Duolingo English Test Speaking Section 2023: Check Question Types & How to Answer

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Mrunmayai Bobade
Updated on May 25, 2023 1:50 PM IST

The Duolingo English Test, or DET, is one of the more recent and popular English competency examinations, with over 3,000 universities from around the world now accepting it.

The DET Speaking section is designed to measure applicants' English language speaking skills on four broad categories of Duolingo speaking questions. It requires candidates to speak on assigned Duolingo speaking topics with answers constructed on their own. The Duolingo English Test speaking section evaluates the many parts of a candidate's English language test using artificial intelligence and data analytics, as well as skilled human proctors. Therefore, ensuring high-quality safety and security during the test. As mentioned on this page, you will find everything you need to know about the Duolingo speaking topics.

What Does Duolingo Speaking Test Include?

As was already mentioned, there are four main categories of the Duolingo English Test (DET), each of which is intended to assess a distinct component of speaking the English language. In the Duolingo Speaking test, there are four primary Duolingo speaking questions:

Read Aloud: In this section, applicants are required to "read aloud" a passage of text. It is encouraged for applicants to use precise pronunciation and vocabulary.

Read and Speak: Before speaking, applicants must go through a written prompt that will be displayed on their monitor. Following the reading, all applicants will have 30 seconds to address some presented Duolingo speaking topics. Further, test-takers will be given the question's instructions about 20 seconds before the question's timer starts.

Listen and Speak: Comparable to "read and speak", applicants will be given an audio cue to listen to and playback numerous times before providing a fitting verbal answer. Applicants will be provided with the instructions for the Duolingo speaking questions about 20 seconds earlier the timer for their answer starts.

Speak About the Photo: As the name implies, applicants will be presented with a photograph, which they will then have to independently analyse and speak their response to the prompt. Before switching to the recording screen, the question and the photograph will be visible here for a total of 20 seconds.

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What are the Production Scoring and Subscoring Criteria for DET?

The sole graded component of the Duolingo English Test is the Adaptive Test. Based on your responses, the various Duolingo speaking questions categories will be evaluated differently.

The Duolingo exam will analyse questions like the Read Aloud segment automatically by applying unique systems/procedures designed specifically for such Duolingo speaking topics. The algorithm will examine the differences and similarities between your responses and those of the correct answers.

You will not be negatively marked if you submit an incorrect or partial response. Candidates may even receive a partial score for incorrect responses! You may lose more points if you neglect to answer a question than if you respond improperly. As a result, you must respond to each question.

The integrated grading system will assess Duolingo speaking topics with answers for questions such as Talk About the Picture, Read and Speak, and Listen and Speak. The purpose here is to understand and assess your English skills in the same way as an experienced examiner would. The Duolingo English Test will assess your grammatical correctness, lexical diversity, and ability to communicate effectively in English.

Tips to Answer Duolingo Speaking Topics

Answering Duolingo speaking questions may seem to be more difficult than writing your responses, which can be true if you are not properly prepared for the section and do not learn the best ways to answer the questions in the Duolingo Speaking section. In this section, we will speak on the best ways to respond to the different Duolingo speaking topics with answers.

Tips to Answer Duolingo Read Aloud Questions

According to the official exam pattern for Duolingo English tests, the ‘read aloud’ questions will be the easiest of the four types of Duolingo speaking questions. Therefore, when answering the Duolingo ‘read aloud’ questions, be sure to keep the following tips in mind.

  • Be slow and clear when speaking the phrase provided.

  • Be sure to punctuate properly, pausing where necessary,

  • Keep the 30-second time limit in mind when speaking.

Tips to Answer Duolingo Speak About the Photo Questions

As the name suggests, test-takers will be asked to speak about a photo that will be displayed on the screen and speak their responses according to the question that will be provided. Here are the tips you can keep in mind when responding to the Duolingo speaking topics with answers:

  • The clarity in the spoken response is of the utmost importance when attempting the speaking questions in Duolingo. Therefore, speak your responses clearly and slowly.

  • Depending on the question provided with the photograph, describe or explain the photo in the first two sentences. You can continue to provide your interpretation of the photo, thereafter.

Tips to Answer Duolingo Read and Speak Questions

Unlike the ‘read aloud’ questions as previously mentioned, the ‘read and speak’ questions in Duolingo speaking topics require candidates to first read the question provided within 20 seconds. Test-takers must then speak their answers within the next 30-90 seconds. Check out the following tips to answer Duolingo read and speak questions.

  • Jot down keywords during the time allotted for reading time.

  • Keep personal experiences in mind when answering.

  • Be clear and slow when speaking to ensure your answers can be understood.

  • Keep your answers brief and to the point.

