Category Archives: Tips to get a good mark in the EOI exams

Conversation Fillers: Give Yourself Some Time to Think!

In class, my students do a lot of mock speaking exams.

Picture description is fairly easy for the student to control as he is on his own, with no interference from the teacher and he can, to a certain extent,  know in advance how he is going to structure his description. No worries here!

(See some useful guidelines and techniques for Picture Description here)

The Interaction between the teacher and the student is the part of the exam that causes more stress and anxiety. The student doesn’t know what he’s going to be asked about and sometimes students find it difficult to get started and gather their thoughts. Some students are very clever and very quick at  organising  the answer in their minds; I would say it comes naturally to them, while other students need more time to think of a coherent argument. Unfortunately, most students fall into the second category and they need all the advice we can offer them.

There are some  techniques you can use to give yourself some time to think about what you are going to say, but I would advise you to use them in a sensible way and make sure you don’t answer  every question with a filler, as you will certainly run the risk of sounding  very unnatural.

♥Use the typical filler sounds:

-ah, mm, um, uh,

Repeat the question:

-” Umm … What would be my ideal job??? Well…”

Pretend you haven’t understood the question:

-” Could you repeat the question, please?”

-“Sorry, I didn’t hear what you said. Could you repeat the question?”

Express a lack of opinion:

“I’m afraid I don’t know much about it!”

-“It’s difficult to say!”

-“I have never really thought about it!”

-“Well, I don’t know, but I think /people say…”

Hope it helps you!! And remember USE WITH CAUTION!

If you are studying, yes, “studying ” for the oral test, you might be interested in this other post. Tips to Score High in the Oral Test 

Tips to Describe Pictures: Music

OMG! Where does time go? It seems only like yesterday when with butterflies in my stomach I greeted my new students. It was early October and, at that time, the course seemed long enough to last a lifetime, and just now I ‘ve realized that spring is technically here,  in fact, it ‘s been here for several days though I don’t feel exactly in on spring-mode and… it doesn’t help that it’s been raining on and off for the last few days. 🙁

Anyway, the Certificación exam is fast approaching and we need to practise a lot, especially speaking.

In the second part of the oral exam you will be asked to describe pictures ( a max. of three) and, in this part, you will be on your own. The examiner won’t ask you any questions.


♥the pictures are just an excuse to talk about the topic

♥describe what you can see, comparing and contrasting the pictures. We don’t want you to describe in detail, just give a general description.

♥Use a wide variety of vocabulary and structures. Join your ideas using connectors.

Talk about the topic explaining your point of view.

Normally the pictures show different sides of the same issue. Say which one you would choose and why.

You have three minutes to shine 🙂

LET’S PRACTISE WITH THESE PHOTOS.  (click here to see the original)

Some ideas to help you talk:

How important is music in your life?
How much time do you spend listening to music each day or week?
Do you think music is getting better or worse?
Do you ever go out to listen to music live? When was the last time you went to a concert/gig? Gig /ɡɪɡ/ is a slang word than means live performance

Now, let’s try this one. Original here

How important is music in your life?
How much time do you spend listening to music each day or week?
Do you think music is getting better or worse?
Have you ever illegally downloaded music? Do you think it is okay or not okay to download music illegally?
With the increasing rise of downloading from the internet, what do you think the future of the music industry is?
Do you think music is getting better or worse?

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