Speaking

Task 

Description

Skills tested

Interview

The task is to answer 3 questions on different topics

comparing, stating an opinion, giving explanations, describing a place, describing a person

Picture Story

The candidate receives a picture story with an opening line; the task is to tell the story

sequencing events, describing cause and effect, comparing, describing experiences

Transactional Dialogues

The candidate receives a cue card and the task is to act out the situation on the card

functional exponents for requesting /giving information, asking for clarification, booking something, confirming / denying, paying for something

Discussion

The two candidates receive a card with a sentence describing a problem or situation. The task is to discuss the issues in pairs

stating an opinion / preference, giving reasons, and comparing / getting to an agreement

 

Preparing Students for the Reading Test

Students who have been following a general English course in a situation where English is primarily used in the classroom, and where the focus is on using English in everyday situations, will already be able to make a reasonable attempt at the exam tasks. However, the presentation (Task 2) may be an unfamiliar format, and a source of nervousness, so preparation is vital; also, it is important that they have an understanding of what is expected in each task, particularly of the functional language that Task 3 focuses on.

For the first task, candidates should be able to introduce themselves and say a few things about themselves, their interests, their family, etc. While this will present no problem to students at this level, the teacher should remind students of the importance of taking initiative and expanding on their answers. Presenting good and bad “demos” of interview behaviour, either recorded or live, is an effective way of making this point.

To complete the presentation successfully, students will benefit from having considerable practice in class. It is important to sort out some of the common pitfalls that can lead a candidate to under-perform on this task. For topics, the teacher can use the ideas in the sample exam set and develop some of his or her own. The main problem that students have with this task is that they either run out of things to say and fall silent, well before the two minutes have passed, or they repeat themselves and can’t seem to move on from a given point. The topics generally suggest a simple discoursal structure, similar to that which one might use in a discursive essay, and practice for the presentation might follow the ways of outlining discursive essays. For a given topic, the teacher can have students, in pairs, list three arguments in support of the statement, and three arguments against the statement. Using their brief brainstorm lists as the basis for a rough presentation, one student can essentially tell a student from another group the arguments they listed; this should produce a structured talk of at least a minute. If the student giving the talk has taken the initiative to elaborate on individual points the talk may well be up to the necessary length; if not, the teacher should encourage students to add one or two sentences (as explanation or exemplification) for each of their arguments, thus increasing the depth of their presentation and getting the timing to the required level.

Some guidance and practice in making and using notes may be necessary; the teacher should observe if, in a practice as described above, students are over-dependent (or, on the other hand, afraid to look at) their notes and give feedback on this. The teacher may need to demonstrate how to write useful notes for such a presentation – how to include only key words and prompts that will support the speaker and help them find their place when they get lost.