miércoles, 16 de abril de 2014

PROFICIENCY. What does it mean to be "proficient" in English?

According to author Scott Thornbury in "An A-Z of ELT" (page 181) " A language users´s proficiency is the degree of skill with which they can use the language. A proficient user is one who is considered to have a native-like, or near native-like, ability in the language. This is broadly defined in the Common European Framework as being equivalent to C2 level."

lunes, 14 de abril de 2014

Proficiency in English Cambidge Exam Essay Sample

In Part 1 of the CPE exam you are given two pieces of text with information on a topic and are asked to write a discursive essay in 240-280 words. 

Here there is a sample essay sent to us by Sybille a CPE student from France.

 The Importance of music (CPE Essay)

Both texts discuss the status of music in our society. They highlight the fact that music is getting more accessible to people through the Internet while at the same time its serious study is being neglected and professional musicians are suffering for it. It also argues that music is an art that exists since prehistory and is universal, even though its evolution and the way we consume it has significantly changed.

viernes, 4 de abril de 2014

CPE Sample Writing: The Perfect Storm (film review)

The Perfect Storm is a Warner Bros disaster film released in 2000, based on a book by  Sebastien Junger. It portrays the story of a fishing ship called the Andrea Gail, which has the misfortune of being trapped in the most terrible storm ever.

jueves, 3 de abril de 2014

CPE Cambridge Exam. Grammar: Inversions

Not only are you likely to need "Inversions" in the Use of English part of the CPE exam (Part 1 Open Cloze), but also in the Writing Paper. If you are planning to make a good impression on the examiner, take a look at these examples:

miércoles, 2 de abril de 2014

CAE Proposal Sample by guest blogger Duong Hoang Phuc

CAE Exam writing task: 

The International Development Agency has given our town a grant to be spent on improving transport and housing facilities.

The Planning Director invites you to send a proposal outlining any problem with existing transport and housing facilities and explaining how they can be improved. A decision can then be made about how the money should be spent. Write a proposal.

Proposal on how to spend the Town´s grant

The major aim of this proposal is to provide details about the transport and housing facilities in my town, Bentre City, and to put forward ideas on how they can be made better.

viernes, 28 de marzo de 2014

CAE. How to prepare for the Cambridge Exam

I´m square-eyed. I watch lots of British telly and I really do think it helped me when I was preparing to sit the CAE exam. I am pro television, not only is it good listening practice but seeing a wide variety of shows enables you to learn different types of vocabulary + collocations, idioms and so on.

jueves, 27 de marzo de 2014

CAE Mind your spelling !

In the CAE exam, as in any other Cambridge ESOL examination, it is extremely important to be careful with your spelling. You don´t want to lose points in the Use of English or Writing Papers for not being able to write words correctly. So, which are the words that you usually misspell in English? Is there a particular word that always gives you trouble?

According to Oxford Dictionaries, the 5 most common misspelled words are:

Film review "Vertigo" by Jacob Henderson (CPE level)

Vertigo - 1958 - James Stewart, Kim Novak.

Hitchcock's most personal film.

Vertigo, adapted from the French novel D'entre Les Morts, is, according to Hitchcock himself, the directors´ most personal film; one centred around obsession and deceit. Scottie Ferguson (Stewart) retires from his position as a private investigator after an incident which reveals his fear of heights; vertigo. After retiring Scottie is lured into another case by an old friend, Gavin Elster (Tom Helmore), who asks Scottie to tail his wife who he suspects of being possessed by the spirit of a woman from the past. Elster's wife, Madeleine (Novak), is stunningly beautiful and after tracking her movements for some time Scottie begins to fall in love with her. As the film progresses, twists and turns in the plot reveal more and more about each character resulting in a whirlwind thriller that is widely considered to be one of the greatest movies of all time.

martes, 25 de marzo de 2014

"The Perfect Storm" film review by guest blogger SR from France (FCE exam)

‘The perfect storm’ is a disaster film based on a true story. It is an adaptation of Sebastien Junger’s book by the same name, published in 1997.

The story takes place in October 1991 in Gloucester, Massachusset. After several deceiving fishing seasons, Captain Bobby, portrayed by George Clooney, convinces his crew to head out far in the cold Atlantic Ocean on board of a ship called the Andrea Gail. They go on a mission to find fish and be able to make some money to support their families.

martes, 18 de marzo de 2014

CAE/ CPE tips. How to write a film review

I recently received a letter from a CPE candidate asking for some tips on how to write a film review and what information to include and not to include in it. I hope you find this post useful.

Let's start from the basics. Whatever you do, don't tell us the end of the story! If there´s something film review readers hate is spoilers. When writing about the plot it is better to keep it brief and simple.
Regarding what information to include. I´d say the title and the main actors´names is a must. Then of course a little bit of the plot and something very important is to give your opinion. We want to know if you enjoyed the film and if you recommend it. Saying something about the director, the special effects and the soundtrack is something that would give your text a plus.

lunes, 17 de marzo de 2014

F.A.Q: What´s the difference between an article and an essay?

