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.

aptis

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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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)!

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

3 Valentine’s Day Activities

Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner so I prepared 3 activities for the occasion!

One of them requires no preparation (just little papers) and the other two just to print and cut (and maybe a die).

Now, if you want more activities, feel free to check last years post Valentine’s Day – ESL Lesson

I. Guess who / Find your partner

You need a list of famous couples, just make sure your students know them. Here is mine:

  • Michelle Obama + Barack Obama
  • Kim Kardashian West + Kanye West
  • Shakira + Gerard Pique
  • Penelope Cruz + Javier Bardem
  • Beyonce + Jay Z
  • Victoria Beckham + David Beckham

Now give each of your students a different name from the list. Their objective is to find their famous partner.

Randomly pair students up. Give them one minute each to ask their partner as many questions about their famous self as they want (the original game requires yes/no questions but feel free to use WH ones).

Change the pairs until all the students have talked to each other. Then tell your students to stand next to who they think their famous partner is.

Activity Extention

If you want the activity to be longer and add more speaking, tell them to give their reasons why they think one person is their partner. It might also make some students change their mind and create more debate.

Level Tweak

To make it more advanced you can add more rules. For instance, tell the students that if someone calls them out on who their famous self is, they are eliminated. The students will have to be more careful with the information they provide and how they form their answers.

II. Relationship Dominoes

This activity is a different version of my Phrasal Dominos 2.0 and it focuses on collocations. Download this document (FREE of course), print it and cut it.

Love Hate dominoes

I recommend that you print more than one set if you have bigger groups of students. Roughly a set for 2 to 4 students is usually comfortable.

Tell the students to put the dominoes face down on the table and to randomly take the same amount of dominoes. Then one student places one face up in the middle of the table. The next student places a domino on either side of that one as long as it recreates a correct collocation.

If a student cannot form any collocation they have to pass. The first one out of dominoes wins!

III. Love-Vocabulary Boardgame

Just print and cut the cards in the PDF document down below.

Relationship Boardgame

As you can see in the document, there are 4 categories of cards that each represent a different task to do (each one is explained in the document).

I recommend that you put the students in pairs (or groups) for the activity. Each team has to successfully complete each task in order to win. If you have a small group of students you could tell them to do 2 or 3 of each card.

Activity Extension

If you want to make it even more fun/challenging, create more cards! Just add some in each category, or have the students add some themselves (great way to check what they know). You could even create a new category or two and include dice. Basically…there´s a million things you can do with this activity.

 

Keep on learning!

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B2 Listening – Plastic Surgery

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And here we go with another Trinity style listening exercise. This one is for ISE II (B2) students, but feel free to challenge yourself with this exercise regardless of your level (as the listening is a bit long and on the higher spectrum of B2).

I chose the topic of plastic surgery specifically because it is a controversial topic. Which means the exercise is more focused on expressing ideas and opinion than fishing for pure facts like in the previous one (B1 Listening – Axolotls)

  • Audio clip:

 

  • Download this document for the script, the questions and the answers.

Plastic Surgery B2

You need to get 50% of the answers right. Let me know how it went in a comment below!

Keep on learning!

Xoxo

 

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5 (other) Great ESL Activities

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Since you all seemed to enjoy 10 Great Speaking Activities I decided to write another similar post. I hope you find this one as useful as the previous one and that your students have fun with the activities.

  • Fun Scattegories

This is more like a mix of scattegories and list 5 things. Divide your class into pairs or small groups. Write one of these on the board:

-things to say while breaking up

-things you say to avoid meeting your mother-in-law

-things racist people say to show they are not racist

-excuses for not having your homework

-things to say to get out of a parking ticket

Then tell your students to write 5 options. Warn them to be original as they will only get 1 point if another team has the same options, but 2 points if nobody has the same.

This is a nice, quick and easy activity that students usually really like.

 

  • The Forced opinion game

Randomly choose half of the class to be the agree side and the other half for disagree. Have them seat according to the opinion you have assigned them. It could be a good idea to tell your students that you are of course aware that whatever they will say during the game is not their real opinion. Then write one of the following on the board (feel free to add your own, the more controversial the better):

-Women should stay at home (If your male students are very shy I suggest making sure they are are on the disagree team for this one)

-Holy Week should be banned (this one works magic here in Seville)

-Politicians should earn more money

-Real Betis is better than Sevilla

-Being famous…what a horrible life

As you can see some of those statements can be quite difficult to agree (or disagree with) so I suggest you give your students a few minutes to think of some aguments and then just let them debate. Make sure everybody participates!

 

  • The Speculation Game:

This is a nice activity to apply the use of modal verbs (possibility, certainty, impossibility, speculation…). Here are a few examples of photos you can use for this activity.

 

Pair your students up and have them tell you what happened in those photos. Make sure they use modal verbs (e.g. The monkeys must have been curious).

To extend this activity tell your students to actually write the story of how this happened. You will see how imaginative those students of yours can be.

 

  • The Wikipedia Race

This game might be better for more advanced students.

Tell your students to get their phones out (has to be a smart phone as you need internet). Tell your students to go on Wikipedia. Look for random articles (it is an option on wikipedia) and choose 2. New tell your students to all go to the same one on their phones. The more similar the two articles the easier is will be so don’t hesitate to use your teacher veto on some of the articles suggested.

The goal is to get to the other article by only clicking on the links provided by Wikipedia. It is a really good exercise to practice reading fact and scanning for information (which is something students need to do for their exams).

  • The 5-second rule game

This is one of my new favourite games.

Give your students 5-6 little papers each. Tell them to write things to list on each paper ( ex: types of soups, words starting by the lette -e-, blue objects, things you cannot buy at the supermarket…) and then gather the papers.

