Posted in Exam Preparation Class, Writing Classes

CAE/CPE Writing: Formal Letter of Complaint – Task + Phrase Sheet

Resultat d'imatges de complaint

Image credit: Durham Constabulary

This is a phrase sheet and writing task for CAE/CPE students designed to help them tackle formal letter of complaint tasks. Download the handout below:

Letter of complaint phrase sheet

CAE/CPE – Letter of Complaint

Task – CPE Testbuilder pg 91

You recently stayed at one of a chain of large hotels and encountered a number of problems during your stay. Write a letter to the company’s head office detailing the problems you had, describing what happened when you complained to the hotel staff and suggesting ways the company could improve its service. (CAE 220-260 words – CPE 280-320 words)

Opening

  • Dear Sir or Madam, / To whom it may concern,
  • I am writing to express my disappointment with/dissatisfaction with the service I received in…
  • I would like to lodge a formal complaint against your company for the reasons outlined below:
  • I feel compelled to write to you in order to describe the

Listing Problems

  • First of all,
  • Not only was there a hair in my wife’s soup, but the main course also arrived cold.
  • On top of that…
  • As if that was not enough…
  • To top it all off…
  • The straw that broke the camel’s back was…

Complaining Expressions

  • The standard of the… was not up to scratch.
  • The… was not up to the expected standard.
  • The… left a lot to be desired.
  • The… failed to live up to our expectations.
  • We were left bitterly disappointed by…
  • The quality of the customer service we received was woefully inadequate.
  • The… was an absolute disgrace. (v.strong)
  • Overall, our visit to your (restaurant) was an unmitigated disaster from start to finish.

Requesting Action

  • It seems only fair that you should… (offer a full refund)
  • I would appreciate it if you…
  • I would be grateful if you…
  • Should these demands not be met, you will be hearing from my lawyers.
  • I expect to receive compensation to the tune of (€2000) for the…

Making Recommendations

  • I strongly recommend that your organisation…
  • It would be advisable to…
  • I suggest re-evaluating your procedures regarding…

Sign off

  • I look forward to receiving your reply.
  • I expect to receive a prompt reply to this letter.
  • Yours faithfully,
Posted in Exam Preparation Class, Uncategorized, Writing Classes

CPE/Proficiency Writing Part 1: Phrase Sheet

Imatge relacionada

Image credit: qvictorias.com

Follow me on twitter @RobbioDobbio

I’ve recently started teaching CPE again so I decided to make a phrase sheet for my students to help them tackle part 1 of the writing paper, the formal essay. Download it below:

CPE Writing Part 1 Phrase Sheet

Summarising Texts

  • The first text/passage/extract outlines the benefits/drawbacks of…
  • The second text argues/claims that…
  • The first text advocates… +…ing (supports)
  • The second text puts forward the idea that…
  • It then goes on to espouse the viewpoint that… (say)
  • The text sheds light on the issue/topic of…
  • The text brings the topic of… to light.
  • The writer of the first text is a firm believer in…
  • The writer/author of the second text is highly critical of…
  • Both writers seem to agree that…, where their ideas deviate however is on the topic of…
  • The second text makes bold statements in support of…
  • Not only does the first text state that…, but it also claims that…
  • In addition to the aforementioned point, it also claims that…

Critical Examination

  • One thing the writer fails to mention is…
  • A glaring omission from the first text is…
  • While the writer makes some valid arguments in favour of…, she ignores the fact that…
  • One area which the writer seems to have overlooked is…
  • While I am generally in agreement with the majority of the first writer’s points the obvious hole in their argument is…
  • Were I to pick holes in the writer’s arguments, I would start by pointing out that…
  • I feel it must also be pointed out that…
  • When it comes to the topic of…, the text seems to be lacking somewhat
  • One major weakness in the writer’s argument is that…
  • The text neglects to mention that fact that…
  • The writer seems to have gone overboard in their praise/criticism of…

Expressing Opinion

  • I am of the opinion that…
  • In my humble opinion…
  • My thoughts on the matter are that…
  • As far as I am concerned,
  • As far as my opinions on the matter are concerned,…
  • My initial reaction to the opinions outlined in the text was…
  • I am a firm believer in…
  • On the whole, I tend to agree with… due to the fact that…
Posted in Conversation Classes, Exam Preparation Class

Language for Pair-work

Image result for pairwork

Image credit: Belle Languages

Follow me on twitter @RobbioDobbio

This is a powerpoint designed for use with exam classes to encourage students to complete pair-work in English and thus develop the language of negotiating, agreeing and collaborating. Download it below:

pair-work-language

You can use this resource in a number of ways; you can project the slide onto the board for students to refer to while completing pair-work. Alternatively, you could print the main slide out, laminate it and distribute one copy to each pair for the duration of the class. Each pair could then be given a board pen in order to keep track of how many of the expressions they have used during the class, the pair who use the most could then be awarded a prize at the end of the class.

