Tuesday, April 14, 2009

CAE Paper 5 Speaking (from December 2008) overview

• The standard format for the updated CAE is two candidates and two examiners.
One examiner, the interlocutor, interacts with the candidates as well as
assessing the interaction. The other examiner, the main assessor, does not
join in the interaction.
• The Speaking test consists of four parts and lasts 15 minutes for a pair of candidates.
• The test aims to assess the candidates’ ability to produce spoken English in a variety of tasks.


The interlocutor asks each candidate a series of questions by addressing one question to Candidate A, then the same or a different question to Candidate B.
The questions relate to the candidates’ own lives and focus on areas
such as work, leisure time and future plans. The questions are designed
to elicit a range of tenses.
The focus of this part of the test is on general interactional and social language
arising out of the conversation between the interlocutor and each candidate.
This short social exchange is a natural way to begin an interaction, and it gives
candidates time to settle before dealing with the more specific tasks in Parts 2, 3 and 4.

Some typical questions include:

Where are you from?
What do you do here/there?
How long have you been studying English?
What do you enjoy most about learning English?


Do you prefer studying on your own or with other people? (Why?)
How important have teachers been in your life so far?


What is the most memorable place you have ever visited?
Which is the most important room in your house? (Why is that?)

Health and fitness

What do you do to keep fit?
If you had the opportunity to learn a new sport, what would it be? (Why?)

Daily life

How important is the computer in your daily life?
Is it easy for you to find time to relax every day? (Why? / Why not?)


Do you and your friends share the same interests? (Is this a good thing?)
Do you think you will still have the same friends in ten years' time?

The future

What do you think you will be doing in five years' time?
Are you excited or worried about the future? (Why?)


What do you do to relax after a busy day?
How important is music in your life?


Where would you like to go for your next holiday? (Why?)
What do you enjoy most about being on holiday?
What advice would you give to someone coming to visit your country?
Would you consider going on holiday on your own? (Why? / Why not?)


Who has had the greatest influence on your life so far?
How easy is it for you to meet new people?

Personal experience

• In what ways do you hope to use your English in the future?
Looking back on your life, what has been a memorable event for

The media

Do you prefer watching films at home or in the cinema? (Why?)
How important are newspapers for you? (Why do you say that?)


The interlocutor gives each candidate a one-minute speaking task.
In turn, the candidates are asked to compare two pictures from a set
of three in response to a two-pronged task. The candidates are
given both spoken and written prompts alongside the visual stimuli.
The listening candidate is asked to comment briefly (for about 30 seconds)
after their partner’s long turn.
This part tests the candidate’s ability to produce an extended piece of
discourse, which may involvecomparing, describing, expressing opinions
and speculating.

Example Part 2 task:

Interlocutor: In this part of the test, I'm going to give each of you three pictures. I'd like you to talk about them on your own for about a minute, and also to answer a question briefly about your partner's pictures.
(Candidate A),
it's your turn first. Here are your pictures. They show different situations in which flags are used.

I'd like you to compare two of the pictures, and say why the flags are being used, and what effect they might have on people who see them.

All right?

Candidate A: [1 minute]

Thank you. (Candidate B), in which picture do you think the flags have the greatest significance?

Candidate B: [Approximately 30 seconds]
Interlocutor: Thank you.
Now, (Candidate B), here are your pictures. They show people and different kinds of wheels.

I'd like you to compare two of the pictures, and say what the wheels enable people to do, and how important they might be.
All right?

Candidate B: [1 minute]

Interlocutor: Thank you.
(Candidate A), which wheel do you think would be the most difficult to operate?

Candidate A: [Approximately 30 seconds]

Interlocutor: Thank you.


This part of the test consists of a two-way discussion between the candidate in response to a two-pronged task based on visual and written stimuli, e.g. several photographs, artwork or computer graphics with spoken and written prompts. Candidates engage in a discussion and work towards reaching a negotiated conclusion towards the end of the task.
This part forms the basis for the questions in Part 4 and tests the candidate’s ability to engage in a discussion, exchange ideas, express and justify opinions, agree and/or disagree, make suggestions, speculate, evaluate and work towards a negotiated outcome.

Example Part 3 task:

Interlocutor: Now, I'd like you to talk about something together for about three minutes.

(5 minutes for groups of three)
Here are some pictures showing when some famous events first took place.

Candidates: [3 minutes (5 minutes for groups of three)]

Interlocutor: Thank you.


In this part of the test, the interlocutor directs the interaction by asking candidates questions that widen the scope of the topic or issues in Part 3 and may be more abstract in nature. The interlocutor may specifically invite one of the candidates to respond or ask an open question of the pair. This part tests the candidate’s ability to engage in a more in-depth discussion, exchange
information, express and justify opinions and agree and/or disagree.

Example Part 4 questions:

• Which famous event would you like to have been involved in? (Why?)
• How important is it to enjoy new experiences in life? (Why?)
• Some people say nothing can be achieved without effort. How far do you agree with this?
• What aspects of life today do you think will be remembered in the future?
• How do you think life will change during this century?

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