IELTS Speaking: How to Talk About Your Friends (Part 1)

IELTS Speaking: How to Talk About Your Friends (Part 1)

Talking about your friends is a common topic in part 1 of the IELTS speaking test.

If you’re anything like me, you probably don’t have any friends. Don’t worry!

Read below for sample questions and answers, vocabulary analysis and practice, sample notes and links!

Be sure to check out my post on what to do in your free time as well!

You can read (and watch) a sample answer talking about school here.

And follow me on Facebook and Instagram if you truly love me….

Sample IELTS Questions: Friends

Before you read the sample answers below, practice answering yourself! If you comment your answers below I will give your feedback.

Do you prefer spending time with one best friend or lots of good friends?

How often do you stay in touch with childhood friends?

What do you typically do when you hang out with your friends?

In your country, is it common to visit friends at their house?

Dave, Former IELTS Examiner, Sample Answer

Here is the audio from my answer. Listen and write down the keywords that I use. Listen again and again and write down as many words as you can.

Audio:

Now try giving my answer again using this vocabulary. Practice it throughout the day and when you go to bed at night – this type of practice is how you learn!

Sample IELTS Answers: Friends

Do you prefer spending time with one best friend or lots of good friends? Read and see if you can remember the vocabulary collocations that I use in my answer. Scroll below for the answers:

To be honest I don’t really have ______________ friends. I have 2 best friends that I usually ______________. One of them, Marcy, is really ______________. So whenever we hang out we go to a ______________ or ______________ usually. My other friend is just a normal guy so we’re more likely to ______________ or ______________ or something. I only really find myself in a large group of friends for work events or if I ______________ with old friends from high school or something.

 

How often do you stay in touch with childhood friends?

I try not to but ______________ I get a Facebook message from an old classmate I’d rather forget about. ______________ a kid I used to ______________ in elementary school sent me a message asking if I wanted to get a cup of coffee so we met up and didn’t have that much to talk about. ______________ actually. If that happens again, I ______________ replying or anything. ______________ where I’m really trying to limit my interactions with people and increase the amount of ______________ I spend with my phone, computer, etc.

What do you typically do when you hang out with your friends?

I told you a bit before but usually we will get a bit to eat or go to the cinema to watch ______________. Sometimes go out for drinks. I know a lot of people like to go shopping with their friends but I can’t stand doing that. I feel bad if my friends are ______________ while I spend way too much time obsessing over what to buy and I don’t enjoy watching them do the same. For me, shopping is a private, boring experience, why ______________ that?

In your country, is it common to visit friends at their house?

Not really. That’s because I’m from Vietnam and most people live with their parents or have roommates so it is a lot more convenient to meet somewhere else, usually a coffee shop or, ______________, a Taiwanese tea shop because those are ______________ at the moment. I guess people spend so much time indoors on their computer nowadays it feels good to ______________. And you have to ______________ if a friend is coming over to visit and no one really wants that ______________. Cleaning gets in the way of my ‘______________‘ time.

 

Vocabulary Notes

‘Loaded’ is the word that I focused on:

IELTS Speaking Vocabulary

IELTS Speaking Vocabulary

You can find more vocabulary notes on my Instagram.

 

IELTS Vocabulary Answers

Here are the answers! All this vocabulary is for getting Band 7+ in IELTS speaking. To practice, go back to the top and try to remember my answers with the vocabulary below:

 

Do you prefer spending time with one best friend or lots of good friends?

To be honest I don’t really have all that many friends. I have 2 best friends that I usually hang out with. One of them, Marcy, is really loaded. So whenever we hang out we go to a decent restaurant or out for drinksmake a night of it usually. My other friend is just a normal guy so we’re more likely to get coffee or catch a movie or something. I only really find myself in a large group of friends for work events or if I catch up with old friends from high school or something.

 

How often do you stay in touch with childhood friends?

