There are four questions you’re guaranteed to hear at the beginning of the IELTS Speaking section, yet despite their predictability, students frequently make a complete mess of them. This shouldn’t happen, and I strongly recommend taking a few minutes to prepare some simple, standard answers to ensure you give the examiner the best possible first impression.
The four questions are:
- Could you tell me your full name?
- What can I call you?
- Where are you from?
- Could I see your identification, please?
As noted, these questions are always asked. You may hear some variation on them, e.g. Where do you come from? or Could you tell me where you come from? for number 3, but the meaning will always be the same.
The best piece of advice I give students about these questions is “Don’t try to be clever.” The introduction is not the time to showcase your grammatical knowledge and vocabulary. I have lost count of the number of times a student has tried to tell me the meaning behind her name, or the precise geographical location of his hometown. Save that for Sections 1, 2, and 3. The examiner just wants to hear simple answers here.
So how should you answer these questions?
1. Could you tell me your full name?
“My name’s Yang Euiji.”
That’s it. That’s all you need. There’s no need to give the examiner some quirky story about why your parents gave you that name. Just tell the examiner your full name as is shown on your ID. As a bonus tip, I always recommend contracting for the speaking exam, so say “My name’s …” and not “My name is …”
2. What can I call you?
“Just call me Euiji.”
This is the name the examiner will now use when speaking to you.
3. Where are you from?
“I’m from Gwangju.”
This is the part where students make the most mistakes. Don’t try and give the examiner a history or geography lesson, and don’t tell her or him the name of your neighbourhood. Just tell them the name of the town or city that you call home. Adding a small amount of additional information (e.g. “I come from London, the capital of the UK.”) is okay, but it’s not really necessary. Keep it simple.
4. Could I see your identification, please?
“Sure. Here it is.”
In all honesty, when you hand your ID to the examiner, you don’t even need to say anything. However, if you’d like to sound a bit more polite, you can respond with these four simple words.
And that’s all you need to do. Before you take the exam, come back to this page and spend a couple of minutes memorising the answers to make both your and the examiner’s lives a little bit easier. The introduction is easy. Don’t try and make it difficult.