Hello Exam Seekers,
Did you know that Cambridge English offers English Exams for Young Learners? It’s the Cambridge English YLE (Young Learners Exams). I wrote some info about the three exams for children aged from 6-12 years old: the YLE Pre-A1 Starters – an overview, the YLE A1 Movers – an overview, and YLE A2 Flyers – an overview.
As for the past few weeks, I’ve written more specifically about these exams, focusing on the Reading and Writing, and the Listening Exams. I wrote:
- YLE Pre A1: Starters – Reading and Writing Exam
- YLE A1: Movers – Reading and Writing Exam
- YLE A2: Flyers – Reading and Writing Exam
Now, I’m going to start talking about the Speaking Exams for the Cambridge Young Learners. So stay tuned! Today I’m talking specifically about the YLE Pre A1 Starters Speaking Exam to explain how the exam works and help you to guide your young learner to get the best score. And for the following weeks, I’ll be talking about the Movers and Flyers Speaking Exams.
The Pre A1 Starters Speaking Exam has four parts. All parts are carried out by a Speaking Examiner who will be sitting right next to the child.
It is a very friendly exam, with colorful pictures, cards and they are all activity-based. Here is an overview task table:
The Speaking Exam for Pre-A1 learners takes from 3-5 minutes. Children are assessed by their knowledge related to vocabulary, pronunciation, and interaction. They can get a total of 15 marks for this exam, which grants them up to 5 shields.
For this exam, an usher introduces the child to the examiner, then he/she leaves the room. The children take this exam by themselves. Now, let’s dig into the tasks:
Part 1: Pointing to and Moving Cards
The examiner asks the candidate’s name and greets him/her. This part is unassessed. Then, the examiner starts the test by demonstrating what is required so that the child gets familiar with the picture.
The examiner shows a big and colorful picture and describes it, modeling the first answer by saying and pointing, e.g. “Look. This is a living room. The boy is watching television. Here is the window“, then he/she asks the child to point to two objects on the scene picture, e.g. “Where is the guitar?“, and “Where are the flowers“.
Then, the examiner shows some cards and asks the child to point to one of them, e.g. “Which is the apple?“, after the child provides the card, the examiner gets the card and places it on a specific place, then, he/she asks the candidate to perform a task related to the same card, e.g. “I’m putting the apple, on the chair. Now, you put the apple under the table“. This task is also done with two objects.
This part of the test tests children’s understanding and following spoken instructions. They are not required to answer orally at this point, they only have to point and move the cards.
Practice tips: Practice identifying people, animals, and things in different pictures by pointing in response to questions such as: Where’s the chair? Where are the bananas? Also, candidates should practice placing smaller pictures in different positions on a larger picture in response to instructions such as: Put the robot next to the chair. Put the carrot on the table.
Part 2: Answer the Questions (about the scene)
As a continuation of the previous task, the examiner will ask about two of the people or things in the scene picture, e.g. “What’s this?” (Answer: banana) “What color is it?” (Answer: yellow). The examiner also asks the child to describe an object from the scene, e.g. “Tell me about this box“.
This part of the test tests children’s understanding and following spoken instructions, but this time the child is expected to respond orally.
Practice tips: Children should practice answering simple questions about a picture (with one-word answers), e.g. What’s this? (plate) How many plates are there? (four). Children should also practice responding to “Tell me about” questions with simple sentences, such as “What’s the man doing?” (reading) “Tell me about the boat” (it’s blue/red. It’s on the floor).
Here is a sample of the scene picture:
Part 3: Answer the Questions (about the cards)
As a continuation of the previous task, the examiner will now ask about four object cards, e.g. “What’s this?” (answer: (orange) juice) and “What do you drink for lunch?” (open answer).
This part of the test also tests children’s understanding and following spoken questions. Children have to respond orally.
Practice tips: Children should practice answering simple questions about a picture (with one-word answers), e.g. “What’s this?” (crocodile) “What color is it?” (green) “What’s your favorite animal?” (cat). Practice with both large pictures showing scenes and single pictures showing one object or person.
Here is a sample of the cards:
Part 4: Answer the Questions
At this point, the examiner collects the cards and the big scene picture. Then the examiner asks the candidate some personal questions on topics such as age, family, school, and friends.
This part of the test tests children’s understanding and responding to personal questions. Children have to respond orally.
Practice tips: In Part 4, candidates need to feel confident that they can give basic information about themselves and that they can answer questions such as: How old are you? What’s your friend’s name? Is your house/apartment big or small? Can you play table tennis? What’s your favorite color/animal/sport/food?
As I mentioned, the Pre A1 Starters Speaking Exam takes from 3-5 minutes. The examiners usually wait a couple of seconds to see if the child is going to respond to the questions/tasks. If it takes too long for the child to reply, examiners start asking some questions. For example, if the children don’t respond to the question “Where is the apple?“, after a couple of seconds, the examiner will point to the apple and ask “Is this the apple?“, to help the children answer and avoid them getting anxious and freeze.
Therefore, it is important to prepare young learners for the speaking exam and make sure they know all of the items in the grammar and vocabulary lists for the Pre A1 Starters Exams. Here are the pdf files for you to download:
Here are two video samples of the Pre A1 Starters Speaking Exam:
As you can see, these children are well prepared. They know what should be done and how to reply appropriately so that the speaking test takes up to 5 minutes.
I hope you now feel ready to prepare your young learners for the Speaking Exam. If you have more questions, comment in the comment section below.
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Have a great week,
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