Reading and Use of English Paper (Word formation)

EXAM COUNTDOWN – STRATEGIES AND ADVICE

PAPER 1:  Reading and Use of English  PART 3:  Word Formation

*This is a task with eight gaps, based on a text of between 150-170 words

WHAT’S TESTED?

This is a test of your ability in word formation.  The focus is on vocabulary and the formation of words from a root, using prefixes and suffixes, internal changes and compound words.  There may also be a grammatical element (such as plural forms, verb tenses and participles) to the changes that need to be made.  Some of the words you have to form may be part of fixed expressions or collocations.

You may be given a noun and have to transform it into a verb, or produce an adjective from a noun.  It is important that you know the meaning and the functions of the many different prefixes (e.g. un/in/dis/re-) and suffixes (e.g. -ally/ion/able/ment) and that you are familiar with compounds (e.g. worldwide/outcome/downsize).

STRATEGY

Always read the title and the whole text carefully, ignoring the gaps for the moment, to get an overview of the topic and to understand the main points of each paragraph or group of sentences.

SYNTAX

Use your knowledge of grammar to understand what part of speech the missing word is (e.g. noun, verb, adjective, adverb) and think through the range of possible affixes, negative prefixes and suffixes.

SEMANTICS

Look carefully at the way the sentence is constructed to decide whether the missing word should be positive or negative.  Look for evidence of two opposing ideas.  When the root presents several possible derivatives, look at the context carefully to check that you have the derivative with the correct meaning.  Remember that more than one change to the stem word can often be required.

EXAMPLES

Let’s look at the verb DECIDE and it’s derivatives. Look at these two sentences and think about syntax.

  1. The people couldn’t believe that once again their Prime Minister was shown to be a weak  and ___________ leader.

  1. Even after she had asked her friends and family for advice, Nadine was still ____________ whether to go to college or not.

In both sentences we need an adjective.  Here are the possibilities……

decided

undecided

decisive

indecisive

deciding

….now think about semantics.  We can see from the meaning and construction of the sentences that we need a negative adjective in both.  Now check the meaning of both derivatives.

a) undecided: (not before a noun) not having made a decision about something important

b) indecisive: 1. unable to make clear decisions or choices 2. not having a clear result

ANSWERS 1(b)   2(a)

Now look at these two sentences and think about syntax:

  1. Due to internal disagreement there were weeks of __________ about who would get the promotion and when.
  2. It was a maddening trait of his, this __________, which in his case was complicated by his extreme politeness.

This time we need a noun in both sentences.  Here are the possibilities:

decision(s)

indecision

decisiveness

indecisiveness

…The semantics tell us that we need a negative noun in both sentences.

a) indecision: the state of being unable to decide what to do

b) indecisiveness: describing a person’s inability to make clear decisions or choices

ANSWERS 1(a)   2(b)

To sum up, don’t forget these TOP TIPS:

1)      Analyse the text on two levels:  SYNTAX and SEMANTICS

2)      Check to see if the word is plural or singular

3)      Remember the root word ALWAYS has to be changed

4)      Brainstorm the root word to see how many forms you can think of…

5)      Remember….TIMING.  Don’t let the clock tick away for the want of ONE WORD. Take an educated guess.

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Speaking Exam

Hi again!

I hope Saturday’s mock went well!!! Remember you will get results and feedback from your teachers throughtout the week.

But, now that the die is cast for the written parts it’s time to take a look at the Speaking Test!!! Let’s get started by taking a look at some students’ Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) as I’m sure you’ll find them handy! 😉

FAQs (Speaking Exam)

Can I choose my partner for the Speaking Exam?

No. This is organized by the exam center.

What if my partner in the exam doesn’t speak or speaks very little?

Firstly, this is rare. You must remember that in the speaking exam, you are marked individually. Examiners never compare candidates. You just concentrate on what you have to do, inviting your partner to join in a conversation by saying “What do you think?” or “Do you agree?” If your partner doesn’t respond appropriately, the examiner will see that you have done your best.

What if my partner speaks too much?

Again, this is unusual. If this happens, interrupt! There are many ways to politely interrupt in this situation (ask your teacher). Remember, the idea is for candidates to interact with each other and the examiner. If one candidate tries to dominate a conversation, it will not count in his/her favour.

