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Speaking Part 2: How to Practice




This article will go into detail on some useful activities you can do to practice speaking part 2.



In this article we are going to look at 4 different activities:


  1. ๐ŸŽ™๏ธ Recording and Transcription

  2. ๐Ÿข Slow-Faster-Fast

  3. โœ๏ธ Vocab Generation

  4. โฒ๏ธ 4 / 3 / 2


See this post for general Speaking Part 2 tips and this post for Speaking Part 2 practice cue cards.


1. ๐ŸŽ™๏ธ Recording and Transcription


Use your phone or computer to record yourself answering a Speaking Part 2 prompt.


Listen back to your recording and transcribe what you said. Take note of where your answer could have been stronger.


  • Did you make any grammar mistakes?

  • Did you mispronounce any words?

  • Could you have used any better vocabulary?

  • Did your fluency โ€˜dry upโ€™ at any point?

  • Did you make too many audible pauses (uhh, umm, errr)?

  • Could your answer have been more coherently structured?


After recording and transcribing your first answer, re-record the speaking task and transcribe it again, repeating the above steps.


Although by listening carefully to yourself, transcribing yourself and giving yourself feedback is a very effective way to improve, if you don't have time to transcribe yourself, just recording yourself and listening back can also be very helpful.



2. ๐Ÿข Slow ๐Ÿ‡ Faster ๐Ÿš— Fast ๐Ÿš€


In order to build your fluency, try repeating a Speaking Part 2 exercise three times, getting faster each time you do it.


Speed 1. ๐Ÿข Give your talk while speaking very slowly.

Speed 2. ๐Ÿ‡ Then repeat the activity while speaking a little bit faster.

Speed 3. ๐Ÿš— Then repeat the activity while speaking even faster.

Speed 4. ๐Ÿš€ Then repeat the activity while speaking as fast as you can.


This activity has several benefits:


  • Firstly, this activity will help the muscles in your mouth move more quickly, and will help you produce faster speech.

  • Secondly, through repetition of certain grammar structures, words, and phrases, you should be able to produce them more quickly and fluently in the future.

  • Thirdly, and most importantly, by experimenting with different speeds, you should be able to find the speed that you're most comfortable with; the speed at which you can speak most fluently while making the fewest mistakes. You will probably find that: ๐Ÿข Speed 1 (very slow) sounds very unfluent, and at that speed you can't produce much language in 2 minutes, but your grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation should be quite accurate. ๐Ÿš€ When trying to maintain Speed 4 (as fast as you can) for 2 minutes, you're more likely to make mistakes and lose fluency as your mouth is moving too fast for your brain to keep up. ๐ŸŽš๏ธ By controlling the speed you speak, between Speed 2 (not slow, but not fast) Speed 3 (faster, but not too fast), you can maintain fluent speech, while having a good control over your language and pronunciation. It should also allow you to pause briefly and breathe between ideas, so you can organise your thoughts and so the examiner can understand you better.


I'd also recommend combining this activity with recording and transcribing, so you can listen back to how fluently you're speaking.


If your problem is that you speak too slowly and unfluently, you can record yourself, transcribe yourself, then work out how many Words Per Second you produce by dividing the number of words you produced with the length of time you spoke for.


  • 180 words / 120 seconds = 1.5 WPS (this is quite slow and unfluent)

  • 255w / 120s = 2.1 WPS (around this speed or a bit faster would be good for most IELTS candidates

  • 300w / 120s = 2.5 WPS (average for a native English speaker in everyday conversation)



3. โœ๏ธ Vocabulary Generation Practice


Many students find it difficult to think of ideas for their Speaking Part 2 talks, and many don't make the most of the 1 minute to think of precise, topic-specific vocabulary that will impress the examiner.


As well as practising the act of speaking, it can be a valuable exercise to look at Speaking Part 2 prompts and to practise generating vocabulary.


In the spirit of the above exercises, you could try giving yourself 3 minutes to generate good vocabulary, then 2 minutes, then 1 minute, to see if you can get quicker at thinking of relevant words, phrases and ideas.


Take a look at the following example. I wanted to think of vocabulary that could be as descriptive, expressive, and precise as possible, while also showing off my knowledge of less common vocabulary, collocations and phrasal verbs.



Once you've practised planning ideas and vocabulary, you can of course then practise giving the talk. Again, I'd recommend recording yourself, listening back, and transcribing yourself, as well as working on controlling the speed you speak.



4. โฒ๏ธ 4 / 3 / 2


This activity is great for group classes, in-person or online, but you can also do this by yourself.


This activity was originally developed by Paul Nation, and fundamentally it works like this:


"In this activity, students tell the same story three times to three different partners, but with less time to do so on each occasion โ€“ namely, 4 minutes the first time, 3 minutes the second time, and 2 minutes the third. The idea behind this is that students, under progressively tighter time constraints, would be forced to produce their story more fluently on each turn."

As a teacher, here is how I organise this activity as part of a group class:


Set up:

  1. Give students a Speaking Part 2 topic and give them 1 minute to plan their talk.

  2. Explain to students that they are going to give their talk 3 times for 3 different lengths of time, to 3 different students, going from 4 mins to 3 mins to 2 mins.

  3. Divide the class into pairs of As and Bs (check to make sure students know their letter). Providing a table of which group each student is in, as well as their partners for the activity can help everyone keep track of what's going on.


4-minute talk

  1. Set a timer for 8 mins (or 8.30 to give some buffer time) and tell students A to begin their 4-minute talk, while student B listens.

  2. After 4 minutes, tell students to switch, and B can begin giving their talk, while student A listens.

3-minute talk

  1. Next, student B changes partner to work with a new student A. Everyone now should have a new partner.

  2. Set a timer for 6 mins (or 6.30 to give some buffer time) and tell students A to begin their 3-minute talk, while B listens.

  3. After 3 minutes, tell students to switch, and B can begin giving their talk, while student A listens.

2-minute talk

  1. Next, student B changes partner to work with a new student A. Everyone now should have a new partner.

  2. Set a timer for 4 mins (or 4.30 to give some buffer time) and tell students A to begin their 2-minute talk, while B listens.

  3. After 2 minutes, tell students to switch, and B can begin giving their talk, while student A listens.

Reflection and Feedback

  • After the students have given their 3 talks to 3 different partners, encourage them to reflect on their own performance as well as the performance of their partners. Ask them if they felt more fluent and confident as they repeated the talk.



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