Cambridge English Cambridge English: First / Writing and Speaking
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Cambridge English Cambridge English: First / Writing and Speaking

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Aims: ...

Aims:
- To examine briefly the format, tasks and test focuses
- To support teachers preparing candidates for the exam
- To support candidates preparing for the exam
- To familiarise participants with three of the main areas of test focus, i.e. Communicative Achievement, Organisation and Language
- To help participants identify what their students need to be able to do in order to achieve the best results in these areas
- To provide interesting activities to help their students achieve these results

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  • 1. Cambridge English: First Writing and Speaking
  • 2. 2 Handout 1 FCE Writing Task types Complete the task descriptions, numbered 1–7, with the missing task types below. a letter an email a report an essay an article a short story a review 1) ........................ is written in response to the situation outlined in the input information. Candidates can expect to write to, for example, a college principal, an English speaking friend or a colleague. 2) ........................is usually written for an English language magazine. The main purpose is to engage the interest of the reader. Effective answers have a clear storyline which links coherently to the prompt sentence and demonstrates a sound grasp of narrative tenses. 3) ........................is written for an English language magazine or newspaper, and the reader is assumed to have similar interests to the writer. The main purpose is to interest and engage the reader, so there should be some opinion or comment. 4) ...................... is usually written for a superior or a peer group. Candidates are expected to give some factual information and make suggestions and recommendations. It should be clearly organised and may include headings. 5) ......................... is written in response to the situation outlined in the question. It requires a response which is consistently appropriate in register and tone. It could be written to, e.g. an English speaking friend or colleague, a potential employer, a college principal or a magazine editor. 6) ..................... is usually written for an English language magazine, newspaper or website. The main purpose is to describe and express a personal opinion about something which the writer has experienced and to give the reader a clear impression of what the item discussed is like. Descriptions, explanation and recommendation are key functions to this task. 7) ...................... is usually written for a teacher and may be written as a follow-up to a class activity. It should be well organised with an introduction, clear development and an appropriate conclusion. The main purpose of the task is the development of an argument and/or discussion of issues surrounding a certain topic. Candidates are expected to give reasons for their opinions.
  • 3. 3 Handout 2 Example answers to Writing Part 1 Example Answer A Example Answer B Example Answer C
  • 4. 4 Handout 3 Part 1 question FCE Writing Part 1 You must answer this question. Write your answer in 120–150 words in an appropriate style on the opposite page. You have arranged to visit your English-speaking friend, Chris, for the weekend. Read Chris’s letter, and the notes you have made. Then write a letter to Chris, using all your notes. Write your letter. You must use grammatically correct sentences with accurate spelling and punctuation in a style appropriate for the situation. No, because … Say which and why Hi! I’m so glad you can come and stay with me for the weekend. There’s a Science Festival in my city that weekend and I thought we could go to it. The Festival Programme looks great. We can go to the exhibition in the morning, but in the afternoon we have to choose one of these talks: ‘Can Animals Speak?’ which is about animal communication, or ‘The Power of the Sun’. Which would you prefer? Is there anything else you need to know about the festival? Finally, would you like to stay with me for a bit longer? There’s so much that I want to show you. See you soon. Best wishes Chris Yes! Ask Chris about …
  • 5. 5 Handout 4: Extracts from answers to Part 1 Here are examples of how some candidates handled the prompts. Each bullet point is from a separate answer. Identify what the problem is with each one. Prompt 1  Great to hear from you. I haven’t been back to the park that you and I explored together last time you came to see me – it was such fun and I still enjoy looking at the photos.  I don’t mind going to the festival with you. Prompt 2  I would prefer ‘the power of the sun’.  I would like to go the talk on animal communication because it will be more interesting.  Both talks seems to be nice but I prefer Can Animals Speak because it is nice to learn about the communication of for example Mondays. Prompt 3  Can you pick me up from the station? Prompt 4  No because I will take an exam next week.  I’m sorry I mustn’t stay in your home longer.
