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News from Cambridge English Language Assessment Germany, Austria, Switzerland

New free Online Test for Young Learners

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Test your English for Young Learners has gone live. It is intended as a quick, free online test to give a very general idea of a child’s English language level. Headphones or speakers are needed to do the listening parts of the test.

There are now four tests in the popular Test your English series: General English, For Schools, Business English and Young Learners.

Test your English - Begin Young Learners test

The format for each test is the same:

  • There are 25 multiple-choice questions.
  • There is no time limit.
  • Answers are available at the end of the test.

Begin test …

 

 

Written by cambridgeenglishde

April 14, 2014 at 7:54 am

Cambridge English for Schools examinations

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cambridge english for schools exams

Introduction
Cambridge English exams start from Cambridge English: Young Learners and follow a child’s language development right up to Cambridge English: Advanced and Cambridge English: Proficiency. Cambridge English: Key for Schools, Cambridge English: Preliminary for Schools and Cambridge English: First for Schools are designed for learners in secondary education. These exams are versions of Cambridge English: Key (KET), Cambridge English: Preliminary (PET) and Cambridge English: First (FCE). The exams for school-age learners have exactly the same format as the standard exams, and candidates receive the same certificates, but their content is more suitable for a younger age group.

The need for English exams for schoolchildren
When people take a Cambridge English exam, we ask them to give information about things like their first language and their age. This information has shown us that candidates at Cambridge English: Key and Cambridge English: Preliminary level are getting younger each year. There are several reasons for this. First, the teaching of English worldwide has improved a lot. Second, people start learning English from a younger age, and third, it is easier to access music, films, magazines etc. in English on the internet. Clearly it is important for us to offer exams which are suitable for this younger age group. However, there is also a need for exams for adults at the same levels of the CEFR. It became clear that there is a need for two exam papers – one for school-age learners and another for adults.

Research
When the earliest ‘for Schools’ exams were developed, an important question was, ‘How different should these be from the existing exams?’ Rigorous research (Hackett 2009) was carried out, including a review of the literature on child development to look into what language tasks and questions children can and can’t do at various ages (Papp 2008). Exam results of candidates of different ages were also analysed. The research showed that learners of secondary school age can do the types of tasks and questions in Cambridge English: Key and Cambridge English: Preliminary at least as well as adult learners.

Designing exams for schoolchildren
From the research it was clear that the ‘for Schools’ exams can have the same types of tasks as in the versions for adult learners. The only change needed was to make the topics in the exams more suitable to school-age children. So, for example, questions on the topic of Food and Drink in ‘for Schools’ exams could be about choosing snacks for a party whereas questions for adults could be about paying the bill in a restaurant.

Helping children prepare for Cambridge English exams
Here are some important things to remember about Cambridge English exams, and what you as a parent can do to help your child prepare.

Cambridge exams test all four skills: reading, writing, listening and speaking. Help and encourage your child to practise all of these skills.
In Listening tests, candidates do a range of tasks. For example, they choose the best answer from options (e.g. A, B, C and D), they match two lists (e.g. they match people to the food they like), or they fill in gaps with a word or words they hear on a recording. As well as practice tests, you can use the internet to find quizzes, games and activities where your child can listen and do similar activities.
In Speaking tests, candidates are asked questions about themselves. To help your child practise this, you could choose a time when your family speaks English and ask questions like ‘What did you do yesterday?’

Candidates are often given a picture to talk about. Ask your child to find pictures of everyday scenes or family photographs and ask them to talk about them in English.

In Cambridge English: Key for Schools and Cambridge English: Preliminary for Schools Speaking tests, children are asked to spell their surname. You could ask your child to spell their name and any new words they have learned at school. This also helps them with writing.
In the Reading papers, candidates need to read many different kinds of text. These are based on real-world texts. Encourage your child to read teen magazines, graphic novels, graded readers and short stories. In addition, they should also read factual information e.g. brochures, advertisements, instructions, signs, recipes, websites etc. Encourage your child to find out more about their hobbies in English and to read emails and blogs in English.
Candidates often need to write messages, emails or letters in the Writing papers. Try to encourage your child to do things like:

  • regularly write in English to other English-speaking friends or relatives, if possible
  • speak to the school about joining Penfriends
  • communicate with other English speakers online (but ensure that they use the internet safely and never give away personal information online).

