Saturday, 4 May 2013


Lesson 1: IELTS Speaking Part 2
Speaking for Two Minutes
In the IELTS speaking part 2, you will be given a topic by the examiner, and you have to speak for two minutes.
Some students find it difficult to do this, so there are some tips in this lesson to help you extend your long-turn.
Lets imagine that you are given this IELTS speaking part 2 question:
Describe someone who has had an important influence on your life.
You should say:
Who the person is
How long you have known him/her
What qualities this person has
Explain why they have had such an influence on you.
Firstly, you must talk about the topic on the card.
However, if you only talk about the specific questions on the card, you may find that you finish too soon.
As long as you keep to the topic, it is ok to talk about other things.
Here are two things you can do in the minute you have before you speak to help you find more to say for the IELTS speaking part 2.
1. Use other ‘question’ prompts
These are question prompts:
When you prepare, write down the other question prompts that are not on the list, and think of things you can say about those as well.
For example:
When - When did you meet?
Where – Where did you meet?
2. Think of a Story
You can also tell a story about the person, place, event or thing you are discussing.
So in your one minute, think of and note down a quick and preferably interesting story to tell about the topic.
You can tell the story anywhere in your IELTS speaking part 2, as long as it fits in.

Example IELTS Speaking Part 2
The person I’m going to talk about today is my teacher from high school. (who) Her name was Miss Chadwick and she taught quite a few subjects at the school. She had been working there for quite a few years when I met her I think. (where) We met for the first time in my English class. (more about ‘who’) I remember this well because she was quite young compared to most of the other teachers in the school so I was surprised that she was a teacher! In fact she looked more like she could be one of the older students!
(How long) So I met her when I was 15, and that was 10 years ago. I don’t actually know her anymore as we lost contact soon after I left the school, but I still remember her very well for several reasons. (What qualities) Firstly, she was very kind. She always treated all the students very well in the class, and I can’t remember her ever shouting at anyone. Also, she had a really good sense of humour. She would make jokes in the class which most of the other teachers never did. The other teachers were very serious all the time. And she made the classes a lot of fun and very interesting, something that I think is very important otherwise you start to get bored. Oh, and also she explained things very well and very clearly. Often teachers are not able to do this in a way that students can understand, especially when it's complicated subjects.
So those are the qualities that she had. (why such an influence) The reason she had such an important influence on me is because I was quite a shy person at school and not very confident, but she helped me to change this. (tell a story) Each year, there was a school play that would be held in front of all the parents, and that year, when I was 15, Miss Chadwick was organizing and directing the play. I really didn't want to be in it because I was so shy, but Miss Chadwick insisted that I take one of the roles, and it was one of the main roles which meant that I would have to do a lot of speaking! I was so nervous. Anyway, I went ahead and did it, and on the night I did really well and really enjoyed it. And that really boosted my confidence and this has helped me to this day.
So my teacher Miss Chadwick is the person who has influenced my life and I will never forget her.
Lesson 2:
IELTS Speaking Questions and Answers - Part One
This lesson is a quiz using IELTS speaking questions and answers to provide you with some general tips on successfully answering questions for part one of the IELTS speaking test.
In part one of the test, you are asked general questions about yourself - follow this link to view example part one questions if you do not know what to expect.
You'll be asked about 12 questions in part one of the test, and these will be taken from three different sets of topics which the examiner will choose.
For example you could be asked about:
1.      Your home town
2.      Your favourite holiday destination
3.      What kinds of books you like to read
So you'll have about four questions on each of these.
Now, take this 'IELTS Speaking Questions and Answers Quiz' to see if you know what is the best way to respond in this part of the test.
Decide which answer you think is the best, then click on the letter to see if you are right.

