IELTS Speaking Exercise: Sentence Building
Make better sentences, get a better score!
Question: Tell me about your family. Common Answer: There are three people in my family. Better Answer: In China today, a majority of families have three members, and my family is no exception. Note: This sentence is built with three parts. First is the place, China. Second is the situation, many families with three people. Third is this person's family. Question: What is your hometown like? Common Answer: My hometown is very nice. Better Answer: Although my hometown is not very famous, it has several advantages that make it a great place to live. Question: How do you feel about your job? Common Answer: I like my job very much. Better Answer: Although you might not believe it, I really enjoy my job every day. Question: What do you dislike about your classes? Common Answer: Studying is very difficult. Better Answer: When I think about how hard my classes, I feel like quitting, which is one reason I've decided to go abroad. Note: The question is about a feeling and the answer is about a feeling. Good! Question: What do you want to do in the future? Common Answer: I want to be a lawyer in the future. Better Answer: I first thought about being a lawyer when I was a child, and now, after many long years of study, it seems my dream will become reality. Note: Excellent! Compare the past dream with the present hard work to show the bright future! Question: What do you do in your free time? Common Answer: In my free time I like to play sports. Better Answer: If I ever had free time, I would probably do many different things, including playing sports, listening to music, and going out with my friends. Note: Good examples. Question: Tell me about a typical day in your life. Common Answer: My typical day begins when I wake up. Better Answer: After resting all night, I wake up every morning looking forward to a new day.
Question: What will you do when you go abroad? Common Answer: I want to study Computer Science in Australia. Better Answer: If I am able to get a visa, I hope to learn about Computer Science in Brisbane, Australia, so that I can come back to China and work for a successful local company. Question: What are some typical jobs that people do in your country? Common Answer: Many people in China work as farmers. Better Answer: One of the biggest industries in China is agriculture, so there are a large number of people working as farmers. Question: Tell me about a celebration or festival in your country. Common Answer: The Spring Festival is the biggest holiday of the year in China. Better Answer: When winter is coming to an end, which means a new spring is not far behind, and that is when we in China have our largest celebration of the year, the Spring Festival. Question: Do you like to go shopping? Common Answer: I hate shopping, but I have to do it. Better Answer: When I think of shopping, I think of all the crowds, all the difficult choices, and all the money I will have to spend, so I hate to go shopping.
IELTS Speaking Exercise: Connecting Sentences
Do not use too many connectors when you speak, or it may sound unnatural. Here are some of the most common connection words in English. 1. "after" or "before" After we did that, we ~ed. Before we can finish that job, we must ~. After that, I went to... Before that, I was working in an office. 2. "although" or "even though" Although my hometown is very small, it has many interesting places to visit. Even though my hometown very crowded and noisy, I like living there very much. 3. "another" Another good thing about my job is... Another way to solve the problem would be to...
4. "as with" or "just like" As with the first question, we must consider this one very carefully. Just like Romeo and Juliet, we fell in love. 5. "at the same time" I wanted to be with her every day. At the same time, I felt I should obey my parents wishes. There are too many cars in Beijing. At the same time, the city is building more subway lines and adding more buses. 6. "besides" or "in addition to" Besides that fact, here is another interesting point... In addition to that law, there are many other laws to prevent traffic accidents. 7. "but" This is usually true, but... In most cases that is true, but... In a typical situation that may happen, but... In an ideal situation we can do it that way, but... 8. "because" Many people believe that is true. I disagree because... My point of view is... The reason I believe that is because... 9. "except for" Except for that one case, I do not know of any other problems. Except for the main character, all the others were bad people. 10. "for example" I believe ~ is true. For example... I believe that ~ is the best way. Let me give you an example... 11. "however" or "yet" I basically agree with you. However, I don't know if that will be true in the future. That is what I have thought most of my life. Yet I wonder if I am wrong. 12. "rather than"
Rather than repeat that process, the hero of the story decided to do something different. Rather than just accept the decision, I decided to change my job. 13. "the reason is" I don't agree with that at all. The reason is... The reason I doubt that is... 14. "this" or "that" Some people say that... and I have to agree with them... That was good too, but not as good as... That was good, and an even better way is... Not only is that interesting, but ~ is also quite fascinating. 15. "when" or "whenever" When I think about such a topic, I think about... When I remember how I grew up, I realize... Whenever I think about my studies, I wonder how I survived!
