IELTS Speaking Part 2: the essential guide

Here is my essential guide to Part 2 of the IELTS Speaking test. In this guide you can find out everything you need to know.

IELTS Speaking Part 2: what is it?

  • In IELTS Speaking Part 2, you give a talk.
  • Your talk should be between one and two minutes.
  • It’s your chance to show the examiner how well you can talk for an extended period.
  •  Many people call it “The Long Turn” because it is your turn to speak for a long time.
  • 2 minutes doesn’t seem like a long time, but if you’ve never done it before, it can seem like forever!

So get prepared! Keep reading…

IELTS Speaking Part 2

 

IELTS Speaking Part 2: what happens?

In IELTS Speaking Part 2, the examiner will ask you to speak for between one and two minutes on a topic.

  1. The IELTS examiner will give you a topic card. On the card, there will be a short description of a topic, with some ideas for what to include. The topic will be related to your personal experience, for example your favourite teacher or a beautiful place in your country.
  2. The examiner will give you one minute to prepare your talk. You will be given a piece of paper to write down some ideas. You could make a list of ideas and keywords, or draw a mind map.
  3. After one minute, the examiner will ask you to  you to start your talk.
  4. You give your talk. You are expected to speak, without interruption from the examiner, for between one and two minutes. The examiner will listen and say nothing, but he might nod and gesture in order to encourage you to continue talking.
  5. After 2 minutes (or earlier if you have finished talking) the examiner will interrupt and ask you one or two extra questions about the topic. You should only spend a few seconds answering these questions.
  6. Then, you go straight into IELTS Speaking Part 3

What is the IELTS examiner looking for?

In IELTS Speaking Part 2, the IELTS examiner will assess your speaking task against the IELTS assessment criteria. There are 4 areas: fluency and coherence, lexical resource, grammatical range and accuracy, and pronunciation.

To get a band score of 8.0, this is what you must achieve in these 4 areas:

  • Fluency and Coherence: you should speak fluently with only an occasional hesitation. Your talk should be coherent and well-structured.
  • Lexical Resource: you should paraphrase the task (see below), use a wide range of language appropriately with some idiomatic language (some mistakes are accepted).
  • Grammar: you should be using a wide range of grammatical structures with only occasional errors.
  • Pronunciation: your pronunciation should be easy to understand throughout with very few difficulties for the examiner.

For more details, read my article on IELTS speaking band scores and how to get an 8.0.

Typical IELTS Speaking Part 2 Topics

IELTS Speaking task 2 topics are related to personal experiences and life events. Typical topics include:

  • school, study and work
  • important events or changes in your life
  • places you’ve been to or want to visit in the future
  • hobbies and free time activities
  • goals and ambitions

Look through this slideshow. I’ve included some typical IELTS speaking part 2 topics here. Think about how you might talk about these things.

Tips for IELTS Speaking Part 2

Now you know all the basic information about IELTS Speaking part 2. Now it’s time for some tips.

1. Make notes before you talk

The examiner will give you one minute to prepare your talk. You should write down some notes. Write down a list of words related to what you want to say, or draw a mind map. If you have to think about what to say when you’re talking, you will not be able to think about your language, so you are more likely to make grammatical mistakes. It’s also very common for candidates to panic when they are talking, and forget what to say; if you have notes, you won’t forget what to say if you panic.

Make it easier for yourself. Make notes before you start talking.

2. Memorise a good opener

Starting your talk is difficult, so memorise an opening phrase.

Here are some good examples:

  • “I’d like to talk about…”
  • “Well, there are many _________ I could talk about, but I suppose the __________ I’ve experienced/had is/was….”

(The second example will help you get a better score than the others because the language is more advanced, but use the first example if the second sentence is too difficult to remember.)

For example, if your topic is “describe your favourite teacher”, you could say:

  • “I’d like to talk about my favourite teacher.”
  • “Well, there are many good teachers who I could talk about, but I suppose the favourite teacher I’ve had was…”

If your topic is “describe a beautiful place to visit in your country”, you could say

  • “I’d like to talk about a beautiful place in my country.”
  • “Well, there are many beautiful places which I could talk about, but I suppose the most beautiful place I’ve been to is….”

