Oral Tips

PRONUNCIATION

 

Commonly mispronounced words in Singapore:

 

Word Correct Pronunciation Incorrect Pronunciation
almond Ah-mond ELL-mond
composition com-po-SI-tion COMPO-si-tion
excel ex-CEL EX-cel
nonchalant NON-sha-lant non-CHA-lant
poem PO-em po-YEM
the (before a vowel) THEE THUH, DUH
the (before a consonant) THUH DUH
vehicle VE-hi-cle ve-HE-cle

 

 

For more pronunciation tips, click here.

 

For help on the various oral components that get tested in primary school, click on the following links below:

Oral Tips: Pronunciation

PRONUNCIATION

 

Commonly mispronounced words in Singapore:

 

Word Correct Pronunciation Incorrect Pronunciation
abacus A-ba-cus a-BAC-cus
baton ba-TON BAY-ten
calendar CA-len-der ca-LAN-der
calligraphy ca-LIG-gra-phy ca-li-GRAPH-y
chick CHICK CHEEK
comparable COM-pa-re-ble com-PARE-re-bel
economy e-CON-no-my e-co-NO-my
entrepreneur en-tre-pre-NEUR en-tre-PRE-neur

 

Oral Tips: SBC

STIMULUS-BASED CONVERSATION

 

Tip #1

Do not give one word ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ answers. Instead, elaborate your answers when responding.

Don’t stop after saying something general. Remember the 5Ws and 1H (who, what, when, where, why & how) to help you elaborate.

 

Tip #2

Carry on your conversation with the examiner until he/she asks you to stop. When you close your conversation, remember to go back to the topic in your conclusion (e.g. Singapore will be a more gracious society and a happier place in which to live if we are all kind to the elderly. After all, we will all grow old one day too!).

Oral Tips: Reading Aloud

READING ALOUD

 

Tip #1

When reading the test passage, pronounce words clearly and correctly. 

  • Know the difference between the short vowel ĭ and the long vowel ē sound.

e.g.  chĭck / cheek      slĭp / sleep      fĭll / feel

  • Pronounce end consonants clearly.

e.g.  Tom wants (not ‘want’) to play football.

e.g.  Do your best (not ‘bess’) later.

  • Know how to pronounce thcorrectly.

e.g.  This (not ‘dis’) is the way to school.

e.g.  My father (not ‘fah-der’) drives a taxi.

 

Tip #2

Read expressively so your reader does not get bored.

  • Vary your pitch, making sure that your voice goes up and down.

e.g.  Where are the children? (questions end on a high note)

e.g.  It’s time for dinner. (affirmative statements should end in a level pitch)

  • Stress the important words.

e.g.  Let’s eat children.   vs.   Let’s eat, children.

  • Adjust your volume so you don’t speak in a monotone.

e.g.  Soft to Loud: whisper–mutter–state–announce–demand–exclaim–shout

 

Tip #3

Practice chunking phrases to develop fluency.

  • Focus on reading groups of words, or phrases, rather than individual words.
  • Practise using slashes (/ /) to group words into phrases. Remember to pause when you see a full-stop or comma.

When the starter fired his gun, / the competitors dashed off with John in the lead. / Ben followed closely behind, / waiting for the right time for his final sprint. / At the last bend, / he began to pull ahead. / Finally, / he reached the finishing line / two full seconds before his classmate. / He had won the race!

Oral Tips: SBC

STIMULUS-BASED CONVERSATION

 

Tip #1

Be confident

Imagine you are friends with the examiner and that you and the examiner are having a friendly conversation. Keep eye contact with the examiner throughout the session.

 

Tip #2

Speak fluently and with grammatical accuracy

Do not lapse into Singlish, or non-standard English, during the conversation! Aim to speak as though you were writing. Sentences that are not grammatically correct are not acceptable in the oral examination.

 

Oral Tips: Reading Aloud

READING ALOUD

 

Tip #1

Tape yourself reading aloud

Take note of all punctuation and make sure that you pause where there are commas and full stops. Avoid speaking too softly or too quickly, or speaking in a flat or monotone voice. Read with expression and be sure to articulate words clearly; don’t forget to pronounce the ending sounds of words!

