Tag Archives: CAE Reading

Cambridge vs IELTS – Which one to choose?

Some of the most common questions we are asked by students are ‘What is the difference between Cambridge exams and IELTS?’ or ‘Which exam should I take?’ They’re the 2 biggest exams in the UK, so have a look at our handy table below to decide which one is best for you.

  Cambridge IELTS
Types of exam Different exams for different levels – KET (A2), PET (B1), FCE (B2), CAE (C1) and CPE (C2) The same exam for all levels, but you choose the Academic English or the General English exam
Grading Pass A-C grade, or fail, although a ‘high’ fail gets a certificate from the level below You receive a band score between 1-9
Papers 4 papers – Speaking, Listening, Writing, Reading and Use of English (this is focused on grammar and vocabulary). 4 papers – Speaking, Listening, Writing, and Reading
Certificate You have a certificate which is valid forever Your certificate is normally only accepted at institutions for 2 years after you take the exam
Purpose To prove a general level of English; accepted by some university courses To go to university in the UK; for some types of visa; to work in the NHS

If you’re not sure, think about why you’re taking an exam – is it to show your general level, or to take a course? To get a job or to get a visa? Check on the website of the specific organisation to find out what they need – often they will accept either type of exam.

At Eurospeak we have extensive experience with both types of exam, so why not come in and have a chat with one of our friendly staff and let us help you find the exam and course which is best for you!

For more information about studying General English, Cambridge Exam Preparation or IELTS Exam Preparation courses with Europeak Southampton or Eurospeak Reading, please contact us on:

What’s going on with British weather?

If you’ve been living in the UK for even a short time, you’ll know that the weather is very changeable – sometimes we get four seasons in one day! Whether it’s chucking it down, or we’re having a heat wave, you should be prepared – never leave the house without an umbrella and sunglasses!

But why is the weather so unpredictable? Well, geographically, the UK sits between warm air coming from the topics and cold air from the polar regions. When the two types of air meet, the atmosphere can change very quickly, from mild to freezing in just one day.

This is one of the reasons that we love to talk about the weather so much – there’s always something new to say!

Four seasons in one day – when we experience many different types of weather in a short period of time

It’s chucking it down – it’s raining a lot (informal)

A heat wave – a short period of surprisingly hot weather

Mild ­– not cold (especially after a period when it’s been very cold)

Freezing – very cold

If you want to find out more, watch this fascinating video from the BBC:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/science-environment-17223307/why-is-british-weather-so-unpredictable

 

For more information about studying General English, Cambridge Exam Preparation or IELTS Exam Preparation courses with Europeak Southampton or Eurospeak Reading, please contact us on:

What is Pancake Day?

The time has come for one of the best days of spring – Pancake Day! But why on earth do we have a day to celebrate pancakes?

Pancake Day (or Shrove Tuesday, as it is also called) is celebrated 40 days before Easter Sunday, one of the most important days in the Christian calendar.

On Pancake Day we use all of the nice foods in the house, like eggs, butter and sugar, to make pancakes and then we eat very plain food for the next 40 days. One of the most popular pancake toppings in the UK is lemon with sugar, but you can have jam, Nutella, or even cheese!

An important tradition on Pancake Day is flipping the pancakes – you have to throw them up in the air and then try to catch them in the pan! It takes a bit of practice, but it’s good fun. Some towns even have a pancake race, where people have to run and flip pancakes at the same time!

You can see one of these races on Broad Street in Reading, from 12.30pm on Tuesday 5th March.

Come and join us for the Eurospeak Pancake parties this week –

Southampton – Tuesday 5th March, 1pm

Reading – Thursday 7th March, 4pm

For more information about studying General English, Cambridge Exam Preparation or IELTS Exam Preparation courses with Europeak Southampton or Eurospeak Reading, please contact us on:

WHY ENGLISH CAN BE HARD

English can be difficult because sometimes words with the same spelling can have different meanings and / or pronunciations.

Here are some examples for you to try to figure out:

  • The bandage was wound around the wound.
  • The farm was cultivated to produce produce.
  • The dump was so full that the workers had to refuse more refuse.
  • We must polish the Polish furniture.
  • The soldier decided to desert his tasty dessert in the desert.
  • Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present to his girlfriend.
  • A bass was painted on the bass drum.
  • I did not object to the object which he showed me.
  • The insurance was invalid for the invalid in his hospital bed.
  • There was a row among the oarsmen about who would row.
  • They were too close to the door to close it.
  • The buck does funny things when the does are present.
  • A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer.
  • To help with planting, a farmer taught his sow to sow.
  • The wind was too strong to wind the sail around the mast.
  • Upon seeing the tear in her painting, she shed a tear.
  • I has to subject the subject to a series of tests.
  • How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

MAJOR SENTENCES

major sentence (also called a regular sentence) is any complete sentence that is made up of or contains an independent clause—that is, it has both a subject and a predicate (a verb and any of its constituent parts).

