I am sure that while you speak in English about a certain topic, sometimes you get stuck and you don’t know what else to say… The thing is that when this happens you have already started introducing the next thing you thought you had to say.. What is more, the other person expects you to do so; he expects you to complete your thoughts BUT there are no other thoughts whatsoever! Only a blank white page in your mind and consequently, no words in your mouth!
So, you stand there smiling awkwardly and mumbling something like: “um… well, um… yes…. that’s it… um, yes… that“, hoping that the examiner will have mercy on you and will move on to the next question as quickly as possible or–better yet–he will pretend it never happened. Sounds familiar?
Well, it doesn’t have to be that way!!
Think in English and NOT in your mother language! Obviously, in your mother language you have all the words you need and all the ideas and opinions come easily. Your level is the highest possible. However, if you start thinking in your mother language and try to translate the same words and ideas in English in your head before you actually speak, you’re in for an epic fail!
You can’t possibly translate everything in such a short notice and most probably your English vocabulary is not as advanced as in your mother tongue. Even if it is, the different syntax of your language may confuse you as you speak. This is the number one reason people get stuck while they speak. So, don’t try to express all the complicated ideas that you would say in your language if you cannot. It is better to think in English; in this way, you may be simple but fluent!
Speak as you write! What do I mean by that? One thing that will greatly help you as you try to give an answer in English is to keep your thoughts organised. Do you remember what we do in writing? When we write, we use an introduction in which we introduce our topic, a main paragraph in which we analyse our opinion with reasons and examples, and a conclusion in which we wrap-up our main thoughts.
So, this is what you should do in your speaking, too (with less words obviously) and with practice you will not get stuck again! Let’s see how you can do it!
Let’s just say that they ask you this question:
“If a movie is based on a book, would you prefer to read the book or to watch the film?”
Ok, when you are asked questions like that (especially in Part 3), you should notice that these questions could be writing topics, too. So, my advice is not to answer right away by expressing your view. Firstly, use one or two general sentences to introduce a general statement based on the main theme of the question. This will help you greatly to earn some time in order to organise your thoughts.
“Some people would argue that watching the film is better since it will be much more fascinating and so much faster to watch the characters alive but I beg to differ.”
As you can see above, you don’t really answer the question, not just yet. You just give a hint talking about what most people would generally prefer in this case and where you stand. This is all you need to grab the examiner’s attention. This is your introduction and now it’s time to actually answer your question.
Let’s see what you can do:
“The way I see it, it is much more fascinating to read the book.”
WHY? Now is the time to explain your reasons for that by giving examples. Don’t get lost with that. Choose 2-3 reasons and focus on them. Move to your next point only when you complete the previous one:
“The way I see it, it is much more fascinating to read the book. When you read the book, you use your imagination in order to build the scenery, the characters, their appearance and well, pretty much everything. On the contrary, if you watch the film everything is already made for you, so I’m not really fond of that. Furthermore, in most cases films are very different from the book due to time constraints I suppose, and eventually everyone who has read the book says: ‘It was good but not as good as the film’.”
Of course you can say more than that if you like, but I’m just giving you an example that uses linking phrases, opposite views, reasons, and examples.
If you said everything you had to say, it is time to wrap-up. This is the number one point that people get stuck! They don’t know what else to say or they don’t know if they have said enough or simply they just don’t know how to finish off their thoughts. In any case, the only thing you need is the right phrase! There are a number of phrases that can help you conclude:
- All in all,
- Maybe this is what it needs to be done
- To sum-up, I would generally say that …
I’m sure you can find more by yourself if you think about it a little bit but the above can help you get started according to each question. So, here we go:
“Overall, I know that I probably belong to the small minority, but actually, I firmly believe that a book is always better.”
Try to practice your speaking answers this way and try to use these standard phrases as much as possible. Hopefully, you will not get stuck in Speaking again!