Category Archives: English in Madrid

Aptis Speaking Test

The Aptis by British Council is a relatively new exam but it is quickly gaining popularity among English language learners. This is due to it becoming more widely accepted both here in Spain and around the world, it being cheaper than other exams like Cambridge, and being able to get the results more quickly.

Knowing exactly what an exam entails is half the battle when preparing for it. Today we’re going to look at the Speaking exam. The entire exam is done on a computer, so for the speaking part, you have to record your answers within a given time limit. This means preparation is key. Knowing what to expect and being ready to show off your language skills will help achieve your goal.

Part One

In the first part, you have to answer questions about yourself. There are three questions and you must talk for thirty seconds for each question. Possible topics you could talk about include Family, Your Job, Hobbies and Interests, Future Plans, Films and Books, The Weather, Daily Routine etc. This means four or five clear sentences. If for example you are asked, “What’s the weather like today?” You might think it impossible to have your answer last a full thirty seconds. This is why it’s important to brainstorm things related to the weather. What do you like to do when it’s hot outside? What clothes are you wearing for the current season? Is it typical weather for this time of year? Is it unusually hot or cold? So a typical answer to “What’s the weather like today?” doesn’t have to be difficult to elaborate on. Instead of just replying “It’s cold but sunny” you can add “but this is normal for Madrid in winter. People usually wear hats, scarves, winter coats and boots to stay warm. A typical winter snack is roasted chestnuts which you can buy from street vendors.” Instead of talking solely about the weather, we can incorporate other related vocabulary like in this instance; clothes. But we could also talk about what people generally do in when the weather is hot/cold etc. The questions in part one of the Aptis lend themselves to elaboration. You should keep talking, adding relevant sentences until your time is up.

Part Two

In the second part of the Aptis speaking exam, you are given a picture which you have forty-five seconds to describe. You then have to answer to related questions with a limit of forty-five seconds for each.

A typical example of this could be the picture on the left.

  1. Describe the picture.
  2. Do you often have to work in a team in work or university?
  3. Why is teamwork important?

 

Describing a photo is a question that comes up in many exams. With this type of question, you should take as much time as possible to gather your thoughts. Then use all of the time given to talk about it.  Below are some useful phrases to describe the position of things within a picture.

When talking about what people are doing or wearing in a photo we must use the present continuous. Subject + is/are + verb in ING It is also important to speculate about what the subjects of the picture might be doing using expressions like:

It seems as if…

They might/may/could be …

It makes me think of …

I think …

Let’s try to answer the questions above. Remember you have 45 seconds for each answer which should be approximately 5 to 7 clear sentences.

  1. In this photo, I can see a group of people sitting around a table. In the background, there is a large window and the room is bright. There are posters on the wall behind them. They seem to be working on something together.  In the middle of the table, there is a model of something which they are pointing to and discussing. Maybe it’s a building. They might be doing a project together for a university class. Maybe they are engineering students and they are doing a project on town planning.
  2. When I was at university, I often had to give presentations with other students. We would be given a project to discuss and research and would have to present it together in front of the rest of our class. I enjoyed working with my classmates on these projects as it gave me a different perspective on the topic. However, I also got very nervous having to speak in front of so many people. I used to practise as much as I could beforehand to feel more relaxed about it.
  3. Teamwork is very important, not only in university but also in the working world. As I mentioned before, having more than one person working on a project allows for more input and different points of view to be considered. Being able to work in a team is beneficial as it reduces the workload for everyone involved and means projects can be finished more efficiently.

As you can see, each answer has clear, concise sentences. I hope this helps you in your preparation for Aptis or indeed any English exam in which you are asked to describe a picture. In the next part of this series, we will look at parts 3 and 4 of the Aptis speaking exam. Don’t forget to check back soon.

In our English academies in La Elipa and Garcia Noblejas, you can prepare for Aptis as well as the Cambridge First Certificate and Advanced.

Cambridge Exams

The Cambridge exams like The First Certificate (FCE) and The Certificate in Advanced English (CAE) are world renowned and accepted by universities and employers alike. These exams measure your linguistic ability over four exams; Reading and Use of English, in which you are expected to be knowledgeable about varying grammar and lexical structures as well as reading comprehension. Writing, where you have to write two compositions, Listening, a four part testing your ability to pick out relevant information from a variety of conversations and monologues, and Speaking, a fifteen minute exam done with a partner.

Image result for cambridge

At The Language Corner, our experienced native teachers can help you succeed in passing either The First Certificate or The Certificate in Advanced English. With specific classes dedicated to the preparation of The Cambridge Exams, our native teachers will help you improve not only your exam technique, but also your Use of English, Speaking, Reading, Writing, and Listening. Using Cambridge certified material and exam style exercises, the Cambridge Exam preparation classes at The Language Corner in La Elipa and Garcia Noblejas will assist you in reaching your English language goals be they personal, to improve your job prospects or to further your academic studies.