Language

Asking for Opinion Giving opinion Agreeing Disagreeing
•What do you think about number X?

•What about number X?

•Let’s move on to number X.

•Shall we do number X now?

 

•I think /reckon…

•It could / might / may be…

•It can’t be…

•It must be…

•Number (2) is (A), isn’t it?

•It’s definitely not (B).

•I’m absolutely certain it’s (C)

•I have no idea

•I haven’t got a clue.

•I agree.

•Sounds good to me.

•I think you’re right.

•Good idea/point.

•I’m with you on this one.

•I couldn’t agree more.

•You’re absolutely right.

•You’ve hit the nail on the head!

•I’m not so sure.

•That doesn’t sound right to me.

•Are you sure??

•Are you kidding?

•You must be joking!

•You can’t be serious!

•I take your point but…

•No way!

•Don’t be silly!

Posted in Uncategorized

Teacher Training Workshops in Collaboration with Useful Languages

useful-languages-logo

Image credit: http://www.uflbarcelona.com/#

Follow me on twitter @RobbioDobbio

Calling Barcelona-based English teachers! Eleanor Walker, DoS of Useful Languages, and I are going to be setting up weekly teacher training workshops to help teachers tackle exam classes for the main suite of Cambridge exams (FCE, CAE, CPE) starting on Friday February 24th.

  • Venue: Useful Languages – Carrer de Pelai, 44, Primera, 08001 Barcelona
  • Date of first session: February 24th 2017
  • Time: TBA: please complete the survey below
  • Price: €10 per person per 90 minute session, special offer: 6 sessions for €50
  • Contact: If you are interested in attending please contact Useful Languages: sylvie@uflbarcelona.com

We want to base the sessions on your needs so if you’re interested in attending it would be great if you could complete the surveymonkey below so we can get an idea of what to focus on and also the time-slot that suits you best.

Click here to complete the survey

Posted in Vocabulary Classes

Proverbs

Image credit: englishbookgeorgia.com

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This is a lesson plan for higher level learners (C1+) in which students learn some common English proverbs. Download the worksheet and key below:

Proverbs

Matching

Match the different sentence halves to form English proverbs.

1.       Where there’s a will

2.       Don’t look a gift horse

3.       If it ain’t broke,

4.       Beggars can’t

5.       Too many cooks

6.       There’s no such thing

7.       People who live in glass houses

8.       Two wrongs

9.       The squeaky wheel

10.   Don’t put all your eggs

11.   Two heads

12.   Don’t count your chickens

a.       Be choosers

b.      Before they hatch

c.       Spoil the broth

d.      There’s a way

e.      Are better than one

f.        As a free lunch

g.       In the mouth

h.      In one basket

i.         Shouldn’t throw stones

j.        Gets the grease

k.       Don’t fix it

l.         Don’t make a right

Meaning

Now match the proverb to its definition:

  1. Getting revenge will only make things worse.
  2. Don’t criticise people if you’ve got imperfections too.
  3. If something is working well, why change it?
  4. If you’re desperate you’re not in a position to be picky.
  5. If you complain about a situation you’re more likely to get better service.
  6. Have a backup plan. Don’t risk all of your money and time on one plan.
  7. If there are too many people involved in making a decision, it won’t turn out well.
  8. If someone gives you a present, don’t question it.
  9. Two people will probably solve a problem faster than one.
  10. Your plan might not work out. Don’t assume they are going to work out and start celebrating or planning the next step too early.
  11. If something is free, there’s normally a catch or hidden cost.
  12. If you really want something, you’ll find a way to achieve it.

Processing

  1. Which proverbs are the same in your language?
  2. In which ones is the meaning obvious?
  3. Which ones will you remember?
  4. Which ones will you forget?
  5. Which one is your favourite?
  6. What image do you associate with each proverb?

 

Picture Match

Match the picture to the proverb (only show up on the handout 😦 )

 
     

 

Scenarios

Match the scenario to proverb.

