The speaking sub-section of any language test can be extremely daunting. If you write something you are unhappy about, you can delete it. If you choose an incorrect answer in the listening or reading sections, you can change your mind. However, unfortunately once words have come out of our mouths, we can’t put them back in. If only we could, life would be much easier in general! And in terms of the PTE speaking tasks, it is not only the words that we need to worry about, but our intonation and articulation.
Fluency and Pronunciation
Candidates have a tendency to think too much about what they are saying and forget the importance of how they are saying it. A significant proportion of your score will be based upon your competency in pronunciation and fluency. For this reason, it is important that what you say is as clear as possible and that you use the correct grammar while maintaining a steady speed and using your voice to make the correct inflections. You are trying to sound like a native English speaker with the use of your speech, so your voice is a tool in itself.
A good grasp of English in general, including grammatical knowledge in terms of word types and sentence structure is evidently the most important place to start. However, there are other things that you can do to improve your fluency and pronunciation. Listening as well as speaking practice is key. The more that you hear native English speakers talk, the more familiar their intonation and use of language becomes, and you are able to start to copy the sound. So take every opportunity, be it radio, films or meeting up with English speakers, to hear as much as you can.
Describe Image Task
In this task, you will be presented with an image that gives information such as a map, chart or diagram. Unlike with some elements of the speaking section, you can really help yourself out by doing some revision before the test here.
Spend some time looking at graphs, maps and diagrams so that you familiarize yourself with all the key elements. If you are confident at analysing a line graph or a pie-chart for example (both in your own language and in English), then when the task comes along, at least the comprehension of the content will not hold you back.
Regarding your oral description, it is also a good idea to learn the type of vocabulary you would use to describe data in a chart or map, just as you would for a written activity, so that you are not stuck for words.
With these two skills behind you, all there is to do now is to describe the image. When doing so, keep things simple. Make sure that the information that you give, as well as your grammar, is as accurate as possible. Make sure you use compound and complex sentences but also beware of making your sentences too long and convoluted.
Read Aloud Task
In this task, you are being assessed on how close your speech is to a native English speaker. Now, of course, even if your English is perfect, you are likely still to have an accent from you mother-tongue. This is fine, and you will not be marked down for this. It is the movement and tempo of your speech that should be the same as a native speaker, in addition to the actual sound, in relation to tone and intonation.
Consequently, you need to think about whether your voice is following the right patterns, going up and down when it should, and using the correct speed and rhythm. All native English speakers sound different but there are some similarities in their use of language, and these are the similarities that you need to be listening out for and mimicking in your study-time.
Re-tell Lecture Task
The re-tell lecture task is really testing two skills; your comprehension of the recording and your ability to take the key points and build your own oral lecture. In this task, it is important that you identify the key points in the information that you have listened to as otherwise you will have a hard time structuring your own piece.
You will need these key points to base your phrases and format on, so take some notes as you listen. There is an erasable note pad available to do this and it is really worth using it. If you are unsure what the key words and phrases are, listen to the reader’s intonation and see where they place the emphasis to help you. Listening practice comes in useful once again here. If you listen to English news for example, the newsreaders place a great deal of emphasis on the “important words”. This will get you used to the skill of listening for important information.
When it comes to the next stage, you can easily put your words and phrases into your own sentences ready to read out. Make sure you have included all the core aspects as you will be graded on this. However, remember again that you are not only being graded on what you say but how you say it so construct your sentences with effort and awareness.
Repeat Sentence Task
This task does not need a lot of explanation. You are required to copy what has been said. Even though it is not actually necessary to understand the words that you are saying, you will be much more likely to remember all the words and pronounce them correctly if you do understand them. With that in mind, a good general grasp of vocabulary is key.
As you can see, there are several elements to bear in mind when taking the different tasks in the PTE speaking section. Aside form the specific tips given, there is no better tip than to get plenty of actual listing and speaking practice on a regular basis. This can be one to one with English speaking people, using language resources, or just making good the media surrounding you. The more you hear native English speakers and the more you speak English (even if it is not perfect, it really doesn’t matter!), the better.