Here are some examples:

  • Brad came to dinner with us.
  • We all agreed; it was a magnificent evening.
  • I hope that, when I’ve built up my savings, I’ll be able to travel to Mexico.
  • Sentences come in many shapes and sizes.
  • Would you like to travel with me?

Regular sentences come in a variety of structures and patterns, and can be further categorised as simple sentences or multiple sentences. Simple sentences are composed of a single clause, whereas multiple sentences are composed of two or more clauses.

For example:

Simple sentences have one finite verb. Multiple sentences have more than one finite verb and thus have more than one clause.

For more information about studying General English, Cambridge Exam Preparation or IELTS Exam Preparation courses with Europeak Southampton or Eurospeak Reading, please contact us on:

IDIOMS & ANSWERS

Do you know the meaning of these frequently used English idioms?

  1. A Picture Paints a Thousand Words

Meaning: A visual presentation is far more descriptive than words.

Example:  “Wow, this photograph really is amazing. A picture paints a thousand words!”

  1. A Drop in the Bucket

Meaning: A very small part of something big or whole.

Example: “What we were paid for our work was a drop in the bucket compared to what the company earned.”

  1. An Arm And A Leg

Meaning: Very expensive. A large amount of money.

Example: Be careful with that! It cost an arm and a leg.

  1. Don’t count your chickens before they hatch

Meaning: Don’t rely on it until your sure of it.

Example: She wanted to buy a dress in case someone asked her to the dance, but I told her not to count her chickens before they hatched.

  1. Go Down Like A Lead Balloon

Meaning: To be received badly by an audience.

Example: The issue that the politician raised in his speech went down like a lead balloon with the public.

For more information about studying General English, Cambridge Exam Preparation or IELTS Exam Preparation courses with Europeak Southampton or Eurospeak Reading, please contact us on:

MINOR SENTENCES

A minor sentence can be thought of as a sentence where a verb is missing. Here are some examples:

  • Nothing coming.
  • Wow!
  • Like father, like son.
  • Not now.
  • Sarah here.
  • Oi, you!

It could even be possible to have a whole conversation using minor sentences:

A: How much for these?

B: One pound for ten.

A: Too much. How about these? How much for them?

B: Ninety pence for ten.

A: Alright.

B: A few sprigs of parsley too?

A: Okay.

Minor sentences are informal, so are most often found in spoken English rather than written English. However, these days, you could also come across them in tweets.

For more information about studying General English, Cambridge Exam Preparation or IELTS Exam Preparation courses with Europeak Southampton or Eurospeak Reading, please contact us on:

IMPROVE YOUR LISTENING

When you’re trying to improve your listening, it’s important you listen to things you’re actually interested in – if you wouldn’t listen to it in your first language then you’re not going to want to listen to it in English.

  • Song lyrics: Find an English song you like the sound of; look for a video with the lyrics on YouTube; listen to the song and sing along with the lyrics on the screen.
  • Films / TV Shows: Think of a genre you like; find a film or TV show in that genre in English; watch it!
  • BBC Radio 4: If your English is already good, try listening to BBC Radio 4. There’s no music, just lots of talk with the type of shows you find on the TV.
  • Language exchanges: Find somebody you can practise English with; meet up and have conversations – when you’re speaking to somebody, you also need to listen to what they’re saying!
  • TED Talks: TED Talks is a website with lots of presentations in English. The presentations are on lots of different subjects, so you can choose something that you’re interested in. It’s also often possible to turn on and off the subtitles too. It’s a good idea to listen to the presentation once without the subtitles, then listen to it again with the subtitles to check for anything you missed or didn’t understand. Here’s the TED Talks website: www.ted.com.

