Clear Enunciation in IELTS Speaking

clear enunciation IELTS Speaking

I work with so many IELTS students who have acceptable pronunciation, but poor enunciation. Clear enunciation in IELTS Speaking is very important. Here are a few tips for better enunciation on the IELTS.

Tip 1: Understand what English enunciation is and why it’s important

You may have good pronunciation and a decent understanding of English intonation. But those two skills alone aren’t enough. You need to have a firm grasp on what enunciation is. And you need to understand why it’s so important.

Enunciation is how clearly and distinctly you speak. This is more than just a matter of learning to say the sounds of English properly. You also need to say all of your sounds at a pace that is easy to understand. And you must utter each sound of your English speech as clearly as necessary. Yes, you can de-emphasize certain sounds, or say some words more quickly than yous say others. But don’t de-emphasize all of the sounds you make. And don’t just spit out all of your words at a really high speed.

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Learn to hear and know the difference between good and bad enunciation. Here’s an example: two different audio readings of the sentence “I think that’s a really good idea.”

Can you hear the difference? This is the kind of difference you need to always notice and understand.

Tip 2: Know which sounds you have the most trouble enunciating

Certain sounds in English are difficult for speakers of certain native languages. For some English learners, sounds like th or f may be especially hard. And the r sound is a major challenge across many different language groups. The harsh truth is that even after you finally manage to say a difficult sound correctly, it can still be hard for you to make that English sound clearly. If you have trouble with a specific sound in the English language, you need to make a truly conscious effort to enunciate that sound in a consistent, understandable way.

Tip 3: Slow down!

This is a big one for many IELTS test-takers. During the IELTS Speaking interview, it’s natural to get nervous. And when people get nervous, they may start to speak more quickly, without even realizing they’re doing it. The more quickly you speak, the faster your words run together. This makes for poor enunciation. Avoid overly fast, unclear speech on the IELTS, and do what you can to keep your nervousness under control.

Practice speaking with our IELTS expert Eliot! Watch this video, simulating the IELTS Speaking section!

You should also be aware if your own native language is more fast-paced than English. This is the case for many speakers of Indian languages. It’s also true for speakers of a number of indigenous languages in the Philippines. If your language is faster than English, you’ll need to make a conscious effort to speak English clearly at its relatively slow pace.

By the way, improve your IELTS score with Magoosh!

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  • David Recine

    David is a Test Prep Expert for Magoosh TOEFL and IELTS. Additionally, he's helped students with TOEIC, PET, FCE, BULATS, Eiken, SAT, ACT, GRE, and GMAT. David has a BS from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and an MA from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. His work at Magoosh has been cited in many scholarly articles, his Master's Thesis is featured on the Reading with Pictures website, and he's presented at the WITESOL (link to PDF) and NAFSA conferences. David has taught K-12 ESL in South Korea as well as undergraduate English and MBA-level business English at American universities. He has also trained English teachers in America, Italy, and Peru. Come join David and the Magoosh team on Youtube, Facebook, and Instagram, or connect with him via LinkedIn!

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2 Responses to Clear Enunciation in IELTS Speaking

  1. Pat Taylor May 1, 2023 at 1:57 pm #

    Hi. I’m not a prospective customer, but I came upon your site because I am disappointed at poor speaking skills among my native English speaking co-workers, and especially among my many non native English speaking friends. People who are successful in business, medicine, journalism, the arts… you name it. They can be very emotionally involved and attached to a cause, but when they get up to present their point they don’t communicate well as a speaker. So my search for enunciation brought up your site. I’m certain there are resources I can recommend to help them, but I’m not sure they (especially the perenially over busy business people) will find time to polish their communication skills. But, that’s all by wayi of saying I’m glad you and your service exist, and I hope you have a major impact on the enunciation of a future generation of ESL speakers!

    And, just a note to help you (because my proof reader’s eye can’t help itself), in Tip 2 on your website you refer to th and f as vowel sounds. To my understanding they aren’t vowels, so you might re-phrase that to simply to say “th and f sounds”

    Cheers, and good luck with your good work.

    • Magoosh Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert May 5, 2023 at 9:31 am #

      Thanks for spotting that typo! We’ve fixed it up so others don’t get confused.


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