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Simon IELTS Speaking part 1
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Part 1 

Keep it simple; there's no need to show off in this part. Give a short, direct answer and a reason for 

your answer. Then stop. If necessary, smile at the examiner to show that you are ready for the next 


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question; if you keep speaking, the examiner will interrupt you. Answer using full sentences, and try 

not to hesitate; just say the first thing that comes into your head. 

Part 2 

Before the exam, prepare ideas for the 

six main topics

. Focus on vocabulary, not grammar or linking. 

In the exam, try to note down as many ideas as you can during the 1-minute preparation time - 

hopefully you'll be able to use ideas that you have already prepared. You don't have to cover all of the 

points on the task card, but it helps you to structure your answer if you do. Say as much as you can 

for each point, and use a real example or story at the end of your description if you need to fill time. 

Keep going until the examiner stops you. 

Part 3 

Practise "3-step" answers: 1) answer the question 2) explain your answer 3) give an example. There's 

also a 

4th step


 that you can sometimes use. By following these steps, you ensure that your answer 

"moves forward" instead of becoming repetitive - most people repeat the same ideas when they try to 

give a long answer, and the steps will help you to avoid this. 

PS. I'll publish my next speaking video in the next few days. 

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Friday, May 13, 2016 



IELTS Speaking: what's most important? 

Here are some factors that might affect your speaking score: 

 

fluency, not hesitating too much 



 

linking 


 

answer structure / organisation 

 

ideas 


 

vocabulary 

 

grammar 


 

pronunciation 

But which of these factors are most important? I'll give you my answer in a free video lesson that I'll 

publish this weekend. 



Tip: I'm going to suggest that you focus on a different factor (from the list above) in each of the 3 

parts of the speaking test. 



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Friday, May 20, 2016 



IELTS Speaking: main tip for 3 parts 

In case you missed the advice at the end of the 

video lesson

 that I shared last week, here's my main 

tip for each of the 3 parts in the speaking test: 

Part 1 

Focus on 



fluency

. You don't need to show off with great vocabulary or grammar in this part. Just try 

to answer quickly, without hesitating. A short, simple answer is fine. 


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Part 2 

Focus on 



ideas / vocabulary

. This is your best chance to impress the examiner with some nice 

language, especially if you've prepared for common topics in the way I suggest in my video lessons. 

Part 3 

Focus on your 



answer structure

. Use the 3 or 4 steps that I explained in last week's video. This will 

force you to give longer answers without repeating yourself. You don't really have time to think about 

good vocabulary or grammar; just worry about answering the question by following the steps. 



Note: 

Notice that I don't recommend worrying about grammar or linking at any point in the speaking test. 

Finally, if you forget every other exam tip, just remember one thing: 

answer the question



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Friday, May 27, 2016 



IELTS Speaking Part 1: giving negative answers 

It's completely acceptable to give negative answers in part 1 of the speaking test. To test whether you 

can do this, try giving negative answers to the questions below. Keep your answers short and simple 

as usual. The first one is done as an example. 



1) What type of photos do you like taking? 

Well, I don't usually take photos to be honest. I prefer to enjoy whatever I'm doing, rather than stop to 

take a photograph. 

2) What do you do with photos you take? 

3) When you visit other places, do you take photos or buy postcards? 

4) Do you like people taking photos of you? 

(Questions taken from Cambridge IELTS book 11)

 

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Friday, June 03, 2016 



IELTS Speaking Part 1: negative answers 

Here are my negative answers to the questions in last week's 

lesson



1) What type of photos do you like taking? 



Well, I don't usually take photos to be honest. I prefer to enjoy whatever I'm doing, rather than stop to 

take a photograph. 



2) What do you do with photos you take? 

I rarely take photos, but if I occasionally use my mobile phone to take a picture of something, I just 

leave the photo there; I don't do anything special with it. 

3) When you visit other places, do you take photos or buy postcards? 


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I don't really do either. I leave it to my friends or other family members to take photographs; I'm 

usually with someone who likes taking photos and can share them with me later. 

