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Visualisation in the IELTS speaking test

Students studying in a Bell classroom

I’d like you to do something for me. Close your eyes and visualise your bedroom. Take a good look around. What is the colour scheme? Why did you choose it? How does it make you feel? Look at the objects in your room and pick an interesting one. What does it look like? How about colours? Where did you get it? What does it mean to you? Have you got a clear picture? Ok, now I’d like you to compare two answers to the same question and decide which one you think is best.

Question:

Describe a room you like.

Answer 1

I love my bedroom because I can sit and relax there and watch TV.

Answer 2

I love my bedroom because the pale blue colour scheme that I chose makes me feel really relaxed, which is important for a bedroom. Also, I have all my knick-knacks in there. For instance, I have a really beautiful multi-coloured lamp, which I bought in the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. Weirdly, it’s made from a kind of pumpkin, but it always brings back happy memories of my holiday when I look at it.

I’m guessing you prefer the second answer, right? So, which of the answers do you think uses the visualisation technique we practised earlier? You see, ideas come before language. If you don’t have interesting ideas, it’s difficult to produce interesting language. In my experience, many exam candidates are so worried about language that they forget about ideas. Visualisation is a good way to have ideas and when you can see something, you have more to talk about, which means that your language is likely to be richer and more interesting.

So, what are you waiting for? Describe a room you like, or your favourite café or shopping street, but remember to visualise it first.

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