Top Tips For Passing The Matura English Exam
Students with aspirations to study at an international university where English is the primary language need to pass the Matura English exam in order to be admitted.
Dealing with setbacks will delay your plans and ambitions. If you’re worried your standard of English falls short of the grade you need to pass the Matura English exam, private tuition with a British native speaker is advantageous.
Immersing yourself in the language is key to mastering the Matura English exam. Reading literature in English together with watching English TV and films are all good practice for listening.
There is also a wealth of YouTubers from the UK and the United States that you can tune your ear and enhance your language skills. However, because there is a diverse range of accents, understanding pronunciation can become problematic.
Ultimately you will spend more time discussing how a particular word should be pronounced than actually learning English properly.
As a matter of fact, watching YouTubers will be misleading. In the UK, a lot of people do not speak English correctly. We have a tendency to drop our T’s for example. Therefore ‘better’ and ‘butter’ sound like ‘beh-her’ and ‘buh-her’.
These are not the pronunciations you should be using in your Matura English exam.
Learning how to speak English with a trained British native tutor, on the other hand, will be a huge help for ensuring your pronunciation is correct.
There are also many other oddities in the English language that we can show you that you will need to know to pass your Matura English exam.
Let’s take a look at some of them.
The Oddities of the English Language
There are some basic rules in the English language that make it a relatively easy language to learn.
For example, most Indo-European languages use different verb conjugations which are determined by the tense and whether you’re referring to a single person or a group of people; trabajo, trabaja, trabajas, trabajamos, trabajan etc,.
For non-natives, English grammar is relatively easy to learn compared to your own language. There are, of course, some complications along the way, but these are generally picked up at school level.
Where many students taking the Matura English exam slip up is with pronunciation. English is littered with oddities that differ greatly from other Indo-European languages.
For example, we don’t pronounce every letter, therefore, the perceived pronunciation sounds different to how the word is spelt. And this happens in a number of ways, namely, homophones, homographs and homonyms.
What are Homophones in English?
Some words in English sound the same but have different meanings. Red and read, for example. Knight and night, see and sea, sew and sow, current and currant – which is a small fruit (dried grape) you put in buns and cakes.
What are Homographs in English?
When you’re reading English, you will come across words that looks the same as another word but has a different meaning, pronunciation and derivative. These are known as homographs. Examples include.
Read and Read
The noun ‘read, as in to read, is pronounced ‘reed’
Read as is “I have read that book” is pronounced red.
Wind and Wind
The wind is related to the weather. Wind is related to an action such as winding a clock or when you make fun of a friend you wind them up.
The pronunciation of the weather wind using the sound of the small ‘i’ and to wind up a friend has the same sound as a capital I – like ‘eye’.
Tear and Tear
When you cry you shed a tear, pronounced tier, which is also a word referring to the ascending and descending sections of a hierarchical structure or the segregation of stands in a sports stadium or theatre. When you rip a piece of paper in two you tear it; pronounced tare.
What are Homonyms in English?
Just to confuse matters, we also have words that can be both homophones and homographs in that they are spelt the same, sound the same but have a different meaning.
Examples of Homonyms
Current – can mean a flow of water or something that is happening at the present moment; current affairs in the news.
Match – a sports match or a match used for lighting a candle.
Bright – someone that is intelligent can be described as bright. The light of the sun and vibrant colours are also bright.
You will find more examples of homophones and homographs here.
Pronouncing English Like a British Native Speaker
Having worked as an English teacher for over twenty years, I notice common mistakes that Europeans make when speaking English.
Two prime examples are the pronunciation of ‘th’ and words that end in ‘ed’. Because other Indo-Europeans do not have the ‘th’ sound, it can be difficult for non-natives to produce the correct sound by gently pressing their tongues between their teeth.
Whilst ‘th’ is easy to learn, words that end in ‘ed’ tends to be a common error some English speakers never get to grips with – even if they have been speaking English every day for years.
Unlike Indo-European languages that pronounce every letter as it sounds in the alphabet, English does not. And there is no particular rule to follow. Words that end in ‘ed’ is a prime example.
I often hear non-native English speakers in Vienna pronounce worked as work-ed. The correct pronunciation actually sounds like workt. Other examples include:
Examples of words that sound like ’t‘
Not all words ending in ‘ed’ are pronounced like a ’t’. Most of them drop the ‘e’ sound so that only the ‘d’ is stressed.
Examples of words that sound like ’d‘
But there are also words that do stress the ‘ed’.
Examples of words that sound like ’ed‘
Learn Matura English with British Native-Speakers
The Matura English exam determines how naturally students use the English language. Simply translating words from your mother tongue into English will not score you a good grade.
The best way to understand how to speak and write English proficiently is to learn matura English with a British native speaker. You will find native English tutors in Westbahnhof that specialise in teaching Matura students.
