Need to improve your Speaking score? Follow these vital tips to guide you through the Read Aloud task type in PTE Academic.
What is Read Aloud?
Read Aloud is a long answer task in the speaking section of PTE Academic. In the task, you are required to read a short paragraph out loud. You have:
25 seconds to prepare
30-40 seconds to read the text out loud.
A short beep will indicate when to start speaking
Image from: Official PTE Academic Test Tutorial.
What’s the goal?
The aim of this task is to speak as clearly and naturally as possible. It is important to speak clearly so that the computer can understand your words (it’s like speech recognition software on your phone or on Google, but much more sophisticated). It is also important to speak with a good pace and rhythm, using correct stress and intonation. That is, to sound as much like a native speaker as possible. For more details on how to do this, let’s look at the Top Tips…
Top Tips for Read Aloud
Make sure you use that 25 seconds to read through the text quickly out loud to yourself. It seems like a simple task so many students don’t do this and it’s a big mistake! Preparation makes a big difference! It’s important to know what’s coming, and to use this time to recognize any difficult words in the text and try saying them once before the recording begins.
2. Don’t pause for more than three seconds
Like in the other long answer speaking tasks in PTE Academic, if you pause for more than 3 seconds, the microphone will automatically switch off! So be careful. Keep speaking and reading the words on the screen.
3. Don’t speak too fast or too slow
Clear pronunciation is important, but don’t overpronounce words. That is, don’t say them so slowly and carefully that it slows down your speech. This will lose marks. It is also bad to speak too quickly; often when people are very nervous, they speak much faster than normal. If you speak too faster, you are more likely to make pronunciation errors, so take a deep breath, and read calmly and carefully.
4. Don’t skip words
Pay attention to all that is written! Speakers of all levels make this mistake: they accidentally skip little words like a, an, and, in, on, and so on. Pay special attention and make sure you don’t make this mistake.
5. Don’t skip word endings
Another common mistake is that speakers don’t clearly pronounce the endings of words. For example, the -ed at the end of simple past verb such as talked, watched, learned, or pronounced. And don’t forget the plural -s!
6. Use the correct stress
A very important part of pronunciation in English is word stress. That is, which syllable in a word you stress. This is vital as it can change the meaning of the word – RE-cord or re-CORD mean two different things depending on whether you stress the first or second syllable. Another example: con-TENT or CON-tent, Word stress can be very hard for many students to learn, so for more practice on this, check out these online resources here and here.
7. Use correct inotation
When we speak we change the pitch or tone of our voice. This can be used to indicate commas, full stops, and questions (just to name a few). Usually we use a rising intonation for commas and question marks (that is, our tone of voice gets higher at the end of the phrase) and for full stops we use a falling intonation (our tone gets lower).
8. Don’t forget to pause
Along with intonation, it is important to pause slightly at commas, full stops and question marks – don’t just keep reading non-stop! Apart from the fact that you will need to take short breaths, it is important to show that you know how punctuation works.
9. If you make a mistake
There are two options if you make a mistake. Option 1: If you are a good speaker and can correct yourself quickly, do so and move on. Option 2: if you realise too late (i.e. after you’ve started saying the next word) do not correct yourself, just keep reading. You will lose fewer marks this way.
To practice at home, try out some of the resources available on YouTube.
For practice at work or on-the-go, try reading aloud sections of the newspaper. Make sure to give yourself 25 seconds to prepare, and 40 seconds to read aloud, practicing all the tips we’ve given you. Be sure to record yourself so you can listen back to yourself and check for mistakes.
You can also test how well a computer understands your pronunciation by using dictation software such as: Voice Dictation in Google Docs, Online Dictation, or an app such as Dragon Dictation. Just beware! This software is not as good as the PTE Voice recording so don’t be disheartened if it doesn’t understand everything you say!
The best place for practice is with a PTE Academic coaching course at English Key. Our expert, native teachers can help you with your pronunciation, and prepare you for everything you need to ace the PTE Academic exam. Get in touch with us today online, or at our Sydney or Melbourne centres.