Useful expressions in the Speaking part of the FCE exam

All Speaking Parts of the FCE exam are unique and require from you the use of certain expressions. It’s important to learn and use them during the exam. The expressions your FCE examiner wants to hear from you relate to:

  • Comparing ideas
  • Giving reasons/explanations
  • Speculating
  • Bringing your partner into the conversation
  • Managing the discussion
  • Keeping the discussion moving
  • Agreeing and disagreeing
  • Reaching a decision
  • Presenting other people’s arguments
  • Giving reasons and examples
  • Presenting the other point of view

Each of the above points refers to a different part of the Speaking exam, continue reading to find more examples about how, when and which expressions to use to pass the FCE Speaking exam.

 

Part 1 of the FCE Speaking Exam

Part 1 of the FCE exam lasts about two minutes and it is a conversation between the examiner and each candidate individually. Each candidate will be asked questions about themselves, their family, sports and other leisure activities, likes and dislikes, education and where they live. Questions may also be about their past experiences and future plans.

 

Part 1 – Questions and useful expressions

Introductory questions

Where are you from?

I was born in ...

I grew up in/near …

I was brought up in (place) by (people) a small/ quite a large/ an extended family.

 

How long have you been studying English?

I’ve been working/studying at .. . since (point in time) for (length of time)

Actually,(+ unexpected/surprising information) I’ve only been learning English for two years.

 

What do you most enjoy about learning English?

What I really love about (-ing) is …

 

Leisure time

What are your main interests and leisure time activities?

I’m fanatical about ..

I whenever I can I get the chance.

 

How important are sport and exercise in your life?

It’s quite/ not terribly important (to me)

 

What types of TV programmes do you think are worth watching?

I’m really keen on .. I I love ..

I never miss .. .

 

What kinds of music do you enjoy listen ing to?

I can’t stand .. .

 

Learning

What is your happiest memory of school?

I can remember (event) very well/clearly.

 

What were the most useful things you learned at school?

Probably .. . I suppose things like .. .

 

What do you enjoy learning?

I really like ( .. -ing).

 

If you had the opportunity to learn something new, what would you choose?

That’s an easy I a difficult question to answer.

Let me think …

 

Future plans

What do you hope to be doing this time next year?

I hope to be (-ing) at (place).

I expect I’ll be (-ing).

I’ d certainly consider (-ing)

 

How might you use your English in the future?

I’d have to think carefully about …

Would you consider living abroad permanently?

It’s not something I’d rush into.

 

Are you someone who likes to plan for the future, or do you prefer to let things happen?

I’m someone who … .

I’m (not) the kind of person who… .

 

Travel and holidays

What kinds of holiday appeal to you most? Why?

I (tend to) prefer … (mainly) because … .

My main reason is that .. .

 

Which countries would you most like to visit? Why?

I‘ve always wanted to … I don’t know I can’t explain why.

 

Which part(s) of your country would you recommend to tourists? Why?

I’d recommend/suggest … Firstly, because … and secondly, because …

 

Would you like to work in the travel industry? Why (not)?

I’ve never thought about it.

I’m not sure. I’d have to think about that.

 

Daily life

Which part of the day do you enjoy most? Why?

I’m not very good/ I’m best at/in (time of day).

I’m a night/ early morning person.

 

What do you like to do at weekends?

I try to catch up on (activity); I spend time (-ing).

 

What do you do to relax?

Mainly/ Most of the time I …

 

Do you prefer to follow a routine or do you like to do something different every day?

My problem is that I …

I’d always rather (verb) than (verb).

 

Here are some example FCE Speaking Part 1 tasks you can practise with:
FCE Speaking Part 1 A

FCE Speaking Part 1 A

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Part 1 ( 2 minutes) The examiner will ask you questions about your life, focusing on areas such as daily life, leisure, work, future plans, holidays, likes and disl ikes. The ...

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FCE Speaking Part 1 B

FCE Speaking Part 1 B

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Part 1 ( 2 minutes) The examiner will ask you questions about your life, focusing on areas such as daily life, leisure, work, future plans, holidays, likes and disl ikes. The ...

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Part 2 of the FCE Speaking Exam- Long turn

Part 2 of the FCE exam lasts four minutes altogether. Candidates should speak for 1 minute without interruption. Each candidate is asked to compare two colour photographs, and to make a further comment about them in response to a task that is read out by the examiner. Candidates are given a direct question; this is written above the photographs. Candidates are expected to point out similarities and differences between the photographs and then move on to deal with the question, answering it with reference to both photographs.

After your partner has spoken for a minute, the examiner will ask you to give a brief response to a question about your partner’s pictures.

 

Part 2- Useful expressions

Comparing

Here/ In this photo, I can see I someone

There is/are .. ., whereas in this photo .. .

On the other hand, this photo shows .. .

 

Giving reasons/explanations

The (main) reason for this is that …

I think/ I’d say this is because …

This can be explained quite easily …

 

Speculating

This person looks as if she’s/he’s …

He seems to be

Perhaps/Maybe they’re …

They’re probably …

He could be I might be …

 

Here are some example FCE Speaking Part 2 tasks you can practise with:
FCE Speaking Part 2 A

FCE Speaking Part 2 A

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In this part of the test, the interlocutor is going to give each candidate two photographs. You'd need to talk about your photographs on your own for about a minute, and also to ...

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FCE Speaking Part 2 B

FCE Speaking Part 2 B

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In this part of the test, the interlocutor is going to give each candidate two photographs. You'd need to talk about your photographs on your own for about a minute, and also to ...

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Part 3 of the FCE Speaking Exam- Collaborative task

Part 3 lasts four minutes altogether and involves a discussion between  your partner and you. In this part of the FCE exam your fluency and the ability to participate in and maintain a conversation are tested. You also need to demonstrate your ability to engage in a discussion and to work towards a negotiated outcome of the task.

