Self-study for speaking tests: 4 steps that will raise your game

Speaking exams are tough but with the right preparation and mindset, you can step into the examination hall with a good dose of self-confidence in your abilities and a feeling of being in control of the situation rather than overwhelmed by it.

Keep reading for some ideas to help you build confidence and take away some of the anxiety so that you can perform better on exam day.


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Out and about and other BINOMIALS

A binomial is formed by two words and a conjunction that joins them as in: “After a quick visit to the hotel to drop off her bags, she’s been out and about exploring the city all day”. 

The order of the words is fixed and if you reverse it, it would sound unnatural and be wrong, e.g. “about and out”.

What follows is a selection of some binomials that  I consider useful.  I encourage you to learn them and try to use one next time you have a conversation in English.  Continue reading “Out and about and other BINOMIALS”

6 phrasal verbs to speak about yourself

6 phrasal verbs to speak about yourself that will enhance your Speaking (Part 1) in the CAE exam.


The way you are seen by people, the impression you give.

You come across as a friendly/funny/serious/fussy … person, based on what you project to others.

“I would like to come across as a person who knows how to listen.” Continue reading “6 phrasal verbs to speak about yourself”

Like it or not, small talk is on the menu


Escucha, Reunión Informal, Chat, Oficina, Personas

Small talk can be awkward and pointless but it is present in our everyday lives, regardless of the language we are speaking. It seems logical to deduce that if you can master it in your mother tongue, transferring that knowledge into your English conversations should be straightforward. However, it is not always the case. This could be a major concern for business English learners and users, whose command of small talk can lead up to creating the right connections when it comes to networking. For travellers, it can create situations that lead up to a much more enriching trip or even to striking up new friendships.

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Increase your output: oral production

If you don’t use it, you lose it.

 But, how to speak English regularly in a non-native English-speaking country?

Decidedly, that constitutes a major obstacle to overcome but not an impossible one. Although a long stay in an English-speaking country is the most effective way to become fluent in a language, there are strategies to adopt when that is not an option. I

would make a distinction here between students that have already been fluent but whose English is getting rusty as time goes by (due to lack of use), and those who are still learning the ropes. For the latter, I would definitely recommend attending a course in order to receive some guidance and in addition, follow some of these tips to reinforce the learning process. For the former, I would say: take the reins! 

Let’s dive in and get more specific.  Continue reading “Increase your output: oral production”

Increase your output: written production

I believe that most language students have, at some point, fallen into the trap of overdoing the input at the expense of the output. The input being what you can absorb about the language either by studying, listening or reading and the output, what you produce yourself in the written or the oral form. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that the input is simple but it certainly represents much less of a challenge than the output, which is an intellectually harder process. Have you realised the extent of the language that you can understand, recognise, be familiar with but have never actually used? 

The moment a new word comes out of your mouth (or your fingertips if you’re typing), the moment you own it. It becomes part of your active vocabulary. A moment of bliss, like that a collector may feel when adding a new element to the existing collection.

Exposure is key. It gives you the space to be able to expand your output.

Needless to say, living in a non-native English-speaking country limits your possibilities but let’s not use that as an excuse to neglect our productive skills. So, what to do? First and foremost, take the reins and be proactive. Yes, but how? Traditionally, the way to go is to sign up for lessons, which is definitely a good move but it doesn’t take you as far as you need to go, does it? What you do elsewhere and how often you do it, is what makes all the difference. Consider attending classes as a map and yourself as the pilot who may use the map but sometimes just folds it and follows their instinct. Consider what you are into, what motivates you and takes steps in that direction.

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