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Karl Sheldon Wacey
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I am a dedicated, energetic English teacher who is determined to make The Star Wars franchise less dependent on the need for global dubbing.
I am a dedicated, energetic English teacher who is determined to make The Star Wars franchise less dependent on the need for global dubbing.

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Hello everyone,

To help English learners everywhere get a grasp of the oddities of the English language, I 'm going to post a series of English
Q&As. Enjoy!

Bye for now,

Karl at:

http://www.myskypelessons.com/


Split Infinitives

Question

What is the difference between "to not" and "not to" and can they be used interchangeably? — Karzan, Iraq

Answer
The word "to" is part of the infinitive form of a verb, as in "to run", "to play", and "to write." Some people — grammarians and English teachers, for example—say that "to" must always be next to the verb it goes with, and words like "not" should not split it from the verb. When this happens, as in "to not run," it is called a split infinitive. However, in speech, informal writing, and even in formal writing, infinitive forms of verbs are often split, and they are split by more adverbs than just "not." Below are some examples with "to" next to its verb, and some examples of split infinitives.


The infinitives below are not split:

He told us not to split infinitives.
Kelly hoped not to need new shoes before the fall.
They decided not to stay at the hotel.
He wanted never to go into that house again.
She was able to wait patiently outside for the store to open.
Below are some split infinitives:

They decided to not stay another night.
It can be difficult to not go back for a second piece of cake.
Jack hoped to not need another surgery.
He wanted to never have to see them again.
He wasn't able to patiently sit in the busy traffic without complaining.


Be aware that putting "not" or another adverb between "to" and its verb adds some emphasis to that adverb. For example, in the sentence "They decided not to stay another night" the phrase "they decided" is the most important information, but the sentence "They decided to not stay another night" tells us that maybe they decided to stay another night before, but now it is important that they will not stay.

Sometimes a split infinitive helps to make the meaning of a sentence clear. For example, in the sentence "I asked her quietly to leave" or "I asked her to leave quietly" it is unclear if the asking was done quietly or if the leaving should be done quietly. By saying "I asked her to quietly leave" it is clear that the leaving should be done quietly.

Even though English teachers will say you should not split an infinitive, native English speakers have been doing it for hundreds of years. Generally, a split infinitive is fine to use if it makes a sentence more understandable.

I hope this helps.

Bye for now,

Karl

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Hello everyone,

To help English learners everywhere get a grasp of the oddities of the English language, I 'm going to post a series of English Q&As. Enjoy!

Bye for now,

Karl at:

http://www.myskypelessons.com/








What is "Cross your heart, hope to die?"

Answer

This is a saying that children use to make a promise. The child draws an X over his heart with his finger and says "Cross my heart, hope to die." He may also add "stick a needle in my eye." to make the promise stronger. It means he is serious about the promise.

So, for example, two children might talk like this:

Tommy: "Do you promise you won't tell anybody our secret?"

Billy: "I promise."

Tommy: "Really? Are you sure?"

Billy: "Cross my heart, (makes an X over his heart with his finger) hope to die, stick a needle in my eye." (points to his eye as if he will put a needle in it if he breaks his promise)
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HI everyone,

A lot of English students (B1 and B2 ) have a really hard time forming questions in English. What form of the verb should you use? Is an auxiliary verb necessary? What order should the words be in?

First, let’s review the difference between a subject and an object.
The subject of a sentence is the person or thing that performs the action:

*We want some fruit juice.

*Karen likes Fred.

*Smoking causes cancer.

*Daniel made a sandwich.

*The earthquake damaged my house.

*Jennifer lied to Sam.

The object of a sentence is the person or thing that is acted upon, or receives the action:

*We want some fruit juice. 

*Karen likes Fred.

*Smoking causes cancer

*Daniel made a sandwich.
*The earthquake damaged my house.
*Jennifer lied to Sam.

Object questions in English
Most questions in English are object questions – we want to know about the receiver of the action. These questions follow the QUASM formula: Question word – Auxiliary verb – Subject – Main verb.
For questions in the simple present, the auxiliary verbs are do and does:

*What do you want to drink?

*We want some fruit juice.

*Who does Karen like?

*Karen likes Fred.

*What does smoking cause?

*Smoking causes cancer.

For questions in the simple past, the auxiliary verb is did:

*What did Daniel make?