  • 6. 6 Handout 5: Teaching ideas for Part 1 prompts Three strategies for handling Part 1 prompts are: 1. Always get learners to plan their answers before writing and, where possible, to plan orally with a partner. Set questions for learners to discuss and answer such as:  What is the scenario?  Who are they writing to?  What reason could they give for not being able to stay longer, etc. 1. This will help them use the appropriate register and include appropriate content. 2. Show learners contrasting sample answers, some strong and some weak. The weak answers can help learners to understand and avoid weaknesses and the strong answers can be a source of ideas and language. Vary when you do this – showing sample answers before learners write their own answers can be a helpful way to guide learners in their writing, although at times you will want to challenge them more and show the sample answers after they have written their answers, so they can compare. 3. Examine prompts from past papers, identifying:  exactly what they have to do (e.g. expand, ask a question, give a reason)  the functional language required (e.g. explaining, suggesting, requesting information)  what each should be about (focus on relevance). Candidates could then brainstorm several variations of what they could write.
  • 7. 7 Handout 6: Part 1 gapped answer Dear Chris, Thank you very much for your quick reply. I’m so happy that I found a free weekend to visit you. 1 __________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________ You know, because of my job I haven’t so much time to visit such festivals. 2 __________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________ But if you would rather listen to the other one it’s okay as well. I have two questions about it. I would like to know 3 __________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________ Unfortunately, I can’t stay longer because 4 _________________________________________________________________. ___________________________________________________________________ I’m looking forward to seeing you soon!! Lots of love 1 A It would be fantastic if we could go to this Science Festival in your city. I’m very keen on science and it would be a great chance for me. B I would like to go to the festival with you. 2 A I think the ‘Power of the Sun’ is more interesting. B I would prefer the talk about animal communication. I love animals and when I was a child I always annoyed my mother with questions about them. 3 A how long it would be in your city and are there any facilities for example games or exhibitions especially for children? B I can see other talks at the festival and they are interesting. 4 A Next week I have an important exam and I failed it. B I have so much to do for my job.
  • 8. 8 Handout 7: Key to Part 1 gapped answer 1 A It would be fantastic if we could go to this Science Festival in your city. I’m very keen on science and it would be a great chance for me. B I would like to go to the festival with you. The candidate hasn’t given a reason. Sample improved version: I would love to go to the festival with you because science is my favourite subject at school. 2 A I think the ‘Power of the Sun’ is more interesting. The prompt isn’t developed so there is a very limited range of language Sample improved version: I think the ‘Power of the Sun’ sounds fascinating as global warming is such an important issue. B I would prefer the talk about animal communication. I love animals and when I was a child I always annoyed my mother with questions about them. 3 A how long it would be in your city and are there any facilities for example games or exhibitions especially for children? B I can see other talks at the festival and they are interesting. The candidate hasn’t formed questions. Sample improved version: if I can see other talks at the festival and whether there are any other interesting ones? 4 A next week I have an important exam and I failed it. The candidate hasn’t used the correct tense and so it is confusing. Sample improved version: next week I have an important exam and I must study hard because I don’t want to fail it B I have so much to do for my job.
  • 9. 9 Handout 8: Key to ‘Frequently confused words’ Key: 1. The festival will take part next weekend. The festival will take place next weekend or I will take part in the festival next weekend. The candidate is confusing the phrasal verbs take part and take place, perhaps because they look very similar and they can both be used when talking about festivals, shows, etc. 2. We don’t want to lose our visit to the museum. We don’t want to miss our visit to the museum. The candidate is confusing the verbs miss and lose as both can mean something is absent. 3. I was there and it was greatful. I was there and it was great. The candidate is confusing the adjectives great and grateful, thinking that they are one word or belong to the same family as they are pronounced the same. 4. I’m writing a book named ‘The World’. I am writing a book called ‘The World’. The candidates is confusing named and called as they both refer to what something’s name is and they are using the more formal named instead of the less formal called. 5. You can’t miss to order the wine. You shouldn’t forget to order the wine. The candidate is confusing the modal verbs for advice shouldn’t and can’t as well as miss and forget, as in some languages there aren’t two separate words for these concepts, and they both express absence.
