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Exams preparation for language improvement - HIGOR CAVALCANTE

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  • 1. Brushing up your English via exams preparation: an action plan Higor Cavalcante
  • 2. What do we need to do know about the language we teach?
  • 3. Teachers need to know a lot about the subject they are teaching (the English language). (…) Language teachers need to know how the language works. (…) a knowledge of the grammar system and understanding of the lexical system. (…) They need to be aware of pronunciation features such as sounds, stress and intonation. (…) Students have a right to expect that teachers of the English language can explain straightforward grammar concepts, including how and when they are used. They expect their teachers to know the difference between the colloquial language that people use in informal conversation and the more formal language required in more formal settings. Jeremy Harmer in How to teach English. Pearson, 2007.
  • 4. Among the consequences of (…) a limited knowledge of language are: a failure on the part of the teacher to anticipate learners’ learning problems and a consequent inability to plan lessons that are pitched at the right level; (…) an inability to deal satisfactorily with errors, or to field learners’ queries; and a general failure to earn the confidence of the learners due to a lack of basic terminology and ability to present new language clearly and efficiently. Scott Thornbury, in About Language. Cambridge, 1997.
  • 5. Why exams • • • • • • They provide a target to aim at They make us study harder They make us revise what we have learned They show other people what I’m capable of They give me qualifications I can put on my CV They ultimately provide a sense of achievement Adapted from How to teach for exams. Pearson, 2005.
  • 6. Which exams • Cambridge English: Advanced (aka CAE) – CEFR C1 • Cambridge English: Proficiency (aka CPE) – CEFR C2
  • 7. What is tested CAE CPE • • • • • • • • • Reading Writing Use of English Listening Speaking Reading and Use of English Writing Listening Speaking
  • 8. Preparing for international exams • • • • • • Read vastly and variedly Study grammar Study vocabulary Expose yourself to a lot of English Speak with proficient speakers Be curious
  • 9. READING
  • 10. What should I read? • • • • Books (varied genres) Magazines (assorted topics) Newspapers (different regions, various themes) Exam-like tasks / past papers • Amount and range
  • 11. Exam sample
  • 12. WRITING
  • 13. Tell a partner • What you’ve written in the past two weeks • How much writing you normally do • Which genres you usually practice
  • 14. Practicing writing • • • • Varied genres: letter, report, review, essay, article etc. Good writers read vastly and variedly Study models Text organization (paragraphing, layout), register, range and accuracy of lexis and syntax, punctuation, coherence & cohesion • Write a lot!
  • 15. Exam sample
  • 16. LISTENING
  • 17. Improving listening skills • Study phonology • Listen to a lot of English • TV (movies, series etc.) • Podcasts, websites • www.ted.com • Do exam-like tasks / past papers • Focus on language
  • 18. Exam sample
  • 19. SPEAKING
  • 20. Working on your speaking skills • • • • • Teaching (usually) won’t help much Practice speaking with advanced and proficient speakers Make a conscious effort to activate new, interesting language Suggestions: book clubs, study groups, Skype, record yourself Exam-like tasks
  • 21. Exam sample
  • 22. USE OF ENGLISH
  • 23. Know your grammar. And vocabulary. • You can’t separate them. • No matter what happens, I am never going to stay in that hotel again. UNDER • Under _______ stay in that hotel again. • Under no circumstances am I ever going to stay in that hotel again.
  • 24. Know your grammar. And vocabulary. • Be sure you know all a word can mean. • The company _____ its awards ceremony in March last year. • John _____ the ladder firmly while his father painted the window frame. • The file that was destroyed ____ some extremely important information. • held
  • 25. Know your grammar. And vocabulary. • Study word formation. Understand their grammatical forms. identification Apparently accompanying checkout update timely painstaking offenders
  • 26. Know your grammar. And vocabulary. • • • • • • Study grammar conscientiously Keep a vocabulary notebook at all times. Be curious. Do exam-like tasks / past papers Read vastly and variedly. Revisited previously studied vocabulary. Make a conscious effort to put new language into use.
  • 27. Good grammar books • • • • Advanced Language Practice, Michael Vince. Macmillan. Advanced Grammar in Use, Martin Hewings. Cambridge. Practical English Usage, Michael Swan. Oxford. Grammar for English Language Teachers, Martin Parrott. Cambridge.
  • 28. Good vocabulary books • • • • • How to Teach Vocabulary, Scott Thornbury. Pearson. English Vocabulary in Use – Advanced. Cambridge. English Collocations in Use – Advanced. Cambridge. English Idioms in Use – Advanced. Cambridge English Phrasal Verbs in Use – Advanced. Cambridge.
  • 29. Other good language books • About Language, Scott Thornbury. Cambridge. • English Pronunciation in Use – Advanced, Martin Hewings. Cambridge.
  • 30. Bibliography • • • • • • How to Teach English, Jeremy Harmer. Pearson. How to Teach for Exams, Burgess & Head. Pearson. About Language, Scott Thornbury. Cambridge. Certificate in Advanced English 1. Cambridge. Expert Proficiency – Student’s Resource Book. Pearson. Objective Proficiency, Capel & Sharp. Cambridge.
  • 31. Thank you! • • • • higor@higorcavalcante.com www.higorcavalcante.com Skype/Twitter: teacherhigor Facebook: Higor Cavalcante