Friday, September 25, 2015

Open Cloze: Pope Francis's visit to the USA

(AP Photo/Alex Brandon, Pool)

If you are a Catholic, you may know that the Pope is visiting the USA now. You can read a New York Times excerpt of an article here, and practise for the CAE exam by completing the article with the missing words.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Cambridge English Scale

From January 2015,  a new way of reporting results for Cambridge exams has been implemented. This is called the Cambridge English Scale, and it is a range of scores used for reporting the results of Cambridge English exams. The Cambridge English Scale is designed to complement the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).This new system provides candidates with more detailed information about exam performance.

You can watch this video which introduces the Cambridge Englis Scale

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Cloze text: Practice

Complete the following text with the words that are missing.  The words you need are function words, so words that help you to coordinate ideas, or to make a coherent sentence.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Emphasis - Cleft sentences

If we want to give particular importance to a person, a thing or a clause in a sentence, we can use cleft sentences.
Cleft sentences result from changing the normal sentence pattern to emphasise a particular piece of information.  We use cleft sentences to:
·         connect what is already understood to what is new to the listener, or
·         to focus on a particular part of the sentence and to emphasise what we want to say
In a cleft sentence, a single message is divided (cleft) into two clauses.  Because there are two clauses (parts) to the sentence it is called CLEFT (from the verb CLEAVE) which means divided into two.
It-clauses are the most common type of cleft clause. The information that comes after it is emphasised for the listener. The emphasis in the resulting cleft sentence is on the phrase after it + be.
The clause which follows the it-clause is connected using that and it contains information that is already understood. We often omit that in informal situations when it is the object of the verb.
In the clauses that follow it + be + phrase, we can also use the same relative pronouns (who, whom, whose, which, that) and relative adverbs (where, when, why) that we normally use in defining relative clauses.
It is my sweater that Lily wore yesterday.                                (Focus on sweater)
Lily wore my sweater (not my skirt) yesterday.
It is yesterday when Lily wore my sweater.                              (Focus on yesterday)
Lily wore my sweater yesterday (not today).
It is Lily who/that wore my sweater yesterday.                        (Focus on Lily)
Lily (not me) wore my sweater yesterday.
If we use a personal pronoun after it + be, it will be in the object form.
It is her who/that wore my sweater yesterday.

Leonardo Da Vinci painted ‘The Last Supper’ between 1495-1497. (neutral sentence)
It was Leonardo Da Vinci who/that painted ‘The Last Supper’ between 1495-1497.
It was ‘The Last Supper’ that Leonardo Da Vinci painted between 1495-1497.
It was between 1495-1497 when Leonardo Da Vinci painted ‘The Last Supper’.

Einstein discovered the theory of relativity in Germany in1905. (neutral sentence)
It was Einstein who/that discovered the Relativity Theory in Germany in 1905.
It was the Relativity Theory that Einstein discovered in Germany in 1905.
It was in Germany where Einstein discovered the Relativity Theory in 1905.
It was in 1905 when Einstein discovered the Relativity Theory in Germany.

Important information can be emphasised by putting it at the end of a sentence.  We put the less important information into a clause beginning with what, and open the sentence with this clause.  We can then finish with the important information.  The two parts of the sentence are joined with IS or WAS, since we treat the what-clause as singular.
Wh- clause (with a verb) + a form of be + emphasised information

What helps her relax is listening to classical music.
What they hated more was his insolent remarks.
They needed money, so what they did was to ask relatives to invest in their project.
The school was in a catastrophic state, so what the teachers did was to go to the media to make this public.

 You can practise this topic with the following exercises:

Cleft sentences

Cleft sentences

Rewrite the sentences using cleft structures with IT or WHAT.
a) They first became famous in France, not in England.
, not in England, that they first became famous.

b) I found out she'd died when I phoned Tessa.
I found out she'd died.

c) Picasso painted Guernica in response to the bombing of the Basque city.
painted Guernica in responde to the bombing of the Basque city.

d) Dr Christian Barnard performed the first heart transplant in 1967.
Dr Christian Barnard performed in 1967.

e) Our thoughts conditioned our feelings.
conditioned our feelings.

f) Neil Armstrong walked on the moon on July 20, 1969.
I Neil Armstrong waked on the moon.

g) Marie Curie discovered radium and polonium.
discovered radium and polonium.

h) Obesity rather than cancer is now the major cause of death in the UK.
, not cancer, that is the major cause of death in the UK.

i) I work long hours. This is most stressful.
that I find most stressful.

j) The last time we had a holiday abroad was three years ago.
we last had a holiday abroad.


1) I need a glass of water.
a glass of water.

2) How old is he? I want to know.
how old he is.

3) I'm worried about her health.
her health.

4) I climbed in through the window because I couldn't find my key.
I couldn't find my key, so climb in through the window.

5) Many people don't know that Thomas Cook was a very religious man.
Thomas Cook was a very religious man.

6) The film was great. I enjoyed most its music.
about the film was its music.

7) She told me that she was leaving the country for good.
she was leaving the country for good.

8) We wanted to surprise her, so we organised a surprise party.
We wanted to surprise her, so organise a surprise party.

9) The world is getting hotter. This terrifies me.
the world is getting hotter.

10) Our school is excellent. I particularly love its library.
more about our school is its library.


Sunday, May 11, 2014

Writing guide

I've found this publication which lists the different types of writing pieces candidates may be asked to produce during the CAE examination.
I hope this guide, which contains examples of each type, may be useful.
The link to access the guide is:

Monday, April 14, 2014

Use of English - part 2

Another activity to practise Use of English for CAE exam, part 2 or structural cloze.  Remember that what you need to complete the text are words used to put a sentence together, i.e. the 'structure' or 'function' words.  For example: auxiliares, articles, determiners, conjunctions, prepositions, etc.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Use of English - part 2 (Open cloze)

  • What do you know about volcanoes?
  • Are there volcanoes near your house?
  • What benefits and what dangers may volcanoes have?

The exercise below talks about the topic of volcanoes and it also allows you to practise part 2 of the Use of English (paper 3) of the CAE exam.