Posted in Writing Classes

CPE Report

This is a handout with as much language and advice possible for approaching the CPE writing part 2 report tasks. I made it for my December candidates, fingers crossed they actually read it!

You can download the handout here: CPE Report

CPE Report


Formal, impersonal, cold and factual.


·         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. (for example)


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

Planning, 6 step system:

1.        Read task, underline content points.

2.        Decide paragraph titles. Are they obvious from the task? Or do you have to be creative. Maximum of 5 paragraphs.

3.        WHAT do you want to say? Add your notes to each paragraph in simple form.

4.        HOW are you going to say that? Brainstorm advanced grammar and vocabulary for each note.

5.        Forms and conventions: Title paragraph titles, fixed introduction.

6.        Write! Remember word limit is: 280-320


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 carried out by…

Ending Introduction:

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

Comparing and Contrasting

There is a world of difference between… and…

… and… are fundamentally similar

… and… bear little resemblance to each other

There is a clear distinction between… and…

compares favourably with…

… and… are polar opposites

There is a yawning gap between… and…

There is a subtle difference between… and…

There is a growing disparity between rich and poor.

… is strikingly different to…


…’s advantages clearly outweigh its disadvantages.





Giving Recommendations:

-In light of the above, we believe the following

measures should be adopted…

-In the short/long term, we suggest you should


-My recommendations are as follows:…

-In my view, in future, we should…

-To improve the situation, we recommend…

-It is recommended that…


-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


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)

Posted in Writing Classes

CAE/CPE Writing: Planning and Completion

This is a lesson plan to based around a 6 point plan for CAE/CPE writing tasks. It is designed to help students plan their compositions better and complete the tasks fully. The example is a CPE task but the system is applicable to FCE and CAE as well.

You will need the prezi, and the handout.

The prezi will walk students through the 6 step system. Included in the prezi are several scanned documents of each planning stage. Below I have included my example review and the various scanned documents in case you want to print them or project them individually.

My BBC review – This is the example from the end of the prezi, you may want to print it and give it out to students to evaluate in pairs.

cpe writing tasks part 2 – These are the writing tasks

Writing tasks, content underlined – These are the writing tasks with the content points underlined: Step 1

writing plan paragraphs – This is the planning page with paragraph titles: Step 2

writing plan stage 3 – This is the planning page with ideas: Step 3

writing plan after HOW – This is the planning stage with grammar and vocab: Step 4

Posted in Exam Preparation Class, Writing Classes

CAE Proposal


Just a quick note…

Before you use these materials… We’ve created a new podcast aimed at B2+ level English students and teachers alike. You can listen for free at our SoundCloud page below. You can download teacher’s notes to accompany them from our Facebook page or from this blog. All comments and feedback welcome! Give us a like and a share 😉

CAE Proposal

This is a lesson plan designed to introduce students to the proposal writing task featured in the CAE writing paper. Below are links to the prezi, the handout, the task and a model answer.

Proposal Task – referred to in the prezi as page 189


Proposal Handout

Posted in Exam Preparation Class, Writing Classes

CAE writing a book review

book review

Before you use these materials, why not check out our new podcast for learners and teachers alike? It’s called 2Ts in a Pod, have a listen here:


This is a lesson plan to set up students for the review writing task in part 2 of the CAE writing paper.

To begin with go through the following conversation questions either as a class or split into small groups.

Did you enjoy reading when you were growing up?

Which book made the biggest impression on you when you were younger?

Where / When did the events of the book take place?

Describe the plot.

Describe the characters.

Why did you enjoy the book so much?

Have you reread the book now that you are older? What did you think?

Will people still be reading books in 50 years?

How do you think reading culture will change?


Ask students for the titles of some of their favourite books, put them on the board and brainstorm the plot, characters etc.

Tell students that for home work this week they are going to write a review of a book which had a profound affect on them when they were growing up. It could be a children’s book or a book they read when they were a teenager. A review is always in part 2 of the writing paper so the word limit is 220 – 260 words. Their review should include:

  • a brief description of the story / plot
  • the reasons why they enjoyed it / why it had such an impact on them
  • who they would recommend it to

Here is a link to my prezi which will talk the students through how to go about it.

