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Teaching Listening to Advanced Learners: Problems and Solutions by Scott Shelton
- lesson plan materials

Tips for the Listening part of the CAE exam

Tape Transcript. H = Hilary / K = Kate

Introduction

(1)-God you know, my CAE group are really panicking about their listening exam-H

-It's often the part they get most worried about, isn't it.-K

-Erm, well, I don't know, I suppose we could look at the different parts of the, of the exam and see if we could think of some tips for them or something?-K

(5)-Ok, fine.-H

Section A

-Erm, so, the first part-oh that's the bit when they have to listen and then fill in an appropriate phrase, isn't it.-K

-Yeah, that's right-H

-I think a problem people often have is they think that the more they write, the better.
(10)-Whereas I think it's much better if they write, you know, fewer words-H

-Right-K

-Because they're likely to make more mistakes if they write too much-H

-Right, and another thing that's important at CAE level, is it isn't just lifting a phrase from the text which you might get at First Certificate, say, they've actually got to put
(15) something down that's grammatically correct. So, it's not only listening but also looking at what's in the answer, and checking the stem to see if they're-what they're putting, fits in grammatically-K

-Yeah, if it's logical…uh-huh, uh-huh…fine, yeah, so I think that's it, not writing too much, and making sure that it makes sense grammatically-H

(20) -MMM-huh-K

-Uh-huh-H

Section B

-The next part's the one I find students really freak about because it's the one they hear only one time, and I think just knowing that, even though often it's not that difficult, but psychologically, the fact that you're not going to hear it repeated can cause a real
(25) problem, so I think obviously trying to get students not to panic-and normally it's only one voice they've got to listen to, rather than a crowd.-K

-Yeah, yeah. I also think in this and in all parts it's important, but in this part it's probably the most important, to read everything very carefully before they listen, so, to use that time well, whether it's 45 seconds or one minute, just to read through very carefully so (30) they know what's coming up-H

-Right, so when they do listen, hopefully they feel calmer because they know what's being asked-K

-Yeah, uh-umm-H

Section C

-Part 3, oh that's the multiple choice-H

(35) -Right. Erm… I think obviously here they've got more to read in terms of the questions so they've got to read carefully, erm..what else?-K

-Well, I think sometimes with that, it's sometimes like the reading paper, sometimes you know that two of the answers are not possible but another two might be very close together, so..-H

(40) -There's a kind of process of elimination, getting rid of the ones that definitely aren't correct. But then often it's not totally a hundred percent clear which is the right answer and maybe you've just got to select the best possible option, yeah?-K

-Yeah, exactly, exactly… I think too, for the..'cause they're going to hear it twice, so to make sure that they keep their minds open about the answer. So be prepared to change (45) an answer possibly, the second time you hear it-H

-And there can be distracters there as well, so maybe to.. to avoid, you know, something that's very, very obvious may in fact be a trick-K

-Yeah, exactly-H

Section D

-Ok, now the last part is when they have the two different sections, the two different
(50) tasks. This is quite interesting, because when I've taught CAE, erm…I've..we've practiced different strategies here because sometimes you could actually, the first time you listen only answer task one, and the second time you listen, answer task two. But effectively that means you are only listening to each bit once, so it's almost like the second question. Erm… alternatively, of course, you can try and answer both bits each (55) time, so in other words you're hearing each bit twice-but obviously you're kind of spreading yourself that way-K

-I think the best thing to do in class when you're practicing that type of listening, then, is to try out each strategy…-H

-MMM, and see which is best for you-both

(60) -Exactly. Because it might be that different people prefer a different strategy, they're probably best to… to stick to that strategy in the exam-H

-Mmm-huh-K

-Uh-huh-H

-And also, yeah,not… not to make assumptions based on what they read in the
(65) question-H

-Yeah-'cause I've seen that, that one in task "A" it said 'a cook' and in the bottom it said, 'talking about a cookery program'-and very often that's in fact, a distracter, that's it's not the most immediately obvious one-so you can't do it just by reading, you've got to actually listen-K

(70) -Yep, yep, yep-H

General tips

-What about any general tips overall?-K

-Well, I think, erm… one of the most important things, I think, is not ever to leave a blank-H

