THINGS TO THINK ABOUT WHEN SPEAKING
(1) In Part 3, you should organize your answer like a Task 2 essay body paragraph. Aim for a clear main idea with some explanation and an example (if you can think of one).
(2) However, speaking is less formal than writing. Try to speak in a natural way and add ideas as they come to you. Just make sure you clearly link your ideas with suitable vocabulary (e.g. “By that I mean” “On the other hand” “Another thing is” “It’s kind of like”
(3) Part 3 topics can be difficult and you might not know what the “right” thing to say is. Focus on giving an answer that is clear and well-organized. If you don’t know anything about the question, then explain why. The speaking test is a speaking test – not a test of general knowledge.
(4) If you don’t understand a question, you can ask the examiner to repeat it or clarify a part. However, the examiner cannot help you with ideas.
NOTE – The following questions are from a recent IELTS test. Each question contains two sample answers: a simple one and an advanced one. Useful linking vocabulary is included in italics and advanced/topic-specific vocabulary is included in bold. Extra comments and tips are featured after some answers. The advanced answers are at a Band 9 level.
QUESTION ONE – What do people usually complain about in your country?
SAMPLE ANSWER ONE (Simple) – They normally complain about the weather. In the summer, it’s really hot and humid and it makes everyone feel tired, so people normally talk about how hot it was that day and how they wish it was cooler. People also complain about the government a lot, although I don’t really know much about politics.”
COMMENT – Notice how each point (“weather” and “government”) is clearly stated and then followed by a little bit of explanation. This is all you have to do!
SAMPLE ANSWER TWO (Advanced) – “Where I live, the weather is often grey and depressing and people are always grumbling about it. It’s understandable because a lack of sunshine puts most people in a bad mood – when the sun comes out everyone instantly cheers up. Then, of course, there’s politics, but I think that’s a common source of complaint in most countries.”
QUESTION TWO – Do younger people complain more than older people?
SAMPLE ANSWER ONE (Simple) – “I think most people complain about the same amount – they just complain about different things. Young people are often unhappy about how much homework they have or not being allowed to go out with their friends, while older people like to complain about young people and how the world is different now from when they grew up.”
COMMENTS – Speaking in long fluent sentences will help you overall score. Make sure you use a mix of long and short sentences. Short ones are best for main ideas and longer ones for explanation.
SAMPLE ANSWER TWO (Advanced) – “Not really. I think it’s more that they get upset by different things. I think young people can get frustrated with their workload at school or not being allowed to socialize when they want to. For older people, they often get mad that things are changing at a rapid pace and they don’t like some of those changes. They complain about not being able to use new technology or get offended by new trends.”
QUESTION THREE – Do some people complain more than others?
SAMPLE ANSWER ONE (Simple) – “I think so. Some people complain about every little thing and it is almost impossible to make them happy. Their food is always not quite right, the weather is too hot or too cold. They can never be happy because they always focus on the negative things rather than the good.”
SAMPLE ANSWER TWO (Advanced) – “For sure. I think everyone knows someone who is never satisfied and always finds fault with something. I think these people are just naturally pessimistic – they always see the negative things and can’t see or ignore the positive. It’s a shame because it makes them unpleasant to be around, which makes people avoid them, and that gives them even more to complain about!”
COMMENT – In the two answers above the question is answered first with just a few words (“I think so” and “For sure”). This is good because it is a natural way of speaking.
QUESTION FOUR – Is it possible for a child to learn how to complain?
SAMPLE ANSWER ONE (Simple) – “Um, I guess they can. Children learn many things from their parents, so if their parents are always complaining then maybe they will complain more too. Sometimes, you have to make a complaint and there is a polite way to do it, and I think children can be taught this.”
SAMPLE ANSWER TWO (Advanced) – “I guess it depends if you mean learn how to make a complaint when you need to or be conditioned to be someone who complains all the time. When we encounter a problem in our life, like maybe we ordered a vegetarian meal but there’s meat in it – we have to be able to make a complaint in an appropriate and constructive way in order to resolve it. On the other hand, if someone grows up surrounded by people constantly complaining, then maybe they will learn that habit too.”
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