THE FCE BLOG by Claudia Ceraso

Friday, August 25, 2006

Reading Interviews and Online Magazines

FCE Vocabulary: Natural English or Dictionary English?

After doing a few Use of English past paper tests, you probably wonder how much vocabulary you need to know to pass the FCE –with merit of course!

Let’s consult the FCE Handbook to clarify this point a little. The descriptor of the band 5 (maximum mark) of the FCE written assessment reads:

“Wide range of structure and vocabulary within the task set.”

What does this mean?

It is quality knowledge not quantity of words you should be after. That’s what it means.

Apart from knowing the structure of words; for example, what preposition follows certain verbs or adjectives, Paper 3 Use of English aims at testing set phrases and collocations rather than the meaning of individual words. You need to grasp the whole meaning of the phrase. To gain that knowledge it is important to come across words in context and then consult their dictionary meaning to check structural aspects.

Speak Up Magazine
This is a magazine I have read and enjoyed a lot while studying English. I still keep my collection of tapes from it. Luckily there is an online version from this Italian site:
It is probable the best starting point you can find to help you deal with different varieties of English in a number of contexts. Each recorded interview includes information about the nationality and accent of the speakers, which is essential to help you gain that spontaneous knowledge of the language when you haven't travelled much to English speaking countries.

Larry King Live
This site lists interviews shown since 2000. Finding out a bit about the interviewee will give you a clue as to their accent. If you are interested in other interviews from CNN go to:

The Guardian
This section of the Guardian newspaper includes talks with celebs and film directors.

Inside the Actors Studio
Pity the official site does not include transcrips! Here is a transcript from Anthony Hopkins interview:

If you would like to read interviews with your favourite actors, you are most likely to find them at:
BBC film interiews A-Z
Find an actor on the alphabetical list.

Last but not least....
Remember the purpose of your reading: you aim at collecting different contexts for words you probably know already.

Enjoy your reading!

Related Post Phrasal Verbs

Monday, August 14, 2006

FCE Guest Map

Sign the Guest Book or Pin the Guest Map!

To: Cambridge First Certificate in English Students, Teachers and Fcebloggers community.

Subject: Where are we?

Attachment: See the GUEST MAP at the end of the letter... unless the page is still loading.

Dear All,

The Cambridge First Certificate in English preparation involves getting to know the pieces of the puzzle in detail (i.e. the papers and their parts, dos and dont's). As most of you know, getting ready for the exam takes a considerable amount of time and effort.

Writing this blog is a learning experience for me. My aim is to help you in assembling the pieces of the puzzle: discuss all those aspects of the exam that can help you pass with merit and link you to the work other great teachers are doing in cyberspace. As you see, it cannot be done in the short term. I am planning to blog for a while.

This site is meant to be an online guide and companion for all FCE students. Pass the exam, drop a comment, pin your mark! I think it can be encouraging for those reading this blog in future. You’ll probably come back for language reference since many of the pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar links can help you in your CAE and CPE courses.

So, your FCE studies will one day come to an end. In the meantime, however, I do hope that you can acquire some independent studying skills to make your learning a lifelong journey. As for your comments, feedback and sample answers, they will remain in this blog to guide future FCE Students wherever they are.

I look forward to seeing your signatures.

All best,

fceblog Editor

So here is our new gadget. Actually, in web slang it is called a widget -I recently learned.

Try it out

Hover your mouse over the pin. Click and hold the mouse anywhere on the map, then drag it to see other countries.

Tip: Click on the map URL for a full screen view and then click on my pin to read the complete content of a bubble.

What is this all about?

Basically, this is a visual guest book.

What for?

For the fun of it!

Who should be added?

Anyone who has viewed and found this site interesting may sign, I mean, pin. You could be a regular user or a teacher who suggested this site to your students.

How does it work?

Click on “add”. A self-explanatory menu will appear. Your e-mail is required but not disclosed. An email icon will be shown in your bubble.

What shall I write in the Shoutout message?

The Shoutout is the bubble associated to your pin in the map: your name will be there by default. You can add your occupation, when you started studying FCE for example –you may even upload your picture. Once you have passed the exam, share your grade!

What about the Map Chat...?

I do not recommend this at all. This is a plus feature I was not looking for -I simply wanted you to have a map of visitors. It is built-in and I cannot take it out. Our site has a chat widget already with rules to use it In this map chat, any "guest user" who has left a pin on any map on any other site in any remote part of the world can be found chatting there. I do not know what you think: I am not interested. Take this as a disclaimer.


For those who find that all of the above mentioned is far too techie and would rather sign an ordinary guest book, please feel free to post a comment below.

Link Policy

Updated February 2007
The fceblog is a guide to online practice for students preparing for the Cambridge First Certificate in English Examination (FCE). Weblinks are chosen and commented on by a certified teacher bearing in mind the following criteria:

  • External sites provide free access to resources for the preparation of Cambridge FCE Exam. They may also be chosen for their FCE-style exercises.
  • Other non-educational sources are also provided.
  • Sites where students are not required to register personal information such as name or e-mail address are favoured.
  • Exercises and practise materials are addressed mainly to students, not teachers.
  • Sites do not have a primarily commercial purpose.

As a guide, this FCE Blog intends to help students to find quality information and resources fast. Therefore, weblinks are not always to the homepage of external sites.

Students and teachers may recommend links to other resources in their comments or by mail. Before publication, they will be subject to moderation according to the criteria stated in this link policy.

Unless otherwise marked, all links mentioned were last retrieved on the date of their posting.

The FCE Blog has been online since 18 March 2006.

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Links for Language Teaching and Learning:

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This is a search engine with targeted results for English language teachers and learners.

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Here you will find free resources for students and teachers of English


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[The] English-Blog [.com ] A place for students and instructors.

Moving2Italy Info on Teaching English in Italy.

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Teacher Dude's Grill and BBQ Random thoughts on teaching EFL/ESL and living in Greece.

ALEA... Access the Ladder to English Advancement. Libya.

Rome EFL Blog A blog for students of English at the British Council in Rome.

Our Class 2006 An ESL class blog from Sydney.

Englastuces Reflections and quizzes on English language and vocabulary.

El Blog del Inglés English lessons for Spanish speakers.

English Alive An ESL class blog from Chile.

The English You Need Blog An EFL class from Argentina

By Students

Write on Literature A portfolio of FCE students writing on literature. Argentina.

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