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Oral Exam Pitfalls

The oral exam is approaching and the team here at Euro Languages College hopes you are steadily preparing to ace this test! Our main tip for the oral may seem simple but it really is true: Practise. Improving your pronunciation and accent is not something that can be crammed in overnight. Students need to put in some solid hours of revision over time. Our courses are the perfect way to immerse yourself in the language and improve your confidence when speaking. Majority of our staff are native speakers of French, German and Spanish so they can help you pinpoint where you’re going off track and how you can correct these errors!

Our courses kick off in June and places are filling up so book now to avoid disappointment. For the mean time, have a read over some excerpts from the Chief Examiners Report on the Oral Exams, detailing the most common pitfalls of students.


The most common errors were:

  • Pronouncing the last consonant or syllable, e.g. poulet, anglais, ils, and the silent -e or -ent endings in the Present tense, e.g. je regarde, elles jouent;
  • Not making the correct liaison, e.g. mes amis, je suis irlandais, les étudiants;
  • Difficulty in pronouncing the French [r], and nasal sounds, e.g. jardin, blanc, vingt, bon, and also in distinguishing the [u] and [y] sounds, e.g. vu/vous;
  • Not distinguishing the difference in pronunciation between je/j’ai, il/elle, or un/une, as well as in words such as aîné/âne, deux/douze, cours/courses, and matière/métier;
  • Mispronouncing school subjects, especially français, histoire, biologie, chimie;
  • Difficulty with the –ille sound, e.g. famille, ville, fille, and with words ending in –ion, e.g. émission, natation, récréation, solution.


  • Past tense, especially in the General Conversation: difficulty with auxiliary verbs
  • Subject-Verb agreement
  • Word order
  • Omission of prefix at end of sentences, e.g. Ich komme mit meiner Schwester gut …
  • Tendency to use ist + verb to express the continuous present, e.g. sie ist lernen, ich bin fahren, er ist gehen etc.
  • Omitting the infinitive at the end of the sentence with modal verbs, and werden
  • studieren used instead of lernen
  • besprechen confused with sprechen
  • Geschwister understood as Schwestern
  • Stimmung not understood
  • Inability to understand some questions. For example, candidates did not always realise that Sie refers to them
  • Commonly used incorrect phrases such as: der ist for es gibt; das ist sehr Spaß; misuse of putzen, stehen for bleiben; the use of bleiben where wohnen would be correct
  • Some candidates did not understand or misunderstood Haben Sie Ihr Handy draußen gelassen?
  • There were some difficulties with pronunciation: Umlaut not pronounced in words like Geschäft, Wäsche, enttäuscht, Gebäude, trägt, aufräumen, schön, Universität, möchte, Fächer, Wörterbuch, Gepäck,Verhältni


  • Many candidates still confuse the verbs ser and estar.
  • Some examiners noted that candidates used facilidades for instalaciones when talking about facilities in school etc.
  • Only the best candidates used the subjunctive in the correct manner. However, some candidates had learned off phrases with the subjunctive included in the sentence.
  • Most candidates still rely on the Preterite tense when speaking about events in the past, they seem to dislike, or are unfamiliar with, the Imperfect tense and the Present Perfect tense

. · Agreement of adjectives was problematic for some candidates.

  • Some candidates used the infinitive of the verb when answering a question, regardless of the tense required.
  • Many of these candidates just repeated the form of the verb used by the examiner.
  • Some candidates used me prefiero, and similarly me odio and me quiero.
  • The correct use of the verb gustar continues to pose a significant challenge for weaker candidates. · Some candidates used the verb ser instead of tener for age.
  • There is evidence of pronunciation difficulties, for example, with the word mayor and school subjects such as biología, geografía, química and historia.
  • Some candidates repeated the question structure or the second person form of the verb in their answer.
  • Some candidates were unable to give descriptions of people.
  • Some candidates did not understand the Perfect Tense question ¿Has estado en España?

Do you find yourself making some of the same errors mentioned above? Do you find it difficult to correct them during class time? The best way to become confident in a language is by speaking it out loud whether that be with a classmate, family member or even in front of a mirror. If you want to perfect your language skills and enjoy a memorable Summer making new friends, book a place on one of our language courses which kick off in June!

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