Building speaking skills

The speaking skills required in international speaking exams can be quite daunting for candidates because many candidates have no idea what the examiners are looking for.

Let's take the IELTS speaking task for an example.  The test begins with a few simple questions about yourself.  He/she will ask you questions about your job or studies, what you are doing now, what your role or responsibilities and duties include.  Here you are using a variety of present tenses.

He might ask about past employment or experiences therefore you will be using simple past or maybe past continuous.

He will then move to your future hopes and ambitions and once again you will be able to show your competence is using future tenses.

If you are not sure about how to form these there is an excellent Verb Tense tutorial in English Page  Don't be afraid to go back to basics to brush up on grammar you have forgotten. Remember the exam is giving you a chance to show off your skills.

If you are not used to talking about yourself then write it down as an essay. look at example questions they might ask and write down short answers of one or two sentences,  Read then aloud a few times, even record yourself to see how you sound.

If you would like to see videos of students practicing their skills go to.  listen and also read the transcripts and more importantly the teacher feedback.

My next blog will be about the second task.

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  • Thanks a lot for giving us such usable information.
  • Thank you for sharing those useful information!

  • Thanks for your helpful blogs and tips .

  • Useful tips!

    Sometimes, though, the students have difficulty understanding the questions - listening can be more challenging than speaking for them.

  • Hi Bob

    I have yet to cover the 2nd task which as you said is a short 1 to 2 minutes on a given topic after which the examiner will ask questions about the candidates presentation.

    I also usually cover tips on how to make your short notes with links to a couple of good videos demonstrating this in great depth.  As I always say to my students if you asked the average native speaker to talk about something for 2 mins they would struggle to plan it in 60 seconds without practice.

  • I should add more about the speaking part in TOEFL to compare to what you are teaching about IELTS.  TOEFL also has questions that require the student to read a short topic, then listen to people discussing the topic.  After that a question will cover something about the topic.  Again there is a little time to organize something on paper (maybe 15 seconds).

    Finally you have to record your answer using your headset on the computer at the test center. Again, organizing the answer before speaking is important. The student is also tested on how clear and concise their answer is. Pronunciation is important.

    The other speaking parts of the exam are similar to these. They include things that university students will encounter on a campus. These include lectures by teachers.

    The whole reason for these exams is to make sure that you, the student, going to a university with everything in English, is able to understand English well enough to survive academically. If you do poorly in Chemistry, it should be because you didn't study your books as much as other students, not because your English was not good enough to understand Chemistry lectures and books in English.

  • Hi T Mal,

    This is a great topic and very important. I am preparing students for tests like this. TOEFL is different because it is now internet based.

    On the TOEFL exam they also give some questions about easy things you know the answer to. Maybe they will ask you to describe your home or your room. Then something else about that topic, like what do you like about it or what you would change.

    You are then given 15 seconds to organize your answer with pen and paper.

    Finally, you have 45 seconds to record your answer.

    You have to focus on organizing of what you will say and then speak clearly and concisely.

    My students find this difficult and we are trying to do something each day to give them practice. After all, organizing a spoken answer is not much different than organizing a paragraph or blog.

    Thanks for this great topic.

  • Very helpful blog, and waiting for your next one.

    Thanks Mr: T mal

  • Thank you Mr. T Mal... We require these kind of support and guidance from you always.

    Awaiting for ur next blog....

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