FCE WRITING PART

En qué consiste el writing?
Lo más importante que debes saber es que tienes que escribir 2 textos de entre 140 y 190 palabras en 1hora y 20minutos. Es muy importante que no te falten palabras pero que tampoco te sobren.

En la parte 1 tendrás que escribir un ESSAY dando tu opinión sobre un tema específico, usando como puntos a tratar dos ideas que te proporcionaran además de una a tu elección.

“Aquí tienes un ejemplo:
You have had a discussion in your English class about teaching materials for schools. Now your English teacher has asked you to write an essay.
Write an essay using all the notes and give reasons for your point of view.

Schools should spend more on computers and software than on textbooks. Do you agree?
Notes
Write about:
1) which is better for education
2) which are more enjoyable to use
3)……………………………… (your own idea)”

(source: First Trainer, Cambridge University Press)

WRITING PLAN
Es muy importante que te tomes unos minutos para hacer un buen writing plan. En primer lugar, tienes que obtener ideas, escribirlas y por último ordenarlas.

MENOS ES MAS: CONECTA IDEAS
Cada idea nueva que proporciones debe estar justificada, por lo que es mejor escribir sobre una en cada párrafo, siempre justificada y/o con un ejemplo. NO escribas listas interminables de ideas sin decir por qué. Recuerda usar los conectores adecuados en todo momento.

VOCABULARIO
La elección del tema a tratar no es aleatoria. Debes identificar el tema (en ese caso sería educación y nuevas tecnologías), hacer una pequeña lista de palabras y usarlas en tu redacción.

INTRODUCCIÓN Y CONCLUSIÓN
Introduce el tema de una forma general e informa al lector del contenido de tu redacción. No empieces ofreciendo tu opinión directamente.  En la conclusión, resume los puntos principales y plasma tu opinión.
Es muy importante que cuides el contenido de la conclusión, ya que será lo último que lea el examinador y tiene que ser coherente con lo que has escrito. NO añadas nuevas ideas aquí.

Por último, lee cuidadosamente antes de entregar. Corrige faltas de ortografía y asegúrate de que no repites palabras, piensa en estructuras gramaticales y expresiones que hagan que tu redacción tenga el nivel adecuado.

WRITING PART 2

En la parte 2 podrás elegir 1 entre 3 opciones de los siguientes formatos: article, report, letter or email (formal/informal) and a  review. En la próxima entrada te contamos en qué consiste cada uno!

 

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“You should never walk alone”, Speaking CAE Part 3 and 4

In other words, to rely on your partner would certainly be a useful piece of advice when facing the last 2 parts of the Cambridge CAE Speaking Exam.
Apart from testing your grammatical and lexical resource, pronunciation and discourse management (coherence and development of your ideas); examiners expect candidates to prove that are able to exchange information, take turns and do not monopolise the dialogue in order to get a good score in the interactive communication criteria.


CAE Speaking Part 3

The examiner will ask you two questions/tasks.

Task 1: Now I´d like you to talk about something together for about 2 minutes. ( 3 minutes for groups of three).
Here are some different ways in which people communicate and a question for you to discuss. First you have some time to look at the task. (15 seconds), talk about the advantages and disadvantages of communicating in these different ways.  Thank you. (When the time is over no matter if the task have been accomplished successfully or not).

Task 2: Now you have about a minute (2 minutes for groups of three) to decide which two ways of communicating are the least effective. ( In this part there is no need to reach an agreement.However, some attempt at negotiating/persuasion or reasoned argument should be aimed for).

Needless to say that it is vital to be aware of the timing. Realising that it´s not necessary to talk about all the written stimuli individually and trying to combine some of them focusing on comparisons or differences could be a strategic approach at this point. Unfortunately giving feedback and extending your partner’s answer is often forgotten so we must stress that students who echo their partner´s answer before moving to the next prompt and use synonyms rather than repeating have more chances of success…

For instance:
• Paraphrase the question and use” crucial”, “essential”, “vital”… if your partner said something was “very important”
• Refer back to what your partner mentioned before “As X argued before…”, “I´d go along with you there…”, or” I´d agreed with you until certain extent…”
• Echo and develop giving extended answers
• Combine some of the prompts, so that you are able to talk about 2 or 3 of them more in depth analysing similarities, differences, preferences, and so on could be extremely helpful when you are running out of time.

