Common mistakes made in IELTS Speaking Test Part 2
This article is about #IELTS Speaking Part 2 . It is part of a series of article on the #IELTS speaking test.
In this article, we are going to discuss some of the common mistakes made in IELTS Speaking Test Part 2, why candidates make them and how best to avoid them. In this particular instance, we are not talking about grammar or language mistakes as such, but rather mistakes in the approach to the task itself.
So let's take a look at the first of the common mistakes made in IELTS Speaking Test Part 2.
Common mistake #1: Ignoring the last prompt on the card
When you look at the prompt card used in Part 2 of the IELTS speaking test, you will see the topic you need to talk about and then three bulletpoints. Underneath these is usually a further prompt that says something like "and explain how you would cope if…" or "and explain why you felt…" or "and explain what happened when…". You can see what the exam setters are trying to do, right? They are trying to give you an opportunity to demonstrate a range of grammatical structures, which is crucial for bands 6, 7 and above. They want you to talk about the past and to talk about hypothetical situations. For example, you could say: "I wouldn't cope well at all because…" or "I felt pleased, but would have felt better if…" or "I wasn't expecting this but…".
Common mistake #2: Starting too quickly
Some people confuse speaking quickly with speaking fluently. But this is a mistake because they are not the same thing. Too many candidates trip up over their tongue, so to speak, almost as if they are trying to get everything out at once. But it is not a race and you have plenty of time to say what you need to. Any stuttering and spluttering can have a negative effect on your perceived fluency. Instead, you want to sound in control.
So what should you do? Well, after your one minute preparation time is up, the examiner will remind you about how long you have to speak and then say "Can you start speaking now please?" But, don't take them literarily. Instead, Pause. Take a moment. Breathe. And perhaps start with "Well, um [pause] so I'd like to [pause] um tell you about …" And then let your ideas flow from there.
Common mistake #3: Reading out the prompt question
This is another one of the common mistakes made in IELTS Speaking Test Part 2. Many candidates start their talk by reading out the question on the booklet. But unfortunately, this often means a terrible start. Let's be clear: reading out the question might not be a bad thing but it often does cause problems for people. For instance, candidates often do either one or both of the following:
(1) Read. Out. The. Prompt. Very. Slowly.
(2) forget to swap the pronouns: "I will describe a time when you met a friend you had not seen for a long time"
These mistakes are in a certain sense understandable because we are generally unused to reading aloud. It is not a very natural thing to do - just recall standing up in front of class when you were at school and having to read out loud. You were probably not as fluent as you had wanted to be. The same is likely to happen in the exam - unless you are well practiced in spontaneously reading out in front of other people.
So what should you do instead? Well, you could simply start without introducing your talk at all: "When I was…". But if you feel you must use an introductory sentence, try to put it in your own words (use the one minute preparation time to quickly note a summarized title for your talk): "I'd like to tell you about … meeting an old friend".
Common mistake #4: Avoiding pausing
Don't be afraid of silence. It is true the examiner is listening for your ability to speak at length, but this doesn't mean that thequickeryousayonewordafteranotherthemorefluentyouwillsound. Instead, slow down, pause, breathe. Prepare your thought first and then speak.
Candidates often think that pausing will make them sound less fluent, but this is not the case. English sentence rhythms require something closer to a Ta-ta-tum-TAP-ta-tum rather than a rapid TAP-TAP-TAP-TAP-TAP.
#Study tip: Listen to interviews on BBC radio and count the number of pauses.
Common mistake #5: Being surprised when the examiner stops them
This is another one of the common mistakes made in IELTS Speaking Test Part 2. Before you start speaking the examiner will remind you how long you have to speak for and then tell you not to worry if they interrupt you. Since your talk is not allowed to exceed 2 minutes you may even be stopped mid-sentence. Relax. Don't worry about this. Just smile and prepare yourself for Part 3.
In fact, you should also be able to predict the examiner is about to interrupt you from their body language or facial gestures. Take the hint, and bring your talk to an end using a brief rounding-off phrase: "Oh, and so I was ultimately very [happy, pleased, relived, surprised, etc] about this".
So what should you do to avoid committing one of the common mistakes made in IELTS Speaking Test Part 2?
Practice makes perfect. All of these issues described above can be eliminated through trial and error. Team up with a friend and listen to one another practising part 2 long-turns. After the two minutes is up, feedback on whether you avoided the issues described in this article. The do it all over again.
For Common Mistakes #2 and #4, you can practise avoiding them by speaking more generally. Find a picture in a magazine or on the internet that inspires you and talk about it for a minute or two. Don't rush, pause, take your time - listen to the sounds of your own speech.