In this tutorial, you will learn how to:
- incorporate hypothetical language into your speaking
- propose solutions to problems
- improve your ability to agree and disagree
In this tutorial we look at ways to improve the range of language you incorporate into parts two and three of the IELTS speaking test. First, we’re going to focus on ‘grammatical range and accuracy’.
Here’s an example of a part two question:
|Describe a time when you were late for something important. You should say:|
– when it happened
– how it happened
– how late you were
and explain what the result was.
Here is the first part of a candidate’s answer:
Well, this all happened a few years ago, when I was living in London. I had applied for a job with a new company and they had offered me an interview.
Unfortunately, I misread the address of the office where the interview was to be held. I had only glanced at it quickly and I had thought it said, ‘Queen’s Avenue’, which was about a ten-minute drive from where I was living…
On the day of the interview, I was just checking the street number when I realised that it was ‘Queen’s Road’ – not ‘Queen’s Avenue’. When I looked at a map, it turned out that ‘Queen’s Road’ was miles away..!
Here is the last part of the response:
What a disaster! Looking back, I just can’t believe I made such a stupid mistake! If I had just read the address more carefully in the first place, I would probably have got the job!
The candidate wraps up his talk strongly, using the following sentence:
If I had just read the address more carefully in the first place, I would probably have got the job!
This is an example of a third conditional, which is used to talk about a hypothetical situation in the past. Here the candidate is saying that he didn’t read the address carefully – and so he didn’t get the job.
We make third conditional sentences like this:
| If + subject + past perfect, would / could / might + have + past participle|
Let’s practise with a few examples. How could you convert these ideas into third conditional sentences?
a) I didn’t realise the office was in Queen’s Road and I didn’t allow enough time.
If I had realised that the office was in Queen’s Road, I would have allowed more time.
b) I left home late and I was late for the interview.
If I hadn’t left home late, I wouldn’t have been late for the interview.
c) I was late so they didn’t offer me the job.
If I hadn’t been late, they would / might have offered me the job.
Now let’s have a look at incorporating a wider range of IELTS vocabulary into part three of the test. In this final part of the speaking test, you may be asked to propose a solution to a problem.
Obesity is a problem in many countries in the world today. What do you think can be done about this problem?
Governments around the world are struggling to find solutions to problems like this, so it’s important to bear in mind that the examiner is not expecting you to have the ideal solution..!
You could respond by saying something like:
Well, firstly I think it’s important to recognise that there are no easy solutions.
Well, to start with I think we need to accept that this problem is not going to be solved overnight.
… and then move on to give your opinion.
In part three, you may also be asked to agree or disagree with a statement.
Many people are of the opinion that it’s the government’s responsibility to tackle the problem of obesity. Do you agree?
There are lots of different phrases we can use to agree and disagree. Here are some examples:
Do these people agree or disagree? How strongly do they feel?
‘Yes, I completely agree.’ – This person agrees strongly with the statement.
‘Well, I understand why some people feel this way, but I think…’ – This person disagrees.
‘I’m afraid I totally disagree.’ – This person is expressing strong disagreement.
‘Actually I think we need to take personal responsibility…’. – This person disagrees with the statement.
‘Well, I think they’re right to a certain extent.’ – This person agrees to some extent.
‘Well, I think it’s more complicated than that, actually…’ – This person neither agrees nor disagrees.
‘I would have to say that I think that’s absolutely true.’ – This person is expressing strong agreement.
‘I really don’t think that’s true at all.’ – This person strongly disagrees.
Now listen again and practise saying the phrases with the appropriate sentence stress and intonation. Record yourself and then give yourself some feedback on your pronunciation. Finally, what’s your opinion? Do you agree?!
Check out some more IELTS speaking tutorials here.
You can download or listen to the audio version here: