Monday, March 23, 2009


A lot of people fail in the speaking tests because they commit these 7 deadly sins of speaking. What are they?

1. When You Say Nothing At All

You say it worst, when you say nothing at all. Some people just clam up if they are faced with a very difficult question. What makes them go silent? The thing is they don't have any input. That's why they don't have any output. What should you do to avoid committing this mistake? You have to feed your mind by reading books, magazines or newspapers. Another is to watch news, English TV shows and movies. So the next time, your mind goes blank, you can rely on newspapers, books, etc.

2. Words Get in the Way

Fillers like ums, er and ahs can be very irritating. A lot of people have this habit because they are doing the translation method. Example: "What's this? uhm, mesa is to table." They think in Filipino, that is the problem. What's the solution? The best way to learn English is to think in English. That's the secret of little kids. My nephew, for instance, hasn't had formal schooling yet but he can already speak in English because he thinks in English. He learned it from watching a lot of English cartoons. There really is proof that we learn our vocabulary first through hearing the words. I subscribe to that idea.

3. Round and Round It Goes

Another deadly sin is that people beat around the bush. They have a tendency to be repetitive and their arguments just go around and around. To avoid speaking in circles, choose a focal point. Then use concrete examples to support your main idea. It is better to use personal experience rather than hypothetical ones. If you have something concrete, it becomes easier to elaborate.

4. Ewan

"Sumagot ka, wag lang naman ewan." Saying I don't know. There are many other ways apart from saying I don't know. If you are faced with a difficult question (e.g. What do you think will be the future of food production?) , you can say, "That's a tough question or that's a difficult question." At the same time, you organize your thoughts. Or you can give a safe answer. You can say, "It depends on your perspective. Some people will think of it in a negative way or some people will see it in a different way."

5. Not "Dressed for Success"

First impressions are important. It could make or break you. The way you dress says a lot about your personality. I knew of one person who wasn't able to get the job because he went to a job interview wearing sneakers and tattered jeans. Dress appropriately for an interview. Wear earth colors not the loud ones. Avoid sleeveless or provocative clothing.

6. Speaking in Monotone

Don't you just hate boring speakers? These speakers talk like robots. We are not robots so we should speak in a natural manner. Having good intonation means having a variety of high and low pitches. When you are asking a question, you should end in a high pitched tone.

7. Speaking in a Soft Voice

I have a lot of students who have this problem. You could hardly hear their voice. When you speak in a low voice, you are sending the signal "My opinion is not good enough." We all have a right to our opinions. We all are afraid of saying the wrong things. But we learn from our mistakes. Here's one tip that is used by speakers in order for them to belt out loudly. They use their diaphragm. There's more force coming from the diaphragm rather than the throat. When we use our throats, the tendency is they become strained. That is why a lot of people get hoarse voices.

These deadly sins of speaking are certainly avoidable, avoid the temptation. You can be a good speaker if you are willing to do the work. Just be confident and learn from your mistakes.

For Further Reading,
English, IELTS, speaking



Woman Behind A Teacher's Odyssey

My name is Miracel Juanta and I write ATeachersOdyssey to help students and teachers create better English. I have been in the teaching profession for more than 10 years. My field of expertise includes ESL,IELTS,TOEFL,Business English etc. If you have questions about English, feel free to email me at or add my twitter @msjuanta.