Aiton English

Learning Languages for Life

Category: CPE

CPE writing 1 – question and four example answers


Writing part 1 all together



































































a = 4332

b = 5445

c = 5445

d = 5555

Speaking Grammar: Show you have experience

Being a teacher of English, I can say that I know a lot about grammar. And, having taught English for 15 years, I know 100% for sure that different people can use different structures when giving presentations. As someone who has seen hundreds of presentations, I’m convinced that this is connected with the fact that some people, when giving a presentation, need to use grammar structures to prove they have experience / have knoweldge. Other people do not.

For example, I used three in this text:

Being a teacher of English, I can say that….

Having taught English for 15 years, I know 100% for sure that

As someone who has seen hundreds of presentations, I’m convinced that

I used these expressions to show you, the reader, that you should listen to me because I have experience  / knowledge about this. If you do not know me, you may not think my opinion about a topic is important. So I use the above structures.

However, if you know about me, then I may not need to use these structures to show you should trust me. You already know and trust me.


For example, if Bill Gates gives a speech about the computer industry



does he need to say:

“Being the founder of Microsoft, I know that it takes a lot of time to create an international company.”

The answer is .. not really. He might say it, but most people know who Bill Gates is, and what he has done, so he can just say…

“I know that it takes a lot of time to create an international company.”

and we will accept this.


However, if you do not know the experience level of the person, then using the structures like “Being a …., ” / “Having …… ” / “As a…” can help. For example;

“Being a mother of 6 children, I know that it can be difficult to raise a child.”  = greater expert than just “I know that it can be difficult to raise a child.”

To improve your ability to use these structures when speaking:

Step 1

Click on the link here to read more examples

Step 2


Fill in the last column of the table yourself and send it to your teacher for correction

Step 3

Make a video / recording in which you ask yourself some questions, and then answer the questions using the structures.

Some example questions are:

What advice would you give to someone who… (wants to get a better job, wants to choose a university, has difficulty eating well, wants their children to play the computer less…)

How important …(are subjects like history, are universities when it comes to getting a good job, are zoos for educating children about animals, is it for the government to improve public transport)

What are the advantages and disadvantages of  .. (traveling overseas on holiday, playing team sports, living in a cold climate, having brothers and sisters, working in a small company)





Speaking Grammar: Show you’re sad about your life with “wish”

Follow the steps on this page to learn how to improve:

  • grammar range by using the grammar structure “wish + II” to show you’re sad about your life now
  • grammar range even more by using II conditional after it
  • vocab range by using “really” and “kind of”
  • pronunciation by pronouncing the structure well to reflect the meaning.

Step 1

watch the video




Step 2

if you need more examples, scroll down for further explanations in the “notes” section, if not, click on the link here, fill in the table, and send it to your teacher.


Step 3

when your teacher has checked that your sentences are correct, make a video of yourself practicing them and send the video to your teacher. When you make the video, focus on pronunciation. “really” should be stressed,  “kind of” should be said to show that it’s not that important.


and that’s it. Keep reading for further practice



Step 4

watch the video, and practice reporting. Note “she wishES





Step 5 (if you have anki)

Download the anki deck for more practice from here




the following sentences are from my life at the moment. They are real situations….

1 – I don’t have time to practice the guitar

2 – I sometimes smoke cigarettes

3 – I am tired

4 – I don’t know Chinese 100%

5 – I have to travel a lot

6 – I spend too much time reading the newspaper

If I’m talking with another person, and I want to tell them that

a – I have this situation

b – I am sad / unhappy about it

I can say….

I don’t have time to practice the guitar, and I’m unhappy about it.


I wish I had time to practice the guitar.

If I say… “I wish I didn’t smoke cigarettes” this is the same as saying “I smoke cigarettes and I’m sad / unhappy about it.”

So, the function of “I wish I…” = to tell the other person that you are sad / unhappy about a situation at the moment. You do this by ‘imagining’ a better ‘unreal’ situation. You want to go away from your ‘sad’ / ‘unhappy’ real situation into an ‘unreal one’. Please note, because you’re imagining an unreal situation, use the II (2nd) form of the verb (go = I, went = II , gone = III)


I am tired and I’m sad about this = I wish I wasn’t tired

am – wasn’t (we use ‘not’ because we are imagining the opposite situation)

I don’t know Chinese 100% and I’m unhappy about this = I wish I knew Chinese 100%

don’t know – knew (we don’t use ‘don’t’ because we are imagining the opposite ‘unreal’ situation. The real situation that makes me unhappy is ‘I don’t know Chinese’, so the imaginary / unreal ‘happier’ situation is ‘I knew’)

Note – The II (2nd) form here does not talk about the past!!! I wish I knew Chinese 100% NOW.

