Could 2 minutes of speaking every day improve your IELTS score?
Last year I decided to set myself a challenge for November – could I run every single day? Even if it was just a couple of miles? How difficult could it be?! Well it wasn’t really difficult and I learnt a lot – I realised that although it was dark and cold when I went out, it wasn’t actually that bad.
But if I hadn’t set myself the challenge I would never have got out of the door. I also told my friends and family what I was doing and announced it on Facebook! So the embarrassment of feeling a failure was enough to push me outside every evening.
The best thing about that month though, was that I recorded my fastest running time ever. And as soon as I stopped my daily run, my speed got slower and slower again. It’s amazing how a small change on a regular basis can make such a huge improvement.
So why am I telling you all this?
Oh I know, I’m a terrible running bore. I have lost many friends over it!
Well, I’m telling you this because if it could make such a huge difference to my running, then it could make a huge difference to your speaking.
The challenge to improve your speaking
So I set up an IELTS Speaking challenge on Facebook and Instagram. 30 Days of Speaking Part 2. It wasn’t too difficult. Every day you had to
- speak for 2 minutes on a topic
- record yourself
- listen to your recording
The aims were to:
- help you get used to speaking for 2 minutes non-stop
- give you plenty of ideas for when you do the real exam
- help you notice some things about your speaking that you could improve
- build your confidence and fluency
- increase your vocabulary
- improve your grammar
I decided to do all of the Speaking Topics myself every day too and to post them on my Podcast (see below), so that everyone could hear my examples (they were certainly NOT MODEL EXAMPLES!).
With the transcript and video versions, I thought this would be an added bonus for the challenge – listening and pronunciation practice too!
I had loads of people contacting me on Instagram and asking me questions. A school in Indonesia contacted me to say they were using it as a challenge in their class! That was fantastic and what a great idea to get all your classmates doing the same thing!
I think the biggest thing we all learnt is that it really doesn’t matter if you don’t answer the question exactly as it is.
I certainly learnt some things about my own speaking. I use far too many ‘ums’ (although this is a totally natural feature of native speaker speech, so don’t worry about it as long as it’s not too long. If you say ‘uuuuuuummmmm’ for a long time it looks like hesitation).
Also, I realised I could use better vocabulary – more adjectives would definitely help.
But no-one likes to hear their own voice, and I think at first I just didn’t like recording myself. By Day 7, I felt more relaxed about that, so my Speaking definitely improved. Another bonus! And so will yours!
How to make the most of the challenge
- Print off the PDF of all the questions from the 30-Day Challenge here.
- Put it somewhere visible so that you get a daily reminder.
- Get an App for recording on your phone. I use Voice Recorder but there are plenty of others, or just record on your phone.
- It really helps if you tell someone what you’re doing so that they can give you support.
- Cross off the days/tasks as you go through them, so that you can feel a sense of progress.
- Listen to your recording and write down one mistake you made.
- You could ask someone to listen for you.
- Try not to make the same mistake twice!
- Ask in the Facebook group if you have any questions!
What to listen for
I know it’s not easy to listen for your own mistakes but here are a few things that are easy to spot and improve:
- Repetition – how can you say something different?
- Hesitation – how can you fill the gaps when you’re thinking? (Use fillers like ‘well’ ‘you know’ ‘anyway!’ ‘so’…)
- Grammar – check Past Tenses, 3rd person ‘s’, plural ‘s’
- Natural speech – use contractions e.g. ‘I’m’ rather than ‘I am’
- Vocabulary – could you choose more interesting adjectives e.g. ‘freezing’ rather than ‘cold’?
- Linking words – are you just using ‘but’ and ‘so’? Could you try ‘even though’ or ‘Anyway…’?
- Pronunciation – are there any sounds you have difficulty with? (read this article for more advice on how to improve your pronunciation)
I totally believe that you can listen to your own speech and make improvements, but in an ideal world, there would be someone who could listen and give you some ideas on what you can improve.
So no more excuses!
Watch the first week of videos here:
Get the full set of videos (Days 8 – 30) in the Members Academy.