As an educator for many years, I have always received the same response from parents, “Isn’t oral examination about talking? What’s there to teach the children?”
Well, it is indeed true to a certain extent. However, students may not perceive it as an easy task. Students have been sharing with me that they have difficulties elaborating. They usually answer the question, give a reason for the answer and then they are stuck.
There is a technique to teach the students oral skills especially for stimulus-based conversation, which they can remember and use for their oral examinations.
ARE IFO Technique
Answer – I would choose / Yes, I would join
(say your choice / yes or no)
- Usually, there will be two types of stimulus-based questions. The typical questions are, “Which one would you choose?” or “Would you be keen to join?”
- Student is required to make a choice and justify his / her answer.
Reason – because …
(give reasons for other options which are not chosen and the choice you made)
- For questions on choices, student can also include reasons for not choosing other options.
Experience – I have done this / been there/ experienced this before
(include when, where, what, why, who, how)
- Student is encouraged to share his/her personal experience related to the theme/topic. Be as detailed as possible.
- Examiners are always keen to listen to interesting stories. Do remember not to go out of point.
Influence – I have seen it from / I have learnt this from / I have read it from / I have watched it from / I have heard it from / I am inspired by …
(family, friends, school, social media, books, newspapers, TV, radio, internet, idols)
- Other than personal experience, student can include how external factors like family and friends affect his / her decision making.
For example, “I am largely influenced by my dad as he loves badminton and he used to take part in competitions. It is him who inspires me wanting to play badminton well and I hope I have a chance to join the school team.”
Feelings – I felt (how did you feel at that point?) / I feel (how do you feel now?)
(a sense of satisfaction, a sense of triumph, thrilled, ants in my pants, as happy as a flea in the doghouse, felt like walking on air, petrified, face turned pale, on cloud nine)
- Avoid using common expressions like happy, scared or angry.
Opinion – In my opinion, I personally think / feel …
- Student can share his / her opinion on the theme / topic from the picture.
For example, “In my opinion, I personally think it is important to play sports on a regular basis in order to stay fit and healthy. It can also help us to relieve stress and it gives us an opportunity to learn about sportsmanship.”
Additional tips for preparations
- While your child is given the time to prepare, he / she can take this opportunity to study the picture closely. Identify the theme / topic. Is this picture about recycling, healthy diet or keeping fit? Predict the questions and use ARE IFO as a guide.
- Include a wide variety of connectors like however, despite, alternatively, moreover, in addition, previously, finally, in particular and hence.
- Do take videos of your child during practices. Show him / her and discuss how to further improve. Do take note of the grammar and vocabulary being used during the conversation.
- Remember to greet the examiners with a big smile.
- Maintain eye contact and good body language.
- Avoid mumbling and speak with confidence.
Lastly, make sure your child is eating healthily and sleeping well. A healthy body, a healthy mind!
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