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Speaking Part 2: How to Plan your Talk

In this post I will give you my top tips on how I would use the 1-minute thinking and planning time in IELTS Speaking Part 2.

How to Use the 1 minute of Planning and Thinking Time for Speaking Part 2

  • Follow the bullet points, adapt if necessary.

This is a good way of generating ideas, generating language and structuring your talk.

Remember, you don't have to talk about every bullet point, and you can add extra ideas that aren't there as long as you focus on describing the topic at the top.

Notice how 'when' and 'where' aren't in the prompt, but I've added details about me visiting my dad at his house.

  • Choose your topic quickly.

Don't overthink it. Often the first idea that comes into your head will be the most obvious one and the easiest to talk about; however, if that first idea is too complicated to talk about, then choose something simpler.

  • Choose a topic which will be easy to talk about.

Choose something about which you can use lots of good descriptive language.

Avoid talking about anything complicated, and definitely don't choose to talk about something just because you think it'll be "cool" or "interesting" or "impressive" (unless of course it's a topic where you can show off your cool, interesting, or impressive language skills!!)

  • Use the 1-minute planning time to note down good, descriptive, topic-specific vocab.

Use these words as seeds from which you can grow a detailed descriptive tree.

Look at this example from a previous post to how the following noted words can lead to detailed descriptions as you explain what they mean:

Noted words like: "Prolific, Action, Comedies, Thrillers"

Can lead to a detailed description like:

Christian Bale is kinda prolific. He's been in all kinds of movies ranging from action movies like Christopher Nolan's Batman Trilogy, to dark comedies like American Pyscho, to historical thrillers such as The Prestige. Honestly though, he's been in so many movies at this point, and I've only seen a few.

Adjectives which describe people/places/situations/things as well as adjectives which describe your opinions and feelings can provide a great platform for you to show off your language.

Precise verbs and nouns are useful in this way too.

  • Don't get stuck on describing reality.

Students sometimes are so committed to describing reality, but don't have the vocabulary to do so, so this affects their fluency while they try to think.

If you have to describe a hotel you once stayed in and you choose to describe this place:

Would you honestly have the vocabulary to describe it exactly as it is?

You might be thinking (in your own language) that it had a thick, luxurious carpet, gilt-framed paintings on the walls, marble surfaces and a diamond chandalier, but if you don't know those words, then you have to paraphrase, simplify, or just lie.

You're evaluated on your ability to paraphrase effectively, and you should focus more on demonstrating your language skills rather than strictly telling the truth. The examiner doesn't know or care about reality, they're only evaluating your English.

If you choose to describe the above hotel, but you don't know all the precise vocabulary you need to describe reality, you can say:

- "It's a historical building, but it's also kinda modern inside." (not true, but fine.)

- "It has beautiful paintings on the walls of the people who had lived there and the paintings have these like, gold frames" (mostly true, and a decent paraphase to describe what you mean, even if you don't know the exact words.

  • If you finish early, have a little story ready.

If you finish your talk early, be ready to tell a short anecdote

  • Don't write full sentences

note word or phrase, quickly think about how you'd use it in a sentence

  • Use abbreviations

u knw tht evn if u dnt wrt wrds cmptly yu cn stil nrmly rd them?

ths knd of nte-tkng is sth u cn prctce. u cn nrmly stil udrstnd wrds if the frst n lst letrs r the same.

  • Use the 1-minute planning time to breathe and calm your nerves, and to think.

As well as making notes, you should use the minute to breathe and calm your nerves, and to think about how you will develop your notes into complete ideas.

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