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


'Becoming a more effective communicator is not simply a matter of practising the spoken language; practice certainly helps, but the real improvements come from planning how to approach a speaking task and evaluating how well you spoke' Lynch/Anderson (1992:1) It is also essential to be in a 'language rich' environment where the teacher's role is to push learners to complex and varied language use instead of allowing them to fall back on a very limited range of expression.

Most students at advanced level can express what they want and need to say in English. Students who have been to an English-speaking country can generally speak more fluently and confidently and have developed a lot of the strategies inherent in normal conversation because they have had many opportunities for interacting with people and a greater exposure to English in a natural setting. Students who have not had this opportunity need to watch videos, exploit satellite television and radio broadcasts and maximise opportunities for speaking in the classroom. For students preparing the CAE exam, it is not sufficient to have a good command of English, they need to be trained in and develop skills which are demanding for a native speaker. Part 2 of the CAE speaking exam requires students to compare and contrast photos and then speculate or hypothesize about what people are doing in a minute. 'The inability to take up long turns in conversation is a feature of many second language speakers' according to Richards (1990:70). Consequently a lot of work needs to be done to prepare learners for this very demanding task.

Let us consider some of the problems.

Environment is the first major problem. Studying three hours a week in the native country provides little exposure to natural English. Unless students use English at work, they have to make a conscious effort to watch films, listen to the news. It can be difficult for teachers to find resources. Cassettes or videos accompanying course books provide very few authentic, unscripted dialogues or conversations. This means a lot of time and effort needs to be invested to find appropriate materials and exploit them effectively. Speaking, unlike writing, has many features which are difficult to record or transcribe due to its very nature and this complicates the task for the teacher. For newly qualified teachers it is a huge task.

Another problem is motivation. The higher the level, the more difficult it is to perceive progress. Learning a language is hard work and improving speaking skills is a slow process when students attend class for so few hours a week. It can be frustrating.

Some personal factors can hinder the learning process: shyness, lack of confidence, nerves. These can be dealt with in the right learning environment. However, some students can be over concerned with accuracy and find it difficult to achieve fluency, other students can be very fluent and not pay enough attention to accuracy. The teacher needs to help students become aware of the handicap of these two extreme behaviours.

Let us move on to specific problems with the skill and with Part 2 of the speaking exam in particular.

Bygate (1987:3) distinguishes between a student's knowledge of the language and their skill in using the language. He goes on to separate skills into 'motor-perceptive skills' which 'involve perceiving, recalling, and articulating sounds and structures of the language' and 'interaction skills' which 'involve making decisions about communication: what to say, how to say it, and whether to develop it, in accordance with one's intentions, while maintaining the desired relations with others.'(ibid:6) The nature of speech and the demands it puts on learners: the time pressures, the grammatical and lexical choices to be made, the rapid planning and execution needed to be effective, the role as listener and importance of understanding, all contribute to the complexity of the skill. Helping students bridge the gap between 'linguistic competence' and 'communicative competence' is an extremely complex task.

Features of pronunciation in the native tongue can cause problems. Spanish is a syllable-timed language and this often transfers into English making it sound very jerky. Students may pause or hesitate too much. This is especially the case with shy students who speak little or hesitantly in their own language (Appendix 1). A narrower voice range can sometimes make students sound uninteresting or uninterested.

Awareness of body language and turn-taking conventions are also important in communication between people from different countries, since their cultural expectations and experience will tend to make them interpret these non-verbal signals in different ways. It is easy for some students to be considered rude.

Part 2 of the speaking exam is especially demanding because of the cognitive demands of the task and the time constraints imposed. It involves sustaining a 'long turn' for a minute, with little time to prepare, in exam conditions. Students need to be capable of using formal spoken discourse, with complex noun phrases, rich vocabulary and a variety of expressions in order to make an impact on the examiner. Learners need to prepare it well.


How can we help students become effective in this skill?

