Tips for the FCE student – Reading and Listening
Try to read as much as possible!
Try to read a range of different texts from magazines, newspapers, etc. As well as giving you practise in reading, it will enable you to become more familiar with both the layout and register of the various writing tasks in the exam. It can also help in expanding your vocabulary so that you will be able to express ideas covering a wider range of topics.
NOTE – Reading a novel is a useful way to develop your reading skills but does not give you the same depth of language, vocabulary and ideas that reading a variety of different texts can give you.
Try to practise the following skills when reading:
- Skimming texts – Read a text quickly to get the overall/general meaning.
- Scanning texts – Read a text quickly and look for the key pieces of information (e.g. names, dates, etc).
- Guessing the meaning of unknown vocabulary – Try to work out the meaning of unknown vocabulary within a sentence by also looking at the sentence as a whole and the context in which the word is being used.
Look at the following sentence:
What do you think the (invented!) word minotaph means?
I think that Justin Bieber is the best minotaph in the world
The meaning of the imaginary word minotaph is singer, although you might not agree with the actual sentence itself!
Remember, there are 3 different reading tasks in the exam and you will need to use the skills above to help you. Try to put them into practice now so that you will feel confident when you finally take the exam for real!
There are many useful resources that are easy to access and excellent tools for helping you develop your listening skills:
- Watching films on DVD – Watch a short section of the film/programme to see how much you can understand, then use the sub-titles to check how much you think you have understood.
NOTE – Using sub-titles to practise listening skills, at the same time as watching a film/TV programme, is not very useful as you soon stop listening and end up only reading the words instead!
- There are various websites available that will provide plenty of recordings and/or related listening tasks to help you improve your overall listening skills. These include:
- Listen to the other students in your class when they speak, during feedback or discussions for example.
Remember, when someone else is speaking in the classroom, you should be using this as an opportunity to really practise your listening skills. It also exposes you to English in a wide range of different accents and is probably a true reflection of English as it is spoken in the world at large.