CAE: SPEAKING – TIPS (4)

My last speaking post concerns Part 3 and 4 of the oral exam, when you talk to your partner discussing photos (3) or answering the examiner’s questions.

When you look at the official Cambridge brochure, what you need to present in the oral exam is the following 12 skills:

For Part 2 mostly:

  • comparing (whereas, slightly more, by far the biggest)
  • describing (in the top right picture)
  • speculating (it seems as if, might, doesn’t look particularly)

For Parts 3 and 4:

  • general interaction (right*, well**, where shall we begin?)
  • sustaining interaction (moving on to, shall we move on?, anyway, as I was saying)
  • expressing opinions (it seems to me that, I believe that, as I see it, from my point of view, I have an impression)
  • justifying opinions (you see, I mean, besides, basically)
  • (dis)agreeing (I completely agree, I couldn’t agree more, I think I see what you mean but***, that’s true in a way I suppose but)
  • exchanging ideas (what about you? I bet you, so all in all do you feel)
  • suggesting (why don’t we, how about, wouldn’t it be better to)
  • evaluating (looks like we have a winner here, so it’s definitely out, let’s cross this one out shall we)
  • concluding (so to sum up, it seems we have reached a conclusion)

*”Right” is what you say quietly WHILE your partner is speaking. It’s good manners in English to make noises to show you are listening.

**Feel free start ANY utterance with “well” if you are talking to the examiner. You can also start ANY utterance with “so” if you are talking to your partner.

***In English you can’t say that you disagree. You need to somewhat agree, then present your point of view after the “but”.

 

The best way to practise the expressions is to find a partner and prepare a set of cards with the expressions. Try:

  • talking about anything using the cards
  • doing exam tasks from Part 4 using the cards
  • doing exam tasks from Part 3 using the cards
  • doing exam tasks from Part 3 using the cards and timing your task (give yourselves 3-4 minutes)
  • doing exam tasks from Part 3 without the cards

 

As you can see, what you have to do during the exam is:

  • to use a lot of expressions rather than say something intelligent
  • to do “the ping pong” with your partner, that is either encourage them to speak or fight for your turn
  • not to waste too much time at each photo, keep moving on, time flies

HOW TO STUDY VOCABULARY? (2)

Since I’ve been bombarding you with vocabulary lists lately, I think it’s time to show you yet another method of studying vocabulary – and, as what I’m covering now is CAE Writing, here is a worksheet I use to revise essay vocabulary by means of synonyms and little Post-its.

Prepare some post-its (little reusable sticky pieces of paper) with the vocabulary you wish to study. Here you can see that grouped into: verbs (with prepositions, if necessary), noun phrases (so much better than single nouns), adjectives/adverbs and linking. i suppose it’s nicer to study if you use different colours and arrangements.

Write the synonym of each word/expression directly under each piece of paper, on the large sheet. (Another way of doing this is using your language on the pieces of paper and English on the large sheet. However, personally I don’t recommend translation at the advanced level if synonyms can be used instead.)

To study, remove all pieces of paper, then stick them in the correct places. A more difficult option is to guess what’s under each piece of paper.

If you need a hint, just move the piece of paper a little bit to reveal the first letters.

 

If you’d like to recreate this particular worksheet, the pairs were as follows:

to lead to sth – to result in sth

to point sth out – to claim

to decline – to plummet

to grow – to soar

to distinguish – to draw a distinction

a serious disadvantage – a major drawback

important implications for sth – profound impact on sth

latest research – recent findings

the rapid growth -the significant rise

a source of sth – a trigger for sth

due to sth – owing to sth

whereas – while

mainly – largely

essential – vital

general – widespread

On the whole, … – By and large, …

It should be noted that… – It is worth bearing in mind that…

This means that… – …, which means that…

As to… – With regard to…

The main dangers are x of y, as well as nn and mm. = Apart from x of y, the main dangers are nn and mm.