Pass speaking

Lie, cheat, and steal! - that’s my motto (before the exam)


I don’t want you to take it too literally so in your exam don’t cheat and don’t steal anything from anyone! That being said...


Every English exam targeting speakers of other languages tests the same skills: reading, writing, listening, speaking. We shouldn’t forget to use grammar correctly and pronounce words accurately.


To increase your chances of passing any speaking exam you should:


1. Know and understand what the structure of the exam is


How many parts does it consist of?

What are you asked to do in each part?

What are the requirements you have to meet (speaking for one minute, using business vocabulary, etc.)?


2. Learn to use linking words and transitional phrases

3. Practice speaking alone. Talk to yourself in a shower or when you are preparing breakfast. The key is to develop a habit of speaking for longer than you are required to speak in the exam. Speak about anything you want trying to use a bit more advanced vocabulary and structures. You can talk to your pet!

4. Practice speaking with someone else. You can talk about any topic you want but try to use full sentences and incorporate advanced vocabulary and structures. Don’t make it too casual because in the exam you are expected to show that you can use a range of grammar structures etc.

5. Do your research and find as much information about the exam as possible. Joining a Facebook group could help. You could ask what the biggest problem is for people trying to pass the speaking part of the exam you want to pass.

6. Speaking is very much connected with listening. Listen to anything you can listen to. If your level is high enough try to look for words and phrases you can ‘steal’ from the person who is talking.

7. Use YouTube videos to repeat what the person in the video is saying. It is a free and very effective method of improving your pronunciation. Choose an accent that is pleasant to the ear.

8. Get a teacher/native speaker/someone who is a proficient English user to correct your mistakes.

9. Practice what I call ‘bullshitting’. I always tell my students to bullshit me to practice talking about nothing convincingly. It is a good exercise because if you know how to bullshit others you lie effectively. You change your tone of voice, your body language is believable, etc. It is a good acting exercise.

10. Tell blatant lies. This point is connected to the previous one. In the exam, you might get a topic for discussion or be asked a question that is hard and so you might have very little to say about it. Therefore, you have to lie. Examiners are there to assess how fluent you are in English. They don’t care whether you tell the truth or not. As long as you speak you are (in most cases) doing it right!


In your speaking exam remember also to:


listen to the instructions of the examiner

allow your speaking partner(s) to speak; don’t try to talk over him/her/them

speak than not to speak

avoid mumbling; it is a big no-no

try to speak emotionally and spontaneously = try not to sound like a robot


ONE LAST TIP: Practice makes perfect!

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