Candidates may also be asked to write a short story, an article or review. Look for writing competitions in English on the internet and encourage your child to get involved.
There is an essay question in Cambridge English: First for Schools Writing. A good way to help your child write essays is to encourage them to plan the essay. Ask, ‘What are you going to put in the introduction, the middle paragraph(s) and the conclusion?’ Cambridge English examiners check that an essay:

  • is organised into paragraphs
  • answers the question fully
  • communicates ideas clearly
  • contains a range of vocabulary and grammatical structures.

So if your child has written an essay for homework, you could go through it using this checklist.
Your child will feel much more prepared and confident about their exam if they know exactly what they will need to do. Our website has information about each exam, with sample papers and free resources. Please also see our official preparation materials. By preparing for a Cambridge English exam, we hope your child will develop their communication skills in English, not just for the exam but for life.

References:
Hackett, E (2009) Adapting testing materials for younger learners: developing KET and PET for Schools exams, in Research Notes 36, Cambridge ESOL, 12–14.
Papp, S (2008) Factors influencing L2 development and use in the 8–14 age group – towards defining the construct, Cambridge English Language Assessment, Internal Research and Validation report, VR1114.

cambridge english for schools

 

 

Written by cambridgeenglishde

April 7, 2014 at 8:57 am

Cambridge English: First for Schools – Speaking Test

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Find out more about the Speaking Test in the Cambridge English: First for Schools exam. This video includes comments on the student performances, and information on the format of the Speaking test and how it is assessed.

Written by cambridgeenglishde

April 2, 2014 at 11:39 am

Changes to Cambridge English: Advanced from 2015

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This webinar will look at the changes to Cambridge English: Advanced that will go live in January 2015. It will discuss the three key changes to the exam:

  • The revision will consist of four papers instead of five.
  • The new exam will be 45 minutes shorter than the previous.
  • There will be new tasks and testing focuses in the Reading and Use of English, Writing and Speaking papers, including the new cross text multiple matching task.

 

Written by cambridgeenglishde

March 25, 2014 at 12:34 pm

Alberto Prandini, a Cambridge English: Proficiency certificate holder

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Alberto Prandini is a Cambridge English: Proficiency certificate holder from Italy. In this short video he talks about his work as an interpreter and Assistant Director on a recent theatrical production of ‘I Was a Rat’ in the UK, and discusses his experiences of the exam and learning English.

Written by cambridgeenglishde

March 21, 2014 at 6:49 am

Changes to Cambridge English: First and First for Schools from 2015

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This webinar is aimed at teachers who are preparing candidates, or are going to prepare candidates, for the Cambridge English: First (or First for Schools) exam. It will detail the three key changes that will go live in January 2015: The exam will consist of four papers instead of five. The new exam will be approximately 30 minutes shorter than previously. The exam will feature new tasks and testing focuses in the Writing and Speaking papers.

 

Written by cambridgeenglishde

March 11, 2014 at 9:22 am

Dr. Roswitha Harrer legt erfolgreich die Prüfung zum Cambridge English: Proficiency ab

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Dr. Roswitha Harrer

Dr. Roswitha Harrer

Das AKAD Kolleg hat als einziger Fernstudienanbieter in Deutschland einen Vorbereitungskurs auf die Prüfung „Cambridge English: Proficiency (CPE)“ im Programm. CPE ist das anspruchsvollste unter den Cambridge-Sprachdiplomen und zertifiziert Englischkenntnisse auf muttersprachlichem Niveau. Der Lehrgang dauert sechs Monate, während der Kurszeit rechnet man mit einem Workload von sieben Stunden in der Woche.

