Duolingo English Test: 7 Speaking Tips From Experts

You might be nervous about Duolingo English Test production score, but with these 7 tips from Teacher Luke, and plenty of practice (www.practice.detready.com), you will be well on your way to building your confidence and getting the Duolingo English Test score you need.

The speaking section is made up of three question types. By understanding what happens in these questions, you will be better prepared.

The three Duolingo English Test Speaking question types are…

Speak About The Photo

For this question type, you will have 90 seconds to describe a photo through speaking. Photos might be of:

  • ๐Ÿ‘ช People
  • ๐Ÿผ Animals
  • ๐Ÿข Buildings
  • ๐ŸŽ† Events
  • ๐Ÿ‚ Nature

Read, Then Speak

For this question type, you will be given a topic to speak about. You will be given 20 seconds to mentally prepare (remember you cannot take notes) for the topic. You will then speak on the topic for between 30 to 90 seconds. We advise to speak for as long as possible. You will have this question type twice on the exam.

Listen, Then Speak

For this question type, you listen to a topic and speak about it. You have 20 seconds to listen to the prompt, and you can listen three times in total. Similar to Read, Then Speak, you have between 30 to 90 seconds to speak about your answer, but, again, we advise to speak for as long as you can. 

Quick tips graphic. Duolingo English Test

Tip 1: Don’t memorise Duolingo English Test answers

Don’t memorise answers for the Duolingo English Test. Memorised language doesn’t show an accurate measure of your English-language skills. The AI marking system will be able to tell if you have memorised your answers and you will get disqualified.

Tip 2: Avoid using unfamiliar words

You may want to make your speaking answers sound fancy with big and complex words. However, to be safe, we suggest avoiding using words you are not familiar with. It is more likely that you will make mistakes with unfamiliar words either by mispronouncing them or using them incorrectly in your sentences. Mistakes with vocabulary will affect your overall score. 

Instead, use vocabulary that you are confident with and which are relevant to the topic.

Tip 3: Use a range of grammatical structures

When Duolingo assess your speaking skills, they use the following assessment criteria:

  • the correctness of your grammar (grammatical accuracy)
  • the variety and level of your grammar (grammatical complexity)
  • the level of vocabulary used (lexical sophistication)
  • the variety of word choice (lexical diversity)
  • how well you answer the question that was asked (task relevance)
  • how much you can say or write in a limited time (fluency)
  • the pronunciation and pace (acoustic features)

To get a high score, try to use a range of grammatical structures by using complex and simple sentences. Additionally, you are marked on your ability to use different grammatical structures accurately, so it’s important to practise speaking about the past, the present, and the future using correct tenses.

Tip 4: Don’t worry about your accent

If you can communicate well, then you do not need to worry about your accent. But do be aware of the English sounds that you have difficulty with and make sure to use English pronunciation features like stress and intonation.

Tip 5: Avoid using fillers

Speak confidently and avoid using filler words. We generally use fillers when we don’t know what to say, however, this shows Duolingo that you can’t access the appropriate language or ideas, so it’s important to avoid using them as much as possible.

Avoid using the following fillers too frequently:

  • Like
  • You know
  • Umm…
  • Ahh…
  • Ehh…
  • Well
  • Yeah…
Confused illustration. Duolingo English Test

Tip 6: Extend your answers

Usually, within one speaking prompt, there are 2 or 3 questions, so try to answer the prompts in full. Extend your answers by providing examples and/or reasons to your ideas. When your answers are short, this shows Duolingo that you are not able to talk in detail about a topic.

Tip 7: Practice common Duolingo English Test topics

The Read, Then Speak and Listen, Then Speak questions on the test require you to speak on a topic for between 30 to 90 seconds. Practice common Duolingo English Test topics on our practice platform to become familiar with the type of prompts you will get on the test.

Common topics you can practice for the speaking question types include:

  • โ›ฑ Tourism and travel
  • ๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐ŸŽ“ Education
  • ๐Ÿš— Transport
  • ๐ŸŒ Environment
  • ๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ‘งโ€๐Ÿ‘ฆ Family life
  • โšพ Sport and recreation
  • ๐Ÿ‘ฎโ€โ™€๏ธ Crime and punishment
  • ๐Ÿ’ป The internet
  • ๐Ÿ›’ Advertising and retail
Thumbs up. Duolingo English Test

Do you want to study more for the Duolingo English Test with me?

Here’s how:

1 – Practice Platform: www.practice.detready.com
Sign up for free. Practice all the 10 question types on the Duolingo Test and see the correct answers immediately. Works great on your computer and phone!

2 – Writing courses:
Writing about the topic (50+ words) course: https://bit.ly/duolingo50words
Writing about the photo course: https://bit.ly/duolingotestphoto

3 – More information:
If you found this blog post helpful check out my other blog posts here: www.blog.detready.com

Keep on learning!

Teacher Luke

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