  • 10. 10 Handout 9 Worksheet: What kind of mistake? Impeding – prevents understanding Non-impeding – we understand despite the mistake 1. I hate it when Mum asks me to keep a foot on my little sister. I don’t like looking after her. 2. I always help my mother make the housework. 3. Jane likes opera and nor do I. 4. I’ll take an umbrella so that it rains. 5. I have a really high tree growing in my garden. 6. You can walk – the post office is far from here. 7. He doesn’t really enjoy to play tennis. 8. I’m interested on history – I love reading historical books. 9. I met him tomorrow. 10 If you had studied harder, you will pass the exam.
  • 11. 11 Handout 10 Part 1 answers Script A Dear Chris Thank you for your answer. I'am very happy to hear from you again. I would love to join you at the Science Festival. It must be a lot of fun. I am very fond of going to the exhibition in the morning. I would like to choose the talk about animal communication. It must be very interesting to hear about the different possibilities for communication with animals. I heard about a monkey which can remember arround 250 signs and is able to use them for communication with its trainer. Can you imagine that? It is maybe possible to discuss that. Can we see some chemistry experiments in the morning? Unfortunately I can't stay a bit longer with you, because I have a lot of work to do and a very important exam to prepare for. I am looking forward to see you again. Best regards Script B Hi Chris I'm looking forward visiting you in London. It's a nice idea to go to this Science Festival. I didn't know, that there's going to be one in your city. We're going to take this chance. It will be interesting. Now here are my toughts about the two different talks. The first one named "Can Animals Speak?" would be funny for sure, but the other one named "The Power of the Sun" would be better, because it is something for the future. Maybe I can use something from it for my job as IT‐ Specialist. This one has a bit more to do with techniks. By the way, what's the name of the festival? I want to read in the internet about it, what's important to see at this festival. How many people will be there? It's a pitty that I can't stay longer. I have to go, to school on Monday. Best wishes
  • 12. 12 Handout 11 Part 2 question You have seen this announcement in an international magazine. Write your article. Talk about what you would expect in terms of: 1. Content 2. Communicative conventions 3. Organisation 4. Language MY FAVOURITE TEACHER Tell us about a favourite teacher of yours and say what you remember about him or her. We will publish the most interesting articles next month.
  • 13. 13 1) You have seen this announcement in an international magazine: Friendship Today How do you make friends? Do friends have to agree on everything? The best articles will be published in next month’s magazine. Write your article. Handout 12 Part 2 answer Part 2 question
  • 14. 14 Handout 13 Part 2 answer Friendship Today What is the basic of a real friendship? The new electronic world give us a lot of opportunities about friendship. With differant tools like Facebook is it easier to keep relations actif even if you're fare away from your friend and thats great. But is it necessary to comunicate in the same way with friends which are next to you? If we do so, we will loose the face to face contact and that's not great. Friendship is something very individual and is based on differant circumslances as I already mentionned. The most important thing is to be honest with your friends, even if he/she has another opignon. The basis of a friendship is confidence, acceptance and it doesn't matter where you're friend is located. Sometimes is it ok to have another point of view to build up a deeper own meaning. Take care of your friends!
  • 15. 15 Discourse management definitions Here are some areas which are assessed under the broad heading of Discourse management. Can you match an item to its definition? Relevance 1) Words and phrases which explicitly state the relationships between sentences, paragraphs and ideas. Examples are: so, as a result, and, in addition, however, on the other hand, finally. Coherence and cohesion 2) The stretch of language produced (which is more than just a short phrase) should be appropriate to the task. Long turns expect longer stretches of language, but a task involving discussion will include shorter responses. Cohesive devices 3) What the candidate says should be related to the task and not about something else. Extent 4) This means that a contribution is unified and structurally organised, and it is easy to follow the progression of ideas. One way of doing this is to use cohesive devices, but candidates can also use related vocabulary and reference pronouns.
  • 16. 16 Sample Speaking test: Ottavia and Hannah Part 1 Watch Ottavia and Hannah in Part 1 of the Speaking test, and decide whether the following comments refer to Ottavia, Hannah or both of them: Answers questions fluently and mostly accurately. Answers questions with little hesitation, only to gather thoughts. Speaks rather hesitantly at times. Speaks rather fast at times (maybe due to nerves) but shows good fluency. Occasional inappropriate usage. Sometimes tails off at the ends of her utterances. Some inaccuracies but corrects herself naturally. Extends where necessary. Part 2  Listen carefully to the interlocutor’s instructions to Ottavia. Does he ask her to describe the two photos? Her other task is to say why the people have chosen to communicate in the different ways shown in the photos.  Now listen to Ottavia speaking for a minute. Does she do as the interlocutor instructed?  How well does Hannah answer her follow-up question about the internet?  Hannah is asked what people might find difficult about learning to ski or to cook. Does she address her task well?  How well does Ottavia answer her follow-up question about cooking?  As a teacher, what correction point would you focus on, to deal with accuracy, after watching this part?