*Daniel made a sandwich.

*What did the earthquake damage?

*The earthquake damaged my house.

*Who did Jennifer lie to?

*Jennifer lied to Sam.

Subject questions in English

However, sometimes we want to ask about the subject. We don’t know the person or thing who performed the action, and we want to find out.

This type of question is called a subject question, and subject questions do NOT use the auxiliary verbs do, does, and did.
How to form subject questions:

Who / What + verb in simple present or simple past + object ?
Examples of subject questions in the simple present:

*Who wants some fruit juice?

*We want some fruit juice. 

*Who likes Fred?

*Karen likes Fred. 

*What causes cancer?

*Smoking causes cancer.

Examples of subject questions in the simple past:

*Who made a sandwich?

*Daniel made a sandwich. 

*What damaged your house?

*The earthquake damaged my house. 

*Who lied to Sam?

Jennifer lied to Sam.

Subject and Object Questions in Other Verb Tenses

In other verb tenses – present continuous, present perfect, etc. – the auxiliary verbs are forms of the verbs be and have. In these verb tenses, we still use the verbs be and have in both subject and object questions:
Present continuous:

Subject Q: Who is washing the car? 
Object Q: What is Paul washing?

Answer: Paul is washing the car.

Past continuous:

Subject Q: Who was talking about the problem?

Object Q: What was the manager talking about?

Answer: The manager was talking about the problem.

Present perfect:

Subject Q: Who has spent $1000 on a computer?

Object Q: How much have your parents spent on a computer?

Answer: My parents have spent $1000 on a computer.

Present perfect continuous:

Subject Q: Who has been working on this project?

Object Q: What have you been working on?

Answer: I have been working on this project.

Future with WILL:

Subject Q: What will help the students?

Object Q: Who will this book help?

Answer: This textbook will help the students.

Future with GOING TO:

Subject Q: Who is going to order dessert?

Object Q: What are you going to order?

Answer: We are going to order dessert.

The simplest rule for subject/object questions

When you are going to ask a question in the simple present or simple past using who or what, ask yourself,

“Am I asking about the doer of the action or the receiver of the action?”
If you’re asking about the doer/subject, then DON’T use do/does/did:
Who does want fruit juice? (WRONG)

Who wants fruit juice?

What did damage your house?(WRONG)

What damaged your house?

If you’re asking about the receiver/object, then YES – use do/does/did:

What do you want to drink?

What did the earthquake damage?

OK? And now for the quiz:

Quiz: Subject & Object Questions in English

Question 1 
My sister enjoyed the movie.
A Who did enjoy the movie?
B Who enjoyed the movie?

Question 2 
Teresa visits Germany every summer.
A What country does Teresa visit every summer?
B What country Teresa visits every summer?

Question 3 
The dog broke the TV.
A What did the dog break?
B What the dog broke?

Question 4 
I left my keys at the office.
A Who did leave their keys at the office?
B Who left their keys at the office?

Question 5 
Nathan gave me a bottle of wine.
A What did Nathan give you?
B What Nathan gave you?

Question 6 
The repairman fixed my roof.
A Who did fix your roof?
B Who fixed your roof?

Question 7 
The traffic made me late for work.
A What did make you late for work?
B What made you late for work?

Question 8 
Insurance costs $100 per month.
A How much does insurance cost?
B How much insurance costs?

Question 9 
Alyssa hired Joe for the job.
A Who did Alyssa hire for the job?
B Who Alyssa hired for the job?

Question 10 
The beautiful beach draws tourists to this area.
A What does draw tourists to this area?
B What draws tourists to this area?

Question 11 
Peter warned Ralph about the danger.
A Who did warn Ralph about the danger?
B Who warned Ralph about the danger?

Question 12 
We invite everyone to our parties.
A Who do you invite to your parties?
B Who you invite to your parties?

Question 13 
My friend helped me move to a new apartment.
A Who did help you move to a new apartment?
B Who helped you move to a new apartment?

Question 14 
Henry plays the trumpet.
A What musical instrument does Henry play?
B What musical instrument Henry plays?

Question 15 
I want you to lead this project.
A Who do you want to lead this project?
B Who you want to lead this project?

Answers
Question 1B Explanation: This is a SUBJECT question.

Question 2A Explanation:This is an OBJECT question.

