Objective: First Certificate (FCE)

Anywhere, anytime: a FCE companion

Archive for December 2007

In the mix…

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(Ripped, mixed and burned from Englishpage.com)

The types of mixed conditionals we’ve seen in our course:

PAST: If+past perfect

(3rd conditional)

PRESENT: would+ infinitive

(2nd conditional)

With this combination we are talking about how an imagined or real event in the past would affect our present situation.

  • If I had won the lottery, I would be rich.
    But I didn’t win the lottery in the past and I am not rich now.
  • If I had taken French in high school, I would have more job opportunities.
    But I didn’t take French in high school and I don’t have many job opportunities.
  • If she had been born in the United States, she wouldn’t need a visa to work here.
    But she wasn’t born in the United States and she does need a visa now to work here.

PRESENT: If+simple past

(2nd conditional)

PAST: would+have+pp

(3rd conditional)

They refer to an unreal present situation and its probable (but unreal) past result.

  • If I were rich, I would have bought that Ferrari we saw yesterday.
    But I am not currently rich and that is why I didn’t buy the Ferrari yesterday.
  • If Sam spoke Russian, he would have translated the letter for you.
    But Sam doesn’t speak Russian and that is why he didn’t translate the letter.
  • If I didn’t have to work so much, I would have gone to the party last night.
    But I have to work a lot and that is why I didn’t go to the party last night.

A grammar game from the British Council.

Written by ElenaBen

December 9, 2007 at 4:38 pm

FCE June 2007: Sample Papers (with Keys)

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Written by ElenaBen

December 8, 2007 at 12:26 pm

Posted in Practice Tests

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Are or Is

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(Taken from Google hits):

The Australian Government has made a strong commitment to fight terrorism and increase the security of all Australians.

governments target critical systems including. ..

Governments rely far too much on outside contractors to deliver IT solutions…

This secret World Government thing is tricky you know?

Government is not God.

When do we use plural then and singular? (easy: subject-verb agreement) (Please I want to hear that ‘s’ after ‘t’, otherwise it sounds like you are saying government in singular, and remember how /t/ sounds in English, it’s different from the Spanish /t/)


Akron/Family are four extremely nice, sincere and well-mannered young men from rural America who came to NYC…

Bush Family are nazi…

Family is above all.

When do we use plural then and singular? (not that easy, read below)

Singular nouns or noun phrases take a singular form of the verb. There are however some nouns which can take either a singular or a plural verb depending on whether they are seen as a single entity or as a number of individuals. Some examples of this are: family, committee, team, board…

Indicate here whether the verb should be singular or plural and consider why these might cause problems.

Written by ElenaBen

December 8, 2007 at 11:04 am


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(From Cambridge ESOL site)

Look at the following expressions which are used when writing letters. Where would you find each of them in a letter? Make a list under each heading:


Signalling the end

Closings (at the end)

When you have finished, decide if each expression comes from a formal or informal letter, and write F (formal) or I (informal) after each one.

a. Thanks for your letter.
b. I’ll finish now as I’m running out of space.
c. Thank you for sending me your brochure.
d. I must go now.
e. Sorry for not writing for so long.
f. If you have any further questions, please contact me again.
g. I must apologise for not contacting you sooner.
h. I look forward to hearing from you.
i. I’m writing to ask you a favour.
j. I’d better finish.
k. Write again soon!
l. The reason for my writing is to apply for the job I saw advertised.
m. Bye for now.
n. Anyway, I’d better post this letter now.
o. It was lovely to hear from you.
p. All my love.
q. Best wishes.
r. It was great to get your letter.
s. Regards,
t. Thank you so much for writing.
u. Take care.
v. I was so sad to hear that you had been ill.
w. Good luck!
x. I wish to complain about the terrible service at your restaurant.
y. Hope to hear from you soon.
z. I am writing with reference to your letter…

Language of formal and informal letters

Look at the following characteristics of letters. Decide whether they apply to formal or informal letters or both.



begins with Dear …

refers to reason for writing

uses contractions

uses abbreviations

uses simple, short sentences

uses simple linkers, e.g. then, later

has paragraphs

is polite

could use slang

could use exclamation marks (!)

ends with Yours sincerely, / Yours faithfully

ends with Best wishes / Write soon

ends with a signature

ends with a signature and a full name printed (or in capitals)

Written by ElenaBen

December 8, 2007 at 10:35 am

Posted in Paper 2: Writing, Writing

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American spelling: OK!!

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I was feeling kind of guilty, and this is what Cambridge site says on using AmE in their examinations:

Some of my students use American spelling. Will they be penalised?
No. Both British and American usage and spelling are equally acceptable.

Written by ElenaBen

December 7, 2007 at 10:40 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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Write right

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(FCE Writing: 1 hour & 30′)

Letters always appear in Part 1. It is a transactional letter in response to or initiate a course of action. The letter may be formal or informal, the instructions will tell you which style is expected. In Part 2, you will be able to choose from a range of writing tasks including a composition, an article, a report, a short story, an informal letter or a letter of application (depending on the type of letter which has appeared in Part 1). Here, I show you a list of writing tasks with their links to writing tips and a FCE sample (which you can email me)

Online sites for further practice on writing skills:

  1. Parapal Online: cloze letter exercises.
  2. ParagraphPunch: this site takes you through the steps of writing paragraphs on a given topic.

For the lucky (i.e. with a lot of free time) and curious: a list on links on Writing Skills.

Written by ElenaBen

December 7, 2007 at 10:38 am

Keep an eye on…

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Written by ElenaBen

December 6, 2007 at 9:49 pm

Posted in Idioms, Paper 3: Use of English

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FCE course: online and free

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Here at OM.

And evaluation exercises here.

Written by ElenaBen

December 3, 2007 at 12:01 pm

Posted in Practice Tests

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