We can use the II form like “went, did, played, knew” for different functions.

One function is to talk about the past “When I was young I knew mathematics well.” Students learn this function first, so they often think automatically that ‘knew’ is past simple or past indefininite, but…..

Another function is to imagine an unreal present / future “If I knew mathematics now, I could help my child with her homework / I wish I knew mathematics now so I could help my child now.”

– there are more functions of II but I will not

So, the last two

“I wish I didn’t have to travel a lot” = “I have to travel a lot and I’m sad”

“I wish I didn’t spend too much time reading the newspaper” = “I spend a lot of time reading the newspaper and I’m sad about that.”

Look at the following sentences. In which ones do you know 100% how I feel about the situation? Put ‘not sure’ if it’s not clear if I’m unhappy / sad or maybe happy. Put if it is clear that I am sad / unhappy about the situation.


a – I can’t speak French. = not sure (how I feel)

This is a fact, but you can’t say if I am unhappy or not. E.g. I can say “I can’t speak French, and this is not a problem because I don’t like it.”

b – I wish I could speak French. =

This tells you that my real situation is “I can’t speak French, and I am unhappy about it.”

1 – I don’t go to the gym much.

2 – I have a class today.

3 – I wish I didn’t have class today.

4 – I wish I knew English better.

5 – I don’t know English well enough and I’m sad about it.

6 – I play the computer 5 hours a day.

1 = ? 2 = ? 3 = 4 = 5 = 6 = ?

Look at the following pictures. The people use ‘I wish I…..’ to tell you about a situation in their life that they are sad / unhappy about. What are the situations?

1 –

The situation = I don’t know and I’m sad / unhappy about this = I wish I knew

2 –

The situation = I don’t work there and I’m unhappy / sad = I wish I worked there

3 –

the sad / unhappy situation = ?

4 –

sad / unhappy situation =

5 –

sad / unhappy situation =

6 –

sad / unhappy situation =

3 = I’m not with Michelle / 4 = I can’t kill my parents / 5 = I can’t forget you / 6 = I can’t hate you / 7 = I can’t give you a hug.

Notes on the notes:

1 – As you can see, it’s typical for us to use this function with ‘I can’t – I wish I could’. This is because “I can’t….” is often something that is sad for us

2 – if the real situation is connected with ‘not much’ / ‘not well’ / too we often use ‘more’ / ‘better’ / so with the ‘I wish…’

e.g. I don’t see you much and I’m sad about this = I wish I saw you more (‘a lot’ is also possible)

I don’t speak well = I wish I spoke better. (‘well’ is also possible)

I smoke too much = I wish I didn’t smoke so much

3 – I wish I IS NOT “I want”. If you want a cup of coffee, say “I want / would like to have a cup of coffee.”If you say “I wish I had a cup of coffee.” it is like saying “I am sad / unhappy that I don’t have a cup of coffee

4 – don’t use it to talk about a future situation ‘will’. For example

“Tomorrow I’ll work a lot and I’m unhappy about this.” We can’t say “I wish I won’t / wouldn’t work tomorrow”.

If you are talking about the future but using a present verb and NOT ‘will’, e.g. ‘am’, you can use ‘wish’

e.g. “I am working tomorrow and I’m sad about this.” = “I wish I wasn’t working tomorrow.” (note that ‘working’ doesn’t change)

“I am going to a boring party tonight, it’s annoying.” = “I wish I wasn’t going to a boring party tonight.”

5 – we can use a structure “I wish to do”, but it has a different function. “I wish to go” = “I want to go”. It doesn’t say that you’re sad / talk about your feelings, it just says that you ‘want’. This structure for ‘wan’t’ is formal, so use it in business letters, not when having a conversation. You can see more examples here .

6 – don’t forget the second ‘I’. A typical mistake is…. “I wish wasn’t tired”

7 – don’t use ‘would’ with “I wish I…”. A typical mistake is “I wish I wouldn’t be tired”


Further Practice:

Practice using the function ‘I wish I..’ to tell someone about a sad / unhappy situation at the moment in the following sentences

I can’t be with you and I’m sad about this = I wish I …..