-Yeah, that's true. I think a lot of Spanish people, because of the way many Spanish
(75) exams are conducted, are afraid about negative marking. So they think if they write something wrong, they're going to be penalized. But that's not the case with these exams, is it.-K

-Mmm-huh, mmm-huh, yeah. So I think, yeah, definitely, not leaving any blanks-if you really have no idea at all, put something. -H

(80) -Yeah, yes-K

-There's always a chance you might be right-H

-Mmm-huh-K

-Uh-huh-H

-And…-H

(85) -Checking spelling, because in some of them you can be marked down, particularly the first one when they've got to write complete phrases, or…or…part of a sentence, they can be marked down for spelling-K

-And, you know, I think, when transferring their answers, to obviously to be very careful that they transfer their answers on to the mark sheet very carefully and accurately-H

(90) -And in general, try and keep calm-K

-Easier said than done-H

-Absolutely-K

-Laugh-H

 

Pre-listening questions

Discuss anything you know about the CAE listening exam
For example:
• How many sections are there?
• What is the total length of the listening section?
• What are the listening tasks specifically? (I.e. what are you listening for?)
• What are you required to do in each one?
• How many times do you get to listen?
• Anything else?

 

Task 1 - Section C

Tips for the CAE Listening exam

You will hear two teaching colleagues, Hillary and Kate, brainstorming tips and advice for students who are preparing for the CAE exam.
They are discussing the listening portion of the exam.

Multiple choice questions

For questions 1-5 choose the correct option from A, B, C, or D

1. In the first section of the listening exam you
A. should write only a few words. (RIGHT)
B. must fill in the entire gap.
C. can copy a phrase exactly from the text.
D. you should write at least three words.

2. In section B of the listening exam
A. you will hear a crowd of people speaking.
B. you will hear the text twice.
C. it is extremely important to read through the text (RIGHT)
D. you only have 45 seconds to read everything.

3. In Part 3, or section C of the listening exam
A. there is not much to read.
B. using a process of elimination is the easiest way to go.
C. two answers are usually possible.
D. be aware of the extremely obviously looking answer, it might be a trick. (RIGHT)

4. In section D of the listening exam
A. you listen only once, like in the second section.
B. it is best to use two different strategies.
C. you should only use one strategy in the exam. (RIGHT)
C. you must do the two tasks one at a time.

5. Some people leave questions unanswered
A. because they will be penalized if it is wrong.
B. because they have no idea at all.
C. because it is important not to be wrong.
D. because they are afraid of negative marking. (RIGHT)


In pairs, try to justify your answers before making your final decision


Task 2 - Section C

Identify the comments the speakers make.

During their discussion, Hillary and Kate make various comments. For questions 1-10 indicate which comments are made by Hillary and which are made by Kate by writing

H (for Hillary)
K (for Kate)
N (for neither)

1. Her class is quite nervous about the upcoming listening exam. __H__(1)

2. She thinks that students are likely to make mistakes if they write too much in section A.__H__(12)

3. She believes it is important to check the sentence stem and make certain what you write is grammatically correct. __K__(14-17)

4. She finds that students often get unnecessarily 'freaked-out' about section B because they will only hear it one time. __K__(22-23)

5. She says that it is important to use the time before the tape is played to relax and unwind. __N__(29)

6. She advises students to read everything before they listen, especially in section B.__H__(27-30)

7. She warns that it is important to keep an open mind because you might have to change an answer after you listen for the second time. __H__(43-45)

8. She mentions that distracters are often the most immediately obvious choice, so you should not depend on what you read only-you have to listen. _K___(66-69)

9. She would remind everyone to check their spelling. __K__(85)

10. She advocates paying careful attention to accuracy when copying your answers on to the answer sheet when you are all done. __H__(88-89)


In pairs or small groups, check your answers together

 

Post-listening prompts

YOU ARE A STUDENT WORRIED ABOUT THE LISTENING PAPER IN THE CAE EXAM

Think of a few problems you are having or any questions you have about what to do and ask for some advice.

YOU ARE A CONFIDENT STUDENT AND ARE QUITE KNOWLEDGEABLE ABOUT THE CAE LISTENING PAPER

Think of a few problems that your classmates may be having with this part of the exam and think of a few tips you could give them to help them out.