We asked 6 CPEs (people who have successfully passed the Cambridge Proficiency in English exam) and this is what they said to us:

CPE1: "An article is a piece of writing where a topic, either serious or light-hearted, is tackled from a personal point of view, including personal experience or arguments. Its purpose is generally to both inform and entertain. On the other hand, an essay is a piece of writing tending towards the academic: the topic in discussion is of a more serious nature and the writer is expected to provide an idea plus the arguments that discuss it. In doing so, they will have to refer to specific points about the issue in question and will generally have to use more precise language."

CPE2: "Article, informative, based on facts. Essay, develops an argument, involves opinions (so does a for an against article, oops!)."

sábado, 22 de febrero de 2014

CPE Speaking Paper- Videos

The Cambridge Proficiency in English exam has 4 components, none of which should be neglected. These are Reading and Use of English, Writing, Listening and Speaking. In Cpesamplewritings we are experts in essays, articles and letters but we believe in the importance of preparing for the speaking part of the CPE exam as well. 

CPE Paper 4 Speaking / Info about the exam

The exam is divided into three parts, and it lasts approximately 15 minutes.

In Part 1 of the exam the interlocutor asks each student a question or a couple of questions about their life or background.

Part 2 of the exam is a two-way conversation between candidates. Candidates are given prompts in different topics such as the environment, economy, the media, etc to talk about. Their ability to evaluate, speculate and give opinions is tested.

Part 3 of the exam is know as the long turn or the solo part. Here each candidate takes turns to answer a written question and is asked to talk non-stop for about 3 minutes.

Videos of the Speaking Paper

There are a some videos available on Youtube for you to watch:

viernes, 14 de febrero de 2014

CPE/CAE Practice tests

A new year has started and you are probably thinking it is high time to take the Proficiency in English exam. In preparation for it you have been doing your local library Cambridge ESOL past papers but you still feel like you could do with a little bit more prep? Well, check out this selection of very useful (and free) Internet web pages which offer extra practice activities.



lunes, 10 de febrero de 2014


Are you taking CAE or CPE this year? Have you got a letter/ essay/ article/ or story you would like to share with us? Send your Word document to gustavo.albarracin.q@gmail.com

We will read it, edit it a little together if necessary and post it straight away. See it as an opportunity to help other fellow teachers or students become proficient.  THANKS a lot.

CPE Writing Paper 2013 / Part 1 Essay by guest blogger Javi Montoliu from Barcelona

Task: Write an essay summarising and evaluating the key points from both texts. Use your own words throughout as far as possible, and include your own ideas in your answer. You should write 240-280 words. (Texts are about "Positive Psychology", see Proficiency Expert book)

Positive Psychology
Both texts discuss the way positive psychology affects people’s lives. The first one advocates that it has a beneficial effect on those who put it into practice. The second one, on the other hand, states that it might not be favourable for everyone.

The first passage argues that people who buy into positive psychology attain a more joyful life not only for themselves but also for the wider society, but claims that experts of the field compare it to the frivolous self-help books. I personally feel this last statement will resonate with many people because therapies of this kind tend to be fairly senseless and unrealistic, for they tell you what to do but not how to do it. As reported by the text, this particular psychology enhances the person’s well-being and quality of life, thereby giving rise to a much more cheerful and healthy population.

viernes, 22 de noviembre de 2013

Proficiency exam sample article

Task: You have been asked to write an article for an international environmental magazine on the topic: Crisis, what crisis? 300-350 words
The crisis we can stop
It is a truth universally acknowledged that the environment has been seriously damaged, whether or nor we are still in time to do something about it is yet to be discovered.
Denying things like Global Warming or a probable future lack of natural resources seems nowadays absurd. Nevertheless most people fail to realise the innumerable ways in which they can contribute to a future crisis by contaminating the world on a daily basis. I say it is high time we analyse our own lifestyles and embrace a new more environmentally-friendly style of living.

viernes, 8 de noviembre de 2013

Are you ready for CAE/ CPE? Try this "Phrasal verbs with DO quiz" to find out !

What do these phrasal verbs mean?

1. Do sb in.
Example "The mugger threatened to do me in if I didn´t give him my wallet."

A. Rob
B. Kill
C. Hit

2. Do sth up.
Example "We are doing up an old house we bought in the outskirts of town".

A. Repair
B. Sell
C. Rent

3. Do with sth.
Example "Are you busy? I could do with some help here, if you are free".

B. Demand
C. Need


martes, 29 de octubre de 2013

Writing Sample: A Review

Bewitch, also known by its French name "Ma sorciere bien-aimée", is a successful sitcom which was produced in the 1960s in the USA and aired in more than 30 countries. It stars actress Elizabeth Montgomery, who plays Samantha, a very attractive young witch who falls in love and marries a red-blooded very typical and at times dull mortal man.