viernes, 23 de septiembre de 2016

Some advice to face writing tasks (Trinity Exams)


In previous posts, I have given you some advice to face the reading tasks .Now it is the turn of the writing tasks. In the new Trinity exams, there are two compulsory writing tasks: task 3 – reading into writing and task 4 extended writing.

Although producing a piece of writing may not seem very difficult for some, you have to take into account Trinity standards and assessment criteria.

Let’s see some steps that you can follow and put them into practice with an example. 

1. Read the texts carefull
2. Read the task carefully.   
3. Make sure you know:
    • Writing type (article/ essay/ letter/ email/ review) 
    • Style (formal/ informal/neutral)  
    • Topic  
    • Things you must write about.
4. Decide which information you are going to include in each paragraph.

5. Decide in which text you have the information you need.

6. Write the ideas that you have chosen from the text.

7. Write your composition.

8. Pay attention to the grammar you need to use and the assessment criteria





To put all this advice into practice, we are going to use the following example.

The wording of the task is the following:

Write an article for your school magazine (100–130 words) about doing sports in the gym. Use the information you read in Task 2 (pages 4–6) to:

- explain why it is good to do sports

- offer some alternatives to exercising in the gym

- give some examples of exercises we can do




After reading carefully the texts and the tasks, we go directly to step 3. In this step, we have to see what type of composition we are writing (article, essay, letter, email, review, report…), the style (formal, informal or neutral), what is the topic of the composition and, finally, what do you have to write about.

In the example above, we are writing an article, in a neutral style since it is for a school magazine, the topic is about doing sports in the gym and you must write about why it is good to do sports, give some alternatives to the gym and finally provide some examples of exercises.

Once we have done this, we are ready to continue to step 4 in which we are going to divide the information into paragraphs and we have “the skeleton” of our composition.

Our planning notes could be something similar to the image you have below


 


In step 5, we complete these notes a little bit, by looking for the information we are going to use in each paragraph and identify in which text we have it.
 

We are almost finishing our planning for task 3. Now we are going to include in our notes the specific information we will include in our writing. Your planning notes should look similar to the ones below.
 

 

Now, you are ready to start writing your composition. First, write it quickly and then, once it is finished, revise it to check the grammar and the structure of our writing taking into account Trinity standards and assessment criteria.
 

Here you have an example of composition that covers all this criteria mentioned above. Doing exercise in the gym

Doing sports has a lot of benefits for our health. For example, it helps us reduce the risk of suffering some chronic diseases, cancer, diabetes and obesity among others. The best option to exercise is going to the gym, but some people prefer other alternatives because the gym is expensive and sometimes far from your house.

If you don’t like going to the gym, you can do some simple activities that might be included in your daily life at home or in the park as walking the dog, use the stairs, use the free exercise machines and the mountain climber.

To conclude, everyone must do exercise because it’ll make you feel better. If you don’t like going to the gym, the alternatives offered are a good option.

Words: 127/130



The same steps can be followed to do task 4, except now, you do not have to use the information in the four texts of the previous tasks.

I hope all these posts containing advice for the Trinity exams have been useful for you. 

viernes, 16 de septiembre de 2016

Some advice to face TASK 2 – MULTI-TEXT READING (Trinity Exams)



As you may probably know, Trinity exams have suffered a change since September 2015. Before this date, in the written exam you only had to do two writing tasks. From September 2015, you have to do two reading tasks and two writing tasks.

In a previous post, I gave you some advice to face TASK 1. In this second post, we are going to see in detail task 2, the multi-text reading activity.

Let’s have a look at the format of this activity and the questions you have to answer. Here you have an example:
 
 


As you can see, you have four short texts that have a different number of words depending on the level. For ISE I (B1) the texts will be approximately 300 words for ISE II (B2) the texts will be 400 words and for ISE III (C1) the texts will be 500 words long. As in the previous text, you have to answer 15 questions. The text is factual and descriptive and they are the type of texts that a candidate is familiar with from his/ her own educational setting. One of the texts is an infographic, for example a diagram, a drawing, a map…etc.

The questions you have to answer are 15, divided in the following way:

Questions 16 to 20: multiple matching

In this section, the candidate chooses which text the sentence refers to. There are five questions but four texts; therefore, one of the letters corresponding to the texts must be repeated. Some useful reading skills that you could practice are skimming, scanning, reading for gist and understanding the main idea or purpose of a text.

Questions 21 to 25: selecting the true statements

In this part of the exam, the candidate must select the five true statements from a list of eight statements. The three that remain are false or they do not appear in the text. The candidate must demonstrate that they understand specific, factual information at the sentence level. To practice for this part of the exam you can practice reading to understand specific facts, information and significant points as well as the context in which this information appears. Also, you need to deduce meaning of words and phrases from context and how to scan specific information.

Questions 26 to 30: completing sentences

Here, you must complete the sentences with a word or phrase taken from the text. You cannot use more than three words. In this case, you have to demonstrate that you understand specific information at a word level.

