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Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Life Beyond the Exam | The Language Learner's Constant Challenge - Deborah Hobbs

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hello everyone I hope you can all hear

me welcome to today's Cambridge

University Press

ELT webinar I'm Jenny Merkley Collins

and I'll be moderating today's session

along with my two colleagues Stuart

Vinny and Jenny Turnbull during the

webinar you'll be able to hear our

speaker for today Deb Hobbes and to see

her slides but you won't be able to see

Deb herself

you won't need a microphone if you want

to ask a question please use the chat

box that's the one that's marked chat

not the question-and-answer box at the

end of Debbie's presentation during the

scheduled question-and-answer session

the recording of this webinar will be on

our blog and on YouTube next week

your attendance certificate will be

available at the end of the presentation

and we'll also email you a copy of the

certificate the week after the webinar

so I'm very pleased to welcome Deb as

this afternoon's presenter Deborah Hobbs

works in Bristol as a freelance author

and instructional designer and also is

an English language lecturer and teacher

an adult and higher education she's

enjoyed over 10 years of English

language teaching examining and training

and regularly speaks international

teacher training events she has worked

in several countries around the world

including China Italy and Spain

Deborah holds a Dipti saw and is

currently studying from an MA ode open

technology enhanced learning and design

prior to becoming an educator Deborah

was a business change and project

manager in financial services so over to

Deb hello everyone thank you for taking

time out from your busy schedules to

join us today webinar it should take

about 45 to 60 minutes and I hope some

of the issues and ideas raised will be

of use to you in your teaching before we

start can I ask you to write a quick

then in the chat box please just so we

can check everything is working

correctly just your name where you're

joining us from and maybe the time it is

there that would be great you won't be

able to see other attendees comments but

I should be able to see them all




okay is anybody added any chat messages


I think maybe you can only see the

question panel not the chat panel so I'm

just going to have a look at that



okay I can see some people here now I've

got Raj where are you from Raj

ah yes so Raj from Pakistan

I've got greetings from Sweden Linda


thank you so let's get started the

session will be a little bit interactive

in that there will be a couple of

activities where I'll ask you to make

comments additionally there will be time

at the end for questions and answers the

talk will start with a little background

and some of the challenges I faced

teaching exam classes in my case for a


followed by the challenges my students

said they were facing then I'll briefly

introduce my involvement with Cambridge

and how we as teachers might help solve

some of these challenges I'll share some

ideas and together we'll look at some

materials and think about how they might

be used to take learners beyond the exam

and confidently into the real world ok

so as I said I've been teaching exam

English for a number of years I've used

some great course books in that time

generally I find that they take a

targeted approach so focusing almost

exclusively on exam requirements in

order to get students ready for their

assessment this is their purpose of

course nevertheless there are challenges

for us as exam teachers these were some

of my challenges sometimes or fairly of

in fact students in my class were of

slightly mixed ability not only that but

they learn as we all do I guess at

different speeds and I felt that some of

my students were almost ready for the

next level they wanted additional

linguistic stimulation some students in

the class weren't actually taking the

exam they were there because they

thought they would learn more than they

would in a general English class you may

have experienced that too as I think

it's fairly common among some learners I

also thought I wasn't teaching enough

functional language language they would

need to communicate successfully in the

real world a colleague told me an

anecdote once she said her first

certificate b1 b2 student who was doing

really well in class and went and was

anticipated to come away with a solid

pass came in one day quite frustrated

and he motivated the student had taken a

taxi over the weekend she'd wanted to go

to a local church but although she was

almost up immediate level she didn't

actually know how to order a taxi or

tell the driver where she wanted to go

so she struggled to communicate

effectively in the real world as

teachers have you faced any of these

challenges in your exam classes how do

you overcome them can you add a comment

in the chat box or if you can only reach

the questions in the question box please


yes I can say a few similar challenges


yes Maria says that her students really

couldn't perform so well outside the

class as they could in the class so when

I'm thinking about the challenges that

you have faced in your classroom in your

exam classroom do you have students with

mixed ability do you have students in

your exam class that really want to be

in a general English class but they

think they're going to learn more in

exam class okay so I decided to ask my

exam students how prepared they felt for

communicating in the real world and this

is what they said I'll let you read them

but I'm wondering if your students have

said anything similar to you


you can see that most students you can

see that most students couldn't see the

connection between the exam and the real


they felt confident doing things in

class but less confident doing things

outside the class

Cavan listen to my students I decided to

try and interpret what I thought they

said to me

of course there were challenges with

