How to prepare for language orals

Posted by
Michael Stein
31 Jan 2020

Oral exams are part of every language student’s annual timetable of tests. Whilst some students may enjoy the opportunity to stand up and demonstrate their knowledge and mastery of the language they are learning, others are not so keen and find the act of standing up and talking about a subject in a foreign language to be daunting. But with some good preparation, oral exams don’t need to be feared.

Here are some strategies to help you prepare and enable you to ace your next oral exam. 

  • Choose a subject you are interested in 

Talking about something you’re interested in will come across much better than if you choose to talk about something you have little interest in. Not only will it make your research more enjoyable to you but the interest you have in the subject will shine through as you speak and you will be more animated. 

  • Thoroughly study your subject

Spend adequate time studying your chosen subject. Get to know the relevant vocabulary and read around the subject to get a broad knowledge. Think of the type of questions you might be asked about the subject and practice your answers. The more you know about the subject you are covering in your oral, the more confident you will be talking about it.  

  • Plenty of practice

Practice, practice, practice! Practice by yourself as well as in front of friends and family. Even if the person you’re practising to doesn’t speak the language themselves, it is good to get used to presenting your oral to an audience. If available, carry out a trial run of your oral with your teacher to get some feedback.

  • Prepare visual aids

Use visual aids to make your oral more interesting and to help guide you through the oral. A PowerPoint presentation, poster, photos – having something to refer to as you’re talking breaks up the monotonous rhythm of the oral, changes the tone and adds some interest. 

  • Remember positive body language 

Your oral exam begins the moment you walk in the door. Enter the room with a smile, look interested and confidently introduce yourself. Make eye contact with the examiner and stand tall to exude confidence.  Speak clearly and concisely and be careful not to ramble on or be too repetitive.  

  • Spend some time abroad

Being in the country of the language you are learning is a great way to improve language skills in a short amount of time. Take some time in your school holidays or during Transition Year to attend a study abroad course in France, Spain or Germany where language courses are specifically designed to help Irish students prepare for their Leaving Certificate. 

Click here for details of the exciting courses you can attend. 


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