  • 17. 17 Part 3 According to Cambridge ESOL assessors, both candidates interact well, Hannah very well. Watch the clip and note how the two candidates interact.  What phrases do they use to develop the interaction?  How could they interact better with each other?  What does Hannah do that Ottavia does not in terms of developing the discussion?  How do they move the discussion along?  Do they reach a decision? Part 4 Below are some comments by Cambridge ESOL examiners on the performances of the two candidates. Watch the video clip of Part 4, then fill in the gaps with a suitable word from the list. pronunciation, fluency, little, extends, range, structures, fully, personal, all, vocabulary, hesitant, grammatical, develops, inaccurate Ottavia answers ………… her questions and tries to extend her answers a ……...... . She is less hesitant when talking about …………….. experiences. This seems to give her confidence and her …………… improves. She shows a good range of ……………. and ……………., but is sometimes rather ………………. . Hannah answers all her questions ………….. , she ……………… her ideas and …………… where she can. She is sometimes …………………. when she is trying to explain complex ideas, and has occasional …………………… problems (for example with singular and plural), although her ……………. of vocabulary is good. The …………………… of both candidates is easily understood. Why have the people chosen to communicate in these different ways?
  • 18. 18 What might the people find difficult about learning to do these different things?
  • 19. 19  How could these different things help the students to learn about life in another country?  Which two would be most useful for the students?
  • 20. 20 Worksheet: What is the best answer? A) Read these extracts of different students completing Part 1 of the Cambridge English: First Speaking test. Then answer the questions that follow. Student 1: Examiner: Where are you from? Student: Barcelona Examiner: Do you like living there? Student: Yes. Examiner: Why? Student: My family. My friends. Student 2: Examiner: Where are you from? Student: Barcelona, in Spain. Examiner: Do you like living there? Student: Of course! All my friends and my family live there and there are many things to do. Barcelona is a very popular city! Student 3: Examiner: Where are you from? Student: I am from Barcelona. It is the second-biggest city in Spain and the biggest city in Catalonia in the north-east of Spain. It has a population of more than 4 million people. Barcelona is very popular with tourists because it is a beautiful city and has many attractions for visitors to see, especially the famous architecture of Gaudi. It is also an industrial city and the textile, chemical and pharmaceutical sectors are all big employers in the region. It is also famous for football … Which answer do you think is the best? Which one sounds most natural? B) To practise for Part 1 of the Cambridge English: First Speaking test, discuss these questions with your partner. Try to make your answers as natural-sounding as possible. How do you get to work/school/college every day?  What is your favourite time of the year? Why?  Do you like listening to music? What kind of music do you listen to?  Are you more of a morning person or an evening person?  What do you like to do with your friends?
  • 21. 21 Classroom activity: Part 2 – answering the question Timing 10 minutes Materials One copy each of worksheet (A): Answering the question for half the class, and one copy each of worksheet (B): Answering the question for half the class. Rationale This activity helps students focus on answering the second question in Part 2 of the test, going beyond simply comparing and contrasting the photographs. It could be used at any time during a Cambridge English: First preparation course. Procedure 1. Ask students to remind you of the format of Part 2 of the Cambridge English: First Speaking test. Clarify that they must speak alone about two photographs. They always have two questions to answer, one is to compare and contrast the two photographs and the second usually develops on the theme of the photographs. 2. Before giving out the worksheets, explain to students that they cannot show their worksheet to their partner, and that after they read their questions, they must fold their worksheet so that their partner can see their photographs, but not the question. You might want to demonstrate by folding the page appropriately for students. Tell students that while they are speaking, their partner’s job is to guess what the second question is. 3. Distribute the worksheet (A): Answering the question to one person in each pair. Ensure that they read the question before folding the page and showing the photographs to their partner. Give student A a minute to speak and then ask student B in each pair to guess what the question was. 4. Distribute the worksheet (B): Answering the question to the students who listened the last time. Ensure that they read the question, fold the page and show the photographs to their partner. Give them a minute to speak and then allow time for student A to guess the supplementary question. 5. In feedback, you can discuss whether students guessed right or wrong and you could give (or elicit from students) some good examples of ways to answer the questions that they have just discussed.
