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How to prepare people for certificates

 
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Grimace420



Joined: 24 Sep 2011
Posts: 83
Location: Madriz

PostPosted: Mon Oct 15, 2012 2:25 pm    Post subject: How to prepare people for certificates Reply with quote

I've noticed that many English learners in Spain are obsessed with getting official certificates, such as the First Certificate, the Cambridge Advanced Exam or more rarely the Certificate of Proficiency. As such, there's a real opportunity in the private class market for specialising in the preparation of these exams (and being able to give group classes more easily). The only problem is that despite about 5 years of teaching English in Spain, I've got next to no experience in helping people get ready for these exams. How would I go about learning what's required for each one so that I wouldn't feel like a bullshit artist trying to help students study for them?

Any help would be appreciated.
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RoisinDubh



Joined: 23 Apr 2011
Posts: 29

PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2012 5:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My top tip is not to go NEAR a Cambridge exam class or teach exam classes to private students until you have a solid background in the structure of the exam and understand what is required to pass. I have two private CAE students here in Valencia who came to me after trying several cheaper teachers who didn't have a clue about the exam.

Apparently, the other teachers told them their English was 'really good' and that they didn't need to worry about the speaking exam, which is just shocking. Every Cambridge teacher knows it's all about the exam technique - 'speaking well' isn't going to get you anywhere unless you know what you need to do. Their writing had been really badly corrected, with half the mistakes left there, no explanation about why they were wrong, no suggestions of how to improve and worst of all, no concept of 'task achievement' - whether or not the students had addressed every part of the question.

I've been teaching Cambridge in language schools since 2008 and only now do I feel ready to take on private students and be their sole teacher. It's a serious commitment - they pay a lot of money to sit the exam and a lot of the time, they really need it for a job or internship. It's not something to be taken lightly. Sorry for the rant, but it annoys me so much that some teachers take on exam students for the money but have no idea how to teach them!

Anyway, I'd recommend buying the Teacher's Handbook for the exam you're interested in, getting one or more decent coursebooks and just familiarising yourself with the exam and what's required. If possible, talk to a colleague with lots of Cambridge experience and have a look online at sample writing answers and speaking exams (there are quite a few on YouTube) to give you an idea of the standard required. And don't take on exam students until you feel really confident that you understand what they need to do!
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9391
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2012 6:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ditto. The outcomes of these tests can be very high-stakes for the students, so as you are clearly already aware, Grimace, it's really important to know clearly what you're doing.

IELTS publishes their band score descriptors on their website; that's a good place to start for IELTS. They also describe test procedures and strategies pretty clearly, and give a range of models relating to different band scores.
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imisssaitama



Joined: 16 May 2013
Posts: 18
Location: Aragon, Spain

PostPosted: Thu May 23, 2013 2:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I won't teach exam classes anymore because I don't know what I'm doing. I don't have any interest in that area either which doesn't help. My school threw me into the classes with some "training" which amounted to someone talking to me for 20 minutes about the Cambridge exam system and giving me some things to read. The students deserve teachers who have been properly trained and teachers deserve proper training. We certainly shouldn't be thrown into classes of 8 or more students when we don't know what we're doing. As long as the schools get their money I don't suppose they care.
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9391
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Thu May 23, 2013 3:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good for you.
We can't be all things to all people - if teaching exam classes isn't your thing, it's only fair to everyone involved to stand your ground on this. Kudos. To many teachers try to juggle too many balls, and end up doing none of it particularly well.

For myself, I won't touch kiddies or low-level students with a ten-foot pole.
Nobody under B1 or 18 year of age for me - I'm just not good at it!
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SirKirby



Joined: 03 Oct 2007
Posts: 250
Location: Barcelona, Spain

PostPosted: Mon May 27, 2013 5:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You will actually find lots of information, resources for teachers etc on the Cambridge English site: http://www.cambridgeenglish.org/, though you'd hope a school would provide lots of support and training for anyone unfamiliar with the exams. A knowledgeable colleague also teaching for the same levels is ideal.

For anyone hoping to find work in a language school in Spain, knowledge of, and experience of teaching for Cambridge exams is a big plus to put on your CV.

It's also possible to find work as an oral examiner, as an extra source of income.
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Paper_Cat



Joined: 11 Apr 2013
Posts: 20

PostPosted: Sat Jun 08, 2013 11:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

PRO TIP: Practise doing the exam yourself on the free exam samples you can find on the internet. You'll soon notice different recurring patterns.

a) Some phrasal verbs and expressions are used as 'answers' all the time.
b) Some exercises are repeated.
c) Some writing subjects are easier to prepare for than others.

Hope I helped.
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RabbitWho



Joined: 16 Jan 2010
Posts: 32
Location: Spain

PostPosted: Tue Jun 18, 2013 7:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with what everyone said except that I don't want to scare anyone off.

There is learning English and there is learning exams, we already know English, we can learn the exams, the students have to after all. It just takes a lot of work and preparation.
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