We are all high school students who are preparing for the Cambridge FCE exams in May 2007.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Here is Dimitris's and Bill's interview. I'll let them know how they did in more detail next lesson. However, I want the rest of the class to comment on their performance using the ideas and suggestions from the handout below.


1 Be friendly, be polite. This is a chance to show the examiners how well you can speak English, not a fight to the death.

2 Learn some words that may come up, e.g. the name of the subject you are studying or the job you want to do in the future.

3 DO NOT learn a little speech by heart. It sounds unnatural and you'll get even more nervous than you need to be trying to remember it.

4 Keep eye contact with the examiner. That means looking him or her in the eye rather than staring at your shoes or some point on the wall behind them.

5 Remember there are no wrong answers here, only well- expressed and badly expressed ones.

6 DO NOT give short, monosyllabic answers, nor tell them the story of your life.


1 Remember that the question you'll be asked about the photos will have three parts, answer all of them.

2 If you don't understand the question ask the examiner to repeat it. You'll not lose marks for this. However, you will lose marks for answering the wrong question.

3 DO NOT stop speaking till the examiner tells you your time is up.

4 Pay attention to what the other person says as you will be asked a similar question to theirs when they finish.


1 Make sure you understand the question before you start speaking. If necessary, ask the examiner to repeat it.

2 Move your chair so that you are facing the other person. Remember what we said about eye-contact.

3 Start with a question, not a monologue.

4 Listen to what the other person says, comment on it, ask them questions.

5 Disagree with the other person whatever they say. It's always easier to have something to say if we disagree.

6 Give the other person chance to speak. You'll lose marks if you monopolise the conversation.

7 DO NOT stop speaking until the examiner tells you that your time is up.


1 Remember the questions asked in this part are always connected with the topic in part three.

2 Give full answers, not just short, monosyllabic ones

3 Comment on what the other person says, use their name.

4 There are no wrong answers, only badly-expressed ones.

Here are the questions from the interview. Pay particular attention to those in Part 2 and 3.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

This week's homework.

1 Next week we'll go through the mock test we did in class.

2 Do Options: Grammar and Vocabulary page 58 - 60.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

One of the things that helps prepare students for the First Certificate interview (paper 5) is to record one with them. So, over the next month or so all the students will be videoed and we'll burn the interviews onto CDs which you can take them with you and see at home (we have only one PC available so watching in the lesson is not really an option). The benefits of doing this include:

1 A chance to spot an persistent errors in grammar, pronunciation etc.

2 They make sure that non - linguistic elements, such as body language, eye contact etc are appropriate.

3 The opportunity to see where you didn't understand something and how you dealt with it.

Mistakes students make in the interview

From my experience as an examiner I've noticed that poorly prepared students often make the same kind of mistakes in the interview. These include failing to make eye contact with the person they're talking to, whether it be the examiner or the other candidate. Also, they fail to ask for help when they don't understand something and so lose marks for not answering the question asked. Finally, as they have not been taught suitable repair techniques; unable to switch the Greek, they are at a loss to deal with a situation where they can't think of a suitable word or phrase and hence just wait in silence.


In the interview above both of you are great, confident speakers who will do well in the FCE exam in May 2007. We can see this in the way you answered the questions in Part 1 and Part 4 of the interview.

However, your performance in Part 2 and Part 3 could have been much better. The main problem was that you failed to answer the questions fully (part 2) or failed to understand them (part 3). This was, in part due to the fact that we haven't done much interview practice yet but also to the fact that you rushed to answer, even though you didn't really understand what was expected of you. Instead what you should have done is asked for the question to be repeated or checked with each other what you understood in part 3.

The good news is that these are minor problems which can be easily fixed through practice.Thanks once again for doing the interview. This will help the other students enormously.