IELTS Speaking Part 1 Techniques

IELTS Speaking Part 1: Useful Language

In the interview part of the IELTS Speaking test (Part 1), you’re simply asked questions about yourself and other familiar topics. The examiner will be listening for how well you express yourself in a few words or sentences.

Of course, you should try to do more than simply answer the question if you want to achieve a high score. The following useful language will give you ideas for expanding an answer by talking about the past, present and future. It will also help you speak more fluently and with an awareness of collocation and idiomatic speech. Some idiomatic expressions are explained in parentheses.

Asking for repetition

  • Could you say that again?
  • I’m sorry, I didn’t catch that.
  • Did you say (          )?

Stalling for time

  • Well, let me see.
  • In my case, …
  • Hmm, I’d have to say …

Saying something negative

  • I’m sorry but …
  • I’m afraid (to say that) …
  • To be (perfectly) honest, …

Giving an example

  • For example, …
  • A good example is …
  • Maybe you’ve heard of …

Describing frequency

  • Every other day, … (= Frequently)
  • Once in a while, … (= Occasionally)
  • Once in a blue moon, … (= Rarely)

IELTS Speaking Part 2 Techniques

IELTS Speaking Part 2: Useful Language

In the individual long-turn part of IELTS Speaking, you have to talk for one to two minutes on a topic chosen by the examiner. This is the only part of the Speaking module in which a time limit applies, so there’s more pressure to speak quickly and without hesitation. However, it’s also the easiest part to practice, as answers tend to follow a similar pattern regardless of the topic. The useful language below will help you structure a response in Part 2. How you use it depends on the question.

Beginning your response

  • I’m going to talk about …
  • I’d like to tell you about …
  • I’ve decided to speak about …

Indicating a time in the past

  • I think it was when I was around (age) years old.
  • When I was a (school) student, …
  • In my (school) days, …

Speaking hypothetically

  • If I could choose any (repeat topic), I’d choose …
  • Given a choice of any (repeat topic), I’d rather …
  • If money were no object, I’d …

Describing a book/film/story

  • It’s about a (person) who …
  • The story concerns a (person) who …
  • The main character is a (role) played by (actor) who …

Omitting some details

  • Briefly, …
  • I won’t go into detail here but …
  • There’s no time to explain fully here but …

IELTS Speaking Part 3 Techniques

IELTS Speaking Part 3: Useful Language

For most people, the discussion is the toughest part of the IELTS Speaking test. Remember though, you’re NOT required to demonstrate any special knowledge of the topics discussed. The examiner is listening for how well you connect your ideas, expand your answers and cope with difficulty when it arises. The following useful language will help you speak with more fluency and coherence, which together are worth 25% of your speaking score in IELTS.

Asking for help

  • Could you say that in other words?
  • I’m not sure what you mean exactly.
  • Do you mean (          )?

Stalling for time

  • That’s a(n) interesting/tough/difficult question.
  • I don’t know much about this issue but …
  • I’ve never really thought about it before but …

Giving an opinion

  • Well, I think/suppose/would say …
  • … for two/several reasons.
  • I think most people would agree that …


  • Or rather …
  • I mean …
  • Or, should I say …


  • What I mean is …
  • What I want to say is …
  • What I’m trying to say is …

IELTS Speaking Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Techniques Techniques

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.

IELTS Speaking Techniques Techniques

IELTS Speaking: 10 Common Mistakes to Avoid

1. Silence

Different cultures have different attitudes to silence, but for English speakers the attitude is one of near-zero tolerance. It’s fine to hesitate for a few seconds before speaking or between ideas, but silences of longer than five seconds will go down badly. Happily, there’s a solution to this problem and that’s to learn some filler expressions such as That’s a tough question and Let me see.

2. Memorised answers

The examiner is very likely to notice if you try to recite an answer from memory, and there is a penalty for this. The telltale signs of a memorised answer include speaking in a ‘written’ style of English, unnatural intonation, and the candidate attempting to ‘rephrase’ the question to the one they want to answer. Any questions you try to memorise answers to are very unlikely to be asked, so it is much more effective to practice speaking about a wide range of topics before you take the test.

3. Overuse of transition signals

It’s helpful to use a few signposting words like first, for example or on the other hand. But if you overload your speech with these you could actually damage your score. Sounding natural, not like a signposting robot, should be your goal in IELTS Speaking. There are also many words characteristic of formal writing such as furthermore, moreover and in addition that are hardly ever used in speech and could actually make you sound less natural if you say them.