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Master the CELPIP test and get one step closer to a permanent future in Canada!

Hi and Welcome to E2 Talks. In this episode, E2 Expert Teacher Mark chats with another E2 Expert Teacher, Mike about the CELPIP test.  Mark and Mike are both from Canada and have experience teaching a range of tests such as IELTS, TOEFL, TOEIC, CELPIP and are true experts in high-stakes English tests. They touch on what CELPIP is, the two different versions of CELPIP, how you can pass CELPIP on your first try and much more. This episode is perfect for anyone interested in migrating to Canada for work, study or for permanent Canadian residency. It’s also great for anyone generally interested in the CELPIP. Enjoy.

Mark  

Good afternoon, Mike. It’s morning here in Melbourne, but over there in Port Alberni must be getting late in the afternoon. Is that right?

Mike  

Yeah, about 2:30 in the afternoon. It’s your Wednesday, my Tuesday. So I’m in the past, and you’re in the future.

Mark  

Yep. Since I’ve been at E2, and I’ve been using or having to get used to these different time zones, I cannot tell you how much confusion it has caused me in working with people. We’ve got people in Canada, we’ve got people working with us in the UK and Europe. And yeah, so I constantly have to remind myself when I’m sending emails to specify the different times and remember that my Monday is some people’s Sunday, so I have to do a lot of things on Tuesday. 

Mike  

Right? Tricky? 

Mark  

Yeah, yeah. Anyway, we’re here to talk a little bit today about CELPIP. But, you know, Mike, we brought you in, because you’ve got quite a bit of expertise with this test. But you’re also across a few other tests. So maybe just before we get started, why don’t you tell us a little bit about your teaching experience over the last few years or even decades?

Mike  

Yeah, it’s been decades now. Mark, I started teaching in 1999, in Taiwan, you know, so typical, people Canadian fresh out of university wanted to go abroad and discover the world. So I find myself teaching in Taiwan to kids and middle school students at High School University, coming back to Canada and getting a job in Vancouver, at our school Global Village, Vancouver had taught there and it’s mostly the TOEFL programme. They did a lot of IELTS work, too. And that sort of take off and became an IELTS testing centre. And then it was about 2017-2018, when we took on CELPIP. And then I got into the whole world of CELPIP. Here we are today.

Mark  

Yeah. And now Yes. We’re here to talk about CELPIP. But yes, you did mention TOEFL and we worked together in Vancouver. And you were TOEFL Mike for a long time. And occasionally, they would expand and I would get drafted into TOEFL teaching as well. And, yeah, you were extremely helpful to me in learning all about that test. And I taught it at another school for about two years as well. So always appreciated your insights and assistance with teaching. And it’s really awesome that we now get to work together again, doing some things TOEFL, but quite a lot of CELPIP. 

Mike  

It’s been great. And I remember back in those days to your number one draft pick, Mark.

Mark  

Excellent. All right. Now, a little bit more about CELPIP. So you’ve mentioned it. Talk us through a little bit more about CELPIP. For a lot of people, they’re just starting to hear about this test. Now. There’s different types of CELPIP. Who takes CELPIP? What is it for? Can you tell us a little bit more about that?

Mike  

Yep, definitely. So CELPIP is a Canadian test. Right? It’s that stands for the Canadian English language proficiency index programme, right? That’s a mouthful. It’s kind of interesting, if you think about, you know, the first part of self Canadian English. But that’s essentially what it is, right? It’s a test designed to measure students’ ability to listen to Canadian English with our phrases and accent and assess their ability. They’re mostly used for immigration purposes. So anyone looking for either a permanent residence or citizenship is looking to take the CELPIP.

Mark  

Okay. And there are two different types of CELPIP. Is that correct?

Mike  

That is correct. Yep. You got your CELPIP – General. And then the General LS. LS stands for listening, speaking. So the first one there, I mentioned that CELPIP – General that has four parts. So you’re going to do your listening, reading, speaking and writing. And that’s about a three hour test. And then that second one, the General LS, which is just listening, speaking, that’s a little over an hour and that’s just listening and speaking, therefore, the L and the S.

