what happens if the examiner gives you a topic card that you have no ideas about and will not be able to talk about?


For example, if you have no interest in art or art galleries and really have no opinion on the subject, what would you do if this was your topic?

 Describe a piece of art that you likeYou should say:
  • what it is
  • where you saw it
  • why you like it

You should also say whether you would recommend it to someone else.


Here are some tips that will help!

Tip 1: Don’t panic!

It’s hard to do when you’re in the middle of your test, but it’s important to remain calm. Remember you have 60 seconds to prepare an answer, so take a few seconds to read the topic card again to see if there’s anything there that can you feel you could talk about.

Tip 2: Be honest

Although you cannot ask the examiner to give you another card and you cannot simply say ‘I don’t have anything to say about this’, you can tell the examiner that this is not really your kind if subject. For example:

‘Well, the topic card is asking about a piece of art that I like, but to be completely honest, I’m really not that interested in art in any form. However, I can tell you about…..’


Tip 3: Focus on anything in the subject or the prompts that you can talk about

In the example topic card above, you may have nothing to say about a piece of art you like, but can you talk about anything related? The second prompt on the card asks ‘where you saw it’ – can you say anything about local art galleries in your area or your hometown? Have you ever been to an art gallery? If so, did you like it? If you have never been to an art gallery, why not? You can talk about the lack of local facilities, or a general disinterest in art because no-one in your family is interested and you never went to galleries as a child. Even if you are only talking tangentially (not exactly or directly) about the topic, you will not lose points.

Tip 4: Be someone else

Personally, I have no real interest in art, so if I had to speak for two minutes on the topic card above, I would have trouble – and I’m a native English speaker and IELTS instructor! However, I do have a friend who is interested in art, so for the two minutes I was talking, I would pretend to be him. Why does my friend like going to galleries? What does he get out of his visits? How does he feel about art? Has he ever said anything to you about traditional versus modern art? By thinking about a question from the perspective of someone with an interest in the subject, it becomes easier to talk about.

Tip 5: Redefine the question

If you really feel that you will not be able to talk for the full two minutes of the subject, make sure that the examiner knows that you are modifying the question slightly. For example:

‘To tell the truth, I can’t talk much about art, but I am quite interested in museums. I think they are more important than art as they are a reflection of our past, and our history tells us more about who we are than art does – at least in my opinion.’

You have now told the examiner that you are moving the question away from the topic and on to something else. NOTE: try to make what you are going to talk about related to the topic in some way. For example, don’t start talking about a holiday you had or your favourite type of food!

Tip 6: Remember the focus of the speaking test

Keep in mind that is a speaking test – you are being assessed not on how accurate your response is compared to the question, but on how well you can communicate your point of view. You are NOT penalised for an indirect or unrelated answer so long as what you are saying is clear and logical. To illustrate, did you know that there is NO penalty for not covering all of the prompts on the topic card?


Take a look at some of the more unusual topic cards below – how would you respond?

Talk about something you used to collect.

You should say:

  • what you collected
  • whether your collection grew over time
  • why you collected them

You should also say whether you normally collect things.


Talk about a board game you have played.

You should say:

  • what type of game it is
  • how the game is played
  • when you started playing it

You should also say whether you still play this game.


Describe a sporting event you took part in recently.

You should say:

  • why you were involved
  • what you did
  • how many people were with you

You should also say whether you would do this again


Speaking fluently in the IELTS test

Speaking fluently in the IELTS test

Six tips for better fluency

For many people preparing for the IELTS speaking test, it can be difficult to improve your fluency unless you have an opportunity to speak with people in English regularly. However, here are 6 tips that will help you speak more fluently in the IELTS speaking test:

Tip 1: Don’t be afraid of mistakes

speaking-fluentlyThe first rule of fluency is that you are able to communicate the main message of what you are trying to say. Don’t overly worry about whether you have chosen the best grammar or vocabulary to express yourself – so long as the person you are talking to understands what you mean! If you feel that you have made a mistake, then stop, go back and repair the sentence, then continue. For example,

“My brother are a doctor, so he has always recommended eating well. Sorry, I mean by brother IS a doctor. Anyway, he suggests eating fruit and vegetables every day…”

Tip 2: Don’t focus too much on studying grammar

We all know that good grammar is important in order to accurately express yourself. However, make sure that you don’t become so preoccupied with the grammatical structure of your sentence that your speaking becomes irregular, too slow or disjointed. As mentioned in Tip 1 – don’t be afraid of mistakes! If you find that when speaking fluently you tend to make repeated errors with a particular grammar area (for example, using the present continuous when it should be the present simple) then spend some time alone reading and taking practice exercises – there are lots on this site!