I try not to but every once in a while I get a Facebook message from an old classmate I’d rather forget about. The other week a kid I used to bully in elementary school sent me a message asking if I wanted to get a cup of coffee so we met up and didn’t have that much to talk about. Kind of weird actually. If that happens again, I won’t bother replying or anything. I’m at a point in my life where I’m really trying to limit my interactions with people and increase the amount of quality time I spend with my phone, computer, etc.

 

What do you typically do when you hang out with your friends?

I told you a bit before but usually we will get a bit to eat or go to the cinema to watch whatever is out. Sometimes go out for drinks. I know a lot of people like to go shopping with their friends but I can’t stand doing that. I feel bad if my friends are hanging around while I spend way too much time obsessing over what to buy and I don’t enjoy watching them do the same. For me, shopping is a private, boring experience, why bring someone else into that?

 

In your country, is it common to visit friends at their house?

Not really. That’s because I’m from Vietnam and most people live with their parents or have roommates so it is a lot more convenient to meet somewhere else, usually a coffee shop or, lately, a Taiwanese tea shop because those are all the rage at the moment. I guess people spend so much time indoors on their computer nowadays it feels good to get out the house. And you have to clean up if a friend is coming over to visit and no one really wants that hassle. Cleaning gets in the way of my ‘self-care‘ time.

 

Links!

Here is a complete IELTS test that I did so that you can see what it is like for the examiner to take the test:

 

Comment Below!

Do you prefer spending time with one best friend or lots of good friends?

How often do you stay in touch with childhood friends?

What do you typically do when you hang out with your friends?

In your country, is it common to visit friends at their house?

 

Top 5 Ways to Make a Mean IELTS Examiner Like You

Top 5 Ways to Make a Mean IELTS Examiner Like You

6. Dress Provocatively

This is 2018 and we live in a progressive, modern society. In the past, I would only have recommended women dress up.

Now I would recommend both sexes increase their sex appeal.

If you are truly committed, spend a few months before the exam getting into great shape and show up to the test naked or in a swimsuit.

Just kidding – let’s get on to the real list now!

 

1. Improve the Right Way (No Shortcuts)

What you shouldn’t be doing: studying IELTS for years on end, learning idioms to try to cheat the test, memorising your responses, or going to the test with no knowledge of how IELTS works. If you do those things, you will make a fool of yourself and the examiner will be laughing about you in the break!

Instead you should: spend time improving your English, learn natural English expressions like phrasal verbs, make sure that you practice a lot, learn about IELTS and watch some practice tests online to know exactly what to expect.

Otherwise, it’s like trying to play a sport without knowing any of the rules – it will be obvious you have no idea what you are doing no matter how good your clothes look!

 

2. Follow the Unwritten Rules of IELTS

IELTS is full of unwritten rules, just like real life!

Some real life unwritten rules include:

Wait until everyone gets out of the elevator before you get on.

Don’t stop to read your phone in the middle of the sidewalk.

Turn off your high beams if there are other cars.

Don’t pee right next to someone at a urinal.

Don’t text ‘k’ or ‘kk.’

Say ‘thanks’ to people who open the door for you.

Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze.

Don’t speak too loudly into your phone.

 

The unwritten rules of IELTS are:

Don’t tell the examine your life story.

Don’t tell the examiner what score you need on the test.

Don’t ask what your score is at the end of test.

Don’t try to shake the examiner’s hand unless they offer first.

Don’t ask the IELTS examiner any questions.

When the examiner asks a short follow-up question at the end of part 2, give a short answer!

Don’t ask the examiner to explain whole questions, only words, in part 1.

Be as specific as possible in part 3 – don’t be general and don’t give personal examples.

Don’t try to have a long conversation with the examiner after the test ends.

Don’t try to look at the questions the examiner is asking or what the examiner is writing down.

 

3. Clean Yourself

Most of you can just skip this one because you are not an overgrown man-child.