IELTS Speaking Exercise: General to Specific
A useful skill for IELTS speaking AND writing Students often say or write sentences that are too simple such as: This is important. My hometown is very good. I like to eat pizza. I will go to another country. These sentences are okay if you want to be Band 4 or Band 5. However, these will be much better IF some explanation comes after. For example, instead of saying "This is important", you should explain WHY it is important: "This job is very important for our company. (a very general sentence) If we can sell over 10,000 of these items, we will have earn enough money to build a new factory." (a very specific sentence!) Now let's look at the other three examples. Instead of "My hometown is very good", could say:
My hometown is a very nice city in Shandong Province. (rather general) Because it is between the sea and the mountains, there are many beautiful places to visit. (Very specific.) Instead of saying "I like to eat pizza", you could say: Pizza is my favorite food in the whole world. (general) I not only love the cheese, but the bread, tomato sauce with meat and vegetables on top make pizza a complete meal! (specific) Finally, instead of saying "I will go to another country", you should say something like this: I hope to go to New Zealand to study in the future. (general) If I can arrange the visa and a job, I will work in the sheep herding industry where I will have a peaceful and enjoyable life in the mountains, away from the crowds and the pollution! (specific) have five of them smile you do it with your mouth to show you are happy, you turn it up hungry how we feel when we don't eat for a long time 3. Try some yourself! Think about how to paraphrase these words: banana: run: thirsty: software:
IELTS Speaking Tasks
IELTS researchers have found that students perform 12 different tasks during the IELTS Speaking Test. The first two are easy - giving personal information and giving non-
personal information. Here are the other ten, which you must practice: 1. Expressing a Preference I prefer A to B because... If I have a choice, I will... (a real possibility) If I had a choice, I would... (not a real possibility, just wishing) For me, A is much more attractive / interesting / preferable than B because... I would much rather do / have / eat / listen to / blah blah blah A than B... 2. Narrating When I was a high school student, I went to Guizhou to visit some friends. After I graduated from high school, I ... During my visit to Guizhou last year, I... Last year during the Spring Festival, I went to Guizhou to visit some friends. (Also use "Whenever" or "While") 3. Comparing and Contrasting A is much better / worse than B. A is not nearly as good as B. A is not quite as important as B. A is almost as tall as B, but not quite. When I compare these two items, it's clear that... 4. Suggesting Maybe, Perhaps, Possibly One possibility that I can think of is... Another idea to think about is... 5. Expressing Opinions It seems to me that... This is only my opinion but... After a lot of thought, I have come to the conclusion that... I've never thought about this question much before, but it seems to me that... 6. Justifying Opinions The reason I believe this is... The most important evidence supporting my belief is... 7. Speculating I'm not sure what might happen, but one possibility is...
It's hard to predict the future, but I suppose it / we might... 8. Analyzing There are several points to consider, first of which is... We can break this question down into several parts. First... Let's look at this step by step. To begin with... 9. Summarizing Altogether, there were... In the end, they had to... When we consider all the factors... Considering all of these ideas, maybe the best thing would be to... 10. Conversation Repair Maybe I'm not making myself clear. I want to say that... What I mean to say is... What I'm trying to say is... Another way to put it is...