Here is a link to the handout that goes with the prezi:!423&authkey=!AAw6I4WaWW6ghR0

The prezi contains references to the text book I am using with my students: Spotlight on CAE.


Posted in Exam Preparation Class, Vocabulary Classes, Writing Classes

CAE Writing Phrases

Just a quick note…

Before you use these materials… We’ve created a new podcast aimed at B2+ level English students and teachers alike. You can listen for free at our SoundCloud page below. We have released 5 episodes so far and you can download teacher’s notes to accompany them from our Facebook page or from this blog. All comments and feedback welcome! Give us a like and a share 😉

I stumbled across this amazing and exhaustive list of phrases for advanced writing. I don’t know who made it but a big thank you to whoever it was! It’s gold dust!

You can download it here:!439&authkey=!AHr7Ja0Lshhl2Y0


1)  FORMAL WRITING (Reports and proposals)


Introduction-The main purpose/aim of (this report) is to outline/

present / discuss / examine / evaluate…

-This report (outlines/looks at)…

-This report is based on…


  Generalising-On the whole,…

-In general,…


Making recommendations and concluding

-It is clear from customer feedback that…-With regard to…, the general view seems to be…

-In the light of (this year’s experience),…

-Perhaps the most effective way of…

-If the (centre) is to attract more customers, it is

vital that…

-It would be a good idea to…

-It is (therefore) believed / obvious that…would be

ideal for…

-It would (not) be advisable / practical to…

-We suggest/propose that…

-We suggest/propose + ing

-A (more spacious area) would be the solution…/

an effective way of…


-In light of the above, we believe the followingmeasures should be adopted…

-In the short/long term, we suggest you should


-My recommendations are as follows:…

-In my view, in future, we should…

-To improve the situation, we recommend…

-It is recommended that…

-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




Do not use contractions.

-Use passive forms whenever possible.

-Use relative clauses to join ideas: The period during which he lived was full of uncertainty.

-Use these formal words:  like à such as   /   kids à children

a lot (of)à many / a large number of  + countable noun

a lot (of)à much / a great amount of / a great deal of + uncountable

a lot (intensity)à very much / significantly / dramatically

– Avoid using the word things / something,  etc. Use a more specific word (problems, situation, solutions,

  subjects, and so on).


Adressing  the reader

-Have you ever wondered (what the college would be like if)…? If the answer is (yes)…, you…

–If you want a different kind of experience,… / As you know,…

-Doesn’t it just make everyone feel (positive about…)?

-If you have a few hours to spare,…is worth seeing.

Describing location-Located / Situated (just a few miles away from…), X


-Built (just next to…), X is…

-Some minutes from…, X is…

Giving information

-Throughout it history, X…

-X is by far the oldest…

-Y is the best known…

-What is particular spectacular is…

-Recent additions/changes include…

   Giving your opinion-X is intended for youn(ger) people…

-X is popular with (children)…


-It’s clearly been a good idea to…


  Giving practical information

-Anyone wishing to (apply)…can/should…

-(We) participate in…/organise…/run…

-(The club) offers/provides a range of (competitive

matches for)…

-One of the most popular (features of our club is)…

-Members have the opportunity to…/…are able to


-Never omit the subject pronoun: Many people

believe IT is important to…    I believe IT is a good  idea


– Do not use unnecessary subject pronouns: This is a problem which  it  is essential to solve.

-Make sure the subject and the verb agree: Attracting tourists involves improving local facilities.

  (SINGULAR SUBJECTà attracting tourists + SINGULAR VERBà involves)

Attitude clauses and phrases

Generally speaking,…

Annoyingly,…  Naturally,…  Strangely,… Surprisingly,… Evidently,…

Indeed,… In fact,… Admittedly,… Presumably,…

.  .   .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .   .  .  .  .  .  .  . .  .   .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .   .  .  .  .  .  .  .