Mark  

And what is that one for?

Mike  

Citizenship. 

Mark  

Okay.

Mike  

That could be you know, people who have already gone to Canada, maybe they got their PR, and then they need to become citizens.

Mark  

Okay. And now, of course, this brings in that question, we’ve got different tests, we’ve got CELPIP and then another common one, which gets used for university and migration is IELTS in terms of teaching for or studying for CELPIP versus IELTS, can you give us a little insight into some of the key differences or or or similarities between these two?

Mike  

Certainly, um, personally, I would say the CELPIP is more similar to the IELTS General, not the Academic because help itself is not really an academic Test. It’s supposed to measure your ability to understand English in everyday social or work situations. So not necessary, thoroughly a university. Like, let’s say, TOEFL or IELTS Academic, a little more similar to the general mean difference, though, I would say is the listening, especially with the Canadian accent.

Mark  

And that’s, yeah, one of the things you’ve been working on us, working with us here at E2 is our CELPIP. Course. And it was great. We had three western Canadian guys working together on that. And yeah, that was one thing that we noticed, when we sort of, you know, took over that aspect of the course development is yes, making sure that all the English being used, reflected Canadian, English more.

Mike  

Your right. It’s it is vocabulary like we talk about we, we take truck and not lorry, or ute like in the UK or Australia. But then there’s this the topic as well, like, you know, Canadian topics in general things that we care about, like wildlife. There could be topics, for example, about the orca whales and their numbers here in BC, or the importance of salmon, you know, and things that are quite important to Canada and to Canadians. That’s an important part of CELPIP a lot of the readings and listings will have, you know, topics that are familiar to most Canadians.

Mark  

Yeah. So more bears and salmon and less kangaroos and crocs.

Mike  

So sometimes students ask me, you know, what, should I take my CELPIP or IELTS and, you know, both are good, right? Both are gonna set your English. I personally, I just like the CELPIP for the fact that it’s got the multiple-choice questions, right? So, you know, students aren’t sure, you can always just do easy process of elimination and try to make their best guess. And, you know, chances are, they might get it right, just from that fact. And then, of course, there’s listening to the Canadian accent. No, that’s my bias. But it seems to me it’s a little easier to understand for international students.

Mark  

Hmm, Yep, definitely. And also, if they’re onshore, if they’re in Canada studying, then it’s almost impossible to not get that exposure to the accent and the patterns of pronunciation that we have when we speak or, you know, even listening to the radio or watching the news. Speaking of listening, let’s get into that a little bit. Let’s take a bit of a deeper look into the CELPIP Test. Yeah, so you mentioned multiple-choice questions. So I’m just wondering, like, you know, let’s go through some parts of the like, let’s talk generally about what you know, how many sections there are in the CELPIP listening test? And what are some of the things that they’re going to test you on?

Mike  

Okay, sure. Yeah. So your first part is you’re listening, you got six different listenings. So that’s a lot. And they do get harder as you go along. Right. So the very first one is called listening to problem solving. Now that one is actually divided into three parts. And I think the idea there is, so students just listen to maybe 45 seconds or a minute, so it’s not that long. And they’re able to retain that information, and then answer two or three questions. And then the conversation kind of continues. So you know, as the name of the listening is called listening to problem solving, right? So commonly, you’ll hear someone like, there might be someone on a bus, and they’re wondering where to get to a playground, and they ask the bus driver, and he’s not sure. So they try to figure out the problem together. 

Mark  

Hmm. So it’s very functional.

Mike  

Very functional. Yep. That’s the word. It’s like every day, you know, you’re out in Canadian society, what kind of English you might encounter? And that’s, that’s the first part of the listening.

Mark  

Okay. You mentioned that it gets a bit harder as it goes on. So I suspect some of the earlier questions are perhaps asking less challenging questions, what are some of the more challenging questions going to look like?

