This criterion includes the following aspects:
- Articulation of sounds – how well you pronounce the sounds of the language and if you link the words properly.
- Word and sentence stress – how you single out the correct syllable in a word or the correct words in a sentence.
- Intonation – if your voice is rising and falling and contributes to enhancing the meaning of what you say.
- The most frequent mistake here is using one’s native language sounds instead of English sounds.
- There are a number of constantly mispronounced sounds depending on your native language. For example Spanish speakers struggle with the “H” sounds, Asians can struggle with “Ls” and “Rs”. You need to be aware of the sounds present in English that are not present in your own language.
- Very often, due to stress, or thinking on their feet, candidates sound monotonous – their intonation is a “flat line”. Or they might make every sentence sound like a question, which is not good.
- Don’t worry about your accent; rather try to make sure that you can be understood and pronounce sounds as clearly and as “clear” as possible. Ideally your accent will not take away anything from what you are communicating.
- Your exam assessor will consider how frequently you mispronounce words and say something that is difficult to even understand, so make sure you practice clear articulation a lot.
- Breathe out and try to relax: the more relaxed you are, the more natural your intonation becomes. We review intonation in greater detail in this tutorial.
- Make sure that your intonation helps you to communicate what you mean. Use it when you structure an explanation and support it with examples.
- To improve how you enunciate certain words you can turn on the dictation settings in your phone, and then read from some text in front of you. Reading, rather than speaking freely will allow you to entirely focus all your energy on the sound instead of having to think of what to say.
- Speak into your phone, and get it all transcribed, the words you are not saying clearly will show up as incorrect on your phone. These are the words you need to improve.
- Find a native English speaker that you like on YouTube, listen to him or her extensively and imitate. Adopt their voice, become them, and you will see how your pronunciation will improve.
- Remember, even the best answer with brilliant grammar and vocabulary can be drastically affected by incorrect or unclear pronunciation.
IELTS is a challenging exam and there is no ‘magic’ way to get a high band score if your English isn’t good enough. Still, using some of these tips and techniques should help you to perform to the best of your ability and get the level you deserve.
You can download or listen to the audio version here:
Have a look at some more tutorials for some IELTS speaking advice