This post focuses on a formula you can use to help you keep speaking fluently during the IELTS speaking test, especially in Part 2 (the topic card).
Consider the following question. How could you expand your answer?
Do you think traditions are important?
Now read the candidate’s response below, and answer the questions that follow.
Yes, I do because they give us a sense of connection with the past. This is important because it can bring people together and remind us of the history we share. However, I believe traditions should also be flexible. They should reflect not only the past but also the present. Only by doing this can any tradition continue to have relevance today.
- Why does the speaker think traditions are important?
- Why is it important to have this connection?
- What qualification does the speaker make?
- Why is this qualification important?
Read the next section for the answers.
The answers for the four questions above give examples of the formula you can use to expand your topic.
FORMULA + Why + So + But + Then
In the exercise above, this is:
• Why? connection with the past
• So? brings people together
• But? should be flexible
• Then? continue to be relevant
Looking at this formula in more detail, you can break your answer down into these sections:
Why? Why do you feel that way about the question? Why is this your opinion?
So? This can also be thought of as So what? Maybe the opinion presented in the first step (why?) is true, but what impact does it have? What’s the positive result of your opinion that makes you believe it?
But? Are there any parts of your opinion that could be considered wrong by other people, or anything that needs to be taken into account?
Then? If the point you raised in the previous section happened, what would be the effect?
Now let’s apply the formula to another question
Do you think smoking should be banned?
Yes I do (WHY? why do you think that?) because of the significant health risks cigarettes present (SO? so what if they have health risks?) This can have an effect on not only the smoker, but also those people in the nearby area who then suffer from passive smoking, as well as on tax payers in general when smokers require additional medical treatment. (BUT? is there anything that needs to be considered from another point of view?) Of course there is the issue of having the freedom to act how you wish, and banning cigarettes could create an illegal trade (THEN? What would happen if the ‘but’ section occurred?) This could then potentially lead to rising crime and more pressure on the police.
Because we are now in a digital age, do you think we should therefore stop following traditional customs?
It can be argued that traditional customs can co-exist alongside more modern culture (WHY? why do you think that?) Both traditional and modern cultures are important as a reflection of history and society (SO? so what if they are important?) We should find ways that the two forms can support each other. (BUT? is there anything that needs to be considered from another point of view?) There are times when modern and traditional cultures are in conflict. (THEN? What would happen if there was conflict?) Digital culture must be considered paramount as traditional culture should not be a handicap to development.