Question 3A Explanation: This is an OBJECT question.

Question 4B Explanation: This is a SUBJECT question.

Question 5A Explanation: This is an OBJECT question.

Question 6B Explanation: This is a SUBJECT question.

Question 7B Explanation: This is a SUBJECT question.

Question 8A Explanation: This is an OBJECT question.

Question 9A Explanation: This is an OBJECT question.

Question 10B Explanation: This is a SUBJECT question.

Question 11B Explanation: This is a SUBJECT question.

Question 12A Explanation: This is an OBJECT question.

Question 13B Explanation: This is a SUBJECT question.

Question 14A Explanation: This is an OBJECT question.

Question 15A Explanation:This is an OBJECT question.

Bye for now.
Karl
http://www.myskypelessons.com/
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Hello everyone, 

At IELTS, correct prefix usage is a must!

Bye for now, 

Karl
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Hello everyone, 

In this lesson (part one), I will help you to answer the IELTS writing task 2 discussion (or discuss both views) questions.

These particular questions require a different approach to opinion essays because you have to discuss both sides rather than just argue in favour of one side.

Discuss both views essay

This post will look at:

•Identifying the question

•Example Questions

•Structure

•Sample Answer

•Task Achievement

•Coherence and Cohesion

•Lexical Resource

Many students fail to do well in these kinds of questions because they do not do what the question asks them to do and they do not use an appropriate structure. This post will help you overcome these problems and give you a sample answer.

We will also look at ‘lexical resource’ and ‘coherence and cohesion’; two of the marking criteria IELTS examiners use when marking your essays. Understand the marking scheme will help you to get inside the head of an IELTS examiner and give then exactly what they want.

Identifying the Question 

Look at the three questions below and choose one you think is a discussion question.

1.Computers are being used more and more in education and so there will soon be no role for the teacher in education.

To what extent do you agree or disagree?
 2.Computers are being used more and more in education.

Discuss the advantages and disadvantages and give your own opinion.

3.Computers are being used more and more in education. Some people say that this is a positive trend, while others argue that it is leading to negative consequences.

Discuss both sides of this argument and then give your own opinion.

The first question is an opinion question and we can tell this from the instructions ‘To what extent do you agree or disagree?’.

The second question is obviously an advantages and disadvantages question.

The third question is the discussion question. We can tell this from the typical instructions in the question ‘Discuss both sides of the argument and then give your opinion’.

You may also be asked to ‘Discuss both views and give you opinion’ or ‘Discuss both sides of the argument and give your opinion’.

Each of these questions is asking us to do different things and we therefore need a different structure for each question.

Example Questions

Here are a few other typical discussion questions:

1.A growing number of people feel that animals should not be exploited by people and that they should have the same rights as humans, while others argue that humans must employ animals to satisfy their various needs, including uses for food and research.

Discuss both views and give your opinion.

2.Blood sports have become a hot topic for debate in recent years. As society develops it is increasingly seen as an uncivilized activity and cruel to the helpless animals that are killed. All blood sports should be banned.

Discuss the main arguments for this statement and give your own opinion.
 3.Some people think that the best way to reduce crime is to give longer prison sentences. Others, however, believe there are better alternative ways of reducing crime.

Discuss both views and give your opinion.

As you can see, they typically state two opinions and then ask you to discuss both and give your opinion. Make sure you do these things in the essay. If you only discuss both views and fail to give your opinion you will lose marks.

Structure

Agree or disagree lesson

For discussion questions, I suggest you use the following four paragraph structure.

Introduction 

Sentence 1- Paraphrase Question

Sentence 2- State Both Points of View

Sentence 2- Thesis Statement

Sentence 3- Outline Sentence

Main Body Paragraph 1

Sentence 1- State first viewpoint

Sentence 2- Discuss first viewpoint

Sentence 3- Reason why you agree or disagree with viewpoint

Sentence 4- Example to support your view

Main Body Paragraph 2

Sentence 1- State second viewpoint

Sentence 2- Discuss second viewpoint

Sentence 3- Reason why you agree or disagree with viewpoint

Sentence 4- Example to support your view

Conclusion 

Sentence 1- Summary

Sentence 2- State which one is better or more important

Practice 

Here is a sample answer but I have mixed up the sentences. Can you match the sentences below to the structure above?