Mike  

Okay, just to go back to the less challenging almost always, your very first question will be the main idea. Very typically, what problem does the woman have? Right? So very basic, very main idea, very hissed type style questions. And that’s very common for the whole first part, a couple of specific information questions, not a lot of inference questions, which would be, you know, later on and get more difficult. Part two is also not so difficult. That’s listening to a daily life conversation. It’s not something that two co workers might be discussing at work or, you know, a couple of parents at the playground, talking about everyday life in Canada. Also not very difficult, followed by six questions that are mostly his type question. From there, you got Part three listening for information. That one, they’re going to have a little more specific vocabulary. What that often is that one is With specialised knowledge. So there’s some kind of experts like a guy with tech expertise on your cable problem, someone selling you a phone or someone knows about guitars. And they’re, they’re telling another person information that the other person doesn’t know. So then for the test takers and students, they’re listening for higher level vocabulary, and more specific information, not so much just questions in part three, but more specific detailed questions.

Mark  

Now to score well on those parts of the test. Like, do people need to have that highly, highly specific vocabulary? So, you know, if you mentioned guitars, do they need to know what drop string tuning is to get a high score? Or, you know, is it is it what, what kind of vocabulary? Are they going to need to really get some of those higher, like at least a better to higher score?

Mike  

Well, it’s a good question. I wouldn’t say they need to necessarily study all technical language in the world. That’s not really practical. What I think this part of the CELPIP is testing is their ability to catch paraphrase. Right. So they might take some technical language, they’re not going to test specifically, you know, what is this kind of guitar drop string that I don’t know. But, but the very least, like, Can they take this idea and find the paraphrase? Yes, you know, and that’s essentially it. So they don’t need a lot of specific vocabulary. Of course, it would help but definitely not necessary. But more importantly, and, you know, that’s something I think, is really emphasised in the CELPIP. The listening and reading part is the paraphrasing questions. What, what, how is this said in another way that me, I would say is like, one of the key parts of this test is the ability to recognise paraphrase.

Mark  

Okay. And the last, the last parts of the test are where it gets a bit more challenging. Is that correct? Right.

Mike  

So yeah, part three, part four, then you got listening to a news item. So that could be you know, your typical Canadian news, you know, CBC Radio kind of thing. Definitely, you know, the CELPIP topics themselves won’t be so serious like these news, there’ll be more like, where I live Vancouver Island news, like, Man was rescued by Golden Retriever, or raccoon ends up being famed artists in town, you know, some, some, some, it’s still a news event, but it’s light-hearted. It’s more of a story of a local person, that kind of news events. So, you know, not nothing really difficult, but still challenging, because now it’ll be longer. It’ll be a rapport. It’s not a conversation, but a monologue, one speaker, and it could be up to three minutes. And then so students need to have all that information and then answer about eight questions after that. So the challenge goes on.

Mark  

All right. And those questions will tend to be just a touch more challenging as well. They might require…

Mike  

That’s correct.

Mark  

Yeah, okay.

Mike  

Yep. And then, and then as they progress, I mean, of course, you and I, as you know, veteran listening teachers know, what’s the mantra? Take note. And that just gets more and more true, more and more needed as the test progresses. So like what we just discussed there, the news items, you know, we would really help take some notes because the human memory even for native speakers, we can’t remember perfectly all the details. But you got to take some of those to help me with those questions. And especially in these last two parts. Listening to a discussion is actually video, something a bit different. It’s helping you watch a video with three people. And then there will be questions after that asking about each person and their viewpoint, as it says, right, listening for viewpoints. That’s a challenge. And I would highly suggest to students or teachers, instructing take notes on the individuals and where they are quickly, like a little chart, you know, to line three line chart, man on left woman in middle man on right. Yeah. And then are they for or against or oppose or indifferent? Who situation?