Part One IELTS Speaking Questions and Answers - Quiz

Top of Form
1.      How many people are there in your family?
There are four. We live in a large house in the north of my country. It gets very cold there in the winter but it is really nice during the summer months. I try to go back there often.
There are four. My brother and my parents.
There are four. There’s myself of course. Then there’s my younger brother, he’s fifteen years old. And I have my mother and father who are both in their late 70s. I have two grand parents as well, but they don’t live with us.

2.      Do you know the people who live next door to you?
No, I’ve never met them. The reason for this is that I’m away most of the time at university so I’ve never really had the opportunity. I know my family has met them on a few occasions, just for a quick chat, but they don’t know them well. I think they like to keep their privacy.
No, I’ve never met them.
No, I’ve never met them. I think my parents have, but I don’t know who they are.

3.      What kinds of books do you like reading?
I don’t like reading. Books are boring. I much prefer to play on the internet or just watch TV in my free time. Reading books just sends me to sleep.
Although I think books are great ways to learn, and I know some people love to read, I’ve never been a great fan of them. I used to read books a bit when I was younger but not much anymore. I read a lot on the internet actually, articles on various topics. So I do read, but it’s just not usually books.
I don’t really like reading, but I did read a book once. I’ll tell you the story. It was set in the 1960’s in London. It was about a poor family who were just trying hard to make ends meet as they had so little money. If followed the life of the boy in the family from when he was young until he grew up. The first part of the book was about growing up with his family and his school life...(candidate continues the story)

Bottom of Form
You should have learnt from these IELTS speaking questions and answers to:
Stay on topic
Listen carefully to the question and make sure you are answering it. Don’t talk about something completely different just so you can talk for longer.
Extend your answers
Give reasons for your answer. This can be a useful way to extend your responses. Always explain WHY you have given the answer that you have.
Don't speak excessively
Extend your answers but don’t go on too much. This will only mean the examiner will have to keep interrupting you to move onto the next questions.
Be honest but positive
Try to remain upbeat and positive even if you are saying you don’t do things or don’t enjoy things you are being asked about. You can always put a positive slant on your answers.
Lesson 3 - Speaking About Change
Objectives: to examine and practice some ways of speaking about change.
Often in part 3, you are asked to compare a situation now with the same situation in the past
Common time periods include; 20 years, 30 years, when your parents were young and when your grandparents were young.
·         How are the eating habits now in your country different from eating habits in the past?
·         Are the types of leisure activities that are popular today the same as those that were popular when your parents were young?
·         How have shopping habits changed over recent years?
·         Have the types of transport people use changed much over the last few decades?
This lesson will provide you with some useful grammar for speaking about change in the IELTS test, and how to spot these types of question.

Used to
One way of describing how things have changed is to use “used to”.  We use it to refer to facts or situations that were true in the past but are not true now.  When the change occurred is not important.
“Vietnam used to be a colony of France, (but now it is independent)”
“Jimmy Carter used to be the President of the United States, (but now he isn’t.)”
This can, of course be used to give personal information.
“I used to smoke, (but I gave up 2 years ago.)”
“Mike used to be a detective in the CID, (but now he’s a teacher)”

In these types of questions the function being tested is “compare”, so using comparatives is obviously a good way of answering the question and speaking about change.
"Thirty years ago, the streets were much quieter than now.”
“I think that reading was much more popular in the past.”
When talking about how things are different now, the present perfect is often used as well as the present simple.
“The streets have become much noisier.” (Notice, a time is not needed)
“Reading is much less popular than it was in the past.”

Particularly for some of the longer periods, you may not be sure of exactly how things have changed and it is all right to speculate.
Would” can be used for strong speculation.
“It would have been harder for my grand father to find out about international news, because there was no radio or T.V in his village.”
“In the past, people would have traveled less often.”
When you are not so sure you can use other words. (perhaps, possibly, might, may, etc.)
I’m not sure but, perhaps, they might have studied less science thirty years ago”
Possibly, in my father’s day, people could have played more sport.”