But you’d be surprised by the number of candidates who show up looking like they just climbed out of the nearest garbage bin.

It shouldn’t impact your score. It probably doesn’t.

But still…

It’s bad enough that the examiner probably looks like trash – clean yourself up a bit!

Please do at least the following to spare your examiner: take a shower, wear clothes that look clean, brush your teeth, have a breath mint or two (this is the most important step), don’t vigorously scratch any part of your body during the test or pick your nose (I’m not joking!).

 

4. Be Interesting

Examiners usually have to talk to the same country, asking the same questions, over and over.

Sometimes that can turn out like this:

Candidate 1: Talk about an invention that changed the world in a good way.

“I’d like to talk about the smartphone…”

Candidate 2: Talk about an invention that changed the world in a good way.

“I’d like to talk about the smartphone…”

Candidate 3: Talk about an invention that changed the world in a good way.

“I’d like to talk about the smartphone…”

By the end of the day the examiner is bored to death of the same boring, predictable answers and wishes Steve Jobs had never invented the smartphone!

Being interesting won’t help your score necessarily – it might not make a difference.

But if you have interesting, unconventional answers the examiner will listen more closely and have a much more positive impression of you.

It could even help bump up your score in some cases!

How do you do it if you are not normally an interesting person? Just give more concrete, specific examples.

Don’t speak very generally: I really like movies. When I go to the movies I can relax and have a good time. It’s a nice environment to be in after a long day working and I feel much better after I’ve seen a movie.

Do speak very specifically: I really like movies. Last week I went to see Deadpool 2 and it was really cool. I saw the original too but the sequel was better because the action scenes were better. There’s one part where Deadpool …

5. Be Humble

Nothing turns off examiners more than arrogance (besides body odor or bad breath).

Here are some of the things that you shouldn’t do:

Don’t be late – you might make the examiner wait!

Don’t talk about how rich you are – examiners are poor, lonely, lost souls filled with hatred for people who are more successful than themselves!

Don’t look annoyed or impatient with every question the examiner asks.

Be respectful, listen carefully and don’t be rude at any point.

IELTS tip - Be Humble!

IELTS tip – Be Humble!

 

Comment Below: What was our IELTS speaking test like? Mean or nice examiner?

15 Activities to Improve your IELTS Speaking Without a Speaking Partner

15 Activities to Improve your IELTS Speaking Without a Speaking Partner

One of the questions I hear people asking about most frequently on our Facebook page and our Instagram is about speaking partners.

Everyone wants a speaking partner to help them improve their English. Don’t get me wrong – you should find one if you can!

Unfortunately, most people probably don’t want to talk to you – or at least it is hard to find a partner with a good level of English and something interesting to say.

Fortunately, you don’t need one!

Read below for some tips and activities for improving your IELTS speaking by yourself!

You can also take a look at this related article about using Google Voice Search to Improve Your Pronunciation.

 

How to Talk to Yourself (and Not Look Crazy)

  1. Amateur Dubbing: Choose a movie or TV show or YouTube video you like (check out this playlist for some ideas). Tap into your inner actor and try acting out what each character is saying. Don’t try to say it exactly the same as in the actual scene but try to keep the meaning more or less the same. Or completely change the meaning and make it funny! Try recording yourself because maybe you’ll become a famous YouTube star doing this.

  2. Mirror Pep Talk: I know, I know, you already spend a few hours a day talking to yourself in the mirror. Here are some ideas about what you can say to yourself: your to-do list for the day, give yourself a pep talk, insult yourself, give a summary of what you did that day, tell the mirror your darkest secrets, practice failing to say tongue twisters. If you’ve got any other creepy ideas please keep them to yourself!

  3. Pause and Predict: When watching something on TV or the internet (interviews are really good for this) – pause it and predict aloud what they will say next. After you listen to their response, practice repeating it (not word for word, but try to repeat the basic meaning).

