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 go over the Speaking Exams for the Cambridge Young Learners. So stay tuned!
Last Monday I covered the YLE Pre A1 Starters Speaking Exam, now, I’m going to talk about the YLE A1 Movers Speaking Exam to explain how the exam works and help you to guide your young learner to get the best score.
The A1 Movers 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 A1 learners takes from 5-7 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: Two Similar Pictures
The examiner greets the candidate telling his/her own name and asks the candidate’s name and age. This part is unassessed. Then, the examiner starts the test by demonstrating what is required.
The examiner shows two colorful pictures that look similar but have some differences and describes them, modeling the first answer by saying and pointing, e.g. “Look at these pictures. They look the same, but some things are different. In this picture it is sunny, but in this picture it’s cloudy. What other different things can you see?“. With this question, the examiner expects that the candidate points out four differences.
This part of the test tests children’s ability to describe differences between pictures, like talking about color, size, number, position, how people/things look, what people are doing, etc. Here is a sample:
Practice tips: Practice describing differences between two similar pictures. For example: Here there are four fish, but here there are five. The bottles are behind the rock here but in front of the rock here. The girl is playing with a ball in this picture, but in this one, she is playing with a boat. Although the examples mentioned represent samples of ideal responses, something much simpler is acceptable. For example: Here red and here yellow. This is a boy and this is a girl.
Part 2: Picture Sequence (telling a story)
The examiner removes the pictures from the previous task and shows the candidate a sequence of four colorful pictures which tell a story. Then he/she says “These pictures show a story, it’s called ‘Fred Loves Food’. Look at the pictures first“. At this point, the examiner gives the student a couple of seconds so that he/she gets familiarized with the scene. After a while, he/she points to the first picture and start the story, modeling: “Fred’s at home with his family. They’re in the kitchen and Mum’s giving him his dinner. Now you tell the story” and offers the candidate a chance to continue the story.
This part of the test requires candidates to look at the pictures to get a general idea of the story before they start describing things and events. Children should not worry if they cannot follow the narrative of the picture story. It is perfectly acceptable just to say a few words about each picture in the sequence. Here is a sample:
Practice tips: Practice telling simple picture stories. Note that examiners are not looking for evidence of storytelling skills. Candidates are only expected to say a few words about each picture in the sequence without necessarily developing these comments into a narrative. The structures candidates will need most frequently in this task are There is/are, the present tense of the verbs be and have (got), the modals can/can’t and must/mustn’t and the present continuous tense of some action verbs (for example: play, read, look at, write, laugh, go). They should be able to say things like The man is talking. The children are eating. Candidates should also be able to describe simple feelings, for example: The boy is/isn’t happy. The examiner will prompt by asking a question if a candidate needs help.
Part 3: Picture Sets (Which is different?)
The examiner removes the pictures from the previous task and shows the candidate a set of 4 colorful pictures where one picture in each set is the ‘odd one out’. Then he/she says, “look at these four pictures. One is different. The book is different. A lemon, a pineapple, and an orange are fruit. You eat them. You don’t eat a book. You read it. Now, you tell me about these pictures. Which one is different?“.
This part of the test requires candidates to identify which picture is the odd one out in the remaining three sets and say why. Here is a sample:
Practice tips: Practice identifying the different one in a set of four pictures – for example, a picture of a book among three pictures of different fruits, a picture of a girl buying something among three pictures of people painting, a picture of a small animal/fish among three pictures of animals and a picture of a boy swimming among three pictures of people washing things. Candidates are only expected to give simple reasons for choosing a picture as the different one. For example: These are fruit, this isn’t. These people are painting, but this girl is buying bread. This fish is small, but these are all big. This boy is swimming, but these people are washing. There may be many different ways of expressing the same difference. Children may also find an alternative difference to the one intended. This is perfectly acceptable provided they give a reason for their choice.
Part 4: Personal Questions
The examiner removes the pictures from the previous task and starts asking some personal questions on topics such as school, weekends, friends, and hobbies. For example, “Let’s now talk about parties. What do you eat at parties?“
This part of the test tests children’s understanding and responding to personal questions.
Practice tips: Make sure the children feel confident answering questions about themselves, their families and friends, their homes, their school and free-time activities, their likes and dislikes. They should be able to answer questions such as: Who do you play with at school? What games do you play at school? What do you have for lunch? Only simple answers of between one and four words are expected. Questions will normally be in the present tense, but candidates should also be prepared to use the past tense and answer questions about, for example, what they did last weekend.
As I mentioned, the A1 Movers Speaking Exam takes from 5-7 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 first part which they have to spot the differences, after a couple of seconds, the examiner will point to one of the differences – e.g. the fish – and ask “How many fishes are there?“, 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 A1 Movers Exams. Here are the pdf files for you to download:
Here are two video samples of the A1 Movers 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 7 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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