(1) Challenge the question
In part 3 of the IELTS speaking test you may not be able to think of a quick, clear answer to the question.
This is OK: nobody has an immediate opinion about everything!
You can use this as a positive opportunity to show how you can talk comfortably and naturally in English.
It is very important to listen carefully to the question.
Look at this question and my answer below:
Who tends to enjoy national celebrations more young people or old people? Why?
Well, actually I have never really thought about it. I think it is probably impossible to say – at least I don’t know. It depends on which celebration and which person.
Probably children like Christmas – because they get presents – but older people like Christmas too – because they see their family and it is a happy time. (And I still like getting presents even though I’m older).
So I think it’s impossible to generalise.
Notice that I do not begin by giving a clear answer – I think that would be strange – no-one has prepared an answer to this question. My way of answering is to challenge the structure of the question. This is a useful technique.
I have marked in bold some useful phrases.
Try the same with this question:
Some people think that new technology has brought more stress than benefits to employed people nowadays. Would you agree or disagree? Why?
Think about how you would answer it.
Listen to my answer below:
Of course, there are many different ways to answer it.
Do not simply repeat phrases you have learnt – but occasional phrases to give yourself time and examine the question are useful -”It depends on which…” “I think it’s impossible to generalise..”
When I was at Oxford University this was the required way to answer any question – the question must be absolutely clear before an answer can be clear: it is a useful way to think about IELTS questions, too.