This slide may be useful both for C1 and B2 learners.
Credit: Rosa Rudó Mauné
This slide may be useful both for C1 and B2 learners.
Credit: Rosa Rudó Mauné
Some shameless fun yesterday with my adult group!
1) Brainstorm the topics which can come up during the speaking exam, e.g. family, education, holidays, food, music, etc. Get a list of about 15.
2) Give each student a piece of paper and have them divide the paper into 6 squares. Tell them to write a different topic in each square and a personal information question for each topic.
3) Have them scrunch their paper into a ball and divide the class into two groups – half them stand on opposite sides of the classroom. Have a 20-second snowball fight.
4) After the fight, tell students to grab a snowball, sit down and interview their partner using the six questions.
5) After they chat, tell them to write a second question for each of the topics on the paper. Again, have a 20-second snowball fight, then have students interview their partner with the new snowball they pick up at the end.
My students really enjoyed it – as they are on the naval base, they are under a lot of pressure with exams, routines and duties and so they enjoyed a bit of silliness. Plus, it practises question formation as well as getting them to think about the typical topics of the exam. It’s really easy to adapt this activity to different levels as well, as the questions can vary from using very simple tenses and structures, to using conditionals and encouraging a wider range of structures in their responses.
This is another of the guided visualisations which I did at the InnovateELT conference a couple of weeks ago. It’s especially suitable for learners who are preparing for the Cambridge PET and works well in a group of six or more.
Here’s a rough script for the guided visualisation:
Imagine you’re going shopping. Are you in a shopping centre or the town centre?
What can you see around you? Is it busy or quiet?
What can you hear? Are there people talking? Can you hear music playing or the sounds of cars going by?
Imagine you’re going to buy a birthday present for a friend. Look around and choose which shop you’re going to go into.
Now you’re inside the shop. How does the space feel? Is it big or small? Is it crowded or empty?
Is there any music playing?
Does the shop have a particular smell?
Wander around and look at the different things you could buy your friend. Pick things up. Feel the texture. Feel the weight. Check the price.
Decide on the present you’re going to buy and when you’re ready, open your eyes and tell your partner about the present.
One thing I like about this task is that the guided visualisation takes the learners on a journey, but what we’re really interested in is the end product, so they don’t need to share the process of getting to the present, just the object they finally decided on.
As learners are sharing with their partner, use the time to monitor and collect errors or new language you’d like to share with the class. As the topic is very open, learners might have decied to buy clothes, furniture or decorative household items, plants, jewellery…so a wide variety of language can come up whilst they’re sharing.
Feedback as a group on the different items learners chose for their present. Then write a six or so of them on the board, along with the price of each. This then leads onto a PET-style discussion activity.
Say to the group:
You want to buy a birthday present for a friend. Talk together about the different things you could buy and then decide which would be best.
Learners work in pairs to do the task, whilst you monitor and collect errors.
Do some feedback on the task, asking pairs which present they chose and why.
A couple of weeks ago, I was at the FECEI conference in Madrid and held a workshop called Engaging Exam Exercises. The first activity we practised was a picture description with a twist. I started doing this activity in my class for two reasons:
Tell learners to close their eyes and describe a picture to them, but make some changes. If you check out the slides in this post, see if you can spot the differences with the first picture.
I can see a girl who looks about 50. She’s wearing a black, long sleeved T-shirt and she’s got short, brown hair. She looks really happy and she’s holding a piece of paper that says, “4 intense weeks”. She’s in a building and I can see a plant behind her. There are also some pictures on the wall next to the plant and to the right there’s a big window. It’s daytime and it’s a really sunny day – you can see the sun coming in through the windows. I imagine she’s in a house and that she’s having a good time.
After you’ve modelled the task, put learners into pairs, A and B. A closes their eyes whilst B describes a picture; then A looks at the picture and tells B about the differences. In the next slide, you can see a model of the task with the sentence stems to help learners and on the third slide, instead of stems, there are the questions they should think about when describing the picture – giving them more autonomy and removing some of the scaffolding.
