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IELTS Speaking Exercise:

Sentence Building
Make better sentences, get a better score!

Question: Tell me about your family.


Common Answer: There are three people in my family.
Better Answer: In China today, a majority of families have three members, and my
family is no exception.
Note: This sentence is built with three parts. First is the place, China. Second is the
situation, many families with three people. Third is this person's family.

Question: What is your hometown like?


Common Answer: My hometown is very nice.
Better Answer: Although my hometown is not very famous, it has several advantages
that make it a great place to live.

Question: How do you feel about your job?


Common Answer: I like my job very much.
Better Answer: Although you might not believe it, I really enjoy my job every day.

Question: What do you dislike about your classes?


Common Answer: Studying is very difficult.
Better Answer: When I think about how hard my classes, I feel like quitting, which is
one reason I've decided to go abroad.
Note: The question is about a feeling and the answer is about a feeling. Good!

Question: What do you want to do in the future?


Common Answer: I want to be a lawyer in the future.
Better Answer: I first thought about being a lawyer when I was a child, and now, after
many long years of study, it seems my dream will become reality.
Note: Excellent! Compare the past dream with the present hard work to show the bright
future!

Question: What do you do in your free time?


Common Answer: In my free time I like to play sports.
Better Answer: If I ever had free time, I would probably do many different things,
including playing sports, listening to music, and going out with my friends.
Note: Good examples.

Question: Tell me about a typical day in your life.


Common Answer: My typical day begins when I wake up.
Better Answer: After resting all night, I wake up every morning looking forward to a
new day.
Question: What will you do when you go abroad?
Common Answer: I want to study Computer Science in Australia.
Better Answer: If I am able to get a visa, I hope to learn about Computer Science in
Brisbane, Australia, so that I can come back to China and work for a successful local
company.

Question: What are some typical jobs that people do in your country?
Common Answer: Many people in China work as farmers.
Better Answer: One of the biggest industries in China is agriculture, so there are a large
number of people working as farmers.

Question: Tell me about a celebration or festival in your country.


Common Answer: The Spring Festival is the biggest holiday of the year in China.
Better Answer: When winter is coming to an end, which means a new spring is not far
behind, and that is when we in China have our largest celebration of the year, the Spring
Festival.

Question: Do you like to go shopping?


Common Answer: I hate shopping, but I have to do it.
Better Answer: When I think of shopping, I think of all the crowds, all the difficult
choices, and all the money I will have to spend, so I hate to go shopping.

IELTS Speaking Exercise:


Connecting Sentences

Do not use too many connectors when you speak, or it may sound unnatural. Here are
some of the most common connection words in English.

1. "after" or "before"

After we did that, we ~ed.


Before we can finish that job, we must ~.
After that, I went to...
Before that, I was working in an office.

2. "although" or "even though"

Although my hometown is very small, it has many interesting places to visit.


Even though my hometown very crowded and noisy, I like living there very much.

3. "another"

Another good thing about my job is...


Another way to solve the problem would be to...
4. "as with" or "just like"

As with the first question, we must consider this one very carefully.
Just like Romeo and Juliet, we fell in love.

5. "at the same time"

I wanted to be with her every day. At the same time, I felt I should obey my parents
wishes.
There are too many cars in Beijing. At the same time, the city is building more subway
lines and adding more buses.

6. "besides" or "in addition to"

Besides that fact, here is another interesting point...


In addition to that law, there are many other laws to prevent traffic accidents.

7. "but"

This is usually true, but...


In most cases that is true, but...
In a typical situation that may happen, but...
In an ideal situation we can do it that way, but...

8. "because"

Many people believe that is true. I disagree because...


My point of view is... The reason I believe that is because...

9. "except for"

Except for that one case, I do not know of any other problems.
Except for the main character, all the others were bad people.

10. "for example"

I believe ~ is true. For example...


I believe that ~ is the best way. Let me give you an example...

11. "however" or "yet"

I basically agree with you. However, I don't know if that will be true in the future.
That is what I have thought most of my life. Yet I wonder if I am wrong.

12. "rather than"


Rather than repeat that process, the hero of the story decided to do something
different.
Rather than just accept the decision, I decided to change my job.

