Many of us may panic when we have to answer a question on a given theme with very little preparation. You may have practised a lot but your nerves may affect how well you answer. When that happens, you may either veer off topic, get stuck or speak without depth.
As Primary 6 students prepare for PSLE English Oral Examinations in August, we will suggest some ways you can be better prepared for the Stimulus-Based Conversation component of the oral examinations. You should also refer to our earlier article on preparing for the Reading Aloud component.
1) Sharing Views on Topics
· Everyone has an opinion on many topics and issues. How can they be expressed? The following is a simple acronym you can use when doing so.
o O – State your OPINION
o R – State your REASONS clearly (at least two reasons)
o E – Explain using your personal EXPERIENCES
o O – State your OPINION again to sum up what you have just shared
2) Self-assessment / Peer-assessment
· You can always record yourself as you respond to questions you are practising with. Keep a lookout on whether you are clear or have a tendency to veer off topic.
· Why not listen to others around you as they provide their opinions on matters and issues? You can mentally assess the structure they use based on the OREO framework above.
3) Listen to debaters
· There are many excellent debaters from across the world. A simple search online will result in many video clips which showcase the skills these debaters possess. While it is not required for you to sound as formal as the debaters, do listen and look out for their structured speeches as they bring their points across.
During Oral Exams
1) Preparation Time
a. Look out for the details and illustrations in the stimulus provided
· The details and illustrations are provided for a purpose. Use them to assist you in providing reasons for the opinions that you share. This will display your ability to link your ideas with what is presented in the stimulus, ensuring that you remain on point.
b. Provide responses that show you are not that interested in the event / activity
· The first question usually asks whether you would be interested in the event / activity shown in the stimulus. You can answer it without merely committing to a ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
· If there is something that makes you less interested in attending the event / activity, you may say so and explain why. Suggesting an alternative is a good way to introduce new ideas without being prompted by the examiners.
c. Make an intelligent guess on the theme.
· Looking at the reading passage and stimulus, make a connection between them and think of some possible themes. This will help you to be more prepared for the second and third questions.
2) During the Examination
a. Using personal experiences
· Many students have the misconception that personal experiences are limited to those that they have gone through themselves. You may also include experiences that you have heard from people around you, news articles you have read or even from videos you have come across online. Just ensure that they help to support your opinions and are relevant to the questions asked.
b. Link opinions to values
· There are many positive values that we can all learn from. Link your opinion to those values and state them to show clarity in the way you are thinking. This will also project a positive impression of yourself to the examiners.
c. Stay relaxed
· Stay relaxed as you share your opinions and personal experiences. A smile and eye contact will make the oral examinations less daunting. Speak from the heart and use a humorous anecdote to lighten both you and the examiners’ mood.
Having the ability to converse with clarity is a skill that we need, not only for PSLE English Oral Exams, but also in other aspects of learning. As collaboration is important not only in schools but also later on in our lives, there is a strong need to speak to be understood.
We hope that you find the above tips useful, and would like wish all Primary 6 students all the best for your upcoming PSLE Oral examinations.
Apart from English oral, our Critical Reading and Writing strategies prepare our students for other sections of the English exams, including comprehension cloze passage, comprehension open-ended, and synthesis and transformation. Find out more about our programmes here