Eeeep, I’ll admit it – I’ve still not got my routine sorted in terms of when lessons get planned and so on Thursday, I had focussed far more on my YLs and twenty minutes before an afternoon of classes suddenly thought, “Aaah – what am I doing with my PET group?!” Unfortunately, teaching two groups of little people and another YLs class during the afternoon, I didn’t have much time to plan whilst lessons were going on and five minutes before the class was due to start, still didn’t have it quite clear in my head. So, here’s a materials-light (possibly even -free) lesson for learners preparing for the Cambridge PET exam.
Start with StarWord – an easy game which activates schemata.
Draw a star on the board. Explain that you’re thinking of a word related to the topic of (At the beach). Give them a minute to brainstorm in pairs.
Nominate a learner to say a word (then, as was the case on Thursday, have a moment of panic when they get your word – towel – in the first guess and you realise you can’t think of anything else at the beach. Congratulate them on being so clever, writing their word below the star to show they got it correct, then recover with ‘bikini’ in mind and start again!).
The star on the board represents where your word lies alphabetically, so as learners guess, add their words to the board in the correct position (before/after, closer/further away).
**If I was doing this class with a group of teenage learners I was more familiar with, I’d do this stage next. As it was only our second lesson, I decided to do this guided visualisation after the speaking exam practice stage.**
Tell the group to close their eyes and do a guided visualisation of being on the beach. Here are some questions to put to them…
Are you on a beach you’ve been to before, or are you imagining a new beach?
Are you alone? Are you with friends or family?
What can you see around you? Are there children playing? Is the beach busy or empty?
What can you hear? Think about the sound of the sea – are the waves crashing on the shore or is it calm?
Can you smell anything?
Think about where you are – are you standing on the beach with the sand between your toes? Are you in the sea – is the water warm or refreshing? What’s the weather like – can you feel the sun on your skin?
In pairs, learners tell their partner about their beach – remind them to think about what they could see, hear, smell and feel. Then, as whole group feedback, ask each learner to tell you three things about their beach. This is a good moment for error collection/correction – a typical issue here in Spain being, “I was in the beach.”
Next, elicit three or four beaches which your learners may go to and ask them to work in pairs to think of an advantage and disadvantage of each. It can help to say that they can’t repeat the same information more than once and, if you wanted to add an extra level of challenge, you could say that they can’t use opposites to talk about different beaches, e.g. “An advantage of beach A is that it’s clean. A disadvantage of beach B is that it’s really dirty.”
Nominate learners and board their ideas – don’t limit yourself in feedback to just one advantage/disadvantage for each as it’s likely that pairs will have come up with different points for different beaches.
Then, as a bit of an aside, check their knowledge of the PET speaking exam and elicit timing, interactions and the different phases of the exam.
For the next stage, it may help to have some typical language for part 2 (the interactive phase) prepared on cards – phrases for making suggestions and agreeing/disagreeing, such as, “Why don’t we…?” or “I don’t think that’s a good idea, because…” If you have them prepared, hand out a set to each pair and ask them to divide them out; if you don’t have the cards ready, you can elicit this language from the group and board it.
Set the scene for part 2 of the speaking exam:
“You’ve decided to go to the beach this weekend. Talk together about the different beaches you could visit and decide which would be best. I’ll say that again…”
In pairs, learners discuss the topic, using the cards in their hand. This is another good opportunity to monitor and collect/correct errors.
**I now did the guided visualisation.**
Finally, set up a homework task to write a letter to a friend who is coming to visit your city/region and has sent a letter to ask your advice on which beach to visit. Elicit the layout for writing a letter and word count.
Here are some other topics which could work with this plan:
*Being in the countryside. They could think of activities to do such as horse-riding or rock-climbing for the interactive and letter tasks
*Going shopping. They could think about different shopping areas in the town (for example locally for us there is a small shopping centre, an enormous shopping centre out of town, a department store or the high street). For the letter task, they could respond to a friend about their shopping habits
*Learning languages. For the interactive tasks they could think of advantages and disadvantages of the different ways people can learn languages (online, going to class, reading, audio classes, etc) and then for the letter task, give a friend advice on learning a new language
*The future. For the guided visualisation, you could talk them through their future job; then for the interactive task they could talk about possible summer jobs and in the letter task, either write a letter imagining a job they had in the previous summer or talk about their plans for their future career