What if my partner seems to speak much better English than me?

This is irrelevant to the speaking examiners as they will never compare candidates. You are marked following a strict criteria where there is a maximum and minimum score any candidate can receive according to level.

What happens if I don’t understand a question?

Don’t worry. Ask the examiner to repeat it and if you still don’t understand, he/she will probably just ask you another one. You will not fail the speaking exam for not understanding a question. Your result is based on your performance throughout.

Can I ask the examiner questions?

No, but with one important exception, “Could you repeat that, please?”

How can I find out more information about the details of the exam?

Information about times, dates and the cost of each exam is displayed around the school. However, you can also ask your teachers or at reception for further information.

And now, shall we look at some detailed info about the exam? Check the following presentation!

http://www.slideshare.net/EuroschoolOfEnglish/slideshelf

I hope you have liked today’s post and I would really like to hear what you have to say. As you already know, our students’ opinion is very important for the Euroschool team so….

we have opened the comments section! So, now you can let us know what you think of our blog, as well as suggestions or new ideas both for our website and the Red Lobster!

😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆

What are you waiting for? We are looking forward to hearing your opinion! 🙂

Commenting Rules
The Comments Section is intended to foster dialogue and interaction with students. However, Euroschool of English reserves the right to not publish any comments that contain: abusive or offensive comments, offensively off topic, ads or spam, threats and/or comments from Internet trolls.

PET exam: Reading Part 2

Hi everybody!

We are back as promised to give you a hand with the practice for the PET exam (B1 level).

In this exam you will have to go through 8 different parts in 1h30 minutes and therefore timing is one of the biggest problems for candidates. In today’s post we will talk about how to address Reading part 2 so you can do it in approximately 10min! 😉

http://www.slideshare.net/EuroschoolOfEnglish/slideshelf

I am positive this will help your preparation for the exam and we are looking forward to hearing your feedback but in the meanwhile, why don’t your try this technique with a brand new Reading Part 2? 🙂

http://www.cambridgeenglish.org/exams/preliminary/how-to-prepare/

Sample essay for First Certificate

Hello again!

As promised, here I’ve posted a sample of how an essay can look like if carefully planned!

Essay on solutions to environmental damage

It is agreed that pollution is one of the biggest concerns for developed countries but governments are not doing enough. It is important to realise that if we care about our environment we have to start looking after it.

Firstly, using public transport would reduce the exhaust fumes our cars produce. As a result, the pollution cloud over cities would disappear and, in addition, we could reuse rain water at home.

Secondly, not only are we ruining the Earth’s landscapes by polluting rivers but we are also jeopardising the habitat of countless species, some of which are part of our diet. With this in mind, government actions are vital to control how industries dispose of residues.

Having considered this, air quality is also a problem. Given the fact that in Tokyo problems such as asthma are increasingly common, government and citizens should join forces to prevent our kind from self-destruction.

To summarise, I think that becoming aware of our planet’s situation is essential. On one hand we need to start recycling and trying not to damage our environment but this will not be enough unless governments start taking some action.

And, in case you are thinking this is too complex for you I ‘d like you to take a look at this screenshot:

The blue highlight is for language structures I planned to be in my essay and the yellow ones… Guess what? All of them are linking words and connectors! See how useful they are? This is one of the reasons why your teachers insist so much on them, they are incredibly useful!

Hope these two last posts have encouraged you to start your next writing with careful planning. We can assure you it makes a big difference! 🙂

Keep an eye on The Red Lobster for our next post, which will approach reading strategies for PET (B1).

Have an awesome weekend! 😉

How to write an essay (First Certificate Level)

Hi everybody!

I know that a lot of you are going to take a Cambridge Exam in the following months and that’s why, throughout the next four weeks, all our posts in the category “Teacher’s Corner” will be about that.

Today we start with the compulsory writing part 1 in First Certificate: How to write an essay.

