CIES | 06-September-2019
In English, one of the ways we do this is by dividing up our sentences into sections (chunks) that contain one of those important bits of information.
“Recently / I took a coach / from Montreal / to Ottawa / to visit my sister. / It is a journey that usually takes / about 2.5 hours, / but this bus company / stops halfway / for a 30 minute break.”
Together with the highlighted words, that are vital in helping the examiner follow your story, forward-slashes that segment those important words are too vital. I call it as tonic syllables and tone units but prefer to call it ‘chunking’
Speak aloud. Try to pay attention to the highlighted words. Take a slight pause at every forward-slash (sometimes it might be fraction of a second, other times it might feel more appropriate for it to be a second or two).
Based on your first language, it might look very different to the way you usually speak, but to the native speaker or examiner, it will make you sound fluent as you are expressing the important words and also giving them the space to digest what you are speaking.
Tell a Story
Story telling will help you in the speaking test. The most essential logic behind is to recognize that you are like a tour guide. The better the tour guide the better he/she knows know where to start and where to finish. They know well when enough is enough and when to say more.
Intonation is a very essential part for your IELTS Speaking exam. Are we changing the pitch of our voice at the right moments?
How well are you guiding the examiner with your voice? Are you expressing when there is an important ‘landmark’ coming up in your story? Are you indicating where they are on the journey: beginning, middle or end?
Try this: speak this next section of the transcript above, and on the highlighted words, change the pitch of your voice to a slightly higher note:
“I chose / to travel by public transportation / because I don’t / like driving / long distances. / When I travel via bus, / I can read / or work / on my computer / or sleep. / I find this helps me arrive relaxed. / In fact, / I often opt for the public transportation option / if I can.”
So from the previous section, the examiner knows that the speaker is travelling by coach. And if you changed the pitch/intonation of the highlighted words above, then this is the story they will have heard: chose, public, don’t, driving, distances, bus, read, work, computer, sleep, relaxed, often, can. They will have got the story and considered you as fluent.
Keep the Frontal Lobes Functioning!
The frontal lobes are the vital parts of the brain that play their part when we want to communicate. They control expressions, memory, language, problem solving and judgment. Under stress, they are tending to shutting down because what’s called the autonomic nervous system thinks it is a life or death situation. One of the important thing that is under conscious control that can keep your frontal lobes functioning is breathing.
Now, whilst you won’t stop breathing in the test, you might not be taking every opportunity you can. It is these missed opportunities which can stop you from thinking at your best.
And ‘chunking’ can help you with this too! Note – I’m NOT suggesting that you breath at every forward-slash, but instead of trying to breath only at the end of a thought, maybe you could take a few breaths on the journey. Try it with this:
“ (BREATHE) The price, however, / was a little steep. / (BREATHE) I think I paid $100 / for a return ticket, / (BREATHE) which, to me, / is quite expensive. / (BREATHE) I suppose it would have been cheaper to drive, / (BREATHE) but I feel arriving fresh / is money well spent. / (BREATHE). So, on the whole, / the entire experience was a positive one. / (BREATHE) I would highly recommend it / to anyone.”
In this way, tell your story by modulating the pitch of your voice, break your sentences into bite sized pieces with one vital piece of information, and be sure to breathe more regularly.
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