Tip 3: Don’t translate your sentence in your head first

This is a difficult skill to master, but when you have a basic understanding of English (or any other foreign language) you need to start thinking in that language when constructing sentences. Not only will there be a loss of fluency as you delay the conversation to translate, but you will also find that words, phrases and sentence constructions become less easier to directly translate into your own language.

Tip 4: Take every opportunity to speak

Although it is convenient to break English into different skills such as reading, writing, grammar and speaking, it is important that you make whatever you are studying into an opportunity to speak. If you are reading an article – or even this page! – then read it aloud. If you read the same 100 or so words a few times, you will find that you have a much better chance of improving your fluency as you are training your tongue, mouth and vocal chords to move in a particular pattern, and that pattern will help when you are later in conversation. If you are listening to something and have the chance to pause whatever is playing, then listen to a sentence or two, stop it, you say it, then you play the recording again. This will help with your intonation (the sound of your voice) making you better able to pronounce words clearly and thus improving your fluency.

Tip 5: When learning new vocabulary, learn it as part of a useful phrase or sentence

Studying word lists might help you improve your understanding of individual words, but learning a few relevant phrases or sentences including the new word will make it a lot easier for your to fluently use the word in conversation. For example, if you learn the word ‘optimistic’ (meaning that you focus on the positive things, not the negative), then think of and learn a few phrases or sentences. E.g. My uncle always has hopes for the future because he’s a very optimistic person or The weather forecast said it wouldn’t rain, but judging by those clouds I’m not so optimistic.

Tip 6: Use appropriate resources

For many people learning English, the BBC is considered to be the best form of ‘pure’ English, with clear pronunciation and intonation. However, it is also important to spend some time with more ‘common’ English, such as listening and copying the patterns of speech you might hear on a TV show, movie or radio or radio programme. For some people the only way of practicing your speaking and fluency is by talking to another person who is also learning English. Although this can be effective, make sure that you do not pick up each others bad habits!

We hope these 6 tips help!


Talking about likes & dislikes in IELTS

Talking about likes & dislikes in IELTS

Talking about likes & dislikes in IELTSIn Part One of the IELTS speaking test, it is common to be asked questions about what you like or don’t like, and you may have to talk about your preferences. Here are some possible questions you may be asked:

Likes –

  • Do you enjoy travelling?
  • Do you like playing computer games?
  • What hobbies do you enjoy doing?
  • What’s your favourite food?
  • What do you do to relax?

Dislikes –


  • Is there anything you dislike about mobile phones?
  • Is there any food you don’t like eating?

Preferences –

  • Do you prefer to go out with friends or spend time at home?
  • Would you rather a home cooked meal or a meal in a restaurant?
  • Is it better to spend time in a hot or cold place?


It is important (as with any question in the IELTS test) that you give a full, extended answer to the question using a range of vocabulary, so here is some vocabulary that you can use when talking about likes, dislikes and preferences.


  • I’m fond of (X)
  • I’m into (X)
  • I’m keen on (X)
  • I adore (X)
  • (X) is stunning
  • (X) is excellent



  • I’m not keen on (X)
  • I detest (X)
  • I can’t bear (X)
  • I loathe (X)
  • I can’t stand (X)
  • I hate (X)



  • (X) is better
  • I like (X) more
  • I’d rather (X)
  • (X) is far superior
  • I’d sooner (X)


Tip 1: Concession words

When expressing preferences it is common to use concession words. A concession word allows the speaker or writer to express another point of view that is opposite to their first point. For example:

Do you prefer to study with other people or in a private class?

I much prefer a group class. Admittedly, you do get more personal attention in a one to one class, but you can also learn from other students when you study together.
Do you enjoy trying new foods?

Yes, I’m keen on experiencing anything new and I love going to restaurants where you can try a little of lots of different things. Having said that, though, I do have some favourite meals that I really enjoy no matter how many times I’ve had them.


