IELTS Speaking Stress

If you do want to know how to deal with nerves in the IELTS Speaking Test, check out our blog post from December 2015. Today’s blog isn’t about nerves, it’s about pronunciation and the use of stress particularly.

One of the criteria for marking IELTS is pronunciation. While this covers the clear pronunciation of individual words your pronunciation will also be assessed on a sentence level. The examiner will be listening to your use of intonation and stress, if you can use your voice well to show your meaning.

The words you stress highlight the information you think is important so think about these sentences. Think about how the change in stress changes the meaning of this sentence.

  • I want to live in Paris {but my family prefers to live in Berlin}
  • I WANT to live in Paris {but I can’t afford it}
  • I want to LIVE in Paris {not just visit there on holiday}
  • I want to live IN Paris {not somewhere close to Paris}
  • I want to live in PARIS {not in London}

Even though the words are the same the change in stress changes the meaning completely. Using stress effectively can really help your listener understand more clearly.

Read this paragraph out loud. Which words do you stress and why?

I’m a student and I study Architecture at University. I really like my major because I think a well-designed building can have a major impact on people’s quality of life. The places we live affect how we think and how we feel so it’s important that buildings help people live well.

You can’t stress everything and in an answer this long you should perhaps have 8-10 stressed words. While there are different choices, depending on the point you want to make, hopefully two of the words you chose to stress were ‘think’ and ‘feel’. If YOU think about stress, the EXAMINER can feel the difference.

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