Written Nov. 5, 2008

How To Speak in Part 2 (Page 3)

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Is Part 2 like a Speech?

Summary: No, Part 2 is definitely not like a speech in a 'Speech Contest'. It is like giving a short story in any natural conversation situation. So don't memorize an answer, word-for-word. If the examiner realizes your answer is memorized, you will lose points!


You should not think that your Part 2 answer is similar to those memorized speeches that students give in high school Speech Contests or the memorized speeches that you have seen in Speech Contests on TV. Instead, your Part 2 answer should be more like a 'little story' that is spoken naturally. 

This 'little story' is the kind of story you might tell someone while you are having a conversation with that person. For example, imagine you are having a chat with someone (you can even imagine the chat is in Chinese with another Chinese person) and the topic of "advice" comes up in the conversation. Your friend might say, "Tell me about some really useful advice that you received once" and you spend about 1.5 minutes telling your friend about some advice your father gave you. That's what your Part 2 answer should be like.

Not only that, if you were having a chat with someone and your friend asked you to give an example of some advice you had received, you would not begin by announcing, "I'd like to tell you about some advice I received ...." or, "I'm going to tell you about some advice I received ..." etc. To begin your Part 2 like that is not an enormous error but the best candidates don't begin that way. 

Examiners very much dislike an answer that sounds like a 'speech' because:

a) A speech is prepared and memorized beforehand but you are not supposed to know beforehand what the topic is in the IELTS Speaking test! Don't forget, all of the IELTS Speaking test is supposed to simulate a natural conversation between two people (of more or less equal status).


b) A speech is usually written and spoken in a more formal tone, and with more formal language than a naturally spoken 'little story'.

If your Part 2 answer sounds like a prepared 'speech' that you had memorized before the test, then the examiner quite possibly will ignore your answer completely when he or she is considering your score. Not only that, you will lose some respect from the examiner and he or she might decide to ask you questions in Part 3 that are more difficult than they usually ask, just to teach you a lesson!

Similarly, you should try to avoid using the style of language seen in written stories when you speak your 'little story' and avoid the formal style of language used in 'Business English' letters. 

A written story is often written in a more cultured and formal style than a naturally spoken story. You should try to use the everyday spoken language that well-educated people use when having a conversation, not the style of language used in business letters or in great works of literature!


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