register colloquial language unexpected

language speed etc and I expected that

well I think we would see similar well

we would see similar comments from

general English students too but what I

really noticed was that students were

having difficulties connecting the

classroom learning to the real world

perhaps more so than general English

students they were confident in real

world situations but they weren't always

aware of how the skills they would

develop him for the exam were actually

transferable into the real world

not only were students being hit with

unexpected language outside of the

classroom let's call that linguistic

curveballs but I had also I also had to

ask myself how far was confidence being

affected by my students perceived

inability to transfer what they learned

in the classroom into the real world to

make those important connections and it

got me thinking about the real world

and life after the exam

look at these photos the little one

actually is me fixing my sink actually

but how far do you feel your exam

students are prepared for real-world

situations like for example these how do

you currently use your exam course

materials to prepare them how do you

make the connections between the exam

and the real world

share your ideas put some in the short

in the chat box if you like let's take a

minute to do that



it can be tricky can't it transferring

the learning from the classroom into the

real world

this is Neil nearly is commissioned an

editor at Cambridge University Press

and he stalks me on LinkedIn actually

after I'd given a talker I ate ethyl and

he asked me if I wanted to get involved

in writing a course book I told him I

wasn't an author he disagreed and he

said I was a teacher and therefore I had

created materials at the time I had

transferable skills just like our

students have this was the framework

that Nero Pope Neel approached me with

you can see that it largely reflected

some of our challenges as exam English

teachers I thought it would give us a

great opportunity to help students to

make real-world connections in a less

controlled environment and maybe bridge

some of the gaps particularly around

functional language I really wanted to

help students identify transferable

skills that they could take beyond the


okay so we're trying to help students

make the jump between the classroom the

exam and the real world we're trying to

encourage them to make the links and

connections and show them that they have

the skills to achieve this to achieve

success in the real world so I'm going

to show you some materials as you look

at the materials can you think about the

two questions I'm going to show you a

material and pause for a few minutes

while you think about it and add a

comment or two and then we'll move to

the next one obviously you don't need to

add any comments if you don't want to

thinking is also good so here's the

first material this is Bella

so the question is how could you use

this material in class and what skills

are transferable from the exam to the

real world

I'm just going to give you a few minutes

to have a look at that sink and maybe

put in a comment if you want to in the

chat box


so the instructions are how could you

use this material in class and what

skills are transferable from the exam to

the real world









okay so here is the material in its

entirety it's taken from the speaking

part three training and here's what we

did with it


so you can see the exam skill speaking

part three describing or introducing

yourself sorry speaking part three and

the real-world skill describing or

introducing yourself so there's a

connection there between using the

material for the exam and using material

for the real world let's look at the

second material

this is a ticket

so again how could you use this material

in your exam class and how could you

transfer the skills from the exam to the

real world


find the key information good point you



sorry about that buzz extracting details

such as numbers yeah that would be good

reading the ticket Thank You Mohammed to

get information

ah you wouldn't use it for speaking

skills now Jesus what would you use it


okay here's what we did with it it's

actually taken from the real world

section of the course book the exam

connection isn't so obvious with this

one but it's still there if we make the

connection clear so listening for detail

and invoice avoiding distractions the

real-world skill listening for

announcement functional language tickets

etc yes helping students know the

directions for direct net directions and


Shefali thank you

interpreting information from boarding

pass yes that's a good one


right let's move on now to the third

material material see sentences so the

same idea how would you use this

material for the exam and how could you

use the material for the real world so

how could you connect for learning for

the student

I'll give you a few minutes to put your

comments in if you can use the question

box to put your comments in rather than

a chat box that would be great




just to remind you that you can't see

each other's comments but we can see

them okay and also had a question about

transferable skills what does that mean

or what a transferable skill is is a

skill that you might learn doing one

thing that you can use to do something

else so me for example as a teacher I

created materials but I didn't see

myself as an author however I could

transfer that skill I could move that

skill from materials writing to course

foot writing just keep there we go

okay using familiar words or sentences

that were helping to connect Thank You

moe Boober gap-filling in class that's a

nice one Victoria paraphrasing the words

in bold Caesar says that's really useful


okay let's have a little look now to see

what we did with this material so this

comes from the push yourself section of

the course book and as you can see it's

about pushing language to the next level

supporting students who want that extra

challenge you can do this it doesn't

need to be in your course book this is