Richards (1990:76) mentions two main approaches to teaching conversation. The first is an indirect approach which sees conversational competence as 'the product of engaging learners in conversational interaction', designing activities whereby students can interact with the language, through information-gap type activities, discussions. The second is a direct approach which 'focuses explicitly on the processes and strategies involved in casual conversation' (ibid:77) Thanks to the research which has been carried out by linguists (Brown and Yule 1983; Cook 1989; Richards 1990) and corpus data, we know that conversation is not a haphazard activity but highly organised, requiring skills and strategies on the part of the speaker and the listener. Dörnyei and Thurrell (1992) in a very practical book explain how conversation works and suggest many practical ideas (Appendix 2). We must provide opportunities for learners to become aware of these skills and strategies and create meaningful, varied contexts whereby they can put them into practice.

So what are the implications in the classroom?

The most important factor is to provide a classroom environment that builds confidence and trust while maximising opportunities for developing the speaking skill. A low affective filter can maximise learning. Teachers sharing anecdotes so that students share their own anecdotes in pairs or small groups leads to students taking more interest in each other. There is a desire to participate when the teacher, exploiting student interests, personalises activities as much as possible. Penny Ur 'we must supply the need for students to relate to the subject and to interact with each other'. Brumfit (1984:77) 'Small groups provide greater intensity of involvement, so that the quality of language practice is increased, ..The setting is more natural than that of the full class, for the size of the group resembles that of normal conversational groupings. Because of this, the stress which accompanies 'public' performance in the classroom should be reduced'. This takes pressure off the shy or under-confident students and ensures they gain valuable speaking practice.

Materials and activities must be relevant and varied to enable a combination of skill getting and skill using activities. It is important to design activities with information gaps or jigsaw features which involve sharing of information. They create a real 'need' to communicate, but also activate useful language skills for negotiating meaning, asking and giving opinions. If we remind students of this, activities have the dual purpose of developing language learning and developing speaking skills: conversational strategies such as paraphrasing, circumlocution, as well as giving practice in openings, turn taking, interrupting. Communication games such as describe and draw , find the difference can develop these skills as well as adding fun to the learning situation. Sequencing communicative tasks systematically, building on what students know to extend their repertoire gradually, is also important for learning to be effective.

We need to be creative to maximise resources at our disposal - video, BBC world service, fellow teachers, songs. If learners wish to gain in fluency, they need to have exposure to features typical of spoken language and time to reflect on these features. Listening to natural speech and exposure to a variety of accents will facilitate listening but highlighting features of natural speech in the transcripts will help students become aware of these features and improve their speaking skills. As Dörnyei and Thurrell (1992:x) point out 'if learners are conscious of the strategies they could use and the pitfalls they should avoid, and if they have a wide repertoire of set expressions and conversational formulae on hand, they are likely to make much faster progress towards becoming relaxed and polished conversationalists'. Most course books at advanced level suggest students discuss topics in pairs to involve students in the subject matter but provide little help with the lexis or natural language needed to carry out these tasks effectively. Speaking about the subject matter will help students become more fluent but it will not help their conversational skills or develop greater linguistic complexity. More and more emphasis is placed in language teaching on awareness or consciousness raising (C-R) activities. Willis and Willis (1996: 67/76) point out 'There are two ways C-R can help. The first is by making the students conscious of what knowledge is invoked in carrying out a given task. The second is by helping them to organize their language in a way which will help them tap this knowledge.' Students may not immediately put into practice features that have been brought to their attention, but if they notice features, they may be conscious of them in future input. Posters in class, cue cards or checklists actively encourage some students to use the expressions or features.

One of the great difficulties is to improve pronunciation. Firstly it is important to raise students' consciousness of prominence or sentence stress in continuous speech when listening. This bottom-up approach will help focus learners on perceiving the alternation of strong and weak syllables, and the reduction of unstressed syllables to heighten their awareness of speech rhythms. Once they are familiar with the idea that the content words generally carry the stress, like a telegram, students can be encouraged to predict stress and divide discourse into sense groups. Helping students become familiar with linking and weak forms and occasionally doing controlled 'shadow reading' activities where they read with the cassette can help them produce speech like the model and sound more 'English'. Taping students regularly and transcribing their conversation with hesitations marked by pauses (….) can also help them realise they hesitate too much (Appendix 1). By providing a model of the conversation on cassette, emphasising the sense groups and natural pauses, we provide learners with opportunities to imitate a more natural way of speaking and make improvements in this area.

