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IELTS Preparation Series 3, Episode 8: Speaking Fluently


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0:12

Hello, and welcome to Study English, IELTS Preparation. I'm Margot Politis.

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One of the skills that is assessed in the IELTS speaking test is fluency.

0:24

Fluency is speaking at a natural pace without hesitating too much.

0:29

But fluency doesn't mean speaking quickly. Sometimes, speaking too fast can make it harder

0:35

to be understood.

0:37

Another aspect of fluency is the smoothness of your speech. This means that you don't

0:44

always stop to try to think of the right word.

0:47

Listen as the golfer in the next clip talks about her career:

0:51

Golf is a very interesting game. Um It can be very frustrating and annoying and um but

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then, you know, it can be just, it can be really fun and challenging which makes it

1:05

fun I guess. When I'm not competing um, I try to practise every day for at least 6 hours

1:13

and if I play 18 holes er I'll still try and practise for another 3 or 4 hours.

1:21

You may have noticed that she used expressions such as 'um' , 'like' , 'you know' and 'I

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guess'. These are called fillers. It's natural to use fillers but be careful not to overuse

1:37

them. Listen to her again:

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On top of that I guess I have err like work outs, and um gym work outs and I try to do

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that 3 to 4 times a week. So they're pretty long hours. In January this year I went to

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the ladies European tour qualifying school and I managed to secure a conditional card

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for the season so I decided to turn pro. This meant that, you know, I'd give up my amateur

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status and I'd be playing for money I guess is the main difference.

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Fillers are used to tell your listener that you haven't finished, but you are thinking

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of what to say next. They don't carry meaning like words do.

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Now let's listen to a speaking test candidate using fillers:

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Mm, ok, well, one of the buildings I really like in Sydney is the Queen Victoria Building.

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Um, I've been here for a year only in Sydney, so I haven't had the chance to actually visit

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many public buildings, but I know this one very well. Um, I like it because, um, it's

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got a very interesting old style, and, er, it's very elegant, it's very spacious. I don't

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like the modern type of buildings, you know, with many storeys and er, very modern and

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contemporary. Um, I like the Queen Victoria Building, um, because it's elegant.

3:14

To begin her talk she uses several fillers:

3:18

Mm, ok, well, one of the buildings I really like in Sydney is the Queen Victoria Building.

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Saying 'Mm, ok, well', helps her get started on the topic of her favourite building. She

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is thinking of what to say and not how to say it.

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She uses 'um and 'er' to give her time to think of what to say next at points in her

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speech, such as at the beginning of a sentence when she's linking information back to what

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she's just said:

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…one of the buildings I really like in Sydney is the Queen Victoria Building.

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Um, I've been here for a year only in Sydney…

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Next, she uses fillers just after the words 'because' and 'and' to give her time to think

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of reasons.

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Um, I like it because, um, it's got a very interesting old style, and, er, it's very

4:19

elegant, it's very spacious.

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She also uses the filler 'you know' , but this time to show that she is sharing knowledge,

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in this case that modern buildings have many storeys:

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I don't like the modern type of buildings, you know, with many storeys and very modern

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and contemporary.

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Let's listen to another clip where she uses 'you know' in the same way while answering

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a question about eating habits in the future:

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Well I think they will because, um, you know, the rhythm of life, the pace of life is becoming,

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you know, more and more, um, stressful and, um, faster, so I think there is less time

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to eat, then we have to eat, um, in smaller amounts, but with the same quantity of vitamins

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and nutrients.

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She uses expressions with similar meanings - 'the rhythm of life', 'the pace of life'

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- to help her talk flow.

5:27

Using synonyms, opposites and related vocabulary gives continuity to her talk.

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It makes it possible to continue talking without repeating the same words.

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Listen again:

5:41

Well I think they will because, um, you know, the rhythm of life, the pace of life is becoming,

5:49

you know, more and more, um, stressful and, um, faster, so I think there is less time

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to eat, then we have to eat, um, in smaller amounts, but with the same quantity of vitamins

6:03

and nutrients.

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Being able to talk on a variety of subjects confidently will make it easier to maintain

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fluency.

6:14

Listen to this man, who is a concert master in a symphony orchestra, talking about his

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violin:

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Um, this violin, it was made around er, they figure around 1810 in Cremona, in Italy. And

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Cremona, of course, is er, where all the … kind of the … it's the best lineage

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of makers are from Cremona. Stradivarius, of course, which is the most well-known violin

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maker, originated from Cremona. And so, this kind of is a descendant of the Cremonese line

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of making. And um, I've been lucky enough to own this violin. My parents bought it for

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me when I was 14, I think. So, very, very lucky to have a very nice, 200, almost 200-year-old

7:06

Italian instrument.

7:07

He was thinking of better ways to say what he meant and was able to easily change what

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he was saying mid-sentence. Listen again:

7:16

Um, this violin, it was made around er, they figure around 1810 in Cremona, in Italy. And

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Cremona, of course, is where all the … kind of the … it's the best lineage

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of makers are from Cremona.

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Maybe this is not perfectly correct English, but it is acceptable spoken English because

7:41

it remains fluent. Hesitating to correct your grammar disrupts your fluency. Only by practising

7:48

can you improve your fluency. A teacher or native speaker will help you with your accuracy.

7:59

Fluency is not only your ability to speak smoothly and continuously but also your ability

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to speak at an effective speed.

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Speaking too slowly or too quickly is unnatural. Aim to speak at a relaxed and natural pace.

8:16

Let's listen to this student talking about public transport in Sydney. Listen to the

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speed of her speech. Does she speak too quickly, too slowly or just right?

8:29

Er, it should be less expensive. I must say Sydney um Sydney's transport is really expensive.

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Er, it should be less expensive but, um, one of the problems is the frequency of transport.

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Sometimes you have to wait, like, twenty minutes for the bus to come.

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Her speech rate is just right. She is neither too quick nor too slow. The pace is reasonable

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and appropriate, and she sounds natural.

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You should practise modelling the pace of your speech on that of a native speaker.

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Listening carefully to a large range of English speakers is one of the most effective ways

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to help you achieve fluency yourself.

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Once you are used to the natural pace of English, you should record your speech and check whether

9:21

you're speaking at that pace.

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Fluency is most important in part 2 of the speaking test, the long turn. It's when you

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have to speak for one to two minutes on your own.

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That's all for today. For more about fluency, go to our website. The address is: australianetwork.com/studyenglish.

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Good Luck with your studies. Bye for now.

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