PTE Young Learners: Preparing students for Firstwords (level 1)

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PTE Young Learners primary exam

Pearson Test of English (PTE) Young Learners is aimed at students aged between 6 and 13. It assesses candidates comprehension and use of age-appropriate, practical English.

Comprising of four different levels (Firstwords, Springboard, Quickmarch and Breakthrough), PTE Young Learners measures listening, reading, writing, and speaking skills and focuses on communication in realistic contexts, using fun and familiar activities.

For further information, read An Introduction to Pearson Test of English Young Learners, or visit the PTE Young Learners website.   

Firstwords (Level 1)

  • Exam time: 80 minutes
  • Equivalent CEFR Level: Pre-A1

Download Guide to PTE Young Learners: Firstwords (Level 1)

Who is it for?

PTE Young Learners Firstwords is the first of four qualifications and is aimed at learners with a pre-A1 level.

Firstwords is for candidates who can read the English alphabet and recognize simple words and phrases in both written and spoken English. Students taking the exam should also be able to understand and talk about information related to their own lives.

The emphasis is on familiar, day-to-day English, rather than on how well they can recall vocabulary and sentence structures.

How is it structured?

PTE Young Learners Firstwords consists of a written paper that lasts 60 minutes and a spoken test that lasts 20 minutes.

The written part has six sections – testing listening, reading and writing skills. The spoken part of the test has two sections that require candidates to interact with an examiner and four other candidates.

Download the guide to PTE Young Learners – Firstwords for a more comprehensive look at the exam format, a description of the task types, and an overview of the scoring.

Low preparation activities to do in class:

Activity 1 – Reading and speaking

In this quick classroom activity, students will match and find parts of a dialogue. This activity helps students practice section 3 of the written paper (Reading Match) in a fun and dynamic way. The objective of this part of the exam is to match questions to answers. It assesses candidates’ ability to understand simple dialogues.

Prior to the class, write a set of questions and responses on cards, ensuring there are enough for each student. For example:

  1. Hello, how are you?
  2. Hello, I am fine thank you.
  1. What is your name?
  2. My name is Harry.
  1. Where do you go to school?
  2. I go to school in London.
  1. Do you study English at school?
  2. Yes, I study English.

Distribute the cards to each student. First tell them to identify if they have a question or an answer. Those with questions must predict a possible answer and those with answers must predict a possible question.

Next tell students they are going to play a game: the students who find their partners the quickest win!

Ask students with questions to stand on one side of the room and those with answers to stand on the other. Tell them to mingle and attempt to find the person with the matching phrase. The students with questions should begin by asking the question. If the question and answer cards match, they should sit down together. If students do not have a matching card, they should answer the question anyway.

The first pair to find their correct partner is the winner of the game. The remaining should continue until they have found their correct partner.

After the first round, collect the question and answer cards in two piles. Tell students to stand on opposite sides of the room again, in their question and answer groups. Have students swap roles, redistribute the cards, and repeat the activity as before.

Extension

After the game, distribute more question cards have students ask and answer each other freely. For more advanced groups you can ask students to write their own questions with your support.

Activity 2 – Speaking

Classroom survey

In this quick classroom activity, students survey their classmates and find out information. This activity helps students practice section 7 of the spoken paper (Question and Answer) in an interesting and dynamic way. The objective of this part of the exam is to assess candidates’ ability to ask and answer short questions about personal information and interests.

Prior to the class, prepare a set of questions on a survey grid. Include enough space to write the answer and a name and print out one per student. See example below:

Question Answer Name
What color are your shoes?
How many desks are there in your classroom?
What is your favorite color?
How many children are in your class?
How do you spell your teacher’s name?
What is your favorite hobby?

During class distribute the surveys and read through each of the questions, ensuring that students understand them. Drill pronunciation of each question as a group and go around the class and have each student answer one of the questions in open class. Try to identify problems with comprehension, language production and pronunciation at this stage.

Next have students stand up and interview their classmates. They should ask each person one question and move on to a new partner, filling out the information in the boxes and writing the names of the people they interview in the space provided. Monitor and offer students language support as they do so.

When all of the students have completed their surveys, have them sit down in pairs and compare answers.

At the end of the activity offer positive feedback and corrections and note any issues to work on in subsequent classes.

Extension

Collect the surveys from the students and ask “who” questions, based on the information in the surveys and have students call out their answers. For example “Who has red shoes?”, “Whose favorite colour is red?”, “Who likes horse riding?”, etc.

Discover practice tests and other resources on the PTE Young Learners website.

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