Add detail in your speaking test by comparing everything

Use opposite points of view

To score highly on speaking tests like the G.B.C., you need to show the best of your English—make long but well-organized sentences, add detail, and show you have a wide vocabulary. One easy way to do that is to use comparatives. 

It's quite simple: if you make a claim, you can always find something to compare it to. If you talk about today, then say something about yesterday or tomorrow. If you talk about Japan, then say something about a foreign country.

Categories of opposites might include:

  • Time (past, present) - "Now my home town is big and crowded, but twenty years ago, it was a lot smaller." 
  • Space (here, there; Japan, abroad) - "It is quite large, but it is definitely not the largest in Japan" 
  • Subject (me, other people) - "Personally, I think it easy to get around, but other people don't like the traffic."

You could also just think of them in pairs:

  • Like/don't like - "I like it, but others don't."
  • Particular/general - "This one is cheap, but in general, they are relatively expensive."
  • Subjective/objective - "I think it's fine, but objectively speaking, it's not one of the best."
  • True/false - "This is actually true, but many people think it's not true at all."
  • Fact/value - "In reality, it's only good for some people, but it should be good for everyone."
  • Good/bad - "This one was good, but most of the time they have been pretty bad."

Now let's look at this in practice. Look for opposites in this example answer to the question: please describe your home town.

My hometown is a small city in the countryside. Speaking objectively, it's not a memorable city. Some people would say it's boring, but personally, I love it. 

It's quiet and relaxing, not busy and stressful like where I live now.

When I was young, I thought it was quite convenient. Everything was all in one place—my school, my house, and my friends' houses. However, it's actually not convenient for adults because it's hard to find a good job in such a small place. That's why I don't live there now. If I still lived there and worked here, the commute would be terrible! 

Here are the opposites used above: 

  1. "speaking objectively, it's not a memorable city" - "but personally I love it";
  2. "quiet and relaxing" - "busy and stressful";
  3. "when I was young" - "for adults"; and
  4. "I thought it was quite convenient" - "however, it's actually not convenient".

One result of using opposites is it makes you use more vocabulary with synonyms and antonyms.  

Adding detailed opposites is an easy way to improve your speaking test results. Practice this in your next class so you can confidently use this strategy when you are under pressure in your test.

memorable [adjective]—interesting enough to cause you to remember it.
synonyms [noun]—words with the same meaning.
antonyms [noun]—words with the opposite meaning.