Tip 2: Change of focus with +ing or to…

You can use like, love, hate and prefer with an –ing form or with a to-infinitive. However, there is a slight difference in meaning.

For example:

I like to study every day – this is something that is a habit for the speaker, something they think is a good idea

I like studying in the morning – this is something that the speaker actively enjoys studying.


Unexpected questions in the speaking test

Unexpected questions in the speaking test

The interviewer has just asked you about a subject you have never thought about and you have no real ideas. What can you say?

If this situation occurs during your speaking test, the most important first step is not to panic. Avoid responding with ‘I don’t know’ by using an alternative expression. There are a number of phrases you can learn that will give you some time to think of an idea.
Unexpected questions in the speaking test1 Well, it’s difficult to say, but …
2 I don’t have any personal opinions, but I suppose …
3 That’s an interesting point and I think I would have to say that …
4 Mmm … I’m not really sure, but …
5 Actually, that’s not something I’ve really thought about, but …
6 I don’t really know much about that, but …

For example, imagine the interviewer asks the following question (don’t panic – it’s an unlikely question!):

What impact do you think power steering has had in reducing traffic accidents?

Now read the candidates response below:

Well, it’s difficult to say but … umm … in my opinion the most effective factor in the reduction of traffic accidents is a result of stiffer punishments for poor driving. Although speeding is still a serious issue, other traffic offences such as drink driving have fallen because of the risk of heavy fines and even imprisonment. This has been reinforced by hard-hitting television advertisements highlighting driving while under the influence of alcohol.

Useful tip:

If you still cannot think of anything to say after a few seconds, you should focus on an aspect of the question you do know and move your answer onto related but more familiar topics. This is not ideal, but better than saying nothing at all!


Here are some other topics to practice with – they are NOT questions you would be asked in the IELTS test, but they will hep you practice the skills from this lesson!

See what you could say about….

  • the British Royal Family
  • Postage stamps
  • Woodland insects
  • Donating blood
  • Learning via video conferences
  • Aeroplane safety checks
  • Video piracy in the 1990s

Better pronunciation for IELTS speaking Part 2

Before looking through this page, we recommend you take a look at Better pronunciation for IELTS speaking.

NOTE: Thanks to Adel for the idea behind this page. It is not complete and in the future we will be adding more exercises.

The correct pronunciation of vowels in English can be complicated, but there are some rules that can help. Let’s start this lesson by looking at 3 important points you need to know:

1. Vowels and consonants

You probably already know this, but just to be sure, the 26 letters of the English alphabet are made up of 21 consonants and 5 vowels. The vowels are the letters A, E I, O and U.

2. Short and long vowels

In English, vowels can be both short and long. Here are some examples

A  E  I  O  U

3. Open and closed syllables

Every word in English is built up of syllables. For example, football is 2 syllables – foot and ball. On open syllable is a syllable that ends with a vowel, and a closed syllable ends in a consonant.

Examples of open syllables: me, he, babies (ba+bies)

Examples of closed syllables: cat, sat, spelling (spell+ing)

So how does this information help with pronunciation?

If you can take a longer, more difficult word and break it into syllables, this will help with spelling and pronunciation. Here are some example:

Word: Motivation

Syllables: MO + TIV + A + TION

Short or long vowel sound: we can see that the first syllable is open (it ends with a vowel), so should be a long vowel sound


Word: Operation

Syllables: OP+ ER + A + TION

Short or long vowel sound: we can see that the first syllable is closed (it ends with a consonant), so should be a short vowel sound

So how does this information help with spelling?

You can also use these techniques to help you with spelling. Here’s a simple example:


If you were having problems trying to spell the word, just think to yourself “Is the vowel sound short or long?” In this case, it is a short vowel sound (kitten, not kiiiitten). That tells you that is a closed syllable ending with a consonant, so must have T at the end of the syllable. That should then lead you to know that it should be spelled KIT – TEN

Facts about the IELTS speaking test

Facts about the IELTS speaking test

There are lots of websites, forums, blogs and postings on the internet giving advice about the speaking test, but so much of the information available is either incomplete or incorrect! To help, we have assembled some of the most common points below and listed them as true or false.

