How many of us get tongue-tied when we have to give speeches? The truth is, you are not alone. We tend to focus so much on the words that we end up being too tense. This same situation presents itself when we have to be tested for our oral skills. As Primary 6 students prepare for PSLE English Oral Examinations in less than two months, we will share some ways you can be better prepared for the Reading Aloud component of the oral examinations.
· Make it a habit to read aloud any piece of text that you come across. (Do be mindful not to disturb others around you.)
· This is important as you need to get the muscles in your jaw and tongue used to pronounce certain words. If you lack practice, your pronunciation is likely to be negatively affected under pressure.
· With voice recording capabilities on mobile phones, it has become a lot easier for us to be aware of how we read and speak. Why not record yourself when you read, and listen to it afterwards? Only by knowing your weaknesses, can you then begin to work on improving your reading.
3) Positive Role Models
· Spend time listening to positive role models who read well. Examples include newscasters.
· This is important as we tend to speak like the people we surround ourselves with. It is great to have friends with many different backgrounds and reading abilities. However, we must be able to tell the difference between excellent readers and those who are not. Emulate those who are good readers. However, don’t judge those who aren’t. They are still your friends!
1) Preparation Time
a. Mouth the words as you are preparing
i. Many students make the mistake of reading silently during the preparation time without moving their mouths. This will affect the muscles in your jaw and tongue, especially when you feel nervous, causing you to mispronounce words and pausing at incorrect places.
ii. Take special note of the ‘th’ sounds and final consonant sounds of words as you practise. Try reading these phrases, making sure to stress the ‘th’ sounds and final consonants: ‘She took a quick look’ and ‘she thought that’.
iii. Long vowels and short vowels are sounds that most students do not distinguish, for example, the word ‘sheep’ is misread as ‘ship’. This may result in changing the meaning of the text.
b. Look out for dialogue
i. These will be the best places for you to show off your ability to be expressive. Don’t be afraid of being over-expressive. It is much better than having no expression at all.
c. Look out for punctuation.
i. This will affect your volume, inflection (whether your voice goes up or goes down) and breathing.
ii. A common problem when reading a long sentence is to break up a sentence at inappropriate places. This in turn affects the rhythm of the reading. Understanding the sentence as a whole will help you to decide where to pause.
2) During the Oral Examination
a. Maintaining a steady pace
i. Under exam stress, especially during the PSLE English oral exam, you may find yourself reading a bit faster than usual. Reading too fast can create more stress and mistakes. You may also miss out all the expression and final consonants in words. You will rather read a bit slower than to be reading too fast.
b. Managing errors in pronunciation
i. What can you do when you make an error in pronunciation, and realise it right away? Simple reread the word. You are not likely to be penalised, as the examiner will know that you have spotted and corrected your own error.
ii. However, do not pretend that nothing has happened because the examiner will definitely notice the error. It is worse to make him think that you have misread a word like ‘responsibility’ (for example) and are not even aware.
i. You have to remember to breath normally as you read. However, nervousness may cause you to breathe unnaturally and may affect your fluency in reading. You might be holding your breath without realising it. So, before starting to read aloud, take a deep breath in and smile. You should start only when you feel you are fully ready and relaxed.
We hope that the above tips will help you not only for PSLE English Oral Examinations, but also in situations where your oral skills are required. Stay tuned for our next article on Stimulus-based Conversation coming up in next month.
If you want to learn more about how Cognitus Academy prepares your child for Primary and Secondary English exams, click here to register for a trial lesson now!