Teaching CAE Use of English

Discussion re test preparation

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Teaching CAE Use of English

Unread post by mrBen »

Hi Lucy,

I'm leading a small (6 adults) CAE prep course for the December exams and I was hoping you had some suggestions about how to help the students approach the vocabulary tasks in the Use of English paper.

The students all passed a pre-test so ensure they were at the right level for the course, which meets for 2 hours per week (with 2 hours homework). The emphasis of the course is on familiarizing the students with the exam and the requirements of all the sections rather than making major improvements in their language skills.

I have taught FCE prep classes before so I'm familiar with strategies for the first 3 parts (the multiple-choice cloze, open cloze, and word transformation), and the last (sentence transformation), but I haven't taught anything like the fourth part before (where students need to find which word can be used in 3 different sentences, for example: I can't see the ________ of all this paperwork, can you? I was so frustrated that I was on the _________ of giving up, but my piano teacher persuaded me to keep on practising. Now, let's move on to the final __________ for discussion at this meeting. point). What kind of exercises can I use to help them practice this and gain confidence?

Thanks for your help!

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Re: teaching CAE Use of English

Unread post by Lucy »


First of all I think your approach to teaching these exam classes is excellent. You have students at the right level and who have a real chance of passing and you are focussing on exam practice. It’s absolutely ideal.

I must say that I have never taught a CAE class. Like you, I have mostly taught FCE classes so any advice I give is based on my ideas and not on what has worked for me.

The ideas that spring to mind are:

Work on past papers. This is good for practice and you might notice words that are commonly used.
Do lots of dictionary work in class or for homework.
Help students to understand the context of sentences, possibly substituting words with nonsense words.
You can also give students words similar to those used in the examples above. Ask them to work in groups to prepare their own exercises. The sentences they produce can be photocopied and given to their classmates to solve. This would be a very time-consuming exercise but extremely memorable. Students would remember easily the words that they used to create their exercises. Bearing this in mind, it’s probably better to give them difficult words to work with rather than obviously easy ones.

I’m also copying your question into an open forum where all our users can answer. Hopefully, somebody with more experience of CAE will be able to help.

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Re: Teaching CAE Use of English

Unread post by Alex Case »

I haven't taught CAE since the changes and so I'm not familiar with this task, but more interesting or easier practice for it could be:

- Give them multiple choice options the first time they do it
- Give them answers which are very nearly right but need changing a little, e.g. need to change part of speech, add a prefix, change the spelling, use a homophone
- Give them the first letter of the missing word
- Give them the answer in one of the three sentences, but with the other two sentences with that word mixed up with lots of other examples at the bottom of the page
- Give them the three examples with the answer in plus one that doesn't fit
- Get them to write questions for each other, e.g. by searching for sentences from Google
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