On the Road – Exam Tips for Teens

Last week, Active Language went ON THE ROAD and took a trip down to Algeciras. We spent the morning with a fabulous bunch of local teachers, all motivated to share ideas and enhance their teaching.

In this session, we looked at a few ideas to use in your B1 PET preparation classes, particularly with the changes to the exam this year. Being able to make use of materials you already have is important, as we may have to wait a while for new exam preparation books to become available. To start the session, we looked at how you can tweak an old Writing Part 1 to create a short text similar to those used in the new Reading Part 6. Additionally, with a bit of extra work, you can use the old Reading Parts 3 or 4 to make a gapped reading text. This activity is new to the PET exam this year and we also mentioned during the session that we’ll need to adapt the study skills we teach our students in order to better prepare them for the exam.

Teachers in a training session

For those of you who have seen me speak before, you know I love guided visualisations and hopefully the two we did during the session have given you ideas for similar activities you can do with your own groups. They’re great for practising the picture description and we also saw in the session how you can use one to get student-generated ideas for the discussion phase of the speaking exam. Using them as a starting point for creative writing can also help provide some scaffolding for your students, but do remember to train your students carefully if they’re going to use the short story as an option for the exam. I can’t stress enough the importance of planning well before starting and using timelines to help them cope with the narrative structure.

To round off the session, we briefly explored a couple of ways we can do fun activities with educational value. Given the various stresses our adolescents are under, it’s nice to be able to do some activities with an element of competitiveness and fun. However, I do think it’s essential that these are providing meaningful practice of language or exam skills so that our students can make the most of their time in the classroom. Doing Jeopardy-style games, you can practise different language points as well as parts of the exams; for the snowball fight, they get a brief 10-second of play, but the rest of the time, they’re practising questions for the different topics of the exam.

I can’t wait to see what other ideas people share – the ideas I showed you in the session certainly weren’t original, and all came from observing other teachers or attending conferences!

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