25 Common English Idioms for Students of English
Learn Colorful and Useful English Vocabulary! Increase your vocabulary and speak more natural English by studying the idioms and expressions below. These are some of the most common expressions in English. Study the example sentences which show how idioms are used in context when you speak English. Have fun! English Expression 1. as easy as pie means "very easy" (same as "a piece of cake") Example: He said it is a difficult problem, but I don't agree. It seems as easy as pie to me! English Expression 2. be sick and tired of means "I hate" (also "can't stand") Example: I'm sick and tired of doing nothing but work. Let's go out tonight and have fun. English Expression 3. bend over backwards means "try very hard" (maybe too much!) Example: He bent over backwards to please his new wife, but she never seemed satisfied.
English Expression 4. bite off more than one can chew means "take responsibility for more than one can manage" Example: John is so far behind in his studies. Besides classes, he plays sports and works at a part-time job. It seems he has bitten off more than he can chew. English Expression 5. broke means "to have no money" Example: I have to borrow some money from my Dad. Right now, I'm broke. English Expression 6. change one's mind means "decide to do something different from what had been decided earlier" Example: I was planning to work late tonight, but I changed my mind. I'll do extra work on the weekend instead. English Expression 7. Cut it out! means "stop doing something bad" Example: That noise is really annoying. Cut it out! English Expression 8. drop someone a line means "send a letter or email to someone" Example: It was good to meet you and I hope we can see each other again.Drop me a line when you have time. English Expression 9. figure something out means "come to understand a problem" Example: I don't understand how to do this problem. Take a look at it. Maybe you can figure it out. English Expression 10. fill in for someone means "do their work while they are away" Example: While I was away from the store, my brother filled in for me. English Expression 11. in ages means "for a very long time" Example: Have you seen Joe recently? I haven't seen him in ages. English Expression 12. give someone a hand means "help" Example: I want to move this desk to the next room. Can you give me a hand? English Expression 13. hit the hay means "go to bed" (also "hit the sack") Example: It's after 12 o'clock. I think it's time to hit the hay. English Expression 14. in the black means "the business is making money, it is profitable" Example: Our business is really improving. We've been in the black all year. English Expression 15. in the red means "the business is losing money, it is unprofitable" Example: Business is really going poorly these days. We've been in the red for the past three months.
English Expression 16. in the nick of time means "not too late, but very close!" Example: I got to the drugstore just in the nick of time. It's a good thing, because I really need this medicine! English Expression 17. keep one's chin up means "remain brave and keep on trying" Example: I know things have been difficult for you recently, but keep your chin up. It will get better soon. English Expression 18. know something like the back of your hand means "know something very, very well" Example: If you get lost, just ask me for directions. I know this part of townlike the back of my hand English Expression 19. once in a while means "sometimes, not very often" Example: Have you been to the new movie theater? No, only see movies once in a while. I usually stay home and watch TV. English Expression 20. sharp means "exactly at a that time" Example: I'll meet you at 9 o'clock sharp. If you're late, we'll be in trouble! English Expression 21. sleep on it means "think about something before making a decision" Example: That sounds like a good deal, but I'd like to sleep on it before I give you my final decision. English Expression 22. take it easy means "relax" Example: I don't have any special plans for the summer. I think I'll just take it easy. English Expression 23. to get the ball rolling means "start something, especially something big" Example: We need to get this project started as soon as possible. I'm hoping you will help me get the ball rolling. English Expression 24. up to the minute means "the most recent information" Example: I wish I knew more about what is happening in the capital city. We need more up to the minute news. English Expression 25. twenty-four/seven means "every minute of every day, all the time" Example: You can access our web site 24/7. It's very convenient!
Overcome Common Pronunciation Problems
There are three problems with pronunciation that students in China often have: problems pronouncing groups of consonants, problems pronouncing certain vowels, and problems
with the rhythm of English. In addition, there are smaller problems such as pronouncing TH sounds and the letter V, which will be discussed at the end of this article. Not all students have the same problems, but maybe one of these causes trouble for you. Look at each problem, and if you think you have some trouble, practice saying the words in this article many times. When you can pronounce a language well, and be understood easily, your confidence level will rise dramatically!
