Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"
Jessica Beck
"Director of IELTS Training"

Today you’ll fix your IELTS Speaking crutch with native informal fillers.

A student recently asked us if she could use the filler you know‘ in IELTS Speaking.

Firstly, click here for episode 413 about informal fillers!

Yes, you should use these phrases because that’s natural- natives use these all the time.

For example, a Band 6 answer would be, ‘I work. I am a software engineer.

However, to sound like a native, say, ‘Oh gosh, that’s funny. I mean, I’m almost 40, so, I hope I work!’

That is a natural reaction to the question, so it’s Band 7+.

However, you can’t use just one or two fillers all the time (such as ‘like‘)- this is repetition and will lower your Fluency and Coherence score.

Another thing to be careful of is repeating fillers in your first language. You DEFINITELY cannot do this on the exam!

Some students are not even aware that they have crutches like these, or words that they repeat all the time unconsciously.

To check this, record yourself speaking English, to yourself or someone else.

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Many IELTS students are paying native speakers for speaking lessons. Record these!

Then, have this transcribed. There are many online services that offer affordable transcription services.

Look through this transcript and circle repetitions, especially fillers, including ‘um’ and ‘uh’.

You might also ask someone else to look at it, as it can be difficult to catch your own mistakes.

After circling these words/phrases, think about why you are saying these things. Is it a nervous tick? Is it reaching for a word or idea?

One way to replace fillers is pausing. This is natural and helps your rhythm become more native.

Click here for another episode about turning your weaknesses into strengths!

For more natural English, follow us on Instagram: all_ears_english.

Or, click here to see our Instagram page!

Finally, to improve not only vocabulary, but also your listening skills, click here to get our All Ears English app for your iOS device!

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