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!
If you want to both improve your English and feel comfortable, I now offer online lessons complete with feedback, videos, workbooks and more – you can learn more here!
Here is my new Patreon and my writing corrections as well.
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)
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.
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!
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).
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.
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.
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!
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…
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.)
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.
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!
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?
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!