Thursday, 17 March 2011

Advice/IELTS Speaking Part 2

IELTS Speaking Exam Part 2

Situation: In part 2 of the IELTS speaking test you are given a topic to talk about - on your own - for approximately two minutes. It could be about any area of your experience related to work, travel, leisure or modern life.

Problem: In my experience, people find this the most difficult part of the test, maybe because it seems rather "artificial". But it's something you may well be expected to do in further study or at work, so it's a skill that needs to be developed.

Solution: You cannot expect to predict the exact topic, but you can get used to the format and the skill of talking in this way. As with most things, practice makes perfect. Or at least, if not perfect, it certainly makes for great improvement in confidence and skill when putting your ideas together.

Note: Advice on the other sections of the speaking test will be added when time allows. Please note that suggested models can be included and practised in your speaking on a daily basis, but you should not repeat them automatically or keep trying to put them into your answers in an artificial way. Correct pronunciation and intonation are obviously very important too. Sound files will be added later to help with this.

First of all, try to answer the questions that follow using the models for how to begin. You don't need to copy my examples exactly. Modify them for a film (movie) that you have seen yourself.

A Movie

Note 1
The general topic is split into four parts:

Where, when and why you went to see it.

Who were the main actors / actresses in the movie.

What happens in it.

Whether or not you enjoyed it, with reasons.


For the sake of practice, we'll ask the separate questions below:

1) Where and when did you see it?
A. I saw this film in... when I was....

2) Where was it set? (or "shot")
A. It was set in..... during the war.

3) Who were the main characters?
A. It's about a young girl who falls in love with a soldier, but...

4) Do you know any of the actors/actresses?
A. The main part was played by Nicolas Cage..... while Penelope Cruz was the.....

5) Do you know the name of the director?
A. It was directed by.....* ( See note 1 below)

6) Give a basic description of the plot ("story").
A. As I said, it was set during the war, and it involved.....

7) What did you enjoy (or dislike) about it?
A. It was very (exciting/enlightening/ inspiring, etc) and it made me feel that people.....

Note 1) If you don't know the name of the actor / actress / director / writer, etc, then just say so. In the next section is a suggested two minute talk based on the film in the example above. Does it ring any bells yet? (That means, do you recognise it yet?) See how I talk about the director in this short piece.

Now scroll down to read the suggested answer for the speaking test part 2 below, and notice the vocabulary and structure used...................


Suggested answer;

I first saw this film in Spain about ten years ago when I was there on holiday. It was a rainy day, so we decided to go to the cinema. What's more, I'd just had an argument with my wife, so I thought if we went to see a romantic film it might make us both feel a bit more cheerful.

It was set in a small Greek island during the second world war. It's about a young girl who falls in love with a soldier of the Italian army that has invaded the island.

The main part was played by Nicolas Cage as the soldier, while Penelope Cruz, a Spanish actress, was the daughter of the local doctor. She's extremely beautiful, and this is another reason I had been looking forward to seeing the film.

As for the director, I'm afraid I can't actually remember his name. Unfortunately I'm not very good on director's names, and only know the "stars".

As I said before, it was set during the war, and it involved the doctor's daughter slowly falling in love with Nicolas Cage's character. And not only is he a member of the army of occupation, but she also happens to have a fiancee already: a local fisherman from her village. But she's educated and well-read and he's, well, let's just say he's not so well educated, and can't really talk to her on the same level. And it's when her fisherman boyfriend goes off to sea that love between the two begins to "blossom", so to speak.

Far from being cruel to the islanders or imposing military discipline, he is more interested in playing the mandolin and setting up a choir. But when the war is coming to an end, the Nazis come and take over the island, and there is conflict between all three groups of people. This forces the main characters to choose between the loyalty they feel for one another and that they feel towards their country.

It was a very inspiring film, which made me have faith in the goodness of human nature and a belief in the triumph of the spirit, even in the face of the most terrible circumstances. If there is anyone who still hasn't seen "Captain Corelli's Mandolin", then I would certainly recommend that they do so. It's well worth seeing!


Now you try

First of all we'll change the general topic, and ask you to write about a book, instead of a film. Try to use the ideas above to help you prepare for a short talk. In the real exam you'll have only a minute to prepare, but this sort of exercise helps you to learn how to "think on your feet", as well as teaching you some useful phrases. First try to answer the following questions:

1) Instead of "I saw it in...", you could say, "I...".
2) Instead of "It was directed by..." , you could say, "It was...".
3) Instead of "The main actress was...", you could say, "The main ...".

Scroll down to the bottom of this section for the answers.

Now we'll put the question into the same format you'll be given in the exam.

Talk about a book you have read.

You should include in your answer:

- where and when you read it

- anything you know about the writer

- some information about the plot and characters

... and what you particularly liked or disliked about the book.

Don't spend too much time in preparation, and try to do it using only very brief notes, of the sort that you could make in one minute. In other words, it would be a piece of paper with only six or seven "prompts" written on it, to help you remember how to organise your talk. Look back at the "film" example to help you.

Make sure you speak out loud. Maybe you can get a friend or family member to listen?

1) Instead of "I saw it in...", you could say, "I read it in...".
2) Instead of "It was directed by..." , you could say, "It was written by...".
3) Instead of "The main actress was...", you could say, "The main character was...".

Photo Album:


This photo was taken from our bedroom window last December. The garden is buried beneath the snow, and the apple tree is also covered in it. After yet another icy winter, some believe the weather in England has become colder with so-called "global warming".


1. The first three verbs are in the passive voice. Could you say why?
2. "has become colder" is in the present perfect tense. Could you say why?
3. Why are the words "so-called" used here?
4. You can see many snow flakes reflected in the flash of the camera. There was also one very large one spoiling the effect, so I have (rather badly) "edited it out". Can you see where it was?



1. Because we're talking about "the photo", as well as "the garden" and "the tree". Those responsible for the action (i.e. the photographer, the weather) don't really need to be mentioned here.
2. The action began in the past and is still continuing today.
3. Because the name is not really suitable. Here's another example: "My so-called best friend has run away with my husband!"
4. In the sky at the top, just to the right of the middle.

No comments:

Post a Comment