Dealing with complexity
in Part 2 of the Speaking exam at Cambridge Certificate in
Advanced English (CAE) level
by Sandra Bradwell
- lesson plan 1
Level: Advanced (CAE)
We are using Advanced Gold as a course book preparing for
the Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English exam. This will
be the fourth lesson on unit 8. I try to incorporate as much
listening and speaking practice into each lesson as these
are the skills the students are most interested in developing
and where they need most practice. In the first lesson of
this unit, students in pairs were asking and giving their
opinions about coincidences and luck and I was encouraging
them to use expressions for this purpose as well as to show
they were actively listening. Having finished the reading,
students, in pairs, had 5 minutes to find out as many things
as possible they had in common. Later in the lesson, after
a listening, we highlighted language for telling anecdotes
and maintaining interest.
In the second lesson we prepared a role play to practise adjectives
and consolidate language for giving opinions agreeing/disagreeing.
We finished off the lesson by discussing some questions in
pairs which provided an opportunity for fluency practice.
In the last lesson students discussed prompts on the walls
containing vocabulary they would later hear in an extract
of video. We watched the extract to listen for Phil's dilemma
and Rita's advice and then students had an opportunity to
discuss how they would feel if they were in Phil's situation.
I asked students to use hypothetical language : suppose..,
if , I'd rather .. which was revision from unit 7. I then
gave out a list of personal qualities/features and students
had a chance to discuss how far these matched up to their
ideal partner before deciding if Phil fulfilled any of these.
Students later heard Rita describing her ideal partner. Finally
I gave students a list of reported sentences to predict what
the direct speech would be in the film, before listening to
the conversation between Rita and Phil to check.
As can be seen, I try to develop and practise speaking strategies
in general rather than specifically doing exam practice. I
also encourage students to make a conscious effort to use
a variety of expressions when giving opinions, discussing
topics or relating personal anecdotes both while speaking
and listening. We have done some preparation for part 2 of
the speaking paper previously in units 2 and 4 so the students
who have been in class since October are familiar with the
content but they find it very difficult to perform well in
this part of the exam because of the complexity of the task.
We have worked on some expressions for comparing and contrasting
photos and have used language for paraphrasing but speaking
concisely to a time limit makes most of the students nervous.
In this unit and the next there is specific exam preparation
for this part of the paper which will provide intensive practice
and increase their confidence.
· to train students in speaking skills and strategies
for Part 2 of Paper 5 Speaking (stage 4/6/8/9)
· to provide students with an opportunity for fluency
speaking development (stage 3)
· to develop the listening skill: active listening
(stage 3) and listening for specific information (stage 4/6/7)
· to widen the students' range of vocabulary and expressions
for Part 2 of Paper 5 Speaking (stage 5/7/8)
· to provide an opportunity for students to evaluate
the task with specific criteria (stage 6)
Part two of Paper 5 is the most difficult part of the speaking
exam yet despite this, I am convinced that students who are
familiar with the task and have sufficient preparation and
practice can perform well.
The course book encourages students to speak in pairs about
receiving good news before role playing the task. It gives
students an opportunity to practise the task and discuss how
they could have done it better but offers no linguistic guidance
or criteria for evaluating their performance.
I decided to begin the lesson as the book suggests, asking
students to share their knowledge about Part 2 of the speaking
exam. Putting details on the OHP for students to read will
provide a clear written reference. I then want to introduce
some expressions to describe feelings: to be absolutely thrilled,
to be over the moon as well as consolidate modifiers and intensifiers
from unit 6. I will put some pictures, in groups, around the
room showing people who have received good news and students
in groups will discuss which expressions are most appropriate
for them. It will get students out of their seats which is
a good thing as it is quite late in the evening. When the
items have been matched, we will grade them from the least
to the most intense and quickly drill them.
The visuals will lead into the next stage: students in pairs
speaking about the last time they had a piece of good news,
what it was and how they felt. This will not only involve
students in the topic and provide an opportunity to use some
of the vocabulary of feelings, it will develop their fluency
and conversational strategies.
For the next stage in the lesson, students who have taken
the FCE exam will be paired with those who haven't to try
to balance strengths in the group. They will describe and
draw the visuals required for the Part 2 task which will introduce
the visuals in a fun way as well as providing very valuable
speaking practice by developing the strategies of paraphrasing
and approximation. I will elicit the language for describing
location from students before providing it on the OHP. After
handing out the visuals I will set a time limit to ensure
students work quickly.
Describing the pictures is important in Part 2 but it is even
more important to compare and contrast the visuals and so,
before listening to the task, I would like students to brainstorm
some language for comparing and contrasting. This will, I
hope, activate language which has come up previously in units
2 and 4 and will be an opportunity to introduce a few more
expressions. Students will compare their expressions with
those on a poster.
