The IELTS and the TOEFL Speaking Tests are seen by many test-takers as their waterloo, primarily because it requires a certain sense of performance. Many test-takers would do well to pick at their teachers’ brains and what their IELTS or TOEFL review center can offer in terms of Speaking test prep. However, there are things that a student can do in order to be better prepared for this part of their English proficiency challenge.
- Practice pronunciation. Take an English reading material and read the words out loud. Make sure that you are pronouncing the words correctly. Pay close attention to homonyms or words that sound almost the same, as these are often mispronounced. Remember that “bat” and “but” are not similar and that “beach” requires a long “e” sound.
- Structure your speech. In TOEFL, you have templates to help you organize your thought, and this pattern only needs to be tweaked for you to be able to answer all 6 tasks. In the IELTS, Task 2, which is a speech is a piece of cake – all you need to do is answer the questions in the order it was given. Organization is a common problem in these exams (and in impromptu/extemporaneous speeches, in general) and having a structure – a logical order of presenting your ideas – is definitely plus points.
- Work on clarity. Do not eat your words. Avoid talking fast, and instead aim for moderate speed. No matter how good your ideas are, how perfect your Grammar and word usage are, if you are incomprehensible because you eat your words, all that effort goes down the drain. Remember the objective: You must be understandable
- Fluency is your best friend. Get yourself a timer and a recorder. Look through topics for the IELTS or TOEFL. Talk about this topic. Go back to your recording after. Are you able to consume two (2) minutes discussing your idea? Did you have many fillers like “Uhm” and “Ah”? How many times did you pause? How long? These are the common things assessed by the examiners of both exam. Fluency accounts for at least a fourth (1/4) of your total score. That is 25%, This is because being able to speak continuously shows not just your mastery of Grammar and word usage but also your confidence in wielding English as a communication tool.
These are things that you can do alone to prepare for the IELTS and TOEFL, but if you think you need more help, then it may be time to consult the experts at review centers or prep schools. Remember that speaking is a skill that must be practiced to improve, but practicing wisely and knowing which areas to target are also essential. Good luck!