Avanzado 2 – Skeleton of Meaning (SoM)

November 15, 2012

REMEMBER LISTENING TO ENGLISH EVERY DAY, DEVELOPING THIS HABIT, IS YOUR PRIORITY. It’ll be of great help in your Certificate Exam in various different ways. Work on your monologues using your audios and podcast episodes.

If you want to start working on the SoM technique (see exercise audio 2.4), you can use interviews or audios where people are speaking naturally — not news, for that is not natural connected speech — for 45 seconds or a minute. I have a selection of podcasts where they do reportages and interviewshttp://www.talkingpeople.net/tp/audio/podcasts/suggestedpods_news.html

This technique is good for the last task in the Avanzado 2 Certificate Listening Test, where 6-8 speakers speak for 45” or a minute each on some topic. You will have to match each speaker to a heading. In February we’ll work on the lay-out (where you can take notes and where you need to write down your answers), but it’d be good now that one of the ways in which you exploit your daily listening activities were this one, the SoM — jotting down the words that are most clearly pronounced, the stressed words, the words that are repeated, and then looking at those to see if you are able to identify the topic. (Think of what you naturally do in Spanish when you are half-listening to the news or to someone in a noisy establishment.)

In the test, the headings will give you a hint/clue, of course, because they contain the topic information, so when you read them before the listening starts (underlining key words as you read), you will have some notion of what is most interesting to jot down, of what kind of topic you are looking for. There are people who have succeeded in this task without taking notes, because a minute is quite enough time to scan the headings up and down and up while a speaker speaks! and decide then which best matches the speaker. But it’s always a good idea to jot down some key words, in case you do not solve the match once the speaker has finished. Still, you should always try to match things while whichever speaker is at it, so that once the last speaker has finished you can write down your answers, as you will just have 30 seconds to do so.

It sounds worse than it actually is. But it’s crucial you have a strong ear, an ear capable of not panicking, and you can only have that if your ear listens to English every day!

Designing Exam Exercises: unfortunately, the authorities do not allow teachers to use past exams in Exam Format Training. They only allow us all to use the 2009 June Exam, which is published in Educamadrid. This goes against all logic and also against the transparency principle of the Public Service — which, in contrast, is respected in PAUs, for instance; that’s why universities publish the PAU exams, to show the world what they are like; and that provides teachers and learners with materials to practice and learn about exam format. Anyway,

1.- We are allowed to use the exams of the old system, the ones for Ciclo Elemental (which was a B2, even though it hasn’t been acknowledged as such when standardization took place) and Ciclo Superior (which was a C1 even though…) — I kept a copy precisely for this, for our “February”. They’re not exactly the same, and the Ciclo Superior ones are harder than the exam you’ll take in June.

2.- If you like, I’m willing to prepare similar exercises if you send me a 45”-1′ audio with its title or heading, where one person speaks about something. I need 6 of those to put together one Task 3. (Best if different people sent in one or two each.) Then I’d add a distractor, and perhaps change your headings to adjust things. And then we could play the final exercises in class.


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