Take into account that you will have 2 hours to complete the four tasks of the exam, so the key is to do the reading tasks quickly. Thus, you can spend more time on the writings.

What can you do to fulfil the questions quickly?


1. It would be a good option to write a short summary of each of the four texts while you are reading them for the first time. In this way, you will find the information you need for the task in a more efficient way.

2. Read questions 21 to 25 carefully, paying attention to what you are required to do. The important thing to remember here is that you need only 5 true statements out of the eight they have given you. Apart from this, another important thing is that they are usually ordered. What I mean is that the information that you need to know if statement A is true will be in text A and the infomation that you need to know if statement H s true will be in the last text. However, this is not always the case.

Also, it is a good idea to look for key words in the statements. By key words I mean words that you know appear a few times on the text. It will be easier to find the sentences quickly and see if the statement is true or not.

For instance, let’s take statement A as an example: “The most common reason for learning a language is to understand films and music”. As it is the first sentence, the information will be more likely to appear on text 1. A possible key word could be “reason”. If we have a look at text A, we see that here we have the reasons people want to learn a language, so our answer should be here. Having a look at the infograph we see that the majority of people who decide to learn a language do it for personal interest and enjoyment. Therefore, statement A is false. If you pay attention to both sentences (the sentence in the text and statement A) they both mean the same, but they have used different words to express them.

3. Read questions 26 to 30 carefully and remember that you have to use 3 words maximum and that these words have to be taken from the text. This is the most difficult task for students.

Here, it is very important that you read everything as the titles in bold in the summary notes can give you a clue about the text in which you can find the information to complete the task.

For instance, let’s do question 26 which says “[…]the language is required in order to study for a ……………………………”. If we follow the advice, when reading the title of this part of the summary notes (“The benefits of studying a second language”), we can guess that the information will me more to likely to be in text A, since it is the one that tells us the reasons to learn a language. Going back to text A, we see that the only part in which we have something related with “required” in the third sentence (“degree requirement”). Therefore, the answer to question 26 is “degree”.


I hope that this advice is useful for you. In the next post we will continue with more advice for the writing exam, specifically, for the writing part.

viernes, 22 de abril de 2016

PRACTISING LISTENING

One of the problems that everyone has when learning a new language is listening, that is to say, the ability to listen and understand what you are listening. Specifically, the problem is that we do not recognise the words. However, if we are reading those same words, we understand everything and know the meaning of what we are reading.

To make the connection between the written word and the spoken word, the best activity that you can do is to listen and, at the same time, read what you are listening. I mean, you should listen reading the transcripts.

One of the best resources is to watch movies or TV show in English with the subtitles in English. When you start doing this, it would be very difficult but as you continue with the activity, it will become easy.  A good webpage to watch TV show is ORORO.TV. You have limited minutes each day. If you pay for the membership, you can watch as many chapters as you want. Anther good thing that this webage has is that you can filter the shows using different criteria. One of those criteria is "difficulty" 

https://ororo.tv/es

(If you click on the image, you will access the webpage)

Another good webpage to practise is BBC 6 MINUTES ENGLISH. Here, you will find lots of 6 minutes conversations in English about a variety of topic. You have different options: you can listen and read online or download to your electronic device both the recording and the transcript. Also, for each of the conversations you have a glossary of vocabulary for each of the conversations.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/learningenglish/english/features/6-minute-english

(If you click on the image, you will access the webpage)

Finally, I have received via email a very useful youtube channel where you can practise to. The channel is called "EnSimplesPalabras" and, among other resources, you have some videos featuring talk by different people. The person making the videos teaches us some words and expressions that are going to appear in the talk and then trnscribes the talk in English, so you can read while you are listening. From this lines, I woul like to thank "EnSimplesPalabras" for his (or her) wonderful job. 

https://www.youtube.com/user/UrStreatWrld/videos

(If you click on the image, you will access the webpage)


I will increase the list of resources when I find more useful resources to practise listening. If you know any, you are most welcome to share them in the comments sections. Thank you for reading! 



*23rd April 2016:  I'm editing the post to add a new listening resource. this webpage is called TED talks and it is also a very good webpage to practise listening. 
You can see a lot of talks related with very different topics subtitled in several languages, English among them. Also, you have the option of downloading the video (subtitled or not) and the audio recording. 

https://www.ted.com/
  (If you click on the image, you will access the webpage)

miércoles, 13 de abril de 2016

Some advice to face TASK 1 - LONG READING task (Trinity Exams)


As you may probably know, Trinity exams have suffered a change since September 2015. Before this date, in the written exam you only had to do two writing tasks. From September 2015, you have to do two reading tasks and two writing tasks.

In this post and the next two ones, I’ll be giving you some advice to do the new exam tasks. In this first post, we are going to see in detail task 1, the long reading activity.

Let’s have a look at the format of this activity and the questions you have to answer. Here you have an example:

As you can see, you have a long text that has a different number of words depending on the level. For ISE I (B1) the text will be approximately 400 words for ISE II (B2) the text will be 500 words and for ISE III (C1) the text will be 700 words long divided into five paragraphs and you have to answer 15 questions. The text is factual and descriptive.

