The 1-minute Speaking Challenge
Speaking Part 1 is designed to be ‘easy’ so that everyone has a good chance of answering the questions.
The examiner starts by asking you familiar questions such as where you live or your job or studies (Do you work, or are you a student?).
Then the questions move on to everyday topics like food, daily life, travel, shopping, etc.
They won’t ask you to suggest ways of reducing the rate of global warming or how to bring about world peace!
But you do have to give full and natural answers.
So how can you use Part 1 to get the highest possible speaking score?
In November 2018, I ran a daily speaking challenge.
The aim of the challenge was to:
- increase your fluency and confidence
- help you extend your answers and speak for longer
- give you lots of ideas of what you can talk about
- improve your pronunciation
- practice choosing the right tense
- develop your independent study skills so you can practise at home
- get you to Band 7 criteria of someone who ‘speaks at length without noticeable effort‘
You can do the challenge yourself at home.
Watch the video to get the questions and tips on each type of question.
Get the full Speaking booklet in the Members Academy.
One last thing
This week, I posted something on Instagram that people thought was a bit strange. I said that you should never answer a question with ‘Of course!‘
Why not? Well, here are a few reasons and some alternatives.
What’s wrong with ‘of course’?
- ‘Of course’ is not the same meaning as ‘yes’. ‘Of course’ suggests that the other person should already know the answer, because the answer is widely known. So if the question is something like ‘Is the world round?’ you can safely say ‘Of course it is!’ because everyone knows the world is round.
- Another situation when you can safely use ‘of course’ is when you want to emphasise that you are not completely useless e.g. when my husband asks me ‘Did you lock the door?’ I can safely say ‘Of course I did!‘, meaning ‘Don’t be stupid. Do you think I’m so stupid that I wouldn’t lock the door?’
So as you can see, the expression has some possibly negative connotations relating to how stupid you think the speaker is, or how stupid they think you are!
And it can often sound rude unless you say it in a jokey way with a smile on your face!
So when the examiner asks a simple question like ‘Do you like chocolate?’, the answer may be obvious to you, but not to the examiner! Not everyone likes chocolate. It is not a known fact that everyone in the world likes chocolate. So you can’t expect the examiner to know that you like chocolate.
What are the alternatives?
You need to sound as natural as possible, so say something like
‘Oh yeah I absolutely love it!’
‘Yes I’m a total chocoholic’
‘No, not particularly. I don’t mind dark chocolate but milk chocolate is a bit too sweet for my taste’
‘Yes I’ve got a terrible sweet tooth!’.
Any of those would be much better than ‘Of course’ unless you say something like
‘Well of course (*laughing*). Doesn’t everybody?’
Other ways of answering short questions (and this goes for Part 3 too) are to be emphatic e.g.
‘Do you think it’s important to do exercise?’
‘Absolutely/definitely. It’s essential because….’
Try not to repeat the examiner’s question.
Do you do this in your own language? If someone asks you
‘Have you been to the new cinema in town yet?’
would you answer
‘No I haven’t been to the new cinema in town yet’?
Find out more about the Speaking Test here.