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FCE tips speaking part 2 describing pictures

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					FCE tips: speaking part 2: describing pictures
Aims to help students compare and contrast different pictures.

Tip 1
In the exam, the examiner will give one of the candidates two pictures. The first thing they will
ask the candidate to do is to show the pictures to the other candidate(s). This means that
everyone has seen the pictures and it is therefore perfectly acceptable to say 'this picture' and
point. More complex language such as 'the top picture' or 'the former/ the latter' is, of course,
even better.



Tip 2
The examiner will then give the candidate precise instructions about what they should say about
the pictures. The instructions always have two parts, so students should listen very carefully.



Tip 3
If there is anything a student doesn't understand about a question, they should ask the examiner
to repeat. If they still don't understand, they should ask again. They should remember that they
are being tested on their speaking in this part of the exam, not their listening comprehension.
However, one thing they are being scored on is their ability to actually answer the question they
are asked.



Tip 4
Asking the examiner to repeat can actually be the perfect opportunity to show off some complex
language - e.g. 'I'm sorry, I didn't quite catch the last part', 'If I can just check what you are
saying, you'd like me to...', 'I'm not quite sure what (contrast) means', etc.



Tip 5
The examiner almost always asks the students to 'compare and contrast the two pictures'. They
will never be asked to simply describe them. Any activities giving oral practice of comparing
language (more than, less than, (not) as __________ as, similar to, etc.) and contrasting language
(although, whereas, however, etc.) are good practice for this. See lesson plan for examples.



Tip 6
The second part of the question is usually about giving some kind of opinion e.g. 'Compare and
contrast the two holidays and say which you would prefer'. Language like 'in my opinion' and
'personally' can be very useful here.



Tip 7
Students should make sure they are talking to the examiner (and the other candidate) rather than
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to the picture! This can be practised in the classroom by getting students to turn over the picture
once they have taken a glance at it, or even getting them to do a task with imaginary pictures.



Tip 8
The examiner will interrupt the student speaking after one minute, even if they are halfway
through a sentence. Being interrupted is actually good, as it means they haven't run out of things
to say.



Tip 9
As the examiner takes the photos away from the first candidate, they will ask the other candidate
a question about those photos. Again, this is probably a question of opinion, e.g. 'Which holiday
would most people prefer?’ This only requires a short answer, but is a perfect chance to show
they have been listening to what their partner said, with language such as 'As (Juan) said......', or
'I agree entirely with (Lee Yan).'




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                    USEFUL PHRASES FOR FCE SPEAKING EXAM
PART 1
I'm speaking English for my own satisfaction / my job / in order to improve my employment
prospects.
If you want to go ahead these days, you need to have a good command of English
I always loved (the sea).
I'd love to visit places untouched by man.
However, there's no place like home.
That's a big question!
I want to be a useful member of society.
I'm keen on ...
I'm an avid (traveler, zapalony) ...
I haven't given it much thought until now.

PART 2 - COMPARING CONTRASTING
In both of these pictures there are …Both pictures ….………….. is similar in that it's
……………slightly more (adjective) than ………….far more (adjective) than
…………….considerably more (adjective) than….. …… differ in several ways …Another
important difference is ……On the one hand …., on the other ……………while
…………………..whereas…..In contrast …………………………Although ………….,
……………………
The impression I get is that …. As far as I can work out, it's …..
I could be wrong, but …… I wouldn't be surprised if …..
This looks like it's ……. There's something that looks like …
It looks as if it might be … It's a kind of …..
It could be ……………..
I think he's probably ….ing Perhaps he's …..ing
It comes across as if he's ….. He looks as if he's …..ing
If I were …..
What strikes me about the first picture is the fact that...
This picture reminds me of...
Judging from the photograph, the children...
The man appears to be...
From what we can see here, he must...
There are many similarities...
Both picture depict...
Both picture are quite similar in that they show...
When you give it a closer look it reveals...

The first picture ... whereas the other picture ...
Another important difference is...
Picture ... doesn't show ... as clearly as ...
Picture ... attempts to ... but I think picture ... does this more effectively...
All pictures are interesting, but ... gives a stronger idea of...

It's difficult to tell from a photograph but this picture could have been taken in ...
I might be wrong, but I'd say that this picture ...
I would imagine/guess that this picture comes from ...

Picture ... is by far the best to show because ...
To me, picture ... is essential for this kind of publication.


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I'm surprised there is no picture showing...
A picture of ... would get the message across more effectively.
The cover would be so much better if we had a picture of ...
So let's look at the alternatives ...

The name for this escapes me at present, but it's for/it's like ...
The name for it is on the tip of my tongue ...

PART 3 & 4
Up to the problem in question ...
The main problem centres around ...

It's my belief ...
For my part ...
As I see it ...
As I was saying ...
I forgot to mention ...
I'm of the opinion that ...
To my mind ...
To my way of thinking ...
I am convinced that ...
I am inclined to believe that ...

Don't get me wrong but shouldn't we ... ?
Judging by ... they must be ...
... is a separate issue.
Moving on to ...
Taking everything into account ...

I couldn't agree more.
I agree up to a point.
I think I see what you mean, but ...
I'm in two minds about it. / I'm ambivalent about ...
I don't see eye to eye with you here ...
That's true in a way, I suppose, but ...
I don't feel convinced ...
That's one way of looking at it. On the other hand ...

Can you take a clear stand on that matter?
It brings to the question / idea / problem of ...

Perhaps we should put ... first? What do you think?
A strong point in favour of ... is that ...
What do you think should go next?
Are you happy with this order then?
Do you go along with that?




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