Facts about the IELTS speaking testIf you have a question or concern about the IELTS speaking test, then just put it in the comments area at the bottom of the page and we’ll answer it and add it to our list!


1. The speaking test takes between 11 and 14 minutes.

This is true. The test is tightly regulated between these times, so don’t be surprised if the examiner stops you suddenly in your final answer!

2. There are three parts to the speaking test.

This is also true. In Part 1, the examiner will ask you general questions about yourself. In Part 2 you need to speak for 2 minutes on a topic the examiner will give you. In Part 3, the examiner will ask you more in-depth questions relating to the topic card.

3. In Part 2, it’s OK to stop speaking after one minute.

No! This is false. Part of the speaking test is assessing your ability to be fluent and coherent, so you need to speak for the full two minutes. If you do run out of things to say and finish early, you can expect it to impact negatively on your results.

4. In Part 2, the topic card will have 4 points that you MUST talk about.

This is also NOT TRUE – the points on the topic card are there to help you, but you are not required to cover everything on the card. So long as what you are talking about is on the same topic as the card, that’s OK.

5. The examiner will take the topic card back after about a minute, while you are still talking.

Absolutely NOT TRUE – the examiner will ask for the topic card back after you have completed Part 2, but not during your speaking.

6. You should give short answers for Part 1.

NOT TRUE! You should extend your answers throughout the speaking test. If the examiner has heard enough, they will stop you and move to the next question, but you shouldn’t intentionally make your answers short!

Want to check if something you’ve heard about IELTS speaking is true? Simply post it below!

Time to think in the speaking test

NOTE: this page will be developed with further information over time, but if you have any additional suggestions please write them in the comments area below – thanks!

As we’ve mentioned in previous posts (and is probably obvious!), when you are asked a question in the speaking test but cannot think of a response straight away, you should avoid just using words like ‘Umm….errr…..’.

Here are some expressions that you can use to delay your answer to give you time to think.

NOTE: These expressions are for Part Three of the speaking test – they are too formal for Part 1!

  • That’s a very provocative question
  • It’s a contentious issue, but I think
  • There are certainly different schools of thought regarding this
  • Well, I don’t personally have any strong views on this, but…
  • That’s not something I have ever really considered before, but..
  • This is actually an issue / question that has been discussed for some time now
IELTS speaking test model answer

IELTS speaking model answer – A sporting event you’ve been to

IELTS speaking topic card model answer – A sporting event you’ve been to

Describe a sporting event you have been to

IELTS speaking test model answerThis section of the site is for model answers on Part Two topic cards. If you have a topic card that you would like a model answer too, just post the title in the comments sections below.

It is good practice to read the model answer aloud, ideally while recording yourself. Then play back the recording, listening closely to your pronunciation (particularly your intonation) and the speed at which you are speaking.

Describe a sporting event you have been to.

You should say:

  • what it was
  • why you went there
  • who you went with.

You should also say whether you enjoyed it.

Model answer:

I’m not actually very interested in sport, but there was an occasion a few years ago when I went to see a football match in a town about half an hour from where I live. It was a charity match – I think they were collecting funds for the local school – and it was very well attended. I think there must have been over 5,000 people there, which isn’t bad considering there aren’t any ‘star’ players.

I only went because a friend of mine really wanted to go but didn’t want to watch it on his own, so in the end there were a small group of us. One of the other people we went with was going anyway because his brother was in one of the teams, so it made it a lot more fun to have a team to support, otherwise I wouldn’t have really minded either way who won!

Although I did enjoy it, it hasn’t made me want to go back and see another game – it was good fun mostly because of the people I was with – we were only half focused on the game and spent the rest of the time just chatting or eating – we’d taken a picnic with us and it was a beautiful day! After the match, we met a lot of new people in the park – most people stayed for at least a few hours after the game just enjoying the sunshine.

As I mentioned, I’m not that interested in sport, but I do watch some of the World Cup games when they are on television – it’s a lot more fun than just following a local or national team, and there’s a lot more going on in the crowd. When Germany won the world cup not too long ago, there was a small group of German people in my town that had a 24 hour party and invited everyone – it was such a good atmosphere!