I wish I could be with you

I don’t help you more and I’m sad about this = I wish..

I wish I helped you more

I don’t have a good relationship with my boss = I wish….

I wish I had a good …..

I play the computer 5 hours a day, it’s bad. = I wish I

I wish I didn’t play the computer 5 hours a day

I have to go to work tomorrow. Grrrrrr. = I wish..

I wish I didn’t have to go to work tomorrow.

I’m tired = I wish …

I wish I wasn’t tired

I have class today, and I don’t want to go. = I wish …

I wish I didn’t have class today

I’m going to the doctor today, I’m unhappy about this = I wish ..

I wish I wasn’t going to the doctor today

I drink too much alcohol. It’s very sad. = I wish I…

I wish I didn’t drink alcohol so much (or – I wish I didn’t drink alcohol)

I can’t cook well, it’s a problem. = I wish…

I wish I could cook well

Exam Speaking: Talking about the future

In the IELTS /  Cambridge exams there is a 100% chance you will be asked a question about the future, most likely more than one. In the TOEFL it’s also reasonable to believe that you will be asked a question about the future.

A lot of canditates when talking about the future use “maybe” and “probably”, but it is a good chance to improve your range of both vocabulary and grammar.

First, watch an example of a student activating a range of structures. What structures can you hear?



Second, below are a series of questions about the future. Use the attached sheet here to improve your range of grammar and vocab when answering the questions.

If you want, make a link to a video you have done and post the link in the comments, I will have a look and give you feedback.



Personal Questions (IELTS part 1, CAE / CPE part 1)

Ask and answer the following questions……………

What will you be doing in 3/5/10 / 25 years’ time?

Where will you be living in 3/5/10 / 25 years’ time?

How many children / grandchildren will you have in 3/5/10 / 25 years’ time?

Will you do / be the following more or less in the future?……………………………………

e.g. “Will you read more or less in the future?” / “Will you be happier in the future?”

read / do dangerous things / dance / draw / donate money / write / trust people / watch movies / use technology / make presents by hand / look in the mirror / use public transport / drive a car / fly / use a phone / exercise / eat / go to concerts / travel / work / visit zoos / spend time with friends/ go to restaurants / visit libraries / sleep / go shopping / use electricity / go to cafes / study English / use English / read or watch the news / use paper / make speeches or presentations / go to parks / do gardening / use a computer / write sms’s / wake up early / play with children / lie on the beach / help elderly people / spend time in crowded places / sit in traffic jams / be happier / energetic / take photos / be late


General Questions (IELTS part 1, CAE / CPE part 1)

To make the questions suitable for Part 3 of the IELTS / CPE / CAE, just use  “Do you think people will …. more or less in the future?”

e.g. “Do you think people will read more or less in the future?”

“Do you think people will dance more or less in the future?


CPE Writing for “5”: Book Review (question + example answer)

Read the task below and note the key content points as well as the “detail” within them

CPE writing book review

Scroll down ……….






Read through the example answer and answer the following questions (CPE criteria “content” = 5)

Is all the content relevant to the task?

Are you, the target reader, fully informed as to the points highlighted in the task?

Book review.

By Lena Vertugina

The name of the book I would like to write about will provoke no instant response in the soul of an average European reader, neither it will be familiar to the majority of Russians, to which nation belongs its author Alexander Sharov, which is undoubtedly sad. “Yozhenka”, as it sounds in Russian, is by all means, one of the most romantic, educating and beautifully written stories ever.

Its heroine, Yozhenka, is a little girl who came into existence when a kind artist (also a book character) drew her with a pencil that initially was a hedgehog’s needle, hence the name of the girl that can loosely be translated into English as “a little hedgehog-girl”. She then embarks on all sorts of adventure, learns to enjoy life together with other inhabitants of the island, also drawn by the kind artist, her father, and, finally, undertakes a dangerous journey across wild seas to wage a battle against the evil characters of the story, who, in their turn, were created by an evil artist, a sibling brother of the kind one. Of course, in the end peace is established and all wicked heroes are cured of their malevolence and make friends with other characters.