The questions you have to answer are 15, divided in the following way:

Questions 1 to 5: title matching.

In this part, the candidate has to choose the most appropriate title for each paragraph. The text has 5 paragraphs and you are given 6 titles, therefore, you do not need one of the titles. To do successfully this task, you should practice reading to get the general meaning of the text and reading the text quickly to find the information you need.

Questions 6 to 10: selecting the true statements

In this task, you must select the five true statements form a list of eight. Your answers must be based on the text exclusively. Three of them will e false or not mentioned in the text.

To improve in this section, you should practise reading for general comprehension, reading to understand specific information, deducing the meaning word from the context and scanning for information in the text.

Questions 11 to 15: completing sentences

Here, you must complete the sentences with a word or phrase taken from the text. You cannot use more than three words. In this case, you have to demonstrate that you understand specific information at a word level.

Take into account that you will have 2 hours to complete the four tasks of the exam, so the key is to do the reading tasks quickly. Thus, you can spend more time on the writings.

What can you do to fulfil the questions quickly? 

1. It would be a good option to write a short summary of the paragraphs while you are reading the text for the first time. In this way, you will find the information you need for the task in a more efficient way.


2. Read questions 6 to 10 carefully, paying attention to what you are required to do. The important thing to remember here is that you need only 5 true statements out of the eight they have given you. Apart from this, another important thing is that they are usually ordered. What I mean is that the information that you need to know if statement A is true will be in paragraph one and the information that you need to know if statement H s true will be in the last paragraphs. 

Also, it is a good idea to look for key words in the statements. By key words I mean words that you know appear a few times on the text. It will be easier to find the sentences quickly and see if the statement is true or not. 

For instance, let’s take statement A as an example: “Everyone’s need for sleep is different”. As it is the first sentence, the information will be more likely on paragraph one. A possible key word will be “need” or “different”. If we have a look at paragraph one, we observe that there is only a sentence where the word “need” appears “We don’t all need the same amount of sleep.”. Therefore, the information that we need to decide if A is true or false is in this sentence. 

In this case, A is true. If you pay attention to both sentences (the sentence in the text and statement A) they both mean the same, but they have used different words to express them. 


3. Read questions 11 to 15 carefully and remember that you have to use 3 words maximum and that these words have to be taken from the text. This is the most difficult task for students. 

The tips that you can follow are more or less the same that in the previous questions. First, usually these questions are also ordered: the answer to question 1 will be in paragraph 1, the answer to question 2 will be in paragraph 2…etc. This is not always the case, but normally they are ordered. Also, they express the same meaning as the sentences from the text, but they have used different words. Finally, the last useful thing that you can do is to try to identify what type of word you need to complete the gap: a noun, a verb… etc. 

For instance, let’s do question 11 which says “During a lifetime, the average person will be asleep for………….” If we follow the advice, we will look for the information in paragraph one and we will look for a key word, for example “lifetime” or “asleep”. Going back to paragraph 1 of the text, there is only one sentence that contains both words “That means during our life we will spend about twenty-five years asleep”. 

Consequently, the answer to question 11 must be here. Now, let’s look for the type of word or information that we need. It is clear that in this case we will need a number. In this way we know that the correct answer is “25 years”

I hope that this advice is helpful for you. In next post we will o the same for the rest of the tasks of the written exam.

jueves, 21 de enero de 2016

VIRTUAL VISIT TO BUCKINGHAM PALACE

Here you have a video from the official Youtube channel of the British Monarchy. If you press play, you can visit Buckingham Palace with a very special guide. The video has the option of using subtitles and you can also "move" the video 360º to get the whole view.

Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!


miércoles, 30 de diciembre de 2015

MODAL VERBS 1: OBLIGATION, NECESSITY AND LACK OF NECESSITY.


What are modal verbs? They are auxiliary verbs that cannot be used as a main verb. They express modality, that is to say, they can express ability, possibility, necessity or another condition. As auxiliary verbs, they do not work without another verb. This other verb always goes after the model verb in the sentence and it is in the infinitive form (without “to”). They cannot be conjugated.

For Spanish speakers, this is really difficult since they do not have an exact translation into our language. They have a meaning, and sometimes it is very difficult to understand them.

In this post, I will try to summarise some modal verbs to express obligation, necessity and lack of necessity.

MUST/ MUSTN’T: we use it when:
 

1. We decide for ourselves that something is necessary, obligatory or prohibited.
  • For example: I must answer my emails.

2. We express strong opinions. 
  • For example: We must meet more often.

3. We give instructions, especially in writing. 
  •  For example: Mobiles phones must be switched off for take-off and landing.

HAVE TO/ NEED TO: we use them for an obligation, imposed by someone else
  • For example: You have to say where you got the information from/ Yu need to write a report

We also use must, have to and need to to express general necessity.
  • For example: We must try to talk to each other more/ We have to reduce our dependence on technology/ We need to take control of our lives.

Apart from expressing these meanings, must can also be used to give advice and recommendations and to make deductions in the present. We will see these meanings in next posts.

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