Speaking 1: how fluency and coherence in speaking can lead to better results

The IELTS speaking test is divided into three sections: the introduction and general questions, the long turn and an analytical discussion. In each section, individuals are tested on four criteria: fluency and coherence, grammatical range and accuracy, lexical resource and pronunciation,

This video looks at fluency and coherence, which is the criteria relating to a candidate’s ability to speak at length while organising their ideas logically and using appropriate signposting. It also includes their ability to express, justify and discuss their opinions without long pauses or repetition.

While many individuals are tempted to memorise large chunks of speech before taking the test, this is not a good strategy. It can make the process more stressful for the person taking the test and it is also unlikely to impress the examiner. This video covers some more useful tips for improving people’s confidence and performance. 

These include:

  • In part 1: building on a topic by adding more detail. For example, rather than answering a question about their occupation by simply saying ‘I am a teacher’, an individual might also add the subject and level at which they teach, where they have been teaching and how long they have been teaching for.
  • In part 2: using the bullet points on the task card to help structure their answer. Those taking the test have one minute to make notes before the long turn, so they can use this time to jot down useful keywords.
  • In part 3: thinking of reasons, effects, comparisons, supporting examples and personal experience. Individuals can use this type of content to further develop their answers. In doing so, they should also use clear signposting. For example: ‘In my view, there are two main differences’ (= compare and contrast); ‘I agree’ or ‘I’m not sure I agree’ (= the response to a point); ‘I think we’ll probably see’ (= speculation).

When it comes to IELTS speaking, fluency and coherence only improve with practice – there are no shortcuts. 

Those planning to take the test should therefore make an effort to use English as much as possible in their everyday communication. They might also find it helpful to record themselves talking so they can play it back, listening out for linking expressions and any hesitation or repetition to identify areas for improvement.

An impartial test, used the world over

IELTS examiners are only interested in the assessment criteria. These are applied consistently for every test, in any country, wherever in the world the test is taken.

Individuals will not be assessed on their appearance, body language or the creativity of their ideas; only on their fluency and coherence along with the other three criteria: grammatical range and accuracy, lexical resource and pronunciation, which are all covered in other videos.