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Many of our E2Language students have difficulty with the PTE Repeat Sentence task, which is certainly not as straightforward as it appears!
What’s important to understand is that this task is not just about pronunciation; it’s about memory as well. As a general rule, humans can only keep about seven small pieces of information in their short-term memory at one time, and (rather inconveniently!) the ‘Repeat Sentence’ task generally contains over 7 words.
This article will outline some tips that will help you work on sharpening up both your memory capacity and your pronunciation skills.
PTE Repeat Sentence Tips for Pronunciation:
Among other skills, the PTE Speaking tasks assess your fluency and pronunciation, and these particular skills are especially important for the PTE ‘Repeat Sentence’ task. Many people who speak English in their everyday lives are surprised when they score low on pronunciation and fluency, and they can get quite discouraged with their abilities. The truth is, most ESL learners develop their own pronunciation habits and speed/rhythm without realizing it- and it’s hard for them to break these habits because they are totally unaware of them!
For instance, we currently have a student from Bangladesh who has the vocabulary of an experienced college professor but he speaks so darn fast that it’s incredibly difficult for a native speaker to understand him! Many of our students also have a habit of blending words together because they think this demonstrates fluency in English. For example: “He said I should explaimysituatioimmediatelyto my teacher.” Unfortunately, the PTE evaluators are looking for good enunciation, and the “blending” trick doesn’t work too well for test-takers.
So, what can be done?
Listen to a podcast, audiobook, radio show etc. in English every single day. Make sure that you are listening to a native speaker talk about a topic, and pay special attention to their intonation, speed and rhythm.
Go to Ted.com and watch one of the excellent “Ted Talks” provided there. Download the transcript for the video you are watching and read along, making notes of words you are unsure how to pronounce. Listen to how the speaker pronounces these words. Then, try recording yourself pronouncing the word or the sentence around it. Listen back to the original and compare it with your version.
Get a speaking partner. I cannot stress this enough! If possible, set up meetings with a conversation partner who is a native speaker, either online or in person. Not only can you practice using your grammar and vocabulary, you can work on imitating your partner’s accent and receive valuable feedback from them about your pronunciation and fluency.
Our E2Language PTE courses offer an app called ‘E2Pronounce’, in which you are scored on your pronunciation and given useful feedback about where you are going wrong. We also provide an academic word list to help you target your pronunciation for the PTE. You can check out our course options here.
PTE Repeat Sentence Tips For Improving Memory
As I mentioned before, a large part of succeeding on the PTE Repeat Sentence task is your capacity for memorization. Many of our students run into the issue of not being able to remember a full sentence because it’s too long to memorize efficiently. Some people try to remedy this problem by taking notes while they listen- but this rarely works. Sadly, there simply isn’t enough time to record the entire sentence accurately.
When I took the PTE, I found that the best strategy was to close my eyes and focus completely on the audio. Remember though, I had the advantage of being a native speaker and therefore the ability to predict certain words based on patterns I commonly hear in English. Most ESL learners do not have this luxury. Here is what I suggest:
Start practicing specific memory games or activities to develop your short term memory. Take a look at these suggestions, or play an online memory game like this one. Expanding your short-term memory capacity will help you take in more information and keep it in your mind for a longer period of time.
Try “chunking” words together as you listen. This strategy is a commonly used technique for improving memory, and it comes in handy for short sentences in particular. What you need to do is group words together rather than processing them individually. For example, if you hear the sentence: “Last week I was told something completely different”, you can group the words into phrases like so: “Last Week”, “I was told” “Something completely different”. Understanding the components of each sentence as “chunks” rather than listening for each individual word makes it easier to recall the sentence accurately.
Take a look at our “PTE Repeat Sentence: Secrets for Success” video for another example of this strategy:
Practice, practice, practice! The more you hear examples of sentences like the ones you will hear in the real PTE, the more your brain will adapt to memorizing this information. You can use the Ted Talk strategy I mentioned above for pronunciation to help you here. Listen to the speaker in a video say a sentence, then pause the video and try to write down the sentence exactly as it was said. Rewind and check your answer, or check the transcripts for the video if you are still unsure. And if you haven’t already, sign up for our PTE free trial course and try out our practice questions. We have a lot of them!
Overall, the PTE Repeat Sentence task is all about practice. You must practice imitating native speakers to improve pronunciation and fluency, and you must practice sample tasks in order to improve your memory capacity and technique. A lot of people fail this task simply because they think it will be one of the easier speaking tasks and they don’t bother brushing up on the skills it tests. Make sure you don’t make the same mistake!
Do you have any tips for ‘Repeat Sentence’? If so, we’d love it if you would share them with us below!
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Written by Kaia.