IELTS Speaking: Is accent and pronunciation important?

I was recently asked by a colleague whether IELTS examiners care about the candidates’ accent and pronunciation. My answer is:

  • Examiners do not care about accent

  • Examiners do care about correct pronunciation

Having a particular accent like British, Australian or American is not necessary to get a high band score in IELTS speaking. But it is very important that your pronunciation of English words and sentences is correct and meaningful. In other words, Examiners check to see if you can be clearly understood and if your mistakes in pronunciation decrease your intelligibility. They also check how well you use the different features of English pronunciation such as words stress, sentence stress and intonation.

There are two stages in learning and practicing correct pronunciation:

  • Listen to a lot of authentic English speech. You can watch films and series in English, but to be effective, you need to watch them 3 or 4 times and focus on the stress patterns and pronunciation of individual words during the 3rd or 4th time you watch them.

 

  • Practice with a partner who is good at correcting your pronunciation mistakes. It would also be a good idea to record your voice and compare it to native English speakers in TV shows and films.
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