To be confident in Part 2 of the CAE speaking exam students need to be aware of what is expected of them in terms of the structure of the exam and task demand. Guy Cook (1989:49) mentions '..the language learner, in order to be able to operate effectively as a participant in discourse, needs to be able both to identify what type of discourse he or she is involved in, and to predict how it will typically be structured.' According to the CAE examiner's report, failure to listen carefully to what they are asked to do frequently leads to poor performance, therefore it is essential to train students to listen to and repeat instructions. Additionally it is important to teach them strategies for asking for clarification or repetition if they have not understood the task.

Learners need a range of expressions at their command to cope with the task. They have little time to prepare and consequently 'fixed conventional phrases' can contribute to their oral fluency, helping them speak and sound more natural. Additionally, as it is a formal speaking task involving comparing and contrasting, attention needs to be drawn to language for discourse cohesion, as well as complex lexis and grammatical structure. Providing frameworks and checklists can help learners structure their speaking and reduce the burden of organising their discourse and selecting appropriate language at the same time. One way of drawing students' attention to complex language is by providing models and a choice of expressions. It would not be natural for native speakers to provide a model for this task as we rarely compare and contrast photos in a minute but proficiency level students could help. We can provide them with key items to be included to provide a challenging, language-rich model(see Appendix 3). Students can evaluate the task as an extensive listening task before looking closely at the language and features of the spoken discourse. By providing clear evaluation guidelines we can focus students on what is expected of them and also encourage them to reflect on the task.
Research has shown that students who plan for tasks attempt more ambitious language, hesitate less and make fewer basic errors. Skehan (1996: 25) 'Crookes (1989) reported that planning time was associated with greater complexity of syntax and a wider variety of lexis….Skehan and Foster (1994) also report that, in contrast with Crookes' results, planning was associated with greater accuracy.' In class, we need to give learners the chance to extend what they want to say by building in planning time and rehearsal time for most communicative activities. This includes silent thinking time, the opportunity to ask for help and the opportunity to practise with a partner before performing. Research indicates that repeating tasks leads to improved performance in several areas. Bygate (1996: 138) 'we can expect fewer pauses, false starts and self corrections.' This is vitally important in the exam where students have a minute to impress the examiners.

I have mentioned the advantages of using transcripts to draw students' attention to features of spoken discourse. They also provide an opportunity to focus on features that may not be noticed in the flow of speech. By recording student performance on tape or video, for subsequent feedback in class, we can learn much of interest in terms of their language and performance strategies. It is also easier to look at strategies for showing interest and students can evaluate their paralinguistic features . Paul Mennim (2003:130) mentions other advantages, 'It shows how they managed to recall many of the corrected forms and reformulations; the final presentation showed improvements in pronunciation and grammar, and in the organization of content'. Skehan (1996:27) comments 'If post-task activities are used regularly, and if learners know that they are to come, this may change the way that a task is actually transacted. It may lead learners to switch attention repeatedly between accuracy and restructuring and fluency.' We can take this further by encouraging students to repeat the task and tape it as a homework assignment. This will encourage learner autonomy. If we dedicate time to providing a transcript, feedback and a corrected, improved model, it will help students improve intonation, place prominence in the right places and more importantly take more interest in their own learning.

Finally, once students are familiar with the task and a range of linguistic expressions, it is better to repeat the task regularly as a warmer or end of class activity, with a wide range of visuals, than to spend a whole session occasionally.


Bygate (1987: vii) quite rightly mentions, 'Our learners often need to be able to speak with confidence in order to carry out many of their most basic transactions.….. It is also a medium through which much language is learnt and which for many is particularly conducive for learning'. An indirect approach to teaching conversation can develop fluency and provide useful language learning opportunities but it has serious disadvantages, especially for students who need to prove their capability of speaking effectively and naturally for examinations. It does not guarantee that students will speak with grammatical accuracy or at any level of complexity, and it does not develop the skills required for social interaction. Richards proposes a balance of approaches to be the best methodological option (1990: 78/79). Our role as teacher is to ensure we provide that balance.