Mark  

You mentioned this, I remember, you know, just with TOEFL is that a lot of times students will, at the beginning of a course say, Oh, it’s too difficult for me to listen and take notes at the same time. But they absolutely must. And that’s, you know, it’s a skill that they have to build. So, I think we both would talk about how Yeah, on day one, of course, the students would kind of resist taking notes and they would say all but I, you know, I can’t listen, if I’m taking notes. And then by the end of the course, or you know, when they take the test finally, they’re very grateful for the fact that we would drive home that they absolutely must work on their note taking.

Mike  

Very right It does make such a big difference, right? I mean, I understand those early students’ point of view, because if you’re taking notes, you may catch less information because you’re slightly distracted writing. But overall, you’re going to have more information available to you. Right? Then it is a skill that you need to develop, you don’t want to, you know, have students write, you know, every single word down as much as they can, you know, it’s learning short form, it’s learning keywords. That’s a skill, it takes practice. But once you have that in your back pocket, really going to help students for those later, later questions, right, in part five, and then the last one, part six, listening to viewpoints. That one, I don’t think a native speaker could do well without taking notes. Okay? Because in the last one, part six, you’ll have it’s a monologue of one person, and there’ll be talking about a somewhat controversial topic in Canada. Let’s say, for example, using technology in schools. Should students have iPads? Yes or No? Should they be limited? Something like that, where people are going to disagree, okay. And then you’ll have this narrator this one person giving a report, or a monologue, and they’re going to talk about two or three different people who have different viewpoints. Very hard for anybody to remember, what was this guy’s name? What did he think? You know what I mean? So in the question will say, What did Bill Murray say about iPhones in school? Right? Who knows? I don’t remember Bill Murray, of course not. So again, that’s something you got to learn, like, take notes on, you know, Bill Murray, just you don’t have to know the spelling B.M, and he’s like, for technology in school. So then just do plus sign tech, for example. Yeah. And then a quick note on that, too. Just for anyone who’s curious out there. The note parts when you’re listening for viewpoints shouldn’t just be people. They could mention organisations or countries or like, this is what’s happening in Finland, or this is what they do at the CBC. So it’ll make sure to take note, Okay, and Finland does this CBC does that because the questions will certainly be about those objects mentioned.

Mark  

WHO said what? Who believes what? Yeah.

Mike  

Exactly.

Mark  

Great. Well, should we take a look then at another part of the test?

Mike  

Sure.

Mark  

Let’s have a look at maybe reading.

Mike  

Yeah, that’s your next part. You finished listening, you go on to reading, reading, you have four parts, just like speaking, it’s gonna start somewhat easy, and then get more and more difficult. Yeah. Okay. First thing that’s somewhat easy is the language. So, you know, for you and I, when we were creating the content, for example, nothing should be above a B2 level for that first reading. For those that don’t know what that means, you know, that’s your standard British…? How can we help me out with

Mark  

So it’s like an upper intermediate level, nothing higher than that intermediate? Or? I would say, low upper intermediate level? So yeah, it shouldn’t be too challenging. In part one.

Mike  

That’s right. And then slowly get a bit harder, you know, until you get to part four, but part one, not too bad. It’s called reading for correspondence. And what that basically means is emails, write emails, you gotta, you know, the sender, and then the recipients reply.

Mark  

So again, it’s quite functional. It’s not it’s not like say IELTS, where you’re potentially reading an academic text. You’re, you’re looking at a letter that you might send or receive.

Mike  

Exactly, right. And really, there that part those emails might be casual and personal. So there are you might get a, for example, you know, correspondence between a grandfather and a grandchild about a birthday present? Not often too there’ll be work related or business related. And, you know, it’s, it might have a personal component, but it’ll be something like, the manager has just invited the staff out for a birthday party for one of the co-worker, right, and then they reply with their response and how, what they think they should do, should we have this activity or that something along those lines, something that’s, you know, understandable to most people.