Now one student will take a paper and has 5 seconds to list 3 of what is asked on the paper (or more depending on how advanced your students are). If the student doesn’t manage to list what he was supposed to, the person on the left gets 5 seconds as well. BUT none of the words mentioned by the previous student can be used. Continue until one of the students manages to do it (he gets the point). If none of them manages to do it, the first student gets the point. Then another student gets a paper and the game continues until the teacher says so (or maybe the end of the class).

It is actually a real game that you can buy in shops. If you decide to buy it, instead of making it as I suggest it, keep in mind that you will have to go through the cards first (some cards require pretty advanced vocabulary or a fairly advanced knowledge of British culture). It does come with a 5 second timer and this is very convenient.

 

Let me know how these activities went and which one your students preferred! Have fun and of course…

Keep on teaching!

XOxo

 

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

 

 

B1 Listening – Axolotls

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Time to practise listening. This is my first full listening post. The intention behind it was to create a listening exercise that ISE I (B1) trinity students can use, but any B1 student can benefit from it.

Audio

Download this document for the script, the questions and the answers.

B1 Listening Exercise – Axolotls

I hope you find the activity useful. If you like it, I’ll make more and include other levels as well.

Keep on learning!

Xoxo

 

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

Eating Frogs – Online Listening Exercise

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It has been a while since I last posted something on the blog (though I have about 10 articles waiting to be finished).

I have been making short videos about situations I experience and poor Arran, my boyfriend, was forced to try frog’s legs, one of my favourite French delicacies. My dad also really wanted to be in one of my videos so we decided to go full on French for this one (my Dad’s French accent, the flag on his T-shirt and frog’s legs…We just need to add a béret basically).

But this is not just a fun video to watch, I have turned it into a real listening exercise. And all you need is a piece of paper and a pen. I have used the subtitles to create an actual listening quiz. There are numbered gaps in the subtitles and your job is to find those 10 missing words. The answers are at the end of the video.

Would you eat frog’s legs if you could?

If you want the version without subtitles check out my Facebook page. (link down below)

What do you think of this new type of video exercise?
I really hope you like it!

Keep on learning!

Xoxo

 

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

 

Trinity ISE I (B1) – Time’s up Style

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As you probably know, there’s not that much out there to prepare the students for the Trinity exams. So I’ve made this set of materials to hopefully help you out.

This activity covers the following topics:

  • Travel
  • Money
  • Fashion
  • Rules and Regulations
  • Health and Fitness
  • Learning a Foreign Language

Of course you can use it as a vocabulary activity even if your students are not preparing for the Trinity exams.

There are two links below, the first one is the PDF of the game and the second one is a blank one, allowing you to add more words as your student’s get too comfortable with the words.

Topic cards ISE I time’s up

Topic cards ISE I template

There are many ways you can use the cards. You can use them as types of flash cards or even give a few to your student and ask them to use them in their answers. But today I have decided to tell you how to play Time’s up with them.

How to play:

Divide the class in two teams. Put all the cards in a hat or a box. Have players from each team take turns pulling words from the hat. Those students have 30 seconds to make their teammate guess as many words as possible by describing them. The teacher collects the cards with the words the students didn’t know and skipped.

Once all the cards have been used, count the points and put the cards back in the hat. The teacher should explain what the skipped words meant. Now the students play another round, but slightly different. This time they are only allowed to use one word to describe each card. Once all the cards are done, add the points to the previous round. The team with the highest score wins.

Make sure to go over the words they didn’t remember one more time, it should help the students memorise them.

I hope you enjoy the materials and the activity. I would love for you to tell me if you have found different uses for the cards!

Keep on learning (or teaching I guess).

XOxo

 

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Great Cambridge PET Speaking Part 1 and 2 Activity!

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Hello everyone!

I have a fantastic activity for you today. My boyfriend told me about this activity and I couldn’t resist sharing it with you.

It is originally intended to help the students become more familiar with the Cambridge PET speaking parts 1 and 2 but it can be used for many other different things such as:

  • imperatives (for instructions and directions)
  • comparatives
  • topic based vocabulary (which you can choose)
  • adjective order

I will give you the instructions for this activity based on the topic I have chosen which is ‘presents’.

Instructions:

Tell your students to come up to the board. Put them in pairs. Each pair gets a section of the board and one student in each pair gets a marker for the board. The other student will give instructions on how to draw that sudent’s best present he/she has ever received. Repeat the process after swapping roles. Make sure the students do NOT erase any drawings from the board.

Then your students will explain to the class why they chose those items (this is similar to speaking part 1). Here the teacher should be taking notes of the student’s main mistakes.

Once every student has presented his present, the teacher will keep the 6 most relevant drawings to the question ‘Which of those presents is the best for Mother’s Day?’.While they debate which one is the best (part 2 of the speaking exam) the teacher circulates and takes notes of more mistakes.

Wrap up the activity by writing all the mistakes heard throughout the activity on the board. The students should try to correct the mistakes themselves. The teacher goes over the remaining mistakes on the board.

Let me know how it goes! XOxo

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Phrasal Dominos 2.0

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There are different ways you can use dominos to practice using phrasal verbs. This activity is a mix of IN, ON, AT – Preposition Dominos and Funtastic Phrasals!.

Download this document, print it and cut it!

phrasal dominos

Instructions

Tell your students to take the same amount of dominos (it will depend on how many students you have) and place 1 in the middle of the table.

In turns, students have to match the verbs and the adverbial particles to form phrasal verbs. The student who created the phrasal verb should then speak a sentence with that verb to show that he can use it properly.

The first student out of dominos wins.

 

Have fun!

XOxo

 

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