Speaking Part 1 Series

IELTS Lessons, written by Sam Morgan and Tom Speed

Many students worry about not knowing what to say in part 1 of the speaking test. We regularly get asked the following questions by students.

  • What should I say if I don’t know anything about the topic?
  • What should I say if I don’t have any relevant experiences?

We hope to show in this lesson that you can still talk about a topic that you are not familiar with. 


​Exercise 1

​An examiner is asking questions about television in part 1 of the speaking test. Listen to two different candidates answer the same question.
Which candidate answers the question better? 

Speaking No Experience.mp3
File Size: 587 kb
File Type: mp3

Download File


Which candidate answers the question better? Select one option below.
Speaker 1
Speaker 2


Exercise 2

​Answer the following questions with Speaker 1 or Speaker 2
Which speaker…

1. Doesn’t watch TV
2. Gives a very short answer?
3. Doesn’t use any interesting vocabulary?
4. Doesn’t use a mix of simple and complex grammar?
5. Doesn’t show he has good fluency?
6. Gives a long answer even though he doesn’t watch TV?
7. Provides his opinions about why he doesn’t like TV?
8. Give lots of details to support his opinions?
9. Shows that he has good fluency?
10. Uses interesting vocabulary?
11. Uses a mix of simple and complex sentences?

Even if you don’t know anything about the topic, make sure you…

  1. don’t give a short one sentence answer.
  2. explain why you can’t directly answer the question. (why don’t you have any experiences connected to the question / why don’t you like the topic).
  3. give your opinions / experiences connected to the topic.
  4. use interesting vocabulary.
  5. use a mix of simple and complex sentences.
  6. sound interested in what you say.
  7. use positive body language, such as keeping eye contact, to show the examiner that you are interested in answering the question effectively.
  8. remember you can still give a band 9 answer, even if you don’t know anything about the topic.


Exercise 3

​Speaker 2 uses some interesting discourse markers in his speaking. These phrases will help him to get a good band score for fluency.

Listen to speaker 2 and read the transcript at the same time.

Speaking No Experience.mp3
File Size: 587 kb
File Type: mp3

Download File


Click or touch a word above
1. – a phrase that indicates you are giving additional information about what you have just said.
2. – a phrase that indicates you are being truthful but think you may disappoint the listener with your answer.
3. –a phrase that indicates you are giving a conclusion.
4. – a question which you think the listener has, and which you will now answer.

The Complete Script

Narrator:
Speaker ONE

Examiner:
Let’s talk about television. What kinds of programs do you like?

Speaker 1:
Well, um.. I don’t watch TV … I can’t answer that question.


Narrator:
Speaker TWO

Examiner:
Let’s talk about television. What kinds of programs do you like? 

Speaker 2:
I don’t like most of the things on TV and to be honest, I very rarely watch anything on TV. In fact, I haven’t had a TV since I lived at home with my parents as I think the quality of most programs is very low. People often wonder how I find out the news or watch sporting events, well, in this day and age, everything we need in terms of media is online. I get my news online and I pay to have access to sports events through an internet provider. I particularly like to watch big international games of football. I don’t miss the TV because I can get what I need on the internet and most of the time when I get home from work in the evening I am happier reading a book or chatting with friends than watching a screen. All in all, I think life is better without having a TV in my living room.

Next time you are speaking English, try and use these phrases to improve your fluency. Use them often so that they aren’t forgotten.

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