Mark  

and again, it’s testing your ability to survive in everyday Canadian society, emails to and from friends, colleagues, or potentially work colleagues.

Mike  

That’s right. Okay. And in that first reading, you’ll read, oh, maybe 150 words, and then get six questions after that. But then your second reply, an email that will have the questions within the text. Right. So you read the first sentence. “Grandpa, thanks so much for your email. It’s great to hear that you’re enjoying your life. I hope to see you in” an Then you’ll see a drop down menu that summer, the fall, the winter, the spring, and then you have to refer back to that first reading and find the answer. So those remaining questions will be dropped down questions within that second text. Then after you’re finished the correspondence, the second part is applying a diagram that one students will be looking at pictures with a bit of text and answering also an email. Also kind of, you know, functional language like “Hey Mark, I got four different ideas about where to visit Australia. Which one do you think would be best”, and then you’d see me at the Gold Coast, or Brisbane or Sydney, or Perth, right, and four different options. And then we compare and contrast and fill in the blanks. And they do get harder. As always, part three is reading for information. That’s the one I liked creating because that’s your creative painting content stuff. That’s where you get to read about the narwhal. A great Canadian tea creature of the north with a tusk.

Mark  

Yep. And that’s for the content that we have here at our E to CELPIP course that you’re talking about.

Mike  

Yeah, really good quality, as prep material there, for sure. And then after that, the longer most difficult part of the reading part four is reading for viewpoints. Kind of similar to listening in a sense that you’re presented with two or three different people, their opinions, and, you know, testing the ability of students to differentiate, you know, different opinions, why people have them and who they are.

Mark  

Okay. Let’s take a look at the Speaking Test is there what are we looking at in the speaking test?

Mike  

The Speaking Test takes about 15 minutes in total. First of all, I mentioned all this is a computer test. So students are speaking, you know, into a microphone with a headset on. Also to be aware, in the test centre, there’ll be other test takers around them, similar to TOEFL or other computer tests, so they will hear other people and other noises as they’re trying to listen or trying to speak. So you know, something we always need to tell our students be aware. Try their best to block out other speakers and concentrate on yourself. One thing interesting about the CELPIP questions in the speaking part often involves you talking to your friend. So for example, question one, you’re giving advice to your friends what might say, you know, “your friend Mark has put on a few pounds lately, and he’s looking to lose some weight. What could you advise him to do?” Tell him…

Mark  

Did you make did you make this? Did you make this item for our course? I hope not.

Mike  

No, I haven’t. But it is what I often use with students is for practice, because everybody knows advice about how to even if we don’t follow it, we all know it. Right? But it is a common type of question. And my point they’re really being though that like, they want students to imagine their friend, and they want the answer to be very conversational. Right. He starts to teach students to start “Hey, Mark, I know as you’ve been getting a little tight the sweater there. Maybe, maybe you could try joining a gym.” And then you know, as teachers, we go into reason, example, details, etc. But main thing there, it should be conversational. You know, we don’t want robotic answers mechanical answers. And so for students, when I’ll often teach them is it really helps to imagine someone you know that you’re talking to. So imagine your friend, imagine your mom, imagine your partner. And when I equate the, or try to get into student’s mind is just imagine like leaving a voicemail for, you know, a voice message on WhatsApp. We all do that, you know, so everyone’s used to like, you know, that kind of thing. Later on in the Speaking Test is like the listening and like the reading, it does get harder with each and every question. So towards the later part of the test, it’s more challenging with difficult situations and unusual things. Yeah. But still should be with that conversational element. So the last question 30 You’re looking at something unusual, but usually, the question will say, your friend is is a fan of different kinds of furniture, unique furniture, and you see something that you think they would like, describe it to them because they cannot see it. Right? Yes. So then you’re looking at something go “Hey, Mark, I know you’re really into abstract art and funky furniture. This might be up your alley. Yeah, I’m looking at a coffee table, but it looks like a watermelon with banana legs.” 

