The Secret to the IELTS Speaking Test
The International English Language Testing System, or IELTS for short, is a test that many non-native speakers of English must take if they want to go to school abroad. The test consists of four parts: Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking. In this article we will discuss the secret to performing well on the Speaking portion.
The Speaking Test takes the form of a one-on-one interview with a native English speaker lasting between 11 and 14 minutes. While preparing for this test, many Chinese students scour websites to discover what questions have been recently asked, and spend hours memorizing model answers that they think will give them a higher score.
The secret, however, is much simpler and much less stressful than all of that. Forget that it’s a test at all. Instead, look at your IELTS interview as an opportunity to communicate — a chance to show the interviewer your English.
Most test-takers go into the IELTS interview thinking about how they will be evaluated, and how their final score on the IELTS will determine whether or not they will be able to go abroad. Going into the interview thinking about the test often leads students to 1) be extremely nervous, which results in their leaving a poor impression and making more mistakes; 2) think too much about their language use, which greatly reduces their level of fluency; and 3) give boring, prepared answers that are based more on what they think the interview wants to hear than what the students actually think, which comes across as stilted and fake.
If students view the interview as a communication opportunity rather than a test, they will be more likely to communicate fluently, and more likely to leave a positive impression on the interviewer. So listen to the interviewer’s questions as if you were listening to questions from a friend; ask if you don’t understand a question, realizing that some misunderstanding is a natural part of communication; and allow yourself to get excited about the chance to show off the English that you have been learning to speak for so many years.
Of course, it’s important to keep in mind that preparation and practice over a long period of time are necessary to get a high score on the IELTS, but the simple shift in perspective described in this article can mean the difference between a 6 and a 7 or a 5 and a 6. Good luck!