CELPIP Speaking Task – Tips and Techniques

As you may already know, there are two types of CELPIP teststhe CELPIP-General Test and the CELPIP-General LS Test. While the CELPIP General Test has four components — Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking, the CELPIP-General LS Test has two components — Listening and Speaking. In this blog, we will discuss tips for acing the speaking part of the CELPIP test.

CELPIP Speaking Component

The time allotted for the speaking component is 15-20 minutes and includes eight tasks in total. These tasks are as follows:

1: Giving Advice

You will be asked to, as the name suggests, advice someone. You will have 30 seconds to prepare your answer and 90 seconds to record your answer. The only other task that gives you 90 seconds to record your response is task number 7. All the other tasks give you 60 seconds.

The questions in this section may look something like this*: Your friend has been missing school and hasn’t been attending classes for over a month. If this continues, he might be suspended. Give your friend advice on what he should or should not do if he wants to stay in school.

*Note that this is an approximation of the kinds of question you could be asked. However, know that it will be advice of some sort.

Remember, the trick here is to think of it, not as a test. Act and behave as you’d in real life. Greet the said friend and empathize with them. Give your recommendation or suggestion, but keep it short. Stick to two or three maximum. However, the vital thing to keep in mind here is to give your reasoning behind each piece of advice. Tell him or her why you think it will work.

Build on it and let your friend know how following your recommendations will help him or her. Conclude by saying you hope they will think it over the conversation and do the right thing. Wish them luck and ask them to reach out if they needed to talk some more. Most importantly, remember that even if the subject matter is not a familiar one, you’re not being judged on the actual advice but rather how you frame and structure it.

2: Talking about a Personal Experience

This part of the speaking test should hopefully come easily to you as you are required to talk about a personal experience you’ve had. You will need your storytelling skills to score well in this section. The key to any good story is to keep it interesting for the reader or listener. For instance, if you say something like, I went to the cinema theatre to watch a movie, it is not interesting enough. However, if you say, “I went to the Scotia bank theatre with my best friend, Mark, to watch the latest Avengers movie,” you will be adding more details and depth to the story.

3: Describing a Scene

Describe the scene in detail. Imagine you’re talking to a person who isn’t in the same space as you and can’t understandably see what you’re seeing. You will be given a photo or a picture and asked to talk about it. Your job is to provide an accurate description of what you see. It could be an image of a classroom full of students or a scene from a market.

It would be best if you covered things like what the people in the photograph are doing; what the objects are, where they are placed; don’t forget the little details. Which direction are the people moving in? Every task aims to test your grammatical accuracy and vocabulary.

CELPIP Speaking tips

4: Making Predictions

In this section, you’ll be shown a picture (photo or drawing) and asked to predict what may happen next. Since it’s a prediction, it won’t be definitive, so use phrases and words such as: It’s “likely” that such and such thing will happen”; or Looking at the image, “I feel that”; Judging by the expression on the faces of these people, “I think” that.

Make sure you give a reason for your prediction. In a particular photo, say it is an image of an airport, people are waiting for a taxi. If you feel that there’s a possibility of a physical altercation between a few people, you should clearly state as to why you think that way: the man in the photo seems very aggressive and has a scowl on his face and looks like he is going to punch the man in the straw hat and Hawaiian shirt.

5: Comparing and Persuading

This is more like debating: you pick between two options and try and persuade the other person to make the same choice. If you don’t select an option (e.g. Canada or Australia), the computer will decide for you.

Suppose you’re going on a holiday and have zeroed in on two Airbnb options. You like one, and you’re friend likes the other one. Your job is to convince your friend to choose the one you want, and you have to do that by making logical arguments and presenting your case.

Intonation is important. To be able to sell to people, to persuade them, you need energy and enthusiasm in your voice.  

6: Dealing with a Difficult Situation

We have all faced awkward moments in our lives and have been forced to deal with them. In this task, you could be given a situation like this: Your parents who live in a different country, want to visit you in Canada and stay in your house for six months. Your wife does not agree and says you will have to ask your parents to cut short their trip and come only for two weeks.

Choose one: Either explain the situation to your parents, telling them why they can’t stay with you for that long. Alternatively, you can talk to your wife and tell her why she shouldn’t object to your parents staying over for however long they wish to.

What would you do and why?

7: Expressing Opinions

As mentioned above, this section also gives you 30 seconds to prepare and 90 seconds to record your response. This task tests your ability to express your opinion clearly. The examiner won’t score you on the actual viewpoint, but rather how you express your ideas. There’s no correct or incorrect answer, so you don’t have to worry about whether the listener agrees with you or not.

The question will be neutral and will most likely not venture into anything controversial, like politics or religion. It could be as simple a question like, “At what age do you think young adults should move out of their homes?”

Don’t forget to explain the reason for your opinions.

8: Describing an Unusual Situation

This could be a tricky task. You could be shown a picture with a strange building or an odd-looking object and asked to describe it to a friend or family member on the phone. Suppose you’re in a shop to buy a water bottle that is shaped like a rocket or like an animal. When you pull out your phone to take a photo, you realize your camera isn’t working. So now you have to describe it in great detail to your dad who’s on the phone with you and check with him if you can buy it.

Eventually, it all comes down to how much time you spend practicing for the test. Practice speaking in front of a mirror to see how you sound, or family and friends. If that is not something you’re comfortable with, record yourself and objectively look at your pronunciation, intonation, the pace of your speech, and so on. We all have a natural accent, and the idea here is to try and neutralize it so that the person listening to us understands what we’re saying. Remember, there’s no need to put on an American accent or any other; work towards sounding more neutral.

The best way to get much needed practice and get the hang of the test format, types of questions is to enroll in a CELPIP preparation program. Click here for more CELPIP study tips.

Good luck.

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