The beauty of being an ESL teacher is that you have an endless list of topics you can have a lesson on, no matter how niche or unusual they may seem. The other day, one of my B2-level students mentioned that his dream is to go to Iceland to see puffins, and wouldn’t you like to know what I found a day later? An FCE listening on puffins. Coincidence? I don’t think so.
I’d say that my main job and priority is with the Cambridge exam candidates. I often frequent the Cambridge official website to see if there’s anything new or if I’ve missed any other teaching materials. Much to my surprise, there was an FCE sample paper that I haven’t seen yet. I was even more astonished when I realized that the listening paper has one part centred around puffins. I couldn’t pass on this occasion and prepare a lesson on those extraordinary birds.
This lesson is a continuation of my series of lesson plans based on actual Cambridge exam materials. You can find the worksheet with the teacher’s notes at the end of the post. If you are looking for the source of this material, you can find it in Sample Paper 1 for B2 for Schools.
I thought that this topic can be introduced in two ways. Either a good old-fashioned hangman with the word puffin or by showing a picture of a puffin and eliciting the name of the bird. Since my student loves this bird, I thought that I was going to surprise him with a short game of hangman, followed by a discussion on what my student knows about this bird.
Another thing that came to my mind was that I’m not sure how familiar my student was with bird body parts. Even though his level is quite advanced, animal body parts are not frequently used, therefore it was worth reviewing/teaching these words. Show a picture of a puffin pointing to different body parts. If you want to make it a bit more fun, you can put students into pairs and ask them to come up with the names of those body parts. If you worry about time, then present them with vocabulary and ask them to write these words in the gaps (beak, webbed feet, nape, uppertail coverts, undertail coverts, tail).
Before getting into the FCE exam task, say that you are going to listen to a boy named Duncan who is talking about his experience studying puffins. Listen to the recording all the way through and discuss the answers to the following questions.
- Where did Duncan study puffins? (Iceland)
- Are puffins flightless birds? (No)
- Why do volunteers need to rescue young puffins? (Because they confuse the city lights with the stars and end up in towns instead of the sea)
Look at the typical FCE Listening Part 2 task. Before playing the recording again and completing the exercise, give students a hint on approaching it with the highest success rate. Say that before they listen to the recording in the exam, they will always get 45 seconds to look at the text. At this time, it’s good to underline any keywords and think about the synonyms that may appear in the recording.
Show a list of synonyms and match them with the words from the text that best fit them, for example, change direction = alter direction.
Instead of playing the whole listening, provide students with another piece of advice – be careful with the distractors! Show the first two sentences and three possible answers. Listen to the recording (0:00 – 0:51) and decide which of the answers is correct and why. Explain why the other two answers are incorrect. At the end of the teacher’s notes, you can find a transcript, so if this exercise turns out to be too challenging, you can always listen to the recording while reading the transcript.
Now it’s time to play the rest of the recording. Students write down the answers, keeping in mind that they need to write between one to three words. Check and discuss the answers. If needed, go over the transcript.
Finish this class on puffins by talking about any new puffin facts that your students learnt about and found interesting. Ask students to think about animals that are unique to their countries or regions. Are there any animals that they would like to see in their natural habitat? Proceed with speaking feedback and short error correction.
Click the link below to get the worksheet + the teacher’s notes and the transcript.