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Being proactive about improving your IELTS speaking skills

Published on April 30, 2018

Just reading this article shows that you are proactive in improving your IELTS score. Proactive means taking control of your situation and putting it into action. For example, if you are being proactive about improving your running, you would put your running shoes on and go for a jog. Now, being proactive for an IELTS test isn’t as simple as putting sneakers on and going for a run. IELTS tests your language, and language is a complicated thing. Speaking can be one of the most challenging skills to practice. Unless you are enrolled in a course or are in an English speaking community, it can be really hard to practice effectively. However, don’t lose hope. With some creative thinking and by being proactive, you might be surprised at how many opportunities there are to use your conversational English. Let’s look at a few.

Community events

Have you ever attended a public lecture delivered in English? Have you ever done an English language tour of your local museum? How about going to a community breakfast where the main language is English? In almost any city in the world you should be able to find community events where there is English being spoken. By being proactive at these occasions, you should be able to meet lots of different people and speak about lots of different topics. Speaking about lots of different topics is how the IELTS speaking test is designed, so this can be a great way to push yourself into a wide variety of interesting conversations. So go onto Google, check your local events calendar, and have some fun! This is no time to be shy and stay at home.

Say no to your device and yes to a conversation

Nowadays, when you enter a café full of people, it can be completely quiet. Everyone has their heads down and are staring at their phones. No one is speaking with each other. They are busy with gaming, texting, browsing, shopping, and reading IELTS blogs. We all know that our phones are extremely powerful and stimulating devices. However, if you want to improve your speaking, you won’t do it by ogling at your touchscreen. Here is my point. When you are at the café, speak English. Put your phone in your pocket and chat with someone. Talk about the weather, the coffee, the papers on the bulletin board, and the front page of the newspaper. It isn’t easy to put your phone away in 2018, but if you are serious about improving, this is key.

Doing it right – The Language Exchange

Most of us live in or near cities where there are lots of different people speaking lots of different languages. We also live in communities where many different people want to learn different languages. Enter, the language exchange. If you don’t know, a language exchange is two or more people getting together to teach each other their first language. For example, Jose teaches Spanish to Liu, and then Liu teaches Jose some Chinese. So why isn’t this more popular? The reason is that people are not prepared. They don’t know how to teach and they don’t have a study plan. So, my suggestion is to make an IELTS speaking practice plan for your exchange. Bring some speaking preparation materials to the meeting and follow your plan. With a little bit of luck, this could be a great way to improve and also make a new friend!

The Perfect Match: Study Buddies

We have all had a friend in school that we like to study with. Those times are some of my best memories from university. However, sometimes the “study session” actually turned into a “gossip and jokes session”. My point is, if you are serious about improving your IELTS speaking with a study buddy, you not only have to find a study buddy, but you have to find the right study buddy. Here are some questions you should ask yourself before committing to a preparation partner: Are they at the same language level as you? Are they hard-working and focused students? Can you trust them to meet you every time and not cancel? Will they help you find good practice materials and not just use yours? Do they speak the same first language as you? If yes, will they not waste time and speak lots of English? Positive answers to these questions can really produce a great study relationship.

So, there you have it. You don’t have to spend lots of money on classes to prepare for IELTS. You just have to get off your sofa, get off your phone, find some great people and get that IELTS score your want!