Speaking with the AREC Strategy

Extend your speaking answers

It’s essential in all parts of the speaking test that you don’t just give short answers. Part of demonstrating your English ability is to speak extensively on a variety of topics.  Even if you don’t know much about or don’t like a particular topic, you must try to speak about it in some detail. 

One strategy you can use is to always give a reason for what you are saying. Compare the following two responses:

  1. ‘No, I don’t really like movies. I don’t watch them much at all anymore.’
  2. ‘No, I’m afraid I don’t like really like movies. I don’t watch them much at all anymore because I find that the stories and the themes are very predictable these days. They have been repeated so often that there is no longer anything new or exciting in movies. So, I actually get quite bored watching films.’

Giving reasons forms part of a wider strategy to help you extend your answers, which we call AREC, standing for Answer, Reason, Example, Contrast.  After you answer the question and give your reason for the answer, an example is always useful for the listener and will help you speak more about a topic.  Continuing the example from no. 2 above:

  • ‘For instance, Hollywood movies have very predictable endings. We know that they’ll always have a happy ending, no matter what bad things happen during the film. Not only that, but you can also often guess what’s going to happen next. So, for me, there’s no real suspense in movies as a result. For example, all the recent superhero movies, like Spiderman, have …

A contrast is not always possible, but can be another useful way to extend your speaking responses.

  • I much prefer books to movies these days, particularly European crime novels, which are very unpredictable and full of suspense. For example, there’s a Norwegian writer called ….

You can see how extending your answers with reasons, examples and contrasts can help you demonstrate more extensively your English ability. This AREC strategy can be used in all 3 parts of the speaking test.

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