Mark  

That’s true. There we go… 

Mike  

That one by the way. Some people might be familiar with because it’s the first example they have on the CELPIP website. Everyone who studied the build setup will know that image.

Mark  

Yes, and I have looked at some of these tasks. And I must say they would be, they would be quite tricky. I also did hear, you know, when you’ve given some of these examples, you know, you mentioned I know this thing might be up your alley. How important is, you know, our expressions like these, do students need to spend a lot of time, you know, learning idioms and expressions? Or what do you think is the most important thing that students focus on when they prepare for the speaking test? Because I know speaking can cause quite a bit of quite a bit of anxiety for some test takers, what do you what do you think is the best thing for them to try and remember?

Mike  

Well, it’s a good question there. You have a couple of questions there. Number one, I would say yes, it is important to use collocation idioms, phrasal verbs and phrases. That is part of the criteria when they’re looking at the vocabulary element. You know, are they using idioms? Are they using collocations and common phrases to Canadian life like, you know, up your alley? Oh, then the next part of that how to help a student prepare. I would definitely encourage learning more phrasal verbs and idioms. And then and then using the ones that they already know, you don’t feel comfortable with, with using. And then, you know, big questions like how to help students prepare depends on how much time they have, right? So for example, I am tutoring quite a few people now for CELPIP. One woman is looking long term, he wants to take her CELPIP test and maybe six months. So I just sent her the old mini lessons of idioms from the TOEFL days, and it’s got like 25 pages and maybe 200 idioms. He’s a Kenyan. We’re not attacking the big picture. Let’s learn a bunch of phrases. I got another guy, very interesting guy, he’s doing his tests in a week, he doesn’t have time to learn a bunch of phrases. So our approach is a bit different. We’re, I’m encouraging you to use the common English, you know, what our focus is fluency. Right? Because a lot of students, but as you mentioned, anxiety, so many people just get a bit nervous with test situation, they might be more nervous, because they’re talking to a computer instead of a live human, and then multiple other reasons. And then once you get nervous, your fluency will often suffer, right? So it’s a lot of coaching and practice of like, you know, being prepared for the questions, having an idea of how to answer them, of course, not memorising any sentences beforehand, and having a kind of a strategy in your, in your mind of how to approach each and every question, and then work on the fluency aspect, you know, the confidence being called, you know, being prepared. So a lot of it is that.

Mark  

Yes, I think that’s, that’s really No, and that’s across every speaking test is relax, you know, deliver naturally, nervousness typically will create sort of a flat delivery, you know, no stress, no intonation. And students, you know, they’ll always focus on things like grammatical accuracy when they really just need to make sure they’re answering their questions and extending or exemplifying appropriately. And that’s something that’s a lot easier to control, I find.

Mike  

Yeah, exactly. Yeah, it takes a bit of practice. Yeah, but I do like the CELPIP approach in this regard. Because, again, they try to make you like, talk to your friend, you know, your friend Dave has this problem, or your friend Anna likes this. And it just makes it a bit more real. I find, and students will definitely do better when they feel it’s like a real situation than just like, you know, a very flat response when they have no real. No, audience in mind.

Mark  

Yeah. Now let’s, let’s take a look at that last part. Now, yes, speaking can often cause students a little bit of anxiety, also writing the final part of the test? What are we looking at when we see writing?

Mike  

We got two writing tasks. First one is writing an email, a common part of everyday life. So it’s a common, it’s a big part of a CELPIP test. This email, whoever is not your grandma to thank her for your sweater or something like that. They’re pretty specific. They give you a prompt, and then they give you two or three bullet points they want you to address. Almost always it’s some kind of problem conflict resolution type email, so you’re dissatisfied with service or product or something. You’re dissatisfied with an apartment you’re renting. You want to complain. And then they’ll mentioned specifically, you know, explain why you’re upset, how you want to be compensated, and why you were disappointed, for example. So very importantly, I’d say now to all teachers all future test takers out there. Be sure to mention each and every bullet point for maximum score.

