I’m sure it goes without saying that in Singapore, English plays an essential role. It serves as the bridging language between people of different ethnicities and allows us to communicate effectively with each other.
Oftentimes, most judge others based on how eloquently spoken they are! This is especially important when it comes to sitting for interviews or hosting important events, etc. Hence, most schools begin testing us on our spoken English quite early on, such as in PSLEs!
As such, it is of utmost importance that we hone our spoken English skills at a young age (especially for our English Oral Examinations!). However, not many of us are as articulate as we would like to be.
This is understandable, as most of us grow up in families where English is not the primary language used for communication. Despite this, what many fail to realise is that acing our English Oral skills is not a terribly daunting task.
I, myself, used to struggle in my own English Oral exams during my primary school years, as I used to be terribly shy! However, after experimenting and trying out new ways to improve, I eventually settled on some key tricks that helped me ace my exams!
Thus, this article serves to share some key tips and tricks to help anyone prepare for their English Oral examinations, from me to you!
When practicing, slow down
One key aspect that examiners grade students on during Oral exams is fluency. Thus, it is always better to read and speak slightly slower in order to prevent tripping over our words and stammering.
However, it can be quite the challenge for some, as we naturally tend to speed up when speaking if we are feeling nervous. More often than not, this causes us to stutter and stumble with our words.
This can prove to be quite detrimental to our overall grade if it happens too often, as it can make the speaker seem less confident and thus, less likely to be taken seriously!
So, do remember to read slowly when practicing our reading skills and slowly build up the pace to one which we are comfortable with! Thus, practice for our Oral exams should be done months before the actual exams, in order to improve gradually at a pace that works for us.
Also, take deep breaths to calm ourselves down before speaking!
Practice conversing with friends in proper English
As mentioned earlier, most of us have a tougher time speaking eloquently in English given the fact that most of us do not use it as a primary language at home.
However, like with any skill, practice is what makes perfect! Hence, we should make use of all the opportunities we have to practice our spoken English skills. A good way to start is with our friends!
It will be a good way for everyone to practice their skills daily and also eventually form the habit of using proper English to converse. It can be quite the challenge initially, but with proper support from your friends, it is possible!
Not to mention, given that we are also graded on our conversational skills in the Oral examinations, conversing with our friends also helps to hone this skill.
Read, read, read!
Constant exposure to the language in other forms are also essential in improving it overall.
Thus, picking up a well-written fiction book is a fantastic way to do so! It helps you in practicing to read more accurately and fine-tune your grammar and vocabulary.
Not only that, good fiction novels also have beautifully written descriptions that you could use in your Oral exams to really wow your examiners and give yourself a competitive edge!
It can seem quite daunting, especially today, when most have turned away from books in favor of other more visual forms of entertainment. However, if you commit to it, an improvement in your English skills is a definite guarantee!
To begin, pick a book that really interests you that doesn’t use overly complicated language to start reading. As you progress, you may start moving on to longer, more advanced books to build up the habit of reading.
Refer to examples of native English speakers and their pronunciation
Given that we reside in Singapore, most of us have adopted the Singlish slang. So, oftentimes our pronunciation of certain English words may not be accurate.
Thus, it would be a good idea every now and then to listen to some audiobooks, or watch some English films to take note of how certain words are pronounced. It might seem like a rather strange way to be revising for the Oral exams, but this was one of the ways that I, myself, managed to ace my English Oral exams!
Additionally, this makes improving our spoken English skills rather fun as we’re free to entertain ourselves with good films while still learning!
Find some time to practice with your English teacher
Practicing with your friends is a great way to ensure daily practice, however, we should also be seeking the help of our English tutor.
After all, they are the ones who know what we would be graded on in the English Oral exams and can accurately pinpoint our weaknesses and give us the feedback we need to improve!
Not only that, they can also provide us with Oral-style questions that can also help us further prepare for the conversational segment of the Oral exams.
Always keep in mind that the teachers would be more than happy to help you improve as long as you’ve indicated your sincerity in getting better in the subject!
Always keep an open mind to change
I’m sure many of us have heard this saying before- To have a growth mindset and not a fixed one. Despite the countless times we’ve had it drilled into our minds, it remains an important point to remember if we wish to improve!
In order to master any skill, we must always remain amenable to critique and be willing to change to better ourselves.
If a teacher were to critique our work, it simply means that they have identified mistakes that we’ve missed out on and that we have room for improvement. Thus, we should be grateful for their constructive criticism.
It is also important to remain positive and not let our negative feelings get the better of us in our learning journey. After all, learning should always be fun, and a good mindset helps to make it a much more enjoyable experience!
Daily reading aloud practices are needed
As we know, the reading aloud segment of the Oral exams account for a large portion of the allocated marks. Thus, it is crucial that we master it in order to ace the exam overall.
Luckily for everyone, it is also the easiest to ace!
An easy way to begin practicing this skill is to simply pick up a book or an article and practice reading it aloud everyday. Unless you are already very confident in your reading ability, this should be done religiously especially if the examinations are coming up.
You could also elect to record yourself reading aloud and play it back in order to judge your own skills and identify your own mistakes and areas for improvement. Keeping and dating these recordings allows you to refer back to your old style of reading and see how you’ve improved!
Be engaging in your conversation
Needless to say, a good speaker is noy simply one that is fluent. Rather, it is one that has the ability to captivate and almost seem to entertain in their speech.
To be a good speaker, one has to be concise and clear, being sure to avoid confusing our listeners at all costs.
The best way to incorporate this idea and hone our skills is to practice them in our day to day conversations, such as with our family members that we see everyday. We can have them judge our skills and give us feedback to see where we can better ourselves.
Or, we could also take up the habit of keeping video journals, where we document and describe the interesting things in our lives verbally. This encourages us to explore more ways to verbally express ourselves and give us more ideas of what to share during the Oral exam itself.
Make sure to properly relax before the exam
As silly and obvious as it sounds, many of us do not actually take the time to care for ourselves and de-stress before our examinations. In fact, many students actually spend their whole nights before the examinations practicing instead of taking the time to rest!
Anxiety before exams is normal, but it is of utmost importance that it does not become a hindrance on the day itself. Again, we want to avoid stammering and sounding nervous in front of our examiners!
Thus, it is important to take the time to de-stress the day before the exam. You could try some light exercise, or listening to your favourite music while taking a break from your studying.
The most important thing is to ensure that we get a full night’s sleep the night before. The last thing we want is to show up to the exams tired and unfocused.
Keep a positive attitude overall
During the exam itself, remember to keep an energetic and cheerful nature! Most people don’t seem to realise that we tend to mirror the attitudes of those we interact with. Thus, keeping a cheerful attitude can help to put the examiners in a good mood as well.
Another trick that you could use is to make good use of gestures when talking, especially during the conversational segment. Gesturing while talking can really help to emphasise certain things that you’re trying to get across and can make you seem more engaging!
However, it is also important to remember not to overdo it to avoid looking too dramatic and over the top!
That concludes the tips and tricks to help with your English Oral exams! Remember that frequent practice is key, and all the best for your exams!