  • 22. 22 Worksheet (A): Answering the question Student A You are going to answer the following questions about the photographs. Read the questions, but do not tell your partner what the questions are. Fold the sheet and show the photographs to your partner, but do not show them the questions. Here are two photographs of people eating. Compare and contrast the photographs and say what you think the people are enjoying about eating in these situations. ****************fold here***************************fold here*********************************
  • 23. 23 Worksheet (B): Answering the question You are going to answer the following questions about the photographs. Read the questions, but do not tell your partner what the questions are. Fold the sheet and show the photographs to your partner, but do not show them the questions. Here are two photographs of people with animals. Compare and contrast the photographs and say why you think the animals are important to these people’s lives. ****************fold here***************************fold here*********************************
  • 24. 24 Practising comparative structures Timing 20–30 minutes, depending on the number of students in class Materials Pairs of photographs brought in by the students Rationale This relates to Part 2 of the test. It should be more motivating for students if they bring in their own photographs, for example of singers, actors, sports, animals, etc. This activity works best when the photographs are all on the same theme. Students will practise using comparative structures and focusing on the language as they write sentences, then try to match them to visuals. Students need to be able to use comparatives structures – this is a good practice activity after doing written exercises on this language point. The activity also involves moving around the room, which is another advantage when teaching restless teenagers. Procedure 6. Put the students’ pairs of photographs around the classroom, keeping each pair together. Give pairs of students some strips of paper to write each sentence on. 7. Students walk around in pairs, and write one sentence for each pair of photos. Tell students not to make it too obvious which pictures the sentences refer to. For example, for a pair of pictures showing cycling and walking, ‘the first sport is more demanding than the second’ is less obvious than ‘cycling is more demanding than walking’. 8. When students have finished, collect all the sentences they have written. 9. Students now choose a strip of paper (not their own), walk around again and put it beside the photographs it describes. They continue doing this until all the strips of paper are gone. 10. Feedback can be conducted by asking a student to hold up the photographs for the class to see, while another student reads the sentences chosen to match those visuals. There may well be lively discussion if opinions differ, for example, on the merits of one singer or band over another. Hopefully the discussion will also include plenty of comparative structures.
  • 25. 25 What are the challenges of the Writing paper?  Answering the question and completing the task fully  Using a good range of grammar and vocabulary  Using an appropriate style and register  Understanding the format and style of different types of texts  Using different grammatical forms accurately  Covering all the content points and using their own words in Part 1  Organising their ideas clearly  Giving clear opinions and expanding their ideas effectively Strategies for handling Part 1 prompts Plan answers before writing: orally or in writing. Set questions for discussion, e.g.:  What is the scenario?  Who are you writing to?  What reasons can you give? Show contrasting answers (strong and weak): • Weak answers help understanding and how to avoid problems • Strong answers help by giving ideas and language Examine prompts from past papers. Identify: • What learners have to do • The functional language required • What each prompt is about. Brainstorm a range of answers.
  • 26. 26 How do you help your students learn to use confusing words correctly? • Students gap-fill sentences, choosing from options of frequently confused words. • Look at sentences in class containing frequently confused words and focus on context and sentence structure in each one, to help understand the differences. • Students write personalised sentences using frequently confused words. • Focus on frequently confused words within a topic, e.g. an interview which contains the words ‘say, tell, speak, talk’.
  • 27. 27 Useful links 1. Main Cambridge website: www.cambridgeenglish.org 2. Access to handouts and teaching blog: www.TeachingTogether-CambridgeEnglish.blogspot.com 3. Courses and information: www.CambridgeEnglishTeacher.org 4. Teaching resources: www.teachers.cambridgeesol.org The link to handbooks, sample papers, listening recordings, etc. is: Home» Exams » General English » Cambridge English: First