Mark  

Yeah. And that’s something that, again, we talked about in speaking, grammar and pronunciation tend to be a focus. And in writing, students often worry about grammatical accuracy, which in the moment is not always something you can control. But getting all your ideas, you know, hitting all the bullet points and extending your ideas is something that I think is much easier to control. So it’s an important habit to build when practising.

Mike  

Oh, great point, Mark. So let’s just put it this way. Like, let’s say we have two essays. And one is grammatically perfect or sorry, email, we have two emails, one is grammatically perfect, but it didn’t really address the prompt didn’t really explain one or two of the bullet points. And then if we have another email that has addressed all the prompt, and the bullet points but has mistakes with articles and prepositions. I’m quite sure that the second one will score higher.

Mark  

Yeah, yeah. I mean, that’s And that, again, that’s true across most of the tests. You know, as a former IELTS examiner, you know, you’d sometimes get native speakers coming in. And yeah, grammar vocab perfect. But you know, are they addressing the issue? Are they extending their ideas? That’s not always. It’s not always, you know, a natural thing that comes to us.

Mike  

Right, but as you said, right, that’s something they have control of. If test takers know like, wow, like, my grammar is not perfect and I miss articles, but if I just answer all the bullet points, I’ll have a pretty decent score.

Mark  

Yeah. And I always say to with, with a lot of, you know, language, teaching and assessing professionals, that’s, you know, one of those early things you learn as you start becoming an examiner is it’s like, it’s very easy to get, to be charmed by grammatical accuracy and native like pronunciation, but more important is actually addressing the question. And that’s where, yeah, that’s one thing that, you know, again, students and teachers need to, you know, really decide, you know, and again, depending on the student and the students and their needs, and where they are, you know, where do you focus your attention in teaching and learning?

Mike  

Exactly. But it’s a good point. And it’s good to give them the strategies like, remember the things you can control, focus on that.

Mark  

The final part of the test?

Mike  

Right, then you got your last writing, and that is responding to a survey. That’s a little bit different structure. That one, it’s your game. Imagine you’re in regular Canadian life, and you get something from your community pool, or your city council. Let’s take the city council example. There’s a green space and open space that’s undeveloped. And one idea is to turn it into some kind of outdoor park, maybe with a playground and an organic area and things like that, or development into a commercial area, maybe a shopping mall. Right? So you have these two options? Should we develop this green space into an outdoor park, or a shopping centre? And then students have to choose one side and then argue their reasons? Okay. You might think all the arguing the reasons that’s an essay, essentially, kind of, yes, because, you know, I’ve taken the CELPIP training course, and I’m quite familiar with what they’re looking for. That one, responding to a survey can look like an email, it can look like an essay. They emphasise, it does not have to be an essay. But they do emphasise they want an introduction, two body paragraphs and a conclusion. So in my opinion, it is a simplified essay, we could say, it doesn’t have to have like, a strong introduction with many sentences, just a quick intro is sufficient. And a quick note on that I know one thing they kind of frown upon, are these stock phrases like, “this essay will discuss the advantages of pain.” Okay, that’s one thing they mentioned in that training video. Don’t teach that to your students, and try not to use them for students.

Mark  

So where would you have teachers and or students focus their efforts?

Mike  

That good question Mark, they should focus that introduction on just having a clear position of answering the question. So maybe in just one or two sentences, they kind of paraphrase the prompt or the idea, and then state their position. Nice and simple. 

Mark  

And then support it with ideas that are relevant.

Mike  

Correct. And that would be in your body paragraph. So hopefully, ideally, you have two reasons so then you make two body paragraphs with examples and details in each.

Mark  

Okay, great. You also mentioned that you went through this training with Paragon, which is now part of Prometric. And yes, yeah, that’s one thing that here with the two, we’ve had a number of our teachers go through this training. So you’ve got even more experience with, with the CELPIP course and specifically with some of the materials that they provide. Can you briefly just tell us like, how was that experience going through that training?

