start of a new semester

14 Feb 2014

Welcome to the new course and semester

This is a course for students studying for the Cambridge English Certificate in Proficiency in English exam.

Please make sure you have the required book(s) information is available on this page It is helpful if you have the student book with answers however you do not need the CDs nor the workbook.

The exam framework

The exam is made up of four different exams:

  1. Reading and Use of English (1 hr 30 min)
  2. Writing (1 hr 30 min)
  3. Listening (40 minutes approx.)
  4. Speaking (15 minutes approx.)

Each of the exams is worth 25% of the total marks and to pass the exam an overall figure of 60% is required. If you score less than this but more than 45% you may be awarded a C1 level. More details of the content of the exams can be found on pages 6 and 7 of the textbook. I will refer to those pages regularly.

The Handbook for Teachers is an excellent resource for information about the exam and even two example papers. It can be obtained by this link as a PDF file. Please download it.


We have currently been allocated an “open” classroom in the VHS on the first floor – Room 156 – I am attempting to move the room to a better one and one where there is WiFi as well. Please check the signs when you come in the door to find out where we are. Today we were in room 257 and I hope we will be in there for the first three weeks – (until 27 March 2014).

Contact details

You can contact me here via the contact page or send me an SMS at 01751050701 or contact me on Facebook – it is helpful if you let me know if you are able to come to class or not.

My background

I was born in Bradford to parents from Liverpool and Essex (they were not local to the area) – so I am told I have a middle-class education Northern English accent. I will explain some of the differences in pronunciation as we go along.
I trained as a Chemist in the UK and specialised in Quantum Chemistry. After working for three years on a scheme to rehabilitate young offenders and children at risk, I returned to university to do my teacher training and specialised in mathematics and special needs education – the latter meant that I taught a variety of things in addition to mathematics.
I worked in a state funded upper school in Oxford which at that time had a three tiered school system. Teaching involved mathematics as well as regular time in the Special Needs Department covering mathematics, English and some basic science.
Since leaving teaching I have worked in the computer industry and also done a variety of jobs including telephone sales and data entry.
I decided I needed to explore the world more and took a job in Italy and then took another in France before coming to Bielefeld where I teach English.

Getting started

We worked on Unit 1.1 of the book (pp. 8 -9) and noted that:

Phrasal verbs

Phrasal verbs are the English cousins of German separable verbs but freed from the grammatical strictures of German they have gone onto steroids. So there are a myriad of possible phrasal structures available to English and naturally they exploit them. Here are some examples.

verb particle “look up”
verb particle noun “get off the train”
verb noun particle “book a student in”
verb particle particle “put up with”
verb particle particle noun “break out in spots”
verb noun particle noun “Miranda asked Salvador out”

Remember that it is considered stylistically bad to end a sentence in formal language with a particle or preposition though as Churchill (one of the better writers of the first half of the twentieth century as well as a politician) said:

Ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which we will not put

Satirising the rule and pointing out how stupid it can make you sound.

Here is a link to an English phrasal verb dictionary for you to browse

formal and informal language

In English we have access to a large Romance vocabulary (from French and Latin) as well as being a Germanic language. When distinguishing between formal and informal speech / writing we often swap vocabularies to change the level of formality:

formal   informal
to arrive to come in
to depart to go out

Formality and informality have many levels and nuances to them and so we will return to them again and again.

homework (for 20 February 2014)

The homework this week is to:

Remember my philosophy on homework which is “here”/observations/homework/ – it might feel a little strange but I believe it will make you better learners.

and finally…

English at the C2 level is both about the language and its intricacies and about the cultures that it is embedded in. British culture which I know better than others having been brought up in it expends a lot of energy on being humorous and you need to be aware of this as well as the differences between British spelling and US spelling.