Dr. Roswitha Harrer hat den CPE-Vorbereitungslehrgang am AKAD Kolleg besucht und die Prüfung erfolgreich abgelegt. Die promovierte Chemikerin arbeitet als selbstständige Lektorin und Fachübersetzerin für Texte aus Wissenschaft und Technik.

Sie hat uns ein paar Fragen beantwortet:

Welche Bedeutung hat Englisch in der Wissenschaftskommunikation und für Ihre Arbeit?

Für beide Bereiche hat das Englische eine zentrale Bedeutung: Alle internationalen Zeitschriften sind auf Englisch; Englisch ist die Wissenschaftssprache.

 Warum haben Sie sich speziell für einen Kurs zur CPE-Prüfung entschieden?

Ich wollte als Nachweis für meine Englischkenntnisse einen Abschluss haben, und die CPE-Prüfung gibt den Nachweis für Englischkenntnisse auf professionellem Niveau.

Als Naturwissenschaftlerin beschäftige ich mich ja sozusagen nur zweckgebunden mit der englischen Sprache, der Fokus liegt normalerweise auf den Inhalten. Weil in der Wissenschaftsszene Leute aus aller Herren Ländern sind, redet man auch meistens in einem eher “broken English”, was aber nicht heißt, dass es nicht hilfreich ist, Englisch gut zu können. Und im Publikationswesen muss man natürlich Englisch beherrschen. Daher, weil ich eben beim Publizieren für Verlage gelandet bin, versuchte ich, die vorhandenen Defizite abzubauen und eben besagtes Zertifikat zu erlangen.

Was war Ihre Motivation, den Lehrgang bei AKAD zu belegen?

Ich wollte die CPE-Prüfung bestehen, und zwar so gut wie möglich. Dafür schien mir der Lehrgang die professionellste Methode. Die Note “gut” habe ich ja dann tatsächlich auch erzielt.

Warum haben Sie gerade einen Kurs ausgewählt, in dem der meiste Lernstoff per Fernstudium vermittelt wird?

Ich arbeite gerne daheim und bin Selbststudium gewöhnt. Außerdem wollte ich ausprobieren, wie ein Fernstudium funktioniert.

Konnten Sie denn beruflich konkret vom dem Sprachlehrgang profitieren?

Konkret nicht, indirekt aber schon: Ich weiß jetzt besser, wo ich stehe und kann besser verhandeln. Außerdem kann ich durch die bessere Sprachkenntnis schneller und effizienter arbeiten und die Korrespondenz schneller durchführen.

Welche Lehrgangsinhalte haben Ihnen besonders viel gebracht?

Am meisten profitiert habe ich vom zweiten Präsenzseminar, das auf die CPE-Prüfung direkt vorbereitete und von einer sehr fähigen Tutorin geleitet wurde. Es war exzellent und hat durch die vielen Tipps, Erfahrungsberichte und konkreten Übungen sowohl als Prüfungsvorbereitung als auch allgemein zur Sprache viel gebracht.

Das Bearbeiten der Einsendeaufgaben war ebenfalls eine recht gute Übung. Als Fernstudent konnte man auch am Online-Forum teilnehmen, das heißt, Briefe und Texte auf Englisch schreiben – eine Übung, die dazu beiträgt, sich flüssiger auszudrücken und dadurch für die Korrespondenz im „wahren Leben“ nützlich ist.

Wie haben Sie die Lernzeiten in Ihren Arbeitsalltag integriert?

Ich habe das Lernen als Arbeitszeit betrachtet und mir entsprechend Zeit dafür genommen. Und ich habe es als großen Vorteil wahrgenommen, dass man das eigentlich sechsmonatige Studium so lange strecken konnte (18 Monate). Dadurch konnte ich die CPE-Prüfung in die angenehmere Frühsommerzeit verlegen und konnte in der Zeit noch am Online-Forum teilnehmen.

Wir gratulieren Dr. Roswitha Harrer zur erfolgreichen Prüfung und bedanken uns für das Interview!

Written by cambridgeenglishde

March 5, 2014 at 1:01 pm

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