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Classroom practice for IELTS Speaking 1 & 3

Tasks with typical IELTS Speaking questions that are more stimulating and make students think more carefully about the questions and their answers.

Because students answer questions about themselves in IELTS Speaking Part One, most GTKY (getting to know you) games are good practice for this part of the exam. The same is true of activities for giving opinions being used as practice for IELTS Speaking Part Three. The activities below are ones that I have found even more suitable for exam preparation, however, both in terms of getting them used to typical questions and getting them to think about what kinds of answers are likely to get the best marks. Most of them are also quite fun. I have used all these activities for IELTS Speaking Part One, but while I was writing them down I realised all of them could be easily adapted for Speaking Part Three just by changing the topics and kinds of questions, hence the title of this article.

1. More fun selection of the questions

One of the easiest ways of making these parts of the exam more fun while keeping it close to real practice is to add some element of chance to which questions they get, e.g. by asking them to pick a card. They could also close their eyes and put their finger down on a square on their worksheet, then answer the question there. The card or square could have a whole question, a question starter (e.g. “Do you often…?” for Part One or “Do you think…?” for Part Three) or just a topic. If it is only a question starter or topic, their partners can choose a question from a list or make up their own.

A more complex game that makes them think about the questions more carefully is to give them a list of topics, question starters or whole questions and ask them to grade them for difficulty from 50 points (= incredibly difficult) down to 10 points (= incredibly easy). One person picks a number of points that they want to go for and are rewarded a percentage of that many points depending on how well they answer the question. They therefore have the tactical choice of a difficult question that they might get no points for if they can’t answer it or an easy question that they won’t get many points for even if their answer is good (or of course somewhere in between the two extremes).

Another way for them to choose is with a dice. One student throws a dice and someone else in their group asks them a question about the typical IELTS Speaking topic that has that number next to it on the board or their worksheets, e.g. 1 for Accommodation and 2 for Friends and Family for Speaking Part One or 1 for Media and 2 for The Environment for Part Three. They might need a list of typical sentence starters like “Do people your age in your country…?” and “What are the advantages of…?” to help them make the questions if they haven’t practised this much.

You can also do a version with the dice being thrown twice. After they have found which topic they will be asked about, they throw the dice again to decide which time that question will be about, e.g. 1 for distant past, 2 for recent past, etc.

2. Longer and longer answers

Students make or choose one typical IELTS Speaking question and ask that same question with exactly the same wording over and over again to the same person. The person answering should give a longer answer each time. They can repeat what they said before and add stuff to it or completely change their answer as they like. Whenever they give up or their last answer is actually shorter than the previous one, they discuss which was probably the best (= most natural) answer.

You can also ask the questioner to slightly rephrase the question each time to give the person answering practice of recognising different ways of putting typical questions. Tell them that the question must be worded at least a little differently each time. The person who gives up first (the questioner because they can’t rephrase the question in any more ways or the answerer because they can’t make their answer any longer) loses that round.

You can also play the game in pairs with the same question being asked back and forth and the next person’s answer having to be longer than their partner’s last one. They should be allowed to borrow ideas from their partner, as this will hopefully also help them learn language from each other.

3. Guess the IELTS Speaking topic

One student takes a card with a common Speaking Part One topic such as “Friends and family” on it. They ask their partner a typical question on that topic, but without using any of the words on the card, e.g. “Do you have any brothers and sisters?” or “Do you take after your mother or your father?” After answering the question, the person answering can have one guess about the topic. They must guess exactly the words on the card. This continues until they work out exactly what is written on the card or the person asking runs out of questions on that topic. They can give tips if either of them gets stuck.

4. Guess the IELTS Speaking question/question starter

This is similar to the game above. One person takes a card with a typical IELTS Speaking question on it and answers it without saying what the question is. Their partner can have just one guess about what the question is. They must get exactly the wording on the card. If they don’t, their partner answers the same question in another way, after which they can guess again. After they guess correctly, they can discuss which of the answers was best and whether any of the other questions they came up with while they were guessing means exactly the same as the one on the card. They could also brainstorm other ways of asking the same things.

The same game can be played with just question starters, e.g. “Have you ever…?” and “Do you prefer…?”, with the person with card answering different questions they made up starting with those words until their partner guesses exactly what is written on the card.

Written by Alex Case for TEFL.net December 2011
Alex Case is the author of TEFLtastic.

One Comment

  • Md. Mahfuzul Islam says:

    send me the documents, please.

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TEFL.net : ESL Lesson Plans : Classroom Ideas : Exams : Classroom practice for IELTS Speaking 1 & 3