  • This question type requires plenty of practice, therefore, before attempting the test, practice as many such similar questions.

Tips to Answer Duolingo Listen and Speak Questions

Similar to the ‘read and speak’ questions as stated above, the ‘listen and speak’ speaking topics will require candidates to listen to the spoken prompt. Here the question will be replayable. Here are the tips you can use when answering the Duolingo listen and speak questions.

  • Since the question is replayable, take advantage of the provision and replay the question.

  • Jot down the keywords, similar to Duolingo's ‘read and speak’ question. 

How to Answer Ungraded Duolingo Speaking Section?

This section of the page will help clear the upgraded DET speaking sample section. Further, a few Duolingo speaking questions will appear on the screen once and you will be required to speak your responses for one to three minutes is designed to assess your ability to create content and your fluency in the language.

Here are tips to answer the speaking sample questions in Duolingo English tests:

  • When the question appears on the screen, jot down the keywords you think are important and structure your response accordingly.

  • Be patient and calm, as you have enough time to answer.

  • Be sure to be on track with the topic. Try not to stray away from the given topic a lot.

  • Before attempting the test on the scheduled date and time, practice speaking on different topics for 3 minutes at least.

To learn about the writing section of this exam, refer to Duolingo Writing Samples and tips to prepare.

How to Answer the ‘Speak About a Topic’ Question?

Respond to the questions by speaking. You will only have 30 seconds to respond to the question. Answer all questions correctly since they will be recorded.

Written Prompt

  • This question will be asked twice.

  • You will have 20 seconds to mentally prepare.

  • You will then give a 90-second presentation on the subject.

  • Talk for as long as you can.

  • Subjects include work, art, animals, people, hobbies, and so forth.

  • It helps your production and conversation subscores.

Aural Prompt

  • This question will only be asked once.

  • You will have 20 seconds to mentally prepare.

  • You will then give a 90-second presentation on the subject.

  • Talk for as long as you can.

  • You can answer the question up to three times.

  • Subjects include work, art, animals, people, hobbies, and so forth.

  • It helps your production and conversation subscores.

Tips to Respond to These Duolingo Speaking Topics with Answers

Speak confidently, calmly, and clearly.  Check that you have addressed every part of the question. Prepare and plan your response before proceeding to the recording screen. Here are a few pointers to keep in mind when answering question prompts in the Duolingo Speaking Test:

  • Discuss the numerous arguments for and against a claim or a subject from multiple perspectives. It entails more than simply providing facts or explaining things. It's similar to assessing, except you will not pick a side. Background information must be used to support your argument or subject.

  • The prompt 'describe' is most similar to 'explain'; the main difference in certain circumstances is purpose. This prompt frequently arises in the Duolingo English Test utilising the term 'Speak.' Include descriptions to make it easier to grasp.

  • Respond and elaborate. Demonstrate your command and fluency of the language.

  • Make use of transition words. These words will help you answer more fluently and coherently, and there are many transition words available. If you want to go to the following questions, this will assist you in moving from one to the next.

How to Answer the ‘Read Aloud’ Duolingo Speaking Topics Question Type?

Candidates will read a statement given on the screen and repeat it into the microphone during their Duolingo Speaking Test, as the name indicates. In this stage, a phrase will come on the screen, and you must videotape yourself saying it. This question will test your communication skills.

  • Time Limit: 20 seconds

  • Subscores: Comprehension, Conversation

  • The question will appear three to seven times.

  • The task must be completed in 20 seconds.

  • You will then talk about the issue for 30 to 90 seconds.

  • Talk for as long as you can.

  • It helps your productivity and literacy subscores.

Tips for Answering These Questions

  • Read it silently in your head for the first several seconds.

  • Read the prompt slowly.

  • Employ punctuation to help you determine where to take a break.

  • Keep an eye on the timer; you have only 20 seconds.

  • Read the prompt precisely. No words should be added, deleted, or replaced.

  • Note that key verbs, nouns, adjectives, and adverbs are highlighted.

  • Function words like pronouns, articles, prepositions, and conjunctions are not emphasised.

Preparation Tips for Duolingo Speaking Topics

For those attempting the popular English proficiency test this year, it is crucial that you prepare for the test as much as possible to enhance your chances of scoring high on the test. Listed below are some of the preparation tips for Duolingo Speaking questions that you can apply to your DET preparation strategies this year.

Utilise the Entire Allotted Time for Response: Whether you have 30 seconds or three minutes to speak on any Duolingo speaking topics or questions, utilise the entire allotted time. The speaking sections are designed to assess your ability to not only speak fluently but also at length on a given topic, without straying away.

Your Accent Does Not Matter: If you are worried that your accent is incomprehensible, you need not worry. Your primary focus when completing the Duolingo speaking questions should be on pronunciation, intonation, sounds, etc.