Whether you need a Cambridge Certificate in English or not, the FCE and CAE preparation classes are ideal for any student wishing to improve all aspects of their English, including the dreaded Writing! So why not come to our English academies located in La Elipa and García Noblejas to try a free class with our native teachers and see how much you enjoy it?

Present Perfect

 

Listen to the verses of Queen’s classic song We Are the Champions. What sort of actions are they referring to?

They all refer to actions and states that occurred at an indefinite time in the past. To describe these concepts we use the Present Perfect tense.

We construct this tense by using the present simple form of the auxiliary verb to have together with the past participle form of the verb that describes our action.

I + [to have] + [to pay] ===> I have paid my dues, time after time

I + [to have] + [to do] ===> I have done my sentence

But [Ì’ve] committed no crime

And bad mistakes: I’ve made a few.

I’ve had my share of sand kicked in my face

But I’ve come through

Remember that you cannot use the Present Perfect if you want to be specific about when this action happened – we have the Past Simple for that:

“Have you had lunch yet?” Present Perfect – we’re talking about an unspecified time in the past.

“Yes, I ate a sandwich at 2 o’clock” Past Simple – we’re talking about the exact time that the sandwich was eaten.

 

We also use the Present Perfect to refer to states that began in the past, and continue to be true today:

“I have lived in Madrid for three years”.

“I haven’t slept for days… I’m exhausted!”

The song We Are The Champions is reproduced for educational purposes only, and is the property of Queen and Sony/ATV

Welcome Back

Summer is sadly over, but with the changing of the seasons (not yet though – phew, it’s hot here in Madrid!), here in our language schools in La Elipa and La Almudena, the new academic year is already getting going. We’ve already nearly finished our first full week of English, French and German classes.

But fear not, there are still slots available for you to take advantage of our team of native teachers, and vastly improve your language skills.

We have classes available for all levels and age groups in our schools in La Elipa (Gerardo Cordón, 51) and La Almudena (Gandhi, 19), from 10 in the morning to 10 at night, Monday to Friday, and on Saturday mornings.

Whether you’re looking for a chance to practise your conversation skills, brush up on your grammar, or prepare for one of those important official exams, such as CAE or First Certificate, we have a native teacher and a class for you!

Please come and see us in La Elipa or Gandhi any time from 4.30 to 9.30 in the evening, and 10.30 to 13.30 on Tuesday and Thursday, and we’ll find your ideal class.

Don’t forget we also have French and German classes available.

It’s Summer!!!

treebeachsea

 

It’s summer and we know what you’re thinking…beach, sea, a nice spot under a tree…but remember

WE

are still open in July and August. Don’t miss the opportunity to keep practising your English. We will be open Monday to Thursday, mornings and evenings in both the academy in La Elipa and en San Blas/Pueblo Nuevo.

We are offering our usual general English, Cambridge exam preperation and conversation classes as well as French and German, all with native speaker teachers.

We are also running intensive First and Advanced Cambridge exam preperation classes. See details of our SPECIAL OFFER here.

And don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and on our blog. Sea, tree, we…did you see the connection???

Wishing everyone a great summer!!!!

 

Phonics: the long and short e

Welcome to the next part of our phonics series. Today we are going to look at the long and short “e” sounds. (part one is here)

The short “e” sound has the same phonemic symbol e. It is a short sound used in many words. Some examples are below. The important lesson, if an e is between 2 consonants, it usually has the same sound.

academiadeinglesmadridphonicse

The sound sound we are looking at is the long “e” sound, iː. It can be written using a variety of letter combinations.

ee,

academiadeinglesmadridphonicsee

ea,

academiadeinglesmadridphonicsea

or ie

academiadeinglesmadridphonicsie

but all of these letter combination often create the same sound.

One more important point, there is a shorter “long e” that is NOT included in the phonemic chart! It is a similar to but only appears at the end of words with more than one syllable. The phonemic symbol is i. Usually it is spelled with either y or ey. Here are some examples.

academiadeinglesmadridphonicsey

English can be inconsistent with its spelling so although you can never be 100% sure, these letter blends will help you guess how to pronounce and new word when you see it. And remember, you can always use a dictionary and the phonemic chart to check pronunciation of any word.

Phonemic-Chart

Keep reading our blog or follow us on facebook, twitter to receive more English tips and advice 🙂

English idioms #17

sitonthefence

To Sit on the Fence

 

meaning: to be neutral in an argument or discussion, or to not know which side to choose.

 

example:

Tom: I think we should have the party in a restaurant.

Dave: I disagree, we should have the party at my house. What do you think Bob?

Bob: I don’t know, I’m going to sit on the fence.