4) Do you like people taking photos of you? 

No, I prefer not to be in photos. I always feel awkward when someone asks me to smile for the 

camera, and I don't think I'm very photogenic. 

Note: 

It's usually easier to give positive answers, but it's worth practising some negative responses just in 

case you get a topic that doesn't interest you. Whatever the question is, the easiest way to answer is 

to tell the truth! 



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Friday, June 17, 2016 



IELTS Speaking Part 1: a student's question 

Someone asked me this question: 



I was asked to describe my living room in IELTS speaking part 1. What style of answer should I give 

for this question? 

Let's see what people think. How would you answer this part 1 question? 



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FROM SIMON: 

Thanks for your interesting answers! Just a few of them look too long to me. Remember that there are 

about 10 questions in part 1, and the examiner has a maximum of 5 minutes to get through all of 

them. If you try to give long answers, the examiner will interrupt you, and this can be frustrating for 

both of you. 

One or two sentences is enough. For example: 

"The living room is the biggest room in our house. In it we have a sofa, a big armchair, a coffee table, 

and a TV in the corner." 

That's enough for a part 1 answer - short and simple as usual. 

Posted by: Simon | 

Saturday, June 18, 2016 at 18:19

 

 

Friday, July 15, 2016 



IELTS Speaking Part 1: 'house' topic 

Examiners often begin the speaking test by asking about your home. Here are some typical questions 

and sample answers. 

1) Do you live in a house or an apartment? 

I live in a semi-detached house with three bedrooms and a small garden. 



2) Which room do you like most in your house? Why? 

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My favourite room is the kitchen because it looks out onto the back garden, and it's on the side of the 

house that catches the afternoon sun. 

3) Is there anything about your house that you would like to change? 

Well, it would be nice if it were a detached house so that we could have windows on the wall that we 

currently share with our neighbours. 

4) Tell me something else about your house. 

The previous owners converted the loft into an extra bedroom; that's the quietest room in the house, 

and the best place to go to do some work. 

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Friday, July 22, 2016 



IELTS Speaking Part 1: 'music' topic 

Practise giving short, simple answers to the following questions. Remember that negative answers 

are fine too. 

1. Do you like music? Why / why not? 

2. What kind of music do you listen to? Why? 

3. Has the music that you listen to changed since you were young? 

4. Do you think older and younger generations prefer different types of music? 

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Friday, July 29, 2016 



IELTS Speaking Part 1: simplify 

Your priority in part 1 of the speaking test should be to demonstrate fluency, not difficult grammar or 

vocabulary. You'll speak more fluently if you keep your part 1 answers simple. 

Here are some examples of how I would simplify students' answers. 

Note: the students' answers contain some mistakes. 

Student's answer: 

Logically people from different generation will have taste variation. Depending upon the maturity, 

music stars of their own age, impact of globalisation as well as technological development in music 

industry will divide younger and older generation. 



My simplified answer: 

Of course, people from different generations have different tastes in music. Popular music changes 

all the time, and most of us are influenced by whatever style of music is popular when we are growing 

up. 


Student's answer: 

Yes, I am fond of music. It is simply the medicine for my mind. When I am stressed, music remove 

stress. When I am happy, music inspires me to be more. It always in the centre of all my parties with 

friends. When I am sad, music takes me out glue and move forward. 



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My simplified answer: 

Yes, I love music, mainly because it helps to put me in a better mood. When I'm stressed or sad, 

music picks me up and puts me in a positive frame of mind. 

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Friday, September 16, 2016 

IELTS Speaking Part 1: 'free time at home' topic 

Try giving short, direct answers to the following part 1 questions. Remember to answer with a full 

sentence, and give a reason where relevant. 

1) How much time do you spend at home? 

2) Do you prefer to spend your free time at home or outside the house? 

3) What do you do when you have some free time and you're at home? 

4) Would you like to have more spare time to spend at home in the future? 

