What is the Aptis Exam?

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Hello people from the English world!

Whether you are a teacher or a student you might have heard of the Aptis exam. Everyone seems to be talking about it at the moment here is Spain. But what is it?

Well, it is a new exam by the British council designed to help the students feel comfortable and relaxed (as relaxed as one can be during an exam…).

So today I am going to talk to you about 2 things: The advantages of this exam and it’s format.

Advantages

The first thing you need to know is that the exam is entirely computer based. Which means that all of you out there scared to interact with other human beings (I feel you, I am the same sometimes) will not have to mentally prepare themselves for that. Every single part is done on the computer…even the speaking!

This exam is by the British Council…not a private company. So the focus here is NOT on making money and therefore the exam is quite a lot cheaper than other exams…sometimes half the price.

New exams tend to be easier. Let’s face it, this is not a myth. When a new exam comes out it has to be easier, there is no other way. The exam is still in ‘trial’ mode for around two years (those of you familiar with the Trinity exam will have noticed how much more difficult it is to pass the ISE now that it’s been 2 years since the big change). During those two years, the people behind the exam work on improving the content. But the thing is…if the word spreads out that an exam is too difficult, nobody is going to go for that exam. And a new exam needs to attract as many candidates as possible and spread the word that they are out there. So go for it guys! Now is your moment to pass the Aptis exam.

The format

The exam is composed of 5 parts (reading, writing, speaking, listening and then grammar and vocabulary). The exam is exactly the same wether you are trying to get a B1 or C2, which means some exercises are more difficult than others.

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Now for scoring. Aptis is not very clear regarding the score needed to pass the levels. All that we know is that they do an average of Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening. Once they have the average, they add the results of Grammar and Vocabulary. The good thing is that Grammar and Vocabulary are only included if it helps your score. So all of you who failed the Cambridge exam by just a few points (I find that a bit unfair but that’s how it is…) will NOT have that problem with Aptis.

Let’s have a look at the parts in detail:

     1) Speaking

Like I said before the exam is entirely computer based. The answers that you give are recorded on the laptop.

-Part 1: You will have 3 questions about yourself (ex: Tell me about your family / Describe your favourite dish…) and 30 seconds to answer each one.

-Part 2: There is one photo and 3 questions. Each question is answered in 45 seconds. The first question is always to describe, the second one tends to deals with details and the third one opinion.

-Part 3: This is the same as task 2, the only difference is that you get 2 photos and have to describe AND compare them in the first question (still 45 seconds per question).

-Part 4: You will get 1 photo, but the photo is mainly decoration, just a way to indicate what the topic is about. Then you get 3 questions, 1 minute to prepare and finally you have to answer all three questions at once in 2 minutes.

     2) Reading

The reading is composed of 4 tasks and lasts 30 minutes. The tasks are given in different orders to the candidates to avoid cheating.

  • One of the tasks consists of a gapped text with a word bank (there are more words than necessary).
  • Then there is another gapped text but this time you get three options per gap (similar to use of English part 1 in Cambridge).
  • The third type of task is a text divided in paragraphs and you are given sentences that explain what each paragraph is about. You have to match the sentences to the paragraphs.
  • The last task is a little text (often a mini biography) that you have to put back in order.

     3) Writing

Writing is the part where you need to get as many points as possible. I tell my students to aim for the level above in writing because it is almost the same for every exam. You want to sign up for a website or a service, and then there is a change in the service provided and have to write about those changes.

-Part 1: Here, you basically fill in a box with information about yourself (ex: Username, address, things that you like…). You have 3 minutes.

-Part 2: You write a short text about you (20 to 30 words), usually a description of why you signed up for the services. This is basically setting up your profile. This lasts 7 minutes.

-Part 3: You are in the chatroom of the website and have to answer 3 questions asked by another user. Each question is 30 to 40 words and all 3 questions must be answered in 10 min.

