16 Sep 2013

Roadmap to Speaking Success I

We have mentioned several times, the amount of material you can find in Internet to help  you develop your skills and study for your exam.
Here is an excellent page full of material. 

We have adapted part of the material they offer in this case related to Paper 5: Speaking. 
It is a nine day Roadmap to Speaking Exam Success . 
There is a task at the end of each day for you to do. 

Day 1: 

Take up the challenge!

If you're reading this the chances are you're facing an English Speaking exam and want to make sure you're successful on the big day.What can you do in the time available to increase your chances of passing with the highest possible grade? 

Three things are essential:
Goal 1: Make sure you know what to expect in the exam so you can prepare efficiently and avoid any nasty surprises on the big day.
Goal 2: Be aware of your strengths in speaking English and the areas you need to work on.
Goal 3: Take every opportunity to practise!

This task is an easy one to start with but very important nonetheless.
1) How much time can you put aside each week to prepare for your Speaking exam? List times in the week you can do some self-study. Put them in your diary.
2) Do something to remind you of your commitment … putting some stickers around the apartment/house with 'Speak English' written on them will do for a start!

Day 2: 

Get to know your Exam

Let's go back to yesterday's lesson and get a reminder of the first of the three goals we identified:
Goal 1: Know what to expect in the exam so you can prepare efficiently and avoid any nasty surprises on the big day. This will increase your confidence and enable you to prepare efficiently. Today´s task will help you become totally familiar with your exam. 


Go to your exam board website (see the weblinks below) and go over the rubrics in your speaking exam.
FCE Speaking

Day 3: 

Assessment Criteria

Each section of the Speaking Paper has a particular focus. For example, during the opening 'getting-to-know-you' phase the focus is usually on your ability to use language for social purposes, such as making introductions and answering questions. 
In the long turn section the focus will be on skills such as being able to speak at length clearly, using language to state an opinion, being able to describe, compare and contrast etc. 
In the discussion stage you'll need to show you're able to keep a discussion going, ask for and give opinions, agree and disagree, develop comments made by your partner or the examiner and generate new ideas.
How well you do in these tasks will depend on your proficiency in English and the examiner will use general criteria to grade you. 
Most exams will include the following criteria:

Grammar and Vocabulary

Discourse Management


Interactive Communication

It's important that you understand what all these criteria mean so that you have a clear idea of how you'll be assessed. 


For a general idea of what these criteria mean try the following quiz on exam assessment criteria:

Day 4: 

What do you do well? What needs improving?

Here's a reminder of the second goal we identified on Day 1:

Goal 2: Know your strengths in speaking English and the areas you need to work on.

Your English is currently at a particular level and this will only improve over time depending on the amount of practice you put in
This is why you need to take every opportunity both in class and during self-study to improve your English speaking skills. 
This will come about by practising ALL skills, not just speaking. 
Your vocabulary will grow the more you read in English, the more you listen to spoken English the better your pronunciation will become.

But what other steps can you take to improve your spoken English in preparation for the exam?

Start by looking at your own habits when speaking English. 

For example: 
Do you worry a lot about making mistakes and therefore tend to speak slowly and deliberately? 
Do you wait to be asked for your opinion before saying anything during a discussion? 
Do you find yourself hesitating a lot when speaking at length? 

Try today's task to identify areas you can work on for improvement.
Read the statements below, some of which appeared in yesterday's quiz. Grade yourself from 1 to 5 on each one. (1 = Often, 5 = Never)
A) Do you tend to focus too much on speaking accurately at the expense of your fluency skills?
B) Do you speak very quickly with little concern for accuracy?
C) Do you often answer questions briefly with little detail?
D) Do you find it difficult to deal with comments or questions you don't understand?
E) Do you wait to be asked questions rather than initiating conversation yourself?
F) Do you spend most of the time talking and rarely ask questions?
G) Do you often repeat the same words and expressions instead of using a variety of vocabulary?
H) Do you find it difficult to find the words or grammar to explain what you mean?
I) Do you run out of things to say when making a long turn before the time's up?
J) Do your long turns ramble rather than have structure?
K) Do you hesitate a lot during long turns?
L) Do you find it difficult to vary your intonation?
M) Do you find it difficult pronouncing certain sounds such as vowels, dipthongs or consonant clusters?
If you scored too many 1s and 2s, set yourself the task of improving at least one grade in all areas during your exam preparation. Your English proficiency will improve as you get out of habits that slow down the development of your spoken English.

Adapted from: http://www.splendid-speaking.com/exams/course/d1.html

Enough for today. We´ll upload the missing dates tomorrow!!

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