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Friday, September 23, 2016 



IELTS Speaking Part 1: 'free time at home' answers 

Here are some example answers for the questions that I shared last week. Remember to focus 

on fluency in part 1. Try not to hesitate; just say the first thing that comes into your head. 

1) How much time do you spend at home? 

Obviously I sleep at home, but I don't spend very much time at home during the day, because I'm 

usually busy with work. 

2) Do you prefer to spend your free time at home or outside the house? 

During the day I prefer to be out of the house, so I like visiting family or meeting up with friends. But I 

do like relaxing at home in the evenings. 

3) What do you do when you have some free time and you're at home? 

I usually sit and watch some TV or a film, or I listen to some music. I also like sitting outside if the 

weather is nice. 

4) Would you like to have more spare time to spend at home in the future? 

No, not really. I get bored if I'm at home for too long. In the future, I imagine I'll still prefer to go out 

and do things rather than stay indoors. 

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Friday, October 21, 2016 

IELTS Speaking: you can't get a high score in part 1 

On a recent course, some of my students were surprised when I told them to give 

short, easy 

answers


 in part 1 of the speaking test. 

One student asked: "But how can we get a band 7 with these answers?" 

My answer is: you can't! Part 1 of the speaking test is supposed to be easy, and the best thing you 

can do in this part of the test is demonstrate fluency by answering without hesitation. 



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Friday, October 28, 2016 

IELTS Speaking Part 1: 'names' topic 

This is an interesting set of questions from Cambridge IELTS book 11: 



Let's talk about names... 

1) How did your parents choose your name? 

2) Does your name have any special meaning? 

3) Is your name common or unusual in your country? 

4) If you could change your name, would you? 

Remembering the advice that I gave 

last week

, try answering these questions (aloud) without 

hesitating too much. It's fine to give negative answers or to say that you don't know the answer, but 

you should still explain why. 



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Friday, November 04, 2016 



IELTS Speaking Part 1: 'name' answers 

Here are some sample answers for the 'name' questions that I shared last week. Notice that most of 

these answers are negative ones; it's completely acceptable to answer in this way. 

1) How did your parents choose your name? 

To be honest, I'm not sure how they chose it; I've never asked them. I suppose it was just a name 

that they both liked, and maybe they thought it suited me. 

2) Does your name have any special meaning? 

It might do, but I don't know what that meaning is; I've never looked it up. Maybe I'll google it later 

today; you've made me curious to find out! 

3) Is your name common or unusual in your country? 

Yes, it's quite a common name. I remember that there were two other people with the same name as 

me in my class at school. 

4) If you could change your name, would you? 

No, I definitely wouldn't. My name is part of my identity now, and it would feel strange to suddenly 

change it. I don't think my friends and family would like that either. 


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Friday, December 23, 2016 



IELTS Speaking Part 1: 'neighbours' topic 

Here are some part 1 questions from Cambridge IELTS book 8, with my sample answers. How would 

you answer these questions? 

1. How well do you know the people who live next door to you? 

I know my neighbours quite well. They're really nice people, and I always stop to talk whenever I see 

them. 

2. How often do you see them? 

I see my neighbours at least a few times a week. We usually see each other when we're leaving for 

work in the morning or coming home in the evening. 

3. What kinds of problem do people sometimes have with their neighbours? 

I think the most common problem is probably noise. It's difficult to live next to people who have a dog 

that barks at night, or who play loud music. 

4. How do you think neighbours can help each other? 

Neighbours can do little things like watching your house if you go on holiday or taking a delivery if 

something arrives by post when you're not at home. I think these little favours are a good way for 

neighbours to help each other. 



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Posts in 2017 

 

Friday, January 20, 2017 



IELTS Speaking Part 1: 'chocolate' topic 

A student sent me the following part 1 questions from a recent IELTS test. How would you answer 

them? 

1) Do you like chocolate? Why / why not? 



2) What type of chocolate do you prefer? Why? 

3) When do you usually eat chocolate? 

