Here are 6 tips to keep in mind if you’re a non-native speaker of English attempting the IELTS test and looking to improve your language skills.
According to a report by Visual Capitalist, in 2020, English was the most spoken language in the world, with over 1.1 billion native and non-native speakers. However, just 33% of these people consider English to be their native language or mother-tongue, which means that a massive chunk of the English-speaking population has at least one other language that they communicate in fluently and often. When a language is learned formally, but not put into practice in many real-life situations, it can cause issues in communication, which is what most non-native speakers of English attempting the IELTS test, have issues with. If you’re in the same position and are looking for some tips on how you can improve your speaking skills in English, keep reading.
- Read, read, read: I know this is possibly the most clichéd bit of advice given to new learners of a language, but there’s a very simple reason behind it. When you read novels, articles, blogs or posts written by native speakers of a language, you encounter new vocabulary and phrases being put into use. You may not realise it then, but over time, you will internalise these and learn to use them appropriately. This counts for a lot when you speak in English (or any language, for that matter) because you will be more articulate in your expression.
- Watch TV shows/movies in English: While this is a fun activity in itself, it serves a similar purpose as reading, but also introduces you to the pronunciation, tone and facial expressions that can be used when using certain phrases and terminology. For example, the phrase, ‘Yeah, right’ can be construed as an affirmation or even sarcasm based on the situation or context.
- Read out loud: If you’re apprehensive about conversing with someone in English for fear of being judged, this is a great way to practice pronunciation, diction, pace, and voice modulation, while also building confidence. Start by reading an article or two from a newspaper, or a chapter from a novel, out loud to yourself. Once you get comfortable, you could do it in the presence of a native speaker and ask them for their feedback.
- Record your practice work: If you have no one to converse with just yet, or are a little shy, take some time to look at a few common questions you could ask/be asked in social settings, and answer them in your own way, while recording yourself speak. Once you’re done, play it back for yourself, and note down areas of improvement you could begin working on immediately.
- Converse with native speakers of English: This is, honestly, one of the most effective ways to improve your English-speaking skills because it involves real time conversations with people who are proficient in the language, and will leave you with constructive feedback, as well as new vocabulary and grammatical constructions that you can put into practice in other social and professional conversations. Just remember to note the context at the time, so as to avoid any kind of misunderstanding in future dialogues.
- Technology is your best friend: With the Internet at our disposal, and apps like YouTube and DuoLingo, learning a new language, or improving existing language skills is not difficult at all. If you’re ever in doubt about the pronunciation of a word, all you need to do is Google it and hit the speaker icon which will allow you to listen to someone pronouncing it. Likewise, if you’re lost when it comes to understanding the meaning of a word, or, maybe, you’d like to use a synonym, go onto Lexico or Merriam Webster, which are online services of the dictionaries we used in the 1990s and will give you meanings, synonyms, and pronunciations of any word you could think of, along with usage in a sentence.
For the IELTS test, you must work on all of these parameters, while also familiarising yourself with the structure and requirements of the Speaking section, as well as learning to express your opinion effectively. At The English Platter, our British Council-certified IELTS trainer will talk you through the whole process and conduct multiple mock speaking tests with you, post which you will receive detailed feedback and comments to help you improve your skill and score. Learn more about our courses and services here.
If you’re looking to score a band of 7+ in the IELTS writing section, this blog post by our trainer, should help you.