This post is related to a post from a while back on the urgency of some learners to gain an official qualification in English. In the other post, I mentioned university students who are desperate to get their B1, but in this post I’m thinking more about mainstream teachers who are frantically scrabbling to get a B2.
Our school works in a number of state schools which have recently implemented bilingual projects, which require their teachers to have a B2 qualification in the second language being taught and as such over recent years we have had a number of courses working with those teachers. In some cases, the teachers started the year with a B2 or even C1 level and were perfectly able to achieve their objective of passing B2 in June.
What has unfortunately happened though is that those teachers who started in lower-level courses are increasingly being pushed through the levels at an alarming rate, with the expectation being that they’ll be able to jump from A2 to B1 or B1 to B2 in a year. Whilst some learners are able to make that leap, with a great deal of effort on their part, others are struggling – often taking an exam against our recommendation and ultimately feeling despondent about their English level.
One of the factors which I think affects a learner’s ability to jump through levels is the amount of time they spend with the language which I believe affects their confidence in both production and comprehension. Some learners are so concerned with jumping through the examining body’s hoops that they spend little time looking outside the exam syllabus and hence lack the fluency and confidence of others.
How would you suggest learners spend more time with language? Here are some of my ideas:
- Watch your favourite TV series and films in original version
- Find a conversation exchange
- Read for pleasure in English and focus on understanding gist
- Use lyricstraining.com to practise listening for detail
- Try to use English in your everyday life: write your shopping list in English or write a quick diary entry of what you’ve done that day