A good opener will impress the examiner, but the next tip will impress him even more…

3. Paraphrase the topic

When referring to the topic, don’t use the words from the topic card. Instead, use your own words. This is called paraphrasing.

So, if the topic is “describe a beautiful place to visit in your country” don’t say:

“I’m going to describe a beautiful place to visit in China.”

Instead, say, for example:

“I’m going to talk about a stunning destination, which people can travel to in the north-east of China.”

Paraphrasing lets you show the examiner how much vocabulary and grammar you know. In the paraphrase above, I changed “place” to “destination” and changed the adjective “beautiful” to “stunning“. I also used a relative clause “which people can travel to…”. I also added in some extra information: “the north-east of China.” Remember, together, grammar and vocabulary make up 50% of your marks, so it is very important to use a wide range of grammar and vocabulary.

4. Keep talking

Try to keep talking…and talking…and talking. Don’t worry about the time. The examiner will stop you after 2 minutes.

5. Make eye contact with the examiner

Make sure you look up from your notes and topic card and make eye contact with the examiner when you are speaking. But don’t stare at him!

6. Decide what to talk about quickly (Lie if you need to!)

Sometimes it’s difficult to think of something to talk about. Let’s say you have to talk about your favourite teacher. Remember you have a minute to prepare your talk.

The wrong way: spend your preparation time thinking about who your favourite teacher was.

Was it Mr Smith? Or was it Mrs Jones? What was Mrs Jones like? She was quite interesting, but Mr Smith was quite kind. Oh, but what about Miss Brown, she was quite nice. I’ll talk about her…..

Finally, with only 10 seconds before you must talk, you suddenly remember Mr Black.

Oh, Mr Black. I remember! Yes, he was fantastic! I’ll talk about him!

But now you have to start talking!

The right way: choose a nice teacher you had. Any nice teacher will do. Then write down some words to describe him, and maybe some words to help you describe a story about him that you remember.

Being honest is not one of the assessment criteria. The examiner doesn’t care who your favourite teacher was. The examiner only cares about the language you use in your talk, your pronunciation and your fluency and coherence.

In fact, you could even lie. You could invent an amazing teacher to talk about. However, it is better to think of someone or something from your own experience because it’s usually easier to talk about, but if you can’t think of something to talk about from your own experience, invent it.

The key thing is to decide what to talk about in the first few second, then make notes about it.

7. Ask for clarification

If you don’t understand a word on the topic card or your task, you can ask the examiner to explain. But, don’t just say “I don’t understand.” Instead, use some more advanced phrases.

For example, you could say:

  • “By…., do you mean…..?”
  • “If I understand correctly, it means that….”
  • “So, in other words, I should….”
  • “So, is it ok if I talk about…?”

If you ask for clarification using good language, you will really impress your examiner!


How to prepare for the speaking test

1. Get a preparation buddy (or a tutor)

It’s a good idea to find a preparation buddy to practise speaking with. Better still, find an IELTS tutor – a good tutor will show you how to do speaking task 2 in the best way, and will give you tips on how to improve. Then, with your preparation buddy, choose a topic from the slideshow above. Give your talk, then ask your buddy to ask you one or two questions on the same topic.Simply2. No buddies? Then just talk to yourself…or your cat

You can practise alone too. Simply choose a topic and talk to yourself in the mirror. Or give your talk to your pet. When you’re walking outside, or cleaning your house, choose a topic that you’ve practised before, and talk about it for 1-2 minutes. Any practise is better than nothing.

3. Record yourself on your phone or computer

Another good way to prepare is to record yourself giving your talk on your phone, either audio or video. Then listen to it afterwards. Then think about how you could improve.

4. Practise making notes

You should make notes for your talk in task 2 in the test, so you should also practise this before the test. Looks at the topics in the slideshow above and practise making notes for each topic. At first, don’t time yourself, just practise making notes. Later, you can time yourself: give yourself two minutes, and then later practise making notes within one minute.

Add your comments

Have you got any more tips and advice? Do you have any questions about IELTS Speaking Part 2? If you’ve done the IELTS test before, tell us about your experience. Write in the comments section below!

Do you want more tips, information and ideas?

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