Fluency and Coherence in Speaking

IELTS Speaking band criteria: Fluency and Coherence

In this blog post, I am trying to explain one of the speaking section marking criteria, Fluency and Coherence. In general, these two terms are related and consists of 25% of your overall speaking band score.

Fluency and Coherence in English speaking

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What is Fluency?

Now, the first question to raise in your mind is what is fluency? Many candidates misunderstand fluency with the pace of your speaking. But that’s just misunderstanding. Fluency has nothing to do with the speed at which you can speak. Native English speakers can also speak at slower pace but with proper tone and intonations.

It’s the ability to maintain a flow of proper language without unnecessary hesitations. This does not mean that you cannot stop and need to speak continuously. Naturally, you can take some pauses in between a sentence or between  words. Native speakers usually use fillers to avoid unnecessary pauses. Words like well, ummm…, I guess, It’s a tricky questions, actually, basically, etc. can be useful to avoid unnecessary pauses. I will write another post about these fillers.

Fluent Speaking

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How to improve language flow?

OK… Now the key section! How can you improve your fluency in speaking? If you ask me, I would say the only solution is practice. You can’t build up your fluency overnight. It takes some practice and willingness to learn. What you should be doing is that you should be speaking to yourself or to your partner if available. The point is that you should be speaking more. Here are some tips to improve fluency.

– Try to think everything in English. If you see a new place, thing or person, try to describer it or him in English. You will find it little bit difficult in the beginning, but persistent efforts will make you more involved. One day you will be thinking everything in English only without translating it from your language to English.

– Try to engage in English conversations. This is really a key to speaking success. You need to find time and people to speak in English. I think it’s very easy nowadays as you have so many options with the Internet. If you have signed up for any classes, you can make a group of friends or you can simply log in to your computer and join an English-speaking community.

– Try to think extra details like how it is related to some other topics. If you’re thinking about a topic, ask some simple questions why, what, who, whose, whom, when, where, how and you will have more to talk about that particular topic. It’s just a simple trick of brainstorming. This is also important from IELTS point of view because in exam, you will often find these kinds of questions.

OK. That was about Fluency. Now comes Coherence.

What is Coherence in Speaking?

Coherence is the logical arrangement of your talk or how every part of your answer is connected with another sentence. Again, this can be improved with some practice. It is also important that you can find your own mistakes. If you have a teacher, ask him or her to identify your mistakes in terms of coherence. Your teacher should easily follow your line of thoughts if you speak coherently. If you don’t have a teacher to help you, simply record your speech and listen to it. Try to identify your mistakes. If possible, ask a friend to listen to this answer and ask him whether it was easy to understand or not.

If you’re not speaking with coherence, it will be difficult to understand and follow your speech. Often, the listener would get confused. Sometimes, this can be seen on the listener’s facial expressions.

So, How can you improve coherence?

There are few methods you can follow to increase your coherence.

– Express your personal ideas and opinions: OK, you may find it little bit awkward but this is not. You should feel free to express yourself. When you speak up your mind, you have lots to speak and you speak freely. This means you’re thinking less and trying to speak what you believe to be true. IELTS doesn’t have any correct answer. The answer is correct if it is spoken with correct English language. Be open-minded without being worried about what examiner might think about you.

– Use connecting words: This is another key you can use to make your speech easy for the listener. This is particularly useful for longer answers. That means in Part 2 or part 3, where you’re supposed to give longer responses.

– Always respond from general to specific information. That means you should be giving general information first. Follow it up with little bit more specific information. This allows you to expand your talk and it becomes easier to understand. This is how you can get more bands for coherence.

So, that’s it for today. I will post more on Coherence and Fluency in the future. First, I am trying to explain the marking criteria for Speaking and then probably I will post more lessons with sample answers.

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