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Fillers for IELTS Speaking: Avoiding 'Uhm', 'Eh' etc.

Cat got your tongue? Then you might need to know some fillers for IELTS speaking.

Don’t panic or start uhm-ing while you try to come up with an answer. Having a few go-to fillers memorised can be useful for times when you just can’t think of anything to say. 

What Are Fillers for IELTS Speaking?

Remember, you’re being scored on your fluency. For this reason, you must limit moments of hesitation as much as possible. 

Naturally, we tend to use filler words like “uhm,” “ehh,” “you know” and even “like.”

These are all considered bad filler words, and using them too often will give the impression that you don’t have the vocabulary to answer the question. This can reduce your score for lexical resources, fluency, and coherence.

Here are a few of our favourite fillers for IELTS speaking to avoid those bad fillers:

  • That’s an interesting question.
  • Honestly, I’ve never thought about that before.
  • That’s a good point.
  • That’s a tricky/tough one.
  • That’s a good question/point; I’ll need a second to think about it.

When can you use them? 

They work for any Part 1 or 3 questions whenever you need a few extra seconds to gather your thoughts but don’t want to sit in complete silence.

Here’s an idea for how you can incorporate a simple filler into two typical Part 1 type questions:

What types of films are popular in your country?

Honestly, I’ve never really thought about what movies other people are watching. I’m a big fan of action films, and so are my friends. From my experience, I wouldn’t say that a specific genre is more popular in certain countries; different people like different films no matter where they’re from. 

What is the oldest place in your hometown?

Wow, that’s an interesting question; I’ll need a second to think about it. If I had to guess, I’d say it’s probably the public library. However, I’m not entirely sure that this is the oldest place, but it’s definitely one of the oldest. I used to visit it often while I was still in school and remember spending hours staring at these old black-and-white photos it had displayed by the entrance. 


Notice how the first sentence of the first answer rephrases and discusses the question asked without answering it yet. 

Benefits of Using Fillers

  • They buy you extra time to think, which is the number one reason fillers for IELTS speaking come in handy. 
  • They improve your fluency and sound more natural.
  • They lengthen your answer even when you don’t have much to say on the topic. 

Practice

Now, practise answering a few common Part 1 questions you might get asked. Try to kick off your response with a filler! 

  1. Did you have a favourite teacher?
  2. Are you planning to take any courses soon?
  3. What would you like to change about your neighbourhood?
  4. Have you celebrated something special with your family recently?
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