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Mastering the English Language

This week, our 6th graders and 4th of ESO students will be culminating their efforts with the Cambridge English exams. We are very proud of our students. They are smart, and confident and have improved a lot in their ability to express themselves and interact with others in a second language.

logo bilingual schoolWhen I was a little girl in the Philippines, my grandmother loved to teach me Spanish. She taught me how to say “Buenos dias!” and often said “Ven aquí” instead of “Come here”, along with countless other words and expressions. She even gave me booklets of Spanish text that I never bothered to read.

As someone who works at a school, I will sometimes have that one student who thinks learning English is pointless and boring. I won’t appreciate their attitude, but the truth is that was me whenever my grandmother tried to give me a Spanish lesson. I thought she was being weird. “No one in our world speaks Spanish”. I thought as I endured her.

Fast forward to the present day, living and working in Madrid, you can probably imagine what my world now looks like (and how wrong I turned out to be). It turns out my grandmother wasn’t weird. She was just wise, cultured, and cosmopolitan, trying to prepare me for a world and a future that I was still incapable of imagining.

Learning and mastering a second languaje

Learning and mastering a second language is hard, continuous work. This is why students at Colegio Alkor are incredibly privileged to have not just one misunderstood family member, but a whole system of teachers, native language assistants, a robust curriculum, and fun activities to hone their English skills, beginning from the time they are in Infantil.

Learning and mastering a second language is hard, continuous work. This is why students at Colegio Alkor are incredibly privileged to have not just one misunderstood family member, but a whole system of teachers, native language assistants, a robust curriculum, and fun activities to hone their English skills, beginning from the time they are in Infantil.

This week, our 6th graders and 4th of ESO students will be culminating their efforts with the Cambridge English exams. We are very proud of our students. They are smart, and confident and have improved a lot in their ability to express themselves and interact with others in a second language.

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Tips to ace the Cambridge English Exams

As their exam date nears, here are some useful tips we have gathered to ace the Cambridge English exams:

Reading

Don’t jump to answer questions before reading the whole text first. Read the instructions, title, subtitles, as well as the words that come before and after the gaps that you have to fill in. Certain Cambridge questions are tricky on purpose to test whether you really understood the text. Never just choose an answer because you saw one word or sentence.

Cambridge english

Writing

Write clearly, check your spelling carefully, and work on how you organize your ideas logically. Use a range of vocabulary and grammatical structures. Express your opinions clearly and coherently.

B1 examinees will need to write 100 words for each question, while B2 examinees will need to write 140-190 words per question.

Cambridge english

Listening

Try to answer the questions when you hear the recording for the first time. Use the second time the recording is played to check if your answers are correct. Answer all questions even if you’re not sure.

Cambridge englishSpeaking

Listen to both the interlocutor and your partner. When it comes to discussing topics together, make sure to not only state your opinion, but to respond as well to what your partner says and ask questions. Pay attention to whether a topic or task requires you to merely share different opinions, or to collaborate more with your partner to achieve a common goal. Try to answer questions with more than just one word. 

Don’t worry if the interlocutor interrupts you. It is their job to make sure to make sure the exam finishes on time.

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As a bonus, here’s a great tip for absorbing new languages from one of my favorite English speakers, Trevor Noah, who says language is mostly about rhythm:

Learning English for real life

Practice tests are very useful to become familiar with the Cambridge exam format, but it is also important to improve your general language and communication skills outside the classroom and the official materials. Consistent practice is essential to language acquisition. And how do you make sure you practice on a regular basis? You do this by finding ways that you actually enjoy.

  • Read what you like to read, whether that’s blogs, books, or social media posts about topics you are interested in. In my case, for learning Spanish I like comics or illustrated books about grown-up topics like psychology. I find that accompanying text with engaging visuals helps me digest and enjoy the material more. Maybe you have a favorite book or comic that is also written in English. You can start with that.
  • The same goes for listening. Use your free time to watch English movies or videos that you truly enjoy. Maybe most of those are on Tiktok. I know that I’ve learned a lot of Spanish from comedy Instagram reels by Spanish and Latino influencers.
  • Practice expressing your thoughts, both speaking and writing, with your friends, language partners, teachers, and perhaps even your family. If you keep a diary or agenda or write little notes, maybe sometimes you can do this in English, too.
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Practice doesn’t have to be grand. It’s usually the little things that build and compound over time. 

More information about Cambridge English Exams

For a more comprehensive list of tips and what to expect from the Cambridge B1 and B2 exams, you can check out the following links:

Good luck to all examinees! Ace the Cambridge exams, but don’t forget that the true reward of mastering English is having more access to this vast world we live in.

Catherine

Native English Language Assistant


Date de alta en nuestro grupo de telegram de @NoticiasAlcorcon


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