Using word clouds for teaching English
- Tips & Strategies
There are two big groups of teachers — those who like teaching examination classes and those who are afraid of preparing students for exams. What are the advantages and disadvantages of teaching exam preparation classes?
The teacher feels responsible for their students’ successful exam results and it makes exam classes more challenging or even stressful for the teacher. But think of the motivation which your students have because the exam results are important to them. Your class and you become a team with the common goal.
Improve Your Teacher Talk
There are many different language examinations but most of them include the parts which test the four language skills — reading, listening, speaking and writing. Some popular Cambridge examinations such as B2 First and C1 Advanced include the paper which is called Use of English, which assesses candidates’ grammar and vocabulary knowledge.
As in any General English class, in examination classes there are students with various strengths and weaknesses. Some of them consider writing to be the most challenging part, others think that it’s impossible to speak fluently and accurately at the same time. And the teacher needs to make lessons balanced to cater to all the students’ needs.
Our focus will be speaking and how to teach this skill in exam preparation classes.
First of all, teachers need to know what kinds of speaking tests there are:
Teachers also have to be aware of the common task types:
Let’s look at the examples of those examination tasks.
The candidate is generally given a visual or verbal prompt.
I’m going to give you a card with a topic written on it. Read the card carefully.
You will have one minute to prepare what you are going to say about the topic and then I will ask you to speak for one or two minutes.
A lower-level task:
A friend of yours has a birthday next week and you would like to give her a present.
Here are some suggestions (Interlocutor gives pictures to the candidates).
Talk about the suggestions and then decide together which is the best present for your friend.
A higher-level task:
Now I’d like you to talk about something together for about two minutes.
Here are some reasons why many students go on school trips and a question for you
to discuss. Talk to each other about whether it’s a good idea for students to go on school trips.
Before teaching an examination class, teachers have to become familiar with the criteria which are used for the assessment of the candidates.
Do students need to know what the criteria are? Of course, they do. Teachers shouldn’t use meta language, especially with lower-level classes, but they need to explain the criteria of assessment to students.
There are usually four main criteria of assessment:
There are plenty of them. We need to practise the exam format with our students. So when the day of examination comes closer, teachers do a lot of formal speaking practise following the format of the examination including the timing. You could make it more fun asking students to work in groups of four and take turns to play the roles of an assessor and an interlocutor.
Let’s look at the following activities:
The activities are probably familiar to you and all of them are very beneficial to your students preparing for exam. Some of the activities are light-hearted, which will make your classes more enjoyable for learners.
A possible speaking lesson might look like this:
I hope that I managed to persuade you that preparation for exams can be beneficial for students and fun at the same time. And don’t forget that those students are highly motivated. In my next article we’ll be talking about exam writing.
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