Saying Umm Ahh in IELTS Speaking
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Are you scared of using the words Umm… and Ahh… frequently in the IELTS Speaking exam? Do you want to know if these filler terms are permissible in the IELTS Speaking exam? Well, then let’s find out.
It is important to speak fluently and without hesitation in the IELTS Speaking exam. If you can’t think of a good term and pause, it reflects poorly on your speaking abilities, and you lose your score. Hesitation causes the listener to get distracted, making it impossible for them to understand what you are trying to convey. Students use “fillers” such as “oh, um, er, uh” when they can’t think of a word to describe their thoughts and ideas. These words don’t add any value, and negatively impact your performance. Therefore, you should avoid filler terms to the greatest extent possible.
IELTS Speaking Marking Criteria
- Lexical Resources
- Coherence and Cohesion
For IELTS Speaking, fluency accounts for 25% of the overall score. Fluency is the ability to communicate effectively. This marking criteria encompasses various elements, one of which is the ability to communicate without hesitation. It’s all about your ability to speak the English language proficiently. Umm and ahh, interrupt the rhythm of conversation and reduce the scores.
What are Filler words?
These are the words people use to fill up gaps in their speech. Some common filler words are: umm.., ahh, I don’t know but, mmm, uh and so on.
Incorrect use of fillers:
What’s a common leisure activity in your country?
Well, umm.. To be honest, I am not sure but let me think… I guess some popular leisure activities in my country are going out to coffee shops with friends and family, and ahh… yes eating lunch or dinner at restaurants. …..
Well-developed response with minimum fillers:
What kinds of dictionaries do you think are most useful?
Well, I believe it depends on the individual’s personal preference. As for me, I find those dictionaries which, along with the detailed meaning, also provide example scenarios as to how to use them. Moreover, I also find those dictionaries, which provide synonyms and antonyms lists for the words, to be helpful.
The second example is acceptable because filler words are not used extensively and the interviewer can see that you are familiar with a wide range of tenses, grammar features, and vocabulary. However, in the first answer, he cannot, because of the extensive use of filler words and sounds which disrupts the fluency of the answer.
Suppose you need time to think! Then, ask the examiner to repeat the question.
If you need some time to think about a question in part 1, ask the examiner to repeat it. This is something you can do a few times, and it will buy time to think. Moreover, avoid asking the examiner to repeat the question frequently because it can give the examiner the impression that you struggle to understand the English language.
- Do not be in a hurry. Try to talk at a normal pace. Pause whenever required, just like how you do it while writing. Use punctuation as pauses.
- Another effective way to avoid using filler words is by recording yourself. Just randomly pick a cue card and speak for 2-3 minutes on that topic. When you listen to your answers, count how many times you used filler terms and attempt to substitute them with better sentences.
- Try to remove redundant words and unnecessary terms, such as tautologies, and substitute them with concise sentences.
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