13. "the reason is"

I don't agree with that at all. The reason is...


The reason I doubt that is...

14. "this" or "that"

Some people say that... and I have to agree with them...


That was good too, but not as good as...
That was good, and an even better way is...
Not only is that interesting, but ~ is also quite fascinating.

15. "when" or "whenever"

When I think about such a topic, I think about...


When I remember how I grew up, I realize...
Whenever I think about my studies, I wonder how I survived!

IELTS Speaking Exercise:


General to Specific
A useful skill for IELTS speaking AND writing

Students often say or write sentences that are too simple such as:

This is important.
My hometown is very good.
I like to eat pizza.
I will go to another country.

These sentences are okay if you want to be Band 4 or Band 5. However, these will be
much better IF some explanation comes after. For example, instead of saying "This is
important", you should explain WHY it is important:

"This job is very important for our company. (a very general sentence)
If we can sell over 10,000 of these items, we will have earn enough money to build a
new factory." (a very specific sentence!)

Now let's look at the other three examples. Instead of "My hometown is very good",
could say:
My hometown is a very nice city in Shandong Province. (rather general)
Because it is between the sea and the mountains, there are many beautiful places to
visit. (Very specific.)

Instead of saying "I like to eat pizza", you could say:

Pizza is my favorite food in the whole world. (general)


I not only love the cheese, but the bread, tomato sauce with meat and vegetables on
top make pizza a complete meal! (specific)

Finally, instead of saying "I will go to another country", you should say something like
this:

I hope to go to New Zealand to study in the future. (general)


If I can arrange the visa and a job, I will work in the sheep herding industry where I
will have a peaceful and enjoyable life in the mountains, away from the crowds and the
pollution! (specific)
have five of them

smile
you do it with your mouth to show you are happy, you turn it up

hungry
how we feel when we don't eat for a long time

3. Try some yourself!


Think about how to paraphrase these words:

banana:

run:

thirsty:

software:

IELTS Speaking Tasks

IELTS researchers have found that students perform 12 different tasks during the IELTS
Speaking Test. The first two are easy - giving personal information and giving non-
personal information. Here are the other ten, which you must practice:

1. Expressing a Preference
I prefer A to B because...
If I have a choice, I will... (a real possibility)
If I had a choice, I would... (not a real possibility, just wishing)
For me, A is much more attractive / interesting / preferable than B because...
I would much rather do / have / eat / listen to / blah blah blah A than B...

2. Narrating

When I was a high school student, I went to Guizhou to visit some friends.
After I graduated from high school, I ...
During my visit to Guizhou last year, I...
Last year during the Spring Festival, I went to Guizhou to visit some friends.
(Also use "Whenever" or "While")

3. Comparing and Contrasting

A is much better / worse than B.


A is not nearly as good as B.
A is not quite as important as B.
A is almost as tall as B, but not quite.
When I compare these two items, it's clear that...

4. Suggesting

Maybe, Perhaps, Possibly


One possibility that I can think of is...
Another idea to think about is...

5. Expressing Opinions

It seems to me that...
This is only my opinion but...
After a lot of thought, I have come to the conclusion that...
I've never thought about this question much before, but it seems to me that...

6. Justifying Opinions

The reason I believe this is...


The most important evidence supporting my belief is...

7. Speculating

I'm not sure what might happen, but one possibility is...
It's hard to predict the future, but I suppose it / we might...

8. Analyzing

There are several points to consider, first of which is...


We can break this question down into several parts. First...
Let's look at this step by step. To begin with...

9. Summarizing

Altogether, there were...


In the end, they had to...
When we consider all the factors...
Considering all of these ideas, maybe the best thing would be to...

10. Conversation Repair

Maybe I'm not making myself clear. I want to say that...


What I mean to say is...
What I'm trying to say is...
Another way to put it is...

25 Common English Idioms


for Students of English
Learn Colorful and Useful English Vocabulary!

Increase your vocabulary and speak more natural English by studying the idioms and
expressions below. These are some of the most common expressions in English. Study
the example sentences which show how idioms are used in context when you speak
English. Have fun!

