Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

Do you know how to discuss, in a high-scoring way, the negative side of life?

You need to know that the examiner doesn’t expect you to be positive and cheery about everything. That’s not real communication!

The fact is, we all experience hardship, and we all feel negatively about events and experiences sometimes. And, you know what, that’s OK!

Recently on the show, we’ve been talking about our go-to strategy of honesty.

Your IELTS Speaking Score depends on your ability to communicate.

To break that down into more specific abilities, communication involves fluency, vocabulary and pronunciation. When we are honest about our feelings and opinions, this leads to:

When you are asked about things you dislike in Speaking Part 1, negative experiences in Speaking Part 2, or problems in Speaking Part 3, you need to be ready to produce vocabulary that is impressive, albeit negative.

Write down these phrases in your vocabulary notebook, and add your own examples sentences.


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Note how in my example sentences, I try to turn the negative into a positive, adding more excellent vocabulary.

  • down in the dumps– feeling depressed
    • After I didn’t get the scores I needed on my first IELTS Exam, I was a little down in the dumps. But, then, I pulled myself out of it and prepared with the 3 Keys IELTS Success System, and now I feel super confident!
  • life is not all peaches and cream– life isn’t perfect all the time
    • Well, life isn’t all peaches and cream. The job I have right now won’t sustain me long-term. However, that has motivated me to seek out a position abroad, and that’s why I’m taking IELTS.
  • get something out of your system- get out the bad feelings so you feel better
    • When I’m feeling super stressed from school, and, just, life, I have a technique for getting it out of my system. I have a big stick I found in the park one day. When I feel like I just can’t take it anymore, I pick up the stick and hit some pillows as hard as a can. Then, after just a couple minutes, I feel more balanced again. It sounds odd, but it works!

Now, practice using the vocabulary to answer the IELTS questions below.

IELTS Part 1 questions:

  • What do you dislike about your job/school?
  • What makes you feel stressed out?

IELTS Part 2 question:

  • Talk about a time when you and a friend had a disagreement.

What do you think of today’s advice and vocabulary?

Tell us how you feel in the comments section below!

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