Definitive Guide to B1/PET: Speaking Part 2

Here’s the next instalment to my definitive guide to getting your students through B1/PET. It’s speaking part 2, the discussion part, the one where students have to interact with each other and impress using their outstanding communication skills. So how do you get them to perform on the day?

Speaking part 2 pet

Err, excuse me, can I speak first… Photo by brainpop_uk

Best case scenario…

Your students get paired up together, so there is no breakdown in communication or awkward feelings, get a decent topic which they are interested in and can manage to speak for at least 2 minutes, and remember that they have to speak to their partner.

Worst case scenario…

Your students are separated and paired with B2 level students just doing B1 for the crack, get a dull topic which they know nothing about, so just choose ‘the best option’ straight away and ignore the person sitting next to them.

I’ve seen it happen.

What follows are a few ideas and pointers you can do in class, plus a power point presentation with a slides to practise this part in class.

Starting off…

I normally kick off with a few questions about this part. If your students have been in a language academy for any decent period of time and have done oral exams before, then they must have done parts where they speak to their partner. But it’s amazing how many students either just don’t get they have to interact, or those who just refuse to.

You can have a look at the presentation below, but the whole point is to make them aware that they should speak for short periods and interact, they should imagine the conversation like a game of tennis, passing the ball back and forwards to each other, they need to talk about all the options, and they are talking about someone else, not them.

Useful expressions

I am Agree, I am Disagree. Nice to meet the both of you, now will you please stop talking gibberish. I mean, honestly, who would call their child Agree or Disagree?

There must be hundreds of sheets of paper floating around the TEFL world with a list of useful expressions to use in a discussion. I remember the first time I did oral exams at work. I was completely sucked into the conversation between a group of medicore students who basically had memorised a few phrases between them and manage to seem as if they had spoken about something. The point was it sounded good, and it’s easy to memorise a few expressions, but it’s what you say after that really counts, especially as everyone knows these expressions now.

Saying that, I still drill these expressions to my students over and over again, just to make sure they don’t rename themselves as Mr and Mrs Agree and Disagree.

So, by all means have a go with these expressions, but make sure your students know that it’s just a way of interacting and that they have to listen to their partner and make constructive opinions afterwards if they really want to get a decent mark.

In the presentation are the following categories for expressions.

  • Agree
  • Disagree
  • Suggest
  • Turn-taking
  • Summing up

Slipping in a conditional

I’ve been telling my students for years that this is the perfect opportunity to use conditional sentences in an oral exam. Why? Because it’s an imaginary situation and students have to back up their reasoning for choosing options. It’s so easy to use a first or second conditional in this part, which will help your students use higher level grammar and impress the examiners. So to boost your students chances of upping their quality of grammar then be sure to check out the presentation below.

Activities to try in class

Any decent Language Academy will follow a specific book for teaching PET. I’ve used Ready for PET, and more recently Complete PET, which both provide ample opportunities to practise this part. So these activities of getting students to make lists of expressions in their notebooks will work in well with any text book and exam book.

I do find the topics in PET text books pretty dull though, so my next blog will be a list of slightly quirkier topics for discussion that may not be exactly like the Cambridge exams, but should generate a few smiles and a laugh in class. You could even get students to invent their own questions as well.

So here you go. Click here for the Speaking Part 2 power point presentation, and enjoy. Please drop a comment to let me know how you got on. Thanks.

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