English Expression 1. as easy as pie means "very easy" (same as "a piece of cake")
Example: He said it is a difficult problem, but I don't agree. It seems as easy as pie to
me!

English Expression 2. be sick and tired of means "I hate" (also "can't stand")
Example: I'm sick and tired of doing nothing but work. Let's go out tonight and have
fun.

English Expression 3. bend over backwards means "try very hard" (maybe too much!)
Example: He bent over backwards to please his new wife, but she never seemed
satisfied.
English Expression 4. bite off more than one can chew means "take responsibility for
more than one can manage"
Example: John is so far behind in his studies. Besides classes, he plays sports and works
at a part-time job. It seems he has bitten off more than he can chew.

English Expression 5. broke means "to have no money"


Example: I have to borrow some money from my Dad. Right now, I'm broke.

English Expression 6. change one's mind means "decide to do something different from
what had been decided earlier"
Example: I was planning to work late tonight, but I changed my mind. I'll do extra work
on the weekend instead.

English Expression 7. Cut it out! means "stop doing something bad"


Example: That noise is really annoying. Cut it out!

English Expression 8. drop someone a line means "send a letter or email to someone"
Example: It was good to meet you and I hope we can see each other again.Drop me a
line when you have time.

English Expression 9. figure something out means "come to understand a problem"


Example: I don't understand how to do this problem. Take a look at it. Maybe you
can figure it out.

English Expression 10. fill in for someone means "do their work while they are away"
Example: While I was away from the store, my brother filled in for me.

English Expression 11. in ages means "for a very long time"


Example: Have you seen Joe recently? I haven't seen him in ages.

English Expression 12. give someone a hand means "help"


Example: I want to move this desk to the next room. Can you give me a hand?

English Expression 13. hit the hay means "go to bed" (also "hit the sack")
Example: It's after 12 o'clock. I think it's time to hit the hay.

English Expression 14. in the black means "the business is making money, it is
profitable"
Example: Our business is really improving. We've been in the black all year.

English Expression 15. in the red means "the business is losing money, it is
unprofitable"
Example: Business is really going poorly these days. We've been in the red for the past
three months.
English Expression 16. in the nick of time means "not too late, but very close!"
Example: I got to the drugstore just in the nick of time. It's a good thing, because I
really need this medicine!

English Expression 17. keep one's chin up means "remain brave and keep on trying"
Example: I know things have been difficult for you recently, but keep your chin up. It
will get better soon.

English Expression 18. know something like the back of your hand means "know
something very, very well"

Example: If you get lost, just ask me for directions. I know this part of townlike the
back of my hand

English Expression 19. once in a while means "sometimes, not very often"
Example: Have you been to the new movie theater? No, only see movies once in a
while. I usually stay home and watch TV.

English Expression 20. sharp means "exactly at a that time"


Example: I'll meet you at 9 o'clock sharp. If you're late, we'll be in trouble!

English Expression 21. sleep on it means "think about something before making a
decision"
Example: That sounds like a good deal, but I'd like to sleep on it before I give you my
final decision.

English Expression 22. take it easy means "relax"


Example: I don't have any special plans for the summer. I think I'll just take it easy.

English Expression 23. to get the ball rolling means "start something, especially
something big"
Example: We need to get this project started as soon as possible. I'm hoping you will
help me get the ball rolling.

English Expression 24. up to the minute means "the most recent information"
Example: I wish I knew more about what is happening in the capital city. We need
more up to the minute news.

English Expression 25. twenty-four/seven means "every minute of every day, all the
time"
Example: You can access our web site 24/7. It's very convenient!

Overcome Common Pronunciation Problems


There are three problems with pronunciation that students in China often have: problems
pronouncing groups of consonants, problems pronouncing certain vowels, and problems
with the rhythm of English. In addition, there are smaller problems such as pronouncing
TH sounds and the letter V, which will be discussed at the end of this article. Not all
students have the same problems, but maybe one of these causes trouble for you. Look at
each problem, and if you think you have some trouble, practice saying the words in this
article many times. When you can pronounce a language well, and be understood easily,
your confidence level will rise dramatically!

