Practicing lots of OET tasks is a common approach to preparing for the OET speaking and writing test. In fact, many students write referral letter after referral letter based on case notes to prepare. These letters are designed to replicate the OET writing experience.
Students also role play on a regular basis using the OET format. This can be good practice but, by itself, is not enough to enable you to pass the OET exam. You must first make sure your basic English is up to standards to make the most of this practice.
The OET writing and speaking exams are not just a test of your familiarity with the exam format, they are designed to test your speaking and writing skills in general. As a result, you need to improve these skills as much as possible. And you will need to use materials and resources which go beyond OET mock exams to do this. How? Read on to find out.
How to Improve Your Speaking
Write for a Communicative Purpose
When engaged in a writing task, it is much more meaningful to write with a genuine communicative purpose. Some good examples of this are writing an email to a friend or colleague, a review on a popular website or a comment on a YouTube video or Facebook post.
People have a genuine motivation to write well when writing in the real world. Thinking about the person or audience who will read your writing requires effort and ensures your tone is appropriate. In the end, this makes sure that your message is understood.
There is also a very good chance that you will receive feedback on your writing. In turn, this will involve reading texts written by other people and possibly writing follow-up responses. Doing this successfully will involve even more writing practice.
You can already see how much engagement and practice can come from this approach to writing. This strategy can yield genuinely useful feedback on whether your writing has been understood in the way you intended. So, if you have friends or colleagues who speak English at a high level, try writing them an email in English today in order to get some meaningful practice.
If you do not have such friends or colleagues, you can still practice in today’s socially-networked world. Practically anyone can write comments and post online which will potentially be seen by thousands of people. So try to leave one comment a day on an interesting article or video that you see online. In this case, the longer the better!
Speak for a Communicative Purpose
Just like writing, speaking in English should have the ultimate goal of communicating a thought or an idea. So when the opportunity presents itself, engage in a conversation with a friend or family member who is a native-English speaker.
You could also schedule this and inform colleagues or organise a day-out with a friend or family member. This occasion would be a perfect opportunity to continue speaking English.
Are you concerned about breakdowns in communication or errors in comprehension? Do not let that get in the way of your learning because that is all the more reason to practice. You will encounter these sorts of issues too during the OET speaking and writing exam and you need to develop your speaking skills to deal with them and resolve them in proper English.
Become Part of an English-Speaking Community
If you simply do not have access to English speakers at home, at work or even in your social circles, then it is time to become part of an English-speaking community.
These communities can be found in the physical world and online. You can check out Meetup which offers a range of events across the US and the UK to cater to almost every interest. Over here, you can socialise, go to the cinema and even explore forms of dancing.
Or, if there are no such events in your country, you can find online English-speaking communities with Interpals. Communities like this allow users to make new friends, write to each other in English and connect with people from different cultures.
You can get to know people even further by exchanging Skype details. This offers a great way to practise your English speaking and writing and also provides genuine communication. And as mentioned above, communicating with purpose is the most authentic way of improving your English skills.
Consider Using Spelling and Grammar Tools
Almost all writing applications like Microsoft Word and Libra Office contain a spelling and grammar check function. This handy tool helps to adjust errors in your work and also allows you to learn from your mistakes.
There are other tools that go even further, such as Grammarly which checks your writing more thoroughly and helps you become aware of the grammar, organisation and vocabulary mistakes you make in your writing.
Seek Expert Guidance
While getting plenty of genuine writing and speaking practice is important, it is also vital to have access to a language expert. Such a teacher can detect weaknesses in your writing and speech and provide guidance to help you improve those weaknesses.
Swoosh English gives you access to qualified and experienced English teachers who are also familiar with the OET exam. They can guide you with the most basic rules of English and also provide actionable tips to help you get the marks you need. For some quick tips, check out the Swoosh English YouTube channel. You can find one of our helpful OET speaking and writing tutorial videos at the end of this article.
Review the Fundamentals
Although your English teacher can provide plenty of guidance, it is important that you do the work to follow up on your own areas of weakness. Becoming a better writer and speaker involves checking grammatical errors you might be making in your speech, improving your pronunciation accuracy and becoming more skillful in using linking devices while writing.
Ensure that you are researching and practising the specific areas your teacher identifies. It is essential to becoming a better speaker and writer in real life and, thus, a better speaker and writer during the OET.