Checking that you understand

The most effective way of demonstrating your speaking ability is by checking that you understand the question. You can do this by guessing the meaning of a word or question you don’t understand and then checking the meaning with the examiner by rephrasing the question (using your own words).

Let’s look at the example question again.

Do you think the environment has been degraded by industrialisation?

In this example, if you don’t understand the word ‘degraded’ you might be able to guess the general meaning of this word.

The question is about the environment and industrialisation. We know that industrialisation can have a negative effect on the environment. Therefore, the word ‘degraded’ might have a negative meaning. From this we can guess that ‘degraded’ might mean ‘destroyed’ or ‘badly affected’.

Now you can check that you understand this question using your own words. You could ask the examiner:

Are you asking me if I think that the growth of industry has badly affected the environment?Would you like me to say whether I believe the spread of industry has had a negative effect on the environment?