Question types
Questions about changes tend to be phrased in ways like these:
“How do you think … is different from thirty years ago?”
“In what ways has … changed from when your parents were young?
“How is … different from twenty years ago?”
Of course, the examiner may choose to word the question in other ways.
Lesson 4:
Will and Going to
Usually in part 3 of the speaking test you will be asked to talk about the future in at least one of the questions (some of the questions in part 1 may also be about the future).
Will and going to are popular words to do this, so we will look at them, but there are some other ways too.
It is important to notice when a question is about the future so you can make sure that your response is also using the future tense.
Here are some example questions:
·         Do you think any new national celebrations will come into being in the future?
·         How do you think the internet will change people's buying habits in the future?
·         Do you think it will be more or less important to have a good education in the future?
Here is an explanation of will and going to and some other useful structures for discussing the future
There are various uses of ‘will’, but in IELTS part 3 we can use it when we want to talk about future events that we believe are certain.
‘Will’ is followed by verb 1, or the infinitive.
Education will be more important in the future because as populations increase, there will be greater competition for jobs.
If you use ‘will’ on its own, this means you believe in what you are saying 100%, or you have 100% evidence to back up your claim.
You can add in a word like ‘definitely’ if as well if you want to emphsize your certainty even more:
Education will definitely be more important in the future because as populations increase, there will be greater competition for jobs.
If you are less certain (which is often the case as we usually don’t have evidence with us) then we use words such as 'maybe', 'perhaps', 'possibly', 'probably' and ‘likely’.
Education will probably be more important in the future because as populations increase, there will be greater competition for jobs.
Going to
Will and Going to are used in similar ways. We can use ‘going to’ to talk about a plan we have, but in the IELTS test part 3 we usually use it when we are making a prediction based on evidence we know of, often from what we can see in front of us.
Going to’ is followed by verb 1, or the infinitive.
The sky is very black (the evidence we can see). I think it’s going to rain. (not an IELTS example)
The internet is getting much easier to use and safer (the evidence), so I think it’s going to be very popular for buying clothes in the future.
The climate is going to become warmer and warmer because the government is not doing enough to prevent global warming.
Will or going to?
‘Will’ is more common for giving predictions about future events, so if you are unsure of the difference between them, just use ‘will’. 
However, we often use will and going to inter-changeably. For example, in the sentences above we can swap them without affecting the meaning:
The climate will / is going to become warmer and warmer because the government is not doing enough to prevent global warming.
Education will probably / is probably going to be more important in the future because as populations increase, there will be greater competition for jobs.
Modal Verbs
In addtion to will and going to, another way to talk about the future is to use modal verbs such as ‘may’ and ‘might’.
Again, these are used when you are not certain about something. They have the same meaning.
I think education may become more important in the future, but it really depends on what happens to the job market.
The climate might get cooler in the future if we manage to restrict CO2 emissions.
Present Continuous
This is also used to talk about the future.
It is often used when we want to talk about what has been arranged for the future, so it may be less common for part 3 and more common for part 1, but it is still possible for some things you may want to say:
Our president is meeting the president of the USA next year, so hopefully they will discuss the problems of our country.

Will and Going to - Sample Answer
Here is a sample answer to a question:
How do you think the internet will change people's buying habits in the future?
Buying from the internet is becoming more and more popular. For example, we’ve seen many book shops close down because people can buy online at cheaper prices from sites such as Amazon. It makes life much easier if products can be delivered direct to our door, especially with our busy modern lifestyles. I think this will only increase in the future as more people feel safe to buy online and online shops make it easier to purchase this way. Also, I think our lives are only going to become busier, so more people will choose to shop this way.
IELTS Mind Map - Speaking Part 2
This lesson introduces you to the idea of using an IELTS mind map to help you with your speaking for part two.
There are different methods and techniques you'll come across for preparing for this part of the speaking test, so you really need to decide which way suits you best.
Mind maps are a way to visually organize information. A single idea is placed in the middle, with ideas associated with that word around the edge.
A mind map can be useful for IELTS speaking in part two because you can place the main topic from the cue card in the middle and then brainstorm ideas around it.
You can use other question words such as 'why', 'when', 'who', 'where' etc to help you think of ideas.
As well as question words you can also add a story as this is a useful way to extend your answer - click here to view a lesson on how to extend your answers for part 2 and using a story to help you do this.
You can also add in any useful vocabulary that you think of.
Look at this example cue card, and then look at the mind map that someone has done in order to answer the question.
Cue Card
Describe a lake, a river or a sea you have visited.
You should say:
Where the lake, river or sea is
How often you have visited it
What activities you do there
Explain why you like this particular place.
Mind Map