IELTS speaking practice test

IELTS speaking practice test 1

IELTS speaking practice test 1

IELTS speaking practice test 1

This section of the site is for you to try a complete IELTS speaking test. The timing of each section is automatic and follows the standard IELTS pattern. Ideally, we recommend speaking aloud when answering the questions and recording yourself, so you can play it back later and listen to your pronunciation, grammar and content.

Looking for more speaking practice opportunities? Our complete membership course has membership plans which include Skype tutorials where we can take a practice speaking assessment and give you feedback on your fluency, pronunciation and much more! Click here to enrol now.

IELTS speaking practice test 1

Part 1

“Do you enjoy cooking?”

Show answer“Well, no, not really – I’ve never been very good at it. I don’t really have the patience for all the preparation that needs to be done, and I really don’t like the cleaning up afterwards. Occasionally, if I have friends coming over, I might make make a few simple dishes, but it seems to take me much longer than it does for other people. Most of my friends are much better in the kitchen, so I normally buy the ingredients and they do the cooking!”

“Do you prefer home cooked meals or fast food?”

Show answerHmm…that really depends on what mood I am in. If I have to get dinner, I often choose fast food, but I really enjoy eating a home cooked meal with vegetables. It’s much healthier, and you can easily get bored of fast food. There aren’t many different take away options near where I live, so after pizza, burgers or chips, the only other choice is home cooked food. I suppose one the main reasons I prefer food cooked at home is that it’s the only way to have the kind of traditional food I grew up with as a child.

“What would you typically eat for lunch? ”

Show answerWell, if I’m at work, I don’t have a lot of time so I might only have something quick like a sandwich or some noodles. Some days I might not even have anything for lunch – I know that’s not good for you, but there isn’t always the opportunity to sit down and have a break and something to eat. Weekends are different though – I like to have a large lunch and a smaller dinner, so I might go out and meet friends in a restaurant or get a take away. The only problem is that after eating a large lunch I often get tired in the afternoon and end up falling asleep!

“Let’s talk about photographs. Do you take many photographs?”

Show answerI used to have my camera with me most of the time, talking all kinds of photographs of the garden. the house – even the dog. But recently I haven’t really bothered. In fact, I can;pt remember the last time I took a photograph since I came back from holiday. I went to New Zealand for two weeks and took so many photographs! I like to keep all my pictures together in an album; it helps me remember what I did and where I was. I even have a photograph album I started when I was 12, although cameras have improved a lot since then!

“Do you enjoy looking at photographs?”

Show answerOh, yes – as I mentioned, I used to take a lot of photos to remind of places I’d been or things I’d seen, and it’s nice to look back through them every now and again. The only problem is I get bored looking at other people’s photographs. A friend of mine recently returned from a long holiday in Europe and brought back over one thousand photographs he had taken! Well, it took over an hour to look through them as he spent about five minutes on each one explaining where it was and who he was with. I was very interested in the beginning, but after about 20 minutes I wasn’t really concentrating. I think photographs are very personal and I don’t show anyone mine because they mean more to the person who took them than to anyone looking at them.

“Do you prefer photographs of people or places?”

Show answerErmm… I suppose that depends on who is in the photos. If it’s people I know, then I don’t mind looking at photographs of people, but I’m not that interested in seeing pictures of people I’ve never met. Generally, though, I’m much more interested in landscapes. They don’t have to be recognisable or historic places – just so long as they are a little artistic. Unfortunately, I’m not very good at taking any kind of photo, but a friend of mine takes excellent pictures of places. She took photographs of her grandmother’s house – it’s a small cottage in the country – and the angles she took the pictures from, as well as the sunlight and shadows, made the pictures really interesting. She’s actually entered a competition with those pictures, so I guess they must be good.

“When do you mostly take photographs?”

Show answerWell…I..I used to take photos all the time, but as I said, I don’t take as many these days. I suppose the two occasions where I still take pictures would be my holidays and special events, like my brother’s birthday party. A few months ago, a friend of mine got married and I must have spent half the day taking pictures of the bride and groom as well as the venue. I am planning to put the pictures into an album to give them for their first wedding anniversary.

“Now let’s talk about transport. Do you often use public transport?”

Show answerVery rarely – I live a little way out of the main routes to the city, so the public transport system isn’t really very convenient for me. The local council have a scheme where you drive to a large car park and the bus will take you the rest of the way into town – I think it’s called the ‘Park and Ride’ – but I haven’t used it yet. But it’s not only that public transport doesn’t really get near my home, it’s also so expensive. I know running your own car is not cheap, but for me to get to work and back using the bus would cost almost as much as using my own car, but without the convenience.

