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 A1 Movers Speaking Exam, now, I’m going to talk about the YLE A2 Flyers Speaking Exam to explain how the exam works and help you to guide your young learner to get the best score.
The A2 Flyers 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 A2 learners takes from 7-9 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, surname (last 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. Then he makes a series of statements about his picture and expects the child to point out the differences in her picture, e.g. “Here are two pictures. My picture is nearly the same as yours, but some things are different. For example, in my picture, the man is pointing at a cloud on the map. But in your picture, he is pointing at the sun. Okay? I’m going to say something in my picture, and you tell me how your picture is different“. With this sentence, the examiner expects that the candidate points out the differences according to his statements.
This part of the tests understanding statements and responding with differences. Here is a sample:
Practice tips: Practice listening to statements about a picture, relating that to another picture, and commenting on the difference in number, color, position, appearance, activity, shape, and relative size, etc. For example: In my picture the clock is square but in your picture, the clock is round.
Part 2: Information Exchange
The examiner removes the pictures from the previous task and shows two sets of cards. In one set, there is a picture of a boy and some information about him below, and a picture of a girl, with question marks associated with her information. On the other set, the information is inverted: there is some information about the girl and missing information about the boy.
The examiner asks the candidate questions about a person, place or object, based on a set of question cues. The candidate is expected to respond, using a set of information cues. Then, the candidate should ask the examiner questions based on a set of different question cues, to provide the missing information.
This task tests responding to and forming questions. By providing the questions first, the examiner expects that the children ask the same, or similar questions. Here is a sample:
Practice tips: Practice asking and answering questions, about people, things, and situations. This will include information about time, place, age, appearance, etc. Candidates should be able to ask ‘question-word questions’ using Who, What, When, Where, How old, How many, etc. For example: What is the name of Robert’s favorite restaurant? They should also be able to ask ‘Yes/No questions’, for example: Has Harry’s teacher got a car? Additionally, they need to be comfortable asking questions with two options. For example: Is the restaurant cheap or expensive?
Part 3: Picture Story
The examiner removes the sets of pictures from the previous task and shows the candidate a sequence of five pictures that show a story. The examiner tells the candidate the name of the story and describes the first picture in the story, by saying, for example: “These pictures tell a story. It’s called “The Brave Teacher”. Just look at the pictures first. (Pause) Nick and Anna are looking out of the classroom window. The teacher isn’t happy because they’re not doing their work. Now you tell the story“. Then the candidate is expected to describe the other four pictures. The title of the story and the name(s) of the main character(s) are shown in the story.
This task tests describing things and events. Here is a sample:
Practice tips: Practice telling similar simple picture stories. Also, advise candidates to look at each picture, in turn, to get a general idea of the story before they start to speak. However, 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. It is perfectly acceptable just to say a few words about each picture in the sequence without developing these comments into a story. The examiner will prompt by asking a question if a candidate needs help.
The structures candidates will need most frequently 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: come, go, buy, put on, carry, open, laugh). They may also need to use the present perfect tense or going to. They should be able to say things like: Nick and Anne are in the classroom. They are looking out the window.
Part 4: Personal Information
The examiner removes the sets of pictures from the previous task and asks some personal questions on topics such as school, holidays, birthdays, family and, hobbies. For example, What time do you get up on Saturday? What do you do on Saturday afternoon?
This part tests understanding and responding to personal questions.
Practice tips: Practice simple answers to a phrase or one or two short sentences about topics related to personal information. Make sure candidates feel confident answering questions about themselves, their families and friends, their homes, their school and free-time activities, their likes and dislikes, and other topics related to their everyday lives. Questions will normally be in the present tense but candidates should also be prepared to use the past and present perfect tenses and going to, and to answer questions about, for example, what they did yesterday or are going to do at the weekend.
As I mentioned, the A2 Flyers Speaking Exam takes from 7-9 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 fish 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 A2 Flyers Exams. Here are the pdf files for you to download:
Here are two video samples of the A2 Flyers 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 9 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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Which tense should be use in the picture story part?