Hallo ihr Lieben!
A lot of questions coming in recently have been surrounding the oral exams and how to maximise your results. A language is meant to be spoken as we all know, but this element of the exam, and indeed language learning, is often under-practiced by language learners. To help you out, we have compiled our very best tips on how to improve your speaking skills below. Viel Erfolg!
Speak to yourself
Speaking to yourself is one of the best ways to practice your speaking skills. When you get up in the morning, explain to yourself what you are doing in German (e.g., Ich stehe auf … Ich ziehe mich an … Ich esse mein Frühstück …). When you are doing a simple task, explain it in German (e.g., Ich mache jetzt meine Hausaufgaben … Ich rufe meine Schwester an …). This is also a great way to build on your vocabulary as you will quickly learn what words you do not yet know in the target language. Note these down and look them up afterwards. An even better way of doing this is by recording yourself speaking and listening back later so see what mistakes you might have made or what words you didn’t know. Most smartphones come with an audio recorder app pre-installed, but Vocaroo offers a great online voice recorder which allows you to record, share and download your audio files.
Expose yourself to new vocabulary
The best way to learn a language is to expose yourself to it. In terms of vocabulary, you should try to aim to expand yours using phrases. This means that you are learning the meaning and application of words in a more practical way, which is great for speaking. In spoken language, it is important that you have linking words that are essential for communication (e.g., und, aber, sondern …) and useful interjection phrases (e.g., Das verstehe ich nicht … Das weiß ich … Ich stimme zu … Du hast Recht …). This will also help the flow of your conversation. Check out our Oral Exam Guide for useful phrases across the themes in the Leaving Cert Oral Exam.
Speech shadowing is a very useful way of improving your spoken skills and involves speaking after something. Shadowing helps muscle memory: It helps create the neural connections needed to produce words and sentences quickly and accurately without having to think about it. For example, you could watch a YouTube video in German and turn on the subtitles and speak alongside the person in the video. Watch a Netflix show in German and repeat what is said or listen to German songs and sing along! When reading texts be sure to read them out loud to yourself also for the same reason.
Speak to Siri
Change your phone’s language to German and speak to Siri or the equivalent voice assistant in German. Ask it what the weather is like, what time it is, to look something up or to call somebody for you. You can also do this with smart home devices such as Google Nest or Alexa.
Work on pronunciation
It is important that you devote time to working on how you pronounce words correctly. Your pronunciation will be assessed in the Oral Exam and you can really impress the examiner if you work on the different elements of German phonetics. The Paul Joyce University of Portsmouth Guide to German Pronunciation is aimed at beginners and intermediate learners of German rather than advanced students of phonetics. This online guide to German pronunciation explains the sounds of German with reference to the letters that students encounter in German words. Check it out!
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes!
The biggest issue language learners face is having the confidence to speak up. We are all afraid of making mistakes, but nobody is perfect! You are a language learner and making mistakes is part of that journey. Speaking to yourself or to your phone will help build you confidence and, when you hear somebody speaking German, be sure to join in as this will add to it even more. This is the only way you can truly improve at speaking a language.
We hope that you have picked up some useful tips and tricks which will help you improve your German speaking skills. If you have any questions or suggestions, please get in touch with us as always, and stay up to date with us on Instagram and Twitter.