“5 Ways” Learning Tips

One important test for most English learners is the interview speaking test. Nerve wracking!!

An interviewer sits on one side of the table and “fires questions” at you.  You know the interviewer is evaluating your grammar, your vocabulary, your pronunciation, your fluency, your whole English ability! ….Arrghhh!

So much stress!

It’s hard to do your best when you have too much stress.

So here are 5 strategies you can use to overcome stress – and  give your maximum performance!

1. Show that you are “willing to communicate.”

You will be nervous during an interview or test.  That’s normal!   And if you’re nervous, you may want to give very short answers – to get this over with!  That’s understandable, but it’s not a good strategy to get a good score.

Take a deep breath, exhale slowly.  Relax.  Be yourself.  Open up! Show that you are willing to communicate.  Show your real ideas and feelings.  “Willingness to communicate” will definitely increase your score!

2.  Use “Think Time.”

You may think you have to rush to say as much as possible.  Not true!  Don’t rush!

Use “Think Time” — that is, take time to think about what you want to say!

It’s much better to pause – maybe repeat the question – and think about what you want to say before you start. During your answer, you can also pause to think, and say things like, “Let me think”, “What else can I tell you?”, “Another thing is…” Or “Another way to say this is…”and then restate your idea or opinion in a different way.

3. Use positive body language.

“Non-verbal communication” is an essential part of making an impact in an interview.  Non-verbal communication includes body language and intonation.

Positive body language includes smiling, making and keeping eye contact, using animated hand and arm gestures (but not out of control!), and leaning toward the interviewer.  In short, keep engaged!   Stay energized!

Positive intonation is also part of non-verbal communication.  It means showing energy and excitement and passion with your voice. Don’t speak in a m-o-n-o-t-o-n-e.  That’s boring!

4. Expand your answers!

Of course, you want to do well in an interview.  You want to answer questions clearly and concisely, right?

Well, yes…and no! Basically, the interview question is an invitation for you to tell us what you know.

Consider ways to expand your answers:  give extra information, give personal experiences and stories, give alternative ideas or comparisons, say your idea in different ways.

The interviewer is interested in your ability and desire to communicate and connect, not just to use correct English.

5. Use  confirm and clarify questions.

Conversation – including conversation in an interview – is a negotiation!  You are negotiating, almost like in a market. But here you’re not negotiating for price.  You’re negotiating for meaning!  For understanding!

The interviewer asks a question.  Do you understand the question?  Really?  It’s okay to ask for clarification:  Are you asking me about my family background?  Do you want to know what was most important for me in that job?   Would you like me to tell you about my future plans? 

In fact, it’s good to ask for clarification.  This will help you “reframe” the question in a way that “connects” with the speaker.

Also, after you answer, confirm that the other person understands:  Do you know what I mean? Did I explain that clearly?  Would you like me tell you more about that? 

Confirmation questions are a great way to communicate! They help you to connect to the other person. Right? Do you know what I mean? Do you see that?

Even if you don’t say these clarification and confirmation questions out loud, you should be thinking about them!

So try out these strategies when you’re speaking English – in everyday conversations or in interviews.