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Dealing with complexity in Part 2 of the Speaking exam at Cambridge Certificate in
Advanced English (CAE) level
by Sandra Bradwell
- lesson plan 1

Preliminary Information

Level: Advanced (CAE)

Timtable Fit:
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.

Main aims

· 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)

Subsidiary aims
· 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)

Lesson rationale:

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 or expressions.

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.

Assumed knowledge:
· 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.

Class Profile
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 in Seville.
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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