A very important part of the fluency and coherence assessed in the IELTS speaking test are words and phrases called discourse markers. The term may sound complicated but the idea is simple: discourse markers are words and phrases we use to move through conversations, going from one idea to the next, to introduce new topics or return to old ones.
Many learners know it’s important to use discourse markers but don’t realize that most of these markers also reveal different underlying attitudes toward the new idea. Let’s look at four common discourse markers used to introduce opinions and try to clarify the attitudes behind them.
Using the language as a regular part of your life
Being successful with English, in IELTS and beyond, means finding a way to make using the language a regular part of your life. Learners often feel frustrated and lose interest in studying vocabulary when they find study materials rather boring and not connected to their own interests, but more interesting materials can difficult to find and even more difficult to understand. In this post, we’ll discuss how you can use technology to solve these problems, increase your vocabulary, learn collocations, and have fun, too.
One to two minutes really doesn’t sound very long, does it? How difficult can it be to talk about a reasonably familiar topic — perhaps a friend, a place or a book you know well — for such a short time?
The IELTS Speaking test is the shortest test in all four modules: it lasts between 11-14 minutes. You might be forgiven, however, if you think of these 14 minutes as the longest in your lifetime, as they determine your future. Nervousness and lack of preparation are your biggest enemies, so what are you going to do about them? Here are my suggestions:
Changing the outcome
‘Don’t leave that situation feeling, like, oh I didn’t show them who I am. Leave that situation feeling like, I really got to say who I am and show who I am.’ — Amy Cuddy
In the TED talk Your body language shapes who you are, Amy Cuddy explains how just two minutes of ‘power posing’ before an ‘evaluative situation’, such as the IELTS Speaking test, really can change the outcome.
You might be surprised to hear that grammar is one of the four criteria used to assess your IELTS Speaking test performance and that it carries 25% of the points.
Many test-takers assume grammar in speaking is only about accuracy and not making any mistakes. This is only half the story. Making errors is natural, and IELTS understands this: even IELTS Speaking Band 7 expects that ‘some grammatical mistakes persist’.
To avoid mistakes, it helps to think about the tenses you use, and ensure these tenses relate to the questions being asked. So, if the question asked is What did you do at work today?, a key word here is did, which is in the past tense. So your answer should be in the past tense too, e.g. I wrote a report.
However, grammar is also about showing a range of grammatical structures. This means going beyond simple sentences (e.g. only using the simple present), and using a variety of tenses and grammatical features.
How can you demonstrate a wider range of grammar in your speaking? Read more
An IELTS test taker asked me this question: “In the Speaking test, I know I will be marked on how correct my grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation are. But I don’t understand what this means. Do I have to speak in the same way I would write an essay?”