Speaking Part 2 Series

IELTS Lessons, written by Sam Morgan and Tom Speed

In the last lesson we looked at how to begin your Speaking Part 2 Talk. 

A common problem for IELTS candidates in part 2 of the speaking test is that they fail to speak for long enough. In this class you will learn strategies that will enable you to speak for an adequate amount of time in part 2 of the speaking test.
Vocabulary note
To enable (academic verb) – meaning: to make something possible. Enable is often followed by an object and an infinitive verb as in the example below.

Example: Having a car enables me to travel to work quickly and easily

Exercise 1 | Know the Topic

It's important to know what you are expected to talk about. Read the following speaking part 2 cue card and decide if the following statements are true or false.
Describe a special occasion which you arrived late for.
You should say:
  • what occasion you were late for
  • when it happened
  • how you felt
and explain why you were late.
1. If the speaker doesn’t like the topic, he/she can ask the examiner to change it.
2. The time focus of this topic is the past.
3. The speaker could describe being late to a normal day at the office or at school.
4. The speaker should use some interesting adjectives to describe his/her emotions.
5. The speaker should tell the story of what happened.

Grammar Note
​Many topics in part 2 of the speaking test require the candidate to talk about a past experience. It is essential to use the past tense in order to tell stories about experiences. Many candidates get a poor band score for grammatical range and accuracy as they fail to use the past tense effectively.
Speaking Strategy
In order to speak for an extended period of time in part 2, make sure you give as much detail as possible. This will enable you to speak for longer and is likely to boost your score for lexis if you use interesting words and phrases. Let's practice this next.

Exercise 2 | Adding Detail

On the cue card there are four questions. Link the details with the questions. There are four details for each question.
Click or touch a phrase above
What special occasion were you late for?
The name of the special occasion.
How common this type of special occasion is in your culture/school/work.
When did it happen?
The appearance of the location at that time of the year.
The time in your life, for example, “I was a university student”
What happened?
Details about any people involved in the story such as their appearance and personality.
The effect of you being late, for yourself and for others.
How did you feel?
How you felt at the time it happened.
Any hopes, fears or plans you have related to this story and the future. For example, how you will stop the same problem from occurring in the future.
Think about your own answer to these questions. Use the details above to complete a two minute talk. If you make mistakes, repeat your talk, focusing on how to improve each time. Use the timer below.


Strategy Note
This exercise shows the wide range of information which you can add in order to give extra detail and speak for longer.

Use our database of task 2 cue cards. Choose a cue card and brainstorm as many different details as possible for each of the four questions on it. Then record yourself speaking for two minutes about it. Try with other cue cards. If you practice this regularly you will certainly improve your fluency and confidence with part 2 of the speaking test.

Exercise 3

Accurate use of verb tense is very important when you are speaking about past experiences and the examiner will be listening for how accurately you are using the past tense.
Read the transcript of a candidate’s part 2 speaking. Complete the transcript with the correct past form of the verbs provided.
Examiner: OK? Remember you have two minutes to talk about the topic. Don’t worry if I tell you to stop because it will mean your time is up.
Candidate: Right, thank you. So, I’d like to tell you about a time when I 1) (be) late. The event was my own birthday party. can you believe it? It was my twenty first or twenty second birthday, I’m not entirely sure which one it was now. I 2) (finish) university for the summer break and I was staying with my parents back in my hometown. It was the middle of summer and it 3) (be) scorching that particular day I remember.
I’m pretty sure this was a Thursday evening. I 4) (work) in a call centre on the other side of town to my parents’ house and it was this job which made me late. My parents had organized a surprise party for me. They 5) (invite) several of my friends from university as well as friends from my town and lots of family who 6) (live) locally as well. The weather was predicted to be good so they had organized for a barbeque and even some live music and a few party games to take place in the back garden. They had really gone all out to organise a great surprise party. Their plan was to send me out in the morning to do some shopping at an out-of-town-mall and then when I 7) (come) back in the early afternoon they'd surprise me, but, you see, they hadn’t seen me in the morning! They must have been really surprised themselves, and worried as well!
You see, I 8) (forget) to tell them about the new job, the one at the call centre I mentioned before, and it was my first day that Thursday. I hadn’t spoken about my birthday with my parents or friends because I didn’t want to make a big fuss about it. I 9) (leave) to start my new job in the morning before my parents 10) (wake) up. I wanted to make a good impression on my new boss so I turned my phone off and left it in my bag all day while I was 11) (work) so my parents couldn’t even contact me. I finished the shift at five in the evening and a few of my new colleagues were really sweet and 12) (invite) me out to have food and a few drinks with them. We had a great laugh, they were lovely people. Anyway, I didn’t end up returning home until eight thirty in the evening!
By the time I got home, I was about 6 hours late for my own party without even realizing it. I 13) (open) the door and there were loads of people hanging out around the house and in the garden. The band had already packed up and gone home but lots of guests were still about. They 14) (give) up on me ever coming so when I turned up there was a big cheer and everyone laughed and 15) (hug) me. Luckily, they had saved me some cake and it was lovely to see everyone. I felt ever so embarrassed though. Ever since that birthday, I have made a point of always making my birthday plans very clear and organizing my own party. It’s a good story though, my family and I often still laugh about it even though it must have happened seven or eight years ago now!
Examiner: Are you often late for things?
Candidate: No, actually, I hate being late for things, I’m usually early. I think being late for appointments shows a lack of respect for the other person or people.
Strategy Note
Notice that it is normal to present the story of the experience before you talk about how the experience made you feel.
If you found this past tense task difficult, you may need to review the difference between the past simple, the past continuous, the present perfect and the past perfect.

Bonus Activity: 
Read through the text of a candidate’s speaking in exercise 3 again. Which ideas for details from exercise 2 are used?

Exercise 4

This candidate uses some excellent vocabulary which will give her a higher band for lexical resource. Find words or phrases in the text with the following meanings.
Click or touch a word or phrase above
1. An adjective meaning very hot
2. A verb phrase meaning ‘to do your best’
3. A verb and noun collocation meaning ‘to make a big deal out of something’
4. A verb and noun collocation meaning ‘to enjoy yourself’
5. A phrasal verb meaning that you now think something will not work/happen

Exercise 5

Complete the sentences with phrases from the box.
Click or touch a word above
1. Some families over birthdays while others don’t even celebrate with a party or a cake.
2. I doing karaoke with my colleagues last week
3. The company on the launch of the new product range, spending millions of pounds on marketing.
4. The temperatures in the Sahara Desert in the summer can reach a 50 degrees Celsius and above.
5. My team have lost the last five games so I have them winning any major competitions this year.
Practice this vocabulary so that you can remember it! Next up, let's get more practice with adding detail.