CAE Speaking Part 4

The examiner asks questions which are aimed to broaden the topic explored in Part 3. These questions become increasingly more abstract and complex. There are two possibilities; either asking a question to both candidates, or directing the question to one of the examinees. In both cases, it is expected to offer their views and to discuss the question together. Therefore once again the key factor is to encourage and support each other.
All in all students shouldn´t be afraid of asking, trying to persuade their partner, exploring possibilities, speculating, interrupting politely or just simply state that you haven´t formed an opinion about that yet.

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Cambridge PET Exam Day and Speaking Tips

On test day basic rules

 

DO

  • Look at the date, time, and location of the exam and the travel time to arrive.
  • Arrive early.
  • Bring your identification card.
  • Relax!

DON’T

  • Bring your phone or anything electronic inside the exam room.
  • Speak to other candidates in the exam room.
  • Bring food or drinks.

What to expect:

  • Your identification will be checked.
  • Be given a mark sheet – do not fold it.
  • Follow any instructions that you are given.
  • You can practice speaking (quietly) to other candidates while in the waiting area.
  • In the room, there will be the interlocker, the assessor, and the other candidate(s).
  • You will be given an equal amount of time to speak.
  • If the interlocker interrupts you, don’t worry!  This means you have spoken for the entire section.

 

Speaking Part Tips

 

DO

  • Listen carefully to the instructions and questions.
  • Speak loud and clear to be understood well.
  • Be sure to use every opportunity to speak.
  • Start the discussion with your partner and always respond to what they say.

DON’T

  • Memorize your answers.
  • Interrupt your partner when they are speaking.
  • Have long pauses between speaking.
  • Never be scared or nervous to ask for the interlocker or your partner to repeat themselves.

There are 4 parts to the speaking paper.  Although it may seem strange, it is recommended that you practice before the exam by recording yourself completing an entire speaking paper and then listening to the recording.  You will be surprised at how well you did, and you will hear some of the errors you make.

Part 1

Questions about your past, present, and future will be asked.  Always answer in full sentences, not a few words.

Part 2

You and your partner will be given a situation and various photographs.  You will discuss the situation and the photographs and come to an agreement at the end.  Always keep the conversation going, be active in the discussion!

Part 3

Here, you and your partner will each be given a photograph.  They will be different but have the same theme.  Speak for as long as possible.  It is good if the interlocker stops you!  Be sure to describe the picture, refer to different features of the picture, and speculate.

Part 4

Again, you will speak with your partner.  Generally, part 4 is an extension of the given theme in part 3.   Speak with your partner!  This is important.  The interlocker wants to see and hear that you can maintain a conversation in English.  Giving opinions and personal experiences is a must.

Topics for the PET exam include:

Family & Friends

Entertainment

Free time activities

Travel & Holidays

Television & Films

Environment

Daily Life and Health

Shopping

Hobbies

Sports

Education

 

 

 

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Consejos para la parte 2 del Speaking de CAE

Speaking Part 2 (the dreaded pictures) is often one of the most difficult sections of the Cambridge CAE exam for students to pass. However, with proper training and practice, this section is easily mastered.

To begin with, CAE exam topics normally revolve around similar categories:

  • Science and technology
  • Climate and environment
  • Work and professional fields
  • Relationships
  • Hobbies and sports
  • Travel
  • Education
  • Health
  • Moods and emotions
  1. Students should begin by learning vocabulary, phrasal verbs, set expressions, collocations, adverbs and adjectives related to each of the categories.  It is useful to brainstorm using random pictures as prompts.
  2. Secondly, Part 2 asks the candidate to answer two questions related to the pictures.  These questions normally require an answer regarding on skill sets, emotions  (i.e. adjectives and adverbs)  

    Some examples of typical questions are:
    What do you think the people are feeling?
    What skill is being taught?
    What are their personalities like?
  3. Students should learn to compare and contrast elements using the correct discourse markers/ modifiers and linkers.  (regarding, nevertheless, on the other hand, in contrast to, etc…..)
  4. Students should remember that this is a very quick exercise with lots of required detail.  They should NOT spend time describing all of the objects in the photo (as in FCE/ PET).  They must the task and answer the questions in 2-3 minding the time.
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Say, tell, speak, or talk

Verb Definition and use Example
SAY

 

To

Ø  Utter words to share information

Ø  To express in words

 

Most often used without a personal object.  If PO is used, ‘to’ is necessary.