  1. Just because he cheated on you doesn’t mean you should cheat on him.
  2. The Christmas play is going to be awful because there are 5 different directors!
  3. I gave him my old bike for free and now he’s complaining about the tyres.
  4. I know they said we only have to go to the timeshare presentation to get the free camera but I smell a rat.
  5. I’ll ask Julia for what she thinks; we’ll work on it together.
  6. He’s desperate to go travelling in the summer but he’ll have to save up a lot of money first.
  7. Is your soup cold too? We should say something.
  8. You can talk Martin! You drink just as much as Tony does!
  9. I just think we should have something else up our sleeve if they don’t like the first idea.
  10. Hold your horses, we haven’t won the competition yet so stop planning how you’re going to spend the prize money.
  11. It’s the only room you can afford, so it’s take it or leave it I’m afraid.
  12. The new accounts system is working really well but I hear they’re thinking of changing it again.

Test

In pairs, take it in turns to read out the first half of a proverb to your partner, they must complete it.

A: Too many cooks…

B: Spoil the broth.

Personalise

Choose 3 proverbs and try to relate them to a time in your life. Write three sentences.

Key

Matching

1.       D

2.       G

3.       K

4.       A

5.       C

6.       F

7.       I

8.       L

9.       J

10.   H

11.   E

12.   B

Meaning

1.       Two wrongs don’t make a right

2.       People who live in glass houses…

3.       If it ain’t broke…

4.       Beggars can’t be choosers

5.       The squeaky wheel

6.       Don’t put all your eggs in…

7.       Too many cooks…

8.       Don’t look a gift horse…

9.       Two heads are better than one

10.   Don’t count your chickens…

11.   There’s no such thing as a…

12.   Where there’s a will…

Picture Match

1.       Too many cooks…

2.       Don’t put all your eggs…

3.       Don’t count your chickens…

4.       Don’t look a gift horse in…

5.       People who live in…

6.       2 wrongs don’t make a right

7.       2 heads are better than 1

8.       There’s no such thing as a free lunch

Scenarios

1.       2 wrongs don’t make a right

2.       Too many cooks…

3.       Don’t look a gift horse…

4.       There’s no such thing as…

5.       2 heads are better than one

6.       Where there’s a will there’s a way

7.       The squeaky wheel…

8.       People in glass houses…

9.       Don’t put all your eggs in one…

10.   Don’t count your chickens…

11.   Beggars can’t be choosers

12.   If it ain’t broke…

Posted in Games, Uncategorized

Game: Alphabet Quiz CPE Idioms Version

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Follow me on twitter @RobbioDobbio

This is a new version of my Alphabet Quiz game designed for very high levels (high C1) in which students have to guess different idioms which begin with each letter of the alphabet. Credit to my colleague Peter Rassa for the idea. The game is similar to the gameshow “Pasaparabla” on Spanish television. You will need the lesson plan with the question sheet:

Alphabet Quiz CPE Idioms Version

Procedure

Write the alphabet on the board, if you’re feeling really creative you can do it in a circle as shown in the picture above. Quickly recap the letters that often cause your students problems. It varies from place to place but in Spain they struggle with J, G, E, I, Q, W, and Y.

Quickly recap the letters that often cause your students problems. It varies from place to place but in Spain they struggle with J, G, E, I, Q, W, and Y.

Write all your students’ names on the board in a list.

Choose a player to go first, explain to them that you are going to ask them a question, the answer to the question begins with the letter A. They have two options: they can attempt to answer the question or they can say “pass”. If they choose to answer and they get it right, they get 1 point but if they get it wrong they lose 1 point. If they choose to pass, then it is the next student’s turn but the next student is asked the “B” question. You continue like this through the list of questions, every time a question is answered correctly you cross that letter out from the list on the board. When you reach the end of the list (the “Z” question) you then return to the top of the list and work your way through any questions which were not answered the first time around.

NOTE: It is important that students don’t shout out the answers to the questions if it’s not their turn as that question could be revisited later.

The winner is the student with the most points when all the questions have been answered or at the end of a set time limit.

 

