How to improve fluency for PTE Academic
Speaking fluency is a problem faced by many people who take an exam like PTE Academic. While, gaining natural fluency can take a long time, this article discusses some ideas to bring about quick improvement in your speaking fluency. Read each of these suggestions carefully and apply them to your speaking to give a boost to your PTE score.
If there is one thing that a very large number of students struggle with in their PTE Exam, that is fluency. As you might know PTE Academic is a fully computerised exam in which your responses are scored by a computer. One of the key factors in determining your score for the Speaking section is your fluency.
What exactly is fluency and how can one assign a score to it?
In simple terms, fluency is all about how smooth, effortless and natural your speaking is. If for example, a regular English speaker listens to you, will he find your pauses, emphasis and the way you group words together in a sentence, unnatural? If you think he might, then it’s a sign that you may have a problem with fluency. These are also the traits that the PTE Academic software tries to pick up while determining your score. If your response is filled with hesitations, unnatural pauses, speed that goes up and down abruptly, then you will receive a low score.
Fluency is a core language attribute and is often the result of years of speaking and listening in an English-speaking environment. Now of-course, we don’t have years to prepare for our PTE Academic exam. But there are certainly a number of things which we can do to get in a better position for our exam.
Imagine a friendly audience
Speaking fluently is a lot to do with your confidence in your speaking ability. Do you think you speak well? Or can you at least make yourself believe for a little while that you speak well? That is the key!
When you go into the exam, irrespective of your language level and past results, have a firm belief in your ability. Imagine that you are going for a conversation with some friends. That you take away the fear. It has often been seen that many students who take a PTE Course speak much better when practicing in a relaxed environment than what they do in the exam centre.
So, it is all about making yourself believe that you have a friendly audience. Don’t think you are recording into a computer. Think that you are just speaking with your best friend.
Rehearse before you speak
Speaking questions like Read Aloud, Describe Image and Re-Tell Lecture have anywhere between 25 to 40 seconds for you to prepare your response. Use some of that time to rehearse your response. Speak any unfamiliar words or if a word seems too difficult decide what you are going to speak in place of that word. It is far better than making a guess and speaking a word which seems half accurate than hesitating and stopping during your response.
Practice speaking common phrases
In your spoken responses, for most of them, you will be using sentence phrases like, “The speaker talks about…” or “The image describes…”, etc. When you already know that you will be using these phrases in your exam, why not practice speaking them in the best possible manner beforehand?
You can refer to any practice materials you have or ask a teacher if you are taking a PTE Course for a list of such phrases. You should also be able to get the perfect way of speaking them from the sample responses. After that it’s just about practicing, recording yourself and making sure you get it right.
Get a speaking assessment done
If you have taken a PTE or IELTS exam before and failed to get your desired score because of your Speaking problems, then maybe it’s time to get an assessment done. An expert teacher can quickly pin point the mistakes that you are making. It is often seen that a student repeats the same error multiple times and fixing just one or two issues result in a huge overall improvement.
Your speaking assessment can help you diagnose issues such as – wrong way of phrasing the sentences, speaking too fast or slow, not bringing out the intent in your speech and failing to put stress on important words.
Knowing the problems is the first step in addressing them. So, if this is a problem that you have been struggling with for some time, then please get a speaking assessment done. A good PTE Online Course will even give you the option to get this done from the comfort of your home.
Adjust your pace
It is surprising how much difference a small adjustment can make.Take a reading sample and try to speak it at difference paces. Make one recording speaking it a slow pace and another at a faster pace. Leave the recordings alone for a day or at least a few hours and then come back to listen to them with a set of fresh ears. You will be able to point out which recording sounds better.
This is an easy way to come across as more fluent. However, don’t decide the speed at which to speakon the basis of just one recording sample. Repeat the exercise with a few different reading texts. That way you will make a better decision.
Break the sentences properly
A key aspect of fluency is how your voice flows from one word to another, one part of a sentence to another and one sentence to another. Someone not very fluent will usually be able to speak only 2 or 3 words in one go before pausing or hesitating. If you speak are able to speak a larger number of words in one go you will come across as more fluent.
Ideally, you would pause at punctuations such as commas and full stops and connecting words such as and, or and but.
See what you are speaking
For questions like Describe Image and Re-tell lecture, a common reason why people struggle to come across fluent is that they hesitate and try to figure out what to speak next. But every time you pause to think about a key point while speaking, you lose some points for fluency.
The key to overcome this is to use your preparation time properly. Try building a picture in your mind and then when you speak, just look at that picture and speak. This way you will not forget points and you will not have to pause after every few points.
You can use your visual memory in this way not just for Describe Image and Re-tell Lecture but also while reading passages in the Reading Section or when listening to audios in the Listening section.
Practice Practice Practice
This is the bonus tip!
Nothing will improve your fluency more than practicing speaking in the ways we just discussed. Whether you attend a classroom course or a PTE Online Course, make sure you put in sufficient time to analysing your fluency problems and then putting in enough practice to overcome those. It is not about how many Read Aloud questions do, it is about how much focus you put in each question that you attempt.
Follow these suggestions and keep a positive attitude. Very soon you will start to see improvements in your English fluency.
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