Getting you Ready for the Cambridge Exam in Dublin

When Fernanda Lunardi Hasselmann arrived at our English Language School in June 2017, getting a globally recognised language qualification was foremost in her mind. The hotel manager completed her Cambridge Exam in Dublin in mid-October and is delighted that she will be able to add the well-recognised First Certificate Exam (FCE) qualification to her resume and bring it back to Brazil.

“I work in the Tourism Industry,” says the 22-year-old. “English is essential. So for me to come back with a recognised certificate is important for my field.”

Fernanda on a visit to the sea near Dublin

Fernanda studied hard for her exam and is keen to let others know that if they sign up for FCE or the Cambridge Advanced Exam (CAE), they will need to be committed. The exams themselves are tough and knowing what you will be facing and how to tackle them is what our Cambridge Exam Classes at City Language School are all about.

Fernanda feels that doing the Cambridge preparation classes with Oscars gave her an advantage over others.

“Every week we had a test and for me that was really important because I had no idea what the exam was like before coming here,” she says. “So, for example, when I arrived to do the speaking part of the test, I knew what it was like but the person doing the test with me had no idea what to do and didn’t really know what to say. I knew the format. I knew what was coming. I knew that ‘OK, now I start to talk about the picture and then we’ll move on to the next part’. But the other candidate was really nervous because of the pressure. But I knew because of the classes.”

The following Saturday, Fernanda sat the Reading, Writing and Listening parts of the exam and even though she was “really tired” by the end of it all, she was very happy to have faced the challenge.

As for our Oscars Cambridge team of Neil Davison and Stuart Dawson, Fernanda could not have been happier.

“Both of them were really good,” says Fernanda. “I love them. I think Neil was really good at the grammar and Stuart was good at the speaking parts. Stuart is very funny and he’s very good at speaking. He likes to speak as you probably know but for me it was good because I’m a little shy and he isn’t so he was always asking for my opinion, ‘What about you? What do you think?’.”

29-year-old Elton Rocha is due to sit his CAE in mid-January. Before coming to Dublin in June 2016, the Brazilian had spent ten years working as an English Language Teacher in Londrina. When he eventually returns, Elton plans to take up teaching again and he hopes it will be with a brand new qualification in his pocket.

Elton with his classmate Gustavo

“There are many reasons for doing the CAE,” he explains, “but the first one is that the Cambridge exams are recognised under the Common European Framework for Languages which really brings a boost to your curriculum vitae. Everyone wants people with CAE in English Schools, particularly in private schools. It’s recognised all over the world. I already have the FCE. I took it in 2009. So the CAE would be the next step and that’s why I’m taking it.”

For Elton, the CAE classes are very exam focussed and that’s exactly how he feels they should be.

“In the CAE class we are doing something around the exam every day,” he says. “So we are doing either practice tests or we are focussing on the exam strategies and that’s really good. It’s challenging sometimes but it’s part of the process. Exams are not meant to be fun but because we are tested [on some aspect of the CAE exam] every day, we see our scores and we can see how we are improving or what parts of the exam we need to work on. So you have to be very conscientious about what you are doing.”

Stuart Dawson who takes the CAE classes on a Thursday and Friday says that teaching the course can be very rewarding but like Fernanda he stresses the fact that students have to be committed to learning English wherever they are.

“Students have to do a lot of work in the class and outside,” he says.  “But if the student is focussed and determined, then we’re happy to give them more attention and more guidance.  There’s no such thing as too much practice.”

“It’s a challenge,” says Elton. “And it’s not just the language thing it’s also the format of the exam. You have to time yourself, learn how to answer and learn new strategies. So you are always learning new things. Neil and Stuart really know what they are doing. They always prepare their classes really well.”