Archive for the ‘Conference’ Category

More from the talk…

August 30, 2009 Leave a comment

The other activities mentioned in the talk are:

Five senses – Oral exam questions such as ‘describe’ and ‘compare’ naturally lead candidates to say ‘In the picture I can see….’ . Candidates do not often use the other senses and thinking about them and pictures can help fill the minute of so that candidates are required to talk. It also helps make what they have to say more colourful and therefore more likely to impress. Therefore when asking students to describe a picture, ask them to think about what they can ‘hear, smell, taste and touch’ along with ‘see’.  To take this even further encourage the students to consider what the picture reminds them of (e.g.. school trips to farms) and what they might like or dislike about the picture (e.g. I don’t like farms because they smell)

Back-story – This helps students with their imagination and gives them extra things to talk about.  By back-story, I mean what is the person like outside of what you can see in the picture?  For example in slide 20 from the talk, there is a woman on a farm. How old is she? Does she live on the farm?  Is she married? Is she a farmer? If students learn to think outside the box they automatically have more to talk about and can be more descriptive e.g. the difference between “In the picture I can see a woman with a lamb’ compared to ‘In this picture I can see a woman who looks about 25 years old, she is probably a farmer as she is feeding a lamb.  This is similar to ‘Who, what, why, where, when, how’ from the talk, this is where I encourage students to internally think of questions about the picture which they then answer aloud. For practice in class challenge the students to come up with as many questions about a picture as possible (remember the aim of this exercises is not accurate question production so don’t get carried away correcting any ‘wrong’ questions or the focus of the lesson will change from speaking to grammar). Students then share their questions trying to answer as many of them as possible.

Categories: Conference, Teaching

Find the similarities

August 28, 2009 Leave a comment

These are the instructions for the ‘find the similarities’ exercise mentioned in my talk – I’ll add the others over the weekend.

Find the similarities.

It is easier to do than ‘find the differences’; as it can be applied to any picture whereas ‘find the differences’ needs pictures that are similar to start with (and then probably more work from you to doctor them to be different). Quickest way to do this is ask sts to open their coursebooks at random, and use the first picture they see, keeping the page and picture a secret from their colleague, (there is of course the small chance that they may choose the same picture but they won’t know this immediately). Put the students in pairs and tell them they have to find X number of similarities per picture (you can up the number for quicker finishers), they then have to ask each other questions to find things similar (e.g. Do you have people in your picture? Are there any buildings?, What kind of buildings? ). Once they have finished, ask them to recap what they found as this further practices language needed for the exam.

This is a useful task for picture description and the compare tasks that are in many oral examinations (and it needs no preparation :-))

Categories: Conference, Teaching

Slides from my conference talk

August 28, 2009 Leave a comment

Greetings All,

Thank you for visiting my blog, I hope that you found my talk interesting, please find the slides below and I’ll add the activity instructions later today. Of course you may not have been at one of the conferences this week so the powerpoint slides might not make sense to you. I was talking  about the skills needed by candidates in speaking exams –  my main focus was on the Czech Maturita exam for which I am an external consultant but what i say in the slides is applicable to most oral exams. If you have a question about anything on the slides then please email me. ( – please note the extracts from OUP coursebooks are used with permission for my ppt but please respect copyright if you download the slides.

The main point of the talk is that to prepare  teens (people) for exams we need to focus on the skills they need (i.e. listening, turn taking etc ) and that we can give confidence by teaching appropriate strategies and encourage speaking all the time rather than in specified ‘exam focus’ lessons. It also highlights  that you can adequately prepare people without too many ‘fancy’ materials.

You can download the talk by clicking on this link here:

Conference talk – Olomouc&Prague August 2009

If you use slideshare you can find it here

Categories: Conference, Teaching Tags: , ,