Deconstructing sentence transformation

Hello everyone!!!!

Today we have a very special post prepared by our Director of Studies about sentence transformation but, before that, you need the answers for the passives exercises, don’t you?  How do you think you did? Let’s take a look! 😉

Exercise 1:

1.- The game has been won by Manchester United

2.- The last piece of cake was had/taken by Mark and Kevin

3.- An umbrella is being carried by Jane

4.- My book has been stolen (we omit the agent)

5.- The police are being phoned by my neighbours.

Exercise 2:

1.- A message will be sent…

2.- … ball was kicked over the…

3.- … had clearly been broken…

4.- … have been met by…

5.- … being repaired by the technician…

And now… Welcome to the world of sentence transformations!!! Enjoy!!! 🙂

Deconstructing Transformations

Transformations can be found in various different Cambridge examinations and, for many students and candidates, they represent one of the greatest challenges in Use of English. One reason for this is that many transformations test not only a particular grammar point, but also vocabulary. Although the word limit differs, the same basic technique can be applied to FCE, CAE, CPE and to some extent, PET.

Technique: Deconstructing a transformation

Steps:

1. Read the instructions. Across the levels, the instructions are the same; complete the second sentence so that it has a similar meaning to the first, using the word given (except PET, where no word is given). What changes is the word limit:

PET 1 – 3 words

FCE 2 – 5 words

CAE 3 – 6 words

CPE 3 – 8 words

Remember, a contraction (e.g don’t / he’s) counts as 2 words.

2. Read the original sentence in this example.

What is the time reference (past / present /future)?

Example: They are building a new supermarket in the town centre

(FCE) BEING (word given)

A ………………………………………………………….. in the town centre.

Answer: present.

3. Compare the 2 sentences. Underline the words which appear in both.

They are building a new supermarket in the town centre

BEING (word given)

A ………………………………………………………….. in the town centre.

By doing this, you focus on what exactly needs to be changed, ‘..are building a new supermarket..’

4. Compare the order of the words in both sentences. If the order differs, why do you think this is? In the example, the transformation does not begin with the subject pronoun ‘They’, but with the article ‘A’. This would suggest a passive form.

5. Look carefully at the word given. What kind of word is it?

BEING (_ing form of the verb ‘be’)

Could this be the first word you need to write? ‘A BEING……..’

No. This would not make sense in the context of this transformation, but why not?

The article ‘A’… means a countable noun is probably required. Is there a countable noun in the original sentence?

Yes: ‘…a new supermarket..?

Is the adjective ‘new’ necessary?

In any transformation, if you are not sure whether to include the adjective or not, check the word limit. If it can be used without exceeding the word limit, use it. Remember step one: the second sentence must as similar as possible as the first sentence.

A new supermarket …………………………………. In the town centre

6. Look again at the word given: BEING. Can this word be used next? No, but why not?

Which auxiliary verb is needed to form a continuous tense?

Answer: is/are was/were

Remember step 2: time reference (in this case, present) = is/are

Is there a singular or plural reference? (in this case singular; ‘A new supermarket…) = is

A NEW SUPERMARKET IS BEING………………..in the town centre

By this point, 4 words have been used. If you have managed to get this far, you will know that this is a passive sentence so what is missing is a past participle. The original sentence uses the verb in its continuous form ‘building’. Is the verb ‘build’ a regular or an irregular verb?

Answer: irregular = BUILT

A NEW SUPERMARKET IS BEING BUILT in the town centre

This answer would receive 2 marks.

At FCE / CAE / CPE, each transformation is worth up to 2 marks. This means that if you have part of the transformation correct, you can still receive 1 mark. You do not lose marks for writing an incorrect answer, so always write something, using the word given, after all, 1 mark is better than 0!

Good Luck.

Andy (DOS)

The Passive Voice (Part 1)

Hi  guys!!!

How’s 2016 treating you?

