a little gift
I offered people three index cards for placing in their books at the start of the lesson they would need to be on page 16, page 178 (grammar section) and page 196 (the answer section)
Participants tend to find these useful but as always it is up to you.
Word formations (paper 1 part 3) – from the homework p14 – 15
These eight questions can be tricky as they are about doing two things:
- knowing what part of speech needs to fit into the gap in the text (noun, adjective, verb, adverb, pronoun, preposition, conjunction, interjection or article)
- the first four parts of speech listed are the most common
- rarely will the part of speech listed as the KEYWORD be the same as the answer
- this is context reading – spotting the part of speech which fits into the gap by the type of words around it.
- being able to take the KEYWORD at the end of the line and convert it into the appropriate part of speech
- most common are noun → adjective, noun → verb, verb → adjective, verb → noun but occasionally the other options show up.
- don’t forget the negative forms too (the Cambridge English: Proficiency examiners seem inordinately fond of negative forms in this exam)
- These questions and some others are what I call light bulb questions – the answer comes like the proverbial light bulb going on in your head – so if you cannot get them relatively quickly – I would recommend moving on to the next one and coming back to it at the end.
- spelling counts in this one – misspell the word and you get no mark.
- practising these kind of questions can help you develop confidence and skills at doing this.
topics that reoccur regularly
In unit 2.1 there is a theme of holidays – this is a common reoccuring topic for the Cambridge examiners because most cultures have the concept of holidays and it is a safe and fairly neutral topic for reading, writing, listening and speaking about it is worth having something to say about:
- holidays you have been on (especially to English-speaking countries)
- different kinds of holidays you like and comparisons between different types of holidays
- tourist sights in your location (Bielefeld, Detmold and the environs)
Collocations are set of words that occur in the language of an individual, a group of speaker of a language (colleagues at work may have a short hand reference), a region or a larger language group and their being together seems to be more common than expected.
Native speakers of particular language have little patterns of language, almost pre-set phrases. that come together in speech and feel natural and when another word pairing occurs – it throws the native speaker listener / reader off slightly – giving the phrase a poetic feel. The words may not be wrong grammatically or in meaning but a native speaker would view it as interesting, unusual or foreign.
These phrases and common sayings need to become second nature to you – I would recommend keeping either a vocabulary book or a commonplace book for recording these and to review them regularly.
There are collocation dictionaries available – I have never bought one but Macmillan produce a Macmillan Collocations Dictionary if you are interested.
Looking into the future in English
Some languages live without a future tense or verbal form and make future references by means of time words – English can also do that too but it tends to use the future forms of the verb – a listing of the principle forms are listed in the grammar section on pages 178-9
What the grammar section perhaps cannot convey is some of the subtle subtexts that are detected by a native speaker.
- intention – often important in selecting the way to express the future is much more fluid and can be expressed through stress and intonation as well as word choice: “Cinderella you will go to the ball” “I will pass the Proficiency exam when I take it.” etc.
- some time phrases often require particular verbal forms
- some sentence structures need particular verbal forms (conditionals especially)
- some forms have in my lifetime become obsolete like the first person singular and plural use of shall – it sounds old fashioned and like a stuffy grammar school teacher from the 1960s or from a period before that like a 1950s musical like The King and I
More commonly now you might say “Would you like to dance?” – notice the indirectness and more uncertain forms which are increasingly common in English.
The compulsory writing task -paper 2 part 1
The writing paper (paper 2) is one hour 30 minutes long and involves two writing tasks the first is the compulsory one (everyone has to do it). It takes the form of two short texts (around 100 words) which are either of complementary or contrasting viewpoints on a subject. Your task is to summarise the two texts and evaluate the ideas expressed in them. Here are some pointers for this task:
- The length of the essay has to be between 240 and 280 words (undershooting and overshooting these limits can and often will be penalised)
- This is half the paper so you should be looking to spend 45 minutes on this task
- There are four points for key points so they are looking effectively for two ideas from each text – I recommend underlining them (or highlighting them) in the text.
- Spend some time on getting your summaries sorted into a couple of sentences for each one
- Spend time planning what you are going to write – brief notes are sufficient at this stage – remember you can ask for extra rough paper if necessary
- Working on the opening paragraph of your essay because:
- a good opening helps build confidence in the marker of your ability in English.
- mistakes early on make the marker suspicious of your skills and lead them to potentially mark you down for other slips later on.
- It is better to focus on the authors/writers of the texts rather than refer to the texts – so the first writer suggests and the author of the second piece read better and give your essay a more personal feel and that is also important for persuading the marker your English deserves top marks.
Homework for 05 March 2015
- pp 16 – 17 exercises 2-3
- pp 22 – 23 writing file 1 – I personally recommend using the texts given and ignoring most of the exercises which are designed to “help” you.
- preparing unit 2.3
- (optionally) exercises 3 – 5 on pages 18 and 19
“Your Moment of Zen”
Jon Stewart, an American comedian and presenter of The Daily Show on Comedy Central, has at the end of his show a short clip he calls the “Your Moment of Zen” so here is a video that is light relief and might make you think a little too.
A classic sketch from The Two Ronnies, a sketch show which had a lot of word play in it. This sketch probably has the highest punchline rate as every line by Ronnie Corbett (the contestant) is a punchline.