Wednesday, 30 September 2009

2 FCE, 2 CAE - Swing!

I've just got my timetable through for the year and I have 2 classes of FCE and 2 of CAE. No CPE this year, which is good as I need a break from it (I've been teaching it five years straight and am bored of it a little, it's due to change soon so it'll be good again getting to teach the new exam).
And it's good to get 2 CAE classes. I really enjoy this exam, and this level. It's the level you need to get into Uni in the UK if English isn't your mother tongue (or often an IELTS 6.5 - 7.5 depending on the subject though years ago they were accepting 4.5 (!) at the weaker Unis in the UK for business courses) so it's a high enough level to have some meat to it, but it's also low enough that students have fundamental errors that have some how manage to evade all the exams they ahev taken so far.
It's also the first time when the writing can get interesting too. There can be substance there. Of course, here in Portugal as in many countries of Romance languages, the style that students write can often be extremely vague and waffley. It can also be over-formal. You'll see this acronym again and again in this blog I'm sure but K. I.S.S. (Keep it Simple and Short). Use the paragraph as the unit of an idea, not the sentence. Otherwise it'll be exhausting to read.

I found some swings in my town that my daughter can use (she's not yet 2 so needs the ones with the waist support thingy). Now she's demanding 'Swings!' every five minutes.


  1. CPE is changing? How soon is "soon"? I am thinking in taking it before the summer in 2010, shall I wait?

  2. Hi Anonymous,

    We haven't heard when the exam is changing yet, but my guess is Dec 2010. Cambridge tend to roll through the exams changing them one at a time and it's CPE's 'turn'. The tendency is to make the exams shorter and a little bit easier, though not in terms of language but as regards exam technique. Instead of waiting I would download and print out a practice test for Use of English (I have some links on my page, and the best ones are Cambridge's own sample papers) and do them under the best exam conditions you can simulate. Make sure you include time to copy the answers into the answer paper grid. They also give you the answers so you can look at the scheme and gauge your percentage. No cheating now. I reckon that if you get 68% or more then you're ready for a C in the exam even on a bad day. Watch out for the listening though too.
    Good luck, and if you have any other questions please ask!