IELTS Speaking Test – Unfamiliar Topics
You’re in a tiny room in the middle of your IELTS speaking test, and things are going well. You’re prepared, poised, and polished, and your responses are on the mark. Then, the IELTS examiner asks you a seemingly innocent, harmless question: “Tell me about your favourite sports team”. It’s not a difficult question; not by a long shot, but you freeze anyway, realising that you don’t have a favourite sports team, don’t have a favourite sport, and even worse, don’t like sports in the least.
Relax, it’s not the end of the world. This helpful guide will show you how to take this challenge and transform it into an opportunity to perform and to achieve a high IELTS speaking score.
Tip #1: IELTS Scoring
IELTS is not a knowledge quiz. You are not evaluated on your expertise in the subject, and so there is no right or wrong answer. IELTS will evaluate your fluency, pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar. Consequently, these questions are designed to give you an opportunity to show your level of skill on these criteria. With that in mind, your goal is to find a way to use that nightmare question to perform.
Tip #2: Be Honest
Tell the presenter that you don’t like sports. This is an important step because you are marked on your ability to answer the question directly. If you don’t first exhibit that you understand the question, the examiner can penalise you.
Tip #3: Redirect
Use the opportunity to display your ability to speak clearly, coherently, and fluidly. Find a way to talk about something you know. There are a few of the options:
- Talk about why you don’t like sports
- Talk about why you don’t have a favourite team
- Talk about your friend’s favourite team and your experience with that
- Talk about the physical activities that you enjoy eg. hiking, cycling
- Talk about your leisure activities eg. reading
- Talk about any other topic that is somehow related to the question
Tip #4: Be Creative
If you have a talent for spontaneously creating stories (lying) then this could be a good opportunity to put those skills to use. The advantage of creating a story is that you can hit topics, themes, and experiences that the examiner is excpecting to hear. Expressing these familiar ideas can be much simpler than explaining your specific, unique view on things.
Tip #5: The Basics
Your response to this question will be evaluated the same as all other speaking tasks. Remember the basics:
- speak for the full time requirement
- speak fluidly
- avoid long silences
- pronounce your words clearly
- use varied grammatical structures
- used varied vocabulary
Tip #6: Be Prepared
To be successful at IELTS you need to be able to perform on a wide range of topics, even ones that you are not familiar with, or perhaps don’t even like. Force yourself to step outside of your comfort zone and try to build regular habits of consuming media on unfamiliar topics