CAE Examination Report December 2001 Syllabus 0150/0151 University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate
Brown, G. 1990 Listening to Spoken English. Longman
Brumfit, C.J. 1984 Communicative Methodology in Language Teaching. Cambridge University Press
Bygate, M. 1987 Speaking. Oxford University Press
Cook, G. 1989 Discourse. Oxford University Press
McCarthy, M. 1991 Discourse Analysis for Language Teachers. Cambridge University Press
Norman, D. Levihn, U. Hedenquist, J. 1986 Communicative Ideas. Language Teaching Publications
Nolasco, R. Arthur, L. 1987 Conversation. Oxford University Press
Nunan, D. 1991 Language Teaching Methodology. Longman
Revell, J. 1979 Teaching Techniques for Communicative English. Macmillan Publishers Ltd
Richards, J. 1990 The Language Teaching Matrix. Cambridge University Press
Thornbury, S. 1997 About Language. Cambridge University Press
Skehan, P., Bygate, M., Foster, P. in Willis, J. and Willis, D. 1996 Challenge and Change in Language Teaching. Macmillan Heinemann

Dörnyei, Z. Thurrell, S. Teaching conversational skills intensively: course content and rationale ELT Journal January 1994
Gairns, R. Redman, S. A spoken syllabus. English Teaching Professional Issue 25 October 2002
Mennim, P. Rehearsed oral L2 output and reactive focus on form. ELT Journal April 2003
Thornbury, S. Accuracy, fluency and complexity. English Teaching Professional Issue 16 July 2000

Course materials
Dörnyei, Z. Thurrell, S. 1992 Conversation and Dialogues in Action. Prentice Hall International
Lynch,T. Anderson, K. 1992 Study Speaking. Cambridge University Press
May, P. 1996 Exam Classes. Oxford University Press


Sandra Bradwell works in Madrid, running the Chester School of English.

Lesson plan

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.

Lesson procedure

Stages & timing







7 mins


t - ss

ss - t

whole group

1.       Ss arrive and chat about week

2.       T outlines the aim of the lesson: to practise their speaking skills for Paper 5 Part 2 of CAE exam

3.       Ss describe what involved in Part 2

4.       Ss read details on OHP to confirm

Find out what ss have been doing

To inform ss of lesson content

To generate interest in lesson

To share knowledge and inform new students in group of what involved

To provide clear  written description, avoid ambiguity

menu on board

OHP transparency


10 mins

3 groups

3 groups

ss - ss

t -ss

t -ss

1.       Group students

2.       Ss stand up. Hand out vocabulary prompts. They look at pictures, discuss what they have in common attach expressions where appropriate.

3.       Feedback - compare, order, drill

4.       Hand out worksheet.

5.       What do pictures have in common?

To involve all students

To introduce/consolidate vocabulary of positive feelings, modifiers/intensifiers

To provide visual context for vocabulary

To give opportunity to move around - late/tired

To check and provide opportunity for practising pronunciation

To provide record

To lead into next stage

F/C on wall

vocab prompts

9 music




10 mins


t - ss

1.       Ss speak in pairs about the last time they had a piece of really good news: what was it? How did they feel?

Back of worksheet (remind ss to use language for involving listener and showing interest when listening)

2.       Feedback

To share experiences and involve ss in topic

To develop fluency  while relating personal


To practise active listening skills

To encourage active use of variety of

expressions and vocabulary

To comment on expressions heard


9 music



10 mins




1.       Pair students (A/ E/Est/M/P)

2.       Remind ss of language for describing location: foreground, background, top, bottom OHP

       Hand out picture to each student. Ss take turns to  

      describe and draw.

      Give 3 min time limit each.

