The problem with exam preparation is that it can be super boring! Your students have (hopefully!) worked hard all year, and in the final stretch of the course, you need to do focus your lessons on passing the exam, but you can’t find any activities that make it interesting. It’s a very common situation. As a result, the lessons sometimes end up monotonous and a little dull! Faced with this, keeping students motivated is an uphill struggle!
So! I have put together a little list of activities that I find useful for spicing up my lessons and getting some good speaking exam practice in there! Watch this space and look around my other posts for more activities related to exam practice. 🙂
For the FCE and CAE exams, candidates are required to start by answering some short questions about their background, likes, dislikes, experiences, and opinions. Students should avoid;
- Getting too ambitious too quickly – There is plenty of time to use their nice grammar structures and complicated ideas, they should use part 1 as an opportunity to ease into the test and get the motor running.
- Rehearsing answers – Examiners will know when candidates have memorised the answer to a question. It comes out robotic and sometimes doesn’t fit exactly with the question that they are asked.
- Rambling – They should be sure to only answer the question put to them, and not go off on complicated tangents.
1. Interview Me!
This one helps to practise being creative, improvising and using vocabulary appropriate for speaking part 1. It also helps them to avoid sounding robotic when they answer questions.
- Pick a famous person! Somebody that everybody in the class will know. It could be a writer, a celebrity, a politician, a football player, anybody! Do this for every student and make sure that the others don’t know the identity of the person the other members of the group have. Try to make sure you have a decent range of famous people, so that the vocabulary changes when they speak.
- Ask questions like the ones found in speaking part 1. Extension Idea! Before starting the speaking, get students to write their own questions relating to personal information.
- When these questions are being answered, students should try to figure out which famous person it is!
- As an extension, you might use this opportunity to practise some grammar structures like reported speech and modal verbs for certainty. For example;
He said that he earned millions of euros a week, and he lives in Barcelona, he must be Messi!
2. Hidden Questions
This one doesn’t practise, like the last one, anything in particular, except speaking and anticipating the type of questions they may ask in the exam.
- Give each student a piece of paper, and ask them to write a question on it. Something typical of part 1.
- They should then fold the paper over so they can’t see it, and give the paper to the person sitting next to them.
- That person should write a new question on the paper and fold it over again. To avoid a lot of repetition and encourage creativity, they should be told not to write the same question on all of the pieces of paper, but rather think of a new one every time.
- Pass the papers around the class until each student has the one they started with, and unfold all of them. Depending on how many people there are, you will have a good set of part 1 questions.
- Students then pair up and take it in turns to interview the each other, using the questions on the sheet.
- Meanwhile, monitor the students as they talk, correcting any commonly occurring mistakes and enjoying the conversation.
- As an extension idea, after they have finished, you could ask each student to tell the class something that they learned about their partner.
3. Vocabulary Buster!
Often, it’s really hard to get students to use the vocabulary that they learn in class. Preferring instead to use easy words that are simple to remember. Bad move. Examiners want and need them to use topical vocab! So here’s my fix!
- Find a list of questions about one particular topic, food is always a favourite, but anything would work.
- Tell the students what the topic is and give them some time to think about vocabulary that is relevant, using their textbooks or dictionaries if necessary.
- Go round the class asking the questions and give points to students who use nice vocabulary in the correct context.
- As an extension idea, when you have finished the practice, dedicate a few minutes to revising the vocabulary associated with that topic.
Any more activities to add to the list? Let me know in the comments!