Speaking: Finding Ways to Practice and Improve Your IELTS Speaking Skills

April 25, 2018 by Tony Rusinak

Sometimes it’s just really hard to have a good conversation in English. I totally get it. When can you actually speak for two minutes about a specific topic? When can you discuss the environment, public transportation, and university tuition in a meaningful way? Of course, some of us are lucky and have people around us who we can chat with a lot. Others are lucky because they have the time and money to take an IELTS preparation class. However, many of us don’t have the time, money, or support needed to practice our speaking effectively. Then how can we find opportunities to speak? By speak, I mean to speak in a way that will help us prepare and improve for IELTS exam day. The reading, writing, and listening can be done at home, alone, and on your computer. And sure, speaking can too, but it’s a lot harder. Most agree that the best way practice is to be proactive and step out of your comfort zone. Check below for some strategies to increase both the quality and quantity of your talking time.

Finding the Right Study Buddy

 A study buddy is someone you match up with who has similar academic goals as yourself. Everyone can agree that having a study buddy offers many benefits. It can be more fun. You can help each other learn new things. It’s free. You can share your notes and resources. It also helps you stick to a schedule. The list of benefits goes on and on. When choosing a study buddy, though, you have to be careful. This is especially true for the IELTS speaking module. Before you agree to start meeting someone to prepare the IELTS speaking module with, you should ask a number of questions. Do they have a similar English language level as you? Can you trust them to meet you punctually? Are they people who are serious about study goals, or will they waste time gossiping? Do you speak the same first language (different first languages push you to always speak English)? And most important of all, do you actually like this person, lol?

Targeted Language Exchange

Many of us live in cosmopolitan cities where every other person you meet wants to learn or practice another language. For a long time now, a popular activity for language learners, known as the language exchange, answers to this. As you probably know, a language exchange is where two or more people, teach each other their first language. For example, Natasha from Russia meets Carolina from Brazil at the library for an hour. Natasha teaches Carolina Russian language for thirty minutes. Then Carolina teachers Portuguese to Natasha for the other thirty minutes. Now, here is the trick. Find someone to do a language exchange with, but instead of just chatting in English, focus on IELTS speaking activities. Because the other person might not know about IELTS, you should arrive prepared. Bring some IELTS speaking activities and focus on those. Just chatting and not working on IELTS might be fun, but if you want to get effective practice, be prepared.

Get off your phone and talk!

These days, when you enter a cafe, it’s quiet. Everyone is hunched over their lattes playing with their phones. They might be chatting about the weekend or discussing world politics, but it's all on their devices! They aren’t speaking. It's tempting for you to do the same. It is the easy way. Don’t do it! Turn your phone off and talk to people. Chat with a stranger, join some friends in a discussion, and ask the barista about the artwork in the cafe. Remember, if you aren’t speaking English in a meaningful way, you're not improving. So put away your phone, think of something interesting, and chat!

Community Events

Another great way to improve your speaking is to join some community events. I live in a small city, and if I google “Community Events” I can usually find about 15 different things happening every day of the week, The events are often free, fun, and welcoming to everyone. Some interesting ones I 've seen recently are a pancake breakfast at a town hall, a public lecture on the environment, and a giant yard sale. Now, why am I telling you this? Isn’t this blog supposed to be about improving your IELTS speaking score? It's exactly that. Community events are an excellent place to practice your English. People usually want to talk. Sit down at a table of strangers at the pancake breakfast, join the reception after the public lecture, and ask a hundred questions at the yard sale. Not only will you be having fun, but you’ll have the chance to talk with a large variety of people in an interesting and meaningful way. Did you fill up your calendar with community events yet?

In the end, you don’t need expensive classes or tutors. You just need to stay focused, step out of your house, and search out some good conversation. Sounds like lots of fun to me! Best of luck on your next test.

  proactive   be active and do things yourself
  comfort zone   a feeling of safety and comfort
  stick to   keep doing something
  cosmopolitan cities   multicultural and fashionable
  make the most of   do something well in a particular situation
  hunched over   leaning over something, with rounded shoulders
  barista   a person who makes coffee at a cafe


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