FCE Speaking part 3 and the L1

My FCE students sounded really stilted when they tried to do this speaking part 3 in class today (taken from the FCE Gold Plus student’s book, page 87). If you don’t know FCE, this part involves looking at 5-8 pictures and answering a question about them, then coming to some kind of decision.

There were three of them, and despite having phrases for turn-taking and ideas on the topic, they struggled to talk for three minutes, and sounded incredibly unnatural, with long pauses while they tried to work out what to say.
I described interactive communication and how people work together to come to a decision, and suggested they watch out for it in the next film/TV show they watch in English. Then we talked about how they do it in Russian. I then had a brainwave: why not get them to do the task in Russian first?
So that’s what they did, and wow! What a difference! They were talking over each other, finishing each other’s sentences, asking for opinions, and most importantly moving from one picture to the next quickly and efficiently. (Although I don’t speak Russian, a lot of the words for the electrical appliances they were discussing were similar enough to English for me to notice that!) In English, they’d taken a minute to discuss a single picture, and they should have done about three in that time!
We talked about how they had spoken in Russian, and I mentioned how they had helped each other to build the conversation. We then repeated the task one final time in English, and it was a huge improvement on their first attempt, with them carrying over a lot of the interaction from their Russian conversation. Of course, it helped that it was the third time they’d done the task too!
Definitely something I’ll try again.

11 thoughts on “FCE Speaking part 3 and the L1

  1. I live in Seville and I’ve done the same thing. We did it last year with part 2 where one student did the task in Spanish and the other jotted down some notes about vocabulary used (they were having problems getting deeper into the photographs and it was difficult for them to not just say the basics). So then they translated some vocabulary or word chunks and tried to incorporate that awareness and vocabulary when they tried it again in English. It made them much more aware of what they’re capable of.


  2. I have been doing the same thing with my Spanish students – I get them to practise this particular part in their own language a few times and then in English (works well)

    Also I get the to set the situation first – what I call a lead in example Our friend is coming to visit us this weekend where shall we take her? or We have to buy a present for our teachers birthday what shall we get her?

    It makes it more real to the speakers – also tell them to pretend they are actor’s on stage make it fun for them – I usually call “action” and some of them really get into it!

    Our future budding celebs!


  3. I was inspired by your idea, but adapted it to Writing Part 2 prep for a discursive essay on the advantages & disadvantages of the development of technology. The Ss discussed the topic in monolingual groups & then changed into multilingual groups to continue their planning. Worked like a dream…..thx keep up the good work…


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