AS Language Oral Exams - Tips

These notes are valid and useful for any modern foreign language oral, but are Italian based because that is the subject I am studying.

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  • Created by: Tiula
  • Created on: 22-03-11 20:37

General Tips

  • you are permitted to choose a topic on which your oral card will be based. Ensure that you know that topic back to front and sideways, not just the vocabulary but what you might say. It's all very well speaking your language perfectly, but if you can't think of what to say in reply to the questions you might be answered, you won't get any marks
  • try writing down - or asking your teacher for - a list of questions you might be given in the exam, and ensure you have prepared appropriate answers, both in English and in the language you're studying
    • e.g. if your chosen topic is "The environment", you should know roughly what you would say in reply to "What can people do to help save the planet?"
  • if you are allowed to take a pencil and paper into the exam, do. Ask first if you will be allowed to take your notes into the oral with you -- I'm pretty sure that for Edexcel, you can
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Vocabulary Learning

  • learn as great a variety of vocabulary as you can, preferably centering on your chosen topic. There's no point knowing fifty different words for the atmosphere if your chosen topic is "youth culture"
  • use flashcards, and put them into piles -- those you know very well, those you normally know, but might forget and those you don't know at all
  • download Byki -- -- it's an excellent vocabulary learning site
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  • learn 3 or 4 model sentences that you can adapt for almost any situation
  • try and use as many different constructions as possible
  • although aiming at 100% accuracy, it is better to use a daring construction and make a small mistake than to play it safe all the time; an examiner will see this as a sign that you don't know them
  • learn a couple of "stalling sentences" in your chosen language, for example "well", "that is to say", "for example" so that you have more thinking time. Here are a few examples for italian:
    • per esempio -- for example
    • secondo me -- in my opinion
    • qualche volta -- sometimes
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In the exam

  • concentrate on what your teacher is saying -- if you ask them to repeat it, they may think that you didn't understand first time around, even if it was just because you didn't hear
  • relax -- if you stress too much, your answers may be harder to understand or not be so fluent. Also, when you stress, you tend to speak faster, which not only makes you harder to understand but also gives you less thinking time -- the slower you speak, the less you have to say!
  • if your teacher uses a certain construction, use it back (e.g. if the teacher asks you a sentence in the future, make sure that you reply in the future too)
    • if you don't, it will make it seem as though you are avoiding using that construction because you don't know it
  • Good Luck!
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