Saturday, 24 March 2012

Saturday morning? Must be Banana Kids

A year ago we (Luna, as Cambridge ESOL Centre JP004) were extremely grateful that our examiner Tomomi fulfilled our commitment to a school in Tochigi, and went there to conduct the speaking tests for their YLE exams. She was worried about the venue’s location – closer to Fukushima Daiichi than every sensible person on the planet wanted to be.

This year things are lot less dramatic (the school hasn’t moved, TEPCO still has not got a clue what it is doing/the government is in denial/collusion – but neither are things glowing in the dark etc).
Maybe I am just being melodramatic? Life was going on normal as ever when I tried to find the school on Saturday morning, and the scariest thing the children were going to have to do was take a speaking test with the unknown large foreigner (me) in a room all by themselves. As a couple of my English friends in Tokyo last year advertised their Facebook statuses – Keep calm & Carry on.

I really enjoy examining YLE candidates (does that sound sadistic? I hope not – I teach kids, and I enjoy seeing kids be all that they can). The materials are all about giving the children the opportunities to show what they can do – no man-traps to catch them out or “Ha! Ha! Couldn’t use the present continuous properly” assessment nastiness.

·         Best gentle voice
·         as much eye contact as possible
·          hands still (unless moving cards or pointing at a picture)
·         Smile
·         Pay attention to the child – stuck or thinking?
·         Wait for an answer – or move on gently
·         Know your stuff

In my opinion, a YLE speaking examiner taking care of the above seven points will see a happy candidate ready for a high five leave the speaking test. Being able to do that x30 in a morning will put a spring in any teacher’s step.