Today we are going to take a look at “The Passive Voice” as most students at Intermediate level struggle with them and, without a good base, even upper intermediate and First Certificcate students find it confusing when it comes to sentence transformations.

What is the passive voice?

When we form a sentence we tend to do it in active voice (Subject + verb + direct object), focusing the reader’s attention on the person performing that action. E.g.: “Steve eats an apple”

On the contrary, the passive voice focuses on the receiver of the action (in this case “an apple”). E.g.: “An apple is eaten by Steve”

Notice that both sentences have the same meaning despite having a different structure.

How is the passive formed?

Take a look at how the structure changes:

1.- The subject in active voice is now after the verb, we call it “Agent”

2.- The direct object (an apple) is now at the beginning of the sentence (it has become the subject)

3.- The verb stays in the same place but…. Why are there two words now? ❓

Passive tenses:

In the active voice sentence (“Steve eats an apple”) the verb is in present simple and, believe it or not, so it is in the passive voice one (“An apple is eaten by Steve”).But, why have we got two words now?

Notice how the verb carrying the tense is now the verb “to be” and how the main verb (carrying meaning) is now in Past Participle.

Knowing this, we can now form passives in any tense we want.

E.g.:

PRESENT CONTINUOUS: “Steve is eating an apple” vs “An apple is being eaten by Steve”

PAST SIMPLE: “Steve ate an apple” vs “An apple was eaten by Steve”

PAST CONTINUOUS: “Steve was eating an apple” vs “An apple was being eaten by Steve”

PRESENT PERFECT SIMPLE: “Steve has eaten an apple” vs “An apple has been eaten by Steve”

Notice how, independently from the tense, in the passive the main verb is always in past participle.

So, would you like to give it a go? Here it is an exercise for you to practise the passive voice and, to avoid temptation, we will post the correct anwers in the next post! 😉

EXERCISE 1:

Turn these active voice sentences into the passive voice:

1.- Manchester United have won the game

2.- Mark and Kevin had the last piece of cake

3.- Jane is carrying an umbrella

4.- Someone has stolen my book

5.- My neighbours are calling the police

EXERCISE 2:

Complete the second sentence, with a minimum of 2 words and a maximum of 5, so that it has a similar meaning (the closer the better) to the first one  using the word given:

1.-My secretary will send you a message next week.

SENT

_____________________ to you by my secretary next week.

2.- John kicked the ball over the fence

WAS

The ______________________ fence by John

3.- Someone had obviously broken the glass on the floor

CLEARLY

The glass ______________________ on the floor

4.- The class have met many famous people on the school trip

BY

Many celebrities ______________________ the class on the school trip.

5.- The technician is fixing the computer now

REPAIRED

The computer is _______________ now.

Steve eats an apple

An apple is eaten by Steve

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.

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! 🙂

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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/

The most exciting thing happened in Euroschool!

What a great way to start a new category!!! Don’t know what I’m talking about? Well, no one better than our director and owner of Euroschool of English Terence J. Paul (aka Terry)  to tell you the great news!

Dear Red Lobster Reader,

I hope you are well and truly immersed in this new aspect of Euroschool. As you should know, we at ES are always trying to develop new ways of improving the service we provide. The Red Lobster blog is just one of the many innovations we hope to introduce over the next few terms. Keep your eyes peeled!

Indeed, we are very proud to announce that Euroschool has recently been selected as a premium preparation centre for Cambridge Examinations and presented with a 2015 Achievement Award by Cambridge English. The award is given to those centres which have excelled in the preparation of candidates for Cambridge English Examinations.

Euroschool was awarded not simply for the exceedingly high number of candidates it prepares but mainly for the extremely elevated pass rate (successful candidates) that it has achieved over the years.

For this we thank our administration staff, our teachers and most importantly, our students. It is your commitment and success that keeps Euroschool at the top of its game.

Here’s to more success and the next award!

Excelsior

Not much more to add guys! Just to remind you to keep an eye on the Red Lobster because our next post will be…. how can I say it? Well, it’s just gonna blow your mind! 😉