Friday, July 14, 2017

How to Beat Bad Speaking Habits

As a test taker of the TOEFL Internet-based test (iBT), one of the language abilities that you have to hone is your verbal communication skills. The Speaking exam involves the accomplishment of six tasks that include expressing opinions and discussing topics. Most test takers consider this part of the iBT the most difficult due to the pressure to respond immediately.

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TOEFL review Philippines can help you prepare for this 20-minute test. Instructors in TOEFL review centers in Davao can provide specialized training sessions to enhance your vocabulary, pronunciation and overall fluency. Most importantly, they can help you overcome any bad speaking habits you have unconsciously acquired. 

Annoying speaking habits are difficult to avoid, especially when they have already been ingrained in your speech pattern. Awareness is the first step toward overcoming these impediments to speaking fluency. Bad speaking habits include distracting mannerisms, failing to maintain eye contact, talking too fast and using verbal hedges and filler phases.

Most of these tendencies are products of a person’s lack of confidence in his/her oral communication skills. Avoid these bad speaking habits by following these five tips:

1. Avoid unnecessary movements.  
Integrating gestures in your delivery can produce good and bad results. The effective incorporation of movements can emphasize your viewpoints. However, their inadequate application not only distracts your listeners but also derail your train of thought.

Be wise and use gestures strategically. If you are an anxious talker, be conscious of any distracting mannerism that you may be executing. Unnecessary actions like hand-wringing, object fiddling and itch scratching would only manifest your nervousness.

2. Maintain eye contact.
Keep your eyes from darting around the room when you are talking. Not maintaining eye contact with the examiner while he/she speaks or while you deliver your answers is a sign of disrespect. It also shows disinterest and inattention.

Maintaining eye contact with the test administrator as you deliver your responses not only shows respect but also emphasizes your sincerity and confidence in your answers. If you feel uncomfortable looking at the examiner’s eyes, look at his/her forehead instead.

3. Use meaningful pauses.
Pausing during delivery does not always mean you have forgotten your answer. Pauses are powerful communication tools. Many speakers have utilized them to emphasize preceding information or to preempt a significant point. The brief silence can simultaneously add conviction to a statement and allow you a well-deserved breathing space.  

While rapid-fire replies may mean that you have a lot of knowledge on the given topic and that you wish to say your piece considering the allotted time, speaking too quickly is a sign of nervousness. There is also the risk that the examiner may not understand everything you said. 

4. Deliver your answers with conviction.
Some people prefer to play it safe when they deliver their answers. They integrate verbal hedges in their responses to provide a disclaimer. The most common examples of these expressions include “I think,” “kind of” and “sort of.” While using these phases in everyday conversations is acceptable, utilizing them in an English proficiency exam is highly inadvisable.  

Deliver your responses with conviction. Internalize all information provided, sort the facts from your opinions and construct a sound answer or argument. Do not weaken your viewpoints with verbal hedges.

5. Provide support examples.
Whenever you hit a blank wall or a mental block in a discussion, do not panic. Recall the last point you presented and give supporting examples. Not only will you strengthen your previous statement, but it will also deter the awkward silence that accompanies these brief moments of forgetfulness.
Avoid resorting to filler words and phrases to cover up unwanted pauses. Most people use a drawn out “um” while they think of their answers, while others insert “like” and “you know” at the beginning and end of their statements. Integrating these words in your speech implies your lack of knowledge and confidence about the given topic.

Only conscious speech practice can curb these bad speaking habits out of your system. Preparing with the help of TOEFL review Philippines can speed up your oral communication progress.  Exam specialists in these training facilities, such as TOEFL review centers in Davao, can help you overcome your bad speaking habits through test-specific coaching.

Given the points above, it is best to get rid of these speaking practices before taking the exam. You cannot teach yourself to minimize your gestures, maintain eye contact and integrate meaningful pauses into your discourse on the get-go. Likewise, you will not be able to refrain completely from using verbal hedges and filler expressions in your speech practices overnight.

Beat these bad speaking habits and elevate not just your oral communication skills but also your overall TOEFL Speaking results. 

  • Smith, Jacquelyn. “10 Public Speaking Habits To Avoid At All Costs.” Business Insider. June 09, 2014. Accessed December 19, 2016.
  • James, Geoffrey. “8 Bad Habits That Ruin Good Presentations.” Accessed December 19, 2016.
  • Abrahams, Matt. “3 Speaking Habits That Are Damaging Your Credibility.” March 19, 2015. Accessed December 19, 2016.
  • “10 Mannerisms That Can Kill an Effective Presentation.” Accessed December 19, 2016.
  • Genard, Gary. “7 Bad Public Speaking Habits: Are You Guilty?” The Genard Method. September 21, 2014. Accessed December 19, 2016.
  • "TOEFL iBT Test Content." ETS®. Accessed December 19, 2016.


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