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Get ready for the 2015 Cambridge English: First exam

Open water by mountain rangeSage Stevens, Assessment Support Manager in the Assessment Materials division of ELT at OUP, looks at the main changes to the 2015 specifications of the Cambridge English: First exams. Sage will be hosting a webinar on this topic on 23rd May.

As many of you will be aware, the specifications for Cambridge English: First (FCE) and Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) are changing in 2015. For those of you feeling somewhat at sea about just how these changes will impact on your teaching I will be hosting a webinar which will hopefully leave you feeling less ‘Lost at Sea’ and more ‘Fancy a swim?’. In other words, I hope to help navigate you through the changes so that you can prepare your students with confidence to sit these examinations in 2015 and beyond.

I am an Assessment Support Manager in the Assessment Materials division at OUP, but prior to this role I was a writing examiner for Cambridge ESOL CAE, FCE, BEC (Vantage) and others for a number of years.

I hope to share with you my experience in assessment and also my knowledge of Oxford’s new preparation and practice materials for the Cambridge English: First exam from 2015, which I have been actively involved in developing.

My webinar on the 23rd May will cover the following areas:

  • An overview of the main changes to the 2015 FCE exam. This will include looking at how the previously separate Reading and Use of English papers have been combined into one, without losing any of the integrity of the separate papers.
  • We will then focus in a bit more on changes to the Writing and Speaking papers. We will explore what teachers and candidates can expect with the new format, word count and rubric for the Writing paper, and we’ll look at the changes to interaction patterns and stimuli in the Speaking paper.
  • Throughout, I’ll be using examples of activities from the new editions of Cambridge English: First Masterclass and Result Student’s Books, and the Online Practice material that accompanies these courses – all designed to help you to prepare your students successfully for the tasks in the 2015 exam.

The webinar will be vibrant and informative. Participants will have the opportunity to put forward their views, participate in polling activities, and answer questions to ensure that the information is understood and clear. I look forward to meeting you!

To find out more about the changes to the Cambridge English: First exams, register for Sage’s webinar on 23rd May.


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Teacher Spotlight: A Portrait of the Translator as a Young Woman

Young woman writingMarija Hladni, a teacher, translator and creative writer from Serbia, gives us an insight into the life of a translator, as well as a few words of wisdom for anyone considering a career in translation.

‘Translation is a craft,’ said one of my faculty professors, apparently with the heartfelt desire to belittle my dreams. Luckily, I disagreed, held true to my goals and eventually ended up as a young and relatively successful translator. I always thought that translation is an art, a beautiful way of ignoring the dividing differences between two cultures and letting them exchange ideas and learn from one another.

It is an unwritten rule that a translator should specialize in two or three areas of expertise, but in order to work in my country I had to adapt, so right now I am translating everything from scientific papers dealing with medicine or agriculture to legal documents and literature. Of course, I would like to be able to choose what I do, and hopefully in the near future I will be, but for now it’s sunflower breeding immediately followed by multiple sclerosis parameters.

Another thing that I have learned working as a translator is that everybody needs their translations finished yesterday – if there was a medical condition that prevented people from distinguishing between a phone and a time machine it would almost certainly be called translationitis. The ailment would be characterized by violent outbursts of frustration and disbelief on the subject’s part whenever his or her desire to ignore temporal laws wasn’t met with the utmost enthusiasm and a binding urge to comply.

So, if you are thinking about becoming a freelancer within translation profession, remember that in this line of business sleep is a rare pleasure you can indulge in only once you’ve managed to defy the laws of nature. I’m half expecting to be asked to finish a translation before it is even sent to me. The best way to deal with this type of situation is to stay calm and remember that people who are not translators naturally don’t know as much about the process as you do, so they really can’t be expected to know that you actually need time in order to do the work. Give them an estimate on how long it will take you to finish the translation and if it doesn’t suit them feel free to refer them to your wizard/mad scientist friend who might be able to help them out with their demands.

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