Avoid Contemporary Slangs and Fillers: When responding to the Duolingo speaking topics with answers, be sure to keep your language as professional and academic as possible. Using contemporary slang and fillers may paint a negative impression, making it seem that you do not possess the necessary vocabulary and ability to communicate your ideas and thoughts properly.

Avoid foghorns and filler words such as ‘like’, ‘umm’, ‘ahh’, ‘you know’, ‘yeah’, etc., when creating your sentences.

Enhance Your Vocabulary: When practising and enhancing your English language skills, read as many books, journals and magazines as possible. Keep a dictionary by your side and learn the meanings and usages of new words. Further, practice these newly acknowledged words by implementing them in your daily life such that you get used to them naturally in your accent or in any given situation.

Avoid Words You Do not Understand: Fancy words and sentences may seem nice and beneficial, however, using words and grammar incorrectly will negatively affect your overall score.

Rote Learning is Your Enemy: DET has been designed with the idea of testing your ability to fluently speak out your ideas and thoughts on any given Duolingo speaking topics. Therefore, if you memorise your answers, the AI and expert human proctors are trained enough to spot them and score you accordingly.

Introduce a Variety of Sentence and Grammatical Structures: Undoubtedly, maintaining good grammar and sentence structure is crucial to scoring high in Duolingo speaking questions. However, use different levels of vocabulary and a variety of words, fluently as well as keep track of the time and not stray away from the topic at hand.

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FAQs on Duolingo English Test Speaking Test

How do I ace the Duolingo speaking topics with answers?

There are several different techniques that can help you ace the Duolingo speaking topics with answers, however, the best technique to pass the test is to practice speaking on given topics as much as possible. It is also necessary to enhance your vocabulary by reading different books, newspapers and magazines. Keep a dictionary at hand to understand any new words you encounter and learn how to properly use them accordingly.

Are ‘read and speak’ questions the same as ‘read aloud’ questions in Duolingo speaking topics?

No, the ‘read and speak’ and the ‘read aloud’ questions in Duolingo speaking topics are two different types of speaking questions that test-takers will be presented with on the day of the test. In ‘read and speak’, candidates will be given a written prompt and a few questions, after which, they must speak their answers accordingly. Whereas, candidates must read the given phrase aloud in the ‘read aloud’ Duolingo speaking questions.

How do I answer ‘speak about the photo’ Duolingo speaking questions?

When attempting the ‘Speak about the Photo’ Duolingo speaking questions, it is important to assess the photograph displayed on the screen and read the instructions or questions provided with the photo. This will allow you to formulate your answers accordingly. If the question asks you to describe, then describe the photo you see on the screen and then provide your interpretation of the photograph.

How do I answer Duolingo speaking topics?

To answer different speaking questions or Duolingo speaking topics, candidates must first read the instructions and questions displayed on the screen. However, one of the important tips for speaking questions in Duolingo is that candidates should speak clearly and slowly in order for the AI and the expert human proctors to properly understand and rate their speaking skills.

What are the types of Duolingo speaking questions?

Primarily, there are four different types of Duolingo speaking questions that test-takers will have to attempt. The four types of speaking questions in Duolingo include Read Aloud, Read and Speak, Listen and Speak, and Speak about the Photo questions, all targeting different capabilities in candidates attempting the test this year.

What are Duolingo speaking questions?

Test-takers are given Duolingo speaking questions, where they will be required to speak on different topics and talk out their responses to different questions as well. Unlike other language proficiency tests, the speaking tests are integrated within the test itself and candidates will be given 30-90 seconds prominently to speak their responses.

How do I practice speaking questions in Duolingo?

To practise speaking questions, the best way to improve your speaking skills and thus your scores is to practice different Duolingo speaking topics. Usually, the speaking questions require candidates to speak for anywhere between 30 seconds to three minutes on a given topic. Therefore, try and speak on common Duolingo topics for at least 30 seconds and then try speaking on different topics for three minutes.

Is the Duolingo English Test divided into sections?

No, the Duolingo English Test is not divided into sections, however, the test has been designed to assess the Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening skills of the candidates. All the questions are integrated into one and students will be assessed on the different aspects one after the other, however, there will be different types of questions that will test different parameters of the communication skills a candidate should possess.

How long is the speaking test in Duolingo English Test?

The speaking questions or prompts in Duolingo English tests take anywhere around 30 to 90 seconds to complete. Thye ungraded speaking sample in Duolingo English Test requires candidates to speak anywhere between 1-3 minutes on a given topic. However, unlike other popular English proficiency tests, like IELTS, TOEFL and PTE Academic, there are no predefined sections and allotted time for each section.

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