The examiner gives you a set of written prompts in the form of a question and five related options designed to help you provide ideas for the discussion. Your partner and you discuss these together for about two minutes. During this part you are expected to express and justify your opinions and speculate in order to have a conversation which answers the discussion question. You can choose which prompts to discuss and are not expected to discuss all five prompts in the time available. You should, however, continue the discussion until an examiner asks you to stop. The examiner will then ask you a second question designed to encourage both of you to summarise your discussion and to work towards a negotiated decision. You are not penalised if they fail to reach a negotiated decision. You are assessed on the ability to hold a conversation, to turn-take appropriately, and to use the language of negotiation and collaboration while doing this. This part of the FCE Speaking exam is opinion based and there is no right or wrong answer.

Remember to make positive contributions to move the discussion with your fellow exam-taker forward. You should respond to each other’s contributions by agreeing, disagreeing and questioning each other, rather than just giving information about the task. Make sure that each of you gets an equal opportunity to speak, your examiner will be highly alerted to the importance of turn-taking by each candidates.

How to do FCE Speaking Part 3 

1 You are given 15 seconds to read and think about the task before you start. Use this time to read the question and the five options carefully.

2 Remember: the most important thing is to have an indepth discussion, not to cover all the options.

3 Keep your focus on the question during your conversation try not to stray away from the topic.

4 If you start the conversation, make sure you don’t speak for too long. Give a brief opinion, then ask your partner for their thoughts on the subject.

5 When your partner is speaking, listen carefully. React and respond appropriately. This can include nodding and smiling, as well as speaking.

6 Try to make what you say sound like normal conversation.

7 When you are asked to decide between the options, try not to reach agreement too quickly. If you do, you’ll still have to keep the discussion going until the examiner tells you to stop by saying ‘Thank you’.

 

Part 3 – Questions and useful expressions

Bringing your partner into the conversation

What do you think? Do you have any thoughts on this?

Do you agree (with me)? I’d say … What about you?

 

Managing the discussion

Shall we start with this one?

What do you think?

Shall we move on to …

 

Keeping the discussion moving

Let’s move on to . . . Shall we go on to next one?

So, how about … ?

 

Agreeing and disagreeing

I (completely) agree. Yes, and (another thing) ...

I (totally) disagree. I can’t agree (with you there).

You’ve got a point (there), but (the way I see it)

 

Reaching a decision

So, is that agreed? Do we agree on that?

 

Here are some example FCE Speaking Part 3 tasks you can practise with:
FCE Speaking Part 3 c

FCE Speaking Part 3 c

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Here's the task:  Follow up questions- FCE Exam speaking part 4 c  

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FCE Speaking Part 3 d

FCE Speaking Part 3 d

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Here's the task:   Follow up questions- FCE Exam speaking part 4 d

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Part 4 of the FCE Speaking Exam-  Discussion

Part 4 lasts five minutes and it is a discussion between you, your partner and the examiner. The examiner will ask your partner and you questions to encourage you to discuss further and broaden the topics introduced in Part 3. You are expected to express and justify opinions and to agree or disagree.

Your examiner will be checking your ability to engage in a discussion based on the topic of the collaborative task in Part 3. In Part 4, the examiner directs the interaction by asking questions. This part of the test gives you an opportunity to show that you are capable of discussing issues in more depth than in the earlier parts of the test.

How to do FCE Speaking Part 4

1. Listen carefully to the question. The question itself may be preceded by a statement, which you are then asked to agree or disagree with or to express an opinion about. If you don’t understand the statement or the question, you can ask the examiner to repeat it.

2. Answer the question with opinions and reasons. Follow the same guidelines as for Part 3 with regard to including your partner in the discussion and keeping the conversation moving.

3. Give full answers to the questions asked. You can do this by keeping useful question words in your heads, e.g. ‘Why?’, ‘How?’, ‘When?’, ‘Where?’.

Remember, there are no right answers to the questions and you will not be judged on your opinions, only on the language you use to express your opinions. It is quite acceptable for you to admit to not knowing much about a particular question, but you should be able to expand on your views wherever possible. Do not make responses such as ‘I don’t know’, ‘I’m not sure’ or ‘I haven’t thought about that’.

 

Part 4- Useful expressions

Introducing your opinion and giving a reason

Well, in my opinion … because …

I think/feel …

I’m not sure. I think …

From my point of view …

I tend to think

I would argue that …

Presenting other people’s arguments

Some people say that

It is sometimes/often said that

It can be argued that …

One argument often made is that …

Presenting the other point of view

Having said that, I believe

On the other hand, I would argue that …

However, I’m not sure I agree. I tend to think that

Giving reasons and examples

One reason why .. .

For this reason, .. .

For example, .. .

For instance, .. .

such as

 

Here are some example FCE Speaking Part 3 tasks you can practise with:
FCE Speaking Part 4 a

FCE Speaking Part 4 a

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Use the following questions, in order, as appropriate: 1. How safe do you think it is to talk to people on-line and later meet them in real life? 2. Why do you think people ...

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FCE Speaking Part 4 b

FCE Speaking Part 4 b

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Use the following questions, in order, as appropriate: 1. Why do you think charities are important? 2. Have you ever donated any money for a charity? Which one? 3. Some ...

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During the Speaking part of the FCE exam you must:

1.Listen to the questions carefully and give clear, direct answers. Where possible, include a few extra details, or a reason for an answer you give.

2 Try to relax. Look confidently at the examiner and smile a little when you answer the questions.

3 Take the opportunity to show how fluently you can speak.

4 Don’t prepare answers before you do the exam, but do make sure that you know the vocabulary you will need to talk about the topics that are likely to come up.

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