IELTS Speaking Part 1 is popularly known as the easiest part of the interview, but unfortunately, this is also an area where many candidates seem to be making a lot of mistakes. Although it does not carry as much weighting as Parts 2 and 3, Part 1 is your opportunity to ‘show off’ your ability to engage in conversation with anyone in English. It is a chance for your examiner to get to know you as a person, and not just another candidate, so say something that is truly interesting about yourself!
The three parts in the IELTS interview have completely different contexts and in Part 1, it is always a good idea to use informal language to respond to the examiner’s questions; just like how you would converse with a friend. What usually happens here is that candidates are overly conscious of the test and tend to use language that is a bit too formal. Although easier said than done, it is quite important for candidates to be as relaxed as possible in the test. And the language that you use should reflect this. Very commonly, Band 5 candidates tend to “over-use certain connectives and discourse markers” while a Band 6 candidate uses them “not always appropriately“. For example, if you are asked
What kind of toys did you play with as a child?
the expected response would probably sound something like
“Actually, I only had one Iron Man action figure that I absolutely loved. I didn’t have lots of toys when I was a kid, but this little man kept me busy for hours … you know … and away from my homework. I still have it now, still looks pretty new … I mean … after you give the plastic a little polish!”
Instead, answers like the one below are quite common and sound rather awkward:
“To begin with, I had only one toy. It was an Iron Man toy and I enjoyed playing it. In addition, I always forgot to do my homework when I played with it. In conclusion, it was my favourite toy.”
Having said this, it is also important for candidates to remember that it is still a test and to avoid going overboard with your sense of familiarity.
“Yo, wassup” (Yes, I have heard this once in an interview and resisted the temptation of giving the candidate a knuckle bump!)
The Cambridge Dictionaries Online has a list that shows the differences in using discourse markers when speaking and writing. Hope that helps. Peace out.