For more information about studying General English, Cambridge Exam Preparation or IELTS Exam Preparation courses with Europeak Southampton or Eurospeak Reading, please contact us on:

Eurospeak Southampton
10 Cumberland Place
Southampton
Hampshire
SO15 2BH
+44 (0) 2380 636 494
hello@eurospeak.org.uk
www.eurospeak.org.uk

Eurospeak Reading
29A Chain Street
Reading
Berkshire
RG1 2HX
+44 (0) 1189 589 599
info@eurospeak.org.uk
www.eurospeak.org.uk

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

From Edinburgh all the way down to Plymouth. Britain surely knows how to throw a bash at the end of the year! New Year’s Eve is a time when families and friends come together and host parties at home, or celebrate in restaurants and pubs, whilst counting down to the end of the year and awaiting the stroke of midnight. People take walks around the City of London, watching street performers, admiring buildings that have been lit up and enjoying delicious food in the many restaurants that surround the beautiful city.

Fireworks are always in high demand during the New Year festivities. Families and friends enjoy setting off fireworks in their back gardens after enjoying their dinner. The London fireworks display is one of the most anticipated events for the New Year! Thousands of people gather together around the River Thames to watch the magnificent fireworks display over the London Eye. As soon as Big Ben chimes midnight the fireworks light up the City of London in an array of lights and music.

After the epic fireworks display comes the London New Year’s Day Parade. Dancers, marching bands, cheerleaders, acrobats and old school vehicles are a few of the 10,000 performers that brighten up the streets of London. The parade starts at 12:00pm with a burst of color, music, performances, fun and laughter running from Piccadilly to Parliament Street. This parade first began in 1987 raising money for local charities and was originally called the Lord Mayor of Westminster’s Big Parade. The 30- year old tradition brings together people from all over Britain to celebrate the New Year in merriment and harmony! Many places of business and work are closed on New Year’s Day allowing people to stay at home with their friends and families enjoying a quiet day after all the festivities the night before.

For more information about studying General English, Cambridge Exam Preparation or IELTS Exam Preparation courses with Europeak Southampton or Eurospeak Reading, please contact us on:

Eurospeak Southampton
10 Cumberland Place
Southampton
Hampshire
SO15 2BH
+44 (0) 2380 636 494
hello@eurospeak.org.uk
www.eurospeak.org.uk

Eurospeak Reading
29A Chain Street
Reading
Berkshire
RG1 2HX
+44 (0) 1189 589 599
info@eurospeak.org.uk
www.eurospeak.org.uk

STRATEGIES FOR B2 FIRST AND C1 ADVANCED LISTENING PART 2

Listening Part Two in the B1 First and C2 Advanced exam is a gap-fill exercise. You are given a number of sentences with gaps and you need to complete the gaps with a word or short phrase. Here are some strategies that you can use to try to get the answers correct.

Firstly, you have time to read the text before you listen, so read it! But you need to read quickly because there isn’t a lot of time for this.

When you read, use the context to tell you the type of word or words you need to complete the gaps with – do you need a noun, an adjective, a verb, an adverb, etc.?

Also, use the context to predict the type of information that goes in the gap. This will help you to know what to listen for.

When you complete the gaps, you must use the exact word or words that you hear in the listening.

It is difficult to write one answer and continue to listen for the next one. Therefore, instead of trying to write the whole word or short phrase, just write an abbreviation (for example, the first letter of the word(s)). Then after you listen, you can write the full answer. Doing this means you can spend more time concentrating on listening and less time thinking about writing.

You listen twice. Use the first listening to listen for the answer; use the second listening to check that your answer is correct.

After you have completed the answers, read the sentences again to check that they make sense. The sentences always make sense when they are completed with the right answer. If the sentence makes sense, your answer could be correct; if the sentence does not make sense, you answer will not be correct.

ALWAYS GIVE AN ANSWER! You do not lose any marks for wrong answers, so if you are not sure, just guess – you might be correct and then you’ll get a point!

In the listening exam, you have a question paper and an answer sheet. After you have completed all parts of the listening exam (Part 1, 2, 3 & 4), there is time for you to transfer your answers from the question paper to the answer sheet. You must do this! If you don’t do it, you won’t get any marks! The answer sheet is sent to Cambridge and is marked, but the question paper is destroyed!

So, try out these strategies when you do practice tests, find out which ones work for you and then use them in the exam too. Good luck!

For more information about studying General English, Cambridge Exam Preparation or IELTS Exam Preparation courses with Europeak Reading or Eurospeak Southampton, please contact us on:

Eurospeak Southampton
10 Cumberland Place
Southampton
Hampshire
SO15 2BH
+44 (0) 2380 636 494
hello@eurospeak.org.uk
www.eurospeak.org.uk

Eurospeak Reading
29a Chain Street
Reading
Berkshire
RG1 2HX
+44 (0) 1189 589 599
info@eurospeak.org.uk
www.eurospeak.org.uk