On the first Wednesday in December (if I’m not mistaken…), there will be knots of worried (or perhaps super-confident!) TEFLers gathering at Cambridge exam centres the world over, ready to try their luck at the beast that is the Module 1 exam. Are you one of them? If you are, are you ready? Here is a little checklist to help you out…
- Have you practised writing at speed for 3hrs with only a half hour break in the middle? If not, I recommend that you do so this weekend! And, find a nice, comfortable pen, making sure you have spares in case it runs out.
- Have you learnt the structure of the exam? Test yourself – get out a piece of paper and write down what you know about the requirements (points on offer, how you will/should package your answer, exactly what information is required in each answer) of each question of each paper. Check the outcome against my posts, for paper 1 and for paper 2 – how did you do? It’s worth doing this (I did it several times, minus checking against my posts – they were only a collection of notes at the time!) – knowing exactly what’s required is half the battle to being able to produce it under pressure. It might be worth making something like this chart if you brain responds well to colour…
- Have you got your phonemes under control? If not, it’s not too late! Have a go at writing a short text in phonemic script. First with the chart to hand (if you need it), then without the chart, to force you to remember. Then try and write quickly in phonemic script. If you are shaky on your symbols, have a look at my “useful resources for module 1″ post where you can find links to Adrian Underhill’s chart, presentation on youtube and app.
- Have you got your terminology tightened up? Test yourself using all the flashcards that Delta hopefuls past and present have created on Quizlet (you can find a link to many of these in my useful resources post too). Or, if you prefer less new-fangled ways of learning, get your Thornbury A-Z of ELT and open it at random. Pick a term, define it and check your definition against his.
- Do you know your reliability from your validity? Your proficiency test from your achievement test? Dig out past papers for any English exams that students can do e.g. KET, PET, FCE, CAE, the placement test used at your school, the last achievement test you gave your students and analyse them in relation to a specific student or group of students. (If you’re feeling really geeky, make some student profile cards and divide them up so that they are a reasonable fit with the exam type you are analysing. Pick an exam and a card from the appropriate pile and give yourself the Paper 2 question 1 time limit to analyse it.)
- Can you look at a spread of course book material and infer all the activity aims and assumptions about learning of the course book writer? Grab the course book nearest you and check! Can you come up with the requisite number of points within the allocated time limit?
- How is your language analysis? Pick a short text and analyse the hell out of it. If you’re not sure about any of it, time to open About Language by Scott Thornbury and make sure!! Remember, Cambridge examiners give points for the strangest things: if you think it, you might as well write it down just in case – as long as you can write quickly!
- Do you know all there is to know about authentic materials? Look at every piece of authentic text you see today, from your cereal packet to adverts in town to …you name it! Can you identify generic features? If not, flick through Beyond the Sentence by Thornbury or Discourse Analysis for Language Teachers by McCarthy and refresh your memory…
- What do you see when you look at a piece of student writing? Can you analyse it for positives/negatives and things that most need working on, giving reasons for your choices? Can you package this information so that the Cambridge examiner can see it easily? Can you do this super-quickly? Test yourself and make sure you can! (You are more than welcome to use my progress test scripts that need marking this morning for practice!! ;-) )
- Can you look at a course book speaking or writing activity and know what students (of a particular level) need? Pick an activity, any activity, of this sort, and see how quickly you can list what learners need (language, structural elements etc), along with appropriate examples.
- How’s your knowledge of SLA theory? If you need a quick refresher, why not spend 45 minutes (or so) watching Chia Suan’s British Council Webinar on this topic? (You can find the link to this in my “useful resources for module 1″ post post.)
- Have you done a mock exam (Paper 1 AND Paper 2, one after the other with only the allocated break time in between) yet? If not, get on it. If so, do another this weekend or on Monday/Tuesday – it won’t hurt to get yourself right in that zone again!
Don’t panic, you’ll be fine. Try and enjoy it (I know, I know…) – it’s an opportunity to show off everything you’ve learnt and it will be over before you know it! (Thank goodness…)
Good luck! :-)