Thoughts on ELT, English and whatever else comes into my head
The first time I taught an exam class was PET, with a group of students who were only really ready for KET (not that I knew anything about either exam in only my second year of teaching EFL). The second time was thankfully just a couple of lessons on bits of IELTS (which I also knew nothing about). The third, in about my fourth year of teaching, was an FCE course (as it was called then), the final exam prep in the term leading up to their exam rather than general exam preparation using the exam-specific coursebook. I didn’t know anything about FCE either.
Sound familiar? The theme developing there is one I think most teachers would find recognise. CELTA/TEFL trained or not, when exam classes are assigned to you, you’ll be learning as you go, often only one answer ahead of the students. I was relatively lucky — or rather, my students were — that I was following a very well-planned syllabus written by my DOS, telling me which bit of the exam to focus on in which lesson, from which resource book. I simply made sure I had all the answers, and could justify them, and then I taught the students what I’d just worked out. That syllabus was so good, I based the one I planned for Summer School’s intensive exam course on it. Having it meant I didn’t just randomly bumble through material which, let’s face it, is probably what a teacher with no idea or training for teaching exams would have done.
But, it took me the duration of that course to start to learn how to help the students pass the exam and the tips, techniques and strategies they would need to approach each question. It took becoming a Cambridge Speaking examiner to really understand what the Speaking paper was all about. Maybe other schools give comprehensive training to teachers about to take classes for which students probably pay more and have a lot more resting on, but I doubt it. My experience in language schools has been that as long as there is an English speaking person in the teacher’s seat, the rest will fall into place — hardly fair on the students, though hardly the teacher’s fault.
So, I’ve written a book and published it on Amazon, with everything I know from 10+ years of teaching about how to teach the First Certificate exam the way your students deserve.
It’s literally everything you need to know, with links to more resources and sample papers where appropriate. It tells you what books you need, pared down to the minimum, which is especially good if you’re taking private students through the exam and need to know what books to tell them to spend their money on.
It gives you all the tips and techniques to pass on to your students so they get the inside track on the exam. And throws in some things I’ve learned from being a speaking examiner, like why your students should see Speaking as the easiest paper to pass instead of the one to be most afraid of. If you follow all the advice in the book, you’ll be able to plan and deliver the course with confidence. The rest is up to the students, of course, but at least you’ll know you did everything you could to prepare them.
It’s been a while since I bought your book about teaching first certificate but I just started reading it. And it’s actually really helpful! I was kinda just following along with the exercises in the book with my student, but now that I understand more about the exam I know what to focus on! It’s important to prepare him for all the types of speaking and writing questions. Thank you!! Daria, Barcelona
The book was extremely helpful. It helped me understand different ways to prepare the students and understand the techniques needed in order to help them pass the exam. It is well written and easy to understand. It is written in a way that all teachers can understand. I would highly recommend the book to anyone. But use it from the start of your course. And it helps understand what and why the Cambridge exams are designed in that way. Carla, Italy
Even for those who’ve taught First Certificate before, there’s something in the book for you if you’ve wondered how the marking criteria works for First Certificate Speaking and Writing and how that can help your students, or you want an exact breakdown of exactly how to tackle each Use of English question type and the patterns students can use to their advantage. Particularly with private students, it doesn’t take long to get a reputation for being an expert with a high pass rate. And don’t be surprised if you teach in a school and start getting requests from students’ friends and families once your class sails through the exam. Even better, once you know the First inside out, the Advanced requires very little extra knowledge to teach.
Teach First Certificate: All you need to know; all your students need to know
This book is for you if …
NB: If you pay by PayPal I get an alert and will send you the pdf to the email address associated with PayPal. I sleep sometimes though so it might be up to 24 hours before I am able to send you it!