 

Used with direct and indirect speech.

 

Tina said she might come to class this afternoon.

 

Carlos said, “Hi” to a stranger in the street.

 

I say to my best friend how much I appreciate her.

TELL

 

 

Ø  Communicate information to someone

Ø  To instruct or inform

Ø

After tell we usually say WHO is told (tell someone something).

 

Tell someone TO DO something.

 

Not used before objects.

 

Do not normally use it after tell to refer to a fact.

 

Repeat something to someone.

 

Use with lies, stories, the truth.

 

Used with direct and indirect speech.

 

 

Jenny told her that she should study more.

 

Ilana will tell her mom about the car accident.

 

The actor was told that he needed to cry harder in the scene.

 

I cannot believe that he would tell lies to his wife.

 

NOT

Mary told them “Goodbye.”

 

I will tell you it tomorrow.

 

Peter told a bad word.

SPEAK

 

To / With / About / Of

Ø  Have a conversation

Ø  Communicate, answer or address

Ø  Say something in order to express information or feelings

 

One-way communication.

 

For exchanges in formal or serious situations.

 

Used to refer to languages or knowledge.

 

More emphasis is place on the other person involved in the conversation.

How many different languages can you speak?

 

Everyone spoke about the wonderful performance the next day.

 

Maybe you should speak to your boss about a pay raise.

 

To be in a good relationship, one should speak with their partner openly.

TALK

 

To / With / About

Ø  Speak to give information or express feelings or ideas

Ø  Communicate by spoken words

Ø  Have the power of speech

Ø  Gossip

 

More common word to refer to informal communication and conversational exchanges.

 

More emphasis is placed on the topic of the spoken exchange.

We need to talk about setting a budget for the month.

 

If Wilma talks to me tomorrow, I will tell you.

 

Good parents talk with their children daily.

 

WITH

 

Discussion between two or more participants

TO

 

One-sided conversation

ABOUT

 

General discussion

OF

 

Describe something definite that you know or have experienced

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10 Libros para leer en inglés. Nivel B2

¿Te estas preparando para el certificado B2 (FCE)?, si es así este listado de recomendaciones te servirá de gran utilidad y te ayudará a mejorar tu vocabulario, grammar y writing. Este listado de 10 libros en inglés para nivel B2 podría haber sido más extenso, hay muchos más libros que te podría recomendar pero he preferido dejarlo para otro post.

Este es el listado que suelo recomendar a mis alumnos de First (B2) en la academia Let’s Talk en Valencia, mis favoritos los he puesto en las primeras posiciones, espero que disfrutes de estos títulos y mejores tu inglés.

 

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nightime

Autor: Mark Haddon

Libro muy recomendable por su originalidad, al ser narrado por un joven de 15 años, el vocabulario no es demasiado complicado, perfecto para un nivel b2 sin dejar de ser una historia muy interesante para jóvenes y adultos.

 

“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is a murder mystery novel like no other. The detective, and narrator, is Christopher Boone. Christopher is fifteen and has Asperger’s Syndrome. He knows a very great deal about maths and very little about human beings. He loves lists, patterns and the truth. He hates the colours yellow and brown and being touched. He has never gone further than the end of the road on his own, but when he finds a neighbour’s dog murdered he sets out on a terrifying journey which will turn his whole world upside down.”

 

 

A Long Way Down

Autor: Nick Hornby

Es uno de los libros más entretenidos de este famoso autor. Recomendaría este libro en particular porque es la historia de varias personas que viven una situación en común y todos ellos hablan de situaciones cotidianas por lo que es muy útil para aprender inglés y el lector se puede sentir identificado.

 

“Meet Martin, JJ, Jess, and Maureen. Four people who come together on New Year’s Eve: a former TV talk show host, a musician, a teenage girl, and a mother. Three are British, one is American. They encounter one another on the roof of Topper’s House, a London destination famous as the last stop for those ready to end their lives.
In four distinct and riveting first-person voices, Nick Hornby tells a story of four individuals confronting the limits of choice, circumstance, and their own mortality…“

 

 

The Great Automatic Grammatizator and Other Stories

Autor: Roald Dahl

Famoso por libros para niños como Matilda o Charlie y la Fábrica de Chocolate, para mi Dahl es uno de los mejores escritores de relatos cortos para adultos. Sea cual sea el género que te guste, en esta pequeña lista de libros de R. Dahl encontrarás algo que te llame la atención.

