How to Talk About an Unfamiliar Topic in IELTS Speaking
Are you scared of being asked a question you have never heard before in the IELTS speaking section? Well, let’s find out what to do if you find yourself in this situation!
Honestly, the chances of getting an unfamiliar topic depend upon the time you invest in the IELTS preparation. In the IELTS exam, the examiner usually chooses the topics that aspirants are comfortable discussing. However, it is important to note that speaking text evaluates your speaking skills, not your intelligence.
Just to let you know, the IELTS Speaking exam evaluates your performance on the basis of 4 parameters:
- Fluency and Coherence
- Grammatical Range
- Lexical Resources
Now, let’s understand the structure of the speaking test.
Part 1 of the IELTS Speaking exam contains questions about your family, interests, job/college, birthplace, and other topics.
Part 2 of the IELTS Speaking exam is called cue card, and it consists of a cue card topic. You will be given 1-2 minutes to prepare.
Part 3 of the IELTS Speaking exam is the discussion section. The examiner asks you questions based on the topic given in section 2. Use these questions to elaborate on your thoughts and discuss the topic in-depth.
What to do if I get an Unfamiliar Topic?
1. Honestly, convey to the examiner about the situation.
You can always convey to the examiner that you don’t know much about the topic or that it’s not relevant to your experience. But you must explain the reason. Explaining why you are unfamiliar with a topic would enable you to display your command of the English language, such as pronunciation, grammar, and vocabulary. Moreover, it will help you to maintain fluency during the interview. Your ultimate purpose is to talk spontaneously. Remember, there is no such thing as a “right” or “wrong” response.
|For example: If the Examiner asks – what is favourite leisure activity?
Answer: I don’t have any particular favourite leisure activity, but I enjoy watching movies or reading light novels whenever I have free time.
2. Build up a story
It’s perfectly acceptable to construct a storey in the speaking exam; after all, the aim is to show your English speaking skills. However, make sure your build story should have supportive ideas. If you struggle to catch up with your own story, totally skip his idea.
3. Don’t take long pauses.
It’s perfectly acceptable to construct a story in the speaking exam; after all, the aim is to show your English speaking skills. However, make sure your story has supportive ideas. If you’re a person who will struggle to catch up with your own story, skip his idea.
4. Don’t be silent
Keeping silent during the test won’t help you achieve a good band score. If you are not saying anything, it means that you’re not allowing the examiner to assess your English language abilities. Instead, try to express your thoughts and ideas about the topic. If you are not comfortable making a story, then the next best thing you can do is talk about a related topic. Ensure that the topic you choose is connected to the topic given. Do not deviate from the topic and talk about things that the examiner hasn’t asked.
5. Speak for full 2-3 minutes
During the IELTS Speaking test, the examiner needs to know your English language skills, so your answers must be elaborated and have supporting ideas. You will lose marks if you answer the questions in one or two sentences.
6. Avoid using filler words
Avoid using fillers and speak with confidence. When we don’t know what to say, we use fillers like ‘umm,’ ‘uh,’ ‘eh.’ This shows the examiner that you aren’t comfortable with the language and finding it difficult to communicate. So, avoid using fillers as much as possible.
The best way to deal with unfamiliar topics is to be prepared. Take out all the common IELTS topics that have been asked in the examination and practise speaking on those topics with friends, family or teachers to ameliorate your vocabulary and speaking skills.
Some list of common topics that have been asked in the speaking test are: