Use questions to add impact to your speaking test answer

Why? Who? What? When? Which? Whose? How?

Many non-native English speakers find it difficult to add detail and expand. As a result, their speaking test scores are lower than they should be, and their writing lacks sophistication and impact.  

Here is a simple way to solve this problem. It can be applied to anything from simple spoken answers to very complicated writing.

As you speak or write, ask yourself the most obvious question: who, what, when, where, why, and how? If you are a lower-level English speaker, when you say, "I went out," you can ask yourself, "Where?" Then say, "To the shop."

Here’s a simple example.

Q: What did you do this summer?

A: I went on holiday.

Q: Where?

A: I went to Seoul.

Q: When?

A: In July.

Q: Who with?

A: My friend.

Q: Why?

A: To enjoy really good Korean food.

Now, if you read it without the questions, you get a much longer answer.

Q: What did you do this summer?

A: I went on holiday to Seoul, in July with a friend, to enjoy really good Korean food.

This technique also works with complicated speaking test answers and high-level writing.

When making an argument, imagine the most obvious question that the listener would ask. It will help you give clear examples and use strong reasoning.

Let's take a look at a mediocre answer and think about how you might expand and improve it.

Describe the effects of globalization.

Well, that's an interesting question. In Japan, globalization has affected so many jobs. The market has been expanding rapidly. Specifically, globalization affects the linguistic level. I have to communicate daily with people abroad. It is more important than ever to speak English. So, for one thing, globalization affects language.

This is not a bad answer, but it can be much stronger. Let's go through and expand it:

Well, that's an interesting question (why?) because globalization has had a great effect on countries all over the word. For example, in Japan, globalization has affected so many jobs, (which jobs?) from farming, to factory work, to my industry—consulting. The market has been expanding rapidly (since when?) since I began working over ten years ago. Specifically, globalization affects the linguistic level. (How?) Communication has become more rapid, with email, video chat and the ability to send large files. I have to communicate daily with people abroad, (where?) in India, Brazil, New York and London. It is more important than ever to speak English in order to communicate. (So what?) So, I'm studying English in order to stay ahead in a globalizing world! 

Note that this ends with the question, so what? It is a good way to discuss the future: either your actions or hopes, or the implications of your argument. It also adds impact to your ending.

Now, read it one more time, smoothly: 

Describe the effects of globalization.

Well, that's an interesting question because globalization has had a great effect on countries all over the word. For example, in Japan, globalization has affected so many jobs, from farming, to factory work, to my industry—consulting. The market has been expanding rapidly since I began working over ten years ago. Specifically, globalization affects the linguistic level. Communication has become more rapid, with email, video chat and the ability to send large files. I have to communicate daily with people abroad, in India, Brazil, New York and London. It is more important than ever to speak English in order to communicate.  So, I'm studying English in order to stay ahead in a globalizing world! 

This is much stronger because the claims have multiple added details.

The principal of asking yourself questions is true for writing too. When you read a newspaper, at the end of each paragraph, you can ask yourself, "what do I want to know next?" If the article is a good one, then the next paragraph will answer your question. 

In short, imagine everything you say from the listener's point of view (so what?). So, add detailed examples and keep practicing!