This exercise will help you understand the structure.

1.In conclusion, while the benefits of technology, particularly the internet, allow students to tap in to limitless sources of information, some still feel that people should be wary of this new 
 phenomenon and not allow it to curb face to face interaction.

2.There is an ever increasing use of technology, such as tablets and laptops, in the classroom.

3.It is clear that the internet has provided students with access to more information than ever before.

4.Moreover, learners have the ability to research and learn about any subject at the touch of a button. It is therefore agreed that technology is a very worthwhile tool for education.

5.However, many disagree and feel that technology deprives people of real human interaction.

6.Human interaction teaches people valuable skills such as discourse, debate and empathy.

7.Despite this, human interaction is still possible through the internet and this essay disagrees technology should be dismissed for this reason.

8.It is agreed that an increase in technology is beneficial to students and teachers. This essay will discuss both points of view before coming to a reasoned conclusion.

9.For instance, Skype and Facebook make it possible for people to interact in ways that were never before possible.

10.Wikipedia is a prime example, where students can simply type in any keyword and gain access to in-depth knowledge quickly and easily.

11.However, as long as we are careful to keep in mind the importance of human interaction in education, the educational benefits are clearly positive.

12.It is often argued that this is a positive development, whilst others disagree and think it will lead to adverse ramifications.

Example Answer 

Computers are being used more and more in education. Some people say that this is a positive trend, while others argue that it is leading to negative consequences.

Discuss both sides of this argument and then give your own opinion.

There is an ever increasing use of technology, such as tablets and laptops, in the classroom. It is often argued that this is a positive development, whilst others disagree and think it will lead to adverse ramifications. It is agreed that an increase in technology is beneficial to students and teachers. This essay will discuss both points of view before coming to a reasoned conclusion.

It is clear that the internet has provided students with access to more information than ever before. Moreover, learners have the ability to research and learn about any subject at the touch of a button. It is therefore agreed that technology is a very worthwhile tool for education. Wikipedia is a prime example, where students can simply type in any keyword and gain access to in-depth knowledge quickly and easily.

However, many disagree and feel that technology deprives people of real human interaction. Human interaction teaches people valuable skills such as discourse, debate and empathy. Despite this, human interaction is still possible through the internet and this essay disagrees technology should be dismissed for this reason. For instance, Skype and Facebook make it possible for people to interact in ways that were never before possible.

In conclusion, while the benefits of technology, particularly the internet, allow students to tap in to limitless sources of information, some still feel that people should be wary of this new phenomenon and not allow it to curb face to face interaction. However, as long as we are careful to keep in mind the importance of human interaction in education, the educational benefits are clearly positive.

Part two next  - bye for now.

Karl
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Morning Karl,
I have a question for you: Can we say I arrive to work at 9 o'clock or do we need to use "at"? Also can we say I was late to class or do we need to use "in"? 

Thank you,
Stefan

Hi  Stefan, 

Thanks for your question. The worst thing about prepositions is that there are no nice simple rules to let you know how to use them with certain words. Your question, Stefan, demonstrates this. In most cases you just have to learn the prepositions that go with certain words. Let’s look at your two verbs: to arrive and to be late.

‘Arrive‘ can be followed by several prepositions depending on what is following, look at these:
*I arrived for work in the morning. (arrive + for where ‘work’ is a task or job to undertake)
*I arrived at work in the morning. (arrive + at where ‘work’ is a place)
*I arrived in time to see her. (arrive + in time where there is a temporal aspect)

So, in terms of your first question, I would say that you can use ‘for‘ or ‘at‘ depending on what sense you want to give ‘work’ (a place or a task).

Your second question with ‘to be late‘ is a bit different, so I don’t think either of your options is correct.
The statement ‘I was late for class’ is the correct usage … late for something. 

Hope that’s helped!

Regards, 

Karl



For help with grammar, speak to Karl at www.myskypelessons.com 
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Dear Karl

I'm never sure which word is the correct term - 1) Using the services of my company ENSURES the task is completed correctly, on time & on budget! OR 2) Using the services of my company INSURES the task is completed correctly, on time & on budget! Also please explain how I can make this determination on my own in the future. 

