Updated: Aug 13, 2020
Let's dive in, shall we? When it comes to any (ESL) speaking test, there are several (proven) tips that I give my clients. The most common is to speak up. Here's what I mean- PLEASE don't mumble. I understand that you are nervous or that you genuinely have a soft voice. However, put all of that aside and remember that the examiner is there to mark the output of your language. Yes, context and a multitude of other factors also matter with respect to your score, but at its core, you need to remember to speak in a tone that is loud enough to be heard. Also, fun fact, given that masks are ALL the rage, now is the PERFECT time (that's humor), to put on a mask and actually practice speaking.
Here's what you can do RIGHT after you finish reading this. First, select any reading material that you have at home or online (may I suggest this blog, perhaps?). Next, take whatever device you use for recordings to record yourself and give it a whirl (without a mask on first). You don't have to read at length; after all, this isn't a dissertation. Pro tip- take one shot to record yourself; if you continue to reread, you'll end up hurting yourself (not literally, of course). Why, Lori? The downside to rereading something is that you risk memorizing it or, at the very least, becoming UBER familiar with it; thus, invalidating any of your results. Let's get back on track. Reading out loud for half a minute should do the trick. Here's where the FUN begins! Put your device on a table/desk and press play. With a pen and paper handy, you're going to write down (yes,WRITING- remember that?!) what you've just said. Make sure you leave your device approximately three feet away from you, so that you can really gauge your volume. Oh, and no cheating by raising the volume on your device- I'll know if you are! After that, "edit" what you've written based on the original reading piece you picked for this experiment.
Here's where the mask comes into play. Repeat the above steps but this time add a mask to the mix. Once you have both outcomes, you can compare to see how you need to recalibrate your volume to adjust for the mask factor.
I'd LOVE to know how that goes. Let me know below.
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Until next time, happy IELTSing.