Tuesday 29 November 2011

Listening Part 2 - Gapped Text

Paper 4 of the First Certificate is the Listening test.  Listening Part 2 is the part of the test where you complete the gaps with grammatically correct words or short phrases.  Here are some tips to help you with this part of the test.
  1. There are ten questions and each answer is worth one point.
  2. The questions follow the order of the text.
  3. Read the questions before you listen.  Think about the kind of information that is missing.  Is it a noun, adjective, etc.?
  4. It is not a dictation.  The words you read will be in a different order to the words you hear but you will hear the exact word(s) you need to complete the gaps.
  5. You can write between 1 and 3 words in each gap.
  6. You can write numbers as figures or words.
  7. Do not repeat words that you read.
  8. Check that your word or phrase is grammatically correct and makes sense.
  9. Check your spelling.
The Exam
Try to relax while you are listening, and don't try to understand every word. If you're not sure about something, continue with the test and complete what you can.

At the end of the test you will be given some time to transfer your answers to an answer sheet.  If you couldn't complete all the gaps during the listening, take a guess!  Maybe you'll right and you'll get an extra point!

If you find this part of the listening difficult, don't worry.  It is only one part of the listening test, and a small part of the whole First Certificate exam.  If you are good at other parts of the listening test or exam, you will still pass!

Click here for some Australian accent online practice.

Good luck with your studies!

Tuesday 22 November 2011

UoE Part 4

Use of English Part 4 - Sentence Transformations consists of eight separate questions, each containing a lead-in sentence, followed by a 'key word' and a second, gapped sentence. It is worth spending some time practising sentence transformations because you can get up to two points for each correct answer.  If you only get part of the answer correct, you can still get one point.  There are 16 points available in this part of the test - the other parts of Use of English are only worth 10-12 points for each part.

The more you practise, the more you will be able to identify exactly what the question is testing you on.  Here are some reminders and tips to help you with Use of English Part 4 - Sentence Transformations:

I have been driving much longer than Mark.
Mark hasn't been driving for __________________ me.

  1. The answer ALWAYS consists of between TWO and FIVE words.
  2. Contractions count as two words e.g. don't = do not.
  3. Do not change the form of the key word.  It must be exactly as it appears in the question.  In the example above, NEARLY must appear as NEARLY in the answer.
  4. UoE Part 4 tests your grammar and vocabulary knowledge.  When you read the question, think about what type of grammar or vocabulary it is testing.  Sometimes it can be both!  What is the example question above testing?  (Continue reading for the answer)
  5. Always write something.  Remember!  You can still get points if your answer is only half right!
  6. Here is a list of some of the language points that cause most problems in UoE Part 4 (this is not a complete list of everything in the exam):
  • comparison/superlative structures
  • active/passive structures
  • direct/indirect speech
  • conditionals/hypothetical situations
  • verb patterns (gerund/infinitive)
  • phrasal verbs and collocations (e.g. adjective/verb + prepositions)
  • perfect tenses
Good luck with your studies!

Did you work out the answer to the example question?  It is testing your knowledge of comparative structures.
I have been driving much longer than Mark.
Mark hasn't been driving for nearly as long as me.

Tuesday 15 November 2011

Study - Vocabulary

How do you study vocabulary?  Do you scribble a note on a piece of paper and never look at it again?  Do you keep vocabulary cards? Do you look at your vocabulary frequently?  Do you prefer to do a little bit of English every day or a lot in one day? 

Scientific studies show that to truly remember a word or expression, we need to see it in use between 10 and 20 times.  Therefore, it seems sensible to review as much vocabulary as possible as frequently as possible.  Here are some ideas to help you do that:

1.  Recording vocabulary:
  • Write an example of how it is used
  • use colours to help you remember
  • note different forms of the word, e.g. noun, adjective, verb, negative/positive, opposite, etc.
  • highlight any special features of form - for example, if a preposition follows the word e.g. proud of)
  • translation - be careful with translation.  Sometimes it doesn't have the same meaning or use.

2. Review frequently.
  • After class, rewrite your vocabulary using one of the methods above or create flashcards.
  • Carry your vocabulary notebook/flaschards with you.  Read it while you're travelling, waiting to see the dentist or the doctors, etc.  Any time you have a few minutes give yourself a mini test.
  • Find a study partner and test each other

    3.  Most of us have brains that get tired after too much processing.  When learning new language, studies show that most people remember between 7 and 15 words and expressions in one study session.  So, maybe it's better to study little and often instead of trying to do 4 hours on a Sunday!  Try studying 30 minutes to 1 hour of English every day instead of doing it all in one long afternoon.

    4.  Try not to learn individual words. Try to learn small phrases - this will help you to use the language correctly too.

    5.  There are always some words and expressions that are more difficult to remember than others.  Write the words on post-its and stick them on the walls and cupboards at home.  By seeing them frequently, it could help you to remember them more easily.

    6.  Instead of creating boring lists, create colourful spidergrams.  It is more fun creating colourful pictures than writing long lists - this might help you remember!

    Finally, the most important thing to remember is that learning a language is not the same as other subjects.  It is not possible to memorise a whole language.  For most people, the best way to study any language is to study for a short time every day - little and often.  This way, you have frequent contact with the language, have an opportunity to review vocabulary and grammar, and you won't get tired and bored!

    See you next week!

    Exam and Study Tips

    We're already two months into the course and you're probably starting to feel a little bit tired, and maybe starting to worry about the mock exam.  Remember, you need to get 60% to be recommended for the exam in June.  If you haven't already, now is the time to think about how you can make sure you get a good mark in the exam.  To help keep you motivated, and give you extra advice, we are starting a new "Exam and Study Tips" series.  Check out this blog regularly for more ideas to help you pass the exam!