4) Do people give chocolate as a present in your country? When? 

Remember that it's ok to give negative answers if you don't like chocolate. Or you could just pretend 

that you do! 

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Friday, January 27, 2017 

IELTS Speaking Part 1: 'chocolate' mistakes 

Here are some of the answers that people wrote below last week's lesson. Can you correct the 

mistake(s) in each sentence? 

1. I like white and milk Chocolate, cause dark chocolate is taste bitter for me, I like sweet one. 

2. I adore all kind of chocolates and the reason behind this interest is that when I was young, my father 

was always giving me chocolate as a prize for the good behavior. 

3. I'd love all types of chocolate, but my favourite one is dark. 

4. I am certain that I detest dark chocolate: it does not exite my palate. 

5. I'm into chocolate just like most people. You know, it is hardly forgotten when you have got access to 

it. 


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ANSWERS FROM SIMON: 

Here are my corrected sentences: 

1. I like white and milk chocolate because dark chocolate tastes too bitter to me; I prefer a sweeter 

taste. 

2. I love all kinds of chocolate because when I was young, my father used to give me chocolate as a 



prize for good behaviour. 

3. I love all types of chocolate, but my favourite type is dark chocolate. 

4. I hate dark chocolate; I don't like the way it tastes at all. 

("excite my palate" is a phrase that only professional food critics would ever use! It sounds very 

strange in our context) 

5. Like most people, I love chocolate. (the rest of the sentence didn't make sense) 



Posted by: Simon | 

Saturday, January 28, 2017 at 10:43

 

 

Saturday, January 28, 2017 



IELTS Speaking Part 1: 'chocolate' answers 

Here are my sample answers for the 'chocolate' topic. Remember that your priority in speaking part 1 

is to demonstrate fluency by giving answers that are short, direct and natural, without hesitating too 

much. 


1) Do you like chocolate? Why / why not? 

Yes, I love chocolate. I like the taste, the texture and the feeling that you get when you eat it. And it 

goes really well with my favourite drink, coffee. 

2) What type of chocolate do you prefer? Why? 

I prefer dark chocolate to milk chocolate, because it has a stronger taste. I also like chocolate when 

it's in a cake, and I love drinking hot chocolate too. 


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3) When do you usually eat chocolate? 

I try not to eat too much, but I probably eat or drink something that contains chocolate every couple of 

days. 

4) Do people give chocolate as a present in your country? When? 

Yes, it's very common to give boxes of individual chocolates as a gift. You can give chocolates on any 

special occasion really: birthdays, Valentine's day, Easter, Christmas, and so on. 

Note: 

To see my corrections for the sentences in yesterday's lesson, look in the "comments" area below 

that lesson. 

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Friday, February 24, 2017 



IELTS Speaking Part 1: stop and smile! 

In part 1 of the speaking test you need to give short, direct answers. When you've given your answer, 

you should stop and wait for the next question. 

The problem is that many candidates keep speaking, even when they've already given a good 

answer. Sometimes it's because they feel nervous about leaving a moment of silence. As they keep 

speaking, they start hesitating and repeating themselves, making the answer sound worse and 

worse. A further problem is that the examiner has to interrupt the candidate in order to move on to the 

next question. 

The solution that I practise with my students is this: stop and smile! When you've answered the 

question, stop confidently and smile at the examiner to show that you're ready for the next question. If 

you can do this, part 1 of the speaking test will go more smoothly. 

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Saturday, February 25, 2017 



IELTS Speaking: smiling won't help your score, but... 

Regarding the advice that I gave yesterday (stop and smile), I just want to clarify that there are no 

marks for body language in the speaking test. The "stop and smile" idea is simply a way to show the 

examiner that you're ready for the next question in part 1 of the test. 

So, smiling won't help your score, but it can help with the "flow" of questions and answers in part 1. 

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Friday, March 10, 2017 



IELTS Speaking: if you don't understand 

What should you do if you don't understand a question in the speaking test? Here are my tips: 




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