POSSIBLE PROBLEMS YOU MIGHT BE HAVING

• You don't know what to do before the recording starts.

• You don't know how much to write in the sentence completion task in the first part of the exam.

• Sometimes two possibilities are very similar in the multiple-choice task.

• Sometimes you don't know what to do if you aren't 100% sure or have no idea at all.

• You don't know how many times you get to listen to each recording

POSSIBLE PROBLEMS THAT YOUR CLASSMATE MAY BE HAVING

• Doesn't know what to do before the recording starts

• Doesn't know how many times you are allowed to listen to each recording

• Doesn't know what to do if he/she isn't 100% sure or has no idea at all for the answer to a question.

• Isn't sure how much to write in the sentence completion task in the first Section.

• Isn't sure what to do if two multiple-choice possibilities are very similar.

 

Listening paper use of English gap fill for homeowrk

Listening: CAE Paper 4

1. Choose the correct answer a, b, c, or d.

Format
The Listening Test___1_____of four listening texts: Sections A, B, C, and D. These texts ____2___ in length and test listening skills through a ____3____ of question types e.g. not taking, sentence completion, multiple matching, identifying statements speakers made, and multiple choice questions.

Timing
The Listening Test takes about forty-five minutes and contains _____4____ thirty and forty questions. You hear Sections A, C, and D twice, _____5____ you hear Section B only once.

1. a) consists b) compiles c) contains d) includes
2. a) different b) change c) differ d) grow
3. a) selection b) variety c) multitude d) genre
4. a) over b) about c) between d) around
5. a) wherein b) however d) but e) whereas


2. Fill in the space with an appropriate word
What you have to do

You have time to read __________ each task before you listen ___ the recorded text. ___ you listen, you must write your answers ___ a question paper then transfer them ___ an answer sheet. You will have ten minutes ___ this transferal ___ the end ___ the test.

3. Cross out the unnecessary word in every line
What is being tested

The Listening Test requires in you to listen for both global and specific information. Sections A and B test you understanding them and application of specific information from both the text. Section C test your understanding of gist, attitude, and directly stated information. Section D tests you if understanding of context, opinion, speaker can identify, etc.

4. Listen to the final parts and spot the differences in the text
A note on spelling

When writing answers, you are expected to spell accurately, but you are not marked down for the wrong spelling of a proper noun if you give an acceptable alternative.

Marks
One mark is given for every correct question. The total for all versions of the Listening paper is adjusted to give a mark out of forty for the paper.

For reasons of security, several versions of the Listening Paper are required at each administration of the examination. Before grading, the performance of the candidates in each of the versions is compared and marks are adjusted to compensate for any imbalance noted in levels of difficulty.

 

Answers to the homework tasks

Listening: CAE Paper 4

1. Choose the correct answer a, b, c, or d.

Format
The Listening Test consists of four listening texts: Sections A, B, C, and D. These texts differ in length and test listening skills through a variety of question types e.g. not taking, sentence completion, multiple matching, identifying statements speakers made, and multiple choice questions.

Timing
The Listening Test takes about forty-five minutes and contains between thirty and forty questions. You hear Sections A, C, and D twice, whereas you hear Section B only once.

2. Fill in the space with an appropriate word
What you have to do
You have time to read through each task before you listen to recorded text. As you listen, you must write your answers on a question paper then transfer them to an answer sheet. You will have ten minutes for this transferal at the end of the test.

3. Cross out the unnecessary word in every line
What is being tested
The Listening Test requires you to listen for both global and specific information. Sections A and B test you understanding and application of specific information from the text. Section C test your understanding of gist, attitude, and directly stated information. Section D tests you understanding of context, opinion, speaker identify, etc.

4. Listen to the final parts and spot the differences in the text
A note on spelling
When writing answers, you are expected to spell correctly, but you are not penalized for the wrong spelling of a proper noun if you write an acceptable alternative.

Marks
One mark is given for each correct question. The total for any version of the Listening paper is weighted to give a mark out of forty for the paper. For security reasons, several versions of the Listening Paper are used at each administration of the examination. Before grading, the performance of the candidates in each of the versions is compared and marks adjusted to compensate for an imbalance in levels of difficulty.

 

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