“Do you often walk anywhere?”

Show answerActually, I have recently started to walk a lot more than I used to. My nearest shop – it’s only a local convenience store but that’s where I do my basic shopping – is only about one kilometre away. I used to drive, but now I walk whenever it’s not raining just so I get some exercise. I have a dog, so he comes with me for the exercise too – I think it does both of us some good! Like most people, though, I could do with walking even more – perhaps as far as the town, although that’s over 5 kilometres.

“Have you ever been on a long journey?”

Show answerErr…yes, I have. I suppose my longest journey would be travelling to England to visit relatives last year. It’s a 14 hour flight from here, and it was the longest I have ever been on an aeroplane. The journey out was fine – I thought it would be quite boring, but it was one of the newer aircraft with a movies, television and computer games available, so there was lots to do. The return trip wasn’t so good though – there was a young child sitting in the row in front of me, and for most of the flight he was crying and screaming. I don’t suppose he was much older than three. So that wasn’t so good for me, although I did feel sorry for the parents – they look so tired by the time we landed!

“Do you prefer to travel alone or with other people?”

Show answerWell, there are benefits to both travelling with others and travelling solo. With other people around, the trip can be more fun, and you get to share experiences and talk about them with people that have seen and done what you have. On the other hand, I like the independence of travelling by myself. I choose when I stop, where I eat, where I go – and this is often better than having to get your travel companions to agree before you do anything. I guess the ideal way to travel would be with someone else who also likes to be independent sometimes, so you can travel together but also spend some time alone.

Part Two

Talk about a business you would like to start.
You should say

  • what it would be
  • where it would be
  • who your customers would be

You should also say why you would like to start this business.
Show answer“Well, I’ve never really thought about becoming self employed, but if I did run my own company I think it would be something in the healthcare industry. I think it could be rewarding to run a retirement home for the elderly. I’m a nurse, so it would be a good way for me to continue using my training. Ideally, it would be somewhere in the country – I don’t really like big cities, and a relaxed rural atmosphere would be good for the residents, I think. It would have to be quite near some facilities though – shops, a swimming pool, things like that. Oh, and there would have to some type of public transport nearby.
Um… of course, the people using the home would be elderly, at least 65 years old, but they wouldn’t have to be rich. I’d like to make the home profitable, but not be exploiting the residents and charging so much that only rich people can come. As I mentioned, my experience as a nurse would be valuable, but I’d also be interested in this because the elderly are very often overlooked here. In my culture, most families look after older relatives and retirement homes are very rare, although they are increasing. So if I was to run this kind of business I would try and make it as homely as possible so that people enjoy living there.”

Part Three

“What are the advantages and disadvantages of running your own business?”

Show answerWell, one of the main advantages would be the freedom that comes with being self employed. Choosing your own hours of work and the areas you will focus on would clearly have a great appeal to some. But then, of course, this has to be balanced with the consideration that you are never far from work when you are your own boss. The expectations are likely to be higher, and people often spend considerably more time on their business when they are self employed. The pressures are also different; an advantage of running your own business is that you are not pressured by peers or bosses to perform. This, of course, can also become a negative point if that means you are not driven to keep working.

“What makes a successful business person?”

Show answerHmm, that’s an interesting question. If you were to look at some of the world most successful business people – people like Richard Branson for example – I think there are a number of key elements that can be identified. They are entrepreneurial but also have the courage to follow an idea through, no matter how strange it may first seem. Of course, there is also the ability to make money, but successful can also be other means, not just the financial profit. Bill Gates, though apparently ruthless in business, is very generous in charity. Richard Branson has regular parties for all his staff and welcomes them personally to his mansion. To my mind, this is what makes success.

“Do you think technology will affect the way we do business?”

