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Updated  Dec. 10, 2013

How To Speak in Part 2 (Page 7)

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How to Finish Talking

Summary: If you have finished but the examiner does not say, "Thank you" immediately, tell the examiner you have finished. Two other possible ways to more clearly finish are, a) by repeating the topic or, b) by repeating the main point, especially your main feeling in your story. 

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Many candidates speak for about 1.5 minutes, they address all four points on the task card and add a detail or two to each point and then they think, "Well, I've finished now." and they suddenly stop talking. These candidates might have done a reasonably good job in telling their story but to suddenly stop talking without indicating in some way that this is the end of the story is showing poor communication skills. 

The reason why the candidate suddenly stops talking is because he or she doesn't know what to do they don't realize that they are in control of the test at this point. This candidate sits there silently thinking, "What do I do now?" but the examiner also sits there silently for a few seconds, waiting for you to continue speaking! This is a dangerous situation because long periods of silence will reduce your fluency sub-score. Why does the examiner not say, "Thank you" and bring Part 2 to an end when these candidates have finished their story? The reason is, the examiner doesn't know the candidate has finished. He or she thinks they are still telling their story and they are silent because they are thinking of something else to say. If there is still quite a lot of time remaining, such as 20 to 40 seconds, the examiner wants to give these candidates a chance to say more. 

So, if you finish your story and you know you have answered the four points on the card adequately and you also know that you have spoken for a decent length of time (i.e., more than 1 minute 20 seconds) but if the examiner doesn't seem to realize you have finished, you should immediately tell the examiner that you have finished. Just say something short and quick such as, "I've finished now", "That's it", "That's all", "That's the end", "That's all I have to say" or something similar to those. Then the examiner will say, "Thank you" and Part 2 will come to an end. (Possibly you will be asked one or two quick 'follow-up' questions before Part 2 is completely finished.) As much as you can, you must avoid long periods of silence in the Speaking test! (Except for the 1-minute of thinking time, of course.)

However, as mentioned above, if you have to actually tell the examiner that it is the end in one of those ways, it means that your story-telling skill is a little weak. It's like telling a joke to someone and, when they don't laugh, you have to explain why it was funny.

There are probably many different ways to finish a story so that the listener doesn't think (or ask), "Is that the end?" Different styles of stories have different styles of ending. 

One common way to finish a story is to say something like, "Well, that's my story about XYZ " where, 'XYZ' is the topic of the story, as shown in the first line of the task card, beginning with the word, "Describe". For example, "Well, that's my story about an interesting animal I saw at the zoo." or, "So, that's the interesting animal I saw last year" or, "Well, that's my story about old Mr. Wang" (after describing an old person who you admire). Of course, you don't have to say the word, "Well" or "So" but it does sound more natural to begin this sentence that way. And you don't have to include the word "story" you could say something such as, "So, that's what happened on my trip to Qingdao" (after telling a story about a place with lots of water that you visited). Notice that you need to say the word, "that" and you basically summarize or repeat the topic, as outlined in the first line of the card.

Another way to finish, which is similar to repeating the topic, is to repeat your main feeling or the main point of your story. For example, let's say you told a story about a teacher who greatly influenced you in your education. To end, you could say, "Yes, he really did influence me a lot." and say it in a reflective sort of way, possibly nodding your head as you say it. Or, after telling a story about a success you had, "Yeah, I was quite proud of myself for reaching that goal. It wasn't easy at all!" Or, after telling a story about some good advice you received, "Yes, I'm so glad he gave me that advice. It really did help me." The idea here is to repeat something you have already said, (preferably using slightly different words). If it is the first time that you express this idea in your story, it might not sound like the end. The most natural way to say these sentences is to begin with the word, "Yes" or "Yeah" or some similar word, such as , "Really", as in , "Really, I'm so glad he gave me that advice.

This repetition of your main point or feeling can be made even stronger, i.e., can be emphasized, by adding one more sentence an, "If not" sentence. For example, "Yes, he really did influence me a lot. If I had never met Mr. Li, I doubt that I would be an engineer today." Or, "Yeah, I was quite proud of myself for reaching that goal. It wasn't easy at all! I think if I had given up, I would never have forgiven myself." Or, "Yes, I'm so glad he gave me that advice. It really did help me. If he hadn't given me that advice, I'm sure I would have made a big mistake in my choice of career."

Those sentences are excellent endings but the grammar is not easy for someone who is below a Band 6.5 level. But if you can correctly make such a sentence, it will really help your grammar sub-score. For those of you who are serious enough about the test to buy 'Side by Side', you'll find good exercises for speaking this kind of sentence in 'Side by Side' Book 4, Chapter 7. The grammar is, 'The Past Unreal Conditional sentence' (过去非真实条件句)

When you use either of these two methods to finish, you should look directly at the examiner as you say it. (You should be looking directly at the examiner most of the time in Part 2, anyway.) 

With these kinds of endings, the examiner almost certainly will immediately say, "Thank you". If he or she doesn't say that immediately, it means the tone of your sentence (i.e., the intonation you used) was not the tone that a native English speaker would use, and the examiner still doesn't realize you have finished. In this case, if the examiner doesn't immediately say thank you, you have no other choice but to say something like, "That's all".

Don't use the word "conclude" or "conclusion" to finish Part 2. These are suitable for Task 2 in the Writing test but not in Part 2 of the Speaking test.

And definitely don't say, "Thanks for listening". That's what people say sometimes when they give a speech. Would you ever say that in a chat with another person, or when chatting with 2 or 3 other people?

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