Sunday, February 18, 2007

Preparing for the CPE interview

Here's an activity I've been using with my exam classes over the last few years. The idea is that you use a digital camera (or video camera if you have the cash) to record an exam style interview.I then, either give them a CD with the interview on it or post it on their blog. They then look at it and we discuss it together in the next lesson.

Even in a large class you can do this, the trick is to make sure that the other students have something to do otherwise they get bored and restless very quickly. Here are two ideas:

Idea 1

A Get the students to copy down everything you say to those being interviewed.

B They then work together to write down a complete list of questions and instructions which they will use to interview each other.

Idea 2

A Give the students the handout below with CPE do's and don'ts and go through it, giving examples and explanations where necessary.

B Then do the interview with two students.

C The others listen and note down what the interviewees did right or wrong according to the handout.

D Students then discuss their notes with those interviewed in groups.

CPE interviews do's and don'ts


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 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.

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.

PART THREE (part one)

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

2 Give yourself a few moments to think about what you want to say.

3 Remember there are no wrong answers. Nobody expects you to be an expert on the subject of the question.

4 Feel free to ignore the prompts suggested. You do not have to use them, if you do not wish.

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

6 Listen to what the other person says as you will be asked to comment on it.

PART THREE (part two)

7 Remember the longer questions asked towards the end of this part are always connected with the topic discussed in the prompt cards.

8 Give full answers, not just short, monosyllabic ones

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

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


exskindiver said...

hi teacher dude,
i am your neighbor in the 2000 blogger photo montage. (on your right)
so i thought a blog visit and comment was in order.
greetings from pittsburgh, pa.

great tips btw.

love the: "you will lose marks for answering the wrong question"
isn't this so true in life?

part two# 5 and 6 are my particular favorites.
note to self: must try this in my marriage.

ex-teacher dudette

teacher dude said...

Hi Ex, if only marriage was as easy as passing exams. By the way, I linked to your site, if you don't mind.