A student wrote to me asking for some feedback on his current speaking level. I didn't have time to set up a Skype call so I suggested he just send me some audio files and I'd give some feedback when I had time.
Here are the audio files and my opinions.
Speaking Test Part 1 Questions and Answers
"Undoubtedly I consider that I have been studying English since I was a toddler."
You either have been studying since you were a toddler, or you haven't. That's a statement of fact. 'Consider' is for opinions. I consider Wayne Rooney to be the greatest living Englishman. I consider this website to be the most useful exam preparation site in the universe.
And mixing consider (opinion) and undoubtedly (certain fact) is unnatural.
Here are a couple of sentences that use undoubtedly in a correct way:
- If they had lost the game, the manager would undoubtedly have been fired.
- Undoubtedly, being a child in England was a great help for my language skills.
"I initiated myself when I was a toddler."
To initiate something is a conscious decision: The Prime Minister initiated a new anti-poverty policy.
Toddlers learn languages because they are surrounded by that language, not because they choose to study it.
You could say 'I was initiated into the language as a toddler' because that's a passive construction - meaning your parents chose it for you, or it happened as the natural result of you being in an English-speaking environment.
This answer is a good length but is a tiny bit repetitive.
"I think I study better during nighttimes and it's essentially due to one main reason."
That's pretty good. Interesting. The construction is like a little detective story and we want to know the end.
"And that reason is I don't have no-one in my boundaries, no-one around me, so I don't get distracted so much."
That's a double negative. Don't is negative and no-one is negative. Try to avoid double negative constructions in English. (Native speakers use double negatives all the time, but they sound like idiots when they do.)
"There's no way of distraction."
That's not really a phrase. But I like that this student tries to use complicated sentences, phrases, changes nouns to verbs and so on. He's making some mistakes but in the long-term he can really get to a high level of English this way.
Speaking Test Part 2 - Comparisons
We don't have the photos the student is looking at, but we can imagine them quite well because he talks about them quite clearly. He's a bit too descriptive.
I think the task was 'compare the photos and say why these people are gathered together.'
"Several cooks trying to make some bakery".
A bakery is a shop where you can buy bread products (or the place where they are made). The student could say 'Several cooks trying to bake' or 'several cooks baking'.
"They might be doing this to attend some general event with many people. That's why they are gathered together."
Good speculation, but the bakers aren't doing it to attend the event. I don't think that's the right word in this case. But he says why they are gathered together, so he's doing what he should be doing.
"It seems to be a great parade... in the foreground we can see several flags."
I really like the word 'foreground' - that's nice and advanced. Bonus point! But he's way too descriptive - in the exam everyone can see the photo so there's no point explaining what's in it. He should be comparing this picture with the other one.
He only really compares the two people in the last sentence where he compares 'making the spectators feel happy' with satisfying the hunger of the people.
Summary - much less exposition needed, and a lot more comparison needed. Speculative language was good and there was some advanced vocabulary used.
Overall, this is much better than the previous recording. He focuses much more on the comparisons between the photos (while/both pictures). His speculative language is really good, as always.
Photo #1 shows three girls dancing and #2 shows a guy carving some musical instrument. The task probably said something like 'Compare the photos and say why the people do this hobby'.
"In the first picture at our left"
'On our left' or 'on the left'.
"It's a quite tedious process"
- I expect this student to do well in the exam
- His English is good, fluent, and pretty clear
- He should continue trying to push himself in terms of using advanced phrases
- But he needs a mechanism where he gets corrected when those phrases aren't accurate (e.g. a teacher, a tandem, some native speaker friends.) italki would be perfect for him.