  4. Bore a Pet: Talk to your cat/dog/fish. You will feel less embarrassed even though you are basically still talking to yourself. Use a Part 2 Speaking Cue card to practice.

  5. A Song a Day: Learn a song a day. Put the lyrics on your phone and sing it throughout the day softly until you’ve completely learned. Use every break you can to do this – in the shower, waiting for the bus, etc. If you don’t want to use a song – maybe learn part of a famous speech or scene from a film.

  6. IELTS Speaking Tests: The examiner is basically just a tape recorder reading questions off a piece of paper – you can replace them with a piece of paper! Read and answer the questions yourself. Record yourself and go back and try to do better the next time!

  7. Going to Bed: Research has shows that practicing in your head can be just as effective as physical practice. In experiments, basketball players that imagined themselves shooting improved as much as ones who were actually shooting. The best time to do this is at night as your brain will continue the practice through your sleep. Think in English. Have a conversation or remember a conversation you had earlier as you drift off to sleep…

  8. Dictation Diary: Start a speech dictation diary of your daily activities. This will work well because you will repeat a lot of the same words every day (brush my teeth, not bother to shower, etc) and get better at saying those. You will also work in new vocabulary each day (met my future wife today, had terrible diarrhoea, etc.)

  9. Simple, Simple: Read one of our sample answers aloud. Read it until it is 100% accurate. This will help you improve for the speaking test format and your pronunciation. You can read it into a transcription program like voice dictation in Google drive to make sure you are saying the words correctly. Try it with a passage from a book as well.

  10. Practice IELTS Speaking Tests: Use these practice speaking tests on YouTube. Pause before Nguyen answers the question. Say your own answer. Listen to hers and take some notes on good vocabulary and grammar. Practice saying hers a few times before moving on to the next question. Do this at least once a day and you’ll improve a ton!

  11. Say the Song: Listen to a song and try to say (not sing, haha) the lyrics after pausing the song. It will sound embarrassing but so what?

  12. Translation Comparison: Write down a conversation that you had in your native language. Try to translate it into English and read it aloud. This will help you make comparisons between your native language and English. Combine this with #7 Going to Bed.

  13. Word Game: Start by saying one word (monkey). Add another (A monkey) and keep going adding 1 word to the sentence each time until the sentence is long (A monkey and a donkey walk into a bar and get into an argument with the bartender about a banana). You could also do this with phrases, not individual words.

  14. Morning / Evening Routine: Describe everything you can see in the room around you when you wake up in the morning and before you go to bed. Once you finish with one room, try another room in your house/apartment/school. If you’re lonely trying having a conversation with your bed, chair, blanket, toilet, significant other, etc.

  15. Act it Out First: Google a script for a movie or TV show that you like. Try acting out the different parts with the script. Then watch the show and see how it is different. Try acting it out again. Record yourself so that someone can have a laugh.

 

Choose Your Top 3

There are a lot of amazing activities for you to try! There are probably too many. It’s better to choose a top 3 and focus on getting good at them.

Then come back to this post when you feel like you need a new activity.

Here are some sample notes I took on my Top 3 Speaking Activities Without a Partner. If you can’t decide, feel free to take my notes and make them your own!

Top 3 IELTS speaking activities without a partner

Oh and if you’re still reading (and haven’t starting talking to yourself yet!) don’t forget to follow us on Instagram, Facebook or YouTube!

 

Comment Below: Do you need an IELTS speaking partner?

My English isn’t that great and I’m looking to practice with someone…

Yes, I really need to talk with another intermediate level student!

Yeah, I’m an upper-intermediate and I need someone to practice with!

I’m a very advanced speaker and I need someone who is at the same level!

No need! I can just use the activities above!

How to Improve your IELTS Speaking Pronunciation Score Quickly with Google Voice Search

How to Improve your IELTS Speaking Pronunciation Score Quickly with Google Voice Search

So many students spend so long trying to improve their pronunciation for IELTS speaking but never get any better.