This is the task we will be working on:

We have broken the planning into pieces and organised it in different steps and I think it will be useful so, come on! What are you waiting for? Take a look and give it a go! 🙂


STEP 1.- Understanding the task

What is one of the most common problems when it comes to starting a writing task? It doesn´t matter if we are students or professional writers, everybody has experienced the “blank page fear”, wondering “But, how am I supposed to write 140 to 190 words about this? I don’t have a clue where to start! I can´t think of anything to say!” Don’t panic, we are going to give you a hand with that! 😉

Usually we only read the part in the “notebook” area but today I am going to ask you to start paying attention to the very first lines. It says:

“In your English class you have been talking about the environment.”

This sentence, usually overlooked, is the key to come up with ideas so we can start planning our writing! Actually imagine you have had a discussion about the topic given in class, think about your classmates, what do you think their opinion would have been?

Here’s my example about ideas that may have come up in the class:

PROBLEMS CONSEQUENCES POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS
–          Polluted seas

–          Polluted water

–          Cars = Polluted air

–          Trees and vegetation damage

–          Bad air quality

–          Pesticides

–          Ozone layer damage

–          Greenhouse effect

–          Dirty beaches = skin problems

–          Cost: purifying water so it is potable.

–          Less oxygen in the air

ß

–          Ashtma and breathing problems (Tokyo) Þ The more patients the higher social security costs

–          Contaminated food / Recent research Þ Possible cause of illnesses such as cancer

–          Harmful sun: Skin problems

–          Higher temperatures, changes in weather (harmful for crops), ice caps melting, raising sea levels

–          Industry residue control

–          Industries residues control

–          Better public transport system so as people won’t use their cars.

–          Exhaust fumes control

–          Promote bio food by helping farmers (grants…)

–          It cannot be undone but we can prevent it from getting worse.

How? ß

  • Recycling
  • Educating in schools
  • Educating in awareness of current environmental problems
  • Encourage: Using public transport, eating bio food, not using BFC’s, taking care of nature when outdoors.

STEP 2.- Lay-out

Or, how am I going to put all these ideas in the same text cohesively and coherently?

I know my essay should look more or less like this:

This being the content:

STEP 3: Language

Part 1.- Style In this case I am going to write in a neutral to formal style as this essay is for my English teacher.

Part 2.- Linking words Organising my ideas. In this part I am aiming to show a range of vocabulary so as to raise my mark in the writing part. In this way, it is useful to include: A variety of linking words and expressions, passive, conditionals, etc.

  • INTRODUCTION

Opening: Impersonal passive …

Supporting the topic: It’s important to realise, as an illustration…

Expressing cause and effect: Conditional.

  • PARAGRAPH 1

Opening: Firstly, …

Adding information: In addition

Explaining the reason: Due to

Expressing consequence: As a result

  • PARAGRAPH 2

Opening: Secondly, …

Adding information: Not only … but also….

Explaining the reason: Given that….

Emphasising: With this in mind, indeed

  • PARAGRAPH 3

Opening: Having considered… it is also reasonable to look at …

Introducing the point: Given that…

Expressing consequence: Consequently

  • CONCLUSION

Opening: In the final analysis, …

Emphasising: What is more…

Expressing consequence: Under these circumstances…

Now, you just have to put the pieces back together to get an awesome essay! 🙂 Next week I’ll post a sample but, why don’t you write yours first? Leave them in reception and we will correct them!

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter everyone!

Today we want to show you our kiddies working on their Easter baskets, getting ready for the Easter Egg Hunt!!!

Why were they making a basket?

Many countries share the Easter Bunny tradition and in the UK it is still celebrated. The legend says that, if the children have been good, the bunny will hide colourful eggs for kids to find and eat.

The hunt can be celebrated in your own house but, additionally, in the UK Easter Egg Hunts have become so popular that they are organised by the Town Council so families can meet and enjoy them together.

Do you want to have some fun with your kids this Easter? We are sure they would love to make an Easter Basket and look for some chocolate eggs around the house! This is what you’ll need:

Print these documents and let the kids colour them. Once they are done, cut the parts of the basket and glue them together so when it is done they can put the eggs and bunny inside it! 😉

Happy Easter and Happy Hunting! 😀

Saint Patrick's Day

Hello again everyone!

