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Thursday, 7 June 2012

FCE (B2) Speaking test

Part one (3 minutes)

In part 1 the interlocutor (examiner) will ask for your name and then say something like; "First we'd like to know something about you. So I'm going to ask you some questions about yourselves."
They will then ask you about your home town. "What do you like about living there?"

They may ask questions on the following topics:

work/study   leisure/entertainment    home life    travel/holidays   English   personal experience

Example questions

What do you most enjoy doing when you're at home? (I enjoy verb+ing because it makes me feel adjective. I also like verb + ing...)
Could you describe your family home to me? (use of adjectives and household vocabulary)

Do you and your friends share the same ideas?  (We have the same taste in .... but we have different opinions about... we enjoy doing... together)
What's the most exciting thing you've ever done? (The most exciting thing I've ever done is probably when I....Use of past tense. For me this was a very exciting experience because...Use of past perfect).

Here is an example of the speaking test part one. Listen out for the "filler" words and phrases used by the two candidates when they are thinking about what to say next.

Filler words are a good way to fill the time when you are not sure how to answer the question. They are a natural part of spoken English and a good way to avoid awkward silences.
When one of the candidates was asked, "How much TV do you watch?" He could have simply said, "I don't watch a lot of TV". However he used filler words to avoid a very short answer...
"Well... here I don't watch TV because I've got the Internet which is better" .
When asked if she used the Internet to learn new things, Ana began by saying; "I would like to use the Internet to learn new things..."

Filler words/phrases
It depends
That's an interesting question
That's a difficult one
I'm not too sure, let me think
I don't know, maybe/perhaps/probably/ I guess, suppose, imagine, think
*Paraphrasing the question
"What sort of books do you like reading the most?"
"The sort of books that I like reading the most are probably... but it depends, I've just started to get into..."

Speaking part 2 (1 minute and 20 seconds for each candidate)

In part 2 you will be asked to compare 2 photographs and answer a question about them, you will be stopped after 1 minute. The other candidate will have 20 seconds to respond to a follow up question about your photographs. Then you will do the same after the other candidate has compared their photos.

Here is an example of part 2. Listen to the words and phrases the candidates use to compare, contrast and speculate about what they think could be happening...

Words and phrases used to compare and contrast

In the first photo we can see.... whereas/but/however, in the second photo...
Both photos show...

The ... in photo one looks more... than... in photo 2.
This photo doesn't look the other because...

Words and phrases to speculate

Look + adjective (They all look happy)
Look like + noun (It looks like an oxygen mask)
Look as if + verb phrase (They look as if they are enjoying themselves/having fun)

Could/might/may + be + noun/ gerund/adjective  (When we are not sure)
It could be her first bicycle.
She might be looking at a really beautiful view.

*When we are certain about an idea:
must/can't + be + noun/gerund/adjective
He must be teaching her how to play the piano.
It can't be very serious because she looks quite calm.

*When the photo isn't clear:
It's not obvious/clear from the first photo whether they are happy or not.
It's difficult to tell if they are friends or a couple.
I can't quite make out what country they are in but it looks like...

Part 3 (3 minutes) and part 4 (4 minutes)

In part 3 you have to talk about 7 different items individually and then select 2/3.
Example questions:

Talk to your partner about a list of household chores/ jobs/ sports and how you feel about each of them. Try to agree on 2/3 that you like doing the least/most.

Imagine you are organising a film club, package holiday, a cultural event...
How useful would each of the items be in attracting your target audience, choose 2/3 that would be the most useful.

Imagine you want to fight crime/protect the environment in your local area.
Discuss how serious each problem is, select 2/3 that you think are the most serious and decide what you could do to tackle these problems.

In part 4 you will be asked a few questions related to the topic introduced in part 3, where you need to give your opinion.

Here is an example of part 3 and 4. Listen out for words and phrases used by the candidates to agree/disagree and to encourage their partner to speak or give an opinion.

Words and phrases for selecting items in part 3:

Which one shall we talk about first?
Lets talk about... first.
Shall we move on?
What next?
What about/how about...

Words and phrases for agreeing and disagreeing:

Agreement: I agree (with you), I think so too, exactly!, definitely!, I was just thinking the same thing,
I know, me too, me neither, so do I, neither do I, you're right, It's true...

Half agreement/ soft disagreement: I'm not too sure about that because..., well it depends, I know what you mean but..., maybe, perhaps, It's true that... but on the other hand, If it was for... then I think that would be a great idea but I think... is better for..., In my experience..., I don't think that would work because...

Disagreement: I (completely) disagree, I really don't think that's true, I don't agree, I would probably say the opposite, but..., I couldn't agree less.
*Be careful not to offend your partner, there's nothing wrong with disagreeing but don't get angry or make it personal. Smiling and using eye contact may help, try to keep things light hearted as you're both probably just as nervous as each other.

Encouraging your partner to talk and asking for his/her opinion:

*Question tags
That would be a good way to attract more people, wouldn't it?
This photo is really interesting, isn't it?
I think people of all ages will like..., won't they?

I really can't stand... What about you?
What do you think?
Do you agree that....
Ok, so shall we choose these 2?

Giving your opinion:

In my opinion...
From my point of view...
As far as I can see...
I think...
I strongly believe that...
I used to.... until I found out... and now I see it a different way.
I really like/don't like...

Good luck :)

Relax and be confident, talk as you would in class. If you don't know what to say use fillers rather than hesitation. Be natural. Try to use a range of tenses and vocabulary but don't try too hard to search for new words because you don't have a lot of time. Be expressive and let your emotions come out (not too much) or you will sound like a robot. Let agreement, uncertainty come across in your tone of voice. If you start a sentence that you can't finish, use a filler phrase or start a new sentence and move on. 

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