IELTS speaking

IELTS Speaking: Emergency Language

Can you get help from the examiner in the Speaking section of IELTS? Yes, you can! The kind of help you can receive depends on the part of the test:

  • In Part 1, the examiner can only repeat the question.
  • In Part 2, the examiner can answer your questions during the one minute preparation time.
  • In Part 3, the examiner can give an example or paraphrase the question.

However, you also need some useful phrases for asking for help. The following IELTS speaking emergency language will help you escape from any sticky situation in the test!

When you don’t hear the question

  • I’m sorry, could you repeat that please?
  • I’m sorry, I didn’t catch that.
  • Would you mind saying that again?

When you don’t understand a particular word

  • What does (          ) mean?
  • Does (          ) mean (          )?
  • Sorry, I’m not sure what (          ) means.

When you don’t understand the question

  • I’m sorry, what do you mean exactly?
  • Could you say that in other words?
  • I’m afraid I’m not quite sure what you mean.

When you think you understand the question but aren’t sure

  • Do you mean (          )?
  • Are you asking (          )?
  • Am I right in thinking you mean (          )?

When you need more time to think

  • Just a moment, please.
  • Just give me a few seconds to think about that.
  • I’ve never really thought about that before.

When you get a bit lost while explaining something

  • What I mean is…
  • What I’m trying to say is…
  • Anyway, to get back to my original point…

When you need to finish an answer

  • Anyway, that’s my opinion.
  • Anyway, that’s all I have to say.
  • So, that’s why I think (restate opinion).

When you’re not sure if your answer was appropriate

  • Does that answer your question?
  • Is that what you were asking?
  • I hope that answers your question.

Final advice: now practice!

IELTS TeacherIt’s better to ask a checking question like Do you mean… ? than to say I don’t understand. This lets the examiner know that you aren’t completely lost, but that you just need a bit of help.

Would you like to practice IELTS speaking with an experienced native teacher on Skype? Try my IELTS speaking practice test online.

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