Can I practice for the IELTS speaking test on my own or with a friend? (1/3)

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The answer is yes, you could, and should be training before the speaking even if there are no English speakers or teachers around to train with. I have always been of the belief that your language abilities are like a muscle, and training before a big sports game is vital so that on the day you don’t break a sweat or get your tongue stolen by the local cat.

But when I say match training, I don’t mean going through the exact same moves and combinations like an amateur boxer who’s never really liked facial symmetry, but more making your ‘muscle’ flexible and ready to deal with anything that is thrown at it.

Below are a few suggestions for things you can do, either by yourself or with a sympathetic English speaking friend/family member/cuddly toy bear to stretch your denim before the big sit.

  Part-one: rapid fire mundane questions

Training aim: To be able to answer the examiner’s quick rotation of questions without hesitation, to keep your answers to between 20-40 seconds

With a friend

Between the two of you, brainstorm a list of topics. They can range from the banal to the surprising so choose topics from these categories

  • Things I always talk about and am getting bored of (the weather, my family, my job).
  • Things I wouldn’t feel comfortable talking about (my religious views, my Grandfather’s role in the war)
  • Things I find difficult to talk about (local politics, international politics, religion)

Then, from each category write down 4 questions for your friend, be sure to have a mix of past, present and future forms. Let these prompts help you: Have you ever…? Would you…? Do you usually…? Which…?

Note: Answering questions about politics or religion isn’t expected in the exam, but then karate professionals like whacking their shins with bamboo sticks not because they have an arranged fight with an angry panda chef, but because so-called ‘body conditioning’ prepares them for any eventuality.

By yourself

Log on to Google, or if Google is banned in your country then sign up for a VPN and log on to Google, and search “random questions” or “random question generator”. Alternatively, there are lots of them at this useful site