Hi everyone, welcome to the instructor blog! I hope the summer heat isn’t causing you too much夏ばて. I’ve been living in Japan for 11 years, and I’m still not used to this weather! I miss the mild English summers…
I’m Mike, and today, I’m going to be talking about the importance of ‘delivery’ (pronunciation and fluency) in the TOEFL and IELTS speaking tests. A lot of test takers in Japan don’t realise how important this is, but delivery is a third of your mark in the TOEFL test, and in IELTS, pronunciation is 25% of your grade! In both tests, these areas tend to pull people’s scores down.
‘Delivery’ is probably the biggest difficulty for Japanese speakers – but why is this? Well, at school, you probably learnt a lot of grammar and vocabulary, and you probably did a lot of reading, writing, listening and speaking practice too. However, you probably didn’t learn that much about pronunciation.
Let’s listen to an example. Here’s a recording of a Japanese speaker and a native English speaker saying the same sentence:
‘I want to go out tonight to eat with my friends.’
Native English speaker:
As you can hear, there’s a big difference! The native speaker sounds more like this:
‘ah wanna go wow tonigh tah wee wi mah frens’
Sometimes my students ask me – do I really have to sound like that? Well, you don’t need to be perfect, but you need to be as close as possible to improve your speaking scores!
So how can you improve? The most important thing is to listen to a lot of English. This could be recordings from your Agos class CDs, podcasts, radio programs, Youtube videos, films, TV shows, drama or anything else. Try shadowing to say the words exactly like native speakers, paying close attention to stress, intonation and how the speaker links words together smoothly. Becoming a good listener and a good mimic will really help – you can do it!
We also have a Pronunciation and Fluency class (発音矯正)at Agos – if delivery is a problem for you, then this would be a good place to start!