Problem One - Consonants

The first problem is difficulty in pronouncing groups of consonants. (Remember, vowels


are open sounds made with the letters a, e, i, o and u. Consonants are hard sounds made
with all the other letters.) Consider the word "describe". Many students try to speak too
quickly and end up missing one or more sounds. They pronounce it as "decribe" or
"desribe" or even sometimes as "deribe". The word "instinct" is even more difficult, with
two groups, each having three consonants. It's important to practice by saying each sound
slowly at first: IN-S-T-IN-C-T. Then say it a bit faster: IN-ST-IN-CT. Then say IN-STIN-
CT. Finally, you can put it all together as INSTINCT. The important thing is to take your
time at first, then speak faster later. Here are some other words you can practice saying:
IMPRESS, STRONG, ABSOLVE, EXPLAIN, ADMIRE, ADJECTIVE.

Problem Two - Vowels

The second problem students encounter is with vowel combinations. There are fourteen
different vowel sounds in English, and they can be spelled in so many different ways.
Consider this pair of words. How would you pronounce them?

CHILD - CHILLED

Many students say these two words with the same pronunciation. They pronounce
CHILLED correctly. The "I" is just like in SIT or WITH. The "I" in CHILD, however,
should be pronounced like the word EYE. Other words with the same sound are WILD,
TIME, SIGN.

Here's another vowel sound that is frequently mispronounced: FAIR. Students pronounce
it well in AIR, WEAR, or CARE, but often pronounce FAIR as FIRE. Different spellings
can cause confusion. I have also heard students misprounce PET, STRAW, FUN, PLUS,
TONE, HATE and SPEED. The best way to learn is to listen to these sounds. You need to
listen very carefully in order to "internalize" these sounds. You can listen either to your
teachers or to a cassette tape. With just a little practice, you can train your ear and mouth
to pronounce such sounds accurately.

Problem Three - Rhythm


The third problem many students have is with English rhythm. One of the unique aspects
of the English language is that it is a "stress-timed" language, whereas most other
languages are "syllable-timed" languages. Let me explain. Chinese is a "syllable-timed
language because each syllable, or part of a word, gets one beat. If you say "Ni hao", it
has two syllables and two beats. If you say "Ni hao ma", it has three syllables and three
beats. "Ni xianzai mang bu mang" would have six beats, etc. English is not like that at
all! If we say "How are you", it has three syllable, but only two stress points (HOW and
YOU), so it has only two beats. If we say "How's your little sister", it now has four
syllables, but still only two stress points (HOW and SIS), so it takes the same amount of
time as "How are you"!

TH and V

There are two TH sounds, one hard and one soft. Many students pronounce the hard TH
like Z and the soft TH like S. This is not too bad, but can sometimes make language hard
to understand. With both Z and S, you use both your upper teeth and lower teeth to
produce sound. With TH, just use your tongue in place of your lower teeth. You can start
by biting your tongue slightly with your upper teeth, then blowing out air as with Z or S.
Using the tongue makes the TH sounds quite a bit softer than Z or S.

V is actually quite simple to pronounce. Many students try to pronounce it like B, but it
is, in fact, like the letter F. The only difference is that with F, you do not use your voice,
but with V, you DO use your voice. Try saying FAST and then VAST. The teeth remain in
the same position for both words. If you have trouble making the right sound with your
voice, think of Z and S again. Say SUE and ZOO now. With SUE, there is no voice in
pronouncing the S. With ZOO, you DO use your voice. It's the same with F and V.

How to Control a Conversation

The key to controlling a conversation is using questions well. Good students know how
to ask the right question at the right time. After reading this article, you will be able to
start conversations easily and keep the conversation going smoothly even when you don't
understand everything.

The best way to begin a conversation is by using "yes / no" questions. The goal is to find
some common topics of interest, so that your conversation is enjoyable for both partners.
Think about a topic that interests you, and which you think might interest your
conversation partner. Use "yes / no" questions to find out if your new friend is interested
in the same thing. For example, if you like a particular kind of music, you could ask
questions such as these:

Do you like blues music?

Have you ever listened to B.B. King?

Do you know where I can listen to live music?


Are you interested in jazz?