B1 Business Preliminary (BEC Preliminary)
Speaking Part Two
In this part you have to talk for one minute about a business topic.
You can download an example of Speaking Part Two here.
The diagram below shows how you will speak.
The examiner gives you two questions, you chose one and answer it.
The questions begin with What is important when..
You have one minute to prepare.
You can learn more about the correct grammar to use in this part of the Speaking Exam, in the B1 Business Preliminary BEC Exam Guide book, available here.
Read the subject of the questions quickly. Do not read the examples topics now.
Choose the subject that you have professional or personal experience of. If you do not have experience of either, then choose the most general subject.
Now read the example topics. Try to think of one example of each point.
Speaking task procedure.
Do not ask the question. The examiner will do that.
Use the same order as the examples.
You don’t have to talk about all the examples. If you want to more about one or two then you can.
Use a structure and use presentation vocabulary. One minute is actually very short so follow this formula.
Firstly + example topic is important because + give your own example with detail
Secondly + example topic is necessary too because + give your own example with detail
Finally + example topic is also useful + give your own example with detail
This formula should take about one minute if you speak at a normal speed. However, if you have more time (the examiner will ask you to stop at the end of the minute) then I recommend returning to the example topic which you think is the most important, and finishing with something like this; Overall example topic is the most important because…
When the minute is finished, the examiner will stop you.
It is vital to give professional examples. You can talk about yourself but always try to use a professional context. If you have to choose a topic you have only experienced as a customer try to keep the examples general but use the perspective of the company not of the customer.
I have often had students who want to speak from a personal perspective. With some questions, this is a very natural mistake but you MUST avoid it.
Often by replacing I with the words people they or you, your answer can be more professional and less personal. More importantly, the answer gets a positive result for this part of the test.
Ways to practice.
Use past exam papers, some are available online, or you can buy a book with past exam papers of all parts of the exam. Have a look at the B1 Preliminary Resources page for help with this.
If it is difficult to think of spontaneous examples, try the exercise with more everyday topics,
What is important when you go to the supermarket?
You should be able to produce something like this.
Firstly it is important to write a shopping list because you can plan what you need and your shopping trip will be quicker. Make sure you don’t forget your list.
Secondly, bags are useful because now you often have to pay for bags. If you take your own bags you can save money and help the environment
Finally, money is essential because without it you can’t pay for your shopping. Overall money is the most important because it is what you really need, you can forget the other two.
Don’t forget to give professional examples. You can talk about yourself but always try to use a professional context. If you have to choose a topic you have only experienced as a customer try to keep the examples general but use the perspective of the company not as the customer.
The Presentation Part 2 -The Question.
It is important to remember that the other candidate has a role here too. When the minute is finished, the examiner will stop you. The examiner will then ask your partner to ask you a question. Students often forget that this is coming but you need to be prepared.
Your partner needs to ask you a question about your presentation so it will not be difficult to answer. He or she will relate the question to one of your points. You need to give a short clear reply, similar in length to the questions in the interview in Part 1.
It isn’t over yet though. Now you must listen to your partner’s presentation and ask a question about it.
Listen to the introduction and the first point of your partner’s presentation. If you understand it, then start thinking of a question, keep listening just in case you want to change your question or your partner answers the question during their presentation.
Start your question with “Do you think” “What, in your opinion is…”
if you cannot think of a specific question, you could ask “Which of the things you mentioned is the most or the least important? if your partner does not say this themselves.
B1 Business Preliminary (BEC Preliminary)
Speaking Part Three- The Discussion.
In this part you talk to your partner, (finally!)
The examiner describes a situation and you have to discuss it with your partner and decide about something. The examiner will describe the situation twice.
You can download an example of Speaking Part Three here.
Interaction is very important in Part 3. But what does this mean? It means that you have a conversation, you have to talk about the situation but also listen and respond to your partner. This is not always natural especially when you are stressed, but you interact with people every day don’t you?
You can learn more about the correct grammar to use in this part of the Speaking Exam, in the B1 Business Preliminary Preparation Guide, available here.
The diagram below shows how you speak to each other:
Procedure – play tennis!
Try to start. This way you will feel more relaxed because you are speaking.
Give an opinion about one part of the situation and ask your partner if he/she agrees?
Remember to say Do you agree not are you agree? If you are worried about making a mistake, with agree, just ask What do you think?
Listen to your partner and respond to what they say.
Introduce another point and ask your partner to respond.
Keep going. (see you are playing tennis, back and forth back and forth).
Decide time! Usually, if the discussion works well and you have agreed and disagreed about the same things, then the decision part is easy because it is “obvious” what you have decided.