By Philip Lee Johnson
Another semester has ended in the Cambridge English Program at Huamei International School. This semester the students saw some challenging new methods of teaching as they prepared for their KET tests in the spring.
One of the newest additions is the focus on describing pictures. There is an English saying that “a picture is worth a thousand words,” and we’d like to teach our students to say all of them! The pictures are in line with the various topics in the Cambridge Think book like furniture or family. The students are encouraged to practice their new vocabulary in a very practical way to talk about the various pictures. For a young English student, staring at a picture and thinking of something to say can be intimidating. But with the methods practiced in class this semester they can speak about almost any picture they see. This will help them to speak in a fluid manner and prepare them for their coming test. The KET test has many visual elements in it, but even more so the PET test (that is, the test students take after the KET test) has visual elements the students are expected to describe.
The students also routinely practiced various aspects of the KET test throughout the semester. Every week they practiced either speaking, vocabulary or listening. All of these weekly exercises were based on practice KET material. Even the structure of the tests, like speaking with two students at a time as is done in the test, was imitated. For speaking they had to practice introducing themselves and ask each other some questions. For listening they answer questions about a story or dialogue similar to the test. And last the vocabulary they are quizzed on is pulled from the list of KET words and correlates with the lesson material.
Many students have shown progress in the past months with these exercises. With further refinement these exercises will help many students excel in the KET test.