As you can see, a story has been added in, and some extra information about 'who', plus some interesting vocabulary
Its up to you in what order to answer the question. You don't have to follow the card, but you should try to cover all the points that are on there and your talk must be organized and coherent.
The mind map or following the card will help with this, plus giving cues to which section you are on. For example, "I've visited it many times because..." tells the examiner you are talking about the 'How often' part.
Here is a sample answer. Note how all the points are covered, plus some extra information that is not on the card but is on the mind map.

Sample Answer using a Mind Map - A Lake You've Visited
I’m going to talk about a lake that I’ve visited.
The lake is in the Lake District area which is in the North West of England. As you can guess by its name, it’s very famous for its many beautiful lakes. The area is also known as ‘The Lakes’ and it is a National Park.
I’ve visited it many times because I live only a few hours from there. I usually go every summer, and I’ve been going for many years now – probably since about 1998. We used to go a lot in my summer holiday when I was at school. Now I’m working I still go, but I’ll go at weekends. I usually go with my family – that’s my two brothers and my Mum and Dad. Sometimes we might go with our cousins as well. I have also been with friends quite a few times.

There are loads of thing to do there. At this lake we go to there are a lot of water sports and I really like those. There’s jet skiing, sailing and kayaking for example, but you don’t just have to do those things – there’s plenty to do even if you don’t like those kinds of activities. You can go walking around the lake or further out into the areas around the lake because there are many areas which are really beautiful. There are also some great places to eat good food.
One of the best things I have done is a Kayaking trip. It wasn’t actually on the lake, but in a river close by. There are some white water rapids, so I went on those with a friend. We started it with a group of others at a calm part of the river, with a guide as well to make sure everyone was safe. Some parts then got quite rough with the water and strong currents. It was scary but really exhilarating as well. I’ll definitely try and go again one day.
The reason why I like this place so much is that although there are lots of exciting activities that you can do,  it’s also surrounded by lots of breathtaking scenery, with stunning views of the hills and rivers. So it’s still really tranquil and relaxing and a really good way to unwind if you have had a difficult week at work and just want to get away.
So that’s the lake that I’ve visited and I’m sure I’ll continue to visit there in the future.
Lesson 6: IELTS Speaking Tone
When you do your speaking test, it is important that you get the speaking tone correct.
In this lesson we'll look at how linking phrases can affect the tone.
You are basically having a conversation with someone, so you want to sound natural. Some candidates think they have to sound very formal and academic.
You obviously do need some good vocabulary to get a higher score on the test, such as that from the academic word list (used correctly of course!), but language that you would hear naturally if you had a conversation with your friends is also as important and will get noticed by the examiner.
Take a look at this question and then the answer by a candidate:

When do you think it is acceptable to be late for appointments?
You should always try to be on time. However, there are some occasions when it is ok to be late. Firstly, in my country the traffic is terrible, so sometimes you cannot help but be late because of that. Furthermore, if you are very ill, this may be another reason that makes you late. You can’t really help that. Moreover, if an emergency arises because of, for example, a problem with your child, you will need to take care of that first of course.

What do you think is the problem with the speaking tone? Click to see below.

