How to Practise for the IELTS Speaking Test Alone

Are you preparing for the IELTS speaking test all alone?

This can be a real challenge. You have no other people to practise with, no classmates to ask and no one to check if your answers are correct.

It can be really daunting.

But for many English learners, this is the harsh reality. There is no choice but to go it alone.

So what can you do?

How can you prepare for the IELTS speaking test if you have no friends or classmates to work with?

Let me show you 7 techniques that you can use if you are working on your own.

These methods can really help you make an enormous improvement. No need to worry if you are making progress. Just follow the 7 steps below and you will see your English speaking grow and grow.

Let’s dive right in!


The 7 steps I want to show you are:

  • Create Input
  • Reading
  • Making Notes of New Vocabulary
  • Learning Collocations
  • Talking to Yourself
  • Using Full Sentences
  • The Shadowing Technique


Create Input


When preparing for the IELTS speaking test, you cannot just learn or practise speaking.

You need to work on ALL the English skills — speaking, listening, writing and reading.

They all inform and affect each other. As you learn to write in English, this will help you with speaking. As you practise listening in English, this will in turn improve your spoken and written English.

They are all connected and so you should work on all the English skills equally.

Please remember this.


We can divide the four English skills into two key areas:




Input is listening and reading. These are ‘passive’ skills in which you don’t really have to do anything as such. You just allow the words to enter your brain via your ear or eyes.

Yes, it is still work; it is still studying. But this is where the language enters your mind and your memory.


Output is speaking and writing. These are the ‘active’ skills. You have to think about what you are going to say or write. You are now relying on all the input that came into your brain before.


So if you want to see any development in your English speaking, you must practise the input skills of listening and reading. These two skills will have a great impact on your spoken English.

For listening, there are many options. You can listen to podcasts, radio shows, TV shows and movies. All of this is great practice to help you improve your speaking.




If you are preparing for the IELTS speaking test right now, you should read anything in English you can find.

I am very serious about this.

Read everything!

  • Read the news
  • Read short stories
  • Read articles
  • Read blogs
  • Read novels
  • Read magazines
  • Read the weather report

I think reading is one of the best things you can do — if not the best thing you can do — to prepare for the IELTS test.


Reading will help you improve your:

  • English vocabulary
  • English grammar
  • Sentence structure
  • Fluency

It should be an essential part of your self-study program.

If you are studying alone, reading is a great thing for you to do to improve ALL your English skills.


And there is no excuse. There is so much to read out there, you have so much choice of reading material.

Please do this one thing — READ EVERY DAY.


Making Notes of New Vocabulary


And if you maintain a regular habit of reading, you will need to make notes of new vocabulary.

To do this, you will need the following items:

  • a notebook
  • a pen
  • a dictionary

Don’t worry about what kind of pen and notebook you use. They can be very inexpensive items that you find in your local stationery store.

But they are essential.

However, invest in a good dictionary.

I suggest buying an all-English dictionary in book form.

Please avoid using a digital dictionary as they can often be inferior and not as useful to you for studying English. They are convenient, but that is about all.


Then when you are reading, these are the steps you follow to take notes of new vocabulary:

  • Find a new word
  • Write the new word in your notebook
  • Look up the meaning of the word in your dictionary
  • Write the meaning of the new word in your notebook
  • Think of a sentence using the new word
  • Write the sentence in your notebook


You might think this process is laborious — and it is. But you will see tremendous improvements in your English speaking.

I guarantee it.


Learning Collocations


Collocations are phrases of words together.

We commonly use these phrases in English.

For example:

  • Get off the bus
  • Take a shower
  • Be on time
  • Play football
  • Wash my hands


Collocations are often verbs used with nouns. But they can be formed with adjectives and adverbs too.

They are very useful to know and a great way to make your spoken English sound more colourful and fluent.

I wrote an article about collocations right here — How to crush English collocations today


Talking to Yourself


If you have no other people to practice with, then you have to practise with yourself. You have no choice.

But talking to yourself is a great way to practice English speaking.

You can start by just talking about your life and the things you do every day.

Talk about:

  • What you do every day
  • What food you eat
  • How you feel about things
  • The news
  • Any recent events in your life
  • Your family and friends


Another thing you can do is to read out loud to yourself.

Whenever you are reading anything in English, read the words out loud to yourself. Now you are practising reading and speaking.

This is done even better while looking in a mirror. It will give you more confidence in your ability to speak English and make you feel more comfortable while speaking English.

Politicians do this exercise when preparing for a speech in public. If it works for them, it can work for you too!


Using Full Sentences


One thing you absolutely must avoid is ONE-WORD ANSWERS in the IELTS speaking test.

The examiner hates this!

You can avoid this by practising full sentences to yourself in English. Any time you say something in English, try to use a full sentence — and not one word.

Practise saying full sentences to yourself. But also anytime you have the opportunity to speak English.

This will really help you prepare for the IELTS speaking test.


The Shadowing Technique


I wrote a fantastic guide on the Shadowing Technique right here — The Shadowing Technique — and how it can help you speak English


This may require a lot of nerve and courage. But it is a great way to help you improve your English speaking.

Please go to the link above to see exactly how to do it. I lay out all the steps and you can download an easy-to-use pdf guide.

Essentially, it involves reading an English text while listening to a transcript of the text and reciting it at the same time.

If you do this, your spoken English will improve fantastically.




Sometimes we have no choice — we must work alone.

That is life.

And if you are preparing for the IELTS speaking test all alone, then you should follow my steps outlined above.

Trust me, you can see great development in your spoken English while studying alone, but it requires some extra work and discipline.

You can do it.

Just believe in yourself!


Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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