Here’s a solution that I guarantee will work for everyone who tries it!

You can read here about some more activities to try.

 

 

Voice Dictation

Do you know how telemarketers in India improve their pronunciation to be understood by native English speakers over the phone?

Many of them practice speaking into dictation software on a computer.

They say a sentence. The computer writes it. They say it again and again and again until it is 100% correct.

Talk to your phone. It is your annoying friend who corrects everything you say.

 

In the past, voice dictation software was poor. But now the quality is really good!

If there’s a mistake in what is written, it is because of your pronunciation. It is not the phone’s fault!

Check out the video below to see exactly what you should be doing:

 

This is such a valuable tool for you!

All you have to do is practice speaking into a computer or phone until your pronunciation is accurate.

This will guarantee you at least a 6 for pronunciation because the examiner will be able to understand you – just like the phone!

*A little warning – this won’t get you to a Band 9 for pronunciation because the phone will still understand some words mispronounced and because you might speak a little slowly and not link together sounds naturally, which is needed for the highest band scores.

 

5 Programs/Apps for Voice Dictation

Google voice search: If you use a phone that runs on Android (Samsung, Sony, LG, HTC, etc) click on the microphone image in the search bar (you can install this on your computer as well: http://bit.ly/2xYVbwA).

Google docs dictation: If you already use Google Drive (drive.google.com) just create a new doc and choose Tools>Voice Typing. Start talking nonsense!

Apple dictation: Here is the link for how to set it up on your computer: https://support.apple.com/en-ph/HT202584

Siri: If you have a mac or an iPhone then you have Siri already. Try doing an internet search or asking Siri to “make a note” or “set a reminder” for you (https://www.apple.com/ios/siri/).

Windows Speech Recognition: Just like Apple Dictation, you can set this up if your computer runs windows: http://bit.ly/2iuWkWc

 

10 Speech Dictation Practice Ideas

  1. Start a speech dictation diary of your daily activities. This will work well because you will repeat a lot of the same words every day (brush my teeth, not bother to shower, etc) and get better at saying those. You will also work in new vocabulary each day (met my future wife today, had terrible diarrhoea, etc.)

  2. Read one of our sample answers aloud. Read it until it is 100% accurate. This will help you improve for the speaking test format and your pronunciation.

  3. Read aloud one of your favourite passages from a book (or a quote or something from the news).

  4. Use this practice speaking test on YouTube. Pause before Nguyen answers the question. Say your own answer again and again until the computer gets it 100% correct.

  5. Listen to a song and try to say (not sing, haha) the lyrics after pausing the song. This will improve your ability to hear song lyrics, which is a very valuable IELTS skill 😉

  6. Write down a conversation that you had in your native language. Try to translate it into English and read it aloud. This will help you make comparisons between your native language and English.

  7. Start by saying one word (monkey). Make sure it is recorded correctly. Add another (A monkey) and keep going adding 1 word to the sentence each time until the sentence is long (A monkey and a donkey walk into a bar and get into an argument with the bartender about a banana). You could also do this with phrases, not individual words.

  8. Make 10 bold predictions about the future. Repeat them until they are written 100% correct. For example, Donald Trump will become king of the world.

  9. Describe everything you can see in the room around you. Keep repeating it until it is correct. Once you finish with one room, try another room in your house/apartment/school.

  10. Watch a movie or TV show and repeat your favourite lines into a google drive document. Keep different docs for different shows with collections of your favourite quotes.

 

 

Top 3 Notes

All those ideas are amazing but you should try to focus on using a few and making them daily habits.

Here are my top 3 to focus on every day:

Top 3 IELTS speaking activities to improve pronunciation

 

 

 

Now it’s Your Turn! 

Comment below an idea for a sentence that people can say into their phone:

I think I can! I think I can!

I’m going to get band 10 on IELTS!