Kind regards, 

Kumi


Hi Kumi,

Thanks for your question as this seems to be a set of those easily confused words that often baffle my students. To assure something is to make certain that it will happen or has happened or to promise that something will be done as said:
*I assure you that I will be on time for work tomorrow.
*Economic prosperity is assured by the Presidential candidate if he is elected.
*The Presidential candidate assured his listeners that there would be no more poverty once she was elected
*They assured me that there was no danger swimming with the crocodiles.
*She assured me that she loved me even though she had forgotten my name.

To ensure something is to take steps to make sure that something happens:
*He ensured his own defeat in the election by failing to argue convincingly on any topic.
*Including air bags in cars ensures that you are protected when your car crashes.
*The captain ensured the safety of all of his passengers by double-checking the aircraft before take-off.

To insure something is to take precautions against something undesirable happening and, of course, is best remembered when you think of an 'insurance policy':
*You can insure yourself against losing your home by taking out a home insurance policy.
*The hostages were held by the terrorists as insurance against government attacks.

So far, so good and now for the complications!  Ensure and insure are often used interchangeably to mean 'to make sure of something'. Practically, this means that as long as the meaning is 'making sure of something' you can get away with using either one. Which means, of course, that both of your sentences would be correct. However, there are people who will insist upon using only ensure in this sense, using insure for talking about legal and financial protection and if you decided to follow this (rather small!) group then only your first sentence would be correct. Insure is always used when referring to matters of legal and financial protection (e.g., insurance) : "
*Insuring your car against theft is important if you live in a big city.
*I have insured myself against accidental death so that my children have some money if I die.

In terms of remembering all of this, Kumi, I don't know of any handy memory trick or mnemonic for this group but what I will do is put together an exercise for you over the next few days and post it to the members' web with the link to it here so that you can do that a few times to reinforce your understanding of the words.
Well, I hope I have answered your question, Kumi.
By for now, 

Karl

For help with grammar, speak to Karl at www.myskypelessons.com 
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Hello, 
I've been learning English in Germany and tomorrow I will do an examination in English grammar. I have a big problem with using of adjectives and adverbs. I do not understand the difference between them. When is the adjective use and when the adverb??? Please, can you help me? It is very important for me.

 Yours truly Nadia

Hi Nadia, 

Very simply, an adjective qualifies a noun. For example, a beautiful girl, a hot day, a cold drink, etc.

While an adverb qualifies a verb. For example, she speaks quickly; the snake moved slowly; the man ran fast, etc.

For help with grammar, speak to Karl at www.myskypelessons.com 
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Hello everyone, 


Each weekend , I'll post a particular grammar point which is essential for success in your IELTS exam.But before we go into detail, try this quick quiz. In which of the questions below can you substitute ‘can/could’ with ‘be able to’ and vice versa? And can you explain why?




1) How many languages can you speak?


 2) Do you think you will be able to understand this grammar point?


 3) Have you been able to study OK recently?


 4) Do you think it’s important to be able to speak a foreign language perfectly?


 5) Could you do anything when you were younger that you can’t do now?


In this lesson we’ll look at when we use ‘can’ and when ‘be able to’ is required when talking about ‘ability’.


Uses


‘Can’,  ‘could’ and ‘be able to’ are all used to describe ability but there are important differences that you should be aware of. 


a) Can is preferred if we are talking about a general ability:




Can you speak French?
 I can play the piano quite well.


b) ‘Be able to’ is normally used to refer to ability in the future:




I won’t be able to start university until next year.
 Do you think you’ll be able to get a job when you leave college?


c) In positive sentences, ‘could’ and ‘be able to’ are used to talk about general ability in the past.




I could/was able to swim really well when I was younger. (generally)


However, if we are talking about the ability to do something on one particular occasion in the past, we use ‘be able to’. Many upper-intermediate and advanced level students get this rule wrong and use ‘could’. For example, this is incorrect:




The course was hard but I could pass the exam. (X)


This should be:




The course was hard but I was able to pass the exam. (particular occasion)


TIP: ‘Succeed in’ and ‘manage to’ are useful alternatives to ‘able to’ when we are talking about the ability to do something on one particular occasion:




I managed to pass the exam … (more common)
 I succeeded in passing the exam …


d) In negative sentences, however, ‘couldn’t’/’wasn’t able to’ can be used to talk about inability to do something on a particular occasion:




I couldn’t/wasn’t able to understand my teacher in the first lesson but now it’s OK.


e) After modal or auxiliary verbs (be, do, have, should, etc) or ‘to+infinitive’ structures, ‘be able to’ is used:




I should be able to take a holiday this year.
 I think it’s important to be able to do basic first aid.


