February 12

Cambridge YLE – Speaking Practice

I’m off to the Macmillan Teachers’ Day in Málaga on Saturday (very excited!) and one of the activities I’ll be presenting is a dice game for Starters, Movers and Flyers to practise typical questions from the speaking exam.  The good thing about these games is that they’re appropriate for all learners – not just those preparing for Cambridge exams.

You can download them from the Activities for your Classroom page, listed as “Starters, Movers and Flyers dice games”.

It’s a simple enough game – learners roll two dice (or roll one twice!) and answer the question in that square.   It’s worth reminding them before they start that they should answer with full sentences and that for “Tell me about…” squares they should say at least three sentences.

July 2

Key phrases for speaking exams

Well, this has probably come a little late as it seems the main bulk of exams are finished now, but no doubt there’ll be some schools (including ours) doing B1 and B2 preparation courses over the summer.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Cambridge PET and First Certificate exams, in each of the speaking parts there is an interactive task during which candidates must look at a series of photos and discuss with a partner the best option.  The topic could be a present for a friend, methods of travelling around during a gap year, after-school activities on offer – a variety of topics, but the key language used will be much the same.  Phrases like:

That’s a great idea, because…

I disagree, because…

That’s true, but…

What do you think?

To give my students some extra practice and encourage/remind them to use all these interactive tools, I made a “photo frame” to put on top of the pictures so that the task is surrounded by useful phrases.

April 8

Running Race for PETs

This post is inspired by a request from Kirsten about what to do in a PET tutorial this afternoon. I did this activity with my PET class the other day and it went down a treat.

Take a copy of the Reading paper, part 2 (Matching).  Cut up the eight texts and stick them around the room.  Copy one set of questions for each pair of students and colour-code each (so you know which pair each set of questions belongs to), then cut them into strips.  Explain to Student A that you are going to give him a question which he must read to his partner, then Student B must find the correct text which matches the question.  Student B tells A the answer, which he writes next to the question and Student B brings it to the teacher. If the answer is correct, you give them the next question and they swap roles; if it is incorrect, they must continue looking for the correct answer.

It will also work with FCE Reading, part 3.  A competitive activity which encourages students to read the texts carefully for specific details.

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September 15

Wordy Wednesday #8

OK, so it’s the wrong time of the year to be asking this question, but what do you think is one reason for or against testing?

I think frequent, simple tests are a good way of reminding students why they are there, as a means of giving hard proof that they ARE learning.  Students shouldn’t worry about these tests – they shouldn’t need to if they have been taught well and have been paying attention in classes – but I do think that it’s important for them to get feedback on the tests, not just a mark but a helping hand if they’re finidng something difficult.