-A great number of people share the view that tourism will have a negative impact on the island.

-Today there is general / widespread agreement that pollution from cars and planes is threatening the

future of our planet.

-It is now widely accepted that the universe began with the so-called ‘big bang’.


Opinions differ about the proper relationship between the mass media and society.

There is considerable disagreement among experts about the usefulness of these tests.

There has been a great deal of controversy over abortion in the US.


Advantages and disadvantages

-Regular exercise has many benefits, including reducing the risk of heart disease.

-Despite a few problems with the design, the car’s advantages clearly outweigh its disadvantages.

The major drawback of this method is that it can be very time-consuming.

The downside of running your own business is that you are responsible if anything goes wrong.


lead to: The research could lead to a cure for many serious illnesses.

result in: The fire resulted in damage to their property.

be responsible for: He was responsible for the accident.

bring about:The war brought about enormous social change.

give rise to: Poor performance in exams can give rise to depression and even thoughts of suicide.

trigger:to make something suddenly start to happen, especially a bad situation such as a crisis or a war, or

a medical condition: Certain foods can trigger allergies.

contribute to: Passive smoking could contribute to the development of respiratory diseases among


factor: Cost is often the deciding factor when choosing any product.


impact on: His work has had an enormous impact on the study of genetics.

influence on:  In his book, he examines the influence of the media on our society.

affect: (v) The disease affects women more than men.

influence: (v) She has influenced him a lot.

implications:  The results of the study could have important implications for future educational policy.



-I would like to stress that the research is still at an early stage.

It should be noted that there are a number of alternative methods available.

It is worth bearing in mind that 90% of the scientists researching herbicides in the US are employed by

  chemical companies.

-Factors such as temperature and acidity play a crucial role in determining how well the process works.

-These insects play a vital part in the food chain.

It is essential that the work is carried out as soon as possible.

-The climate is much colder, especially in the far north.



issue: Issue is used especially about problems that affect a lot of people in society:  International terrorism

  is the biggest issue (=the most important issue) facing the world today. Previous governments failed to

  address (=try to deal with) social issues such as unemployment and homelessness.

challenge: something difficult that you must do or deal with, which needs a lot of skill, effort, and

  determination: She said she was looking forward to the challenge of starting up a new business on her


difficulty:  The company has managed to overcome (=deal with) its recent financial difficulties.

  Many people experience difficulty in sleeping at some time in their lives.

trouble:  a problem or several problems that make something difficult, spoil your plans etc:  Students of

  English often have trouble with phrasal verbs.  The company ran into trouble (=started to have problems)

  when it tried to expand too quickly.

setback:  something that happens which stops you making progress or which makes things worse than

  they were before:  Despite some early setbacks, his campaign for the presidency was successful.

obstacle:  Criminal gangs are the biggest obstacle to democratic reform.

dilemma:  The doctors were faced with a moral dilemma.

vicious circle:  Some developing countries get caught in a vicious circle. They cannot afford to pay their

  debt repayments, and so the debts get even bigger.




increase by (percent):  Last year, the number of burglaries increased by 15 percent.

go up: Last month unemployment went up from 1.6 million to just over 1.7 million.

grow:  The volume of traffic on our roads continues to grow.

expand:  After two years of no growth, the economy started to expand again in 2003.

double/triple/quadruple: Since 1950, the number of people dying from cancer has almost doubled.

-growth: (n) There has been a huge growth in sales of big 4-wheel-drive vehicles.



decrease by (percent):  The average rainfall has decreased by around 30 percent.

go down: The percentage of fat in our diets has gone down.

fall: The number of tigers in the wild has fallen to just over 10,000.

drop:  At night, the temperature drops to minus 20 degrees.

decline: decline is used about numbers or amounts, and also about the level or standard of something:

In rural areas, the standard of living continued to decline.


respect / look up to

look up to: The children need someone they can look up to.

think highly of:  Most of the students and staff think very highly of Dr. Smith.

