Speaking Test Strategies 16 Confirming questions

This lesson will focus on confirming, rephrasing and active listening.


Listening skills are not simply about hearing every single word the other person says the first time they say it. There are other things we do to make us better listeners whether we are native or non-native speakers—things such as confirming, rephrasing and active listening. In a speaking test, you can use these to buy time while you are thinking or if you don't fully understand the meaning or nuance of the question. 

Warm Up: 

Let's work on confirming using this example:

What do you think of the rapid trend of urbanization?

How could you confirm this question? 


The following strategies are potential ways to confirm or clarify. You may find certain ones suit you better than others, but please practice each strategy with your teacher.

1. One strategy is to repeat a key word or phrase. Be sure to use plenty of word stress for the repeated language.

2. Another strategy is to ask for the interviewer to repeat the whole question. This should generally be avoided, but if necessary you can ask naturally. 

3. You can also clarify one part of the question by asking what is meant by a certain word or phrase. 

4. A tough, but sophisticated form of clarification is rephrasing. Try rephrasing these questions:

  • When in the year is your work the most hectic? 
  • What would you do if you had to be on a team with someone who's not a people-person? 
  • What was the last inspiring or heartwarming story you heard?

5. Finally, you can disagree with the premise of the question. This is probably a rare case, but it can be a powerful way to control an interview.


Now practice clarifying each of these questions. Don't answer them; just confirm them. Some of these questions may be strange, specific or surprising, so make sure you understand exactly what it is that your interviewer is asking.