Show answerOh definitely. In fact, I think technology has been affecting the way we interact in business for quite some time. Consider the use of video phones in conference calls and emails for communication and placing orders. As another example, courier companies can send a package from one continent to another and see not only the exact moment it was delivered, but also who signed for the package. Technology will continue to affect the way we do business as confidence increases with regards purchasing online. Over recent years, secure payments made on a website have allowed business to be transacted not only in the volume of sales and business done, but also in the markets now reached. Technology has made it cost effective to sell a single product to a customer thousands of miles away. Technology has also allowed us to present our product more visually – in the days of print media only, a black and white photograph was the most common method of promoting goods and services , but now we have websites, flash media, social networking sites likes Facebook and Youtube and many other platforms for people to promote their business.

“What makes a good employer?”

Show answerI think one of the fundamental aspects of being a good employer would be the ability to motivate people, to get the best out of those that work for you. I think a large part of that would be recruiting the right kind of employee, choosing people that you think will fit well in the team but also be able to use their own initiative. In my experience, one of the worst kinds of employer are those that micromanage – they can’t leave you alone to complete a task without looking over your shoulder This leads to people not being able to take pride in what they do, and in many cases leads to a high staff turnover.

“Do you think life would be better if we all worked less?”

Show answerOh yes, definitely. I mean, although many people may enjoy their work, I think it is important to maintain perspective – that you work to live, not live to work. You are lucky if you find and can keep a job you enjoy doing; but even so, it should not interfere with the more important aspects in life – family, relationships, friendships. If the working week was reduced from 5 days down to say, three, or even four days, people would find time to do more of the things they often think about doing but don’t get round to. I think most people – well, certainly me – would get out more if I could have three days away from work rather than just the weekend. Look how excited most people get when we have a long weekend because of a holiday on Friday or Monday, for example.

Tips for the IELTS speaking test

Tips for the IELTS speaking test

On this page are tips and hints for speaking in the IELTS test. If you have a question or a tip that you think would benefit others, let us know using the message form at the bottom of the page.

*Note that the speaking test is the same for the General Training and Academic Module test


Start the assessment straight away

Tips for the IELTS speaking testWhen the examiner collects you from the waiting room and takes you to the test room, the test hasn’t officially started. However, it is human nature for the examiner to begin the assessment from the time you meet, so a brief ‘Hello’ or ‘Are you having a busy day?’ as you are walking to the test room will give a good first impression.

Self correction

If you realise you have made a mistake with something you have said, don’t ignore it – stop, correct yourself and move on. For example: ‘My friend have visited…sorry, I mean my friend has visited…this  place a number of times, and he….’. You don’t lose points for errors that you self correct.

Changing levels of formality

One of the areas that the examiner will be assessing you on is your ability to change the level of formal language you use from Part One to Part Three. To help, think of the sections of the test in this way and use vocabulary and structures appropriate to the situation:

  • Part One: a conversation between two old friends – informal, relaxed, friendly
  • Part Two: a presentation to work colleagues you know – semi formal, relaxed but also professional
  • Part Three: a job interview – present yourself very formally, avoiding informal structures and use a wide range of academic grammar.

Finding opportunities to speak English

One of the hardest sections of IELTS to practice is the speaking, often because you may have limited or no opportunities to speak. The other problem is that you may work or live in an English speaking environment but end up having the same conversations that don’t really help for the more formal sections of the test.

  • Speak to yourself: One of the best methods to practice speaking is – surprise surprise! – to speak aloud. It doesn’t matter if there is anyone listening, and ideally you can record yourself and play it back, listening to the pronunciation and intonation and improving where you can.
  • Call freephone numbers: In many countries, there are companies that have freephone numbers. Give them a call and ask questions about their product. The advantage of this method is that you cannot really predict what you may be asked, so it helps you to think on your feet. Of course, if it all starts going wrong you can always hang up the phone!
  • Join online groups:  There are lots of online groups where people arrange to speak together (generally via Skype). It’s a good idea to join in, but make sure you have set rules. Here are some pointers if you are arranging a Skype conversation with someone to practice your English:
    • have fixed times to start and finish – 10 minutes is a good length, at least at first.
    • have a set topic to talk about before you start the conversation (use an IELTS style topic – Task II writing topics make for good discussion!)
    • share the speaking time – don’t dominate the speaking and don’t let anyone else do so either. Agree on a set number of seconds or minutes that someone will speak for before you start the conversation.
    • Don’t share any overly personal details – it’s good to meet people online especially if there is a good purpose, but there’s no reason why someone you have just spoken to would need a phone number or email address.