-Part 4: There are actually 2 tasks here. Let’s call them A and B. In task A you are informed of a change in the services provided (usually some kind of fee increase and/or a cancellation of a meeting) and you have to write a letter to a friend (INFORMAL) expressing your feelings and possible alternatives. Task A is 10 minutes and you have to write 50 words. Then task B is basically the same but it is a formal letter usually addressed to the manager of the website. It lasts 20 minutes and you have to write between 120 and 150 words.

     4) Listening

You are going to like this type of listening. Each recording is roughly 30 seconds and you have around 28 questions to answer. Every question is multiple choice. The listening exam lasts between 20 and 40 minutes (depending on how fast you are).

     5) Grammar and vocabulary

The grammar and vocabulary task consists of 60 multiple choice questions that you have to answer in 30 minutes. Now remember, it is the same exam for every level, so DON’T panic if there are quite a few questions you don’t know, it is normal. The exam is designed to test people of different levels so some questions are more appropriate for A2 but others for C1.

Alright! Now you should know a bit more about the Aptis examination (hopefully). I will write more about it in the future and I’ll also make a few videos so stay posted if you are interested in this exam!

That’s it for today guys…Keep on learning! Xoxo

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Idiom in Z | Zip it

 

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Hello dear students and welcome back!

Today is the last day of our Alphabet idiom series. Make sure you check the previous idiom Idiom in Y – Yellow Press (and the 25 other posts).

So today we cover just a few idioms that start with the letter Z. There aren’t many in English but they are quite cool and useful. Are you ready for a new vocabulary lesson? Let’s go!

What it means:

It means to be quiet, silent. It is colloquial and could be rude in certain situations.

When to use it:

As I mentioned before, this expression is colloquial so I would not recommend using it with someone of authority. You could perhaps use it with a good friend or a family member.

It is often used as an order and the longer version is “Zip your lip”.

Example: Martha is complaining about eating spinach for dinner? Well tell her to zip and  eat whatever I’ve made, otherwise she can make dinner for the family herself.

 Other interesting idioms:

zenith of your career/life – the highest point of a person’s career or life.

zoom away | zoom off – to be in a hurry, to drive away fast, to be leaving a place in a rush.

I’d love to start a new series for the blog soon, have you got any requests or suggestions?

 


 

If you want to help me create more content more regularly, please consider helping me with just a coffee. Ko-fi is a website that gives you the possibility to power me with lots of energy by offering me a coffee. It’s easy, simple, no engagement is required…Just a bit of help, love and support from you to me.

Here is the link to my ko-fi account: Ko-fi My little English Page

Thanks for everything and of course…Keep on learning!

XOxo

And don’t forget to follow My Little English Page on Facebook , Instagram and YouTube for regular updates.

Idiom in Y – Yellow Press

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Hello dear students and welcome back to My Little English Page. It’s been a while but I am back to finish the series…One more to go! This week I posted a series of slides with yellow expressions on Instagram and Facebook. So let’s follow on the colour yellow with the letter Y of the alphabet series.

Make sure to check the previous post in the alphabet series Idiom in X | X Marks the Spot

What it means:

The yellow press is a term for the popular and sensationalist newspapers. This type of newspaper uses big catchy titles and misleading information (often not accurate).

When to use it:

  • Yellow journalism/press is an American term so it’s probably best to use it in the US.

Example: I can’t believe you read that kind of newspaper. It’s all over exaggerated and full of lies. I really can’t stand the yellow press.

  • In the UK, the term red tops is much more commonly used (British Tabloids usually have a red title…that’s where the name comes from).

Example: What are you doing reading that red top? Don’t you know it’s full of crap?

Other interesting idioms:

Yesterday’s news – Someone or something that is yesterday’s news is something people already know about, no longer interesting.

You can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family – Some things you can choose, but others you cannot, so you make the best of what you have. It is often used to talk about people who don’t have a good relationship with their family.

You can’t unring a bell – This means that once something has been done, that’s how it is and you can’t change it. So, you have to live with the consequences.

