This method that I am going to share with you has proven to be very effective in increasing my students’ speaking scores on the IELTS Academic Test in 50 days by 1.5 points, on average. It is not very complicated and easy to do, if you commit to it. I hope it can help you, too.
Why do students not do better in their speaking tasks?
In my years of preparing students for the IELTS test, I always found that the main reason why students do not achieve higher in their speaking task was their lack of speaking practice, academic vocabulary and lexical structures. Not forming correct sentences or making grammar mistakes was generally not the reason for not getting a higher score. With the following method, you do not even need a teacher or speaking partner, although of course that would help, but you can improve on your own. It will take time but within 50 days you will see a big improvement that will increase your IELTS speaking scores.
This book will help
What students need is the practice and the ability to speak about IELTS topics by using academic vocabulary in a natural way. It was not until I found the following book that my students really excelled in their speaking section on the IELTS test. The book is called ‘IELTS Examiner’s Tips’ by Karolina Achirri. You can find a link to this book in the section of my website on recommended resources for the IELTS test, to go there click here. The subtitle of the book is ‘An Academic Guide to IELTS Speaking and Writing’.
Although I cannot recommend it if you want to improve your writing scores because it is too confusing for me and lacks structure, the author definitely makes up for this in the section of the book that prepares you for the IELTS Academic speaking tasks. In this section, you will literally find thousands of possible exam questions and high-level academic vocabulary on 265 pages. This alone, of course, will not help you if you don’t know how to utilise it. So, let me show you, how you make it work.
Over 3000 content-specific academic vocabulary items – Less work for you
The real benefit of the book can be found in chapter 5 ‘Common Speaking Topics & Possible Questions / Vocabulary needed for band 6 & higher’. In this chapter, the author provides you with possible questions and useful academic vocabulary for all speaking parts of the IELTS test.
50 = 25 + 25
In preparation for the speaking part 1, the author of the book lists 114 topics with questions. Use this section to prepare yourself for the IELTS test by going through 2 topics and its questions every single day for 50 days. In the first 25 days, make sure that you properly brainstorm what you want to say as an answer to each question. Check vocabulary and grammar if you need to. For the last 25 days, make sure that you do not give yourself more time until you start answering the questions that you would have on the exam, i.e. 2-3 seconds. Practicing under exam conditions will also help you to get mentally ready and will enable you to perform at your best during the actual exam.
In preparation for the speaking part 2 and 3, the author lists a topic and then provides you with academic vocabulary and lexical structures that you could use in part 2 of the speaking exam and follow up questions to each suggested topic in preparation for the speaking part 3 of the IELTS Academic test.
Follow a similar principle in preparing for part 3 by properly brainstorming ideas and vocabulary to answer the questions in the first 25 days and by answering spontaneously in the last 25 days of your 50 days preparation.
IELTS academic speaking task 2 - Vocabulary that will lead to a higher score
The aspect that will really make you improve your speaking score is to make use of the preparation for part 2 that the book provides. For each topic, the author has provided between 10 and 50 academic vocabulary items or collocations that can be used in your answers. To make use of these words, do the following: go through the vocabulary list that is provided to you for each topic and make sure you select at least 10 words from this list that you plan to use in your presentation in part 2. Check the exact meaning of the vocabulary and possible collocations if you are unsure.
Make use of this website, where you can type in a word and see the words it collocates with. If you are looking for an adjective that goes well with book, go to the website, type it in the search engine and you will be shown a variety of words that can be used with it. So if you want to express that the book is very good and you do not know which adjective works best, you will find an answer on this website, e.g. you will see that ‘delightful, excellent, fascinating, remarkable’ are all great options, so just make your pick.
With these 10 words you have selected and the collocations you have found, you can now create an answer that is filled with academic vocabulary and would give you a much higher score.
I would suggest to practice that for 35 of your 50 day preparation so that you learn as many new academic vocabulary items as possible. On the last 15 days, I would then go over and try to answer the part 2 tasks more spontaneously by responding to the question without integrating the words that the books suggests and rather focusing on what you want to say so that you also practice the part 2 speaking tasks under exam conditions.
Words of warning if you practice for speaking part 2
#1: Do not use too many of the words and collocations provided by the book because otherwise your answers will sound unnatural. Make sure that you integrate the ones you have chosen nicely in your speaking.
#2: Make sure that your part 2 answer, as well as your part 1 and 3 answer, has a clear structure and communicate this to your examiner. So for example, if you part 2 task is to talk about ‘A song that means a lot top you from your childhood’, the beginning of your answer could be something like this: “A song that really means a lot to me is ‘Imagine’ by John Lennon because of the message it conveys and the event that occurred when I first heard it when I was 8 years old.” And then you go into the details.
#3: Take the practice under exam conditions very seriously and put yourself under pressure, so that you are prepared when you take the real exam. Do not give yourself more time even if you could not complete the task. Move on to the next topic because this will make your brain adjust to the pressure so that you can be relaxed and comfortable during the actual exam.
The benefits of this method
The advantage of this method is that apart from having to buy the book for around £12 or $18, there is nothing more you need. You do not even need a teacher who corrects you or someone to practice with (although this of course would help) but you can do it on your own. The frequency of practice will already make you better and the integration of the suggested vocabulary for the task 2 answers.
Stick to this method every single day in the 50 days leading up to your exam. In the first 25 days this will be more time consuming than in the last 25 days, so be aware of that.
Practicing for the speaking part like this will probably take around 30 minutes, which is not too much considering you only want to take this exam once in your life and the effect it will have on your speaking score. Stay committed to it every single day and you will succeed.
Here is a summary of my method: In 50 days to a higher IELTS speaking score
Days 1 - 25