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Saturday, March 19, 2011

How to do well in a speaking test

 I know many of you are worried about your speaking test on Monday. You should be because you will need to show that you can say more than one or two words when you answer a question. You will also have to show that you can describe something you like or don't like and your reasons,  state your opinion about a topic and give reasons, talk about differences and similarities in various aspects of your life: schools, housing., transportation, health . Finally, you will need to show that you speak clearly enough to be understood

All of this CAN be done if your pay attention to some tips.


PRACTICE   PRACTICE PRACTICE speaking English as much as you possibly can during the weekend. The more English you speak for as few days before your interview, the more natural and prepared you will sound. Remember, people prepare for job interviews, and for any other kind of exam.
Have English conversations with your husband, wife, son, daughters, or friends. Use some of the practice questions I gave you as well as others you can make up such as what is your opinion about something.  Tell your friends and relatives you want them to correct your mistakes after you  have finished. If anyone laughs or gets impatient with you, tell them that you know you are not a perfect person. You are simply practicing to be a better speaker.

2.    Work on your oral grammar as you practice. You can be absolutely certain that the interviewer will be listening carefully to see if you can use complete English sentences properly. This means you MUST use sentences with a real subject and a real verb.that can do the action of the subject. In others words. DO NOT TRANSLATE YOUR ANSWERS.

Something else the interviewer  will be listening for is your verb tenses. Nobody expects you to be perfect. You are a pre-intermediate student. But, you should make every effort to answer present tense questions with present tense answers, past tense questions with past tense answers and future tense questions with future tense answers. Pay attention to your own speech. If you catch yourself making a mistake,  try to correct it. That shows that you are aware that you are making  mistakes and that you are making an effort to correct them.  Try not to use constant "ing" verbs in your sentences. It shows you have no control over tenses at all, 

You can also assume that the interviewer  will ask some questions that call for you to use enjoy + ing,. For example what kind of sports do you enjoy?  Other grammar she will be looking for  is comparatives (better than, worse than, more expensive than). She will also  probably  ask questions that require that you use the present perfect. " How long have you lived here? "How long have you worked at that job? 

2.   Practice speaking slowly and carefully.Many of you are trying to talk too fast - like native speakers, but this is not a good idea right. When you try to talk too fast, you eat some of  your words and syllables.  Speaking slowly and really opening your mouth to speak clearly will help your pronunciation. It will help your tongue go to the place it needs to in order to make the correct sound.  Try not to join your words all together.  This is not something that you can do ten minutes before your test, you must practice, practice, practice.

3.. Think about all the possible questions that an interviewer might ask you, and try to think of information you might use to answer those questions. You might even want to write them down in point form, but  do not write complete sentences  and  DO NOT try to memorize any speeches or answers . During the interview do NOT TRY to change the topic with a memorized answer to a different question.  The interview will know immediately. Memorized speech and natural speech are completely different.

It is okay to be nervous and to let the interviewer know that you are nervous. It is also okay to pause before you answer a difficult question. Just don't make the pause too long or there will be an uncomfortable silence. Try a few ...like "hmmm ...let me think about that for a second, or ... This shows that you have developed some strategies for difficult situations.  

The night before your test, go to bed early and get a good night's sleep. Have a good breakfast so that you will not be dizzy and light headed during the interview. 


  • Arrive at least 15 minutes early in case someone did not show up. 
  •  If you are still feeling nervous, try some deep breathing exercises. Close your eyes. .Breathe in as deeply as you can. Hold it for a few seconds. Then breathe out. Listen to your breath  and try to keep your mind from thinking. Keep doing this for five minutes. - always focusing on the breath.


  • Greet the interviewer warmly and tell her your name.
  • All through the interview, speak loudly enough for her to hear every word. Some students speak too softly.This makes it very hard for the interviewer. 
  • Try to treat this like a conversation rather than an interview.
  • Show interest in the interviewer and the questions themselves. Try to smile when  you answer. A smile changes your voice and makes you sound much better. 
  •  Be positive and enthusiastic in your answers. If you speak in a flat monotone, your tone of voice will  make it look like you don't care and are not interested. 
  • Try to show that you have a sense of humour if it is possible. It will lighten  the discussion,  create a good impression and help you to relax.
  • Make sure you look at the interviewers' face. Make eye contact .Don't look at the floor or your hands. It's not as hard as you think. It might even make you smile.
  • Listening is important. Make sure  you understand the question. If you are not sure, ask for clarification. Many students don't do this and answer a completely different question. Listening and understanding is important in a conversation. 
  • If you do not understand a specific  word,  tell the interviewer you  don't understand and ask her to explain what she means.This shows that you know how to ask for clarification.
  • Try to say as much as you can when she asks you a question. For example if she asks about your job, tell what your job is, where you work and what you actually do at work. Use action verbs.  Do not limit your answer to "I work in a restaurant.". 
  • If she asks for your opinion about the transportation system in Vancouver. Don't just say you like or dislike it. Give reasons why you like or dislike it. Give examples.Compare it to the transportation in your own city. 
  • When you limit your answers to a few words  or just one sentence, you are making the interviewer work very hard because she has to ask more and more questions to get information from you. 
  • Remember, it is very difficult for a teacher to judge or give you a mark for your speaking ability if you don't speak. 
  • Do not apologize for your English. You need go sound positive. You can say that you are trying to improve, but leave it at that.
 Finally, good luck on the test. I hope you all do well. 

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