You get what you pay for – When you get something really cheap you cannot complain about the low quality.

Your call – If something is your call, you make a decision.

 


 

Keep on learning!

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Idiom in X | X Marks the Spot

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So…As it seems, there aren’t many idioms that start with the letter X. I have only found 3 for this week´s idiom.

Don’t forget to check out last week´s Idiom in W – Water Under the Bridge

What it means:

It refers to the exact spot. Imagine a map on which someone has indicated a location with a cross, well X marks the spot!

When to use it:

  • When you point at something, whatever it is marks the spot.
  • If you see any type of landmark or use something you see as a way to indicate direction you can say also use that expression. Ex: Can you see that church on the hill over there? Well, X marks the spot!

Other interesting idioms:

X-factor – If someone has the X-factor they have an outstanding ability, or an ability that is so impressive that you ignore they bad qualities. The talent show (also called X-factor) was named that way in relation to the candidates´unique abilities.

X-rated – If something is x-rated, it is not suitable for children. Usually associated with sexual content.

 


 

Like I said guys, there aren’t many idioms in X that exist. Next week, we will cover more idioms…promise!

Keep on learning!

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The Synonym Race

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Hello teachers and students! This is a post that you can all benefit from.

I went to a training session with the Pearsons editors last year and they showed me this awesome ESL activity.

I have written an informal letter (similar to Cambridge PET Writing part 3) but throughout the text there is more than 1 option to choose from to complete the text. ALL the options are correct. It just shows how to diversify your vocabulary.

Here is the document:

The Synonym Race – B1 letter

How to play the activity

Each student should have their own copy. They read the text individually and choose one option each time. They should circle the ones they chose.

The students should be in pairs for the activity. Their goal is to guess and memorise their classmate´s words.

To do so student A starts reading and says the option they think student B chose. If B says it is correct, A continues reading. If it is incorrect, B starts reading and guessing from the beginning. Every time someone fails, the other student starts again form the beginning.

The students are NOT allowed to write down what their partner´s options are, they must remember them!

More Advanced

This activity can very easily be adapted to other levels. I have also created a connector race, but this one is for B2-C1 and it is in the shape of an essay on the environment.

I specifically chose that topic because my students who are preparing the Trinity ISE II examination need to study this topic. So this is three birds, one stone. They see an example of what an essay should look like, they practise varying their vocabulary and they learn more vocabulary related to a topic they have to study.

Here is the document:

The Synonym Race – B2/C1 Essay on the Environment

Alright, so if you are a student, just download the materials and practise the activity with a partner. It should help you memorise new vocabulary quickly.

If you are a teacher, download the materials and have your students practise. I strongly encourage you to create new documents like this one, but the best would be to focus them specifically on the vocabulary/register/type of writing your students need to practise.

 

I would love to hear your thoughts on this activity! Comment down below how you would adapt it to you own students´ needs.

Keep on learning (and teaching)!

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Idiom in W – Water Under the Bridge

I am a bit late for this entry…My apologies! I have been extremely busy. For instance I started doing live videos on YouTube last Friday! It was quite fun and interactive. Here is the link in case you want to check it out!

 

Anyways…Are you ready for our weekly idiom?

What it means:

If something is water under the bridge it belongs to the past, is unimportant or not a problem anymore.

When to use it:

  • It is often used when someone has wronged you such a long time ago that it does not matter anymore.
  • Something could also be water under the bridge because you have forgiven the person.

Other interesting idioms:

Wake up and smell the coffee – When someone doesn’t realise what is really happening or is not paying attention to what is going on, you can tell them to wake up and smell the coffee.

Walk on eggshells – If you have to walk on eggshells with someone, you have to be very careful as they get angry or offended easily.

Well-oiled machine – Something that functions very well is a well-oiled machine. It does not necessarily refer to machines. A team of workers who work well together can be refered to as a well-oiled machine.

