Written Sept. 6, 2008

How To Speak in Part 2 (Page 11)

Back to the start page


Try to make your story interesting!

Remember, you are communicating with another human being, not an examining machine. What makes a story interesting? A story is more interesting if it is full of details and facts that the listener didn't know before. Examiners are especially interested in learning something new about China so, whenever suitable, give the examiner some new information about your country. As well as that, the examiner is interested in learning something about you. So, try to speak personally, not in an impersonal, formal way. And try to be original, which means say things that are from you, that stress your uniqueness and difference from others. Those candidates who repeat too much of what they have read in model answers in IELTS textbooks usually sound very unoriginal and quite boring, partly because the examiners have heard the same things before from many other candidates who have studied the same books.

If a story is extremely interesting to an examiner, he or she might not notice some of your grammar and vocabulary errors or weaknesses because they are so fascinated by the contents of your story! In this way, a story that captivates or fascinates the examiner gives the examiner the impression that you have excellent communication skills and the examiner will tend to judge you more kindly for the coherence sub-score (actually, the fluency/coherence sub-score.)

Candidates who speak with strong feelings about something tend to sound more interesting and, in fact tend to speak at their best. So, if you can tell a story that has some genuine emotion from you, it will help you. (But don't cry in the test if you are speaking about something sad that will ruin your ability to talk!) For example, I remember a young man in one of my classes who I thought had just average English speaking ability. Then the class practiced the topic, "Describe an old person you know" and I heard this young man talk about how his grandfather cried when the family gave him a birthday party. What I noticed was this young man seemed to be speaking about something true and he spoke very convincingly and much more fluently than he had when answering Part 1 questions. Similarly, if you listen to the Korean girl in the Specimen Tests speaking with pride and emotion about how the President of her country won the Nobel Peace Prize, you'll see that she spoke both convincingly and quite effortlessly.

But be careful of pretending to have strong feelings when you really don't have strong feelings because you have to be an excellent actor or actress to speak convincingly and fluently about something that you don't really have genuine feelings about.