IELTS Speaking: Quick Tips To Improve Your pronunciation - IELTS University (Singapore)

IELTS Speaking: Quick Tips To Improve Your pronunciation

During the IELTS speaking exam, your responses will be assessed on 4 basic criteria, which includes:

  • Pronunciation
  • Fluency and coherence
  • Grammar
  • Lexical resource

Each of these accounts for 25% of your overall speaking score. Many students struggle with improving their pronunciation, mainly because it is such a wide-ranging topic, most students are unaware of where to begin. In this article, we will take a look at a few key areas that you need to focus on to improve your pronunciation for the IELTS speaking test.

According to the publicly available band descriptors to score beyond a band 6, a candidate must be able to ‘Use a range of pronunciation features’

The words “pronunciation features" are difficult to define but they do include:

  • Intonation - Intonation is defined as the way the voice rises and falls. A combination of rises and falls in connected speech makes it pleasant, melodic and easy to follow. Basically, whether your voice goes up and down in the right places, for example when you’re asking a question. It is used to convey the speaker’s mood, to support the meaning or to indicate new information.
  • Word stress - Means putting emphasis on the correct syllables e.g. COMFortable, VEGetable
  • Sentence stress  Sentence stress is used to indicate important meaning by placing more emphasis on one word in a sentence and can often cardinally change the meaning.

It is impossible to change your pronunciation overnight, but here are a few tips that you can use to help improve your pronunciation right away.

Use Contractions

Contractions are also a staple of modern English conversation, and using them during the speaking test will make your speech sound more natural.

Using contractions makes you sound fluent, relaxed and natural.

For example: I’d, I’m, I can’t, I don’t, They’re, It’s, I’ve

When you learn English grammar, you usually learn the full, written forms e.g. ‘I would like a cup of coffee. However, this sounds unnatural when you’re speaking. A native English speaker would actually say “I’d like a cup of coffee”

Make Sure To Practice The Sounds That Are Difficult For You

Most languages have sounds that do not appear in the English language, and similarly, there are certain English sounds that are missing from other languages. For example, the Arabic language does not have a ‘p’ sound. In these instances, these missing sounds might be the toughest for non-native speakers to pronounce, since they are not used to using these sounds. Make sure that you find the sounds that are missing in your language and put extra effort when practising them.

Listen And Repeat

A great way to aid in your preparation is to familiarize yourself with how native English speakers speak. There are many ways in which you can do this. You could watch English TV programmes or News channels, listen to podcasts about topics that interest you or find content that is somehow IELTS related. This will also help acclimatize you to the sounds and unique pronunciations used by speakers. Try getting a hold of the transcripts and repeating what you have just heard, with the same pronunciation and stress. Pay attention to the rhythm & how intonation is used to show attitudes & emphasis. It would be best to record what you say and then listen back to it to see how it compared to the original audio.

Of course, a lot more effort goes into improving your pronunciation and continual practice is required to see any improvement, but hopefully, the above-mentioned tips can point you in the right direction. Improving your pronunciation will get you one step closer to the band score you need to achieve your work, study or migration goals.