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Speaking

Practise expanding your responses in IELTS speaking parts 1 and 2

Examiners like you to give full answers. If I feel that I have to pull sentences out of the candidate, they will get a much lower band. You should aim for full, well-developed answers that flow naturally.

Here are two techniques which will help you practice developing your answers. For both of these, you’ll need post-it notes or you could cut up some paper into small pieces.

1.            Wh- question words to expand responses in IELTS speaking part 2

There’s a great little poem by Rudyard Kipling which will help you remember the wh- questions. It goes like this:

I keep six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.

These question words help journalists develop news stories and they can help you develop your response in part 2.

To do this, write the question words on separate pieces of paper. Make 4 sets of question words. Then shuffle (mix the order) of the pieces of paper and place them face down in front of you.

Choose one of these common topics from the IELTS and give a simple answer e.g. “Last weekend I went shopping.

  • What I did at the weekend.
  • The last book I read.
  • My favourite teacher.
  • My last holiday.
  • The most important festival in my country.

Now, pick up one of the pieces of paper and expand your answer by thinking about the question word.

For example:

  • If you pick up ‘who’, you could say “I went with my older sister.
  • If you pick up ‘why’, you could say “I wanted to buy a birthday card.
  • If you pick up ‘how’, you could say “We went into town on the bus.

This gets harder if you pick up the same word twice.

  • If you pick up ‘who’ again, you might say “I bought the birthday card for my best friend, Sarah.
  • If you pick up ‘why’ again, you could say “I prefer real birthday cards to e-cards.
  • If you pick up ‘how’ again, you could say “It was difficult to choose, but in the end I bought her a card with a picture of horses on it because she likes going horse-riding.

Keep picking up cards until you run out of things to say. You should have a lot of ideas by now so try answering the question again. Time yourself to see how much you say.

[If you are really struggling in this area, then read through this post about Overcoming Speaker’s Block in Part 2 of the IELTS Speaking Exam.]

2.            Conjunctions to expand responses in IELTS speaking part 1

Conjunctions are linking words. They can either join two sentences together (e.g. and, but, so) or they can make a complex sentence (e.g. because).

This time, write and, but, so, and because on your post-it notes or pieces of paper. Make several sets, shuffle them and place them face down.

Choose one of these part 1 questions.

  • Do you enjoy clothes shopping?
  • What do you like most about your job?
  • What do visitors to your hometown like to do?
  • What was your favourite subject at school?
  • Do you like going to museums and art galleries?
  • Do you prefer watching DVDs at home or going out to the cinema?
  • Do you like sending emails, letters or phoning people?
  • What kind of music do you like?
  • Is it more enjoyable to watch sport or do it yourself?

Answer the question and then pick up a card to expand your answer.

E.g. “I love clothes shopping and I like buying things for my house too.” Or, “I love clothes shopping but I don’t like spending a lot of money.” Or, “I love clothes shopping so I go to the shops at least once a week.” Or, “I like shopping because I like to wear fashionable clothes.

Keep practising with different questions until you can expand your answer without hesitating.

Image: renjith krishnan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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