So let’s look again at the question we posed at the beginning: in which of the questions below can you substitute ‘can/could’ with ‘be able to’ and vice versa? And can you explain why?




1) How many languages can you speak?




 2) Do you think you will be able to understand this grammar point?


 3) Have you been able to study OK recently?


 4) Do you think it’s important to be able to speak a foreign language perfectly?


 5) Could you do anything when you were younger that you can’t do now?


Can and ‘able to’ are possible in questions 1 and 5 as these are referring to general ability.
‘Able to’ is the only possible choice in 2 as it refers to the future.
‘Able to’ is the only possible choice in 3 because if follows an auxiliary verb.
‘Able to’ is the only possible choice in 4 because it follows  a ‘to+infinitive’ structure.


Over to you


Practise the use of ‘can’ and ‘able to’. Describe a time when you succeeded in facing a challenge. For example:




I was never able to swim – it was always frustrating whenever I went on holiday and I wasn’t able to/couldn’t join my friends or family when they all went in the sea. So recently I decided to learn and was able to find a really good trainer at a local sports centre. I’ve taken several lessons now and the last time I went I was able to swim a length. Now, it’s great to be able to say ‘I can swim’!


I hope this has been useful.


Bye for now, 


Karl
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Hello everyone, 

As I have a number of students who are studying for the Business English Certificate or BEC, it might be useful to focus on the BEC Higher Speaking Test. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the basics.

Duration: 16 minutes.

Participants: Candidates are interviewed in pairs. (Centres with an odd number of candidates will have a group of three in the final interview of the session). There are two examiners present: one examiner acts as the interviewer, asks the questions and makes a global assessment, while the second assessor makes a detailed assessment and doesn't speak during the interview.

Format: There are three parts to the test.

BEC Higher Speaking Test: Part 1 (Interview)

Part 1 of the BEC Higher Speaking test lasts approximately 3 minutes (5 minutes for a group of three). After some introductory questions, candidates are asked a personalised work-related question and a more general, work related question. Please note that the aim of the exam at this stage is to test the candidate’s ability to use language for social purposes, e.g. make introductions, ask and answer questions, express and give reasons for personal opinions.

Example Questions

The interview will begin with the examiner saying something like:

Q: Hello. My name is ........ and this is my colleague ........ 

Q: And your names are?

Q: Can I have your mark sheets please? ........ Thank you.

The examiner will then ask each candidate some questions. For example:

Q: Where are you from?

Q: Could you explain why you're taking the BEC exam?

Q: Have you got a job at the moment?

Q: Are employment opportunities for graduates good in your country?

Tips!
 It's important to give relevant answers to these questions. 

1) Avoid short, uncommunicative answers. 

Q: Where are you from?

A: I come from Spain ... from Madrid, but I've been living in Paris for the past year. (Keep going!) I had the chance to come to France to study at university and decided to stay here for a few years more to get work experience.

2) Avoid short, 'yes', 'no' answers.
 Q: Could you explain why you're taking the BEC exam?

A: Yes certainly! I'm hoping to work for a large financial company in London ... as you can probably imagine it's very competitive to get a good job in this profession so. I decided to take BEC to help me with my career. 

Q: Have you got a job at the moment?

A: No, not a full-time job. I work part-time in a local restaurant. It's a nice job and the people are lovely but it's not something I want to spend the rest of my life doing. 

3) Think of examples to help you explain something that you've said.

Q: Are employment opportunities for graduates good in your country?

A: There are lots of opportunities for people who have experience but it can be difficult to get a good position when you come straight out of university. (Give an example!) I've got a lot of friends who are like me ... having to work in part-time jobs while they look for a better position. Obviously some degrees are more marketable than others so it depends on the person's qualification.

BEC Higher Speaking Test: Part 2 (Mini-Presentation)

Part 2 of the BEC Higher interview lasts about six minutes (eight minutes for groups of three). Each candidate is given a card listing three different topics. Each candidate chooses one of the topics on their card to talk about for 1 minute. The candidates are given one minute to prepare and may make notes. When prompted, Candidate 1 gives their talk while Candidate 2 listens but does not speak. At the end of the minute, Candidate 2 asks Candidate 1 a brief question about the talk and Candidate 1 makes a brief reply. The task is then repeated with Candidate 2 presenting and Candidate 1 listening and asking a question at the end.

