All English learners get iffy when they hear the words, English exam. They get even more nerve-wracked when they hear that they have to ‘speak’ in English as part of the exam – especially the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) and IELTS (International English Language Testing System). But then, there is always a way for you to pass the Speaking test of the TOEFL or the IELTS. Just follow these simple steps.
Get ‘jiggy’ with Vocabulary. Get ‘down’ with the Expressions
First off, no one will really care about your grammar when you speak. What they will take note of are the words you use and how you use them. Also, a lot of native-speakers use expressions in place of certain words when they speak because these expressions give more of an impact on the listener.
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Paraphrasing is “key”
When a question is asked of you and you want to answer immediately but don’t know exactly how to start, you can always paraphrase. Paraphrasing is a technique wherein you express something using different words. In a way, you can use step one with this step.
Check out this example using Steps 1 and 2:
Question: Depression is a psychological condition many people have difficulty coping with. How do you cope with depression?
Depression, for me, is a time when a person feels really sad and useless. When I feel depressed, I usually go spend a lot of money buying clothes and shoes. It helps me relax, and then I feel better. When my depression is really, really, bad, I sometimes shut myself in my room and just cry. When I see another person who is depressed, I feel sad for them and try my best to help them by making them laugh or talking to them.
Depression, in my opinion, is when a person feels like s/he is being a let-down or is caught between a rock and a hard place. People deal with depression differently. Whenever I feel down, I usually go on a shopping-spree to help me relax and feel better. When I feel really down, I shut myself in my room and cry. When I encounter a person feeling depressed, I do my best to cheer them up or lend them an ear or a shoulder to cry on because I feel bad for them and I sympathize with them.
When you show that you are able to use these words and expressions properly, it addresses the depth of your knowledge of the language and its usage. Both answers are good, but the second answer shows the speaker has a better grasp of the language and is not limited to the words in the dictionary.
Avoid dead-air by using Fillers
Fillers come in the form of the words – uhm, ah, so, okay, hmm, also, and the like. They aren’t really words, more like interjections, and don’t really mean anything. They are called fillers because they fill in the “dead-air” or the moments when you’re gathering your thoughts together and not speaking. During the Speaking tests, the examiner checks your fluency and understanding of the language by your speed in giving a response and by how long you think. Too much dead air may cause the examiner to think that you can’t organize your thoughts quickly enough. Use fillers sparingly, though, because too much fillers can also make the examiner think that you don’t know how to answer or you didn’t understand the question. Using a maximum of three or four fillers throughout your response is enough.
Short can be sweet
Speaking in English with a time limit can be frustrating and can leave you tongue-tied. So, giving short but precise answers can be a good thing. When I say ‘short but precise’, I don’t mean that you give short and simple answers. Instead, you must give short answers with your opinion and the main ideas in it.
Also, use contractions to ease your speaking. Contractions allow your words to blend and flow more freely when you talk.
Check out this example using Steps 3 and 4:
Question: English is said to be the universal language. What do you think?
Uhm, yes. I think it is the universal language. Many people speak it, and, ah, many rich countries use English in daily communication. However, I, also, think another language – like Mandarin — can become a universal language because many businessmen are Chinese and China is becoming a strong country.
For now, yes, I do believe English is the universal language because it’s the most common mode of daily communication in many industrialized countries both in the Western and Eastern hemispheres. However, I’d like to point out that it’s only the second most-commonly spoken language in the world. Mandarin Chinese, however, can also be considered a universal language in the future because a large population of the world speaks Mandarin Chinese. Besides the fact that many businesses are run by the Chinese, the Chinese economy’s also becoming one of the strongest in the world.
Relax and Smile
The best way to gather your thoughts is if you’re relaxed and not intimidated by the examiner. So, just relax and smile. That way, both you and your examiner will feel less awkward, and your answer will come out naturally as if you were just talking to a friend.