still something that you could do let's

have a look at that in more detail

so we can see here the exam skill

upgrading language to the next level

dealing with unexpected language is the

real-world skill may be dealing with

more advanced phrases yes Asia says

using figurative language in exams yes

that would be useful asking students

what the phrases mean or if they get the

meaning yes thank you very much for the



allister's to have a conversation and to

keep the conversation what do you mean

by that manner

oh yes drilling excellent okay let's

move on now to the next material this is

Jake and Kristi

this one comes in two parts so I think

this one is Jake bit longer for you to

read so I'll give you a few extra

minutes what could you do with this

material and how could you make the

connections to the real world and to the




just going to give you a few minutes to

type your comments in the question box

how could you use this material in the

exam and how could you use this material

in the real world and to make

connections between the two




okay I've got some comments now new

synonyms or other words to say the same

thing so these are that's useful Olivia

I can see your comments in the question

box so that's fine you can continue to

put comments in the question box and not

the chat box if you like I think we have

two different chat boxes so question box

is fine

familiarizing learners with common

expressions says magma that's useful yes

asking students to identify figurative

expressions says Sabina cooking is part

of life I like that one

Maria says that she would ask students

to interpret the situation they love

that yes they really do don't they

let's look at the next one the other

part from this because it's Jake and

Kristi this is part one and here we can

see part two this is Kristi so this is

the same story but two sides so let's

see now if that changes your view on

what students can do with these two


the material could be used as a trigger

for a discussion yes that's a nice one

Cynthia problem-solving skills yes good

mainly for speaking giving suggestions

Thank You ciao functional language yes

we've got lots of ideas here very nice

thank you role-playing problem-solving

susana sharing personal experiences

that's a good one

summarizing a text yes focus on the

place in some words with new words Thank

You Polly ah

come I'll suggests that you could use

material C and E so Jake and Christie to

our students to write about them yes

that would be good when alkmaar suggests

words to be used whilst cooking yes lots

of vocabulary in there and role-playing

excellent let's have a look to see how

we used these materials okay so they act

come from the grammar section of this

particular unit and here is the task

from the course book so we can see that

Jake and Kristi are friends they've

recently been having some problems and

so they have two opinions of the same

story and we actually used it to

highlight regrets which they could

discuss so the exam skill part for

sentence transformation different ways

of expressing regret and the real life

skill dealing with difficult situations

I think you could definitely go on as

Hellena suggests prepare a dialogue in

pairs to act it out also as Lydia

suggests self-expression and reflection

inviting students to find solutions as

Samia recognizing verb tenses and

grammar structures structures yeah

that's great so here they all are there

if we look at the table and this is just

some ways in which we can help students

make connections between the exam tasks

and the real world and how we can help

highlight to students that the skills

that they're learning for the exam are

transferable and again by transferable

we mean that we can take those exam

skills and we can apply the skills in

the real world but we have to make those

connections clear to our students I

don't think they realize that they

always realize that they have the skills

to communicate effectively in the real

world so here we can see Bella with the

boxed words speaking part 3 and then the

real-world skills describing and

introducing yourself so that material

has two purposes not just for the exam

also for the real world the ticket

listening for detail avoiding

distractions could be our exams feel

listening to an announcement functional

language as many of you mentioned could

be the real world school sentences we've

got there the upgrading language to the

next level for that particular material

and the real-world skill

was dealing with an expected language

using more advanced phrases Jake and

Kristi lots of ideas there lots of

really good ideas there for the exam

part for sentence transformation

different ways of expressing regret it's

a really useful exam practice but the

connection there with the real world

dealing with difficult and awkward

situations real-life situations

so a summary of the things that I've

learned I think in my experience of

teaching exam classes but also my

experiences of helping write the course

book was that we must consider life

after the exam and how a skill can

translate or be transferred to the real

world so how students can take a skill

that they learn in class and use that

skill effectively in the real world and

I think as educators and teachers we

need to do what we can to help our

learners make those real world

connections which in turn can build

their confidence we need to highlight

transferable skills because students

won't always work this out for

themselves they won't always realize

that the skills they learn in class can

be used outside the class we need to

take opportunities to upgrade language

and we always need to keep the real


in mind so life beyond the exam and the

relative safety of the classroom it

doesn't matter what course book or what

materials you use you can still make

connections between the classroom and

the real world and you can still keep

the real world in mind okay

and all the topic of upgrading language

I thought you might find this useful

this is a website English vocabulary

