Good afternoon fellow educators! I was quite looking forward to a quiet lull in exam preparation responsibilities in the pre Christmas period. But with the growing popularity of the December PET dates, I’m rushed off my feet with prep! Today is the turn of speaking part 2, and I thought I would share some pearls of wisdom with you!
What is it?
PET speaking part 2 is a conversation between the two candidates. They discuss a topic given by the examiner and try to reach an agreement at the end of the 3 minute time allocation.
This part tests vocabulary, simple grammar structures, interaction and collaboration between the candidates.
How do you do it?
This is my primitive way of describing the basics to my students.
They should start with a phrase such as ” Shall I start” or “Would you mind if I start?” Be sure to practice responses to these questions, as they will often say yes to the latter, which is not what they really want to say.
After that, the first speaker should give their opinion on one of the options they have available. Using expressions such as; “I think”, “I reckon”, or “In my opinion”. Followed by a reason for their thoughts, a reason is very important. It’s not enough to only give their opinion.
Then, the same student should ask for the other’s opinion on what they have shared. It’s equally as important that the second comment on what the first said. If not, it looks like they were not listening and the communication doesn’t flow.
After that, it goes back and forth between the two using the same basic method, exchanging ideas and opinions.
They should try to reach an agreement, but there are no correct or incorrect answers and candidates are not penalised for not managing to agree or completely finish the task.
Here are some common mistakes that they makes and how I usually address them.
Mistake – “Another good option could be / is”
This is a misnomer, because the options on the page are the only options available. They are not suggesting ideas, they are discussing the ones that they already have.
Correction – “We should also discuss….”
Mistake – “In my opinion, I think”
Students should try to avoid repeating themselves in this way. While a small mistake, it’s easily corrected and a silly thing to lose marks over.
Correction – One or the other!
Mistake – “I agree, I agree, I agree”
The problem with agreeing all the time is that it comes off as disingenuous. Sometimes it even comes across as not paying attention. So encourage them to disagree sometimes.
Mistake – “I completely agree, but….”
Again, this doesn’t entirely ring true. If they completely agree, they shouldn’t have any ‘buts’.
Correction – “I see your point, but….”
There are lots of things you can do to help prepare students for this part – Here are my top four;
- Throughout the course, encourage students to give their opinions on a wide range of topics and try elicit comments from other members of the group. Make sure they know that disagreeing is perfectly fine. But the comments should be more than ‘yes’, ‘no’ answers, instead using vocabulary that is appropriate in a long form response.
- While practising, try gently interrupting students from time to time, simulating an inconsiderate fellow candidate. Students at this level tend to get nervous easily, so be careful not to interrupt too forcefully and explain that it is good practice.
- Similarly, simulate a situation where one candidate speaks very little and forces the other to do the majority of the talking. This will serve them well in an exam situation with a shy or low level candidate.
- Encourage students to talk to their classmates on a conversational level in English, apart from fostering a nice environment, it helps students be comfortable when asking for opinions and comments.
Good Vocabulary and Grammar
Apart from the obvious vocabulary and other things that are useful here, these are some things that I have found to garner top marks.
In this part, a second conditional for students that are a little more comfortable is fantastic. For example; “If I had to choose, I would say..”
This part cries out for some good comparative structures. For example; “I think….is better than….. because”. Towards the end of the discussion, they can bring a nice end to things by using superlatives. But they should be discouraged to begin with them as it limits their options and vocabulary.
- Conversation fillers and doubts
To give themselves time to think, phrases such as; “Well, let me think” are great to avoid periods of silence. But need to be practised well beforehand to make sure that students have a good grasp of them and don’t muddle the language. Also, if they don’t know, or can’t remember an important word, they should use expressions like; “It’s a kind of”, rather than avoiding it which will be obvious to the examiner.
- Idioms and Phrasal Verbs
PET students are more than capable, and even expected to have a limited range of idioms and colloquial expressions to use in the exam. Although they are perhaps more useful in parts 1 and 4, some could be appropriate here. For example; “I am really keen on…”.
There’s my quick guide to the PET speaking part 2! More parts to follow!
Did I miss anything? Do you have any questions? Contact me using the contact form or the comments below. Happy Teaching!