The problem with this response is the words linking the ideas, or the transitions. It is not that they are 'wrong' as such. In theory they can be used as the meaning is clear, but they are very formal.
They are suitable for an academic essay, but you will not often hear someone use these words when they are speaking with you.
So if you use these it will make what you say sound very forced and unnatural.
Here is the same answer but the speaking tone is more natural:

You should always try to be on time, but having said that, there are some occasions when it is ok to be late. A particular problem in my country is the terrible traffic jams, so sometimes you cannot help but be late because of that. Also, if you are very ill for an unexpected reason, again there is nothing you can do about that. Another good reason is if an emergency arises because of, for example, a problem with your child, you will need to take care of that first of course.
As you can see, this sounds more natural and will sound more fluent. It will also seem less 'mechanical'.
So get into the habit of improving your speaking tone by forming linking phrases that are not too mechanical or formal.
Lesson 7: Hypothetical Situation
Sometimes in part 2 of the speaking test you are asked to describe things that involve a hypothetical situation.
If something is hypothetical, then it is an unreal situation in the future. It is just an idea or imagined.
The grammar for this is connected to conditional type II 'if clauses'. Take a look at this:
Question: If you won the lottery, what would you do?
Answer: I’d buy a large house in the countryside.
Of course the person has NOT won the lottery – so it is just an imagined or unreal situation.
In the ‘if’ part of the clause, you’ll notice that the past simple (won) is used, even though the imagined future is being referred to. ‘Would’ is used in the second part.
For the IELTS task card, you'll just be seeing the 'would' part.
Take a look at this sample task 2 question:
Describe an interesting job you would like to have
You should say:
·         What the job is
·         Who normally does this job
·         What skills are needed for the job
Explain why you would like this job
So when you talk about a hypothetical situation, you need to make sure you use the correct grammar.
Remember that ‘I would…’ is usually shortened to ‘I’d…” when we are speaking.
Take a look at this model answer. The uses of 'would' are in red.
Model Answer
I’m going to talk about a job I’d like to have.
Ok, if I could choose any job, it would be an air hostess. They are the people who take care of customers who are travelling on planes - serving the food, making sure the travellers board and depart the plane safely, and taking care of any other issues.
This type of job can be done by men or women, but there are usually certain requirements. For instance, you have to be at least 19 years old in most cases when you first apply and usually a certain height, not too small. Also, your weight needs to be in proportion to your height.  So in other words, not overweight unfortunately.  They also really prefer people who are younger. So not just anyone can do it. Those who do the job usually want to travel as much as they can to see the world, or maybe to make money as in some developing countries it is a lot better paid than many other jobs.
Regarding the skills, one of the most important things to be is outgoing.  I think you need to be very confident and happy to chat with anyone! You also need to be patient as I’m sure you can sometimes get passengers who complain, but you still have to continue to be nice to them. For qualifications, you have to have good GSCE marks. I think that is it.
The reason that I’d like a job like this is because I’d really like to see the rest of the world and I’d like to meet lots of new people from different cultures and countries. It’s actually something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time, since I was young, which is why I know so much about the requirements. I’m quite a confident person and very outgoing, so I think I have all the qualities that are needed for such a job.
If I was given the chance to do this job in the future, I’d be very happy. It’s my dream so hopefully one day it will come true.
As you'll notice, only a few parts of this response are using 'would'. The amount you use it will depend on what you are saying.
In much of the response the candidate is talking about facts regarding the job, which are always true, so the present simple is being used. She's not referring to the future.
She only refers to a hypothetical situation a few times in her response.
Here are some examples for you to practice with:
Example Hypothetical Situation Speaking Card 1
Describe a beautiful place in your country that you would like to visit
You should say:
·         Where it is
·         Who you would go with
·         When you would go
Explain why you would like to visit this place
Example Hypothetical Situation Speaking Card 2
Describe a house you would like to buy in the future.
You should say
·         What kind of house it would be
·         Where you would like it to be
·         Who you would like to live there with
Explain why you would like to buy a house like this

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