Fun Cambridge Exam Activity (7)

Posted on July 26, 2010. Filed under: ABCI 2010, Activities, CAE, CPE, FCE | Tags: , , |

Adjective Game: Warmer Thread

AIM: To elicit as many adjectives from the students as possible

This is good which you have to write reports, letters of reference when more descriptive language is required, also when student have to speak about places, best friends for example. This should be played more than ones during the term so you seen how the learners really take risks and improve their vocabulary: This activity then becomes a ‘thread’ activity and students know what they have to do and produce without you introducing anything

Materials: Just the learners and a blackboard/a piece of paper so you have a record that n adjective hasn´t been repeated


  1. Choose a student to say one adjective (they usually say beautiful), if they say an adjective which ends in ‘-y’, for example easy, ask them for another which does NOT end in why.
  2. Write the adjective in the board (or on paper if you don´t have one) for example ‘beautiful’ Then ask the next student to give you another adjective ythat starts with the last letter of the adjective already written on the board, in this case it is ‘L’, for example ‘light’
  3. Now ask the ask the next student to say an new adjective which starts with the last letter of the previous adjective in this case ‘tall’

You should have written ‘beautifulightall’ on the board.

  1. Now continue with the same sequence

Classroom management alternatives

  • For FCE you can split a class into 2 groups, The group who cannot think of an adjective is out and the other team wins
  • With CAE you can go around the class asking individuals. When one student cannot think of an adjective they are out and you continue until there is only two students left competing together
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Fun Cambridge Activities (4)

Posted on July 26, 2010. Filed under: ABCI 2010, Activities, CAE, CPE, FCE | Tags: , , |

In a Nutshell: Speaking Activity

This is great for CPE but can be used at any level. Why? … because the Cambridge exams use very similar speaking themes i.e. technology, learning, books, learning etc. Classroom management is everything so you must understand and give clear details for this activity to move smoothly.

AIM: This activity helps student familiarize with long term responses and helps improve their active listening and even vocabulary.

Materials: The small cards used for Part 3 of the CPE speaking text

Classroom Layout

Sit the learners in a circle (I can´t do a circle with the wordpress graphics) like the diagram below. The cards will be past round clockwise during the activity


B                        B

A                                          A

B                       B



Phase 1

Allocate students with the letters ‘A’ and ‘B’.

Give a different card to student ‘A’.

Tell them they are going to talk about the card to student ‘B’ for a set time. 30-1 minute for FCE, CAE 2 minutes and CPE 3 minutes. Note: this is longer than expected in the exams but the idea is to push the learners but be sensitive to this initially.

Then tell ‘B’ they will summarize what student “A’ said in 30 seconds or 1 minute depending on the exam you are doing. This you will signal with the words IN A NUTSHELL. Students may ask what this means and it is an excellent idiom for them to use in the exam so they will start their summary saying ‘In a nutshell..’

Phase 2

When ‘B is finished ask them to take the paper that was discusses

Now ask both ‘A’ and ‘B’ to turn the opposite way. Now they are facing a new partner.

Now ‘B’ becomes ‘A’ and will talk to a long time about the card they were listening too.

Now ‘A’ becomes ‘B’ and will say ‘In a Nutshell…’ and summarize what is being said

Phase 3

Continue to do this so the paper moves around the circle of students and each student either speaks or summarizes what is being said until the papers move back to their original place.

After these changes of partner has been understood by the group all the teacher has to say is “IN A NUTSHELL” and student will change and summarize without any difficulty.


Watch how the student gain confidence as they speak about something they have already heard and spoken about to a new partner.

By summarizing the student must take an active part in listening to their partner and you´ll find they even pick up the best expressions that are being described

Move around the room and listen to the student. Note down any problems they have and review these at the regular intervals.

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Cambridge Fun Activity (3)

Posted on July 26, 2010. Filed under: ABCI 2010, Activities, CAE, CPE, FCE |

Sentence Transformation – Running Dictation

Classroom management is crucial for a successful competition so give the instructions clearly unless you´ll be confused and your students even more so.

AIM: This activity teaches the three processes needed to complete the sentence transformation exercise that is on the FCE, CAE and CPE tests.

Material: Cut up sentence transformation questions from the Cambridge exam you are working with. Make sure they are numbered so you understand the sequence.


You can´t explain all the activity at first or it won´t work so do so in phases

Phase 1: Allocate Roles First

Split the class into groups of three. Then give the instructions in these steps

Ask one of the members of each group to be the writer. Make clear who is the writer and make sure they have a piece of paper and pen to write with.

