IELTS Speaking Tips

Twelve Top Tips for IELTS

Today is the twelfth day of Christmas and the celebration of Twelfth Night. In the past this was a very big celebration with people feasting and partying well into the night. In other countries in Europe twelfth night and tomorrow January 6th (the feast of the 3 Kings) are big festivals but in the UK we have largely sacrificed this for Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Tomorrow is the day to take the Christmas tree and all the other Christmas decorations down. Failure to do this results in bad luck for the year (so the tradition goes). So we are now at the end of Christmas for another year and after all the celebrations we settle down to our shiny New Year and begin all the great plans we have.

I hope that you have begun your great plans too and I’m sure that these will include your IELTS exam – is this the year to get the score you want and move on with your dreams?

On this, the twelfth and last day of Christmas I want to share my final tip of this Christmas series – something about the exam as a whole.

I hope that over the past 12 days you have learned something about the skills you need to perfect in order to gain a high IELTS band score in each part of the test. To be honest during these twelve days I have only been able to scratch the surface of the skills that you can work on to make sure that your IELTS is on track for bands 7 and 8. We haven’t talked about vocabulary or grammar, for example, which are also important.

My final piece of advice is don’t go it alone. Get some help and support. This could be from me and my team and I would love it if you can come and work with us online – if this isn’t for you then get another teacher or at least find a group of people who are also doing IELTS at your level  to work with. Doing it by yourself is a lonely journey; you have no-one to check things with, to ask questions from or to share your highs and lows as you prepare for the exam.

So to get help and support for your IELTS this January I am offering you a free IELTS Exam Support Skype call. In this call we can look at your IELTS, see what needs to happen to get you to your band score and then talk about how you can get this support if that is appropriate.

To get a call with me you must complete this questionnaire:


I will also be giving a special IELTS Christmas gift to everyone who completes the form and books a call.


I hope you have enjoyed this little journey through the Christmas Season. I can’t wait to speaking with you soon and find out more about you and your IELTS.


Berni xx

Twelve Top Tips for IELTS

Just two days left of the Christmas Season – it’s all gone so fast! Today is tinged with sadness as the festival that we prepared so long for, that we looked forward to for several weeks is now almost over and we will have to wait another whole year for it to come around again (some will be happy about this :-))! We make our last batch of mince pies, take a last look at the tree and its lights and baubles. Tomorrow will be the very last day to celebrate, then we will put it all away.

Still, we can continue to enjoy a relaxing day with Christmas food, friends and family and even more Christmas TV!! Perhaps tomorrow is a working day and then we will be packing up everything until next year or, for some, Twelfth Night parties will be held today or tomorrow.

Today is the eleventh day of Christmas; here is another thing you need to do to achieve a good mark in the speaking exam.

When working with students on IELTS speaking I usually find that Part 2 is the part that will make or break the final score. This a chance for you to speak without interruption and really make an impression on the examiner.

You need to make sure your ‘little talk’ is organised (this is why you are given a series of questions – to help you create a beginning, middle and end) and also that it is interesting, fluent and uses good language. Unlike the writing your speaking is spontaneous and there is only a little time to prepare. If you think too much you won’t be fluent, if you search for words you won’t communicate well so your focus MUST be on the story you are telling and not on things like vocabulary and grammar. Tell your story and trust that the language will come. If your speaking is around band 7 then this will probably happen -if it isn’t then it’s really important to get your speaking up to the band first or you will struggle to perform well.

This is where the right practice comes in – like everything else in IELTS knowing about isn’t enough – language skills can ONLY be improved by practice. You wouldn’t try to drive a car after just reading a manual and this is the same – skills need first to be learned and then practised and the more you practise the better you will become. BUT, if you don’t practise correctly you will not be able to achieve a good level.

As a former examiner I have examined on many speaking tests and I know what you have to do to maximise your score. Now I want to help you to improve your speaking and other IELTS skills.

To do this I need to know more about your IELTS and so I am setting aside some time in January and I would love you to take one of these calls so I can help you see how you can be supported in your IELTS practice.

To get one of these calls you have to complete the questionnaire below


I will be giving a special IELTS Christmas gift to everyone who completes the questionnaire and books a Skype call.


Twelve Top Tips for IELTS

We’re coming towards the end of our Christmas season now. Today is the tenth day of Christmas we’re into the new year yet still a little in party mood. Some people will most likely start to take down their Christmas decorations today although others may want to stretch the Christmas season as much as they can and squeeze even more brilliance out of it. Many people start to think about the over-indulgence that has happened and go to the gym or take long walks in the countryside. A long country walk and a stop at a pub for lunch is a lovely activity on a cold winter’s day especially if there is a warm fire and still some Christmas cheer around.

