Improve your English speaking at home, without a teacher - Part 1

Recording yourself

Recording yourself

Having taught IELTS for many years now, one of the most common questions I’m asked by my students is:

'I don’t speak English at home or with any of my friends. How can I improve my speaking?'.

There are many IELTS candidates out there who can’t afford lessons with a qualified English teacher or simply don’t have access to a suitable English course locally. This four-part series of blog posts pulls together my top tips as an experienced IELTS teacher for using other resources available to you in order to improve your speaking skills. I should also point out that these tips could be used by any language learner, not just English students working towards an IELTS exam.

In the first post of the series, we’ll be focusing on how recording yourself can really help you to improve all aspects of your spoken English.

How does it work?

Most of us, these days, will have a voice recorder app on our mobile phones. Why not put it to good use to prepare for the IELTS Speaking exam?:

STEP 1: Download some questions you’d like to practise from any part of the Speaking test. I would recommend either four Speaking Part 1 questions, one Speaking Part 2 question, or two to three Speaking Part 3 questions.

STEP 2: Take out your phone and record yourself answering a question.

STEP 3: Listen back to your answer and transcribe it, word for word. It’s ok to cringe a little at this point! Don’t most people hate the sound of their own voice?

STEP 4: Read back over your transcription. Using a different coloured pen make any changes to your answer. Perhaps if you remember hesitating over some word choices, use the internet or your own vocabulary notebook to find some more suitable vocabulary. Highlight any pronunciation errors you spot (don’t forget that all good English learners’ dictionaries such as Cambridge Dictionary and Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries include sound recordings of words to help with this) and correct any grammatical mistakes.

STEP 5: Record a second answer to the same question. Hopefully, you’ll find it to be an improved version of your initial attempt.

Repeat this exercise with the other questions you’ve printed off.

If you do this several times a week with different questions, you should notice an improvement in all aspects of your speaking ability.

Drop into the blog next week to find out some really useful ways to learn vocabulary in chunks to help improve your fluency and range of language.

Laura Plotnek Jones is an experienced English language teacher, specialising in IELTS. She runs Home English - a private language school in Birmingham, The UK – where she helps to prepare 100s of students for the IELTS exam every year. As part of her work, she produces her own teaching materials to address her students’ areas of difficulty, particularly in writing. Laura holds the Diploma in English Language Teaching for Adults (DELTA) and is the National Coordinator for NATECLA (the National Association of Teaching English and Community Languages to Adults).

If you have any comments on or questions about this blog post, she’d love to hear from you!