One of the 4 criteria the IELTS Speaking module is assessed on is fluency and coherence. What does this mean?
Fluency is the ability to maintain a flow of language without unnatural hesitation.
Coherence is the logical organization, development and connection of ideas.
- Do you express ideas and opinions clearly and coherently (logically ordered and easy to follow), without long pauses or hesitations?
- Do you use discourse markers appropriately and naturally (i.e. you don’t overuse the same few ones) to link your ideas?
- Do you stay on topic, develop your ideas but not “go in circles” (repeating yourself) or “go off on a tangent” (moving off the topic)?
Unfortunately, there is no quick fix for this. Fluency comes from a lot of practice speaking, so the best way to improve is to speak/engage in conversation as often as you can! But you can really think about your strategy for coherence and practice. When answering a question remember to:
- Expand on your answer. Think of logical details that the examiner would want to know about. If someone else were talking to you, you would naturally have questions to find out more. What are those questions? Who? What? Where? When? Why? How? How much? How often? How good? How did you feel? Expand on your answer by adding those details that make it interesting.
- Where appropriate, explain how you feel about something – it gives emphasis to your reasons and details
- Where appropriate, describe a person, thing or place
- Think of a logical order or sequence. Don’t jump around from one part to another. The examiner doesn’t know what you’re thinking in your head, so you should try to make your answer easy to follow.
- Use common conversational discourse markers to signal how your sentences and ideas are linked together. Here are some examples:
ex. “Well, I would say my favorite trip was the one I took with my family to the Philippines for the first time.”
ex. “Actually, I think it was the first time for my parents to go back to their home country in about 20 years.”
ex. “As for the food, I found the it to be really fresh and light.”
ex. “Basically, we were there to visit relatives my parents hadn’t seen since they were young and for me to get to know my parents’ home country.”
ex. “It wasn’t at all what I expected. I mean, I thought I knew a lot about the culture and the food, but it was so different being there.”
ex. “The big crowds on the streets made it really difficult to walk around. On the other hand, it made it exciting to be surrounded by so many people.”
ex. ” The thing is, I think the trip was just as memorable for my parents as it was for me. They were so proud to show off their hometown.”
ex. “It was fun enjoying summer weather during Christmas. At the same time, it didn’t really feel like Christmas to me.”