Mike  

Oh, it’s actually quite good. It was very thorough. And they’re really good at creating content. So a lot of the videos that they did quite similar to their testing material, and then go through it and myself to understand it. I was tested. I’m happy to report I got 100%. And I might mention, I think I got that 100% from taking notes.

Mark  

Yeah so we, we do what we preach.

Mike  

Yeah, that’s right. We practice what we preach for sure. I am a note taker. I got my pen in hand right now.

Mark  

Yeah, me too. All right. And I think just before we wrap up, as well, you did mention, you know, life in Canada practising things like speaking or leaving messages or thinking of it, thinking of the speaking test, as, you know, real life tasks? What are some other things that you might advise students, you know, who have maybe a bit more time like two weeks, four weeks, maybe more, you know, if they need to also boost their their more general English skills? Before taking the CELPIP test? What do you generally advise students to do as they prepare in their CELPIP Journey?

Mike  

Well, you know, really, if they need that good score, best thing to do is practice tests. So you know, you and I, we’ve been fortunate enough to work on a great team. And we put together some wonderful practice tests on our platform. And, you know, I was quite happy to join the E two team to make the content because just on that note, I would would recommend students and teachers to be careful looking for material online, right? Because I know in my days as a CELPIP tutor and teacher, I’ve looked for things online, because for free, you can only find those two practice tests from the CELPIP. website. Then when you want to dig for other material, there are a lot of things out there, but they’re not very good. And they’re not because they’re not modelled on the CELPIP test. They’ve changed questions a little bit. They have examples of things that you would never see…

Mark  

Or they don’t use, use white, get it? And I think it’s a common thing where people don’t necessarily understand how, how challenging it is to create these tests. It’s it’s no easy task.

Mike  

No, it is, certainly appreciate that more. Now. I mean, all my days of teaching, TOEFL is kind of prepared me indirectly. They’ve studied these exams so thoroughly to help the students, but I never thought of them from the writers perspective, creating these tests, you know, with certain difficulty level vocabulary and, you know, questions that might throw the lower level students off, etc. So I’ve learned the ins and outs of the CELPIP test itself. So going back to your question, students should do practice tests. That’s, that’s a great help. Other than that, though, remember, that’s CELPIP is Canadian so I would suggest listening to Canadian content. You know, look, you know, just like for IELTS, you’d recommend going to the BBC. Purcell PEP, I’d recommend going to the CBC, the Canadian Broadcast Corporation, their website and their app, I think it’s called Jam, tonnes of podcasts, listenings, videos, documentaries, you know, nice clear Canadian pronunciation.

Mark  

Yeah. And you can follow them, you know, on also on YouTube, they have a number of channels on YouTube. And in the last few months, I’ve been paying particularly more attention and, you know, as you said, very well structured, very clear pronunciation with, you know, the Canadian accent and issues that are relevant to, you know, Canadian society, which will be reflected in the CELPIP.

Mike  

Exactly. That’s just it. 

Mark  

And yes, of course, you know, anytime you’re working on your English as well, you know, here, you know, to support students at E2 Test Prep, do we know whether it’s before they want to do Isles preparation, or TOEFL or CELPIP. We also have our E2 English course, which allows our students to make those little improvements to various aspects of their grammar or their pronunciation through our range of materials that we have here as well. Well, I think that’s great. And Mike, appreciate you taking some time to talk to us a little bit about the world of CELPIP. It’s great to have someone with such a rich experience with test prep and with CELPIP. And it’s been great working with you again and great having you on the team here.

Mike  

Yeah, thanks. I gotta change my name, though. I used to be TOEFL Mike. I think I got be CELPIP Mike.

Mark  

Yes, CELPIP Mike. All right. The transformation has begun.

Mike  

That’s right.

Mark  

 All right. Well, I’ll be seeing you again soon. And thank you very much.

Mike  

Thanks for having me, Mark.

OUTRO

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