3.       Ss compare visuals

To vary pairs and pair students with a person who prepared FCE

To practise language of location, describing, paraphrasing, approximation

To activate some language for task stage 8

To introduce visuals in creative way

To introduce element of fun

To evaluate success of task

5 sets colour visuals

9 music


rough paper


OHP transparency


10 mins

t - ss


ss - t

t -ss

1.       NB language of description but also language for comparing, contrasting as in FCE

2.       Ss brainstorm language for comparing/contrasting

3.       Feedback

4.       Compare with prompts on wall

To remind ss of key language, lead into next activity

To encourage ss to share ideas

To share expressions

To provide record

9 music


prompts on poster covered on wall


7 mins



whole group

1.        9Hand out evaluation sheet. Ss listen to Proficiency ss performing CAE task

       Listen to instructions and evaluate performance

2.        Ss share ideas

3.        Feedback - who was better? why?

To train ss to listen carefully to instructions

To check ss understand instructions

To provide sample of what expected

To provide opportunity for ss to evaluate task

To provide ss with evaluation criteria

To encourage ss to share and compare ideas

To comment on performance

visuals as above

evaluation sheet

9 home-made cassette

1 min-timer


8 mins



t - ss


1.   9 2 Ss listen again with gapped transcript to focus

       on  key language

2.   Ss compare expressions

3.   Feedback OHP

4.        Look at transcript to evaluate task - did ss complete task? Can ss detect any mistakes?

5.        Feedback

To listen for specific expressions

To work together to share knowledge

To provide a record

To encourage students to give opinions and be critical

9  home-made cassette

gapped transcript

OHP transparency


5 mins


1.  Ss prepare task

     (Remind ss to use at least one expression for 

     comparing/ contrasting from prompts)

To encourage ss to work together on task

To give time for planning task

visuals as above

9 music 2

post-its (hot correction)


15 mins


whole group

whole group

1.    Ss in group of 3: examiner, 2 students


2.    Ss perform demonstration (tape) while other ss 

      evaluate performance

3.   Feedback

To role play specific exam practice for part 2 of Paper 5

To provide opportunity for ss to perform/evaluate task

To comment on performance

role card

visuals as above

9 blank cassette

evaluation sheet

1 min-timer


Collect in /give out homework

1.       Worksheet /Visuals: Encourage ss to do task on cassette

2.       SB page 98 ex. 3

3.       Maximiser  unit 9 page 71

To offer opportunity for ss to practise in stress free situation

To consolidate expressions, task






Flashcards of people receiving good news, looking happy
Flashcards -  3 sets of colour photocopied pictures from Student book pages 98/99
Colour pictures to do homework task
Poster (covered to be revealed in stage 5) language for comparing/contrasting
Vocabulary cues
Pairing activity cues - names of students who have done FCE
Worksheet -  vocabulary in order of intensity
Worksheet -  telling anecdotes - useful language
Worksheet -  evaluation sheet
Worksheet -  gapped transcript of tape
Worksheet -  role card of examiner
Worksheet -  information / advice / homework task speaking Part 2
Worksheet -  useful language speaking Part 2
Transparency -  Part 2 Speaking
Transparency - Describing Location
Transparency - transcript
Classical music blank cassette
Rough paper


Speaking Part 2


Examiner: OK Gregorio, could you compare and contrast your pictures and say what's
happening in each picture and how the people are feeling.

Gregorio: Well er we can see in the first in the first photo we can see er 3 persons er like waiting for ______________ interview or something like that, they could be candidates or for a applying for a job or.. _____________________the expressions of their faces, well it looks like they are kind of nervous, they are serious, er maybe worried and erm and so it is a situation like erm er I mean I have been involved in this kind of situation before er while while the other photo er well it's very nice the face of ..of that girl and it _________________ er maybe she she got the job and er so so she she may be happy because because she thinks she has done a or this is a good step for her in her professional life, er her life will tell if she was wrong or right. Who knows?

Examiner: OK José Luis what kind of job do you think she was applying for?

José Luis: It could be a secretary or just er an administration job.

Examiner: OK thank you. José Luis, looking at your pictures, could you compare and
contrast your pictures, say what is happening in each one and how the people
are feeling.

José Luis: Well in the first picture I can see a man, _______________ in his mid-fifties wearing a heavy er winter coat and holding a strange machine. _____________________ that it could be a metal detector. He's er looking for something on the ground, in the countryside whereas in the second picture er I can see this man on the left of the picture with other two, holding, that it seems to me that it could be coins. They look really really satisfied, really happy with their findings, it seems that they, his er well their efforts have paid off and er well ____________________ I would be very happy because er I could er get some money of these of these old coins

Examiner: OK Thank you Gregorio, what time of year do you think it is?

