Rounding off our first months


If you still haven't done all the papers in test 1 and 2, you still have time to catch up with work. Next week we're moving on to tests 3 and 4. To be more precise, reading and use of English! You'll also get feedback on the oral tests!

Reading about different topics such as traveling, cultures, careers, places and professions is a good way to prepare for the oral test and the writing tasks.

I recommend you visit the websites suggested and do the exercises.

Explore the site and have fun!



Speaking - PAPER 5

Dear candidates,

Most of you have already had the chance to experience the PAPER 5 in the past two weeks. It is indeed a very challenging task and that's why we will repeat it two more times before the big day. Here's a useful tip for this type of task:

Do use some of the expressions we learned on Monday 28. And when you use them do sound natural and don't overuse them. Examiners don't want to hear two or three expressions at a time. Be subtle!

Rehearsing ( in the good sense ) will do you no harm, so it's a good idea to think of ways to insert some of those expressions in everyday speech.

That's what we will do next class!

Native speakers will use them here and there!

One thing that you can do is watch a talk show on Youtube (David Letterman, for example) and observe what speakers say to keep the conversation going. How do they agree or disagree with each other? Bring your findings next class.

Food for thought!

Have a nice holiday!


Key to task done in class

Here's the key to the exercise on verbs of speculation:

Exercise 1: Here are the five sentences that were incorrect. I've corrected them for you:

1. 1. I can't find my keys. I think I might have left them on my desk at work.

3. Sally's not answering the phone. She might have gone away for the weekend or perhaps she's just gone to the shops.

6. ... or it might not be the right size. Who knows?

7. Jim can't be going out with Sue; she's just got engaged to Doug.

9. It's a shame Mark hasn't come. He must have decided to stay at home.

Exercise 2: possible answers

1. He must have been running/He could have overworked last night
2. He must be on a diet/He's definetely on a diet/He could have eaten too much/He might have already eaten lunch/He might have a stomachache
3.THere must be something going on/There might be a parade today/The subway trains might have stopped working
4. She can't have watered them/There must have been a heat/She could have forgotten to water them/She must have left them in the sun for too long
5. THere might have been a crime/ Some neighbor might have seen something/Someone might have been murdered
6. He must have had a promotion/He might have received good news/It seems he has received good news/He can't have lost his job/ He could have won some money
7. Something must be going on/Something must have happened/ Those people might have seen something
9. you must have forgotten where exactly; this neighborhood is very safe/Your car might have been towed away/ Your car must have been towed away --- this is non parking zone/You might have parked it somewhere else you don't remember/You could have left your car in the parking lot (it is safer there) but you didn't!/You can't have parked your car here (look! it's not even a parking spot!)/They could not have towed your park away

Preparing for PAPER 5 - Speaking

Speaking is fundamentally an act that involves at least two participants. And because it is spontaneous, its outcome is unpredictable. Since it is part of our everyday lives, we should reflect on how we carry on a conversation in Portuguese to have a better understanding of what examiners expect us to do in the speaking test.

Along with speech, we use gestures, intonation, eye contact (a feature of our culture)and even our clothes say a lot abou our points of view and perspectives. It is the same in English. Here are some features of spoken language:

It is spontaneous;
In friendly conversations, we interact with our interlocutor and do everything possible to keep the conversation going;
We say 'hum hum' for example to show that we are listening;
we ask questions to know more details and build our speech on what our interlocutor has said, that is, they say something and we complement it;
gestures and facial expressions are there;
intonation is used to emphasize meaning: I bought ONE jacket, not TWO.
We make sure our voice is loud enough so that our interlocutor can hear us;
Use of 'fixed' expressions, for example, 'To my surprise...' 'not to mention...'

These are only a few features of spoken language and English and Portuguese speakers share these features. Eye contact for example is not a feature of some cultures, where speakers would be offended by that.

In this part of the test the candidate should convey ideas clearly and naturally and though there should be no rehearsal of longer sentences or whatsoever, it is always a good idea to have some expressions on the tip of our tongues to use when the situation requires us to do use them. Native speakers use them all the time so we should do the same and insert them in our speech.

In part 2 of the speaking test you are supposed to talk about photographs. Here are some expressions you can use:

Well ...
Let me see...
What else can I say?
Is there anything I can add to that?
I'm not quite sure, but I think...
I haven't thought about it before, but perhaps...
I don't really know, but I think...

We use these expressions to 'buy time' when we don't know exactly what to say. Remember that ideas come to mind at the moment we are speaking and we may need some time to elaborate on them before we actually say things.

Here are more expressions we can use especially in part 3 (collaborative task)

In opinion,...
To my mind...
From my point of view...
Personally, I think...
I strongly believe...
I totally agree...
I think so, too.
I agree up to a point.
I really don't agree.
I completely disagree.

Note that these expressions are used to talk about your opinion. Which ones sound less assertive?

Throughout the speaking test you are going to evaluate things and the words interesting, boring, good and bad are very common in everyday English. In fact, they are so common that they have become commonplace and you should avoid using them as they have lost much of the impact. What other words could we use to replace them? Here are a few suggestions:

GOOD - pleasant, agreeable, exceptional, excellent,satisfactory, sound, splendid, ,gratifying, superb, valuable, worthy, favorable, tip-top, neat, bad, awesome,super, respectable, positive, congenial,praiseworthy, pure, outstanding ...

INTERESTING -absorbing, appealing, affecting, amusing, amazing, captivating, beautiful, compelling, charismatic, attractive, impressive, intriguing, inviting, enthralling, stimulating, stirring, engaging, enchanting, thought-provoking, unusual...

BORING - dull, commonplace, dead, uninteresting, flat, colorless, prosaic, mundane, interminable, a drag, a bummer, unvaried, stuffed, wearisome, trite, stale, zero,spiritless, monotonous, routine, frivolous, repetitious, lifeless, tame, tedious,...

BAD - abominable, awful, horrible, careless, cheap, defective, erroneous, falty, crummy, downer, dreadful, incorrect, gross, icky, unsatisfactory, unacceptable, substandard, lousy, junky, inferior, off, poor, rough, imperfect, amiss, atrocious, mean, deficient, ...

As you can see, meanings for 'bad' can range from 'inferior' to 'atrocious'. Because 'bad' is so generic, it has taken different connotations along time. To be more precise we should use other words, but be careful when using them. Some words can be used to determine people while others can't. The possible combinations of a word are called 'collocations' and English speakers would accept the following:

The professor delivered a flat speech and the audience lost interest.

but would they accept

The professor delivered a tame speech...

Find out!

Well, most dictionaries give collocations. Why don't you look a few of these words up and include examples in your glossaries?

See you soon!