The plot being schematically explained, it is worth clarifying why this story, seemingly being quite common in treating the everlasting conflict of the Good and the Evil, could still be still appealing to the young generation of Russian kids. It is all in the idea that we all are responsible for the actions we take, the friends we choose, the words we say to each other, that every page of the book is rich. “Grow up to become a kind artist of your destiny!” – the author hints. Moreover, while reading one just gets so much captivated by what is going on in the story that cannot but experience the whole range of emotions from fear and rage to complete elation – the effect ensured by the fantastic beauty of the narrator’s language. What can be more important than living a book that teaches us the most crucial and individuality-forming things in our whole future life?

Having been the most remarkable book of my own childhood and the early years of my daughters, “Yozhenka” is unfairly little known to readers in our country. I would very much like to see it turned into a wonderful cartoon or even a feature film and carry its charge of kindness and creativity to generations to come.


To learn more about the author of the above example, Lena Vertugina, please follow the links below….

Personal page:

Group page



10 Step Exam Speaking: How often (generalizing, contrasting)

Step 1: Listening practice

Listen once, twice or three times to the audio below to get the ideas


Step 2: Learn from listening

Listen again, pausing an repeating where necessary to make a note of useful expressions.


Step 3 “a” : Focus on structures for saying “how often” (or “not”)  you do something

Looking at the table below, listen again and mark which  “how often” (or “not”) structures are used.

IELTS speaking - How often



Once / Twice a week (NOT “in a week”)

Three / four / ten / 15 times a year / month

fortnight = two weeks – Once a fortnight = once every two weeks

If the number is not “a” month / year, then use every:

3 times every 2 weeks

5 times every 4 months


3 times a week

5 times a month


Step 3  “b” : Focus on structures for “generalizing” and “contrasting” 

Perhaps you noticed some of these structures in  “Step 2: Learn from listening” . In any case, looking at the tables below, listen again and mark which  “generalizing” and “contrasting” structures are used.

IELTS speaking: generalizing

IELTS Speaking: Contrasting



Step 4: Improve your pronunciation

Listen again to the structures,  make a note of stress and intonation.


Step 5: Moving from passive to active

Listen on repeat for a period of time. As you listen…

a – repeat the structures you hear from the tables, copying the stress and intonation

b – when you feel comfortage (still with the audio on repeat), repeat the structures and “finish”


Step 7: Linguistic choice

Think about your ideas to answer one of the questions. Choose the structure(s)  that best match(es) your opinion


Step 8: Fluency = 100%, Pronunciation = 100%

Without fully answering the question, practice again and again the structure until you feel that your “active use” of the structure is 100% fluent with 100% suitable intonation / stress.


Step 9: Fully active answer

Record yourself answering the question.


Step 10: Review and repeat

Listen to your answer, if you feel it needs to be done again, do it again. (Note, although practice makes perfect, it is a good idea to not repeat it too many times. As you move through the different questions you will get better.)

Food and Diet:

Fast food England: does putting a cap on takeaways improve people’s health?

Roziur Choudhury prides himself on offering a healthier alternative at Grillzone, in the east London suburb of Dagenham. Photograph: Teri Pengilley for the Guardian (link below)




Pre-reading: activate ideas

  1. Do you think people in your country eat too much fast food?
  2. What do you think the government should do about fast food
  • ban fastfood outlets (shops)
  • introduce a cap (maximum number) on fastfood outlets
  • introduce a levy (special tax) on fastfood outlets
  • let the market decide

Pre-reading: linguistic choice

What is your linguistic choice for the gapped combinations below?


It is too early to say whether Roziur Choudhury is the future of Britain’s  (1) _______________ fast food sector. For now, he represents its conscience.

(1) flourishing, booming, burgeoning / struggling, waning / lucractive /  vital / insignificant …….     fast food sector


It is too early to say whether Roziur Choudhury is the future of Britain’s  (1) _______________ fast food sector. For now, he represents its conscience.

Choudhury’s smart new Grillzone restaurant, in the east London suburb of Dagenham, aims to be a “healthy” takeaway: golden, corn-fed half-chickens roast _(2)____________ on a rotary grill; chips are fried in low-fat oil; (3) ________ chopped salad is given away free with orders.


“Why would I want to feed people something I would not feed my own family?” Choudhury asks.

At £3.49 for six chicken wings, however, his food is (3)____________  pricey – and the competition around here is (4)__________. There are 61 fast-food joints jostling for business within a mile radius of Grillzone, according to the Centre for Diet and Activity Research’s new “food environment assessment tool”, which offers the public unprecedented analysis of the prevalence of food outlets throughout England.


click here to compare your linguistic choice with the author’s


Food and diet listening and vocab for speaking


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