profile I don't know if you know about

this website you do need to set up an

account but it is free so I use it a lot

when I'm writing or when I'm creating

materials you can search for language by

grade by topic by function and as we

know the Cambridge English exams are

scored like this so it's possible for a

b2 student to come away with a c1 school

so it's always a good idea to add in

some extra sort of push some extra

stretch for those students who feel that

they are able to cope with that or for

those who feel that they need that as

some sort of motivation but I thought I

would share that website with you

because I find it particularly useful

the other thing to mention I think is

about collaboration I think it's really

important where possible to ask our

students to do activities and tasks

together I know we can't always do that

but collaboration generally does improve

motivation and learning

and here are a couple of life competency

tasks taken from the corner course book

that actually does help with

collaboration so working in pairs these

are things that you can do in class at

the end of a lesson maybe help students

to really understand the topic perhaps

you can use they can use them in bar

phones to go online and do some research

but it's just an opportunity for

students to work together and

collaborate on a task when they might

ordinarily just do the task on their own

okay so I think we've just about

finished the things that we wanted to

cover say thank you everybody for your

attention and for your comments and back

over to you Jenny

hello again everyone and thank you so

much Deb for such an interesting session

so to all of the attendees I know some

of you have already started asking about

this but you can download your

certificate now if you can see the tab

marked handout you can download the

certificate now it's a signed

certificate and you can fill in your

name and that will be your certificate

for the event if for any reason you

can't download that now we'll be sending

out an email next week with the webinar

recording and with this certificate

attached so either way you'll be able to

get this now does anyone have any

questions I know this has been an

interactive session but if you have any

other questions general questions

anything that you've thought of as we've

gone through any questions for Deb at

all please type those in the question

box and then Deb can answer these I'll

just give you a few minutes

and then we'll see our questions lots of

thank-yous which is nice and I apologize

initially I couldn't find your questions

in the question box so it took me a

while to find you all but I've got there

in the end any questions anybody yes the

though the slide with the information

about vocabulary josei is that the

English vocabulary yes that is free you

can you do need to set up an account and

then you get a password and you can just

use it I've used it quite a lot you can

search by topic you can search by level

so if you're teaching be warned you can

just select be warned and all of the

vocabulary will come up it's fairly

comprehensive really good for things

like sports hobbies home life that type

of thing so yes it is free I'm glad you

found it useful

that's Lana okay I did spot one question

earlier saying do these techniques work

for any of the Cambridge English exams I

think they do because I think the

important thing is that we need to

remain focused on what we're actually

doing as teachers and as educators and

although were preparing students for the

exam what we're really doing is

preparing them for life after the exam

we're preparing them to communicate

effectively in the real world so I think

we can always make those connections


whatever exam you're teaching Cambridge

or otherwise and the real world and I

think it's important that we do that I

think those educators and teachers we

have a responsibility to do that

any other questions

I kind of see I'm seeing a couple of

questions yeah good how can we decide

the advanced idioms how could we find

idioms for advanced I suppose some of

those might be on English profile there

are some on English profile in the

Advanced tab I think the important thing

to remember is that we need to think

about the idioms that students will come

into contact with when they are outside

of the classroom so if they need to be

ones that students will use and need to

know so I think we need to be quite

selective but certainly there are some

in the English profile absolutely

English vocabulary profile yes you might

need to read any more questions back to

me Jenny because I can't see the bottom

of the question box unfortunately okay

are there any special free sites that

provide quality material on how to get

prepared for exams well I can answer

that one There is obviously Cambridge

English org and I'll put that link in

reply to your question as well English

dot oh it depends on the exam level for

example at the moment the key and

preliminary exams are being updated we

have another website to prepare for

these and with lots of free

sources there and I'll add that next to

your question in the chat as well okay

so you should be able to see that in a

second a couple of links to some free

websites lots more thank yous that's


I can't move my mouse every time I do I

lose the screen I'm trying to look at

the questions without music moving the

mouse anymore okay another question if

how can one utilize the skills to get

the students and real world to connect

when peoples are confronting the

barriers in the schooling system they're

enrolled in some deep hack that can be

quite challenging can't it Deepak I

think because schools often have a

specific target and goal and it is

typically passing the exam and I think

some materials are very exam focus which

is excellent I think for me I would

probably take opportunities when I could

to provide that real-world connection I

think it may not always be obvious in

the course book or in the materials that

you're using so you may need to add so

