Many students tell me that they have been studying for years but they still find it difficult to speak in English.
Speaking is probably the most important aspect of learning a language but schools and academies don’t seem to realise this.
Many of my students want to prepare for the speaking part of the Escuela Oficial exams because they don’t feel they are ready to take the test even though they have attended hours of English classes.
I think the EO (Escuela Oficial) speaking part is more difficult than the Cambridge system. Simply because you have to read text AND talk at the same time. With the Cambridge system you are talking about pictures so you have much more flexibility and it is more intuitive. In both systems you have to think on your feet.
How to pass the ADVANCED level EO speaking exam
(Click to jump to the bottom to see examples of Escuela Oficial ADVANCED level speaking exams.)
To be prepared for the EO ADVANCED speaking exams you need to be able to demonstrate a basic understanding of the following topics (and have vocabulary relating to):
Music and media (books, film etc), animals and pets, education, sports and hobbies, holidays and travel, technology, the environment and climate change, crime and law, cultural celebrations, norms and manners, work and money, holidays, daily routines, leisure time and hobbies, family and family occasions, Food and health, fashion and shopping, dates, weather and seasons.
The basic level Escuela Oficial speaking exam is divided into 2 parts: Monologue and Dialogue.
The example on the right is a Monologue:
You are normally given 10 minutes to prepare which is a great advantage. After this time you present your ideas and opinions to the examiner. You have 4 minutes to complete this section.
In this example you can see what I would say in an exam like this. In addition you can listen to the audio version by clicking on the separate link.
You are normally given some time to formulate your ideas for this part which is a great advantage. After this time you present your ideas and opinions to the examiner. You have 2 minutes to complete this section. You should aim to talk about at least 2 points. I would recommend that you number the points and follow them in order. That way you wont get confused about what you have spoken about and what you haven’t. In the example on the right above, I have given you an example of how I would answer these questions in English.
The dialogue section is done with another student. You normally have around 4-5 minutes to complete this part. There are a few things you need to careful about with this section.
1. One of you should introduce the scenario. I would say that this could almost always be a sentence like, “I’m really excited that we’re buying a house together. I think we should talk about the details. I think we should move to the countryside because….What do you think?…”
or “We are here today to decide who the best candidate for this job is. I think that (first point on your sheet) because…What do you think? etc…”
2. Do not tell your partner all your points in one go. You need to dissect each point. Present your first point and explore that point thoroughly.
3. Think rationally but be creative. If your conversation is about moving in together and your sheet says that you would prefer to live in the city-Think about all the positive elements of living in a city: Better public transport. More things to do etc…
4. Cover ALL the points 1 by 1, first. Then you or your partner can summarise the points and come to a conclusion about what you are going to decide at the end.
5. Make sure that you come to some kind of agreement at the end of the discussion.
6. You need to be creative and invent scenarios to keep the conversation going.
7. Do not argue forever. It doesn’t matter whose wrong or right or who has the better “thing” to talk about. The important thing is that you discuss the points and then agree within the specified 5-6 minutes. If your partner is determined to live in a house in the countryside then agree with them and because you can see it from their point of view and you think it will probably be a better idea. It doesn’t matter if you don’t think so in reality. What matters is that you both make a final decision and finish the task.