SLB (Serveis Lingüístics Barcelona) teacher Myles Klynhout talks about interaction and how important it can be when taking a Cambridge English Exam.
If you are planning on taking the First Certificate in English (FCE) or Certificate in Advanced English (CAE) exam soon, you will already know that there is a speaking section, and yes, you need to work with a partner.
What you may not know is that during the speaking test, not only are you being assessed on your pronunciation, range of vocabulary, accuracy of grammar and ability to maintain free flowing conversation, but you will be also scored on how well you interact with your partner in English. Here is a sample video of the FCE speaking; click here for the examiner’s comments.
Similarly, there are examiner’s comments for the CAE speaking here; unfortunately the video for this is unavailable at the moment.
In parts 3 & 4 of the speaking test you will be asked to complete a task with your partner. This means you need to talk to your partner, not to the examiner. At this point, make sure are sitting comfortably and turn your body to face your partner, maintain eye contact, and listen and react in a natural manner to what they say (just like you were chatting with a friend in the park).
Here are a few tips on how to react to what your partner says:
- Show your partner you are not only listening to them, but also interested in what they are saying…
- Let your partner know you agree with what they have just said. It can be as simple as nodding your head in agreement and saying…
‘yep, with you on that one’
- You might slightly agree but wish to add your own idea…
‘uh huh, but what if we also consider…’
‘I see what you are saying, but.. ‘
- If you don’t completely understand a question your partner asks you, let them know by saying…
‘sorry, I didn’t catch that.’
‘do you mean…’
‘could you repeat that sorry?’
- Finally, if your partner makes a joke or says something funny… Laugh, smile and be expressive!
Of course, on the day of the Cambridge English Exam you may feel nervous, have butterflies in your stomach, or feel like a deer in headlights. However, the key is to remember that although it is a ‘test’, interacting in a natural manner with your partner and reacting to what they say will go a long way to helping you achieve the best possible result.