A Definitive Guide to Getting your Students Through PET/B1

Sometimes I really hate the word ‘PET.’ It grinds at me throughout the year like a woodpecker ‘pet, pet, pet…pet, pet, pet.’ It’s not because I despise animals, I have a dog, which 90% of the time I love, but sometimes, normally at the end of term after teaching PET, preparing students for PET, marking PET, and examining PET, I just grow sick of the damn word.

PET Guide

Pet, pet, pet… Photo by Robin 1966

But that’s life.

Nowadays PET / B1 is an essential qualification for a mountain of English Language learners all over the world. They need it to get their degree approved, get a job, and even get into the university bar, if they want to stand any chance in chatting up the new Erasmus students anyway. So the demand for getting their level of English up to Cambridge standards are almost as important as obtaining a driver’s license, finding a soul mate, or even travelling the world.

So that’s why I’ve decided to start this definitive guide to getting your students through B1/PET. Getting them to pass by more than 70% is no easy task, especially when some students haven’t even got a clue what a chair is, in English, or haven’t touched English since they were at school 15 years ago.

I’ve been teaching PET for over seven years now. I’d hate to think of myself as a PET Guru. I mean, that wouldn’t be my preffered way of being introduced at a dinner party “Hi, this is Barry and he’s really good at Petting.” I have to admit my students do get decent results though, and I know of a few fun activities, tricks, and forceful punishments for getting your students over that pass mark.

In this definitive guide I’m going to rip PET apart (not to be confused with rip a pet apart, please). I’m going to provide the best online resources, go through each part of the exam and provide power point presentations on how to improve reading, listening, writing and speaking skills. A lot are my own ideas, but I have pinched a few over the years. The power points you’ll be able to use in class, alongside any decent PET exam past paper book.

Teaching PET is a hard graft, so coming up with new ideas and ways to teach is tricky, but hopefully I have some for you.

Possible problems teaching PET

Before I go on, I’d like to throw out a few problems that you may have teaching PET, which I will be answering throughout this series.

  • Age and maturity of the students – they all know that PET is important, but some of them would much rather be playing minecraft. A few, or a majority, might be forced to attend class by their parents, so they might resent English. Your job is to get them motivated and involved. But how do you go about this?
  • Mixed level classes – Some students might not actually have the B1 level yet but are desperate to get the qualification. They might have been chucked in with some who could easily do B2, but are just coming along for the experience. How do you handle the mixed level classes?
  • The topics and example exam papers are dull – Do teenagers really care about which ski resort a bunch of old grannys want to go to? Or do they give a damn about how a man became a pilot? There’s not much you can do about the exam papers, but there are ways to jazz things up a bit.
  • Motivation may be low – the general atmosphere in class may consist of looks asking you when they can leave, or if they can check their What’sApp. But you have to plough on and rev them up, like little musical monkeys desperate for some chunky green bananas. Just how can you go about this?

Over the next few months I’ll try to post once or twice a month with guides on each part of the exam, materials, tips, and advice on getting your students those sexy PET certificates, or at least getting your boss off your back by getting decent results for a change. Especially if you’ve just started teaching and have been lumbered with a PET class because the only experienced teacher is on maternity leave.

So bookmark this page, subscribe to my blog, follow me on twitter, or facebook, because the definitive guide to teaching PET is on it’s way.

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