Gregorio: Ah well ah the sun is shining and er it means that er it could be er a nice day
but judging by the clothing, by the coats it could be it could be a cold er winter maybe.

Examiner: OK Thank you

Worksheet Stage 3


Beginning: I was actually ....
I remember one occasion when ….
I'll never forget the day when ….

Maintaining interest: ….anyway, after a while …
…and do you know what, …..
…you never guess what, …..
Honestly, I'm not joking!
…and then to my surprise …
Well, imagine my surprise when ….


…you're joking!
Did you?
You didn't!
That's really interesting!


Beginning: I was actually ....
I remember one occasion when ….
I'll never forget the day when ….

Maintaining interest: ….anyway, after a while …
…and do you know what, …..
…you'll never guess what, …..
Honestly, I'm not joking!
…and then to my surprise …
Well, imagine my surprise when ….


…you're joking!
Did you?
You didn't!
That's really interesting!

Language contrasting - stage 5


In both of these pictures there are .....

Both pictures .......

.........while ........

........... whereas .............

In contrast ................

Although ........., ................

......differ in several ways.

The main difference is .... similar in that it’s ....

They seem to have quite a lot in common, ..



Role card Stage 9

ROLE CARD Examiner

Examiner (Student A ) it's your turn first. I'd like you to compare and contrast the two pictures, describe what is happening in each picture and say how the people might be feeling.

Don't forget, you have about one minute to do this.

All right? So, would you start now please?

Student A 1 minute

Examiner Thank you.

Now (Student B) can you tell us what time of year it is in the pictures?

Student B 20 seconds

Examiner Thank you.

Now (Student B ) it's your turn. I'd like you to compare and contrast the two pictures, describe what is happening in each picture and say how the people might be feeling.

Don't forget, you have about one minute to do this.

All right? So, would you start now please?

Student B 1 minute

Examiner Thank you.

Now (Student A) can you tell us what kind of job you think she has applied for?

Student B 20 seconds

Examiner Thank you.

Homework : Useful expressions

The impression I get is that ............

On the one hand …, on the other..

This looks like it's ……………

……..whereas / while …………

What I find interesting about this ………is ….

It could be ……………..

It seems to be …………

Although …….., ………


In both of these pictures there are …Both pictures ….………….. is similar in that it's ……………slightly more (adjective) than ………….far more (adjective) than …………….considerably more (adjective) then….. …… differ in several ways …Another important difference is ……On the one hand …., on the other ……………while …………………..whereas…..In contrast …………………………Although …………., ……………………

The impression I get is that …. As far as I can work out, it's …..

I could be wrong, but …… I wouldn't be surprised if …..

This looks like it's ……. There's something that looks like …

It looks as if it might be … It's a kind of …..

It could be ……………..

I think he's probably ….ing Perhaps he's …

It comes across as if he's ….. He looks as if he's …

If I were …..

Homework: Speaking Part 2

Speaking Part 2

Candidates comment on visual prompts e.g. photographs.
It is very important to listen to the instructions.
Each candidate in turn speaks for about one minute. The second candidate will make a short response ( in 20 seconds) after the first candidate has finished.
In total this part will last 3 or 4 minutes.

DO keep talking and show that you can communicate effectively.

DO speculate on the content of the visual stimuli and interpret them in your
own way

DO listen carefully to what the examiner has asked you to do and address the
task in question.

DO ask for clarification rather than remain silent if you are uncertain about
what to do.

DON'T worry if you cannot remember, or do not know, the occasional word.
You can always paraphrase.

DON'T speak too quietly. Remember the examiners need to hear what you are

DON'T interrupt during your partner's 'long turn'.

DON'T be too nervous! This is your opportunity to show the examiners what you
can do!

Homework Task:
Look at the pictures which show people on important days in their lives.
Compare and contrast your pictures, saying how these people's lives may change as a result of what is happening.

Comment (20 seconds)
Look at the pictures again and decide which person's life is going to change most as a result of what is happening.

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