Problem One - Consonants The first problem is difficulty in pronouncing groups of consonants. (Remember, vowels are open sounds made with the letters a, e, i, o and u. Consonants are hard sounds made with all the other letters.) Consider the word "describe". Many students try to speak too quickly and end up missing one or more sounds. They pronounce it as "decribe" or "desribe" or even sometimes as "deribe". The word "instinct" is even more difficult, with two groups, each having three consonants. It's important to practice by saying each sound slowly at first: IN-S-T-IN-C-T. Then say it a bit faster: IN-ST-IN-CT. Then say IN-STINCT. Finally, you can put it all together as INSTINCT. The important thing is to take your time at first, then speak faster later. Here are some other words you can practice saying: IMPRESS, STRONG, ABSOLVE, EXPLAIN, ADMIRE, ADJECTIVE. Problem Two - Vowels The second problem students encounter is with vowel combinations. There are fourteen different vowel sounds in English, and they can be spelled in so many different ways. Consider this pair of words. How would you pronounce them? CHILD - CHILLED Many students say these two words with the same pronunciation. They pronounce CHILLED correctly. The "I" is just like in SIT or WITH. The "I" in CHILD, however, should be pronounced like the word EYE. Other words with the same sound are WILD, TIME, SIGN. Here's another vowel sound that is frequently mispronounced: FAIR. Students pronounce it well in AIR, WEAR, or CARE, but often pronounce FAIR as FIRE. Different spellings can cause confusion. I have also heard students misprounce PET, STRAW, FUN, PLUS, TONE, HATE and SPEED. The best way to learn is to listen to these sounds. You need to listen very carefully in order to "internalize" these sounds. You can listen either to your teachers or to a cassette tape. With just a little practice, you can train your ear and mouth to pronounce such sounds accurately. Problem Three - Rhythm
The third problem many students have is with English rhythm. One of the unique aspects of the English language is that it is a "stress-timed" language, whereas most other languages are "syllable-timed" languages. Let me explain. Chinese is a "syllable-timed language because each syllable, or part of a word, gets one beat. If you say "Ni hao", it has two syllables and two beats. If you say "Ni hao ma", it has three syllables and three beats. "Ni xianzai mang bu mang" would have six beats, etc. English is not like that at all! If we say "How are you", it has three syllable, but only two stress points (HOW and YOU), so it has only two beats. If we say "How's your little sister", it now has four syllables, but still only two stress points (HOW and SIS), so it takes the same amount of time as "How are you"! TH and V There are two TH sounds, one hard and one soft. Many students pronounce the hard TH like Z and the soft TH like S. This is not too bad, but can sometimes make language hard to understand. With both Z and S, you use both your upper teeth and lower teeth to produce sound. With TH, just use your tongue in place of your lower teeth. You can start by biting your tongue slightly with your upper teeth, then blowing out air as with Z or S. Using the tongue makes the TH sounds quite a bit softer than Z or S. V is actually quite simple to pronounce. Many students try to pronounce it like B, but it is, in fact, like the letter F. The only difference is that with F, you do not use your voice, but with V, you DO use your voice. Try saying FAST and then VAST. The teeth remain in the same position for both words. If you have trouble making the right sound with your voice, think of Z and S again. Say SUE and ZOO now. With SUE, there is no voice in pronouncing the S. With ZOO, you DO use your voice. It's the same with F and V.
How to Control a Conversation
The key to controlling a conversation is using questions well. Good students know how to ask the right question at the right time. After reading this article, you will be able to start conversations easily and keep the conversation going smoothly even when you don't understand everything. The best way to begin a conversation is by using "yes / no" questions. The goal is to find some common topics of interest, so that your conversation is enjoyable for both partners. Think about a topic that interests you, and which you think might interest your conversation partner. Use "yes / no" questions to find out if your new friend is interested in the same thing. For example, if you like a particular kind of music, you could ask questions such as these: Do you like blues music? Have you ever listened to B.B. King? Do you know where I can listen to live music?
Are you interested in jazz?