The next two months are often bleak so we love to enjoy as much as we can of the Christmas season before facing the dark cold days of January and February.

Today is the tenth day of Christmas; now we’ll look at the speaking exam.

Speaking is the one part of the test that is entirely in your hands (writing is too but that is not as immediate). Speaking is all about communication – this is the main focus. If you communicate well on the topics even if you make a few errors in grammar and vocabulary you should get a good band. But, it is important that you give the examiner enough of your language to enable them to give you a good mark.

I remember when I was an examiner sometimes students would speak quite well but only say very little. In this case I couldn’t give them bands 7 and 8 even though I suspected that they could achieve these bands – the examiner can only mark what you give them and if you don’t answer fully then that is not good communication. So it’s important to maximise the time you have to speak without the whole thing becoming a monologue. Communication is two-way and you have to remember this.

Getting the balance right is a skill you need to learn and this is something we work on in the speaking part of our courses. How much is enough and how much is rambling or not enough. You need to understand this so you can perform at your best.

I’d love to help you with this.

I’m setting up Exam Support calls at the beginning of January where you can meet me on Skype and look at the possibility of working with me and my team in 2018 to make sure you get really ready for your IELTS high band score when you take your exam.

To get one of these Skype appointments you need to complete this questionnaire:


I also have a special Christmas gift – but you have to complete the questionnaire and book one of the Skype calls.


Berni xx


With the vast majority of band 7 and 8 IELTS students, speaking is generally at a good level. However, what can happen is that the general good level of speaking is not always reflected in the exam result and students who are fluent and confident can sometimes score 6.5 and then have to re-take the exam. It is a great shame when this happens as it is completely avoidable by practising.

Continue reading

IELTS Speaking isn’t just a ‘chat’. Just like all the other parts of the IELTS test, it is put together in such a way that you can demonstrate a variety of speaking skills to the examiner – such things as showing your vocabulary, being able to communicate at length about various topics and presenting a short ‘talk’ on a particular subject.  These are all things you will need to do as students and also in your future work. What this means is that you can and should prepare for your IELTS speaking just like you prepare for every other part of the exam.

Continue reading

Boost Your Spoken Language SkillsI’ve been thinking about some quick ways in which you can practise English as you go about your daily life.  I realise that not everybody is in a position where they are surrounded by English every day. (Although, if you can swing it, an immersion programme is an excellent way to skyrocket your English progress, and we have the perfect immersion programme waiting for you!)  For others, they have very limited time to practise and need ‘quick fixes’ to keep their language skills moving.  One area which poses a particular problem here is speaking.

I thought back to my early days of learning French.  I was in a similar position with no French around me and without handy things like internet access that are available today!  I invented little tricks and tasks to do in French to keep the momentum going.  I’ll share these with you here and I’ve added a few more that I have observed from other people. Continue reading

Learning Languages than Others?
I’m sure there is a lot of scientific and linguistic research about this topic and this is not a scholarly post. It is something I have thought about often in the years that I have been teaching and learning languages and I simply wanted to share my thoughts with you. I hope that they strike a chord, tally with your opinion and/or experience and spur you on to improving and developing your own language skills. Continue reading

Practical Pronunciation PracticesPronunciation is one of those things that always seems to be left out in the cold, so to speak, when learning English.  We all want to speak fluently and accurately, have good listening and writing skills and improve our reading and vocabulary; but unless there are any real issues, pronunciation can wait.  When working to learn English, it seems like there are just too many other things competing for your time and attention to bother focusing on pronunciation, doesn’t it take care of itself after all? Continue reading

Speaking Section Prepare

Your approach to preparation in the IELTS tells me a lot about how you will succeed. I meet students who are organised, who have a plan and who create a process for their learning and their preparation. They balance their general English practice with their IELTS test practice and know that it is impossible to get a good band without both. They are usually successful. I also meet students who keep on just ‘having a go’. This approach to the IELTS exam is VERY EXPENSIVE and will not guarantee you success. If you do not get exposure to English except via the Cambridge practice tests, then getting a high band score is going to take a VERY long time and in some cases where a student’s English is not of a high level it will be impossible. Continue reading

Step by Step Programme IELTSThere is so much information out there about taking the IELTS test and developing your language skills.  An overwhelming amount of information.  It can take months or even years to go through it all and to figure out what works for you!  What if there was a way that you could get focused training to hone in on the language skills that you need?  What if there was a way for you to have materials, advice, and tips presented to you that have been proven to really work?  What if you could complete this training and be totally prepared to conquer the IELTS in a matter of weeks-not months or years? Continue reading

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