In the IELTS speaking test, you often need to think about what to say next. But this does not mean that you cannot demonstrate your command of English while you are thinking. When English native speakers do not know what to say, they are not completely silent. They use conversation fillers – words and phrases to fill the space. Here are some examples:
Let me think.
Hmm, that’s a tough one.
Umm, you know,
I’ve never really thought about that.
That’s a tricky question.
I guess …
I suppose …
Examiner: Who is your favourite family member?
Candidate: Hmm, that’s a tough one. Umm, I would say my older brother.
Examiner: Is there any other work you would like to do in the future?
Candidate: Hmm…I’ve never really thought about that. Well, I suppose consulting would be interesting.
Examiner: Are you ever late for appointments?
Candidate: Umm, you know, let me think about that. Hmm, I’m usually quite punctual, so I’d say pretty rarely.
Examiner: Is water pollution a problem in your country?
Candidate: Hmm…that’s a tricky question. Well, I think it’s becoming a problem.