The aim of this guide is to help students prepare for the Part 2 of their FCE speaking exam. It makes students understand what is expected of them during the FCE speaking exam, shows them how to organise and structure their long turn during Part 2, and gives specific examples of useful language.
In Part 2 of the exam, students should speak about two photos for one minute. They need to compare the photos and answer the question about them. You might want to start with outlining what Part 2 is all about. The Guidelines poster will be helpful to briefly go through the exam structure. Then it is a good idea to make your students understand that “describing the photos” should actually mean; referring to the photos, comparing them, speculating about them, and answering the question printed above them. Since there is only one minute to do it, some student often become overwhelmed and have no idea where to begin and what to say.
Start with the Photos Student A worksheet (one/2 students or have it on the board/screen). Take a quick look at the pictures and the question, elicit the theme (what the photos have in common) from your students: different ways of spending free time.
Then, distribute the Step by step worksheet. Focus on the vocabulary table. You may add any new items you find appropriate. The table contains the most useful words / expressions to deal with the photos and allows the students to forget about searching for the right word for the time being and focus on the 4 steps that follow: referring to the photos, comparing them, speculating, and answering the question.
Students should fill in the gaps in the sentences using words and expressions from the Guidelines poster they have already seen ( it is a good idea to keep it visible for students to see during the class). They may work in pairs or individually. Let them know that very often there are several correct options to fill the gaps with. When they are finished, ask them to arrange the sentences into one coherent text, and say it out loud to their partner. Does it make sense? Does it sound natural?
You might ask volunteers to present their mini speeches in front of the group. Is there anything we could improve? Maybe some elements are unnecessary / redundant? Are some words being repeated too often? After improving the text ask the students to time each other to see how much time they actually take.
Once your students have gained more confidence in dealing with the photos, distribute Photos Student B worksheet, and ask your students to go to the second page of the Step by step handout. After establishing the theme (using electronic devices) they should work on their own to brainstorm the most useful and appropriate vocabulary, and come up with correct sentences for each of the 4 categories (refer, compare, speculate, answer). Students might work in pairs / individually. To check the result, you might want to ask volunteers to read and act out what they have written.
Even though FCE exam coursebook contain plenty of excellent materials, I wanted to offer my students the essence of what is expected of them during the exam and help them structure their, very often correct, but mostly chaotic and repetitive utterances.
This lesson worked especially well with adult students, who often lacked fluency and did not know what to say or where to start. They really appreciated the structure and the opportunity to rehearse speaking about the pictures for several times. Once they saw there was a simple structure to follow when describing the photos, they felt more confident coming up with different ideas and using varied vocabulary, as they finally understood WHAT they should be talking about.
My teenage students were not as patient and found following every step in the worksheet too tedious and boring. With them, I focused on the vocabulary and avoiding repetition.