There are many ways to improve your IELTS speaking skills by yourself at home (see my 10 tips below).
I think that one of the best ways is recording yourself and listening to the recording.
Challenge yourself to do this for ONE MONTH and you’ll notice a difference in your fluency and confidence.
The challenge will also:
- help you get used to speaking for 2 minutes non-stop so that you get used to the time limit and plan accordingly
- give you plenty of ideas and preparation for when you do the real exam
- help you notice some things about your speaking that you could improve
- increase your vocabulary
- improve your grammar
Check out my tips for the Speaking Test here.
- Print off my Speaking Part 1 and Part 2 Challenge Planner here (or find some recent Task 2 questions online)
- Use an App for recording on your phone. In the Members Academy we use an app called ‘Flip’ so that all the recordings are in one place and I can give you feedback
- Cross off the days/tasks as you go through them, so that you can feel a sense of progress.
- Listen to your recording and write down one good collocation/ expression/ idiom you used and one area that you need to work on.
- Check any words that you wanted to use but couldn’t remember- this will help build your active vocabulary
- Ask someone to listen and give you feedback if you can.
What to listen for
It’s not easy to listen for your own mistakes but here are a few things that are easy to spot and improve:
- Hesitation – how can you fill the gaps when you’re thinking? (Use fillers like ‘well’ ‘you know’ ‘anyway!’ ‘so’…)
- Grammar – check Past Tenses, 3rd person ‘s’, plural ‘s’
- Contractions – using these will make you sound more natural and fluent e.g. ‘I’m’ rather than ‘I am’
- Vocabulary – could you choose more interesting adjectives e.g. ‘freezing’ rather than ‘cold’?
- Linking words – are you just using ‘but’ and ‘so’? Could you try ‘even though’ or ‘Anyway…’?
- Pronunciation – are there any sounds you have difficulty with? (Use the caption generator on the app to see if there are any sounds that it didn’t pick up)
- Speed – many students speak fast to increase their fluency score. It is much better to slow down and pause at the end of each sentence.
- Intonation – are you emphasising important words, and using ‘chunks’ of language?
- Repetition – how can you develop your story without going back over the same information?
- Storytelling – are you just describing things, or are you setting up a story to keep the listener’s attention?
- Formal vs informal – are you using formal words when an informal expression or phrasal verbs would be better?
These are all the features of Speaking that I examine when I give feedback in the Members Academy (we also have weekly small-group Speaking Classes).
Other ways to improve your Speaking at home
1. Reading aloud
Reading short passages out loud will help get your mouth around the sounds of English and feel more comfortable saying familiar words. You could use a text to speech app like Speechify to read out sentences that you can then mimic. Although AI apps tend to sound a little robotic, it will at least help you imitate basic pronunciation and stress patterns.
2. Mimicking or shadowing
Set aside time to listen and repeat, using videos from clear speakers.
3. Talk to yourself
We have constant conversations with ourself in our native languages – try having the same conversation but in English. Say it out loud if you’re by yourself. This will help you to check any vocabulary that you’ve forgotten or you’re not sure about which word is correct. You could also try
- describing things e.g. something you bought
- explaining things e.g. something you’re good at
- telling stories e.g. an audio diary
4. Find a speaking partner
Ideally, find someone in an IELTS Facebook group so that you have similar goals and more in common.
5. Try PowerPoint presenter coach
This will give you feedback on your presentation skills. I have a video on this page full of more IELTS Speaking links.
6. Sing along to songs
Although not specifically IELTS-related, by copying the rhythm of song lyrics when you sing along, you’ll acquire a more natural rhythms by putting word and sentences stress in all the right places. Here are the best songs to help you learn English.
7. Personalise your grammar practice
If you’re learning grammar from a book, try to adapt the examples to make them more personal and then say them aloud. For example in my Grammar courses you get lots of skeleton sentences such as
- ‘I’ve never been to ___________, but my sister/ brother /friend has’.
- ‘I wish I’d never….’
- ‘I need to get my _____ fixed’.
- ‘This time next year I’ll be …..+ing….’
8. Immerse yourself in English
Apart from listening to podcasts and watching movies/ TV/ YouTube in your free time, consder ways of changing your surroundings so that the language that you use daily is in English e.g. on your phone/ computer/ Siri/ Alexa. When you’re searching for instructions or recipes on YouTube, listen in English first.
9. Start conversations
If you live in an English-speaking country, find situations where you’ll be able to ask questions e.g. free guided tours, library visits, post office/bank interactions or tourist information centres.
10. Learn chunks of language
The best way to sound fluent is to learn collocations and whole phrases rather than individual words. Native speakers in any language don’t need to think about what comes next – they already know. What’s the last word in expressions like
- ‘Thanks a _________’
- ‘More or __________’
- ‘As a matter of ______’
11. Use voice dictation apps
Check how accurate your pronunciation is by reading out short passages to programs like
- Google docs (Tools>Voice Typing)
- Windows Speech recognition
You could use these to create an ‘audio diary’ (use the dictation tool for 5 minutes a day), or to practise your 2-minute long-turn.
13. Record videos in Flip.com
In the Members Academy, my students
- record a 2-minute video
- read and anlysie the tapescript using Microsoft Immersive Reader
- copy and paste the tapescript into a doc to see what word/sounds were not picked up
Need more help with Speaking and Pronunciation?
- IELTS Speaking Test Tips and Tricks
- How to improve your IELTS Speaking Score at home without a teacher
- How to avoid repetition in the 2-minute long-turn
- 5 quick ways to improve your pronunciation score
- Improve your Speaking Part 1 in 28 days
My Speaking Course focuses on the fundamentals of performing well in the IELTS Speaking Test.
It has a strong focus on pronunciation (25% of the overall Speaking Score), which most courses are afraid to tackle.
You’ll also get an individual Speaking and Pronunciation analysis from me.
Do you need motivation, high-quality materials, a roadmap, feedback, guidance and an IELTS specialist teacher?
Join the Members Academy today.
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