 

“A collection of thirteen short stories written by British author Roald Dahl. The stories were selected for teenagers from Dahl’s adult works. All the stories included were published elsewhere originally; their sources are noted below. The stories, with the exception of the war story “Katina”, possess a deadpanironic, bizarre, or even macabre sense of humor. They generally end with unexpected plot twists.”

 

Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life

Autor: Roald Dahl

 

 

“Roald Dahl brings to life stories of everyday country folk and their strange passions.  Whether it is taking a troublesome cow to be mated  with a prime bull, dealing with a rat-infested hayrick, learning the ways and means of maggot farming, or describing the fine art of poaching pheasants using nothing but raisins and sleeping pills.”

Kiss, Kiss

Autor: Roald Dahl

 

 

“A collection of short stories for adults, Kiss Kiss serves up the unexpected. Eleven disturbing, sinister tales from the master of the twist in the tale. These classic tales from Roald Dahl, explore desire, deceit and the macabre with shocking results.”

Over to You

Autor: Roald Dahl

 

 

“It brings together 10 of Roald Dahl’s earliest stories, many of them set during the Second World War and drawing on his own experiences as a fighter pilot. It includes his first paid piece of writing, the short story A Piece of Cake, which was originally published in 1942 in American magazine The Saturday Evening Post under the title Shot Down Over Libya. “

 

 

 

 

Animal Farm

Autor: George Orwell. “All animals are equal. But some animals are more equal than others.”

Después de la sobredosis de títulos de Roal Dahl, seguimos con G. Orwell. ¡No te puedes perder este clásico!. Historia de una revolución que no salió como se esperaba, una sátira brillante sobre cómo la fuerza de corrupción del poder. Es un libro corto, entretenido y muy sarcástico. Sin duda una de las obras maestras de la historia de la literatura. Si te ha gustado gusta este, no te puedes perder “1984”, del mismo autor, ambos libros perfectamente asequibles para un nivel B2.

“Mr Jones of Manor Farm is so lazy and drunken that one day he forgets to feed his livestock. The ensuing rebellion under the leadership of the pigs Napoleon and Snowball leads to the animals taking over the farm. Vowing to eliminate the terrible inequities of the farmyard, the renamed Animal Farm is organised to benefit all who walk on four legs. But as time passes, the ideals of the rebellion are corrupted, then forgotten. And something new and unexpected emerges. . .”

 

 

GRADED READERS (Oxford Bookworms)

Para terminar con la lista de lecturas recomendadas en inglés para nivel B2, aquí van algunas recomendaciones de “readers”, perfectos para estudiantes de B2 porque están adaptados al nivel B2 y puedes descargar el audio y así mejorar tu pronunciación de forma considerable a la vez que  amplias tu vocabulario. Existe una amplia colección de la editorial Oxford, algunos de mis preferidos que puedes encontrar en la librería inglesa especializada de Let’s Talk English Centre son:

Thirty nine steps (level 4)

I turned on the light, but there was nobody there. Then I saw something in the corner that made my blood turn cold. Scudder was lying on his back. There was a long knife through his heart, pinning him to the floor.’ Soon Richard Hannay is running for his life across the hills of Scotland. The police are chasing him for a murder he did not do, and another, more dangerous enemy is chasing him as well – the mysterious ‘Black Stone’. Who are these people? And why do they want Hannay dead?

 

The Great Gatsby (level 5)

Gatsby’s mansion on Long Island blazes with light, and the beautiful, the wealthy, and the famous drive out from New York to drink Gatsby’s champagne and to party all night long. But Jay Gatsby, the owner of all this wealth, wants only one thing – to find again the woman of his dreams, the woman he has held in his heart and his memory for five long years. The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s masterpiece, is one of the great American novels of the twentieth century. It captures perfectly the Jazz Age of the 1920s, and goes deep into the hollow heart of the American Dream

 

This Rough Magic (level 5)

The Greek island of Corfu lies like a jewel, green and gold, in the Ionian sea, where dolphins swim in the sparkling blue water. What better place for an out-ofwork actress to relax for a few weeks? But the island is full of danger and mysteries, and Lucy Waring’s holiday is far from peaceful. She meets a rude young man, who seems to have something to hide. Then there is a death by drowning, and then another…

 

 

 

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FCE TOP TIP. Exam Timing

 

¡TIME IS MONEY!

