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How to make FCE speaking practice fun: Part 3

How to make FCE speaking practice fun presents an alternative way to go about preparing your students for their FCE speaking exam. The objective here is to introduce different activities that make FCE speaking practice fun and at the same time help students perfect skills and strategies which the exam requires. This is the third in the series of four posts and it focuses on Speaking Part 3.

FCE Speaking Exam Part 3

  • Focus: exchange of ideas, expressing and justifying opinions, agreeing and disagreeing, suggesting, speculating;
  • During the exam: your students will spend app. 5 minutes discussing a topic, using five written prompts to do so. They are expected to interact discussing the topic and negotiate to reach a decision (they aren’t penalised if they don’t reach any decision, though)
  • Students should watch out for: repeating structures, fighting their partner to persuade them, not staying on topic, not interacting with their partner;
  • Teacher’s job: help your students to use varied language to express their opinions and collaborate with each other. Train them to be able to turn-take and hold a conversation.

 

Making speaking practice fun: Speaking stations

Procedure:

  • Prepare a list of statements for your students to debate. Make them relevant to the topics your students are likely to encounter during the exam (using sample exam papers is a great source of information on that)
  • Write each statement on a separate piece of paper and stick these sheets to the walls in your classroom / put the sheets on desks, creating your Speaking Stations. Make sure there is enough space around each station for your students to spend a couple of minutes there.
  • Divide your group into pairs / groups of three and tell them they are about to discuss several different topics.
  • Each student gets a worksheet that corresponds to the questions where they are supposed to write the outcome of their mini discussion.
  • Each group start at their assigned Speaking Station, debate the topics for 5 minutes, and on your signal, take notes on their discussion. After that, they move to the next Station.
  • Once all the groups have gone through all the Stations, give them a couple of minutes to complete their notes.
  • Now, you can either hold a whole-class discussion about the topic of each Station, asking individual students to express their opinions, or ask two groups to join together (a pair making a group of four) and discuss their opinions before asking students to get back to their seats to hold a whole-class discussion.
  • Remember to mingle among your students, listen for examples of great language and for mistakes they make. This activity still aims at perfecting your students’ ability to use exam strategies and appropriate language. Offer a correction slot at the end of the activity.

Why should you use this activity?

If you have been practising exam speaking with your students for some time,  they know the drill all too well and their engagement and motivation levels decrease. Speaking Stations introduce some novelty to your classroom and get your students off their seats, which works wonders for their general performance. By having your students discuss topics in small groups, you ensure more student involvement and speaking time. This dynamic and engaging activity helps them practice exam strategies in a more surprising setting, which surely makes for a memorable and involving class.

Would like to find out more about making FCE speaking practice fun? See my ideas for Part 1,  Part 2, and Part 4 of the speaking exam.

Materials

Speaking Stations worksheet: Speaking Stations

Sample Speaking Stations topics:

 The only way to learn a foreign language is to live abroad.
 Dropping out of university is a good choice for some people, especially if they want to pursue a career in music or arts.
 Young people are mostly interested in nightlife when they go on holidays.
 Living in a city which is always full of tourists has no advantages.
 Visiting the doctor regularly is crucial for keeping fit and healthy.

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