N.B. Here the focus is on testing the candidate's ability to sustain a long turn while speaking coherently, listening and responding to a talk with appropriate questions.

Example Task

The examiner will say something on the lines of:

Q: In this part of the exam I'm going to give each of you a choice of three different topics. I'd like you to select one of the topics and talk about it for about 1 minute. You'll have about one minute to prepare this and you're allowed to make notes if you want to. Now, here are your topics ... and you can make notes on the spare paper while you are preparing to talk but please don't write on your topic sheets. All right?

Q: Now, (Candidate 1), would you begin by telling us which topic you've chosen?

(Example Topic)

A: Customer relations: the importance of politeness when dealing with customers

B: Training: how to ensure training opportunities are taken up by as many staff as possible 

C: Advertising: the issues to consider when drawing up an advertising budget for a new product


 N.B. The choice of three questions range from a very general, business-related topic for candidates with little or no work experience to one that can be answered by someone with work experience. It's therefore a task that all candidates should be able to deal with.

Tips!

1. Use your 1 minute preparation time wisely and make notes of the points you'd like to make. 

2. Structure your talk with a clear beginning, middle and end. Help the examiner and your partner to follow your talk by signposting your presentation clearly. When giving examples make this clear through expressions such as:

"For instance ..."
 "Take … for example ..." 
 "To give you an example ..."
 "A case in point is ..."
 "To illustrate this ..."
 "To show you what I mean ..."

3. Start your talk with a powerful, attention-grabbing introduction. Instead of beginning rather unimaginatively with: 'It is really important to be polite to customers ... '. try something like: 'In the highly-competitive world we live in the last thing we want to do is lose business through poor customer relations.' 

4. If you're concerned about not having enough to talk about for 1 minute or running out of time before you've finished, the answer is to practise as often as possible. Time yourself and ask a friend for feedback. 

5. Make sure you listen carefully while your partner is presenting as you will need to think of a relevant question to ask at the end.

BEC Higher Speaking Test: Part 3: (Collaborative Task & Follow-Up Questions)

In Part 3 of the BEC Speaking test, which lasts about seven minutes (nine minutes for groups of three), the examiner will give you and your partner a card that contains a business-related situation with two questions for discussion. You will have 30 seconds to read the card. The examiner will not participate in the discussion until the end when he or she will ask each candidate questions related to the topic.

N.B. Here the focus is on testing the candidate's ability to initiate a discussion, ask for and give opinions, agree and disagree,develop comments made by others and generate new ideas, and be sensitive to turn-taking.

Example Task

The examiner will say something on the lines of:

Q: 'Now this part of the test is a discussion activity. You have about thirty seconds to read this task carefully and then about three minutes to discuss and decide about it together. You're expected to give reasons for your decisions and opinions. OK? Now you don't need to write anything. Is that clear?

Q: I'll just listen and then ask you to stop after about three minutes but please speak so that we can hear you. All right?

(Example Topic)

Staff Training 

In order to show its commitment to the environment and sustainability your company has decided to dedicate a training day to the importance of responsible environmental actions the company and staff can take. You have been asked to come up with some general ideas to promote on the training day.

Discuss and decide together:
 - What kinds of actions the staff and company could take to be more environmentally friendly 
 - how you would promote the training event to encourage staff to approach the event with a positive frame of mind.


 Notice that the task is in the form of a role play or simulation and you should treat this as a real-life task. Work with your partner as if you are both in this situation, sharing opinions and trying to reach a decision. 

Tips!

It will help both yourself and your partner if you work together collaboratively on this task.

1. Be prepared to ask your partner for his or her opinion rather than simply stating your own.

2. Listen 'actively' to what your partner says, responding to comments he or she makes.

3. If you need time to think, use expressions such as: 

"That's a good question."
 "It's funny you should ask."
 "Well, to cut a long story short ..."
 "Well, to be honest ..."
 "It's difficult to say."
 "Let me think ..."

Well, I’ll sign off now. If you find this post useful, please share. 

Bye for now,
 Karl
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