The next two stages of the lesson involve listening to a
home-made cassette where two proficiency level students perform
the task. This provides listening practice but additionally
illustrates what is acceptable to pass the exam. The first
task with the listening will be to listen to and reformulate
the instructions. Then students will use a checklist with
a simple grading system to evaluate the task. They will have
an opportunity to discuss their evaluation before commenting
as a group. In the second listening students will look at
the gapped transcript and listen out for specific expressions.
Again they will have an opportunity to share their knowledge
before doing feedback as a group.
Students in pairs will have five minutes to prepare the task.
I will remind them to use expressions for comparing and contrasting,
and will monitor carefully to see if they need help with language
Finally students will work in groups of three, to role play
the task as in the exam and if time permits, one group will
be selected to perform a demonstration of the task, which
will be taped, while the other members of the group evaluate
the task with the evaluation checklist.
· Some students may not be very familiar with some
of the expressions being consolidated in stage 3.
· Students will know some of the expressions for describing
location but may not remember in the foreground, in the background,
in the top left-hand corner.
Anticipated problems and solutions:
· Students may not remember exactly what part 2 of
the speaking exam entails, the OHP will clarify this and back
up the oral description.
· Students may not remember too many expressions for
comparing and contrasting so this is the reason for having
prompts to remind them.
· It may be difficult for students to evaluate the
listening after only listening once, I will be prepared to
play it a second time if necessary. Sharing ideas will make
the task easier. Numbers in the group may make it difficult
to organise the groups as I have planned, I will arrange a
group of three or four if necessary.
· Some students may not want to perform. I will not
insist but will call on the confident students to do the demonstration.
There are 10 students in the class. We meet twice a week for
one hour 20 minutes on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from
20.35 to 21.55. The age range is between 19 and 32. I have
been teaching the group since the beginning of October 2002.
Some students in the group have been studying at Chester for
several years, others have just started this year. Marcial
and Eva started classes in January. They are a lively class,
who enjoy English and love speaking. Most students work and
so find it difficult to do a lot of homework. I include a
list of the students and a brief comment about each one.
Piedad Very keen, very communicative. Good at reading and
writing, makes an effort to incorporate new structures and
vocabulary into written work and speaking. She works for a
law firm and sometimes has to translate documents into English
at work. Recently missed class because she is busy at work
and preparing her wedding. She will leave the class at the
end of this month - a pity!
Elisa Keen, confident. Good at reading and writing. Interested
in vocabulary, expressions and makes an effort to incorporate
them into work. She has made steady progress in the exam preparation
so far but recently has been very busy. She missed the last
lesson through illness. She studies French too.
Mª Mar Lacks confidence, gets nervous when speaking in
front of the group. Good at reading, ambitious when writing
but makes mistakes. Keen to do well. She has made steady progress
in the exam preparation so far. She works in a bank and has
been very busy in the last month. She is on holiday this week
Ana A shy member of the group who speaks quietly. Good all
round student but a little lazy. She started work a month
ago and has missed a lot of classes since then. She loves
cinema and music.
Yolanda She spent a year in Chester last year and speaks more
fluently and naturally than the others. She is concerned about
her grammar. She was working hard until the end of January
and doing very well but then changed into my Friday group
because she got a job. I haven't seen her for three weeks,
she has changed jobs in that time and has moved back into
the Tuesday Thursday group. I expected to see her on Tuesday
but she didn't come to class.
Javier Busy at work so doesn't have much time for homework.
He is an engineer and uses English occasionally on the phone
and to send emails. Makes careless mistakes when writing and
speaking. Needs to work on grammar. He likes to provoke students
and joke in discussions.
Carmen Initially a quiet student in the group but now she
participates a lot. Speaks well, works better in pair/ group
work than in whole group work. Writing so far good. Not done
much homework because she is very busy at work and studies
French too. She has been applying for jobs recently and has
had interviews in English and French.
Marcial He studies engineering. He is very good at grammar
and knows a lot of vocabulary. He is going to England next
year on an Erasmus scholarship and so needs English for this
reason. He hesitates a lot when he speaks but participates
well in class. He doesn't do much homework.
Estibaliz She is the youngest in the group and quite shy and
quietly spoken. Her writing and knowledge of grammar is very
good but she sometimes has problems understanding me. She
lacks confidence in the listening and speaking. She has a
sister living in London and so is excited about going to visit
at Easter although she is terribly concerned she won't understand
anything. It will be great for her confidence. She is lazy
about handing in homework.
Eva She is a journalist and needs English for interviewing
film directors and stars. She also watches a lot of cinema
in English. She changed into my group at the end of January.
She likes speaking and makes notes of vocabulary and expressions
that come up in class. She doesn't hand in much homework but
participates actively in class.
Piedad, Elisa, Mª Mar, Ana and Estibaliz have all done
the FCE exam.
Yolanda, Javier, Carmen and Eva use English at work.
Piedad, Mª Mar, Yolanda, Javier, Carmen and Eva have
all been abroad to English speaking countries.
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