Then ask when member of each group is going to READ. Make sure the allocation is clear by having them put their hand up.

Now tell the last student that he/she will be show you (the teacher) the answers.

Students will still at this point not be clear but don´t worry now you will explain the game

Phase 2: The game

Show students a question from the exam.

Tell them that one student (the reader) will come up and read the paper and go back to their group where the writer will note it down.

Tell them that there is a word (I call it a magic word for emphasis) which will help the group transform the sentence into a new one with exactly the same meaning. Tell them this word CANNOT  be changed.

  • Explain that the reader will come up and read this information, they will then tell the writer what to note down.
  • Now all three will change the sentence and the writer will rewrite the new version.
  • Then the 3rd person will bring what the students think is the correct answer to you for checking

Phase 3: Correction

When the answer is shown to the teacher they only will respond YES or NO. If yes then the reader can come up and see the next sentence transformation question. If NO then student

must return to the group for them to produce the correct answer. YOU MUST ONLY ACCEPT THE CORRECT ANSWER

TIP: At this stage don´t help the learners as usually it is a simple mistake and they can correct it. If they can´t make the change after a 3rd attempt give them a cluse such as spelling, tense, wrong prepositions (be minimal with your help). This is the time when students really work and must do it together.

Keep this sequence going until the learners have read, wrote and shown all of the sentence transformation questions to you. It is crazy but fun!

Phase 4: Checking

When the game is complete go through all of the questions and discuss what problems the students had. They will see they had similar problems and this will help you know what areas they are weak in i.e. past simple to present perfect, phrasal verbs, verb + infinitive or gerund, conditionals, inversions, collocations etc.

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Fun Activities for Cambridge (1)

Posted on July 25, 2010. Filed under: ABCI 2010, Activities, CAE, CPE, FCE, Training |

Opening Warmer – Word Transformation for Use of English

This is an excellent introduction on the first day to the word transformation exercise.

Materials – Pieces if small squared paper

Note this activity uses the students knowledge and helps you see who may have been placed incorrectly. It also can be done with sufixes, which I do after this game, but here I will explain with prefixes.


A. Preparation

Before class write different a suffix on each piece of paper. Different Cambridge exams will demand different prefixes with CPE being the most advanced (of course) but for FCE you could use:









TIP: Look at the word transformation section of the Cambridge exam practice papers to get an idea of the prefixes you´ll need

Now number each preffix beforehand unless you may get in a mess

B. The Classroom

  1. Now split your class into 3 or 3 students depending on the size you have ( you could do it in pairs but a minimum of 3 is much better.
  2. Now assign one student to write.
  3. Now present the task
  4. Write the word manage on the board
  5. Ask students if they know the suffix (they may say manag(er) or maneg(ment)
  6. Now ask them what the prefix is and hopefully they´ll say ‘miss-‘
  7. Now make sure the Ss realise these are siffixes and prefixes and in the Use of English they will have to transform words using these. Tell them they are going to work with prefixes. The prefixes MUST modify a root word (such as manage)
  8. Now hand the first prefixes (they must be different) to each group. Now tell Ss you are going to give them 1 minute to write down any words.In groups Ss must tell the person writing as many words as possible. Why is it important that the groups have different prefixes? because they could overhear words from other groups and copy so again… make sure the prefixes are different.
  9. Now after one minute…. go to the first group and give them a new prefix. Then take their prefix and give it to the next group and then do the same with this group i.e. remove their prefix and give it to the next group. So you are introducing one new prefix and giving the other groups a new prefix but one the previous group has already done.
  10. Keep doing this by introducing a new prefix after one minute. Timing MUST be strict as it is more fun under pressure. You´ll notice why numbering the papers is imprtant here.
  11. At the end give the learners 2 extra minutes to go through their list of words.
  12. After 2 minutes swap the lists of each group. Then another group can check their work

C. Checking

  1. Now the teacher selects a prefix, for example ‘im-‘
  2. Now ask the groups to check their ‘new’ list and say how many ‘im-‘ worsds the other group have.
  3. Here you can clarify language doubts but the group with the highest list wins. be carfeul here in managing this. You may have 4 groups and you don´t have time to here all of the words from each of the groups so just listen to the longest list and if this is still the most compared to the other groups. They win.
  4. Allocate a point (on the board) for each time a groups gets the most words correct with each prefix.
  5. The group who gets the most point wins.
  6. Be ready with a prize.

I give ‘the super shaun smile’ but this is another story

Now they learners can do an exercise from the test or book

Have fun and comment if anything is not clear


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