Cambridge English Southern Europe

Experts in Language Assessment

Cambridge English Days in Romania: the Cambridge English approach to improving performance in English Language

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March 2015. High profile trainers and authors in ELT shared their long experience and offered useful tips to English Language teachers from Romania who attended the Cambridge Day Sessions in Cluj Napoca, Constanta and Bucharest on the 26th, 27th and 28th of February.

Simple and practical activities can rapidly improve the students’ language skills, with minimal preparation by the teacher. Sarah Ellis, Head of Assessment Services, Southern Europe for Cambridge English Language Assessment who has extensive teacher training experience, demonstrated some practical easy to set-up classroom activities at the start of the session on Developing Speaking skills.  She invited teachers who attended the Bucharest session to put themselves in their students’ shoes by taking part in some fun and useful classroom activities. Teachers attending this session also had the chance to look at how to use online resources and social media both in the classroom and for their own teacher development.

Annette Capel, Chief Research Editor of the English Vocabulary Profile and co-author and series editor of a major new 7-level course called ‘Prepare!’ introduced the free online vocabulary resource (www.englishprofile.org), which teachers can use to determine the CEFR level of a word or phrase. Annette also outlined the four sub-scales of the Cambridge English examinations’ assessment criteria: Content, Communicative achievement, Organisation and Language, illustrating the most important aspects that teachers should take into consideration when marking and evaluating their students’ writing. Participants looked at concrete examples written by successful Romanian exam candidates at B2 and C1, which Annette had drawn from the Cambridge Learner Corpus. Using this corpus, Annette also reviewed some typical language errors made by Romanian candidates taking Cambridge English exams. Is the correct spelling “which” or “wich”? “Usefull” or “useful”? “Choosen” or “chosen”? Do we use “in” or “at” when we say “at the same time”? Well, it seems that Romanian students follow some specific patterns when it comes to errors made when writing in English.  According to the Cambridge Learner Corpus data, they tend to miss some silent letters (producing ‘wich’ instead of ‘which’) and vowels clusters are often problematic for them (a common error is ‘beatiful’ instead of ‘beautiful’); the suffix ending –ful is often mis-spelled by Romanian candidates (“helpfull” instead of “helpful”), and they often forget to include the determiner “the”; word order in sentences containing adjectives and adverbs is also an issue for many Romanian students. Annette explained that by filtering the data in the 55-million word corpus, she and other researchers are able to identify typical errors for each nationality around the world. Prepositional choice is difficult for everyone!

In total, over 600 teachers from Bucharest, Constanta and Cluj attended the three Cambridge Days events. The Cambridge Days are well established teacher events in Romania, organised by Cambridge University Press distributors in collaboration with Cambridge English and the Press. They aim at providing teachers with useful tips on how to improve their teaching skills and better support students with their English language learning. If you have any ideas on how to make these events more useful please contact us at info-Romania@cambridgeenglish.org.

Written by Cambridge English Southern Europe

March 10, 2015 at 6:20 pm

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