How to use my model answers when you’re improving your English speaking skills? Let’s find out!
Hello, this is Kristian from Cambridge Advanced Speaking, how are you doing? I hope you’re ready to acquire some vital knowledge today, in order to become a better English Speaker. Even if you’re not preparing for the C1 exam, this episode is essential if you want to achieve the best results when using my podcast, YouTube channel or website.
And speaking about my website, it’s is called Get Ready For Success, and there you can find the audio files, videoclips and lesson notes for all the podcast episodes.
I create and share these learning materials, because I want to help you speak better English and get a high mark in your C1 Speaking Exam.
Today I’m going to talk about model answers. Here’s an example of a model answer I used in episode 1:
Example Model Answer
Question: What ambitions do you have?
Hmm, that’s an interesting question! Well, between you and me, I dream about being a great teacher. I have a burning desire to help people all over the world speak better English. Of course, I know it’s not going to be a walk in the park, there are going to be moments that I feel like giving up, but I’m willing to go the extra mile to succeed.
Model answers, like the one I just shared, pose (= create) three interesting questions for listeners of my podcast:
- How do you know the model answers are good?
- Do they have enough C1 words and phrases?
- How do you use the model answers?
In this episode I’m going to answer all these questions for you.
Are you ready? Let’s get cracking!
How Do You Know If The Model Answers Are Good?
First of all, let’s talk about the quality of the model answers on this podcast. How do you know that the answers are actually of high quality?
Well, I will answer 3 critical questions and then let you decide:
- What’s your experience with Cambridge exams?
- What resources does you use?
- Is your English correct?
Here are my answers:
- I passed the Cambridge English C2 exam at grade A, according to the official statement of results. What’s more, I’ve been helping people prepare for the C1 and C2 exams for over 2 years now, so I know what it takes to get a high mark.
- To make sure I teach you relevant language – i.e. natural spoken English that the examiners like to hear – I use loads of resources from renowned publishing companies, such as Cambridge, Oxford and Macmillan. I’m talking about English learning textbooks, dictionaries and lots of exam practice materials.
- I always check and double-check when I’m in doubt. Sometimes I ask a native speaker for feedback, other times I use dictionaries and other helpful websites, such as ludwig.guru or Grammarly. When it comes to checking my pronunciation, I use the Cambridge and Collins dictionaries (UK audio). That’s why I say contrast (/kənˈtrɑːst/) and not contrast (/kənˈtræst/). Of course, I’m only human, so like anyone else, I do make mistakes, but I always go the extra mile to avoid them.
Okay, now that you know how I create the model answers in my podcast episodes, I’ll let you decide for yourself if they are good enough…
Do the Answers Contain Enough C1 Vocabulary?
Now, let’s talk about the thing that everybody seems to want: C1 vocabulary.
So, here’s the problem: everybody wants to learn C1 or even C2 vocabulary, but examiners never think “Wow, this person is using a C1 word”.
Instead, they evaluate your whole performance and hopefully, at the end of your speaking exam, they give you a high mark.
Let me put it differently: To sound natural and intelligible, a C1 speaker will use simple words, such as: “and, but, because, maybe, very, happy”.
Now, it’s true, to score a high mark in your exam, you need to use less common and idiomatic language. So yes, you need to use less frequent, or unusual vocabulary.
However, you have to be able to use them correctly. And that means: learn how words go together and how to use them correctly within a grammatical structure.
Let me quote from the C1 Handbook for teachers:
Vocabulary and grammar range: the variety of words and grammatical forms a candidate uses. At higher levels, candidates will make increasing use of a greater variety of words, fixed phrases, collocations and grammatical forms.
This is where my model answers are helpful, because I make sure that they contain a great variety of words, collocations, fixed expressions and grammatical forms.
For example, I can use ‘happy’ in my model answers, but I also use different ways of saying happy, such as cheerful, delighted, thrilled (to bits), pleased as punch.
The same goes for connectors: I sometimes use but, but I also use however, on the other hand, that said.
How to Use the Model Answers?
Okay, now, let’s look at the third and final question of today: how to use my model answers?
Well, for starters, use both the transcript and the audio. You can also use the slides on YouTube. It really makes all the difference.
Secondly, don’t memorise the answers. It’s not going to help you, because the examiner will notice it and you will sound unnatural.
What you can memorise, is the chunk, or the phrase, or the collocation, just two or three words. Not the whole sentence.
Let me tell you what I think is a good way of using my model answers:
Learn to pick out the things that help you build better sentences and then practice with them.
How do you do that? In five easy-to-follow steps:
First of all, you should notice the connectors. Start with the beginning of the sentence. Things like For starters (opening), That said (contrasting), All in all (concluding).
Secondly, notice the collocations (the words that go together)
Thirdly, notice the phrasal verbs. They are frequently used in natural spoken English. For example: “Well, if I had to choose, I’d go for (= choose)”
Fourth, notice the grammatical structures, such as conditionals, or “used to” to describe habits/routines in the past.
Finally, practice by substituting. Take the model answer and substitute parts of it. You could change part of the sentence with the same meaning, change the tense, make a positive sentence negative, and last but not least, make the model answer true for you!
By making it true for you, you’re getting lots of language hardwired in your brain and this way you become a flexible English speaker.
Let me give you an example of practice by substituting with help from the model answer that I shared at the start of this episode.
Question: What ambitions do you have?
Hmm, that’s an interesting question! Well, between you and me (to be honest), I dream about being (my aim is to be) a great teacher. I have a burning desire (lifelong ambition) to help people all over the world speak better English. Of course, I know it’s not going to be a walk in the park (as easy as pie), there are going to be moments that I feel like giving up, but I’m willing to go the extra mile (bend over backwards) to succeed.
That’s it. There you are. Now you know know why and how you should use my model answers. They give you loads of ideas and vocabulary to practice with, and all this practice will make you a flexible English speaker.
I hope you enjoyed this episode! If you did, please share it with someone who could benefit from it.
If you would like to suggest topics for future episodes, leave me a comment on my blog or on YouTube.
If you have any questions about this lesson, or any feedback, then do get in touch with me. You can email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org – I’d love to hear from you.
In the meantime, go and check out my website, Get Ready For Success. If you’re preparing for Cambridge C1, it’s a great place, full of interesting stuff.
All right, that’s all from me. Take care of yourself, and each other.
Speak soon, my friends.
This podcast is really helpful and full of interesting stuff!
Hi Aneta, Glad it’s helpful! If you have any suggestions for future episodes, let me know 🙂