Speaking: Improving your pronunciation
In IELTS Speaking, pronunciation is worth 25% of your score. As you’re speaking, the examiner is thinking about things like:
- Phonemes: Are all the English sounds pronounced correctly?
- Linking: Are the words linked together naturally?
- Chunking: Are there pauses in the correct places?
- Intonation: Is the voice going up and down in a natural way?
- Stress: Is the word and sentence stress correct?
There are 2 big problems examiners often encounter which can be easily fixed:
1) flat speech
2) fast speech
Tips: If your speech is naturally flat and robotic, pretend you are on stage singing. Force your voice to go up and down, to be more dramatic than usual. Let your inner star shine! Listen to TED talks and podcasts. Mimic the way the speakers use intonation to express themselves. You won’t believe the difference!
If you’re a fast talker, the solution is simple: Slooooooow dooooooown, pause more and give important words some space. This doesn’t mean pausing after every single word but pausing (or micro-pausing) after chunks of meaning (verb phases, noun phrases etc).
Watch how Michelle Obama uses intonation, stress and pausing to engage with the audience here.