Public speaking is the number one fear in your country.
(But don't worry - you'll feel better after reading this)
1. Don't Panic
It's only 15 minutes long, but for many students, the FCE Speaking Test is the most stressful part of Cambridge English: First. A lot of students don't know what to expect, they don't feel confident in their English, and they don't know how to prepare.
This website will help!
What We Will Teach You
- What the exam looks like
- How many parts there are
- What to do in each part
- Some ideas of what to say and how to say it
- Mistakes to avoid
- And much more!
2. Who Made This Website?
My name is Andrew and I've been a teacher all around the world for a very VERY long time. I also made a website called CAE Exam Tips. Can you guess what it's about?
Together, the sites have helped more than 80,000 students do better on their exam.
3. A Quick Guide to the Speaking Test
You and another student will sit in front of two examiners. One of the examiners will talk to you and the other one will take notes. (Cambridge call these people the interlocutor and the assessor but I will only talk about the one who asks you questions, and I will call that person 'the examiner'.)
(NOTE - the last group of the day can have 3 students, so it's a good idea to practice that situation.)
There are 4 sections with different things to do in each section.
This video will answer many of your questions.
Do you think you can do better than Victoria and Edward?
Let's look at the exam section by section.
FCE Speaking Test Part 1
1. Who Talks?
The examiner asks you a question. You reply to the examiner.
You don't have to talk to your partner in this part of the exam.
It will take about 2 minutes.
Cambridge want to help you relax in the test so they start with some nice, easy questions. Don't worry if you get off to a bad start - a lot of candidates start badly because they are nervous
2. Which Questions to Expect
Questions are normally on these topics:
- Your hobbies
- Your work or education
- Things you like and things you don't like
- Friends and family
- Future plans
The following article has a BIG list of possible questions:
3. Help! I Didn't Understand the Question!
Don't stress. Politely ask the examiner to repeat it.
Please could you repeat that?
Could you say that again, please?
4. Use the Grammar of the Question in Your Answer
Here's a silly mistake:
Do you enjoy cooking?
Yes, I enjoy to cook.
Why not use the same grammar as the question in your answer?
Do you enjoy cooking?
Yes, I enjoy cooking.
Here's another example:
Are you going to go on holiday this year?
Yes, I'm going to go to Mexico. It's going to be my first time.
You don't always have to do this - English is quite flexible. But for now, this method will help you avoid mistakes.
5. Don't Be a Robot
Once upon a time, there was a man who wanted to the the President of the United States.
He went on TV to answer some questions. He prepared very hard, and memorised what he wanted to say.
The first question came. The man spoke for 25 seconds. All the people who were watching looked at each other, puzzled. The man hadn't answered the question - he had just repeated the speech he had learned!
The second question came. The man spoke for 25 seconds. All the people looked at each other, surprised. The man had said the same exact thing as before!
For the third and fourth question, the man gave the same 25 second speech.
That's when everyone in America decided that this man could not be president. Nobody wants a robot in charge of the country.
(This is a true story by the way - the politician's name is Marco Rubio, but now everyone calls him 'Marcobot'.)
In FCE, you shouldn't speak like a robot. So don't write down answers to questions and memorise them.
Instead, learn a few keywords and speak naturally, like you would do in your own language.
6. What Are Some Good Keywords?
This is a conversation I have ALL THE TIME with new students:
What is your job?
Oh! How to say it in English?
The first keyword you should learn is the name of your own job! Don't you think?!
What is your job?
I'm a systems analyst.
Then learn the jobs of your parents, husband/wife, best friend etc.
My mother's a retired teacher. My father's a clown trainer. My husband is a camel trainer.
You should definitely learn some nice phrases about hobbies. For example, the phrase 'to be keen on' means 'to like'.
What are your hobbies?
I'm keen on gardening.
How about holidays? In the FCE exam you should know the difference between 'travel', 'cruise', and 'flight' - you could easily use these words if asked about holidays.
What sort of holidays do you like?
I'm actually not too keen on travel, and I really hate flights. I like cruises, though. That's my favourite.
Get the idea? As I said before, you're not learning whole speeches, just a few words you can use at the right time.
7. How Much Should You Say?
It's okay to give short answers here, but I don't let my students say 'yes' or 'no'. Your answer shouldn't be shorter than the question!
Here are some GOOD examples:
'Where are you from, Victoria?'
'I'm from Germany, from the north coast of Germany."
"I'm from Peru. I live in the capital, Lima. It's near the coast."
If you watched the video above, you'll hear Victoria tries to keep talking after saying 'the north coast of Germany'. The examiner stops her - that was TOO much detail.
So answer the question in a simple way, then add ONE extra sentence.
8. How to Practice
- You can practice this with another student (or a friend who speaks some English). Get them to ask you the questions and - if their English is good enough - ask them to give you some feedback.
- If you're lucky enough to live in an area where people speak English, go to a party or some social event. Every person you meet will ask about your job, where you live, and your hobbies. The perfect chance to practice!
- If you are studying in a class, ask your teacher to give you ten minutes for a 'speed dating' session. You sit with another student, ask each other questions for two minutes, then change partner.
- If you're alone, record yourself using your phone. If you've got a 'study buddy' ask permission to film. Not enough of my students do this, but the ones that do say it's VERY helpful. You will notice mistakes and you will be able to ask yourself questions like 'Did I answer the question? Did I sound like a robot?'
- A lot of teachers encourage their students to write their own questions.
Do I sound like a robot?
Were my answers too short, too long, or just right?
Did I use my keywords?