Whatever you put your mind to, you can do it!

I feel weird talking to my phone…

Will you marry me, Siri?

IELTS Speaking: How to Talk about Holidays

IELTS Speaking: How to Talk about Holidays

 

Surprisingly, one topic that seems to confuse a lot of my students is holidays.

A simple question like ‘What’s your favourite holiday?’ often produces some strange answers.

This is partly because in different cultures it can mean different things.

In this blog post we are going to look at three different topics to do with holiday so you will be able to successfully talk about them.

Here are some of my other IELTS speaking Model Answers: friends here, phones here, and school here.

 

1. To have a holiday:

Meaning: time off from working or studying. This might be a day, a week or even longer.

e.g. What do you like to do when you have a holiday?

– I like to hang out with my friends/family…

– I like to have a party and invite my family and friends…

– I like to go to the beach…

– I like to travel somewhere new…

– I like to catch up on my sleep and just relax at home…

e.g. Do you like to have a holiday?

– Yes, definitely. I like to spend it hanging out with my friends/family…

– Not really. I prefer just to work/study. I think holidays are boring…

2. National holidays

Meaning: a special day/time of the year, related to a festival e.g. Christmas, New Year, or an important day e.g. International Labor Day.

In some countries, people are given time off. This is a national holiday, or ‘public holidays (USA) /  ‘bank holidays’ (UK).

Every country is different. For example people in the UK don’t get a day off for International Labor Day.

And Valentine’s Day isn’t celebrated as a national holiday in the UK or the USA.

e.g. What’s your favourite holiday?

– My favourite holiday is definitely Christmas…

– I really like Lunar New Year…

– I love Valentine’s Day, even though it isn’t a national holiday in my country.

e.g. What are some important holidays in your country?

– In my country Christmas and New Year are the most important, but Easter and Mother’s Day are also important.

3. To go on holiday (UK) / go on vacation (USA)

Meaning: an activity when you travel and stay in another place for fun.

e.g. What was the best holiday you’ve ever had?

– In 2010, when I went backpacking across Asia for 6 months…

– Disneyland, Paris…

e.g. Where do you usually like to go on holiday?

– I love going to the beach…

– I like going somewhere quiet…

– I love staying in a resort…

– I love going to Singapore…

– I don’t like going anywhere. I usually have a staycation…

Now it’s your turn! Put your answers in the comments.

What do you like to do when you have a holiday?

Do you like to have a holiday?

What’s your favourite holiday?

What are some important holidays in your country?

What was the best holiday you’ve ever had?

Where do you usually like to go on holiday?

Need more help?

Check out our Facebook Group or our Instagram page for more tips and free resources about IELTS!

 

IELTS Speaking Part II: How to Improve your Grammar Score

IELTS Speaking Part II: How to Improve your Grammar Score

Your Native Language

This IELTS speaking tip depends a bit on your native language. I’ve taught in Germany, South Korea, Thailand, the United States and Vietnam.

In some of those countries, for example Vietnam, they don’t have a the past simple. In Germany, they have it but it is more common to use the present perfect.

So before you decide to do this tip consider this: what are the main grammatical differences between your language and English?

Think about a common area of grammar like the past simple or present continuous.

Vietnamese students very rarely use the past simple during the speaking test even though if I asked them to write a sentence in the past they could do it easily.

Why?

Because the speaking test is fast. You have to focus on your pronunciation, grammar, vocab and fluency and there’s no time to get it right.

So, for Part 2 of the speaking test I recommend to my students to spend their preparation time writing down regular and irregular past simple verbs if the topic takes place in the past (most do).

Write the verbs again and again.

Not only will that help you remember to use them when you talk, but they will also light your way through your response.

Here I am (in a video from our YouTube) talking about the same tip:

Here are some helpful speaking model answers: friends, phones, school, and history.

Now it’s your turn! Put your answers in the comments.

How does the past simple work in your native language?