When you learn English with a native English speaker you learn to speak the language with a richer quality. As mentioned above, there are pronunciation traps that listening to English natives online will not always solve.
Whilst learning the colloquial language will make you sound British, in many cases, following the patterns of native British speakers will make your pronunciation accented – which can be worse for you Matura English oral examination.
One-to-one coaching with the British native-speakers at English4Professionals also immerses you in the culture.
Most of our Matura English teachers originate from the UK and will give you reliable information about the country, its history and its culture that you don’t necessarily hear through mainstream media. Let me put it this way, with the exception of English football fans, the UK is very well marketed.
Younger students who are not as confident or proficient in English are not left out either. Whereas some native English speakers don’t speak German, some of our British native-speaking professionals have lived in Austria for over 20 years and speak fluent German.
Many of our younger students prefer to hear explanations and examples they can relate to in their own language. We think this is important because we don’t want our students to feel stressed, pressured or confused.
Immerse yourself in the language
Learning Matura English should not be limited to lesson time only. Given English is the most widely spoken language in the world, there are plenty of opportunities for students to immerse themselves in the language.
As mentioned above, this is not always convenient or helpful. However, our experienced native English speakers will be able to help you find content on YouTube and elsewhere around the web that illustrates how to pronounce words properly and how not to!
During lessons, we analyse current news reports and watch videos to help you get accustomed to the language. We can also use content from around the web to show you the true culture of England – and if you’re interested in the differences between Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Australia and the US, we can analyse this too.
The rich variety of diverse pronunciations in English is a real eye-opener – especially if you are only accustomed to classroom English and “BBC” English.
Adopt Proven Revision Strategies
Scientific research has shown that revising in short intervals with breaks in between helps people retain and recall information better. Last-minute cramming, on the other hand, stressed you out and will make you more nervous on the day of your Matura English exam.
Students with busy schedules don’t always have enough time to set aside to learn English – particularly when it’s an additional subject you have to learn to be accepted by an international university.
One proven revision strategy is a time management technique called the Pomodoro Method – so-called because the guy that invented the method, Francesco Crillo initially used a cooking timer shaped like a tomato.
The basic principles are:
- Set a timer for 10-25 minutes of fully focused study. 25 minutes is long enough for you to finish a task but not long enough for you to lose concentration.
- During ‘Pomodoro Time’ avoid distractions like email, phone notifications and social media.
- After your allotted time is up, take a short break. This gives your brain time to recharge. You are then more productive and alert when you return to your studies.
Another proven revision strategy for learning languages is to associate words with words, objects or people you already know. This also helps to remember the names of new people you meet.
For example, thinking of books and a bra will help you to remember the word library. Thinking of a brain around your head will help you remember words like brainpower or brainchild – an expression for a great idea.
We also use acrostics in English to remember how words are spelt. For example, ‘Rhythm has your two hips moving’ is an acrostic for rhythm.
Don’t Be Afraid to Make Mistakes During Lessons
During my years of giving private tuition at Westbahnhof, I have noticed that some students are afraid to commit themselves to speaking English to other people or answering questions during English lessons at school.
The reason some kids shy away from speaking English is that they are afraid to make mistakes. It doesn’t get said often enough, but mistakes are a great way to learn – and you shouldn’t feel ashamed of saying something wrong in a language you are learning to speak.
I bet you make mistakes in your own language, right?
Sure you do. So, of course, you’re going to make mistakes learning English. Everybody does.
The best place to make mistakes is with a British native-speaking teacher in a one-to-one coaching session. Your friends won’t be around to hear you and your teacher shows you how to pronounce words that sound different to how they are written.
Whilst you’re learning a new language, it doesn’t matter if your pronunciation is not great or if your grammar could be better. But they do need to be perfect by the time you take your English Matura exam. So make all the mistakes you like during your private tuition.
Get Your Parents Involved
I often get asked by parents who only know minimal English whether it’s a good idea for them to speak English with their children. They are worried that they may be a bad influence – especially if they get the pronunciation wrong.
Even if your parents don’t speak English to a good standard practising with them can help to improve your confidence – and their proficiency. You may find yourself correcting them quite a lot.
One-to-One Mentoring at Westbahnhof
Private tuition will accelerate your English proficiency. A significant part of the English Matura exam is to determine your competency in the use of the English language – particularly in listening and writing.
Our one-to-one coaching sessions are tailored towards your needs and interests. You will be speaking with native English speakers that can help you improve your pronunciation and master grammar so that you pass your writing and oral exam with flying colours. If you can speak and write English to an advanced level, the reading exam will be a piece of cake.
Oh yes, our British native speakers will also teach you some common sayings that we use in the UK. See you later Alligator.