¿Cuánto tiempo debes dedicarle a cada parte del examen?

Como ya sabrás, Cambridge es muy generoso con los fantásticos “phrasal verbs” pero no lo es tanto con el tiempo y esto puede llegar a ser un problema si no te entrenas bien antes de la prueba oficial. Cada persona tiene dificultades en diferentes partes y puede tardar más o menos pero, en general, ésta sería una buena guía para tener el tiempo bajo control:

 

READING AND USE OF ENGLISH (1hour 15 minutes)

Use of English 1 (Multiple Choice) 5 minutos

Use of English 2 (Open Cloze) 5 minutos

Use of English 3 (Word formation) 5 minutos

Use of English 4 (Key Word Transformation) 10 minutos

Puedes tardar un poco más o menos pero intenta no superar los 25’, ya que vas a necesitar tiempo para copiar las respuestas!

Reading

Dedica unos 15 minutos por parte. 45 minutos en total

De esta forma, necesitaremos unos 25 minutos para el use of English y 45 minutos para el Reading + unos 5 minutos para copiar las respuestas.

¡GOOD LUCK!

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FCE TOP TIP OF THE WEEK. Phrasal verbs

En la parte 4 del libro “Use of English” vemos que en la frase:

The climbers continued to go up the mountain even though it was snowing.

CARRIED

The climbers ………………………………………… the mountain even though it was snowing.

Encontramos que tenemos que cambiar “continued to go up” pero hemos de usar el verbo “carried”. Eso significa que vamos a necesitar una preposición para formar un phrasal verb que significa “continued”. ¿La tienes ya? Efectivamente, es “ON”.

“Carried on” es sinonimo de “continued”.  ¡Ya tenemos 1 punto por vocabulario!, pero no te confíes, todavía hay que completar la respuesta. Aquí va la parte gramatical. En este caso están poniendo a prueba los “verb patterns”, es decir, verbos seguidos de (to) Infinitive o de V-ing).  “Continue” necesita un infinitivo (CONTINUED TO GO UP) pero los phrasal verbs van seguidos del verbo con –ing (CARRIED ON GOING UP). Ya tienes tus dos puntos en esta frase!

Es MUY importante analizar las frases parte por parte y saber qué es lo que te piden.  La semana que viene veremos otro consejo para que superar esta parte del examen te resulte mucho más fácil! 😉

¿Te atreves con ésta?

“There has been a rise of over ten per cent in the price of the tickets”, said Sue.

GONE

Sue said that the price of the tickets ……………………………….. than ten per cent this year.

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Nippy out, isn’t it?

For advanced learners, one of the most difficult challenges is to speak using the vocabulary you learn in class.  Speaking doesn’t allow you to think and your speech level automatically is reduced to a comfort-zone in which you know you will commit no mistakes.   I always tell my students that the trick to appearing as if you have a higher level of English is just to memorize some alternate vocabulary words to replace those you overuse.

For example:

  • Instead of saying It’s cold.  You can replace the word “cold” with  nippy, chilly, or freezing
  • Instead of saying, It’s raining.   Why not try,  It’s pouring!  It’s a downpour!  It’s really coming down!  It’s sprinkling….
  • Instead of saying, It’s humid.   Try instead,  It’s muggy.  It’s clammy.  It’s sticky.

Work on word replacement when writing:

  • It was a hot, sunny day.  The wind was blowing hard.  It was really humid.
  • It was an oppressive, sunny day.  It was really breezy and muggy.

 

 

 

 

 

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Stress is something that unfortunately isn’t frequently taught in the classroom, but makes all the difference when you want to make yourself understood and you want to understand the underlying meaning that is being conveyed to you.  Not many english-language learners realize, but by the way we stress a word we alter the meaning of the sentence.

To stress a word is to:

1) Make it sound louder
2) Use a different pitch for the word

For example:

I had pizza last night.  (by stressing “pizza” you mean that you had “pizza” instead of what you normally eat)

I had pizza last night.  (by stressing “last” you mean that you “already had pizza and probably don’t want it again)

If you are a language learner of any level you should try incorporating these speech patterns into your sentence structure.  Try it and you’ll quickly see how your language level improves.

 

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