First lesson for B2 Cambridge exam preparation

I was always looking for the perfect first class for exam preparation. Right after I finished CELTA, I had the pleasure of teaching B1 and B2 Cambridge intensive summer courses. As I was still on the high from passing CELTA, I analysed and prepared two full Compact books, including language analysis, possible problems (and solutions) and CCQs!

However, the part that I’m most proud of must be the lesson plan for the very first class. If you’ve ever taught an intensive course, you know that you don’t have that much time to waste and you need to move quite fast. That’s why I decided to combine an introduction class, mock speaking exam and language level assessment all in one 60 minute class. I couldn’t be happier that Joanna post-CELTA was so organised, as she really saved me some time. Especially now, when I have three B2 exam candidates who will all follow those plans, of course within a reason.

This lesson consists of a lesson plan and it closely follows the speaking part of the Cambridge Sample Paper 1 for B2 First. Download the sample paper to see the speaking guide, pictures needed for Part 2 and prompts needed for Part 3! All the other files you can download for free at the end of the post.

As this is an example of the very first lesson, I start it with a short introduction of myself. I like to describe who I am, what I do, my likes and dislikes, and where and who I live with. I try to keep it personal, as I want my students to feel free to talk about their preferences and lives without the feeling of being judged. If I work with groups, I would give them two minutes to think of 3 extra questions for me. These can be about anything that they want to know!

The next step is for my students to say some basic information about themselves. I do it in this way because I want them to mimic my introduction. Even though your students introduce themselves quite often, there is always this moment when their minds go blank, so in this way, they already had some ideas of what they can say.

Once you finish this part, give each student one or two questions from the downloadable file B2 – Speaking Part 1 and Part 4. Students choose the questions at random without seeing them and write two sentence answers. They read their answers and the rest of the group guesses their questions. Once everyone is done, you can ask them if they found this task difficult. Hopefully, they will say ‘no’ and that’s when you can reveal that they’ve just completed Speaking Part 1. Trust me that once they realize that this was an actual exam task, it’ll make them feel so much better!

Then move on to Part 2. Students already know that you are following the exam paper, so you don’t need to keep it a secret! Start by showing two pictures that you can find in the sample paper. Divide students into two groups. Each group thinks of as many words that they can use to describe the pictures. Share the vocabulary and then you can either discuss it as a group or mix students in pairs (picture 1 and picture 2 student) so they can find similarities and differences. Once this task is completed, go to the second set of pictures that show gardens. You can ask students to work in pairs and compare them for 1′.

Part 3 starts by talking about the town you are in. You can ask students a general question What attracts tourists to your town. Students can work in groups and think about different activities and places, or you can do it as a group and present the answers in the form of a mind map. Then show the actual Part 3 task with five prompts around. Check if any of the answers are similar to their ideas. Choose one of the prompts (I normally choose the one about a nightclub) and yet again divide students into two groups – one group discusses the advantages and the other disadvantages of a nightclub on tourism. Then mix one student from the advantages group with one from the disadvantages group so they can present their ideas to each other. And just like that, students should already have an idea about this part of the exam. If you want, you can choose one of the stronger students to present this part with you, or if you have a strong group, you can already ask them to do the task on their own.

Before you realize, you are about to finish the class! Finish with a general discussion about opinions aka Part 4. Explain that the theme of Part 4 is always related to Part 3, so during the exam, your students can already start predicting the type of questions that they may be asked! You can either give one question at random or do it as a group discussion.

Remember to always take notes on all the positive things you heard during this class and all the things that need to be improved. I would finish this class with some good old error corrections. You can write the mistakes on the board and give your students a chance to correct themselves. You can also ask them to identify the type of error (vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation, etc.). In this way, you also introduce them to different areas of speaking assessment criteria!

And just like that! The class is over! If your classes are a bit longer, or you had some really quick speakers, you can end this class by showing the video of the actual Cambridge speaking exam that uses the exact same paper you just did in this class! If not, you can ask your future exam candidates to watch it as homework.

As I said before, this is my go-to class for all my exam preparation classes and intensive courses, where the time is so precious that I need my students to get into the exam mindset ASAP. You can download the lesson plan and the speaking prompts below!

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