My Final Year Speaking Exam & What to Expect
I’m happy to report that I survived my final year German speaking exam this week and after quite a hectic few days, I’m looking forward to finishing my exams in just over a month’s time. The speaking exam is quite a scary prospect for all language learners, especially for those who have confidence issues but I can assure you that it’s never as bad as you think it’s going to be. The language teachers want you to do well and they honestly aren’t trying to catch you out. To some extent, I think that my University speaking exams weren’t as scary as my A Level ones because at Warwick, everything is marked internally, you know the examiner from your speaking classes and you are permitted to take in a small card with some key words on. The Warwick German department is relatively small in comparison to some of the other language departments, such as French for example, but that works in our favour because the staff get to know you on a personal level and they can help you efficiently prepare for the exam.
What to expect
The weekly speaking classes help to build your confidence and allow you to discuss a wide range of topics in depth. In the German department, you are also usually required to give a short presentation during class time about a Germany-related issue or theme. For first and second year students, the potential exam topics are posted a few weeks before the actual exam. This will be around 4 or 5 issues or themes that you will talk about for around 5 minutes. Fate plays its part in which topic(s) you are given but you have sufficient time to learn specific vocabulary and key phrases prior to the exam. I’ve been unlucky in all 3 of my exams and received the topics I’ve had the least interest in but it’s always worked out ok. In my previous years, topics have ranged from Heart-Bleed to Energy. For finalists, the topics are addressed specifically during class time, giving you an opportunity to share ideas with your classmates and highlight any weaknesses. In the exam, this discussion is accompanied by a short presentation about a theme of your choice – as long as it relates to Germany. Some of my friends gave presentations about current affairs, the environment, and cultural issues. I decided to speak about the fashion industry in Germany because it’s something I’m interested in and I really enjoyed the debate that came out of it.
My Top Tips
Use the Warwick Language Centre to help you find a Tandem partner. A Tandem partner is a Native speaker who will help you with your language skills and in exchange you help with their English or another language
Learn colloquial phrases as this will really impress the examiners
Try not to favour certain topics in your preparation because they all have an equal chance of coming up
Speak clearly and at a reasonable speed