Today’s post talks about the festivity of St. Patrick’s Day (as you may have probably guessed because of the title… Otherwise, tell your teacher you desperately need to practise Reading comprenhension! 😉 ). I think we will all agree when I say that the average young Spanish adult only knows two things about this day:

  1. They get Guinness merchandise for free in (mostly) Irish pubs.
  2. Therefore, it must have something to do with the Irish

And we are not mistaken at all! Just a quick look through Wikipedia will give you some essential background info, including the fact that it is originally from Ireland.  You know that at ES we have teachers from, pretty much, all over the globe and we have asked our teacher Eoin (aka “Owen” for non-Irish speakers) to share his insights on this Irish holiday.

So here it is, enjoy!

When the excitement of Christmas and New Year begins to rapidly wane and the depressing reality of January starts to take hold, Irish men and women all over the globe reach for their fancy new calendars and desperately seek out the magic day of March 17.  Once the magic day has been found and marked out, a magic rainbow appears, stretching out from the grey plains of January and February towards the emerald green horizon of mid-March.

To a young child growing up in Ireland however, and speaking from my own experience of growing up in Ireland in the 1970s, Saint Patrick’s Day was a very religious holiday that offered very little to children when compared to Easter and Christmas. Instead of the promise of Cadbury’s chocolate eggs or the allure of Beano annuals and Matchbox cars, Saint Patrick’s Day simply meant a boring day, going to early mass followed by standing on the side of the road at a parade, for what felt like hours, staring at countless tractors and marching bands pass by. After standing outside for hours in the pouring rain, my parents would invariably make their way, with five kids in tow, into a nearby pub. Here at least we were warm and dry, and after finding a spare table, we would sit down to a wonderful feast of crisps and red lemonade. All around the pub were families like ourselves and soon we would be running around and playing with the other kids while the grown-ups sang songs and told jokes much to their own amusement.

Saint Patrick’s Day followed this pattern more or less for me and nearly every other child in Ireland until the age of around fifteen. Ireland in the 1980s was a very religious society and the celebration of our patron saint meant that early mass was still mandatory as was the blessing of the shamrock and wearing your Sunday’s best outfit. After mass however, we were now free to make our own way into town with friends to watch the parade, which by this time had moved on from tractors and marching bands to sponsored floats and professional razzamatazz marching bands from the US. After the parade we now invariably made our way, parentless, to the nearest pub were we could get a drink, and after finding a pub desperate enough to let us in we would sit down to a grand feast of crisps and Guinness. The singing of songs however, had now been sadly replaced by jukeboxes or sound systems in most pubs and to this day it is very rare to hear drinkers singing in a pub to a hushed audience.

Many traditions had changed in Ireland by the 1990s and inevitably Saint Patrick’s Day had changed too. Now it was called Paddy’s day, the day to celebrate Irishness, as opposed to honouring our patron saint and all that was holy and sacred. That meant for the majority of Irish people, early mass and blessed shamrock were now a thing of the past. The parades in Ireland had changed too, they were now more commercial and competitive, every school now had a band or some special routine, and every football team marched down the main street proudly wearing their sponsor’s logo. The tradition of going to the pub straight after the parade thankfully continued and as by this stage most of my friends and I were all working, we got to enjoy a day and night out together happy in the knowledge that we were getting paid as well.

The recent spectacular rise and fall of Ireland’s economic prowess had a limited impact on our big day, the parades are still improving year after year thanks to the fact that Ireland has become more multi-cultural, and nowadays when you stand by the side of the road dripping wet, you can find it hard to believe that you are in Ireland. Living in Spain as I do now, I see a big similarity between the carnival festival and Paddy’s day. The big difference of course is that carnival is celebrated throughout the Latin world while Paddy’s day is uniquely an Irish thing, it is a day to feel proud of where you come from, a day to be proud of who you are, but most importantly it is a day to drink plenty of Guinness!!

Thanks so much for your contribution to this new project Eoin!

And what about you, dear students? Do you dare to give us a writing about how you first learned about St. Paddy’s? Hand your writings to reception before Sunday 22nd, we will correct them for you and the best will be published in our blog! Good luck and happy St. Paddy’s day! 🙂