In a previous article, we had shared some tips to improve your writing skills. But what about your spoken language skills?
It comes as no surprise that many students in Singapore struggle with their English oral examinations. Unlike a written assessment, the English oral examination requires you to quickly translate whatever ideas or thoughts are in your head into fluent and coherent sentences, all whilst taking into account proper pronunciation, excellent grammar and stellar vocabulary. Simply put, it assesses how proficient and confident you are in the English language.
Moreover, the oral communication component in the O Levels English examinations holds a significant weightage of 20% -- contributing to a fifth of your overall grade. Thus, it is important that you put your best foot forward to excel in your oral examinations. Here are 3 useful tips that can help you out!
Tip #1: Keep calm
One of the biggest causes of poor performance in English oral examinations is panic. When you do not have much confidence in your understanding and command of the language, you will feel nervous or on edge.
Your body’s natural reaction to danger is triggered by this, causing an adrenaline rush, tense muscles, and an elevated heart rate. All of these can significantly impact your ability to communicate and think clearly. Your sense of reason will become muddled as your adrenaline levels rise, and muscle tension will make it difficult for your jaw muscles to generate the necessary angles and shapes needed to pronounce words correctly.
Thus, take a deep breath in and relax. Try to change your idea about the exam – instead of viewing it as something daunting, attempt to see it as an opportunity to demonstrate what you’ve learned! Be confident and go in with an open mind. You could even see it as having an intellectual conversation with the examiner!
Tip #2: Practice
This may seem like an obvious tip, but the truth is that many students often leave their oral examination preparations to the bottom of the list of priorities.
There is a common misconception that oral communication examinations are simply “just speaking”, so not much practice is needed. However, that is not the case! There are various components that go into the oral examinations, such as pronunciation, knowing when to pause or stress certain words, being able to communicate your ideas without the use of filler words (“uhm”, “like” etc.) and more.
As the saying goes, practice makes perfect! Gather a couple of friends and practise reading aloud and engaging in an active discussion on various topics. You could even do a simulation and get your friend to pose as the examiner to ask you questions. The more you practise, the better you will get at reading and articulating your ideas!
Bonus: Be sure to pay attention to your non-verbal communication as well. Maintain a relaxed yet confident body language by sitting up straight and having good eye contact with your examiner!
Tip #3: Do not be afraid to ask for help
There is no shame in reaching out to ask for help. If you are struggling with your exam preparations, consider engaging a tutor for English home tuition. A qualified tutor would be able to provide you with the assistance you need to ace your examinations. Not only would you be able to get additional practice time outside of your regular classes in school, but you would also be able to tackle specific issues that you’re facing with your private tutor. For instance, if you struggle with pronunciation, your tutor can go over the specific sounds that you should focus on to ensure that you are able to excel in your reading aloud component (for example, “th”, “s” etc.).
The O Level English Oral Examinations do not have to be a cause of an overwhelming amount of stress and anxiety. With the tips we have listed above, you’d be on your way to passing your examination with flying colours!
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