think highly of

have a high opinion of

have a high opinion of

highly regarded/respected

highly regarded/respected: a highly respected surgeon

be an admirer of


sophisticated / high-tech (equipment) / state-of-the-art (technology)


SURPRISING  (Avoid using “colourful” vocabulary in formal writing!)

amazing / unbelievable / incredible / astonishing / staggering

come as a surprise / come as a shock / amaze / astonish



SURPRISED  (Avoid using “colourful” vocabulary in formal writing!)

amazed / astonished / speechless / be taken aback (He was taken aback by the news)


EXCITING  (Avoid using “colourful” vocabulary in formal writing!)

thrilling / gripping / exhilarating / action-packed



dull / tedious / monotonous / uninspiring

BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE     (Avoid using “colourful” vocabulary in formal writing!)

attractive / good-looking / gorgeous / striking / stunning


BEAUTIFUL PLACES     (Avoid using “colourful” vocabulary in formal writing!)

breathtaking / stunning / awe-inspiring / striking / spectacular

spotless: very clean

UGLY PLACES / PEOPLE      (Avoid using “colourful” vocabulary in formal writing!)

unattractive / unpleasant / unsightly / hideous (=extremely ugly)

filthy: very dirty


-in bad condition / dilapidated / run-down


latest / brand-new / innovative (idea or system)



old-fashioned / outdated / obsolete



absolutely  / extremely / highly / incredibly / remarkably


excellent / outstanding / impressive / exceptional




suitable / right / proper / appropriate / be suited to


incorrect / inaccurate / misleading



unjustified / unreasonable / without good reason



unwind / wind down: Set in spectacular countryside, the Shiga Hotel is the perfect place to unwind.

make someone feel at ease

relaxed / feel at ease / laid-back (not easily worried or annoyed) /



tense / uneasy / anxious / be under stress



facilities: The facilities at the hotel were excellent — tennis courts, swimming pool, several bars and a good


amenities: things such as shops, parks, or restaurants that make living or working in a place more pleasant

I prefer this part of the city because there are plenty of good amenities.


a great deal / far / much + comparative (cheaper / more economical than)

a bit / slightly / barely + comparative (cheaper / more economical than)

by far / easily the + superlative (This is easily the best solution we can think of)


dramatically / significantly / slightly


As well (as) / in addition to:   Over 600 people will lose their jobs, in addition to the 400 people who left

the company last year.

In addition: A fifth of the world’s population lives on less than $1 a day. In addition, over 100 million

children are living on the streets.

Furthermore / Moreover:  used at the beginning of a sentence when adding an important fact that is

connected with what you have just said:  The drug has strong side effects. Furthermore, it can be



as long as / on condition that / provided that


alternatively: You can go up into the mountains. Alternatively, you can stroll around one of Switzerland’s

delightful cities where the old mixes with the new.

on THE one hand … on the other (hand)


As  / since:  As it was a hot day, they decided to leave all the windows open.  Since it is difficult to predict

how the climate will change, it is not possible to say which countries will suffer the most.

thanks to

due to/owing to + NOUN   

The delay was due to a problem with the ship’s engines.

due to/owing to + THE FACT THAT + subject + verb

The men did most of the work in the fields. This was partly due to the fact that the men were stronger.


While / whereas / by contrast

However:  However is usually used in the middle of a sentence, separated from the rest of the sentence by

commas: Jack and his family managed to escape before the soldiers arrived. Other families in the village,

however, were less lucky. Or it comes at the beginning of a sentence: He began his academic career as a

mathematician. However, his main achievements were in the field of nuclear physics.

Nevertheless: Nevertheless is usually used at the beginning of a sentence, or at the end.

in spite of/despite + NOUN   

Despite his lack of formal education, he became one of the world’s leading mathematicians.

in spite of/despite + verb + ING  

This was a dinosaur that weighed only 10 tons, in spite of being some 28 metres long.

in spite of/despite + THE FACT THAT + subject + verb

Many people are worried that cellphones may be dangerous to health, despite the fact that most of the

research suggests that there is little risk.