Saturday, February 03, 2007

FCE interview tips

One of the things I do to help 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 I'll burn the interviews onto CDs which they can take with them 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 they didn't understand something and how they 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 don't 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.

Click here to see a handout I wrote that helps students identify and correct such issues.

Teacher feedback

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

However, their performance in Part 2 and Part 3 could have been much better. The main problem was that they 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 because they rushed to answer, even though they didn't really understand what was expected of them. Instead what they should have done is asked for the question to be repeated or checked with each other what they understood in part 3.

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