 

Tip #2

Avoid these commonly mispronounced words:

  • three (three, not tree)
  • mother (mo-ther, not mud-der)
  • children (chil-dren, not chew-ren or cho-dren)
  • women (wim-in, not woo-men)
  • calendar (kal-en-der, not ka-lan-der)
  • photography (fuh-taw-gruh-fee, not foh-toh-grah-fee)
  • flour (flou-er, not flahr)
  • salmon (sam-uhn, not sal-mon)

 

Oral Tips: Show and Tell

SHOW AND TELL

 

Tip #1

Pick an object with a story to tell

Select an object which brings back special memories, and think of descriptive words and accurate vocabulary to describe this object. It could be a family photograph, a favourite book or toy, a seashell from a trip to the beach, or even a spatula used to bake cookies!

 

Tip #2

Practise in front of a mirror

  • Stand firmly with both feet on the ground and your shoulders back. Do not shift your weight from foot to foot and fiddle with your clothes.
  • Use appropriate hand gestures so that you look and sound natural.
  • Speak clearly, audibly and with expression.

 

Oral Tips: Show and Tell

SHOW AND TELL

 

Tip #1

Make Eye Contact

When you look at the audience you are talking to, it shows that you are trying to connect with them and they are more likely to pay attention to you.

If looking at someone’s eyes while talking makes you nervous, look at the spot between the eyes.

 

 

 

Tip #2

Good Posture

Stand firmly with 2 feet on the ground and your shoulders back. If you are using notes, make sure they do not cover your face.

Do not:

  • Stand stiffly like a soldier on a parade
  • Sway from side to side
  • Lean against anything
  • Shift your weight from foot to foot

 

 

 

Tip #3

Speak Clearly

Speaking clearly makes it easier for your audience to understand what you are saying.

Remember the 5 P’s when speaking:

  • POWER – loud or soft
  • PACE – fast or slow
  • PITCH – high or low
  • PAUSE – a break or rest in speaking
  • PRONUNCIATION – the way a word is spoken

 

Oral Tips: SBC

STIMULUS-BASED CONVERSATION

 

Tip #1

Formulate responses around an opinion (e.g. I think that littering is extremely irresponsible), then lengthen and spice up the conversation by giving a personal account or an example to support their opinion (e.g. I’ve witnessed so many people throwing their cigarette butts on the ground while rushing to board a bus).

However, it is important that points brought up are still relevant to the conversation topic. Students sometimes get carried away with their personal accounts and end up going on about irrelevant points.

 

 

 

Tip #2

Anticipate the examiner’s questions and prepare answers to these questions before being prompted. Students can guess at the topic of the Stimulus-based Conversation after going through the Reading Aloud section as the two will share a common theme. By doing so, the student is less likely to be blindsided by a prompt that could take the conversation in a direction he/she is less prepared for.

 

 

 

Tip #3

Using fillers is one way to stall for time. One way to do this is to repeat the question stem at the start of the answer. For example, if the question was ‘Why do you think a healthy diet is important?’, students can begin their answers with ‘I think a healthy diet is important because…’. Don’t overuse fillers though, as they can be distracting, make the conversation more tedious than it should be, or make you come across as hesitant or unsure.

 

Oral Tips: Reading Aloud

READING ALOUD

 

Tip #1

An important thing to watch out for is clear and proper pronunciation.  Students should avoid speaking too quickly, mumbling, or trailing off at the end of their sentences.

They should also pay attention to how they pronounce word endings. Leaving out end sounds, e.g. the ‘s’ in ‘students’; ‘t’ in ‘paint’ and ‘ed’ in ‘cooked’, is a common mistake.

 

 

 

Tip #2

It is important to remember the different ways of saying ‘the’. When ‘the’ comes before words beginning with a vowel sound, it should be read as /thee/ and not /thuh/. It is the sound that matters, not the letter used in writing the word.

Examples when we pronounce ‘the’ like /thee/:

  • ‘the ant’ = /thee ant/
  • ‘the egg’ = /thee egg/
  • ‘the HDB flat’ = /thee aich-de-bee flat/

Examples when we pronounce ‘the’ like /thuh/:

  • ‘the boy’ = /thuh boy/
  • ‘the car’ = /thuh car/