Sunday, April 5, 2009

CPE Speaking - excerpt from Examination Report (June 2008)

• Candidate Performance

Part 1

This is a 3-minute part (4 minutes for groups of three); the interaction takes place between examiner and candidate. It gives each candidate the opportunity to ‘warm up’ by answering questions on familiar topics such as their work, study, current lives, hopes for the future, etc. The questions ranged from the factual to the more speculative and candidates had to be ready to answer promptly as there was not much time for reflection. There did not seem to be any questions that caused problems and candidates did well on this part.

Part 2 City poster – Alternative transport

Part 2 is based on visual material and lasts 4 minutes
(6 minutes for groups of three). It is a collaborative task
for which the candidates share responsibility. It has two
phases: a one-minute interaction which should produce
some speculative language, and a three-minute discussion
followed by a decision.

This task had a single visual.

In Phase one, examiners asked candidates to speculate on ‘how unusual you think this form of transport is’. This generated a variety of responses. Candidates commented that bicycles were not unusual but maybe the trailer at the back was more so. Some candidates suggested it was not a good method of transporting children as it was impossible for parents to keep an eye on them. The Phase two main task set up a discussion on the positive and negative merits of using this visual for a poster to promote the use of alternative transport in a city. Candidates talked about the positive issues: using a non-polluting method of transport, taking the kids with you, being independent, etc. The negative issues that were discussed focused more on the lack of suitability of the visual for the poster. Comments from candidates included: ‘it’s not good to show the countryside on a city poster’, ‘the trailer would be dangerous in the city’ and ‘the children would get pollution in their faces’. When reaching a decision, most candidates decided that this was not a suitable visual for the poster. Stronger candidates made this decision having discussed both the pros and cons. Other candidates came to a decision without a measured discussion and spent more time thinking of possible different images. Candidates who rejected this visual came up with alternatives which included: bicycles in special lanes in the city, people on rollerblades, etc. Again, stronger candidates did not simply list alternatives but discussed why they thought a particular image might be more appropriate for the poster.

Part 3 Work

This part lasts approximately 12 minutes (18 minutes for a group of three) and consists of a 2-minute long turn for each candidate, followed by a general discussion. This task was suitable for groups of three. In answering the question on Card A, candidates seemed to find the prompts easy to incorporateinto their talks – candidates had strong
opinions on the importance of ‘personal satisfaction’, many saying that without it, a job
was not worth doing. Other candidates talked about earning enough money from a job
to provide the pleasurable things in life; others said that ‘if you earn good money, you
should stick to the job even if it’s not enjoyable’. Candidates had plenty to say and used
all three prompts with ease. The question on Card B was also well answered and all
three prompts seemed easy to use.Interestingly, male and female candidates often
brought different ideas to this subject, with the latter talking a lot about the difficulties of
having a full-time job and bringing up a family.
Candidates also mentioned that the kind of job you were doing was important. The vast
majority of candidates at this level are young and a long way from retirement age, but
the question on Card C produced many thoughtful answers and was again well done.
The prompts provided a lot of support and candidates had no problem talking for two
minutes. The ‘long turn’ questions were well answered, particularly when candidates
were able to illustrate their ideas with personal experience, opinion or example. The
questions at the end of this part enabled candidates to converse in a more informal way
and to expand their ideas on the topic of work. Interaction between candidates in
response to examiners’ questions produced some interesting ideas and a good
opportunity to demonstrate their range of language.

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