Whale of a time – If you have a whale of a time, you really have a good time.

 

 

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Idiom in V – Virgin Territory

Last week we covered idioms in U with Idiom in U – Upper Hand so this week it’s the letter V. Leave a comment below with your favourite idiom in this post!

What it means:

If something is virgin territory, it hasn’t been explored before. Ex: Before landing on the Moon, it was virgin territory.

How to use it:

  • It is more commonly used to talk about locations that are untouched by men.
  • On a different level, a new type of market could be considered virgin territory. For example, using A.I. for medical purposes is virgin territory.

Other interesting idioms:

Vicious circle – A vicious circle is a sequence of events that make each other worse- Poverty is a viscious circle. If someone is poor, they do not have enough money to feed themselves which means they get sick and need more money to get treated causing them to become even poorer and so on.

Volte-face –  (from French) If you do a volte-face on something, you make a sudden and complete change in your stance or position over an issue.

Vale of tears – This vale of tears is the world and the suffering that life brings. It is a general expression for harship and sorrow.

 

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Idiom in T – Think Outside the Box

What it means:

If you think outside the box, you think in an imaginative and creative way.

How to use it:

People tend to use this idiom as a way to encourage others to be creative. It does not only refer to arts and crafts but anything that might be done in a non conventional way.

  • People who live in extremely small apartments have to think outside the box to make a comfortable living space.
  • You could be trying to solve a riddle and someone tells you to think outside the box. This means do not do what seems obvious, think further.

Other interesting idioms:

Take a nosedive – When things take a nosedive, they decline very quickly and head towards disaster.

Take by storm – To take by storm means to captivate- eg. A new play that took New York City by storm.

The ball’s in your court – If somebody says this to you, they mean that it’s up to you to decide or take the next step.

The grass is always greener – This idiom means that what other people have or do looks preferable to our life. The complete phrase is ‘The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence’.

 

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Idiom in S – Safety in Numbers

Welcome to 2018 first blog post! Christmas and New Year’s Eve are long gone and have left me with quite a few extra kilos on my hips…How bad is it for you?

Let’s tackle our weekly idiom!

What it means:

If a lot of people do something risky at the same time, the risk is reduced because there is safety in numbers.

When to use it:

Let’s have a look at some examples of when this idiom could be used.

  • It is commonly used with animals. Gazelles stay in packs as a defense mechanism against predators. Lions are less likely to attack an animal in a group, than one which is isolated. The groups can also come to the rescue of the lone animal. Safety in numbers…
  • Your parents probably used this idiom very often when you were a teenager. It still applies no matter what your age is though. When you go out, you should never have to walk alone outside in the street. Having someone, or even better a group, with you is the best protection as people are more likely to be intimidated and leave you alone.

Other interesting idioms:

Scaredy-cat – It is a person who gets scared easily by very little.

Safe and sound – If you are safe and sound, then nothing has harmed you.

Salt in a wound – If you rub salt in a wound, you make someone feel bad about something that is already a painful experience. (similar to add insult to injury)

Same old, same old – It means that something is the same, it does not change.

 

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Idiom in Q – Quiet as a Mouse

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We are so close to Christmas! Are you excited?

Tomorrow night, if you are as quiet as a mouse you might be able to hear the bells on Santa’s sledge.

What it means:

If somebody is as quiet as a mouse they make as little noise as possible.

When to use it:

  • In any situation when someone is trying to be unnoticeable. The person often acts a lot more quietly as well, avoiding rapid movement and sometimes remaining still.
  • It could be someone trying to hide to surprise a friend, a child trying to be forgoten after bringing home bad grades or even a shy person being very quiet.

Other interesting idioms:

Question of time – If something’s a question of time, it’s definitely going to happen but you just don’t know when.

Quick fix – A quick fix is an easy (usually temporary)  solution.

Quiet before the Storm – It is when you know that something is about to go horribly wrong, but hasn’t just yet.

 

Keep on learning!

Xoxo

 

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