  1. A person’s weak spot. Achilles heel.
  2. A person who is bad and makes other bad. Bad Apple
  3. A relaxed, quiet time immediately before period of violent activity or argument .Calm before the storm.
  4. If you are overcharged or underpaid, open, unfair and hard to prevent. Rip-off has a similar meaning. daylight robbery.
  5. If someone has egg on their face, they are made to look foolish or embarrassed.
  6. If you have to face the music, you have to accept the negative consequences of something you have done wrong.
  7. If you get something off your chest, you confess to something that has been troubling you.
  8. If someone is happy-go-lucky, they don’t worry or plan and accept things as they happen.
  9. This expression is used to refer to something good that happens on top of an already good thing or situation. Icing on the cake
  10. If people are joined at the hip, they are very closely connected and think the same way.
  11. When someone kicks the bucket, they die.
  12. The last straw is the final problem that makes someone lose their temper or the problem that finally brought about the collapse of something. It comes from an Arabic story, where a camel was loaded with straw until a single straw placed on the rest of the load broke its back.
  13. If you make a killing, you do something that makes you a lot of money.
  14. If two competitors or candidates, etc, are neck and neck, then they are very close and neither is clearly winning.
  15. If you’re on a roll, you’re moving from success to success.
  16. If you go out for a night out with lots of fun and drinking, you paint the town red.
  17. If someone’s as quiet as a mouse, they make absolutely no noise.
  18. Someone who starts life very poor and becomes rich goes from rags to riches.
  19. When all the best people, things or ideas and so on are used up and people try to make do with what they have left, they are scraping the barrel.
  20. If you take a leaf out of someone’s book, you copy something they do because it will help you.
  21. If you are feeling a bit ill, sad or lack energy, you are under the weather.
  22. A vicious circle is a sequence of events that make each other worse- someone drinks because they are unhappy at work, then loses their job… ‘Vicious cycle’ is also used.
  23. If something belongs to the past and isn’t important or troubling any more, it is water under the bridge.
  24. If something is x-rated, it is not suitable for children.
  25. This idiom means that if you do something for me, I’ll return the favour. You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.
  26. This is used to tell someone to be quiet. Zip it.
Posted in Vocabulary Classes, Writing Classes

CAE/CPE Report Phrase Sheet 2.0

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This is an updated version of my CAE/CPE report phrase list. Download it below:

Report Phrase Sheet

Report

Register:

Formal, impersonal, cold and factual.

DO NOT USE:

·         Contractions

·         Colourful language (gorgeous/stunning/awesome etc.)

·         Informal phrasal verbs (meet up/break down/check out etc.)

·         “I/we think….” (too personal)

Forms and Conventions:

Title: Report into …….

Paragraph Titles: Introduction, Strengths, Weaknesses, Conclusion.

 

Fixed introduction: The aim of this report is to evaluate/put forward ideas for/examine etc.

 

Word limit: CAE: 220-260 CPE: 280-320

Introduction:

The purpose/aim of this report is to….

This report sets out to…

The report will comment on…

Below is an explanation of…

The focus of this report is…

This report will offer an in depth critique of…

Fake survey/questionnaire:

It can be a good idea to base the report on a survey/questionnaire.

This report will present the findings of/This report is based on the findings/results of an extensive survey completed by…

Ending Introduction:

1.        It will go on to give recommendations regarding…

Expressing general opinions/info:

….is considered/thought/said to be

…is highly regarded in (place)…(good reputation)

There is widespread agreement that…

Opinions are divided regarding…

It is common knowledge that…

Recent research indicates that…

Interviewees who had first-hand knowledge of the situation stated…

There is considerable disagreement regarding

Survey Results:

Virtually everyone who completed the survey stated that..

Over (60%) of those interviewed stated that…

The vast majority of people interviewed believe that…

A small percentage of those surveyed agree/disagree with…

Strengths:

The (school system) in this country undoubtedly has many strengths such as …. And…

… is particularly effective due to the fact that…

… has achieved impressive results owing to …

Another clear strong point is…

… is something the country can be proud of due to…

Weaknesses:

Despite the strengths mentioned above, there are also some areas that require attention.

… is failing to live up to expectations because…

Another clear weakness is…

… leaves a lot to be desired

… is not up to the required standard

Advantages/disadvantages:

…’s advantages clearly outweigh its disadvantages.

advantages

benefits/pros/strengths

disadvantages

downsides/weaknesses/drawbacks

Giving Recommendations:

In light of the above, we believe the following measures should be adopted…

My recommendations are as follows:…

Urgent improvement is needed in the field of…

I highly recommend + bring about change in the area of…

To improve the situation, we recommend…

It is recommended that…

Concluding:

-To sum up,…To conclude,…

-I hope that the plan outlined/presented in this

report meets with your approval…

-I hope that the recommendations outlined/

presented in this report will receive your serious

consideration.

Should the recommendations outlined in this report be carried out, I have no doubt that …. Will be a resounding success.

 

Grammar check list

Have you included?

·         An inversion (not only/no sooner/seldom)

·         An inverted conditional (Were we to…)

·         A participle clause (Being…/Having gone…)

·         A double comparative (The more we… the more)

·         A cleft sentence (What is most crucial is…)

·         Linkers (Nevertheless/despite/due to/consequently)

·         Impressive verbs (bring about change/undergo development)

Example Introduction

The aim of this report is to evaluate the current state of….. This report is based on the results of an extensive survey completed by (students at … school). It will present the results of the survey and go on to give recommendations regarding…