that you can make the connection it

needn't take very long I appreciate

you're really busy it needn't take

really long very long to do that it

could just be it might even just be

telling us the students letting the

students know that what the connection

is between the exam and the real world

so for example here we've done grammar

words transformation however you could

also use this language if you are in a

difficult conversation with somebody

like Jake and Kristi where

I think we need to make those

connections clear when we can I hope

that answered your question anymore

Jenny how to deal with mixed ability

learners in a class especially when the

language being taught as a second

language and there are not really

real-world connections lots of

real-world quick connections I have to

say Deb is co-author of open worlds

which is our new course which is

released this year with levels for key

preliminary and first and it does have

it does have a very specific real-world

link bridging the gap between exam and

classroom English and real world

situations so I've typed the link a few

times in answers in the chat I'll pop it

in again now but you can find more

information about this exam and

real-world course at Cambridge dorg

slash open world but I will pop that

again in the answer in the chat so

anything else you wanted to add about

that Deb it's quite yeah I think it's

quite interesting the mixed mixed

ability because I've experienced that Oh

on sometimes students get a little bit

shoehorned into classes because of

numbers and things I think an awareness

of the different levels is useful but

also an awareness that some students

will pick things up quicker than others

and come prepared with language that's

perhaps a slightly higher level for

those students that need it it can be a

bit more time-consuming I think if

you've got different levels in class but

it's thinking about how you can use one

material to do a number of different

things so the material perhaps can be

used for different levels so maybe

picking out numbers if it's a lower

level on tickets

whereas for higher levels you might do

something slightly different with the

material if that makes sense so we've

got a few minutes left I think haven't

we Jenny if there's any more questions

or any other ideas that you want to

share ok another question from Deepak

there's a world outside the classroom

how can one get his students to believe

this when he's trying to get the

connection between students in the real


in addition where they're bound and

limited for periods that now they

believe exam is the only life about how

do you inspire them and to believe that

there's a real use of English beyond the

classroom we're looking at that so

that's a very very big questions and I'm

sure use an exam phrase and say that's a

very interesting question let me take a

moment to think about it well I think I

mean the the taxi-driver example that my

colleague gave I think was really useful

the student that was performing well in

class when she wanted to catch taxi over

the weekend she didn't know how to ask

the taxi driver to take her somewhere

and I just think that it depends on what

the motivation the students motivation I

guess a student may need the exam for a

specific reason they may not actually

need then to communicate with local

people they may not need to communicate

in a real-world environment they may

need it for their CV so I think we do

need to understand what motivates the

students but for students who do need to

communicate outside the classroom then I

think we have to try and get encourage

them to see the connections between the

exam in the real world wherever possible

okay so I can't see any more questions

but I'm getting some thanks I'll just

read out thank you for thank you so much

for making it so easy to show my

students how useful it might be for them

they're learning in class

that's from cheol-min

I hope I said that correctly probably

not thank you it was a very informative

webinar I'm still studying at the

University but soon I might I might I

may start working as a teacher I share

the same feeling with Bella another

teacher oh no that was from your

speaking activity doing the lack of

experience I'll do our best taking your

advice into account and keeping the real

world always in mind thank you that was

how a TIA

again I probably pronounced that

incorrectly but thank you thank you for

your positive feedback we're really

happy that that you found it useful just

checking there's no more questions

before we finish I Cody Anna wants to

know how she can attend more webinars

where can we find out about more

webinars so the question how can I

attend more webinars is the question

okay so on the Cambridge dot-org site if

you go to the section marked events

that's where we list all of our webinars

so if you keep an eye on that or also

follow cambridge ELT on social media

Facebook and Twitter you'll also see

updates about upcoming webinars and be

able to register for those

oK we've had a few questions about

certificates we will send out the

certificates by email if you've not been

able to download from the handouts today

so don't worry about that and all being

well you'll also receive the webinar

recording so thank you all for attending

and for being so interactive it's been

great to have you here

I apologize for anyone's questions were

an answered so obviously we haven't been

able to answer any questions so please

accept our apology if you asked a

question and we didn't have chance to

answer it yeah but that's all we've got

time for today thank you for attending

so don't forget Cambridge dorg / ELT

events for future webinars and keep an

eye out on our blog and YouTube channel

for the recording of this webinar next

week but we'll also be emailing you okay

thank you all and we hope thank you see

you again sometime in the future and

thank you Deb that's been really

interesting thank you


The Description of Life Beyond the Exam | The Language Learner's Constant Challenge - Deborah Hobbs