Stories are useful to extend a talk in Part Two of the speaking exam. They often come out very fluently, are interesting, and result in the expression of a wide range of vocabulary and grammatical structures. The following explains these benefits in more detail:
- It is often easy to speak fluently as ideas can often come out more quickly. This is because stories are often clear in our mind and we have told people certain stories many times and so they come out fluently in the exam.
- Stories can also be helpful to speak for 2 minutes because there are often different parts to them such as a beginning, middle, and end; or a cause, effect, and solution.
- Stories can be really interesting and can help the examiner to be interested in what you are saying.
- Stories can also allow you to make things up which can help you to extend your talk and also use higher-level language. For instance, in the real story there might have been a white dress… but in the IELTS story you might change it to a magenta dress with a dark blue ribbon.
- The story may not take up the whole of your response. You may start by focusing more on the topic card and then later move onto the story. Because of this aspect stories can be particularly useful with topics that you find difficult to talk about. Essentially, start by talking about the topic and then shift to a story that is somewhat related to the topic. Imagine you have been asked to talk about “your favorite wild animal”. Maybe, after half a minute, you have said all you know about pandas! Now you can tell a story about going to the zoo and seeing a panda!
Time sequencing words
To make clear the sequence of events in a story use time words such as:
In the beginning
In the end…
Tenses for stories
Stories occurred in the past so when we are describing what happened in the story we need to use the past tense.
“I went to my best friend’s birthday”
However, we need to use the present tense if we are describing facts and opinions about these past events.
“She is a kind woman”
[Note that if we use the past tense then it suggests that she is no longer kind!]
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