Students generally find it difficult to prepare for a speaking test because they have nobody to practise with or correct their mistakes - but that doesn’t mean you can’t test yourself!
Whether you’re taking an end-of-course test or an official exam like FCE or IELTS, there’s one great tool you can use: your mobile phone. Nearly every smartphone these days has an inbuilt recording feature which you can use to test your speaking skills. You can record yourself speaking, play the recording back, and correct your own mistakes.
Unfortunately, whenever I suggest this exercise to my students for homework, I generally feel that it falls on deaf ears. So, to practise what I preach, I told my students that if they did it, I would do it too - but in Italian!
I chose the following PET speaking questions:
- What’s your name?
- Where do you live?
- How long have you lived there?
- What do you do?
- Do you study English at a school?
- Do you like studying English?
- What do you do in your free time?
I did the exercise three times. The first time, I noticed I had made a few grammar mistakes and hadn’t spoken for long enough. The second time was a bit better, and the third time was nearly perfect.
All in all, I made a real improvement with my grammar, pronunciation and how long I spoke. Also, recording myself put me under the pressure I imagine I would experience during a formal speaking test.
My students had a useful experience too! Nelia, from Brazil, said that she could hear her mistakes when she listened to her voice; she was mainly using the wrong verb tense and using prepositions incorrectly. When she tried the exercise again, she got it right – so she highly recommends it!
Donghyeon from Korea said that the exercise helped him to practise using the present perfect continuous tense, as well as improving his accent and his English skills in general.
This post was written by Hayat and Rob, teachers at TLG London.
If you’re preparing for a speaking test and haven’t got anyone to practise with, why not record yourself and tell us what you think? You could also take part in one of our exam preparation courses for extra focus!